The Sun has once again demonstrated its immense power by unleashing a significant solar flare, causing radio blackouts here on Earth. This latest event highlights the increasing activity as we approach the solar maximum of Solar Cycle 25, a period marked by frequent solar eruptions.

A Record-Breaking Flare

On Tuesday, the Sun emitted a massive storm of energized particles, recorded as the most powerful flare in the current solar cycle. Designated as an X8.7 category flare, it surpasses the strength of recent solar activities. According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this flare originated from an active sunspot labelled AR3664, situated at the very edge of the Sun’s visible hemisphere.

Impacts on Earth

The implications of this solar event were significant. Parts of Earth, particularly the United States, experienced radio blackouts due to the intense electromagnetic radiation from the flare. In Australia amateurs reported very poor HF propagation. The Tecsun SDR showed almost no noise (or signals) across the HF spectrum for several days. These blackouts disrupted communication systems, navigation, and other technologies reliant on radio waves.

 Understanding Solar Cycle 25

Solar Cycle 25, which began in December 2019, is now approaching its solar maximum—a phase where solar activity peaks, leading to more frequent and intense solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). These solar phenomena are a natural part of the 11-year solar cycle, driven by the Sun’s magnetic field.

Preparing for Solar Events

As we continue through this period of heightened solar activity, scientists and agencies like NASA and NOAA closely monitor the Sun’s behaviour. This vigilance helps in forecasting space weather events and mitigating their impact on Earth’s technological infrastructure.

The recent X8.7 solar flare serves as a reminder of the dynamic and powerful nature of our star. While the immediate effects might be limited to radio blackouts, the broader implications of increased solar activity underscore the importance of ongoing observation and preparedness. 

Stay tuned for further updates as Solar Cycle 25 continues to unfold, bringing with it both challenges and opportunities to deepen our understanding of the Sun-Earth connection.


In the vast expanse of Death Valley National Park, a remote desert in southern California, modern connectivity often falls short. On a fateful Saturday, April 6, a family’s adventure took an unexpected turn when their vehicle became trapped in mud in a hazardous area, leaving them without cell service. In this critical moment, amateur radio proved to be their saving grace.

Caleb Gustwiller, KD8TGB, a dedicated radio amateur from Ohio, sprang into action upon receiving the distress call. Monitoring the 10-meter band, Gustwiller managed to pick up the call sign and approximate location of the ham in distress. Despite losing the signal amidst the noise, he swiftly turned to the Parks on the Air® Facebook group, rallying fellow hams to lend their ears and assistance.

Thanks to the collective efforts of the amateur radio community, several hams reached out to emergency officials in southern California. This timely intervention led to the rapid rescue of the stranded family by park rangers, averting what could have been a tragic outcome. The Black Swamp Amateur Radio Club emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “Without Caleb hearing this distress call, it could have quickly become a very deadly situation for the operator and his family.”

This remarkable incident underscores the invaluable role of amateur radio in providing communication lifelines, especially in remote and challenging environments. It serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of community, collaboration, and the enduring spirit of ham radio operators worldwide.

 *Full credit to the source for this article  ARRL Letter (*

As a passionate enthusiast of all things radio-related, stumbling upon a thought-provoking article titled “Why Is Shortwave Only ‘the Radio of Last Resort’? Its powerful new capabilities remain largely unexplored” by Simon Keens of Radio World ignited a spark of curiosity within me. Shortwave radio, often dubbed as the ‘radio of last resort,’ has long lingered in the shadows of modern communication technologies. Yet, its potential remains vast and largely untapped.

In an age dominated by digital streaming services and satellite communication, shortwave radio might seem antiquated to some. However, delving deeper into Keens’ article revealed a different narrative – one that speaks of resilience, versatility, and the potential for innovation within the realm of shortwave broadcasting.

The article shed light on the multifaceted capabilities of shortwave radio, highlighting its ability to traverse vast distances with minimal infrastructure. Unlike its counterparts, shortwave signals can propagate over thousands of kilometres, making it an invaluable tool for global communication, especially in remote or disaster-stricken regions where traditional means of communication may falter.

What struck me the most was the notion that shortwave radio is often perceived as a ‘last resort’ rather than a primary means of communication. This begs the question: why is such a powerful medium relegated to the sidelines? Is it due to the allure of modern technology or simply a lack of awareness about its potential?

Keens’ article challenged me to reconsider my own perceptions of shortwave radio and prompted me to embark on a journey of exploration into its capabilities. As I delved deeper into the world of shortwave broadcasting, I was astonished by the wealth of content and diversity of voices that permeate the airwaves.

From international news broadcasts and cultural programs to amateur radio operators and clandestine stations, shortwave radio offers a tapestry of voices that transcend borders and ideologies. It serves as a platform for free expression and cultural exchange, fostering connections between individuals and communities across the globe.

 The resilience of shortwave radio in the face of adversity cannot be overstated. During times of crisis, when other forms of communication may fail, shortwave radio often emerges as a lifeline, providing vital information and fostering a sense of solidarity among listeners.

Yet, despite its undeniable strengths, shortwave radio continues to face challenges in an increasingly digitalised world. The proliferation of internet-based communication platforms and the decline of traditional broadcasting have posed significant obstacles to the growth of shortwave radio.

However, rather than viewing these challenges as insurmountable barriers, we should see them as opportunities for innovation and adaptation. As technology evolves, so too should our approach to shortwave broadcasting. By embracing digital advancements and exploring new modes of content delivery, we can breathe new life into this time-honoured medium.

My encounter with Simon Keens’ enlightening article on shortwave radio served as a catalyst for reevaluation and exploration. It reminded me of the enduring power and potential of this oft-overlooked medium and inspired me to advocate for its revitalisation.

As we navigate an increasingly interconnected yet fragmented world, the role of shortwave radio as a beacon of communication and cultural exchange has never been more vital. It is my hope that through continued innovation and collaboration, we can unlock the full potential of shortwave radio and usher in a new era of global connectivity and understanding.