MRHS Newsletter No. 48

Dedicated to True Believers Worldwide

14 September 2014

Newsletter back issues HERE                                        MRHS Web site HERE

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> Help Save Rhombic R-209

> Banquet at Historic Marconi Receive Site

> MRHS Presentation at Pacificon 2014

> MRHS to Offer Telegraph License Exams

> KSM Maritime Press Broadcasts Available On Line

> Help Save Rhombic R-209

Faithful readers of these pages know of rhombic R-209.  We talked about our long term project to preserve this historic antenna in our Newsletter No. 8 and Newsletter No. 21.  But to review, R-209 is the only remaining antenna from the point-to-point service.  It is aimed on an azimuth of 209 degrees, thus its designator.  We won't make you get out your great circle map to see what area of the world that is when viewed from the RCA receive site.  It's Tahiti!  Just the idea of maintaining a HF radio circuit to this most exotic and storied island of the South Pacific fires the imagination.

The Tahiti circuit was the last one still in service.  When that circuit closed in 1974 it spelled the end of the point-to-point service begun by Marconi in 1914.  But it wasn't the end of R-209.  This giant rhombic was pressed into service by ARINC for communications with aircraft over the Pacific and by KPH itself for contact with ships in the south seas.

But we have to be honest.  R-209 has to be saved now or we're likely to lose it.  Each year we're amazed that it has survived another winter.

Now comes Mr. Bill Ruck of the MRHS Maintenance Department.  Newsletter readers have followed Bill's exploits as he has built, repaired and maintained equipment supporting all aspects of the KPH/KSM operation from the tone keying circuits to the medium frequency filter box.  But R-209 is by far the biggest and most challenging project he's undertaken.

Take a look at Bill's drawing to get an idea of the size of this thing.

Bill Ruck's drawing of R-209

Yes, you have read correctly.  The antenna is 412ft. per leg.  And it's a curtain rhombic, meaning that each leg is composed of two wires.  It was originally a terminated rhombic, meaning that it was unidirectional with a narrow beam pointing right at Tahiti.

Feed point pole of R-209 showing bridle just barely hanging on.  That bridle is a 4x4 timber by the way, just to give some scale to the image.  Photo by Bill Ruck

Can you imagine what it must have been like to listen to this monster?  Right, neither can we.  But we want that experience, and we want to preserve this magnificent artifact before it's too late.

North pole with wires hanging.  Pitiful.  But still very fixable if we act quickly!  Photo by Bill Ruck

The first thing we need to do is test the poles to make sure they're still structurally sound.  Once that's established we will replace and repair the guy wires as needed.  Then we will replace the elements of the antenna itself.  A simple three step process, right?  Well, maybe not.  The tallest of those poles is 112ft! So we'll not only need a crane, we'll need a major crane.  But we can do it.  We have the skills and capabilities and we know how these antennas work.  However we can't test the poles ourselves.  That requires a specialist.  And the MRHS inventory does not include a crane capable to operating at 112ft.  Those things will require significant funding.  And so we come, once again, to you our fellow True Believers.

If you feel that saving R-209 is a goal is worthy of your support please take a moment to click on the yellow button to join us in keeping the flame of maritime Morse communications alive.

VY 73,



Make a Donation



 > Banquet at Marconi Receive Site

In Newsletter No. 47 we announced a grand banquet to be held at the 1914 Marconi receive site in Marshall, CA.  Most of the tickets to this event have been sold but there are still some seats left.  The date is Friday 19 September so there's not much time left.  We certainly hope to see you there.

This is a benefit event for the MRHS, organized by our great pals Carola DeRooy of the Point Reyes National Seashore and Kathy Wippert of the Marconi Conference Center.

The receive site is now the Marconi Conference Center, situated on the east shore of Tomales Bay with stunning views across the water.  The event will be held in the former power house, now restored as a beautiful event room.

As dusk falls, you'll mingle with fellow true believers at the wine bar, then move inside for the banquet dinner.  MRHS President and KSM Chief Operator Richard Dillman will host a photo-rich presentation on the history of the site.  Many of the photos have just recently been discovered and have never before been seen in public!  Plus you get to see Dillman dressed up in a suit!

You can dress up or dress down as you wish.  Just join us, that's what matters.

And here's a special added attraction - We've just learned that author Calvin "Cam" Trowbridge will be joining us!  Can wrote the wonderful book "Marconi: Father of Wireless, Grandfather of Radio, Great-Grandfather of the Cell Phone, The Story of the Race to Control Long-Distance Wireless".  This book is an absolute must for the library of any True Believer.  Cam has brought to light many previously unknown details about Marconi's progress from his early efforts to his globe-girdling empire of intercontinental radio communications - all in an entertaining, highly readable volume.  If you've ever had any questions about Marconi and how he grew and managed his business, here's your chance to buttonhole and expert and get your answers!

A photo of the event will be made by famous photographer Art Rogers of Point Reyes Station using a vintage large format photographer.  This photo will live down through the ages like the one below so here's your chance to be part of history.

Follow in the footsteps of these dignitaries at the 1914 banquet celebrating the commencement of trans-Pacific wireless communications 

The event is a fund raiser for the Maritime Radio Historical Society. Tickets are $100 for full admittance to the banquet and the presentation.  The benefit supports ongoing efforts by the MRHS in partnership with the National Park Service to preserve and restore the historic equipment and operations at the radio sites and make them available for public tours and education. President of the Maritime Radio Historical Society, Richard Dillman will be the featured speaker.  Richard's presentation will include many never before seen historic photographs.


Click below to purchase tickets for this event.  There are only a few tickets remaining so get your ticket order in soon.


Eventbrite - Marconi Centennial Banquet





> MRHS Presentation at Pacificon 2014


The MRHS will be making a presenting on the history of Marconi and RCA wireless operations at Pacificon 2014.  Richard Dillman of the MRHS will take you nstep by step through this intriguing history with a photo-rich PowerPoint presentation showing everything from the original Marconi 230kW rotary gap trans-oceanic transmitter to the recently restored 1950s vintage RCA "H" set transmitter.  Plus everything in between!
Click for Pacificon information

Day: Sunday 12 October

Time: 0930


Full registration for Pacificon, including access to most of the forums, is only $25.  Advance registration closes 5 October so act now.   



> MRHS to Offer Telegraph License Exams 


As we mentioned in Newsletter No. 26, the FCC has consolidated the three classes of commercial radiotelegraph license into the single T class license.  We're most gratified that this license can still be obtained.  Many True Believers feel that achieving the goal of becoming a licensed commercial radiotelegraph operator is the pinnacle of their radio career.




In those wonderful days of yesteryear one walked down the dimly lit marble hallways of a federal building toward a door at the end with "Federal Communications Commission" painted on the frosted glass to take the test, knowing that many radiomen who entered that door were never seen again.  As scary as that was, many of us radio geezers look back fondly on that experience.  Now, as you know, the testing for radio licenses has been farmed out to the public sector.




Word has reached us here at the MRHS International World Headquarters that True Believers hoping to obtain a commercial radiotelegraph license are having a deuce of a time finding someone to give them the test!  We've even heard reports from reliable sources that certain potential examiners or trainers consider the radiotelegraph license a "waste of time".  We want to assure you that these folks will have some explaining to do at the tribunal.  In contrast, our policy is to encourage code-slingers however we can.  So Mr. Roy Henrichs of the Operations Department is making arrangements for the MRHS to give the test for the radiotelegraph license.


Roy Henrichs of the Operations Department pounds brass at Position 6


Think of it.  Not only will you get to sit the exam for this penultimate radio license, we'll lay on the "A" tour of the KPH facilities as well.  And when your ticket is issued you can return to exercise the privileges of your license by sitting the circuit at KSM.  You just can't beat a deal like that.


Details of the exam dates, locations and cost will be presented in following issues of the Newsletter.  For now we just wanted to let you know that we're on the case regarding this issue.    



> KSM Maritime Press Broadcasts Available On Line 


We've received some inquiries about the maritime press KSM broadcasts each Saturday on Morse and RTTY.  While we don't have the staffing to post these every week on our Web site, you can get the directly from the source.   


We broadcast the Marine Engineer's Benevolent Association's Telex Times, which is available HERE 




The International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots Wheelhouse Weekly, which is available HERE  


 Happy reading!




> MRHS Merchandise


Support the MRHS and look cool at the same time. Such a deal!  We've got hats, mugs, T shirts, belt buckles and bumper stickers, all with variations of the MRHS logo.  Get a hat and mug for yourself and a put yourself in solid with the XYL by getting her a MRHS hoodie.


Plus you'll want to be looking sharp when you visit us on Night of Nights.  No better way to do that than to be rocking some MRHS swag. 


Click on the images to go to the True Believers Store







 Just click on the images above to go to the MRHS True Believers store and browse our offerings.  Thanks!




We very much look forward to meeting you on the air or in person at the station.  Or at Pacificon!  Until then we wish you the best of luck and fair winds & following seas.