is a great primer for anyone looking for an easily understandable way
to explain the basics of radio signal fading to acquaintances, or for
that matter to understand it yourself if you don't already. As I review
the material for taking my amateur radio General Class exam, there is
information about atmospheric absorption in the various ionospheric
layers during daytime and nighttime. Prior to studying the manual, I
either never knew or once knew but have forgotten about the upper F1
and F2 layers combining into a single layer at night when the sun's
radiation and particle bombardment is blocked by the earth. This article
doesn't go that deep into the physics, but it does a good job of making
a complex topic simple enough for the layman - although if you're
trying to explain fading to politicians, well, don't even bother.
See all available vintage
Radio News articles
Explain Radio Fading to the Public
Radio Sets Nor Station to Blame for After-Dark Distortion
this month, Nature will again be giving broadcast listeners extraordinary
reception. After nightfall, the whole broadcast spectrum will again
be filled with far-off stations, many of them roaring in as strong as
This means that our radio-reflecting-layer, 100 miles
up in the sky, is working as an excellent radio mirror again.*
such "good reception," as we enjoy at present, also brings some annoying
troubles to broadcast listeners. These are twofold:
Two Kinds of Trouble
1. Distant stations come in strong,
right alongside familiar local stations, and so cause crosstalk and
"monkey chatter" on familiar local channels.
2. Nearby high-power
stations (60 to 100 miles away) have their sky waves so strongly reflected
by the excellent sky mirror, that their reflected waves (traveling a
path 150 miles longer) reach the listener out-of-step with the same
station's direct-wave he ordinarily hears. This conflict of the two
sets of waves, if of equal strength, may produce annoying total fading.
Or, certain audible frequencies may be suppressed, so that at intervals
the announcer "sounds as if he had a mouthful of hot mush," and a fine
orchestra tinkles like a Chinese band! Too Much of a
Broadcast listeners hearing such interference,
usually blame their sets.
But neither the set nor the broadcast
station is at fault! Nor is the set maker, the dealer or the radio repairman!
Nature herself is to blame, by temporarily making her reception
conditions too good, - so that we suffer from the spillover. Fortunately,
the trouble occurs only after dark, and usually for limited periods.
Try This Solution
A very long antenna,
or a pickup from telephone wires will sometimes help at the receiving
end. This affords pickup from a number of points, so that fading at
anyone point is neutralized.
Or the listener can tune to stations
less than 60 miles distant, whose reception is unimpaired. He also will
find during such distortion periods that he has new and almost unlimited
choices among stations over 150 miles away, for on such nights these
distant broadcasters, including many never before heard, will be found
coming in like locals.
"This is to be expected, now that sunspots
are at a minimum in their 11-year cycle. for it is the electron projectiles
from the sunspots which shatter the radio mirror and so interfere with
long-distance reception. Posted
September 4, 2013