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RF Shorts for April 3, 2014

Prague TV Tower Is Now a One-Room Hotel

Spending the night at a transmitter site probably doesn't sound like an attractive proposition for those readers that have had to do overnight transmitter maintenance at remote locations. writer Alissa Walker describes the results of converting a transmitter pod at the former Žižkov television tower into the "One Room Hotel" in her article You Can Spend The Night In This Television Antenna Above Prague.

In 2012 the tower was renovated, renamed "Tower Park Praha," and re-opened to the public. The One Room Hotel is 230 feet above ground and has great view of Prague.

Walker writes: "Should the stunning 360-degree views begin to bore you, of course, there’s plenty to do without having to return to street level. Just one floor below you is the Oblaca restaurant, which also provides in-room dining, and at the tippy top of the tower is an observatory. Yes, that’s right: food and entertainment. You never need to leave the tower!"

I've got memories of overnight work at some interesting sites around the country, from climbing inside the antenna mast on the original World Trade Center to inspect an antenna to sleeping on the floor of a transmitter site waiting for sign-off on Wiliwilinui Ridge overlooking Honolulu and Waikiki after being dropped off there by helicopter. While the "One Room Hotel" might be worth a visit, I wouldn't trade it for those experiences.

Radio Astronomy Primer Offered

David Dickinson provides an introduction to receiving signals from space in his article Adventures in (Radio) Amateur Astronomy. The article shows pictures of some antennas used for radio astronomy, including one that uses a repurposed DBS dish.

Dickinson describes how a portable FM radio can be used to hear reflections from meteors: "Radio meteors are also within the reach of your FM dial. If you’ve ever had your car radio on during a thunderstorm, you’ve probably heard the crackle across the radio spectrum caused by a nearby stroke of lightning. A directional antenna is preferred, but even a decent portable FM radio will pick up meteors on vacant bands outdoors. These are often heard as ‘pings’ or temporary reflections of distant radio stations off of the trail of ionized gas left in the wake of a meteor. Like with visual observing, radio meteors peak in activity towards local sunrise as the observer is being rotated forward into the Earth’s orbit."

Software-defined radios that include a "waterfall" display should make it easy to observe the pings he describes.

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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.