Tag Archives: Reginald Fessenden

Experimental Station WI2XLQ will recreate 1906 Fessenden transmissions again this Holiday season

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

(Source: ARRL News)

Experimental Station will Recreate 1906 Fessenden Transmissions

Experimental station WI2XLQ will be on the air on 486 kHz AM for the Reginald Fessenden commemorative transmission. Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, is the licensee. He will transmit for 24 hours starting at 2000 UTC on December 24, with a repeat transmission starting at 2000 UTC on December 31. Justin will use a homebrew 1921-era MOPA exciter with Heising modulation, followed by a modern 500-W linear. The transmission will be the same as in past years — two violin pieces that Fessenden claims to have played as one of the very first voice transmissions from his Brant Rock, Massachusetts, radio lab site. “While doubt remains that such a transmission ever took place, Fessenden did perform some crude voice transmissions over a few miles distance in early December near Washington, DC, as a demonstration for the US Navy,” Justin said. “So, perhaps some credit is due Fessenden for his efforts to transmit the human voice in an era of spark transmissions.”

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.

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Reginald Fessenden’s connection to Bermuda

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

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans (W4/VP9KF), who writes:

The story of Reginald Fessenden has a background in Bermuda.

Before he finished his college education in Canada, he spotted an advert for Headmaster at a school in Bermuda. He applied for it and got the job. At the right age of 18 he became headmaster of Whitney Institute, a school near the top of the hill in Flatts and where your scribe went to school starting in 1968! He met Helen Trott of Flatts and they were married and he moved on to his radio and scientific fascination. The main school building that I attended is exactly as it was in Fessenden’s time (and is to this day).

Later, they moved back to Bermuda and bought Wistowe a house on North Shore Road in Flatts (on the east side of the inlet), which was no more than a stiff 10 minutes walk to Whitney). The school and house still stand although the roads are now so very busy (and the house literally within an inch of passing buses) it’s hard to see them (I do have pictures!). Wistowe is just yards from the Bermuda Aquarium across the road.

In October 2007 the amateur radio special callsign VP9F was used to celebrate his life (indeed he held the callsign himself in 1929).

A fuller article is at http://vp9ge.com/vp9f.htm as written by myself and Ed, VP9GE.

The celebrations also included Ken Hubbard who demonstrated radio to students from Whitney and other Bermuda schools (Ken was my Physics instructor at Bermuda College, although not a radio ham). In 1976 Ken and I did a public demo of radio while I manned the world’s first all solid state transceiver, the Atlas 210X at a similar open day at Bermuda College (ironically the student [me] taking the lead and having to supervise the instructor!).

Once again, a small world!

Thanks for sharing this interesting bit of Fessenden history, Paul!

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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

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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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