High Latitudes and Low Wavelengths

Donald B. MacMillan, an experienced arctic explorer and geologist, visited Hartford in early 1923 to discuss amateur radio with Hiram Percy Maxim.1 Among his various scientific investigations, MacMillan was planning to study the aurora borealis.  No one yet understood what the aurora was, but he had experienced it on previous trips and noticed that he could hear long wave radio signals through it. On his next expedition, besides photographing the aurora, he wanted to experiment with shortwave radio signals to … Continue reading

Crossings II—Ardrossan

Paul Godley slept well during his six-day Atlantic voyage, catching up on the sleep he lost during the intense organizing activities in the run-up to the transatlantics project. Arriving in England on 21 November 1921, he was unexpectedly met by H. J. Tattersall, Superintendant of the Marconi Company in Southampton, who helped him deal with various customs problems.1 A recently imposed import duty would have caused his equipment to be held up for weeks. Instead, they negotiated for Godley to … Continue reading

Crossings I—Aquitania

Marconi had first done it back in 1901. For amateurs, crossing the Atlantic was the next natural challenge—they had been thinking about it since before the war. Many in the scientific community were skeptical that such a feat could possibly be achieved at such a short wavelength as 200 meters, especially with power as low as one kilowatt. An early rumor that American signals had been received in Europe appeared in the press in December 1920.1 The new record, the … 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