Night of Nights, 2011

RCA coastal radio station KPH, Pt Reyes National Park
RCA coastal radio station KPH, Pt Reyes National Park

Being a former CW operator and feeling nostalgic from time to time, I subscribe to the Radiomarine Yahoo group.  Each year, on July 12th, they commemorate the end of commercial Morse Code (CW) in the US by activating several of the former Coastal Stations.  This year is no different:

Each year the MRHS commemorates 12 July 1999, the date on which the supposed last commercial message was sent in the US. On that date we pick up the thread, keep the faith and maintain the traditions of maritime radio communications so that the skills and traditions of all the radiotelegraphers who came before us will be maintained.

While MRHS station KSM is on the air every Saturday, on Night of Nights we originate stations KPH and KFS in addition to KSM. We hope that other stations will join us on the air this year including KLB and WLO.

You can participate by listening or by visiting the ex-RCA receive site to see the action in person. If you’d like to operate K6KPH just bring your key. No license required! If you have a commercial radiotelegraph license bring it along. You can sit the circuit at KSM and have your license endorsed for coast station service.

Here are the details of the event:

Date: 12 July 2010 Pacific time, 13 July gmt

Doors open: 3:00pm Pacific time

On air time: 5:01pm Pacific time, 0001 gmt

Station and frequency information (subject to change):

—–

KPH

KPH will transmit on 426, 500, 4247.0, 6477.5, 8642.0, 12808.5, 17016.8 and 22477.5kc.

MF and 22Mc will be on Henry transmitters, rest of KPH HF on 1950s vintage RCA K and L sets.

KPH operators will listen for calls from ships on ITU Channel 3 in all bands. The Channel 3 frequencies are 4184.0, 6276.0, 8368.0, 12552.0, 16736.0 and 22280.5kc on HF and 500kc on MF.

Reception reports may be sent to:

Ms. DA Stoops
P.O. Box 381
Bolinas CA 94924-0381
USA

—–

KFS

KFS will transmit on 12695.5 and 17026.0 –

12695.5 will be on a 1940s vintage Press Wireless PW-15, formerly at the KFS transmitter site in Palo Alto, CA and one of the transmitters on the air on 12 July 1999. 17026.0 will be on a Henry transmitter.

KFS will listen for calls from ships on HF Channel 3 (see KPH listing for frequencies) .

Reception reports may be sent to:

Ms. DA Stoops
P.O. Box 381
Bolinas CA 94924-0381
USA

—–

KSM

KSM will transmit on 426, 500, 6474, 8438.3 and 12993kc.

We don’t have enough antennas to accommodate the other KSM frequencies when KPH and KFS are on the air. A failure of any of the RCAt ransmitters may cause a KSM transmitter to be diverted to cover KPH.

KSM will listen for calls from ships on 500kc and HF Channel 3 (see KPH listing for frequencies) .

Reception reports may be sent to:

Ms. DA Stoops
P.O. Box 381
Bolinas CA 94924-0381
USA

—–

To be confirmed

WLO

WLO will transmit on 2055.5, 4343.0, 8658.0, 12992.0 and 16968.5kc

WLO will listen for calls from HF Channel 3(see KPH listing for frequencies) .

Reception reports may be sent to:

WLO Radio
7700 RINLA AVENUE
MOBILE, ALABAMA 36619
USA

—–

To be confirmed

KLB

KLB will transmit on 488, 500 (A1 & A2), 8582.5kc

KLB will listen for calls from ships on 500kc and 8368.0kc.

Reception reports may be sent to:

WLO Radio
7700 RINLA AVENUE
MOBILE, ALABAMA 36619
USA

—–

K6KPH

K6KPH, the MRHS amateur station, will transmit and listen on 3550, 7050 14050 and 21050kc for KPH, KFS and KSM reception reports.

Professional operators will be at the key and commercial procedures will be used. But please don’t hesitate to call, no matter what your code speed or experience level may be.

K6KPH verification reports may be sent to:

Ms. DA Stoops
P.O. Box 381
Bolinas CA 94924-0381
USA

—–

Remember, this is a public event. If you are in the area you are invited to join us at the RCA receive site, 17000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd in thePoint Reyes National Seashore north of San Francisco. If using a computer mapping program add “Inverness” after the address above even though the station is well beyond that town.

Doors open at 3:00pm Pacific time. Snacks will be served. Tours of the transmitting station may be arranged for “true believers” by appointment only.

This year, MHRS is looking for volunteer CW operators to man the circuits. Those with a commercial telegrapher’s license can sit at the operating position for KSM, KPH, KFS. Those without a license or with an amateur radio license can sit the K6KPH position.

Oh, how I wish I could be in San Francisco this July 12th!  Unfortunately, that is also the date of my wedding anniversary.  Perhaps one of these years I can convince my lovely wife to take a trip.

Things that make you go hmmm, part III

Continuing the series, this is a picture of an ice bridge installation I recently saw:

Ground wires on an ice bridge
Ground wires on an ice bridge

On an otherwise neat installation, it appears there is something wrong with the way these ground wires are connected to the support poles of an ice bridge.  I am not sure how effective that connection will be if lightning hits anything nearby.  Generally speaking, those wires are CAD welded (exothermic welding) to the support poles or whatever else is supposed to be grounded.  I’d bet that whoever packed the truck for the job simply forgot to throw the CAD weld shots on the truck.

Now they have to come back.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes whatever tower company to return to the site and finish the job.

So, you call this work?

A trip to the WSPK transmitter site on a pleasant day, or, one could say, another day at the “office.”  Tower painting season is here, I’ll post some more about that later.  This is a nice set of pictures from the top of Mt. Beacon, in Beacon, NY.

Hudson Valley looking north from Mt. Beacon
Hudson Valley looking north from Mt. Beacon

South Mount  Beacon with the old fire tower:

Mount Beacon looking south at the old fire tower
Mount Beacon looking south at the old fire tower

Tower farm; two TV stations, Media Flow, one radio station, three translators, several cell carriers, one paging company, some government two way gear, and a few microwave relays.  The 320 foot guyed tower in the center holds the main (top) and backup (bottom) antennas for WSPK:

Mount Beacon Tower Farm
Mount Beacon Tower Farm

Tower climbers ascending a 320 foot tower.  This picture (and all the others as well) was taken with my HTC smartphone camera, proving the old adage, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good:

Tower workers on 320 foot guyed tower
Tower workers on 320 foot guyed tower

View from the ATC site at the very top of North Mount Beacon of the tower workers painting the top of the tower:

Tower workers painting torque arms on 320 foot guyed tower
Tower workers painting torque arms on 320 foot guyed tower

Another view from the ground:

Tower workers on Mt Beacon tower
Tower workers on Mt Beacon tower

All in all, not a bad day.

New York State passes Anti Pirate Radio law (S-5739, A-326)

I wrote about this before, garnering several negative comments, both from the cost and effectiveness perspectives. Prompted by the New York State Broadcasters Association, the Senate and Assembly passed the legislation on Wednesday. It was refined somewhat, with frequencies specified in the AM broadcast and FM broadcast band.  The revised writing softens the criminality somewhat, making the first offense a class A misdemeanor and subsequent offenses class D felonies.

It also broadens the enforcement actions to allow seizure and destruction of radio transmission equipment, antennas, computers, and studio equipment used during the act. The law provides no provision for part 15 broadcasting, which is defined as license free operation under FCC rules.

The law amends the NY State Penal code, by adding section 190:

S 190.72 UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE SECOND DEGREE.
 A PERSON IS GUILTY OF AN UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE SECOND
 DEGREE WHEN SUCH PERSON:
 1.  KNOWINGLY  MAKES OR CAUSES TO BE MADE A RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THIS
 STATE, ON RADIO FREQUENCIES ASSIGNED AND LICENSED BY THE FEDERAL  COMMU
 NICATIONS  COMMISSION  FOR USE BY AM RADIO STATIONS BETWEEN THE FREQUEN
 CIES OF 530 KHZ TO 1700 KHZ, OR FM RADIO STATIONS BETWEEN  THE  FREQUEN
 CIES  OF  88  MHZ TO 108 MHZ, WITHOUT FIRST HAVING OBTAINED A LICENSE OR
 OTHER AUTHORIZATION FROM THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION, OR  DULY
 AUTHORIZED FEDERAL AGENCY; OR
 2.  KNOWINGLY  CAUSES,  EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, INTERFERENCE TO
 ANY AM RADIO STATIONS BETWEEN THE FREQUENCIES OF 530 KHZ TO 1700 KHZ, OR
 FM RADIO STATIONS BETWEEN THE FREQUENCIES OF 88 MHZ TO 108  MHZ  WITHOUT
 AUTHORIZATION  BY  THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION OR DULY AUTHOR
 IZED FEDERAL AGENCY.
 ANY EQUIPMENT, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE TRANSMITTING  ANTENNA,
 TRANSMITTER, MASTER CONTROL, SERVERS AND COMPUTERS, USED TO PROVIDE SUCH
 ILLEGAL  RADIO  TRANSMISSIONS  SHALL  BE  SUBJECT  TO  SEIZURE AND, UPON
 CONVICTION, SUBJECT TO DESTRUCTION  PURSUANT  TO  ARTICLE  FOUR  HUNDRED
 SEVENTEEN OF THIS CHAPTER.
 UNAUTHORIZED  RADIO  TRANSMISSION  IN  THE  SECOND DEGREE IS A CLASS A
 MISDEMEANOR.

S 2. The penal law is amended by adding a new section 190.73  to  read
 as follows:

S 190.73 UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE FIRST DEGREE.
 A  PERSON  IS  GUILTY  OF UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE FIRST
 DEGREE WHEN HE OR SHE COMMITS THE CRIME  OF  UNAUTHORIZED  RADIO  TRANS
 MISSION  IN THE SECOND DEGREE PURSUANT TO SECTION 190.72 OF THIS ARTICLE
 AND HAS PREVIOUSLY BEEN CONVICTED WITHIN  THE  PRECEDING  TEN  YEARS  OF
 UNAUTHORIZED  RADIO  TRANSMISSION  IN  THE SECOND DEGREE. ANY EQUIPMENT,
 INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED  TO  THE  TRANSMITTING  ANTENNA,  TRANSMITTER,
 MASTER  CONTROL,  SERVERS  AND  COMPUTERS,  USED TO PROVIDE SUCH ILLEGAL
 RADIO TRANSMISSIONS SHALL BE SUBJECT TO SEIZURE  AND,  UPON  CONVICTION,
 SUBJECT  TO  DESTRUCTION  PURSUANT  TO ARTICLE FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTEEN OF
 THIS CHAPTER.  UNAUTHORIZED RADIO TRANSMISSION IN THE FIRST DEGREE IS A CLASS D
 FELONY.

S 3. The penal law is amended by adding a new article 417 to  read  as
 follows:
 ARTICLE 417
 SEIZURE AND DESTRUCTION OF TRANSMITTING ANTENNA, TRANSMITTER,
 MASTER CONTROL, SERVERS AND COMPUTERS, USED TO PROVIDE ILLEGAL
 RADIO TRANSMISSIONS
 SECTION 417.00 SEIZURE  AND  DESTRUCTION OF TRANSMITTING ANTENNA, TRANS
 MITTER, MASTER CONTROL, SERVERS AND COMPUTERS, USED  TO
 PROVIDE ILLEGAL RADIO TRANSMISSIONS.

S  417.00  SEIZURE AND DESTRUCTION OF TRANSMITTING ANTENNA, TRANSMITTER,
 MASTER CONTROL, SERVERS AND COMPUTERS, USED TO PROVIDE ILLEGAL RADIO TRANSMISSIONS.
 ANY EQUIPMENT UTILIZED IN VIOLATION OF SECTION  190.72  OR  190.73  OF
 THIS  CHAPTER MAY BE SEIZED BY ANY POLICE OFFICER UPON THE ARREST OF ANY
 INDIVIDUAL IN POSSESSION OF THE SAME. UPON FINAL  DETERMINATION  OF  THE
 CHARGES,  THE COURT SHALL, UPON NOTICE FROM THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY, ENTER
 AN  ORDER  PRESERVING  ANY  TRANSMITTING  ANTENNA,  TRANSMITTER,  MASTER
 CONTROL,  SERVERS  AND  COMPUTERS,  USED TO PROVIDE ILLEGAL RADIO TRANS
 MISSIONS FOR USE IN OTHER CASES, INCLUDING A CIVIL ACTION.  THIS  NOTICE
 MUST BE RECEIVED WITHIN THIRTY DAYS OF FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE CHARG
 ES.  THE  COST  OF STORAGE, SECURITY AND DESTRUCTION OF ITEMS SO ORDERED
 FOR PRESERVATION AND USE AS EVIDENCE IN A CIVIL  ACTION,  OTHER  THAN  A
 CIVIL  ACTION  UNDER  ARTICLE  THIRTEEN-A  OF THE CIVIL PRACTICE LAW AND
 RULES INITIATED BY THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SHALL BE  PAID  BY  THE  PARTY
 SEEKING  PRESERVATION  OF  THE  EVIDENCE  FOR A CIVIL ACTION. IF NO SUCH
 ORDER IS ENTERED WITHIN THE THIRTY DAY PERIOD, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY  OR
 CUSTODIAN  OF THE SEIZED PROPERTY MUST CAUSE SUCH ITEMS TO BE DESTROYED.
 DESTRUCTION SHALL NOT INCLUDE AUCTION,  SALE,  OR  DISTRIBUTION  OF  THE
 ITEMS IN THEIR ORIGINAL FORM.

Law takes effect on November 1, 2011.

In order to gain a conviction, some amount of evidence would be needed.  Signal strength measurements and or spectrum analysis would be a minimum requirement, in addition to any equipment seized.

Discuss.