Friday, July 03, 2015

The History of Radio in the Philippines

Edmundo A. Reyes wrote the book  The History of Amateur Radio in the Philippines. His original call sign was KA10R, his last one was DU10R. The book is both a history of Ham radio in the Philippines, and his autobiography.  It was published in 1974 and runs for 233 delightfully arcane pages. I don't know what the size of the printing was, but the only U.S. Library I can find with a copy is Yale. That image below is from the Old Old Timers Club, (OOTC) which is how I have the below image.

Reyes first began broadcasting in 1933. At the time there were only a handful of commercial radio stations on air in the Philippines. The first was KZKZ-AM, which began broadcasting from Manila in 1922 on 729 kHz. It was owned by Henry Hermann, the owner of an Electrical Supply Company. It started out at 5 watts, and by 1924 was operating at 100 watts when it was sold to the Radio Corporation of the Philippines (RCP).  They in turn launched KZRC-AM in Cebu in 1929 broadcasting with a 100-watt transmitter. In 1926 RCP began working on a Manila-San Francisco service.  KZRH may have signed on in 1933, but other sources claim 1939. But those are commercial stations. There was still radio before that.

In a 1920 Commercial and Government Radio Stations of the U.S. report I found the below list. Most list multiple frequencies. All were owned by the Philippine Insular Government. In other words, the radio band was already hopping by 1933 when Eduardo got his ham license.
  • KPB - (600,1000 Mhz) - Amuguis, PI
  • KEW - (600, 1200 Mhz) - Balabac PI
  • KZAB - (600, 1200, 1500, 1800, and 2400 Mhz) - Basco, PI 
  • KEO - (600, 952 Mhz) - Bongao, PI
  • KPC - (3000 Mhz) - Batangas, PI
  • KEV - (750 Mhz) - Cagayan de Sulu, PI
  • KPI  - (600, 1200 Mhz) - Cebu, PI
  • KPJ  - (600, 1200 Mhz) - Culion, PI
  • KIF  -  (600, 1200 Mhz) - Davao, PI
  • KPM - (600,1200 Mhz) - Hoilo, PI
  • KPN  - (200 Mhz) -Isabela de Basilan, PI
  • KIL  - (600, 1200, 1900 Mhz) - Jolo, PI 
  • KPZ - (600, 952 Mhz) - Mati, PI
  • KIZ  - (600, 1200 Mhz) -Malabang, PI
  • KPV - (600,900 Mhz) - Malangas, PI
  • KPW - (600, 1200 Mhz) - Malita, PI
  • KPX - (600, 952, 1200 Mhz) - Port Lebak, PI
  • KIV - (600, 1200 Mhz) - Puerto Princesa, PI
  • KIY - (600, 1200 Mhz) -San Jose, PI
  • KPY - (300, 600 Mhz) - San Francisco, PI
  • KED - (600 Mhz) - Siasi, PI
  • KIW - (1220 Mhz) - Zamboanga, PI

While Reyes book is reputed to be the best, it is not the only book about radio history specific to the Philippines.  Nonetheless, it's a tome I need to add to the library at some point. There are still a handful of other notables:
  • The History and Development of the Radio Control Office - Judith Guthertz (1972)
  • Stay Tuned: The Golden Years of Philippine Radio - Ben Ancieto (2007)
  • Radyo: An Essay on Philippine Radio - Elizabeth Enriquez (2008)

Thursday, July 02, 2015


If any of my readers are headed to Def Con 2015 in August please check this out. Ben Caudill, a researcher for the consultancy Rhino Security Labs, will be there on August 6th unveiling ProxyHam. ProxyHam is a hardware solution that can transmits Wi-Fi connection up to 2.5 miles. This has powerful implications for privacy and anonymity. More here.

Even Wired magazine was impressed. ProxyHam has found a work-around for the vulnerability of the IP address. An IP address has a direct relationship with your physical location because it is directly tied to the device you are using to connect to the internet. Currently privacy software focusing on the networking between you and the site you are using via networking tools and proxy addresses. But this chain can be followed back to you. Even highly complex tools like Tor can be eventually defeated with enough time and effort, hence the downfall of Silk Road.

ProxyHam puts miles of physical distance between you and your network connection bouncing from your local connection across the 900 Mhz band to a remote connection. The device itself, is a Wi-Fi enabled Raspberry Pi, and a rig consisting of three antennas. it's not exactly mobile, but it's a strong proof of concept. the stregnth is partly the 900 Mhz band itself.  This slice of the UHF band is also known as the 33-centimeter band.

It's internationally allocated to amateur radio ans stretched from 902 to 928 MHz.  it's used by industrial, scientific, broadband wireless systems, and medical (ISM) equipment, and innumerable low powered unlicensed devices such as walkie-talkies, and cordless phones. Essentially Caudill has hidden a 8 Mbps needle in a big haystack. At DefCon Caudill will be selling the units at cost.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Radio in the Hive

Transmitters get smaller and smaller. The smallest transmitters today are measured in atoms and whole devices fit inside a pencil point. The problem has become the power source or the battery.You can attach radio tracking devices to all sorts of animals but only recently has it become possible to do so with insects. For that reason I was surprised to read that we were now tracking honeybees with radio telemetry.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a serious problem killing off bees, the dutiful pollinators of virtually everything you eat. (or at least everything eaten by what you eat)  The idea was that radio tracking would allow scientists to learn about the movements of bees prior to collapse perhaps providing answers. Right now it's unclear if the problem is viruses, bacteria, fungus, mites, or pesticides or all of the above. By monitoring the bees’ flights, scientists could detect changes in bee behavior. More here. Dr. Martin Wikelski at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology said “We could use that information to protect them.”

In 2009 Wikelski and his colleagues has succeeded in mounting a tiny transmitter to a bee. They had already succeeded with cicadas and dragonflies. They ran their first field tests in the village of Möggingen, Germany.  The radio transmitters looked like tiny silver backpacks with 3-inch antennas. The unit could be detected over a third of a mile away. That study found that Bumble bees flew up to 1.5 miles and explored areas over 100 acres. But there was a problem. A bumblebee weighs about 300 mg, the transmitter weighed 200 mg— A 66% increase. It's unclear what effect that would have on the bees behavior. I know it would slow me down. But honey bees are even lighter than bumble bees. they weigh in at roughly a twelfth of a gram, or 120 mg.  Current radio trackers weight more than the bee rendering that same technique non-viable.  Wikelski estimates the technology is close, perhaps 5 years away.

In 2007 and 2008, an team of scientists in Australia tried to instead track bees with tiny RFIDs. A RFID transponder has no battery and can therefore weigh substantially less. They glued the lightweight tags onto bees and mounted a scanner at the hive entrance. The data shows how many trips a bee made each day, for how long and when... but not how far or where. The goal today is to develop a radio tracking device that weighs about 20% as much as the bee 24 mg, the same as the RFID.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ham Radio Now Podcast

What is the difference between a podcast, a vidcast and a webcast?  No really. Whichever of those three things this is, the Ham Radio Now program is great. Hosted by Gary Pearce (KN4AQ) the show focuses on news and technology in the Ham Radio arena. Their slogan is "Television programs all about Amateur Radio... on the web" Gary has a great radio voice, clearly a pro. Below is episode 41, of the over 200 shows so far. It's my favorite so far focusing on high speed communications in the 420 MHz band

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Freed Eisemann Orchestradians

 The Freed-Eisemann Radio Corp was formed in 1922 in New York City to manufacture and sell radios. It's main office was located at 255 Fourth Avenue which if you know the area is just off the South East corner of Union Square. Previous to their incorporation, that office space was occupied by Robischon & Peckham a  clothier that specialized in knit underwear. Today the area has been extensively rebuilt, I think it's a Best Buy now.

By 1929 the Freed-Eisemann Radio Corp was in receivership. On the other side of bankruptcy in 1931 they became  the Freed Television and Radio Corporation, which in 1940 became the Freed Radio Corporation. It's founder, Joseph David Roth Freed died in 1941. He had been a science major at the College of the City of New York (CCNY), and later worked at the radio test shop in the Washington Navy Yard. He founded the company with Arthur Eisemann, and his brother Arthur Freed.  who was also a radio engineer. He left Freed-Eisemann in 1931 to work at Warner Brothers in charge of the Brunswick Radio Corp. In 1938 he left to become general manager of the Muzak Corporation. But he returned to Freed-Eisemann in 1939.

So at the end of it's rope, in 1929 the Freed-Eisemann Radio Corp decided to go hard into advertising on the radio. They sponsored a group they dubbed the Freed Eisemann Orchestradians. It aired on Tuesdays at 9:30 PM. They played on WJZ-AM and were syndicated on NBC. They were conducted by Phil Spitalny. You might know Phil from his work with another novelty act, the Hour of Charm Orchestra, but that wasn't until 1933. In 1929 Phil was just a hard working Russian composer working with crappy hotel bands. 

The Saturday Evening Post described it as a "gorgeous tapestry of harmony, woven by Phil Spitalny's magic baton." The group was still conducted by Spitalny, btu now usually referred to in print as the "Freshman Orchestradians." For it's short run the Freed Eisemann Orchestradians were billed as the largest dance orchestra on the air. The show was renewed after that Fall and aired at 10:30 in the Spring with a new sponsor: The Charles Freshman Company. It was strangely another radio manufacturer founded in 1922 by a  College of the City of New York alumni, Charles Freshman. Freshman closed up shop in late 1929. Lacking a third radio mogul the band finally called it quits.