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World Distance Chart No. 1 & No. 2
July & August 1934 Radio News and The Short-Wave

July 1934 Radio News & Short-Wave

July 1934 Radio News and the Short-Wave Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio & Television News, published 1919-1959. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

Before the Internet, cellphone apps, and personal computers, many calculations began with a lookup table, chart, or nomograph. In the case of long distance radio operators [Ham, Short Wave Listener (SWL), and professional types] seeking distance and direction information for pointing antennas, it took a map like this one published by Radio News & Short-Wave magazine in 1934 to estimate an optimal configuration. Such tools were essential in order to determine the best direction to point the antenna, which over a long distance is usually much different than what might be assumed by looking at a flattened projection map of the earth (see "Distance Lends Enchantment" below). Distances in Chart No. 1 are all relative to New York (NYers have always considered themselves the center of the universe Groucho Marx Smiley - RF Cafe), so operators in other locales need to compensate. Here is one example of many online great circle calculators that allows you to enter two sets of longitude and latitude. World Distance Chart No. 2, centered on San Francisco, was published in the August 1934 issue and is reproduced below as well (added 12/2019).

World Distance Chart No. 1 - How to Use the World Distance Chart

To use the map first find the distance in inches between New York and the desired point, multiply this by the miles per inch shown on the scale on the chart and the answer will be a close approximation to the air line distance between the two points. This chart is reproduced from the March, 1933, issue of Radio News for the benefit of our new short-wave readers. Chart Number Two will be published next month.


World Distance Chart No. 1 - RF Cafe

World Distance Chart No. 1 - Centered on New York City

"Distance Lends Enchantment"

In the realm of "DX," a term which in radio parlance means "long distance," the actual distance in miles is the yardstick of accomplishment. The distorted map shown here permits direct measurement of the mileage between New York and any point in the world, or from any point in the world to New York, without calculations or computations and with an ordinary ruler the only instrument needed. To use the map, first find the distance in inches between New York and the desired point, multiply this figure by the miles per inch shown on the scale on the chart and the answer will be a close approximation to the exact airline distance between the two points. Distances from points other than New York can in many cases be closely approximated by reference to New York. To determine the distance between San Francisco and Melbourne, Australia, for instance, the distance from Melbourne to New York is found and from this is subtracted the distance from San Francisco to New York. The distance between San Francisco and a point in Africa would be obtained in the same manner, except that the mileage between San Francisco and New York would be added to the distance from New York to the African point. An important feature of this map is found in the fact that one can easily see the shortest straight-line path from any point in the world to New York, and the exact direction of such a path. Thus, it is surprising to learn that radio signals from Tokyo or Manila pass almost directly over the North Pole in their path to New York, whereas most people think of such signals as coming to New York from a westerly point, probably passing over Los Angeles en route. Based on map furnished through courtesy of General Electric Co.


World Distance Chart No. 2 Centered on San Francisco - RF Cafe

World Distance Chart No. 2 - Centered on San Francisco

Here is the azimuthal map centered on San Francisco for reckoning distances from there to any other location in the world. To use the map find the distance between San Francisco and the desired location and refer this to the scale in miles printed above to find the actual distance. This is the world distance chart No. 2. Distance chart No. 1, published in the July issue, showed a map centered on the East American Coast at New York.



Posted December 11, 2019
(updated from original post on July 29, 2013)

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