Sputnik transmitters on-air October 4

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by G4TUT, Oct 3, 2011.

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  1. G4TUT

    G4TUT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sputnik transmitters on-air October 4

    Radio Amateurs will be celebrating the 54th anniversay of the space age by operating 21.060 MHz transmitters based on old Russian tubes (valves) of the same type used in the first Sputnik satellite in 1957.

    Sputnik was the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit. Launched on October 4, 1957 its signals on 20.005 and 40.002 MHz were monitored by amateur radio operators throughout the world.

    Roger G3XBM has already had a successful transatlantic contact using a 400mW output transmitter based on the Sputnik valve. With an Andrew's inverted-L antenna he worked Ed K1GDH near Cambridge USA who was running 5W and received a 539 report.

    On the G-QRP Yahoo group Oleg RV3GM / KH6OB writes:
    R3DAU and RN3AUS informed they are finished "replica" of Sputniker TXs used original valves (TNX to Mike AA1TJ!). Some guys will operate in Sputnik Party using any possible radios with 1 watt power on 21060.

    Yuri UA1CEG informed he will use old military receiver R-399 with home brew additional transmitter unit. So, the old valves RX became a transceiver. Me, I will operate FT-817 (1 watt) in home or suburban garden-house positions using a simple wire antennas.

    Hope to collect a lot of interesting photos, logs and soapboxes from Sputnikers.

    See you on 21060 kHz soon,

    G3XBM Sputnik Transmitter

    Sputnik QSO Party Transmitter Prototype

    G-QRP Yahoo Group

    This news update from
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  2. WY3X

    WY3X Ham Member QRZ Page

    Good luck with the special event station! I hope the bands cooperate with you!

    73, -WY3X
  3. W7WYY

    W7WYY Guest

    Yep I remember

    Hearing Sputnik on my Sears Silver Tone portable tubed radio! What a thrill that was...Gary
  4. K5CO

    K5CO Ham Member QRZ Page


    I listened to Sputnik on several passes when it was first announced. The radio was a Hallicrafters S53 in a basement "lab" in my parents Lincoln Nebraska home. As a kid in high-school I thought that the whole business was much over-rated (I was a rocket builder at that time, made my own engines etc.) but, looking back, it did shake up our relatively slow politicians enough to get us off our backsides and fire up a pretty good space program.
  5. N1DVJ

    N1DVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I remember going out into the yard at dusk and seeing the thing pass over. I thought it was pretty neat, but I remember a lot of people being scared. The dreaded 'hammer and sickle'.

    Don't remember anyone actually hearing the thing though.

    But it did get me a neat model rocket toy for Christmas.
  6. AA7EJ

    AA7EJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Read Matthew Brzezinski's Red Moon Rising

    A revealing and somewhat biased account on what actually prompted USSR to
    "launch" Sputnik.
    The lack of tracking stations explains some of the frequencies used - they did actually "counted" on hams as being an unofficial observers.
    Picking ball shape satellite was also accidental, any other shape would have been much easier to build.
    And the scientific payload - wast majority were batteries.

    But I did see it blinking in the sky.
    Years later I saw the Space Station cruising over Texas and suddenly I felt old.
    73 Vaclav
  7. K9AUB

    K9AUB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I remember hearing the first Sputnik, on my old SX-71. I recorded it on a reel to reel tape recorder, and the local radio station played a clip of it in one of their news stories. Thrilling stuff back then! Receiving a signal from outer space ... WOW! Science Fiction come to life! I also went outside a couple of nights later with my girlfriend at a specific time listed in the newspaper when it would be visible, and darned if it wasn't there! Very strange to see, too! A fast-moving star! What a concept for the time! (1957? It CAN'T be that long ago! Why, that would mean that I'm OLD today, and that's just not possible... is it?)

    The 20.005 frequency was chosen because it would be easy to locate with simple radio receivers, and not require a precision frequency dial (not something commonly found at the time). All you had to do was find WWV on 20.000 Mhz (it was MEGACYCLES back then, darn it!), move your bandspread up a touch, and presto! You were on 20.005. Simple to find, actually. I never met anyone who ever heard it on the 40.002 frequency, though.
  8. K1LWI

    K1LWI Ham Member QRZ Page


    Yes sure remember it mom and dad went on the 20 mhz got on tape
    out side to see it pass over i did hear on hq-160 rx got a qsl from ussr
    wendell k1lwi
  9. K0LGI

    K0LGI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I also recall hearing the Sputnik transmissions that were made on 20.005 MHz when I was a junior in high school.
    After hearing about the satellite launch had occurred in the newspaper articles and on television, there was an effort made to listen for the signal as was described in the news sources.
    Initially, there was little information as to the orbit parameters and resulted in just leaving the receiver on the 20.005 MHz frequency when several passes were heard.
    Later the news services began to provide more accurate information relating to the orbit, which resulted in hearing several more passes that were recorded for a subsequent history class presentation.

    Denny, K0LGI
  10. K6MFW

    K6MFW Ham Member QRZ Page

    In 1997 I made a 40th anniversary webpage, though original domain name is gone I reloaded it here,

    I kept all the same info including the links (many are dead) but added a few updates per 50th annivesary.

    Here's some items outlining reactions and results:

    Reactions by Americans:

    Many people did not know how to think of a satellite in orbit. It was too mysterious for them, "What is a 184 pound object in orbit?" "Are they looking down at us?"

    Engineering colleges were flooded with new students the following quarter. It was as if everyone was "joining the army" to take on the Russians in the New Frontier (the govt also provided a lot of funds for engineering schools to fuel new interests in engineering).

    Everyone on Johnston Island in the Pacific were issued sidearms to carry at all times. Johnston Island is so small it only has room for a runway and a hanger for airplanes.

    Students at Case Institute immediately became "Rocket Scientists" and stayed up many late nights discussing various methods of space travel.

    Jim Dawsons, science writer for the Star Tribune, wrote about how his third grade teacher was very nervous at the time. His school at Omaha, Neb., was just a few miles from the Air Force's Strategic Air Command headquarters. A fleet of F-100 fighters appeared in the sky coming right for the school. "MiGs!" the teacher shrieked. "MiGs!" She ran, hysterical, from the classroom, convinced they were about to be nuked by Russian fighter jets. The kids, mostly Air Force brats, ran to the windows to admire the F-100s, the coolest jet of its day.

    Politicians and editorialists began attacking the U.S. educational system for having fallen behind Soviet schools in training people in the sciences and other fields.

    Former President Harry Truman was moved to comment, charging the "persecution" of prominent U.S. scientists by Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the early 1950s had been a setback to the nation's development of satellites and rockets.

    Ross Perot became inspired by the Sputnik to create an electronics dynasty.

    After observing Sputnik, seven year old Franklin Chang-D├Čaz of Costa Rica became infatuated with space travel and eventually became a NASA astronaut.

    Tom A. posted on the newsgroup about an American entreprenuer had a "Sputnik" gumball for sale at the local candy store. It was blue and had protrusions sticking out of it to simulate Sputnik's antenna, and it was delicious.

    CIA and other intelligence groups cut down a model of a Sputnik on exhibit at the Brussels World's Fair in early 1958 (a story heard by Paul Dickson, author of "The Shock of the Century").

    Rich Tweedie K6VKT (now a SK) as a high school junior was one of first ham radio operators to hear Sputnik before it was mentioned on American radio and TV news, though many others thought it was a hoax.

    Students of St. Joe's High School radio club W8KTZ at http://sjhrc.org performed tracking of Sputnik satellites and provided infomation to media (from Bob Leskovec K8DTS).

    Many things happened after October 1957. Here is a brief list of what the United States did:

    Created NASA as the single agency to mobilize U.S. resources to beat the Reds to the stars.

    Created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). The purpose behind ARPA was to research new technologies that where too risky to the private industry. In 1969 they created the ARPAnet to research transfer protocols between computers across systems, the predecessor to the Internet.

    Passed the National Defense Education Act.

    Aerospace companies began a new engineer recruitment campaign: All you need is a pulse and a degree.

    United States and Great Britain realign as allies.

    Homer Hickam Jr. and his colleagues created the Big Creek Missile Agency in West Virginia in response to the Sputnik.
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