Tag Archives: AWA

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.

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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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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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