Special Memorial Event Reenacts Transatlantic Amateur Radio Reception of 1921




Radio amateurs in the United States and Scotland recreated the first successful transatlantic reception of a shortwave amateur radio signal nearly a century earlier. Special Events Station N1BCG in Greenwich, Connecticut, and GB2ZE in Ardrossan, Scotland, made contact on SSB and CW during the December 11 event. ARRL, the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) and the Radio Club of America (RCA) teamed up to support the activity, hosted by ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, and Clark Burgard, N1BCG, who lent his storied call sign for the occasion. On December 11, 1921, in Ardrossan, Scotland, reception of a radio signal transmitted from an RCA test station – located in a small cabin on the Greenwich, Connecticut, property of Minton Cronkhite, 1BCG – helped inaugurate the era of global communication. In Scotland, American Paul Godley, 2ZE, clearly heard the signal using a receiver of his own design.

“These events are fun because they’re timely, get us to focus on history and the people who made history,” Gallagher said. “We were very happy with the content of it and the media coverage, and we were happy to link with GB2ZE, although we would have preferred to do it on 160 meters, where it would have been closer to the frequency used. in 1921.” The 1921 transatlantic test, using CW, was carried out on a wavelength of 230 to 235 meters (about 1.3 MHz). The transatlantic tests proved the value of shorter wavelengths – long considered worthless for long-distance communications.

Burgard spoke on 20 meter SSB with GB2ZE, operated by Jason O’Neill, GM7VSB, in Ardrossan. A little later Dave Patton, ARRL Field Services Manager, NN1N, chatted with GB2ZE on CW. “After working GB2ZE on 20 meters, I was reminded of how challenging RCA operations were when using 200 meters,” Patton said. “Hearing signals in Europe across the Atlantic must have been a huge thrill for Godley and the others listening.”

The first message Burgard from Greenwich sent to Androssan on Sunday morning repeated the original 1921 text: “252 AM No. 1 of 1BCG w-12, New York Date 11/12-21 [GMT] To Paul Godley, Androssan Scotland, warm congratulations Burghard Inman Grinan Armstrong Amy Cronkhite. Patton repeated the message 30 minutes later on CW.

Describing the special event as “a rewarding experience,” Patton said the entire team worked together to build a Field Day-style station in wintry weather. He said the additional equipment included a few “fully armed vintage AM stations”, as well as modern radios such as a FlexRadio 6500 and an Icom 7700. Among the older pieces was a 1950s transmitter belonging to the rocker Joe Walsh, WB6ACU. , Eagles. The antennas were simple dipoles.

“In about 9 hours of operation, we recorded nearly 525 QSOs, including 106 AM on 40 and 75 meters in conditions that were only fair,” Patton recounted.

A dozen operators sat down to operate the Special Event station, set up near the site of Transmitting Station 1921 1BCG. The special event attracted media attention, particularly on the Scottish end of things, with BBC Scotland reporting on the amateur radio event.

To highlight the historic nature of the occasion, Godley’s grandchildren, Bruce Godley Littlefield and his sister, Janice Taylor, visited the special event, and Littlefield brought his grandfather’s comprehensive logbooks on the experience, as well as many photos and letters from the ARRL.

“We appreciated the opportunity to reconnect Godley’s story with that of ARRL and the Radio Club of America,” Littlefield said afterwards.

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