October 1935 Short Wave Craft
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
from Short Wave Craft,
published 1930 - 1936. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
Antennas have been deployed in difficult environments using many ingenious methods over the years both by professionals
and amateurs. The process typically involves first propelling a lightweight string or wire across and/or up to a supporting
structure (a tower, tree, building, whatever) and then using that lead line to draw the antenna
and its accompanying coaxial or twin lead cable into its final position. Sometimes simply tying a line to a rock and tossing
it over a tree branch does the trick, but usually deployment requires a more powerful launch such as a a bow and arrow or
even a model rocket. Many years ago a modeling magazine reported on a large radio controlled airplane that towed a lead
line across a wide gulch in the mountains. Because the distance was so great, a pilot was stationed on each side of the
gulch, each with a transmitter on the aircraft's frequency (72 MHz PCM was the modulation mode
back then). Upon walkie-talkie signaling, the takeoff pilot switched off his transmitter and the landing pilot switch
his on. The project was a success. This story reports on yet another deployment method that involved a bit if extra thinking
to complete the project when the balloons refused to go all the way up the smoke stack. Here is a QST article
titled "More on Balloon-Supported Antennas."
Balloons Raise S-W Antenna
Various stages in "balloon hoisted" aerial erection.
One of the most interesting problems ever to confront a radio construction engineer was recently encountered in Chicago
Heights, Ill., when a new "RCA Terra Wave" transmitter was to be installed for transmitting police calls on ultra short
waves, 30,100 kc., with call letters W9XGD.
A 175-foot brick smoke stack was handy for the purpose of supporting the aerial but as a professional steeple jack was
not available at the time, the difficulty of getting the cable up through the 175-foot stack proved a poser.
It was finally decided that five balloons, each 16 inches in diameter, and filled with hydrogen, would raise an ordinary
chalk line up through the stack. The balloons only rose to a height of 140 feet and after considering that the cooler draft
of air inside the stack had contracted the gas in the balloons somewhat, it was decided to burn a few oil-soaked rags in
the bottom of the stack. The warm air did the trick!
A heavier line was spliced onto the cord and allowed to run out through the top of the stack. How do you think the balloons
were cut loose from the cord after a sufficiently heavy line was drawn up through the stack? Simple! A police sharp-shooter
shot the balloons down and when the cord settled to earth, a heavier rope was pulled out through the top of the stack and
finally a stranded copper wire cable was drawn into place, to serve as a permanent anchor for the police radio antenna.
- Courtesy "Broadcast News."
Posted January 21, 2015