Tag Archives: Brian Justin WA1ZMS/4

WI2XLQ: Brian Justin’s annual longwave broadcast

Canadian Reginald Aubrey Fessenden in his lab believed circa 1906 (Source: Radio Canada International)

(Source: ARRL News via Harald Kuhl)

The Canadian inventor, experimenter, and entrepreneur Reginald Fessenden has been credited as the inventor of radiotelephony. Fessenden claimed to have made his first voice — and music — broadcast on Christmas Eve in 1906 from Brant Rock, Massachusetts, although his account is disputed. As he has done each December for the past few years, Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, of Forest, Virginia, will transmit a program on 486 kHz, under authority of his FCC Part 5 Experimental License WI2XLQ ito commemorate Fessenden’s accomplishments.

Justin will transmit for at least 24 hours starting at around 2000 UTC on December 24, with a repeat transmission on New Year’s Eve likely, “keeping in step with what Fessenden was reported to have done on both nights in 1906,” Justin explained.Fessenden’s transmitter was most likely a high-speed “dynamo” or alternator — a predecessor to the later Alexanderson alternator — modulated by placing a carbon microphone in series with the antenna feed line to create an amplitude modulated signal. Fessenden a few years earlier had limited success making voice transmissions using a rotary spark gap transmitter. Fessenden fed his signal into a substantial antenna system erected in Brant Rock for his experiments. Accounts say on Christmas Eve 1906, he transmitted recordings of two pieces of music and read a verse from the bible.

Justin will use somewhat more modern equipment — a home-brew master oscillator, power amplifier (MOPA) transmitter based on a classic design from the early 1920s. It uses a UV-201 oscillator tube driving a VT-25 tube — a modern equivalent to a UV-202 — to generate “a few watts” on 486 kHz. His modulator consists of another VT-25, which uses a large inductor in the RF amplifier’s plate supply to serve as a Heising modulator. The audio program comes from a laptop computer.

“Heising modulation was used in World War I as an easy way to achieve AM in rigs such as those used in aircraft,” Justin said. “My particular Heising modulator can deliver only around 60% modulation, so an audio processor is used to help boost the average volume level ahead of the modulator tube.”

Justin uses far more modern technology to boost “the few watts” of modulated RF to drive a modified Hafler 9505 solid-state 500-W audio amplifier. “The idea for the amp came from W1TAG and W1VD,” he said, “and information on using such an amp on the 630 and 2200-meter ham bands can be found on the web.” After a multi-pole low-pass filter, the carrier output is 150 W.

Justin’s antenna is a Marconi T, crafted from a 160-meter dipole some 60 feet above ground and fed with open-wire line, which is shorted at the transmitter end. A homebrew variometer — constructed from 14-gauge wire wound on a piece of 4-inch diameter PVC pipe — is placed in series to resonate the antenna, which is fed against an extensive ground system. “Most of the RF is lost due to the ohmic losses of the ground system, but at least 15 W ERP is possible, depending on the dampness of the soil. Damp soil helps lower the ground losses,” Justin said.

Click here to read the full article on the ARRL News.

Listener reports may be sent to Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, at his QRZ.com address.

If you would like more information about Brian Justin and WI2XLQ, check out our interview with him in 2013. Indeed, I successfully heard the 2013 WG2XFG broadcast and posted this audio clip on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

Additionally, SWLing Post reader, George Stein has a very personal connection with radio pioneer, Reginald Fessenden: click here to read his story.

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WI2XLQ: Brian Justin’s annual longwave broadcast Dec 24-26

Canadian Reginald Aubrey Fessenden in his lab believed circa 1906 (Source: Radio Canada International)

Now an annual Christmas tradition, Brian Justin (WA1ZMS) will put his longwave experimental station WI2XLQ on the air to commemorate the 110th anniversary of Reginald Fessenden’s first audio transmission.

WI2XLQ will be on the air from 17:00 UTC Dec 24th on 486 kHz and run for 48 hours until 16:59 UTC on Dec 26th.

Listener reports may be sent to Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, at his QRZ.com address.

If you would like more information about Brian Justin and WI2XLQ, check out our interview with him in 2013. Indeed, I successfully heard the 2013 WG2XFG broadcast and posted this audio clip on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

Additionally, SWLing Post reader, George Stein has a very personal connection with radio pioneer, Reginald Fessenden: click here to read his story.

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WI2XLQ (formerly WG2XFQ): Brian Justin’s annual longwave broadcast Dec 24-25

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden (October 6, 1866 – July 22, 1932)

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden (October 6, 1866 – July 22, 1932)

Now an annual Christmas tradition, Brian Justin (WA1ZMS) will put his longwave experimental station WI2XLQ on the air to commemorate the 110th anniversary of Reginald Fessenden’s first audio transmission.

WI2XLQ will broadcast under its new callsign (formerly WG2XFQ) on 486 kHz from Forest, Virginia, beginning on December 24 at 0001 UTC. WI2XLQ will remain on the air for 48 hours.

Listener reports may be sent to Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, at his QRZ.com address.

If you would like more information about Brian Justin and WI2XLQ, check out our interview with him in 2013. Indeed, I successfully heard the 2013 WG2XFG broadcast and posted this audio clip on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

Additionally, SWLing Post reader, George Stein has a very personal connection with radio pioneer, Reginald Fessenden: click here to read his story.

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Fessenden Christmas Eve Commemorative Transmissions

Embedded image permalink

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.

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WG2XFQ: Brian Justin’s annual longwave broadcast Dec 24-25

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden (October 6, 1866 – July 22, 1932)

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden (October 6, 1866 – July 22, 1932)

Now an annual Christmas tradition, Brian Justin (WA1ZMS) will put his longwave experimental station WG2XFQ on the air to commemorate the 108th anniversary of Reginald Fessenden’s first audio transmission.

WG2XFQ will broadcast on 486 kHz from Forest, Virginia, beginning on December 24 at 0001 UTC. WG2XFQ will remain on the air for 48 hours.

Listener reports may be sent to Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, at his QRZ.com address.

If you would like more information about Brian Justin and WG2XFQ, check out our interview with him last year. Indeed, I successfully heard the 2013 WG2XFG broadcast and posted this audio clip on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

Additionally, SWLing Post reader, George Stein has a very personal connection with radio pioneer, Reginald Fessenden: click here to read his story.

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Longwave Radio Recordings: WG2XFG

Brian Justin with his homebrew transmitter (Source: http://w4dex.com/500khz/wd2xsh31.htm)

Brian Justin with his homebrew transmitter (Source: http://w4dex.com/500khz/wd2xsh31.htm)

A few weeks ago, I posteded an article about Brian Justin’s holiday longwave broadcasts commemorating Reginald Fessenden’s Christmas Eve 1906 AM voice transmission.

I don’t spend a lot of time in the longwave portion of the radio spectrum, so this special event station gave me an excuse to venture a little lower on the radio dial.  Fortunately, LW propagation was in my favor, and Justin’s signal made it the 215 miles to my home. While it’s not armchair listening, it’s most impressive, especially considering the transmitter used is “home-brewed” with modest output power.

This recording of WG2XFG was made when the signal seemed to be at its strongest on December 26th, 2013 starting around 12:40 UTC (Christmas evening, EST). Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen via the embedded player below:

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WG2XFQ: Brian Justin’s holiday longwave broadcasts

Reginald Fessenden: "The Father of Radio Broadcasting" (Source: Wikipedia)

Reginald Fessenden: “The Father of Radio Broadcasting” (Source: Wikipedia)

SWLing Post reader, Tom, recently shared a link to an article on the ARRL news page which describes this annual longwave broadcast:

“As he has over the past several years, Brian Justin, WA1ZMS/4 — an active participant in the ARRL’s WD2XSH 600 meter experimental project — will transmit voice and music on 486 kHz as WG2XFQ on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and again on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Transmissions will begin at 0001 UTC and end at 2359 UTC.

Justin, who may be better known for his microwave exploits on ham radio, will use an AM audio loop modulating his vintage-style, homebrew transmitter to honor Reginald Fessenden’s Christmas Even 1906 AM voice transmission.”

Since I’m a sucker for radio history, I contacted Brian Justin and he kindly answered a few questions:

Brian Justin with his homebrew transmitter (Source: http://w4dex.com/500khz/wd2xsh31.htm)

Brian Justin with his homebrew transmitter (Source: w4dex.com)

SWLing: How did you first become interested in longwave (LW)?
Justin: Always had an interest in history of radio since becoming a ham at age 11. Early wireless had emphasis on LW and so it was a good trail to follow in my years as a ham.

SWLing: Is the process of getting a license to broadcast complicated?
Justin: Yes and No. What I hold is not a broadcast license as a TV or FM or AM station would have. I hold an FCC Part 5 license which is for The Experimental Radio Service. The LW and MF spectrum is formally US Govt spectrum that is managed by the NTIA (the US Govt Agency version of the FCC). So before the FCC can issue any license that is in non-FCC regulated bands the NTIA must first approve any license Grant. A good number of people who are involved in radio today don’t always understand the difference between FCC and NTIA spectrum. But licenses can be granted if you have the willingness to wait and know how the application process works. It’s not all that difficult once you know the context of what one is asking for.

SWLing: What is the best time to listen for WG2XFQ and how can listeners improve their chances of hearing you?
Justin: The transmissions are only a few times each year to mark historical dates in radio history. I try to make at least two each year, one for Fessenden and one for the Berlin Radio Treaty. I also ran one on the 100th Aniv of the sinking of the Titanic since wireless played a big role in the tragic event.

A loop antenna is a good antenna to try as one can at least null any loud noise source. But simple E-field probe antennas have worked for many in years past.

Anyone who copies WG2XFQ is encouraged to submit a logging of it at 500kc.com.

Thank you and good DX to all this Holiday Season. I hope I can deliver a tiny DX gift to all if the band is in good condition this year.


Many thanks, Brian!

I will be listening for WG2XFQ on 486 kHz on December 24th and 25th, then again on December 31st and January 1st. With any luck, and if conditions are favorable, perhaps I’ll hear a little longwave DX commemorating Reginald Fessenden’s Christmas Even 1906 AM voice transmission.

Readers, be sure to check out Brian Justin’s web page and the ARRL 600 meter experimental group’s website. Please log your WG2XFQ listener reports at: 500KC.com

If you would like to learn more about Reginald Fessenden, check out Fessenden.ca.

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