21 August 2012  

Newsletter Changes
- Approved!

The changes we made to the last issue of the newsletter seem to have been well received.  So we'll stick with the black on white format.  Thanks to all who took the time to share their thoughts about the change.

As always, comments are welcome... solicited in fact.  Just send an email to . 

Newsletter Back Issues

They're available! (starting with Newsletter No. 3, the first that wasn't a plain email message).  They're on line for your reading pleasure.  Just click on the link below. 

Newsletter Archive
Visit the MRHS Web Site

Are you a True Believer?  Do you enjoy the sorts of things we talk about here in the Newsletter?  Then you'll probably enjoy our Web site too where there's tons more to see and look at.  Check it out.

MRHS Web Site 


4-Wire Restoration 

Dr. H.H. Beverage, inventor of the wave antenna that carries his name, wrote an excellent paper on diversity reception in 1931.  With the benefit of hindsight it's fascinating to see how the system that eventually evolved into the RCA triple diversity receiving system evolved.

One of the first ideas was that two receivers, connected to antennas some distance from each other, would be connected to earphones feeding the receiver outputs to the operator, one to the left ear, the other to the right.  In that system the operator functioned as the diversity equipment!

Eventually a three receiver system was used with each receiver connected to a separate, highly directional antenna aimed at the target city.  At Point Reyes these were the cities of the Pacific Rim.  The antennas, typically rhombics or double fishbones, were separated by at least 1000ft.

The RF stages of each receiver was were aligned for each frequency.  The output operated a tone keyer that sent the signal over leased lines to the Central Radio Office in San Francisco where operators copied the messages by ear or, in the case of high speed transmissions, on paper tape.

But how to get the signals from the antennas to the receivers with minimum loss and maximum rejection of interference?  In those days the ignition systems of cars and even aircraft were usually unshielded so even though the receive sites were remote, interference was a real issue.

The answer was the so-called 4-wire transmission line.  As the name implies, this was made up of four wires in a box cross section with the diagonally opposite pair carrying the signal.  The tension on all four wires we maintained by a pulley and weight system at the termination frame at the receive building.  That meant that each wire of each line had to slide smoothly through its insulator from the building all the way out to the antenna - a long distance in most cases.

MRHS volunteers decided that at least one run of 4-wire should be restored to show how the system worked.  The problem was that there was no one with knowledge of this system to guide us.  So we taught ourselves, manufactured special parts that we could not restore and restored a long run of 4-wire that now brings signals from a large V beam back to the receive building. 

Tension is maintained on a section of restored 4-wire transmission line 
Back at the termination frame Paul Shinn carefully solders the lead in to the 4-wire line 
With most of the section restored the next task was to connect the 4-wire line to the weight and pulley system at the termination frame.  The problems were that the cement weights are heavy and they have sunk into the ground over the decades since they last served their intended purpose.  But we were not to be denied and soon... well, after a lot of tugging was done and not a few ponderous oaths were issued the weight was back in the air and the 4-wire line was back in service for the first time since the point to point service ended.

Mike Johnson begins rigging the selected counterweight 

Make a Donation

How often does a True Believer and dedicated radio squirrel get to work on a project like this?  Right!  Once in a lifetime.  We fund work like this and the restoration of transmitter 298 out of our pockets - and we do so gladly.  But every bit of support from fellow True Believers makes a big difference.

To all those who have sent along a contribution to The Cause we offer a heartfelt thanks.  Your support is tremendously appreciated.

If you're a True Believer and can make a contribution to The Cause it will be most appreciated.  And remember, we're all volunteers so 100% of your contribution goes directly to purchase the items needed to keep the transmitters and receivers working and the antennas in the air.  



Radio Archeology - First of a Series 


If you've had a chance to peruse our Web site information about KPH you know that it began like in the Palace Hotel (thus the call PH) in San Francisco in 1904 or 1905.  Some wags say that the ops stood around with nothing to do because there were virtually no ships equipped with wireless on the west coast at the time!  True or not, we had a little problem in San Francisco in 1906 and KPH was lost when the Palace Hotel and much of the rest of the city burned after the earthquake.


The next home for KPH was on Green Street in San Francisco.  This street name will resonate with historians of broadcasting because it was on Green Street that Philo T. Farnesworth, inventor of electronic television, had his lab.  But KPH was located at the west end of Green Street (we don't yet know exactly where), closer to the Pacific Ocean.


The western parts of San Francisco were still sparsely settles but not apparently sparsely enough to accommodate a coast station with and the crashing din of its rotary spark.  So KPH had to move again.



Operating position at KPH Hillcrest.  Note the Model 106 receiver and the outboard tube audio amplifier to the right.  Note also the grip of a revolver in its holster nailed to the leg of the operating table 


The next home for the station was a little more appropriate.  It was perched atop Hillcrest, a hill overlooking the Pacific in Daly City, a city just south of San Francisco.  And there it stayed until the early 1920s when the receive site moved to the former Marconi (now RCA) trans-Pacific receive site in Marshalls (now Marshall) and the transmitter, still a rotary gap, was moved to the Bolinas transmitter site.


Hillcrest is just a short drive from San Francisco.  Did anything remain of KPH?  That's the question Richard Dillman and Mike Johnson set out to answer.  They had a photo of the exterior of the KPH shack with Lake Merced and the Pacific in the background.  And a topo map of Daly City seemed to identify Hillcrest.  So they beat a path to the south and soon arrived at the present day Hillcrest.  They were crushed by what they saw.



Entry to the gated community atop Hillcrest 


Hillcrest was now a gated community.  Which of course should have been expected for a location with a beautiful view of the Pacific.  But the MRHS explorers were True Believers and thus not the sort to give up easily.


After a little bushwhacking along a contour of the hill to the north they came upon truly sacred ground - the actual site of the KPH Hillcrest shack.  Take a look at the photos below.



KPH Hillcrest ca. 1916, located in a depression dug from the side of the hill.  Note Lake Merced just above the roof line and to the right of the antenna mast and the Pacific Ocean in the background. 



Mike Johnson stands at the site of KPH Hillcrest.  Note Lake Merced and the Pacific Ocean in the background and the foundations on which the original shack rested. 

Mike and Richard felt just like Hiram Bingham when they found the site of KPH Hillcrest.  It was deeply moving to stand at the actual site where pioneer operators sent their signals from the rotary gap to operators across the Pacific.  And really, this is the sort of thing the MRHS is really about: the discovery and documentation of the artifacts of our maritime radio heritage. 


Weekend Report


Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea... let's go to press with the KSM and K6KPH report for Saturday 18  August 2012...

Things returned more or less to normal at KSM/K6KPH last weekend.  Ops Rick Wahl (ex-KPH, ex-NMC) and Richard Dillman were on duty.  And we had *lots* of visitors. 

But the oddness reported two weeks ago regarding SS AMERICAN VICTORY/KKUI continued in modified form on Saturday.  KKUI called as usual on 12 Mc.  FW answered him on the KSM 12Mc frequency but got no reply.  It was only after answering on 16Mc and listening to KKUI on 12Mc was contact made with the ship.  We're not sure what exactly is going on but at least this time there was only *one* KKUI on the air (last time there were two!).  And of course we're always glad to work KKUI no matter what the situation. 

KSM - 

1918  KKUI  (12/16)

K6KPH - 

Position 1 (RD)

2017  KB4JB (14) 
2153  K6ETM (14) With KSM signal report 

Position 4 (FW)

1911  K6EGE (14) 
1916  JA5GQ (14) 
2017  K6JJR (14) Using vintage tube gear (a True Believer!) 
2053  WD0EBZ (14) 
2102  VE7OM/7 (14) Friend worked at VAI 
2120  AA6EZ (7) Thanks for interesting Newsletter (you're welcome!) 
2208  EA2NN (14)  
2215  K2IH (14) 
2247  K6MGO (7) 
2258  K0DTJ (7) 
2304  N6KIX (7) 

Later in the day Mike Payne sent an email to say we had missed regular caller W8IM.  But Mike picked him up from his home station and relayed his radiogram with a KSM signal report: 



SWL REPORT KSM FLORIDA SAT AUG 18 2230 12/16 QSA/5 22 QSA/2 X 73  


Thanks Mike and thanks Dean.  Sorry we missed you but your message got through! 

Say... are you a CW op yearning to sling some Morse at the "code factory" (as KPH was once called)?  If you are we have an operating position all set up just for you.  Brung your key and cans or use ours.  Just drop a line to to let us know you're coming. 

VY 73, 

MRHS Operating Department 
NOTE: KSM and K6KPH will be active on Saturdays only until further notice.

Until next week we wish you fair winds and following seas.

VY 73,


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