Monday, 24 November 2014

More radio fun

Once in 2 weeks I have a monday off work. It means I work the saturday before. Such a day has the advantage I can bring and get my daughter to/from school. And have time to play radio in the morning for about a hour. A time with totally different propagation possebilities as the usual evening time. I hoped for a contact with VU4KV from Neil Isl. Andaman (Andaman & Nicobar Isl.) a ATNO for me. And yes, first station I heard on 12m was VU4KV who had a strong signal. It took about 15 minutes to get into the log. I moved to 11m & 10m after that and listened out for several Japanese stations. There was some long path propagation to ZL on 11m. But nothing heard from ZL or VK on 10. I encountered special station AU2JCB (op: VU2DSI Datta). Found out JCB stands for Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose. A indian scientist that worked on microwaves already in 1895 and succeeded to transmit a signal before Popov and Marconi did. Very interesting.

Then I had some other chores to do and left my FT-817 on WSPR 10m with my usual 1W and the HB9CV first pointing east and later pointing west. Worldwide propagation as seen on the map, although the map displays both RX as TX reports. I had one faulty spot which was BO... I still hope to get a spot from T5/T61AA, although I spotted him again it is hard to get a report from this station.

Finally in the evening I reached my radioshack finding my computer in a almost jammed state, the FT-817 clicking relays jumping from HF to VHF. I really don't know what happened? I disconnected everything and reset the computer. The FT-817 was another story. Relay kept clicking, on/off didn't help. I had power out so no blown finals or so. I noticed behind the voltage readout the LCD was displaying PRI. Found PRI in the menu and set it off. Problem solved....but how on earth did it get on "PRI". I'll never know...

I had some minutes left and saw fellow blogger YO9IRF Razvan spotted on 80m JT65. So, I just tried for some 80m this evening and yes I made it to YO9IRF. Actually it was the first time "twitter" had some use to me having a short chat with Razvan about the QSO.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Historical first time (1944) handheld radio use in northern Netherlands

Top secret map in which Al Gross pointed
the location wrong. View out at my parents
house, across the field is Ulrum.
I always like the historical blog posts from AE5X on various topics. This time I can write one myself. I came across various newspaper articles I collected over the years and found something interesting related to our hobby. It seems that W8PAL Al Gross (founder of the pager and CB radio) did some tests/experiments with a handheld radio (walkie talkie) he designed to sell commercially. Al Gross was asked by the OSS to work for them as they saw advantage in his design for spy communication. It was the first time a walkie talkie was used in Europe. Those first real live tests were done in Ulrum, northern Netherlands, about 25km west of my QTH and very near to were my parents live currently. Actually the view out of their window across the garden is towards Ulrum. The story goes that Al Gross later sold his patent to Motorola which did develope the modern mobile phone eventually. Because of this the media does like to report that Ulrum is the first place in Europe were a mobile phone was used.

This whole story was topsecret in 1944 and was known by the code name "Joan-Eleanor". Al Gross was involved in the development of a walkie talkie that could operate above 250 MHz a frequency that the Germans could not receive. The advantage was that messages could be passed fast in phone as there was no need for encryption/decryption. The system compromised a pair of tranceivers which were a SSTC-502 handheld trx (Joan) which weighted less then one pound, the antenna was a simple dipole on top. It should communicate with a SSTR-6 trx (Eleanor) in a B-17 or de Havilland Mosquito plane. The first succesfull contact was made 21/22 November 1944 above northern Netherlands with a secret OSS agent codename "Bobby". Top secret agent "Bobby" was Mr. Anton Schrader who was dropped near Ulrum in the night of 9-10 Oktober 1944. This agent was really top secret as even the resistance didn't know about his dropping. Till 30 March '45,  16 contacts were made (date could not be correct as Schrader was captured by the Germans in feb. 1945).

In 2003 Dr. Davras Yavus has investigated things when he came across this secret operation when he met Al Gross around 1998 at a Virgina Tech Symposium. He published his findings on his website and luckely on a google webalbum. Unfortenately I find very little about this person anymore and although I tried I was unable to contact him to ask his permission to publish parts of his article.

These days you can find almost everything on the internet and a small investigation brought me some very interesting links about the actual radios and how they work. I came across some more information about secret agent "Bobby"as well. A nice read if you like spy stories from WW2. It has been written in the media that Al Gross was the inventor of the (SSTC-502) Walkie Talkie. Probabely because he is well known as inventor of the pager and early CB radio. But from the information I could find he was for shure the designer/inventor of the foldable dipole antenna that was used with the WT, a system so simple that every amateurradio hobbyist could "invent" it. However, what exactly the contribution was of Al Gross in the design of the SSTC-502 remains unclear.

A presentation by Dr. Davras Yavus held in 2003
More detailed information about the radios

List of Dutch agents 1940-45
Story in Dutch about Anton Schrader

Ik vind het altijd leuk om weer een historisch schrijven over allerlei onderwerpen van AE5X te lezen op zijn blog. Dit keer heb ik zelf een leuk onderwerp. Ik kwam tijdens het zoeken naar iets anders een verzameling kranten artikelen tegen die ik verzameld heb en die een relatie hebben met de hobby. Dit kranten artikel ging over W8PAL Al Gross (uitvinder van de pager (pieper) en de CB/27MC bakkies). Hij deed in het begin van WW2 testen met Walkie Talkies die hij wou ontwikkelen voor commercieel gebruik. Al Gross werd gevraagd om in het diepste geheim voor de OSS te komen werken omdat men voordelen zag in hetgeen hij mee bezig was. Men bedacht dat het gebruik van een Walkie Talkie met een frequentie van boven de 250 MHz niet afgeluisterd kon worden door de Duitsers omdat die simpelweg daar geen ontvanger voor hadden. De eerste echte test werd gedaan te Ulrum ongeveer 25 Km ten westen van waar ik woon en waar mijn ouders vlakbij wonen. Het is zelfs zo dat het uitzicht bij mijn ouders uit het raam direct naar Ulrum is. Het verhaal gaat dat Al Gross later zijn patenten verkocht aan Motorola die uiteindelijk de mobiele telefoon verder ontwikkelden. Daarom word in de media graag melding gedaan van het feit dat de eerste mobiele telefoon in Europa gebruikt werd in Ulrum.

Dit hele verhaal was "top geheim" in 1944 en was bekend onder de naam "Joan-Eleanor". Al Gross was mede ontwikkelaar in dit geheime project van een walkie talkie die zond boven de 250 MHz een frequentie die de Duitsers niet af konden luisteren. Het voordeel was dat men geen tijd kwijt was aan het coderen en decoderen van berichten. Het systeem bestond uit een walky talky SSTC-502 "Joan" en een SSTR-6 "Eleanor" zendontvanger in een vliegtuig. Het eerste succesvolle contact hiermee werd gemaakt in de nacht van 21/22 November 1944 door een geheim agent codenaam "Bobby". Agent "Bobby"was Anton Schrader die bij Ulrum gedropt was in de nacht van 9/10 Oktober 1944. Deze agent was zo geheim dat zelfs het verzet niet wist dat hij gedropt zou worden. Tot 30 Maart 1945 werden 16 contacten gemaakt met de apparatuur. Al weet ik niet of deze data wel klopt omdat Schrader al in Feb. 1945 gevangen werd genomen door de Duitsers.

In 2003 is het 1 en ander al eens uitgezocht door Dr. Davras Yavus. Hij publiceerde zijn bevindingen o.a. op een Google webalbum. Ik heb geprobeerd contact met hem te krijgen om toestemming te vragen voor het gebruik van wat informatie. Helaas is dat niet gelukt. Maar het is voor iedereen te lezen dus ik denk niet dat hij bezwaar zou maken.

Vandaag de dag kan je van alles op internet vinden. Zo kwam ik na een korte zoektocht al op leuke info over de radio's en over geheim agent Schrader. Leuk om te lezen als je van dit soort WW2 verhalen houd. Hier en daar is geschreven in de media dat Al Gross de uitvinder was van de eerste walky talky of van de SSTC-502 maar dat is niet het geval. Waarschijnlijk is men in verwarring met andere uitvindingen van hem. Van de informatie die ik kon vinden is het waarschijnlijk wel zo geweest dat hij het antennesysteem voor de SSTC-502 heeft uitgevonden/gemaakt. Een systeem dat bestond uit een opvouwbare dipool. Een simpel systeem dat elke "radio hobbyist" in principe kan maken. Wat precies de werkzaamheden en contributies waren aan deze walkie talky van Al Gross blijft over het algemeen onduidelijk.

Newspaper article I found in my archive:

Thursday, 20 November 2014

RBN usable for BPSK/RTTY

I didn't know it but the RBN (Reverse Beacon Network) is also usable for BPSK and RTTY. Although I prefer VK3AMA´s for digital mode it can be interesting to monitor your signals and compare them with others. Besides that RBN has more filtering options.

If you like to participate and send spots to the RBN you can find free software on DL4RCK Walter´s website.