Tag Archives: Antique Wireless Association

The Cooling Radio Station & MUSA: The Ultimate SSB Receiving Site

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark (AE2EA), who shares the following video from the Antique Wireless Association. Here’s the video description:

Cooling Radio Station was at the UK end of a point-to-point, shortwave signal beamed from Lawrenceville, New Jersey. The site of the station was carefully selected as the antenna, MUSA (Multiple Unit Steerable Antenna), upon which it depended to receive the incoming transmission, had to be: directly aligned with Lawrenceville NJ, USA; two miles long; comprised of an array of 16 individual rhombic antenna; and have an area of three miles in front of the MUSA that would be free from radio interference. The 16 rhombic antenna were strung between 60ft high telegraph poles; each side was 315ft long with internal angles of 140 degrees. The signal from each antenna was sent to the station via a core coaxial cable sheathed in a watertight copper tube and buried in a central trench.

This vital communications link, between the US and British governments at the very highest level, operated from 1942 until the early 1960s. Although a transatlantic telegraph cable had been in use since 1866, there was no telephone cable until 90 years later, in 1956. An initial shortwave system was set up in 1929, but was of poor quality. The Post Office set up and ran Cooling Radio Station solely for the reception side of two way, shortwave, voice channels with the United States. Land was purchased in 1938 and the building was completed in 1939. The receiver used 1,079 valves and was considered to be the most complex radio built. It was connected to the adjacent MUSA (Multiple Unit Steerable Antenna) and could receive 4 incoming radio telephone channels. It was officially in use on the 1st July 1942. This may well have been because German intelligence services were able to break the scrambler / encryption device available in 1939. By 1943, Bell Laboratories in the US had developed SIGSALY, a far more secure scrambler system. (This system was so well screened and secure that German records captured at the end of WW2 showed that they were not aware that transmissions were person to person, direct voice contact.) SIGSALY was installed in the basement of Selfridges department store in Oxford Street with extensions to 10 Downing Street, the Cabinet War Rooms and the US Embassy amongst others. The US transmitter was located at Lawrenceville, New Jersey, while UK transmissions were made from Rugby to the US receiver at Manahawkin, New Jersey.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Click here to become a member of the AWA.

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AWA Presentation: The origin of breadboarding

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark (AE2EA), who writes:

Hi Thomas,

FYI, The AWA just posted a presentation by Andy Flowers, K0SM, about amateur radio transmitters from the 1920s & early 30s. Andy is a builder of beautiful early transmitters, among other ham radio pursuits like 10GHz and up microwave work.

Here’s the latest blurb from the AWA:

If you were an amateur radio operator 100 years ago, and wanted a transmitter, you had one choice, you built a breadboard transmitter from scratch, often with components you made yourself. Today, some hams still do this, with designs from the early years of ham radio. AWA member Andy Flowers, K0SM, is one of those modern day vintage transmitter breadboarders.

Join Andy as he explains how early radio amateurs built their own breadboard transmitters with handmade parts, and put them on the air without killing themselves (well, most of the time.)

Watch it here:

We also have an earlier piece about Andy here:

73, Mark ~AE2EA

Fascinating! Thank you for sharing this, Mark!

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AWA Presentation by Matt Zullo: “The US Navy’s On-The-Roof Gang”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Erdle, who shares the following:

Hi Thomas,

I thought that you SWLing visitors might enjoy this presentation from the Antique Wireless Association:

The US Navy’s On-The-Roof Gang – Pioneers of Radio Intelligence:

Video description: Author Matt Zullo is a retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer who has more than 35 years’ experience in Radio Intelligence, now more commonly known as Communications Intelligence. He holds a Master’s degree in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University, where he researched and wrote his master’s thesis on the On-the-Roof Gang, which tells the story of story of the 176 Sailors and Marines who, starting in 1921, learned the Japanese katakana telegraphic code in order to intercept Imperial Japanese Navy communications, setting in motion events that would lead to the birth of the US Navy’s communications intelligence organization. Join Matt in this “AWA Shares” presentation as he discusses the importance of this pioneering effort in signals intelligence.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Click here for more information about the On-The-Roof Gang series.

For more info about AWA’s presentations, click here. 

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1933 Aluminum disc recordings from a DXer in England

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark (AE2EA) with the AWA, who writes:

Your loyal followers might be interested in this video of airchecks
recorded on aluminum discs in England of US broadcast stations in late
1933, from the Antique Wireless Museum.

From the AWA description:

These audio clips were recorded on aluminum discs using more of an embossing than cutting action. Reading an AWA Facebook post that the AWA doesn’t have the equipment or experience to digitize the very fragile audio information on these discs, radiodave78@aol.com volunteered to do so. He did a great job is highly recommended for your consideration as a service for archival digitization and restoration.

The discs were in Peter R. Testan’s collection because they included recordings of station WBBC in Brooklyn, NY that his dad, Peter J, started. As well as being a broadcast owner and engineer, Peter J. Testan was also a ham operator. Pictures of his ham shack were featured in a recent issue of the AWA Journal.

While the calls are identifiable, the other programming in these recordings is difficult to listen to. The Creative Director of a New York City radio station remarked after listening: “”It’s so funny because I have DXers sending me EXACTLY the same quality audio as on these discs. Nothing has changed in nearly 100 years!!!”

The audio quality in this video has been enhanced from the original aluminum disc recordings through the use of bandpass filtering, noise reduction and compression, with the goal of removing some of the artifacts of the recording process.

The Wikipedia entry for aluminum discs is pretty succinct: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminum_disc

If you enjoyed this video, consider becoming a member of the Antique Wireless Association at https://antiquewireless.org/homepage/membership/

Absolutely mazing! Thank you so much for sharing this, Mark!

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Photos from an Antique Wireless Association meeting in 2000

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David, who shares the following random photos he recently inherited and scanned. These were taken at an Antique Wireless Association meeting (AWA) from 2000. Click on images to enlarge:

Thank you for sharing these David!

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Radio Waves: Waves of Hope Presentation, More Radio Post-Pandemic, RTÉ to cease radio over DAB network, and Saving VOA Delano Relay DL-8

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors David Iurescia, William Lee, and Radio Ado for the following tips:


Waves of Hope at Nutley Public Library (Tap Into Nutley)

Saturday, March 27 at 2:00 p.m. via Zoom – Learn the true and inspiring story of centenarian Agnes Joan Negra.  During World War II, using her shortwave radio from her home in Nutley, NJ, Agnes listened to Radio Berlin each night and notated the names of U.S. Prisoners of War as they were announced.  Agnes then went on to send personal letters to each family to inform them that their loved ones were still alive.  Author, Nutley native, and Son of Agnes, Ronald along with his wife Valerie, will discuss the creation of this book and this inspiring story of his mother.  You must register in advance at nutleypubliclibrary.org/waves-of-hope to attend.  When registering you will receive a confirmation and one day before the event you will receive an email with log-in instructions through Zoom.[]

People will be listening to more radio when the pandemic is over: Ciaran Davis (RadioInfo)

“People have learnt that they can listen to radio in new ways and they will be listening to more, not less, when the pandemic is over,” according to HT&E chief executive Ciaran Davis.

Speaking to radioinfo this week, Davis explained that the company had “a very tough second quarter” in 2020, but the rest of the year turned out better than expected.

“There was a huge improvement in quarters 3 and 4, compared with that horrible quarter 2 where radio revenue was back 46%,” said Davis.

With about 30 people losing their jobs at the height of the pandemic, “regular communication and honesty was important in getting the staff through the worst of the pandemic.” It was “a very unsettling time” but the company “kept people involved and focused on the positive,” which kept the company performing well despite the tough economic conditions.

After early pay cuts, salaries have now returned to normal. “The revenue book was empty, so we had to take the decision to cut pay, but radio listenership and advertising has come back strongly and more quickly than we thought it would then… we were looking at some troubling numbers if the pandemic had of kept going.”

Luckily, the worst fears were not realised. HT&E revenue was 22% down on the previous year, but could have been a lot worse. The outlook seems positive for 2021.

“I think there was a perception that radio would suffer the same fate as out of home because people were not listening in the car during lockdowns, but it didn’t.

“We in the industry knew that our content is engaging enough, strong enough, local and live enough to be resilient. The emotional bond between listeners and their favourite stations and personalities meant that they easily switched to new platforms when they were at home. It took some convincing for the ad market to understand that this had happened, but they understood in the end.

“This is an exciting time. I think people have learnt that they can listen to radio in new ways and they will be listening to more not less when the pandemic is over.”[…]

Read more at: https://www.radioinfo.com.au/news/people-will-be-listening-more-radio-when-pandemic-over-ciaran-davis © Radioinfo.com.au

 

RTÉ to cease radio transmission on DAB network (RTÉ)

RTÉ is to cease transmission of its radio services on the Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) network on 31 March.

However, its digital radio services, RTÉ Gold, RTÉ 2XM, RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, RTÉ Pulse, and RTÉjr Radio, will remain available on other platforms.

In a statement, the broadcaster said the move to cease DAB transmission was driven by three main factors – the fact that DAB was the least utilised platform in Ireland; that RTÉ is the only Irish broadcaster on the DAB system, and cost avoidance.

A public information campaign will be held to show customers how they can continue to access the digital stations.

In 2019, RTÉ had announced that its digital radio services would cease transmission as part of cost cutting measures.

However, although the DAB service will stop in March, the stations will now still be available on other platforms.

The broadcaster said this is due to the value audiences still derive from them.

The latest JNLR report, Radio in a Digital World, compiled by Ipsos/ MRBI, found that while 8% of the population in Ireland (330,000 people) are accessing radio stations via digital means, the smallest number in this cohort opt for DAB.

According to the report, just under 5% of adults in Ireland listen to radio via a mobile device, 2% listen on a PC, around 1.5% listen on a smart speaker, 0.6% listen on a TV set and 0.5% DAB. 77% of adults in Ireland listen to radio on FM.

For details on how to continue to listen to RTÉ digital radio services visit www.rte.ie/keeplistening 

One Megawatt of Peak AM Power – Saving the Voice of America Delano Relay DL-8 (YouTube)

In 2007, the Voice of America ceased operations at the Delano Relay site in Central California. The site is destined to be bulldozed along with several relics of Collins Radio Company’s Broadcast Communications Division. The Collins Collectors Association, with assistance from the Antique Wireless Association, hatched a plan to retrieve one of the Collins 821A-1 250 KW Shortwave Transmitters from the site and place it on display for all to see. This presentation gives some history of VoA and the Delano site and follows the disassembly and relocation of Delano Relay DL-8.

Dennis Kidder, W6DQ, is a retired Aerospace Engineer, having spent nearly 45 years in System Engineering. His career spanned many fields – from building and operating large scale sound systems, computer systems used to publish newspapers and control communications satellites, 4 years as the Chief Telecom Engineer during the construction of the New Hong Kong International Airport, and finally, air defense radar systems and networked radio communications systems used by the military. First licensed as WN6NIA then WA6NIA over 50 years ago, Dennis was granted the callsign of one of his High School Elmers, Chek Titcomb (SK), W6DQ. Amateur Radio has been a nearly life-long passion.


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Video: Tube radio transmitter designs from the 1920s

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans (W4/VP9KF), who shares the following article from Hackaday:

The origin of the term “breadboard” comes from an amusing past when wooden bread boards were swiped from kitchens and used as a canvas for radio hobbyists to roll homemade capacitors, inductors, and switches. At a period when commercial electronic components were limited, anything within reach was fair game.

[Andy Flowers], call sign K0SM, recently recreated some early transmitters using the same resources and techniques from the 1920s for the Bruce Kelley 1929 QSO Party. The style of the transmitters are based on [Ralph Hartley]’s oscillator circuit built for Bell Telephone in 1915. Most of the components he uses are from the time period, and one of the tubes he uses is even one of four tubes from the first Transatlantic contact in 1923.[…]

Click here to continue reading at Hackaday.

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