by Carola DeRooy
Archivist, C.A. & Museum Collections Manager
Point Reyes National Seashore
As we mentioned in Newsletter No. 30
we have the wonderful good luck to work with the professional archivists at the Point Reyes National Seashore, operating under the baton of Carola DeRooy, In the last Newsletter Carola produced the article from the San Francisco Chronicle from her collection describing the opening of the Marconi trans-Pacific transmitter at Bolinas.
KPH ws one of the first stations to receive word of the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Luckily copies of the logs of that infamous day have been preserved in the PRNS archives that are under Carola's care. At our request she searched for and copied those historic documents for us to present here.
Here's an extract from the full log which may be seen via the link below:
There are some things to note in this extract which will help when reading the full log.
- KPH BOLINAS INT. - On 7 December 1941 the KPH receive site was at the original Marconi point to point site in Marchall on the east shore of Tomales Bay. The operators at Marshall controlled the transmitters in Bolinas remotely, as we do today. The INT refers to Intermediate Frequency. KPH operated on the low frequency, intermediate frequency (what we now call medium frequency) and high frequency. So this portion of the log shows activity on what we would call the MF band.
- At 1942GMT KPH receives the broadcast from NPL San Diego on 500kc announcing the air raid on Pearl Harbor with the now famous phrase "THIS IS NO DRILL".
- KPH rebroadcasts the message to WGBC (all US merchant ships) on 436kc (then the MF working frequency), 126kc (the low frequency working frequency) as well as on 12Mc and 16Mc.
That should be enough to whet your appetite.
For the complete KPH log click HERE. <===<< (This may take a moment to load)
On 15 May 1943 the men and women of the Radiomarine Corporation received this congratulatory radiogram from General Eisenhower... VIA RADIOMARINE'S COMPETITOR MACKAY RADIO! Jeez, Ike...
WWII Veteran Visits the MRHS
We recently got an email from the daughter of WWII veteran Clifford Stowe saying he would be visiting from Cape Cod and wondering if he might be able to visit with us.
Your editor tries to never pass up the opportunity to meet and talk with one of men of that war (see Newsletter No. 5
) so of course we laid on extra pastry in his honor and the Transmitter Department put on one of their famous Shock & Awe transmitter demonstrations.
Cliff and his daughter joined us for Services of the Church of the Continuous Wave at the Bolinas site, then visited the receive site in Point Reyes where KSM and K6KPH were in full song. Cliff wrote this about his service to our country:During WW11 I was in a the 328th. fighter control squadron, trained as a radio operator in South Dakota and Toma Wisconson and ended up in Italy, France and Germany. We were set up in a net system, three D/F stations in a triangle with a homing station to the south at the Operations Block.
By shooting bearings from fighter planes all stations would call in the compass reading from which ops could draw strings and pretty well know just where the pilot was and bring him back to base.
We had some Mayday's when pilots wold head for water and be picked up rather than over land and be captured. We were rarely in real danger but did lose men at Anzio. I saw a lot of Monte Casino before the breakthrough.
All in all good thing in some ways for me. I got to use the G.I.Bill and also learned a lot from just being in a foreign country. And you know what-those people were not that different from us!!
Cliff is a modest man, like all the WWII vets it has been our honor to meet. But how many pilots owe their lives to his skills which brought them home? And those of us of a certain age will remember with awe the places he casually mentions: Anzio and Monte Casino.
We had a great time and we think he did too. We thank him and all vets for his service to our country.
Operations Report -
by Richard Dillman
Practices and Procedures
As noted in Newsletter No. 30 we have reverted to our previous operating schedule, viz: Saturdays only as described below.
Since there's now only one op standing watch that means we won't be able to call CQ on amateur channels as we could in that past. But maybe that's okay in a way since we'll be using contact procedures closer to that of commercial coast stations. And after all the K6KPH motto is "Professional Operations in the Amateur Service". So let's review the best calling procedure to use for K6KPH:
Pick one of K6KPH calling frequencies you think will work from your location (see particulars below) and repeatedly send "K6KPH K6KPH K6KPH..." (within the limits of station identification rules of course). When the MRHS op hears you he'll respond with "DE" just as in commercial operations. That's when you send your call and you're off to the races. Of course if you really want to do it right you can send QSS, the last four digits of your working frequency and "UP".
All this is fun and good but of course K6KPH will answer any call no matter what procedure is used so don't be shy.
Saturday 16 March
The day started well enough but embarrassment soon set in. I assumed control of the station from BL (Bolinas) at 1200LT. The wheel was running on KSM and the K6KPH transmitters were on line and rarin' to go. Then the phone rang. Great! A True Believer. But no...
"KSM, may I help you?"
"Are you in manual operation today?"
"Because I've been callin' you on 7Mc and you don't come back!"
"I... oh...yeah... my scan isn't on. Sorry!"
Once I was actually monitoring the K6KPH calling channels as advertised there was a nice sig from OM Pulley, Chief Op at WB4ZKA. And he wasn't calling just to chat either, he was QTC1, which I immediately copied and delivered to the email address he provided. So maybe I redeemed myself at least a little bit.
This was followed by another fine signal, this from OM Marholin at the key of K6JJR. He's the president of the Samuel F. Morse Radio Club. He takes his Morse seriously as his great fist demonstrated.
A little later OM Sinclair in Annandale, VA and a frequent MRHS visitor pushed through a fine sig from K6ETM on 18Mc with a signal report for KSM.
But not long after the report from K6ETM BL seized control of all the K6KPH transmitters for the ARRL Code Practice Qualifying Run which is keyed from the transmitter site. The Transmitter Department has to shift the frequencies of the Henry HF5000D fixed frequency transmitters to the W1AW channels for this event and re-tune the antennas too so they had their hands full - but as usual they made it look easy.
14Mc was the usual shambles with some sort of contest going on. Is it just me or is there a contest pretty much every weekend? Yeah, I thought so.
All went well with KSM ops. There are two receivers scanning the ship calling frequencies plus the fixed receiver on 500kc. KSM ops begin at 1000 Pacific time with press and weather keyed from Bolinas. At 1200 Pacific time control of the Morse transmitters is transferred to RS (Point Reyes).Soon after the transfer SS AMERICAN VICTORY/KKUI came up on 16Mc QRU.
The traffic list went out at 2000Z and the Pacific high seas weather went out at 2130Z as usual.
Later in the day SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN/KXCH came up on 500kc. The KXCH radio room is a work in progress so the OM listens to KSM on 4Mc. This caused all kinds of puzzlement when he first called months ago. We'd reply on 500 and knew we must be blowing the doors off at his location in San Francisco Bay. But no joy. When we realized he was listening on HF all went well. And of course it's a pleasure to hear any signal at all on 500.
Saturday 23 March
Things went a little more smoothly this time around. But there was a glitch on the operational side. On the previous Saturday Transmitter Supervisor Steve Hawes noted a problem with the 14Mc. H/2 antenna for 14050kc. But of course he had a plan to maintain revenue service and as usual he threw himself into the breach on the 23rd... sadly, to no avail. Steve reports:
At BL the previous Saturday (16 March) I observed erratic operation of the 14050 transmitter whech led to inspection of the antenna in use and discovery of one end of the top bay of that H/2 had come down (email 3/18/13 - Shazzbat! 1)
So, I thought: Ok we have other repaired 12Mc antennas; I'll put the (repaired in November) 12808 antenna back in service on TX B4 (where it was in use until it came down in 2007), then move the 13002 antenna currenbly on B4 to D1 to replace the antenna just discovered to be partly down.
First thing on Sat, 3/23, I connected my MFJ antenna analyzer to the window box for the 12808 antenna (which had previously be used on 12808 and 12993 by a few turns of the tuning caps - documented on a note with the box). It would not tune up, even with moving taps. It was close, but connecting to the tx produced very high reflected power, so back to the original.
During operation there was too much RF floating around to get any meaningful readings, even with the antenna line disconnected and 600 ohms worth of resistance connected to the line terminals of the tuner.
Megged the two vacuum variable capacitors in the tuner, just in case. After close of operations was able to tune up to almost perfect match on 12993 and even better on 12808 - with 600 ohm resistive load. Reconnected the antenna line. Still way off, but now was erratic - the wind had come up in the afternoon.
Disconnected the antenna line again and measured toward the antenna with RK's trusty Simpson 260. The line-to-line DC resistance varied erratically from 1 to about 10 ohms, and the line-to-ground resistance varied from 150k to 250k Ohms. (Shazzbat! 2).
Will have to make inspection next time... sigh.
So we were unable to participate in the usual shambles on 14Mc. But we did pretty well anyway. OM Sever at W8IM came up with QTC2 - two KSM signal reports for the current and past Saturdays from Leesburg, FL.. And OM Sinclair at the key of K6ETM in Annandale, VA provided his report as well.
Weather and traffic lists went out on schedule but no ship traffic to report.
+1 415-669-9646 - Give us a call to give signal reports, coordinate schedules or just chat. The phone will be answered whenever an operator is on duty, typically after 1200 Pacific time on Saturdays.
Saturdays from 1000 Pacific time (1700Z with Daylight Savings Time in effect) to 1600 Pacific time (2300Z). Note that KSM auto keyed Morse press and weather begins at 1700Z while KSM RTTY press and weather begins at 1800Z). Manual KSM and K6KPH operations begin at 1900Z.
Morse Operators Needed
Are you ready to step up and grasp the throttles of a real commercial coast station? Yep, that could be you wearing the MRHS earphones and green eye shade. All that's required is a basic competency in Continental Morse and a willingness to show up at least twice a month. No commercial ticket? No worries. You'll sit the circuit at K6KPH until you're ready to take the exam for your commercial radiotelegraph license. All coaching will be provided if needed. Such a deal. Interested? Just send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll go from there.
International Marconi Day - Update
As all True Believers know, the birthday of the founder of it all is in April. Each year the Cornish Amateur Radio Club sponsors International Marconi Day in which amateur stations come on the air to contact Award Stations, those with a lineage leading back to a historic Marconi station. With transmitters at the original Marconi site in Bolinas K6KPH certainly meets that test!
We have just received word from the Marconi Conference Center, at the site of the original Marconi receive site, that one of the restored Marconi cottages will be available for the MRHS to use at the receive site and control point for IMD! With both transmitters and receivers at original Marconi sites the cool-o-meter will be right off the scale!
The date is 20 April. More information about K6KPH operations will be forthcoming but at this point we just want to alert readers of the event so they can save the date. And of course if you want to be a K6KPH operator on this date (some have already volunteered!) just let us know by writing to email@example.com.