World’s first pirate broadcast on Easter 1916 to be celebrated

Antique-Radio-Audion(Source: Silicon Republic via Andrea Borgnino)

At an event in Trinity College Dublin (TCD) tonight (25 April), the centenary of the broadcasting of the Proclamation of an Irish Republic via shortwave radio in 1916 – considered by many to be the first pirate radio broadcast – will be marked.

While the men and women who took part in Easter 1916 were camped out in the GPO and other locations around Dublin, one group involved with the rebellion, led by Joseph Mary Plunkett, wanted to use the latest technology to spread the message of Irish revolt.

Having commandeered the Irish School of Wireless Telegraphy at the corner of O’Connell Street and Abbey Street – where the Grand Central Bar now sits – the group set up a ship’s wireless systems to broadcast a shortwave radio transmission, with the hope that a passing ship near the country would pick it up and report back to the US.

With Plunkett at the controls, the radio enthusiast issued a burst of Morse code that read: “Irish Republic declared in Dublin today. Irish troops have captured city and are in full possession. Enemy cannot move in city. The whole country rising.”

With some reports suggesting the broadcast was picked up as far away as Germany and Bulgaria, it is widely considered one of the first pirate radio broadcasts as, until then, point-to-point transmissions was the most common form of sending messages wirelessly.[…]

Continue reading the full article at Silicon Republic online…

Paul Litwinovich on “The Life, Decline and Possible Rebirth of AM”

Zenith-Shuttle-DialMany thanks to the SWLing Post reader who noted this latest post by Paul Litwinovich at WSHU (Paul is frequently referenced here on the Post).

A short excerpt:

“AM occurs elsewhere in nature. A lightning strike or manmade electrical discharge will produce a burst of electrical noise that varies in amplitude. Since AM radios are designed to detect variations in amplitude, this is why they are prone to interference from such things. AM held sway as the primary method of modulating a radio wave up to WWII, not only for broadcasting, but for all types of radio communications.

Every vintage consumer radio, be it standard broadcast or shortwave, up to WWII, received amplitude modulated signals. Nowadays, AM broadcast stations are associated with lower quality audio, but such was not always the case. Receiver design really came of age in the 1930s with the superheterodyne circuit and advancements in loudspeaker design. The grand floor consoles of the late 1930s leading up to WWII were capable of producing audio that was very good, even by today’s standards, the only exception being that they were monaural, as stereo technology was still a ways off.”[…]

Litwinovich’s article is a must-read as he gives a concise overview of amplitude modulation, AM vs. FM, and even covers current proposed uses of the broadcast band (something we’ve also recently mentioned).

Click here to read The Life, Decline and Possible Rebirth of AM.

Jagadish Chandra Bose and the invention of radio

Jagadish Chandra Bose in Royal Institution, London

Jagadish Chandra Bose in Royal Institution, London

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, A Black, for sharing the following article from the excellent Hackaday blog:

J.C. BOSE AND THE INVENTION OF RADIO

The early days of electricity appear to have been a cutthroat time. While academics were busy uncovering the mysteries of electromagnetism, bands of entrepreneurs were waiting to pounce on the pure science and engineer solutions to problems that didn’t even exist yet, but could no doubt turn into profitable ventures. We’ve all heard of the epic battles between Edison and Tesla and Westinghouse, and even with the benefit of more than a century of hindsight it’s hard to tell who did what to whom. But another conflict was brewing at the turn of 19th century, this time between an Indian polymath and an Italian nobleman, and it would determine who got credit for laying the foundations for the key technology of the 20th century – radio.

Appointment and Disappointment

In 1885, a 27-year old Jagadish Chandra Bose returned to his native India from England, where he had been studying natural science at Cambridge. Originally sent there to study medicine, Bose had withdrawn due to ill-health exacerbated by the disagreeable aroma of the dissection rooms. Instead, Bose returned with a collection of degrees in multiple disciplines and a letter of introduction that prompted the Viceroy of India to request an appointment for him at Presidency College in Kolkata (Calcutta). One did not refuse a viceroy’s request, and despite protests by the college administration, Bose was appointed professor of physics.

Click here to continue reading on Hackaday…

Fessenden Christmas Eve Commemorative Transmissions

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This  was reported in the ARRL Newsletter:

Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, will again put his 600 meter Experimental Station WG2XFQ on the air on for a Christmas Eve commemorative transmission. WG2XFQ will transmit on 486 kHz from Forest, Virginia, to mark the 109th anniversary of Reginald Fessenden’s first audio transmission. Historic accounts say Fessenden played the violin — or a recording — and read a brief Bible verse. It’s been reported that other radio experimenters and shipboard operators who heard Fessenden’s broadcast were astounded.

Justin will conduct a run-up to this year’s event starting at around mid-day Eastern Time on December 23. The “official” Christmas event will begin on December 24 at 0001 UTC (the evening of December 23 in US time zones) and will continue for at least 24 hours. Justin said he plans to repeat the commemorative transmissions on New Year’s Eve and on New Year’s Day.

Fessenden’s transmitter was an ac alternator, modulated by placing carbon microphones in series with the antenna feed line. Justin’s homebuilt station is slightly more modern, based on a 1921 vacuum tube master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) design. Listener reports are appreciated and may be sent directly to Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, at his QRZ.com address. (Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, built this replica circa-1920 transmitter, capable of CW and Heising modulated AM.      Photo by Brian Justin)

While I have not heard Brian’s transmission before, I have actually heard a transmission on the experimental frequencies between 465 – 515 kHz. I never expected to be able to hear anything due to extremely high local noise, but one night the propagation gods smiled upon me and the evening was exceptionally quiet. I listened on my Elad SDR receiver over and over to the Morse Code signal which was extremely weak, but mostly readable. I confirmed with Multipsk software, verifying I was indeed hearing one of the experimental stations out of Connecticut.

For information regarding the 500 KC experimental project you can follow this link.

Why not give a listen? You just might be surprised like I was to hear something on this band, and you could add a little Christmas Eve radio memory to your collection!!             73, Robert

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

Video: The Skelton HF Transmitting Station

Many thanks to Jonathan Marks, who shares this short video about the history of the Skelton HF Transmitting Station:

How Far We’ve Come: Looking Back at Radiotelegraphy, 1939 Style

It’s often insightful to look to the past to fully appreciate the current technology we take for granted.

When we tap a favorite contact’s name in our mobile phone–even for someone on the other side of the world–we can be talking to them within seconds, with clarity that’s often the equal of visiting face-to-face. Perhaps Skype or FaceTime is more your style? Yawn… just another two-way, real-time video session. The fact that the other person is thousands of miles away no longer makes you pause at the wonder of it all.  Continue reading

Archived recording of Marchese Marconi

Marconi

The Essex Record Office has published a recording of a speech made by Guglielmo Marconi in 1935. You can listen to the recording by clicking here or listening via the embedded player below (description follows):

(Source:Essex Record Office via Southgate ARC)

“Second part of a speech made by Guglielmo Marconi on the occasion of the unveiling of the ‘Fisk Memorial’ at Wahroonga, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 14 December 1935 (the disc is incorrectly labelled). The ‘Fisk Memorial’ commemorates the first direct wireless message sent from the U.K. to Australia, in 1918.

In the speech, Marconi forecasts the impact that wireless communication will have on ship navigation, but also the world economy generally. Would he be surprised by how accurate he was in his prediction that ‘no country can make much headway’ without such technology?”