Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, of Forest, Virginia, will once again put his 600-meter experimental station on the air for a Christmas Eve commemorative transmission. The transmissions from WI2XLQ on 486 kHz will mark the 110th anniversary of Reginald Fessenden’s first audio broadcast on the airwaves.
Historic accounts say Fessenden played the violin — or a recording of violin music — and read a brief Bible verse. It’s been reported that other radio experimenters and shipboard operators who heard Fessenden’s broadcast were astounded.
Justin will use a MOPA-design transmitter built largely with vintage parts to replicate early vacuum-tube equipment; not a Fessenden-period transmitter, it uses a UV-202 tube for the power amplifier. He will conduct a run-up to the event starting at around mid-day Eastern Time on Friday, December 23. The “official” Christmas event will begin on Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24, at 0001 UTC (the evening of December 23 in US time zones) and will continue for at least 24 hours. Justin plans to repeat the commemorative transmissions on New Year’s Eve and on New Year’s Day.
For his transmitter in 1906, Fessenden used an ac alternator modulated by placing carbon microphones in series with the antenna feed line. Justin’s homebuilt station is slightly more modern, based on a 1921 vacuum tube master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) design. The transmitter also uses Heising AM modulation, developed by Raymond Heising during World War I.
Justin’s WI2XLQ on-air operations coincide with dates in early radio history as a way to recognize and honor some of the earliest wireless pioneers and their achievements. Send listener reports directly to Brian Justin, WA1ZMS.