New Look at W1AW
American Radio Relay League (ARRL) has been on the cutting edge
of communications technology since its founding in 1914 by
Hiram Percy Maxim. Then, as now, many of the nation's top electronics
and antennas experts have been intimately involved in the design,
testing, operating, and regulating aspects of radio systems. Over
time radar, software, and computer technologies have been added
to the mix of specialties as have program management, field deployment
and fixed station logistics, facilities management, and many other
talents. A natural result of all the human capability affiliated
with the ARRL is the collective personal investment in keeping flagship
station W1AW as a shining example of what amateurs (hobbyists) can
achieve. This article from 1967 reports on how W1AW was outfitted
with state-of-the-art equipment and support equipment. At the end,
I posted a couple photos of W1AW in 2013, with hyperlinks to the
ARRL website sources.
January 1967 QST
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
QST, published December 1915 - present (visit ARRL
for info). All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
New Look at W1AW
W1AW and the Hq. building are situated on a 7-acre site with plenty
of room for antennas. Three self-standing 60-foot steel towers (two
are visible on the front cover) support 3-element Yagi beams for
20, 15, and 10 meters. A 6-meter omnidirectional antenna shares
one tower with the 15-meter beam and a 2-meter omnidirectional antenna
is on another tower with the 10-meter beam. For 40, 80, and 160
meters, half-wave horizontal wires are used. The 80 and 40 meter
doublets are center fed: the 160-meter doublet is end fed. Feed
lines for all the antennas are situated underground and, on 40,
and 160 meters, the underground coax terminate at remotely controlled
antenna couplers located on the ground directly below the antenna
feed points. Open-wire feeders connect the antennas to the tuners.
The Maxim Memorial Station, W1AW, faces the new Headquarters
Building at 225 Main St. in Newington, Conn. Recently, the station
was given an overhaul with new equipment, furnishings, and antennas.
You've seen a picture of the exterior on this month's cover. Here
are a few shots taken inside the building, to show you some of the
"Old Betsy," W1AW's 1920 spark transmitter, is on display
in the foyer.
The master control console contains several receivers,
signal monitors, transmitter exciters, punched-tape keyer
(for code practice and bulletins) and operating accessories.
Against the wall at the left is the RTTY position. The rack
at the right is a back-up transmitter and RTTY transmitter.
Another view of the transmitter racks taken from behind
the visitor's operating position.
In case of a power failure, this 20-kw. 220-volt emergency
generator located in W1AW's basement can handle the entire
load at W1AW including light, heat and communications. The
unit is electrically started and the engine is fueled by
propane gas. Notice the emergency lighting on the wall at
the upper left. This light (and others located throughout
the building) come on automatically with loss of power.
Visitors are always welcome at the station and upon entering
are requested to sign the guest log.
Another view of the console which faces the transmitter
racks (right) and the visitor's operating position.
Close-up view of the transmitter racks. In the top two
rows are some of the 1-kw. finals for 80 through 10 meters
(two more to be added.) Other equipment includes a 50-watt
160-meter transmitter, 200-watt 2-meter transmitter, 200-watt
6-meter transmitter, antenna patch panel, and converter
to change the 3 Mc. signal from the console exciter to the
various amateur bands, 80 through 10 meters.
The W1AW workshop is well equipped for emergency repairs
or general maintenance.
that you have had a chance to browse around the interior of W1AW,
here are a few additional details about the station. The operating
center of the station is the master console. Located here, along
with the usual operating position accessories, are auxiliary receivers
and signal monitors. The station v.f.o./exciter is positioned here
and generates a basic 3-Mc. s.s.b., c.w., a.m., or RTTY signal,
which is then fed to the transmitter racks. A series of converters
heterodynes the 3-Mc. signal to the desired amateur band (80 through
10 meters) where it is amplified in the appropriate 1-kw. linear
amplifier. The racks also contain s.w.r. bridges and indicators
for each antenna system, along with controls for remotely tuning
antenna couplers where applicable. There is an antenna patch panel
for switching the various transmitters and receivers in the station
to the desired antenna.
For code practice or bulletins,
an RTTY tape, which has been previously cut at the station, is fed
into an RTTY-to-Morse converter, which transforms the RTTY characters
on the tape to dots and dashes and then keys the transmitters. Of
course, this same tape is used to key the RTTY equipment, too.
Page 92 shows the station schedule, and visitors are always
welcome. Meanwhile, make use of the varied services provided by
the Maxim Memorial Station - daily sessions of code practice, news
bulletins, frequency-measuring tests, and general operation.
There's a lot more to see here at W1AW. Why don't you drop in
and see it for yourself?
Now, here are a few
photos of today's W1AW:
December 12, 2013