Steadily increasing use of CW paralleled exploration of ever shorter wavelengths, and the two pursuits complemented each other. Amateurs were setting new records at a whirlwind pace. CW use in traffic handling had grown tremendously in the past year, and in June 1922 ARRL message traffic on CW exceeded that on spark for the first time.1 By the following February CW traffic accounted for nearly 90% of the total.2 Hams across the country found CW especially effective in summer when … Continue reading

QSS Tests

Never having observed the effects of a complete solar cycle on signals before, or at least not having paid attention to them, hams continued to be impressed, intrigued, and puzzled by the changing on-air conditions as the minimum approached, still two years away as the new decade began. At least one thing was clear: Radio waves didn’t simply move from point to point along a straight line and decrease in strength with distance.  Something else was happening too, but what? … Continue reading


The uneven, partly unpredictable nature of radio wave propagation continued to fascinate hams during and after the war. The solar cycle had peaked around 1917, just in time for hams to miss it because of the war shutdown.  Now, with the next solar minimum little more than two years away, hams had just gone through the first winter season of prime-time operating since the reopening—and had begun to notice some peculiarities and marked differences in signals from when they last … Continue reading

Strangely Behaving Signals

While the causes for QRM were well understood, mostly man-made, and could be dealt with through cooperation and tuning techniques, other disruptive on-air phenomena were clearly beyond such controls: those caused by nature. Some, such as static (QRN, also called strays), although understood to a large degree, had no known effective remedy.  Others, such as fading, were not understood at all. At constant transmitter power, what natural phenomena could possibly cause a signal to fluctuate in strength? Why wasn’t a … Continue reading