WI2XLQ: 2023 Fessenden Event on 486kHz starting Christmas Eve!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brian (WA1ZMS), who shares the following announcement. Please spread the word:

As in years past, Brian, WA1ZMS of Forest, VA will have FCC Part 5 station WI2XLQ QRV starting appox. 21:00 UTC on Dec 24th for the now annual Fessenden Event. Transmissions will last for at least 24hrs. A repeat will take place again on Dec 31st also starting appox. 21:00 UTC and run for 24hrs. All transmissions will consist only of the two Christmas songs claimed to have been played by Fessenden himself on his violin, as well as a brief Bible verse. WI2XLQ’s voice ID and transmission description is via computer generated voice.

Heising & Fessenden

While the story of Fessenden’s alleged first voice transmissions using an Alexanderson alternator on Dec 24th and Dec 31st has never been proven to have taken place the way the now-legendary story claims; early in Dec of that year Fessenden did demonstrate AM voice transmissions over just a few miles for the US Navy. So some credit is due to his early pioneering work of human speech via RF rather than the typical spark generated CW of the time.

MOPA Transmitter front

WI2XQL uses a slightly more modern home-brew 1920’s era Amateur-grade MOPA transmitter (based on a UV201 oscillator and UV202 final) and a high power linear FET amplifier. The MOPA also uses true AM Heising modulation as was first done in WW1 for the US military.

MOPA TX inside

So set-up your long-wire antennas and with a simple modern SDR or a vintage MF RX, give a listen for WI2QXL. SWL reports can be sent to [email protected] and e-mail confirmation of reports will follow. Audio samples of what you heard are also welcomed.

-Brian, WA1ZMS

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7 thoughts on “WI2XLQ: 2023 Fessenden Event on 486kHz starting Christmas Eve!

  1. Bob Colegrove

    Picking it up in Baltimore at 0130 UTC. Unable to ID the songs or make out the voice. Sounds like an organ or calliope ? Lots of atmospheric noise. Using a passive resonant loop into a PL-880.

  2. Larry Szendrei

    Nothing heard yet in NH at 2137Z on 12/24/2023. Tried both my TS-440S and SDRPlay RSP1. If I’m successful in pulling it in later on I’ll try to receive on the old RAL regenerative TRF.


  3. Stan Stolarski

    Thank you for admitting me to SWLing POST. I especially like the way old school equipment & nomenclature are expressed in this too much of a digital world. I, myself, never really gained any proficiency in the digital realm but pretty good with vacuum tubes for audio amplification, & point to point wiring. I remember as a kid making a simple receiver from an old toilet paper tube wound with maybe #22 bell wire w a 1N34 diode some carbon & an old razor blade. Crystal headphones that required no battery power. And it actually worked even though it received only three AM radio stations on a good night. Wishing you all the best thru the holidays & New Year & may all ya’ all stay well !!!


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