Dedicated to True Believers World Wide 
6 November 2012   


MRHS Merchandise!

Judging from the number of items sold since the availability of MRHS T shirts, mugs and other items was announced in Newsletter No. 20 it appears that folks enjoy identifying themselves as True Believers while also supporting the MRHS.  Thanks to all who have made purchases!  There are more items to come but so far the most popular seems to be the lightening bolt and Morse code design from our very own Mr. William F. ("Bill") Ruck.
MRHS lightning bolt shirt with "160HA1A", the FCC emission designator for manual Morse, on the back.  Click on the image for more views. 
But the "True Believer" T shirt has also been popular with a lot of supporters. After all it's not every day that you can get away with wearing a T shirt with a naked lady on it in polite company! 
MRHS True Believer T shirt with logo from Marconi stock certificate.  Click on the image for more views.


Then there's the True Believer mug.  That's been a big seller.  There's more available here than might at first meet the eye.  For example we have T shirts of course.  But you can get the MRHS logo on 51 different styles of shirts!  Similarly, you can get the MRHS logo on 7 different styles of cups and mugs!


MRHS True Believer mug.  Click on the image for more views.



MRHS True Believers On Line Store


So look around, find what you like and made it yours.  You'll be able to proudly show the world that you're a True Believer and support the MRHS at the same time.

Help Save Rhombic 209!    
In Newsletter No. 8 we reported on preliminary field work done to evaluate Rhombic 209, the most historic antenna at either site restored by the MRHS.
209 had a storied career.  As a curtain rhombic it was the last receiving antenna in the HF point to point service.  As its identifying number suggests, it was aimed on an azimuth of 209 degrees - Tahiti!
This is the bridle at the Tahiti end of R-209 - made with 4x4 timber!  We will fabricate two new bridles from scratch to replace this one and the one still in the air at the feedline end of the antenna.
Crews capable of working on such antennas, let alone understanding them, are thin upon the ground these days.  But we solicited the help of one of the best, CalSites, who have helped us with antenna work in the past.  They have determined that Rhombic 209 can be restored.  We have determined that we will spend a large portion of our carefully husbanded bank account to restore the antenna.
Bill Ruck, MRHS Maintenance, will be the lead person directing work on the antenna.  Here he sketches the classic diamond shape of R-209 (on sandwich paper of course!) before the preliminary field evaluation of the antenna.
But we need your help as well.
The work on Rhombic 209 and on transmitting antennas at the Bolinas site will essentially empty our bank account.  That's okay, that's what it's there for.  And after all the funds in that account came from many of you who contributed for just such a purpose.
Once the antenna work is done we will still need to fund the purchase of parts and materials for ongoing repair and maintenance.  And that's where you come in once again.
If you're a True Believer and feel you can help us with our antenna restoration projects and The Cause in general, please click on the button below and donate what you can.


Make a Donation    



On The Job at an FCC Monitoring Station


We know they're out there listening.  Some of us even fantasize about what it must have been like to work at an FCC monitoring station during the golden age.  Well, now we can wonder no more.


Now comes Mr. Dave Ross who was on the job with the FCC's Field Operations Bureau as Monitoring Observer and Watch Officer.  Those are some job titles to conjure with!  OM Ross sent as clipping of himself which were unfortunately unable to reproduce with enough clarity for inclusion in the Newsletter.  But we have included other relevant photos from our archive.


OM Ross writes:


In 1971, I was hired by what was then called the FCC's Field Operations Bureau, Monitoring Systems Division, as a Monitoring Observer / Watch Officer.  At that time, our monitoring network consisted of 13 stations, 10 in the continental U.S. and 1 each in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.  We were all linked by a landline teletype network provided by the telephone company.  


As such, even back then we had "online," real time connectivity, which allowed us to coordinate our observations simultaneously when needed.  Our net control was, of course, located in Washington, DC, and much of our operation was directed and controlled by the Washington Watch Officer.  My first assignment was to the Fort Lauderdale, Florida station, where I began my rather steep learning curve, both through on-the-job training and a year-long course of study.


Although I had a fairly good background in military electronics, broadcast engineering, and telephone company toll transmission, as well as some 16 years as a radio amateur, I was about to find out how little I actually knew about commercial communications.....
Monitoring station at Allegan, MI

Naturally, when most people think of the FCC, they think of rule violations, enforcement actions, and the dreaded "Inspector."  However, although that is a very substantial part of what the FCC does, there are many other things involved in its day-to-day operations.


One of the most important functions of the monitoring network is long-range direction finding in the HF spectrum.  Direction-finding fixes are used to locate the source of interfering signals, to identify/confirm unknown signals, to assist search and rescue operations (particularly on the high seas), and in some cases to assist other agencies.


As anyone who has been involved in H-F communications knows, there many times when a station is trying to communicate with another station on an assigned frequency and another station my appear on or close to that station's frequency, causing partial or total disruption of communications.  Monitoring stations, both in this country and elsewhere are charged with determining where this interference is coming from.  Most countries are signatory to international treaties, and when an interfering signal is located in another country that matter is reported to the country in question.  And of course if the signal originates in this country, the matter is handled by the FCC.
Central monitoring station, Grand Island, NE.

Being new to monitoring operations, I had a lot to learn.  Most of the stations back when I started had five watch officers who stood rotating shifts.  This meant that things could and did get pretty hectic at times.  As the only man on duty in the evenings, midnights, and weekends, everything usually happened at once.  


The numerous phone calls were especially distracting, but they were part of the job.  There was a whole lot of new equipment to learn and new problems to handle  -  all the time.  


Although I was not a great CW operator, one of the new things I learned about was the heavy use of CW at that time, and I actually enjoyed keeping a receiver on 500 kHz  -  especially late at night on watch.  It was amazing how much traffic there was and how far away many of the stations were.  


On one of my first watches, there was an SOS from a freighter sinking off the coast of Argentina, and I was actually able to copy the position and pass it to Coast Guard SARLANT.  All this from my location in South Florida.


Now, in 2012, the H-F direction finding is done from a central location.  Whereas earlier direction-finding antennas involved rotating elements and/or drives, the newer interferometer DF's lend themselves to remote control operations and are at least as effective or more effective than manned operations.  Many of the monitoring stations that were there when I started are still there, being operated remotely.  During my career, I was also assigned to the Livermore, CA station and finally the Vero Beach, Florida monitoring station (after another stop at Fort Lauderdale). 


There were a number of other duties at all of those locations which are now handled by agents working out of offices in major cities, such as monitoring and measurement of two-way systems (VHF, UHF, and higher frequencies) for compliance and enforcement.


The monitoring stations also had mobile vans which did much of this work, and all of us watch officers traveled frequently (in rotation) in areas within a day or so drive.  Those trips were sometimes lengthy and difficult, but all of us enjoyed them.


Together with my U.S. Air Force service in the late Fifties and Early Sixties, I retired in 1993 with 27 years of Federal service, and I was very fortunate to have had a career which I really enjoyed.  I met many people in various communications operations, and  all of them were especially fine individuals.





Radio Archieology - Part 3 of a Series

Western Electric Point to Point Receiver - Discovered!


We thank you for enduring our constant whining about the fact that we have virtually nothing to restore and display from the HF point-to-point era - except for Rhombic 209 above, of course!


But when it comes to the magnificent diversity receivers such as the R-3 described by Mr. Bob Dildine in Newsletter No. 16 we have little more than scraps.


However RCA was certainly not the only company in the HF point-to-pint business in the glory days.  There were many competitors - including AT&T at their station just to the west of the RCA receive site we have restored.


While best known for ship to shore station KMI, this site was also the receive location for the AT&T point-to-point circuits.


AT&T used the Western Electric "LD" receiver for its circuits.  These can be seen in photos taken inside the Point Reyes receive building in the 1960s.


The AT&T interference monitoring position was along the rear wall of the receive building with the LD receivers in a row to the right.


People have come to know that we are searching for historically significant radio artifacts to acquire, restore and display as part of our mission.  Every once in a while we'll get a message from someone who is absolutely certain that there's a point-to-point receiver in a barn somewhere.  So of course we all mount up and go tearing over there only to discover that it's... something else.


But a couple of years ago word came that a Western Electric LD receiver not only survived but it was in storage within walking distance of your editor's home in Point Reyes Station!  And this time it turned out to be true.



LD receiver 410 in storage.

The receiver seems to be in reasonable shape.  But of course its condition can only get worse with time in the absence of a thorough restoration program.  And you can just imagine how the MRHS receiver restoration team would like to get their hands on this baby!


LD receiver front panel controls.


We would love to make this receiver ours and treat it to the full restoration it deserves.  But the owner has so far been reluctant to part with it.  It's probably time for us to make another approach to see what can be worked out.  But for now this gem sits in its storage container that your editor walks by every day!




 Operations Report



Operating Hours - Several OM's have written with signal reports saying they were surprised to hear us on Sundays and Wednesday evenings.  Here's the current operating schedule for both KSM and K6KPH (Pacific time):

Saturday - 1000 - 1600

Sunday - 1200 - 1600 (No KSM RTTY)

Wednesday - 1900 - 2300 (No KSM RTTY)

Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea... let's go to press with Mike Payne's operations report for KSM and K6KPH...
The regular operations report will resume with the next Newsletter.  Meanwhile we'll report that we've had numerous guest operators at K6KPH and KSM.  Those with commercial radiotelegraph tickets got them endorsed as coast station operators.
Why not join us at the key?  Just drop a line to to let us know you're coming.
Better still, why not get your commercial radiotelegraph ticket, THEN join us?  If this is something you've wanted to do our suggestion is to do it NOW.  The FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking a while ago on these licenses.  There's no telling what they'll do as a result.  They could combine all classes into one or eliminate the license entirely.
See the FCC Web site for detailed information.


VY 73, 

MRHS Operating Department 

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

VY 73,


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