RF Report for March 3, 2014

California Historical Radio Society Relocates Museum

Peter Hegarty, in his posting Historical radio museum to open in Alameda on InsideBayArea.com, describes the move of the California Historical Radio Society's Bay Area Radio Museum from Ashby Avenue to a new location on Central Avenue in Alameda. He begins, “Step into the building that houses the Bay Area Radio Museum and you might expect to find old-timers tinkering with wires and vacuum tubes as they bring vintage radios glowing to life. And you'd be right, except these days the men are just as busy boxing up batteries, microphones and other memorabilia because they are moving to Alameda.”

The museum has about 2,500 antique radios plus Victrolas, vintage posters and other odds and ends from the golden age of wireless. The oldest radio is a crystal set made around 1912. There are also early TV sets, including one with a three-inch screen. Many of these radios and TV actually work. Steve Kushman, the society's president, said, “We have guys who can do anything, who can fix anything.”

See Hegarty's article for more on the museum, its history and its move. Also visit www.californiahistoricalradio.com. The California Historical Radio Society has raised more than $760,000 towards its goal of $1.1 million for the museum.

Can We Eliminate the Van Allen Radiation Belts?

IEEE Spectrum writer Charles Q. Choi has an interesting article asking, Hacking the Van Allen Belts--Could we save satellites and astronauts by wiping out the Van Allen belts?. The huge amounts of radiation in the Van Allen belts pose a major risk for satellites that pass through them or orbit within them.

Maria de Soria-Santacruz Pich, whose Ph.D. work at MIT was on manipulating the Van Allen belts, says getting rid of the Van Allen belts would potentially open up valuable new orbits for satellites and make travel safer for astronauts.

Choi describes some of the ways the Van Allen belts could be dispersed. One of them involves blasting them with high power VLF RF. The U.S. Air Force's Demonstration and Science Experiments (DSX) satellite, set for launch in 2016, will carry an instrument to monitor the effects that VLF waves broadcast in space might have on the dangerous electrons in the Van Allen belts.

Choi writes, “It remains uncertain as to whether removing these radiation belts might have unintended consequences.” What could possibly go wrong?

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.