My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Surfin': Joining Our Public Weather Service

This week, Surfin’ discusses the variety of Amateur Radio services related to the National Weather Service.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Surfin': Making the Service Short List

This week, Surfin’ visits public service Web sites that should be on everybody’s short list.

Did you know that Surfin’ is a weekly column published on ARRLWeb that features Web sites related to Amateur Radio, specifically, and radio, in general? If you have any suggestions for Surfin’, please contact WA1LOU using the e-mail link to the right.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

ESPN, Bristol, CT

Today’s Live Search Maps bird’s eye view of antenna farms takes us to ESPN in Bristol, CT.

This antenna farm is a mile and one half from my house and is the biggest antenna farm in this part of the country. I count 31 dishes and I may have missed a few (I could not get all the dishes in the above image).

Monday, February 9, 2009

digital television’s dirty little secret

My daughter gave me eyetv as a Christmas gift. It allows me to view television broadcasts on my Mac.

It works great. My only complaint is that right after I got it, they came out with a version that also allows you to listen to FM radio broadcasts on a Mac.

Anyway, I connected the eyetv to my 25-element log periodic antenna, which is at the top of the tower, about 1000 ft ASL.

eyetv receives both analog and digital television broadcasts and that capability soon revealed to me the dirty little secret about digital television. The quality of digital television video is much better than analog television video, however, in order to view digital television video, the signal at your receiver must be stronger than the signal strength required to view analog television video.

Today, I can receive the analog television broadcasts of New York City channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13 with my eyetv and log periodic antenna, but I cannot receive any digital television broadcasts from New York City. So, when they finally shut down analog television broadcasts, I lose New York City. Similarly, I will lose other distant television stations once digital becomes the only television broadcast mode.

Is digital television a technological advancement? Not in my book.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Surfin': Finding a Home for Serving the Public

This week, Surfin’ relates the story about hams finding a new venue for a public service ham station.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

mystery of the iPod

I am on my third iPod. I outgrew my first two because I had more music then they could hold.

My new iPod is a 160-Gbyte Classic, which I bought refurbished from Apple as a Christmas present to myself. I believe that 160 Gigabytes should hold all my music for a long time.

Although, I have added a few new tunes to my new iPod, it basically contains the same collection of tunes that I had stored on my old iPod.

Normally, I let the iPod randomly select the tunes it plays. What is interesting (my iPod “mystery”) is that I am hearing tunes on my new iPod that my old iPod never played.

Seems to me that my old iPod would randomly play a subset of the tunes it had in storage. Although the subset was probably immense, I did hear the same tunes repeated over time, but it obviously did not randomize everything because almost everything I hear on my new iPod is stuff I never heard on my old iPod.

Is my new iPod randomly playing a new subset of tunes or is it doing a better job of randomizing the collection?

By the way, for what it’s worth (or BTW FWIW), I have over 8,700 tunes stored on my new iPod. Also, my old iPod was a 30-Gbyte model.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

40°57′39.0″ N, 73°55′21.0″ W

Today’s Live Search Maps bird’s eye view of antenna farms takes us to 40°57′39.0″ N, 73°55′21.0″ W, which is the location of another historic radio site: Edwin Armstrong’s tower in Alpine, NJ. (Click on the photo to magnify it.)

Thanksgiving Day, the family took a bus trip to New York City to view the Macy’s T-Day parade. On the way home, the bus traveled north on I-87, which provided an opportunity to view Armstrong’s tower in person. I quickly spotted the immense tower even though it was over four miles away at the closest point. I was duly impressed!

Here are some pertinent links regarding this impressive edifice:

*’s “The Birthplace of FM Broadcasting, Alpine, N.J.

* Wikipedia’s take on the Armstrong Tower

* Wikipedia’s take on Edwin Howard Armstrong

By the way, if you want to view the tower yourself on Microsoft’s Live Search Maps, use the coordinates 40°57′39.0″ N, 73°55′21.0″ W. (I could not find a street address for the tower, but I found the coordinates and they work just as well as a street address.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

West Peak, Meriden, CT

After writing my last Surfin’ column about using Microsoft’s Live Search Maps to get bird’s eye views of antenna farms, I began my exploration of radio sites.

West Peak in Meriden, CT, is about 8 miles away (across the Quinnipiac River Valley from my home. It is a historic radio site and one of the oldest commercial radio antenna farms in the area.

The photo above is the west side of West Peak, which is 1,024 feet ASL. Its profile is imposing because its vertical cliffs stand tall above the valley 700 feet below.

According to Wikipedia, “Edwin Howard Armstrong, who invented FM radio and who was a network radio pioneer, used West Peak for the location of one of the first FM radio broadcasts in 1939. His original 70′ tall radio mast is still there.”

I may be mistaken, but I believe that Armstrong’s tower is located in the photo above is located directly in front of the building with the flat white roof. (Click on the photo to magnify it.)

WDRC went on the air in 1939 as the first commercial FM broadcast station in the US. Franklin Doolittle, who founded the station, renamed it WDRC for Doolittle Radio Corporation.

Doolittle’s daughter wrote me after I wrote a Surfin’ column that mentioned the history of WDRC.

“Bless your heart for your loyalty to WDRC-FM. My name is Lydia Johnson and I am Franklin M. Doolittle’s daughter. I read your article on the history of FM radio and it was most interesting.
“I lived through that era of my father’s innovative life and used to drive up the old dirt road up the side of Meriden Mountain (CT) with him as the station came to life under his direction. FM was a labor of love for him. WDRC-OBG is a remarkable Web site that details the history of my Dad’s stations. I am so glad you found it.

“My father was a wonderful, humble man, who was truly a pioneer in the development of radio. He was never one to blow his own horn, a gentle, quiet man who had the first patent on binaural sound, and helped to start FM radio on the long and sometimes rocky road to popularity,”

"Thank you so much for holding those memories of the past, and bringing back some memories for me.”
Check out the WDRCOBG Web site for more about Doolittle and his radio station that still pumps out oldies, but goodies 24/7.

Currently, FM broadcast stations WHCN, WKSS, WPKT, WWYZ, and WZMX, also transmit from West Peak, as do NOAA with a weather broadcast station (WXJ42) on 162.4 MHz, and Amateur Radio station W1ECH with repeaters operating on 2 meters and 440 MHz.