1921 – Club Station 1BCG and the Transatlantic Tests

The idea of transmitting American amateur signals across the Atlantic originated with one of the prominent members of the Club before the world war, when Louis Pacent presented the matter for the consideration of the board of directors. Nothing definite was accomplished, however, and several later attempts were abandoned as too costly at the time. In 1921 the American Radio, Relay League decided to run a transatlantic test and send a representative to England to receive the American signals. Paul Godley one of our oldest members, was selected as the logical man to carry on the reception.

On November 18th, 1921, six members of the Radio Club of America at on informal meeting, decided to build a transmitting station that would be heard in Europe. The six men were: E. H. Armstrong, Walter Inman, E. V. Amy, John Grinan, Minton Cronkhite, and George Burghard. Much discussion as to the locations of the station followed, but it was finally decided to build at Greenwich, Conn., on the site of Cronkhite’s present station IBCG.

The construction of the station and all technical data has been recorded elsewhere, and a description would be too lengthy for this article. It suffices to say that, the antenna system consisted of a “T” type cage with a 100 foot flat top 70 feet high, and a radial counterpoise in place of a ground. Four type U.V. 204 Radiotrons were used in the transmitter, one as the master oscillator and three in parallel as amplifiers with a 2500 volt direct current power supply.

The station was a great success, and was awarded the prize offered by Mr. Burnham, of England, for the best station in the test. 1BCG’s signals were heard in every state in the Union, in Scotland on December 9, 10 and 11; England, Germany, Holland, Porto Rico, Vancouver, B. C., California and the State of Washington. The greatest distance covered was to Amsterdam, Holland, approximately 3800 miles, mostly over water, and 2600 miles over land to Smith River, Calif. Last but not least IBCG sent three complete messages to 6XAD in Avalon, Catalina Island, Calif., and one 12 word message to Paul Godley in Ardrossan, Scotland, at 9:45-10:00 P. M. on December 11, 1921; all with an input of 990 watts and a wave length of 230 meters. This was the first time in history that an amateur station sent a complete message across the continent or across the Atlantic, and perhaps the first time that this feat had ever been accomplished with less than a kilowatt input and a wave length of 200 meters. This aroused such interest, in view of the low power and shortwave used, that such prominent men as Professor M. I. Pupin of Columbia University, and David Sarnoff, General Manager of the Radio Corporation of America, went to Greenwich to visit the station, and as Professor Pupin put it, in his inimitable way, “To see what you boys are doing”.

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