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.
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:
“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: 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.