DXing Born 97 Years Ago Today - 11 Dec 1921

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by N1BCG, Dec 11, 2018.

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  1. N1BCG

    N1BCG Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's hard to imagine amateur radio without its worldwide reach, but up until a very important event 97 years ago, amateur operators had only suspected that "DX" contacts could be possible.

    On December 11, 1921, radio history was made when the signal from amateur station 1BCG in Greenwich, Connecticut was heard in Ardrossan, Scotland, marking the first successful transmission of any radio signal across the Atlantic using short wave frequencies.

    The event, known as the Transatlantic Tests, was organized by the ARRL to prove that short wavelength frequencies could propagate long distances using transmitters running less than 1kW. Paul Godley (2ZE), considered the best of operators, was sent to Europe to listen for the participating stations. His nine tube receiver used the latest superhetrodyne technology which he modified for these frequencies. On his ocean journey to England, Godley coincidentally met Harold Beverage who convinced him to use a specially designed 1300' antenna, referred during that event as the highly sensitive and directional "Beverage Antenna".

    During a pre-event dinner arranged for him by his British hosts, Godley met Guglielmo Marconi, founder of radio, who asked him to remind the U.S. amateurs that "I, too, am but an amateur".

    Over the course of the test period, more than two dozen stations were heard, both utilizing spark and vacuum tube CW, but the one that was received the most consistently was operated by six members of the Radio Club Of America: Ernest Amy (2VK), Edwin Armstrong, George Burghard (2SS), Minton Cronkhite (1BCG), John Grinan (NJ2PZ), and Walker Inman (2BGM).

    Their station, 1BCG, sent the following, recorded as the first ever transatlantic message sent on short wave at 2152 GMT on December 11, 1921:

    "No.1 de 1BCG. W-12 (Words 12), New York, Date 11/12-21, To Paul Godley, Ardrossan, Scotland, Hearty Congratulations, Burghard, Inman, Grinan, Armstrong, Amy, Cronkhite"

    Those interested in exploring this historic event further can check out these informative resources:

    In depth articles from QST Magazine, Feb 1922

    An incredibly detailed PowerPoint presentation on the 1921 TransAtlantic tests

    A fascinating story can be read on W2PA's Ham Radio History page

    MG_0778-1BCG-station-1024x841.jpg MG_0780-1BCG-ops-1024x801.jpg MG_0792-Jan-22-QST-690x1024.jpg MG_0794-1BCG-antenna-878x1024.jpg
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
    W8BE, KA0HCP, W0PV and 9 others like this.
  2. KY5U

    KY5U Subscriber QRZ Page

    Historic. First message was UR 599 GUD LUK IN THE TEST. :)

    (For all the no-coders, "You're 59, good luck in the contest")
    WE4B, W3ATV and W2AAT like this.
  3. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    KK5JY likes this.
  4. KI4WCQ

    KI4WCQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    K9ASE likes this.
  5. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Great stuff!

    However, I would say this was the birth of the DXpedition more than the birth of DX, because in those days DX was a big thing - just the distances were less.

    In 1996 there was a special event station in Greenwich to mark the 75th anniversary. Hopefully there will be one in 2021 (just 3 years away!)

    There is a granite marker near the site of the 1BCG transmitter. I was there some years back.


    73 de Jim, N2EY
    W2AI, N1BCG and WU8Y like this.
  6. N1BCG

    N1BCG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just discovered this video on the event...

  7. W2AAT

    W2AAT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    You forgot "I'm using the Heil HM-10 XD.... How does it sound?".
  8. WU8Y

    WU8Y Ham Member QRZ Page

    There they went again, the ARRL trying to destroy ham radio.
  9. KM1H

    KM1H Ham Member QRZ Page

    Gotta love those elevated radials!
    N1BCG and WZ7U like this.
  10. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    "GW" = (Good Work) :)
    We used it in the Maritime Radio Service.
    KP4SX likes this.

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