Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Handiham World for 12 November 2008

Welcome to Handiham World!

Short-wave is still a big deal... Maybe

Old Knight Kit Span Master short-wave receiver kit from vintage Allied catalogI could be listening to the repeater, reading a newspaper, checking out a story online... Sometimes something just pops out at me. This morning, for example, I was checking through my email, and reading through the FCC's daily summary bulletin. One item caught my attention:


That link was worth following, so I took a look at the document on the FCC website. It turned out to be approval for several religious broadcasters to operate on the HF bands. Googling the callsign of one of them took me to a Wikipedia article that confirmed that the station would be broadcasting near, but outside, our 40 meter band. Whew!

WRNO Radio Worldwide's website makes the following interesting claim:

"Ten short wave radios exist for every cable and satellite TV, Internet address, and satellite radio. This 10 to 1 ratio allows individuals, as well as families to hear broadcasts around the world." The website goes on to state that short-wave is used by governments around the world for international communication.

Now, I got to thinking about those statements, because I have been around the block a few times in this old world, and I seldom accept the first thing I read as, um, "gospel truth", even when it is on a religious broadcaster's website. I know that the typical USA or European radio listener probably has access to more alternatives than ever. Of course the Internet is quite simply taking over what used to be the short-wave broadcasting schedule. Even the staid, old, reliables like the BBC have retired some HF transmitters in favor of Internet streaming audio. No doubt world governments do maintain some short-wave facilities as backup communications for emergencies. I expect that the State Department here in the United States has an interest in a system that remains independent of cables and Internet problems. Other governments probably do, too. But for day to day communications, you can bet that the emails and encrypted audio connections have taken over!

Then there is that statement about the 10 to 1 ratio of short-wave receivers to every cable and satellite TV, Internet address, and satellite radio. The problem is that even though it is likely true in some places in the world, it is tempting for those of us in the USA to assume that others do not have modern communications amenities. Not so! Yesterday I heard a conversation between a couple of USA stations and a station from India on our favorite local EchoLink repeater, the N0BVE machine. The topic turned to putting up TV antennas, and one of the USA stations wondered if a license was required to do so in India. (It should be noted that a license is required in India to own a short-wave communications receiver and to be an SWL.) The station from India replied that no TV antenna license was necessary, but added that cable and direct satellite TV were really more popular than old-fashioned TV antennas. This is just one example of how new technologies are spreading rapidly around the world. I guess I'd assume that short-wave broadcasting is not nearly as effective as the WRNO website claims that it is. Yes, there are a lot of old radios out there, but I think they probably are gathering dust as new technologies sprout up. I think we can take heart that 40 meter and 75 meter broadcast interference will slowly fade away. At least we hope so!

For your Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Center Handiham Manager