A Resume By T. R. CLARKSON. ZL1FQ March 1929
At this interesting stage in the growth of New Zealand Amateur Radio, it is appropriate to review briefly the events of days of "lang syne". The summary attempts this object.
ONE has to look back only some seven or eight years to the time when radio, as we know it, was just beginning to make its presence felt in this country. Prior to that time the only radio purpose served by the accommodating ether in these parts was to conduct the coarse Telefunken spark signals from the Government stations in communication with shipping and the nearer Pacific Islands. The year 1921 saw a considerable number of radio experimenters in possession of provisional permits for reception, which were the first licenses issued since the war. The lure of broadcast music was not responsible for attracting those listeners, broadcasting even in the older countries was yet to reach the regular programme stage, and there were no immediate prospects of conducting two-way communications. Reception of commercial telegraph signals was the main object, traffic among ships and between overseas long-wave high-power stations being the usual fare. It says much for the keenness of these amateurs, for amateurs they were in the true sense of the word, to recall their consistent ardour, which seemed to be increased rather than retarded by the limited scope of their activities. Proficiency in operating was, of course, pre-requisite, and was at that time much more difficult to attain than at present, the opportunities for practice then being very poor. In general, the reception obtained was excellent and the results were sufficient to demonstrate that compared with many countries. New Zealand enjoys very good conditions for radio reception. As far back as the latter part of 1921, telephony experiments were made in New Zealand, and it is interesting to note that experimental broadcasting was in that year
performed by Professor Jack of the Otago University, the year following the emergence of the well known KDKA, proudly self-styled "The Pioneer Broadcasting Station of the World". Call letters were unknown at that time in New Zealand, but with persistent efforts Special permits could be obtained from the Government. Among the lucky licensees are remembered Stevens of Gisborne, and Bell of Palmerston South. During 1922 these two gentlemen frequently conducted communication by telephony on wavelengths in the region of 300 metres. A large number of reports on transmission were received by these stations and it was the practice of Mr. Bell to acknowledge those over the air, a forerunner of the radio postman sessions now so familiar! Mr. Bell's correspondence probably included letters from every listener in New Zealand, though that was a long time before the time of the 40,000! In this connection one is reminded of an amusing incident. An amateur wrote Mr. Bell with the astounding news that he had received an American station sending telephony, the words plainly heard being, "Hullo, Cristobal-Chicago." Perhaps there was a little distortion as the Gisborne experimenter yelled, "Hullo, Mr. Bell-Otago"!
The small amount of activity in the transmitting line compelled amateurs to give more attention to reception than might otherwise have been afforded it. Some excellent work was the result. In 1922 Mr. Ralph Slade of Timaru startled the amateur world by consistently logging the signals from American amateur stations on 200 metres and Mr. R. J. Orbell of Christchurch performed the first reception of American broadcasting. The concentration on
receiving, during these early years, without doubt developed the proficiency in receiving which later was to find for New Zealand amateurs a niche in the radio hall of fame.
1923 saw the above-mentioned provisional licenses replaced with regular ones, and a number of amateurs licensed for transmissions with call letters allotted. It is interesting to recall the recipients of the first calls in each district. They were: - 1AA, C. N. Edwards, Auckland; 2AA, J. Bingham, Levin; 3AA, R. J. Orbell, Christchurch: and 4AA, F. D, Bell, Palmerston South. One of the first, if not the first amateur station operating in accordance with these new regulations was 2AB, D. Wilkinson, of Motueka. It speaks volumes for the fascination of amateur transmission to state that Mr. Wilkinson is still an enthusiastic transmitter and retains for his hobby the zeal usually associated with the beginner. Communication among amateurs all over New Zealand was by now a commonplace. Australia, too, was frequently communicated with, some excellent low power work being recorded. Notable in this connection was the performance of 4AA in receiving 2DS Sydney, the latter transmitting with a power of less than one watt. At the end of 1923 there were about twenty active amateur transmitters in New Zealand. As the numbers increased, the scope for activities naturally increased. Broadcasting, which up to this time had been more or less a side line with the amateurs, was relinquished by them and became associated with commercial interests by whom it has since been retained.
A new era in amateur ambition dawned without realisation that international work was a possibility. Throughout 1923 signals from American amateur stations continued to be logged in New Zealand. This was on wavelengths round about 200 metres and was excellent work, despite the fact that many of the stations used powers up to several kilowatts input. It was readily recognised throughout the amateur world that reception by Now Zealand amateurs was second to none; in fact reference to the October
1923 issue of "QST" shows an illustration of Mr. Bell's station 4AA with the caption "The best amateur transmitting station in the whole world!" The part, which New Zealand amateurs were to play in the development of short wave long distance communication, was beginning. The first organised Trans-Pacific tests were conducted between American and Australia towards the end of 1923 but although confirmed reception of scores of American stations was performed, no signals from Australia or New Zealand were received there. The reasons for this were principally the larger numbers of American stations, and the comparative freedom from local interference in New Zealand and Australia. However, valuable experience was being accumulated, in particular the advantages of reducing the wavelength were being realised. The Atlantic had been spanned on 11O metres. Accordingly New Zealand stations tuned down to the region of that wavelength in an endeavour to establish two way contact with America. The loudest American station was at that time transmitting on 150 metres. During 1924 a number of fine transmitters, which had been developed throughout New Zealand consistently, dispatched signals intended for the United States, but although subsequent reports proved that several were heard there, no contacts resulted. Among the most persistent 1AO, 2AC, 4AA and 4AG are remembered. The first success in the realm of long distance work was achieved by Mr. I. 0'Meara of Gisborne, who, during the winter of 1924 succeeded in working with the Argentina station CB8. Curiously enough, both he and the Argentine station were trying to raise North America. After this splendid achievement it was speedily recognised that contact with the U.S.A. was approaching and a few weeks later the object was achieved when 4AA worked the Californian station 6BCP, thus performing our first direct connection with the great fraternity of American amateurs. This advance was due solely to the keenness of large numbers of amateurs on both sides of the Pacific who worked hard and persistently
to gain this goal. September, 1924, held great interest for New Zealand amateurs owing to an experiment of considerable magnitude conducted by Mr. Orbell, 3AA of Christchurch, who during a trip to England via Cape Horn, operated an amateur station aboard the S.S. Port Curtis. The venture was a great success and completely demonstrated the superiority of wavelengths below 120 metres for long distance work. Contact with New Zealand stations was held right into the Atlantic Ocean and the results lent favour to the idea that amateur radio could hope to link the antipodes. For this experiment several New Zealand stations were tuned up to a very high state efficiency, which no doubt accounts for their further successes. On September 17th, Mr. Slade of 4AG was the proud recipient of a report of his signals all the way from England. Following these, greater efforts at two-way work were made, and on the next day, September 18th 1924, Mr. Bell, 4AA worked 2SZ London. Other stations followed, Mr. Shiel. 4AK of Dunedin, incidentally established the world's record for long distance communication by working a station in France situated only a few miles from his antipodes. While in England Mr. Orbell visited amateur stations which were in communication with New Zealand. This was most appropriate, as the achievement of communication between England and New Zealand had been greatly hastened by his work on the Port Curtis. The long distance work above referred to was by far the greatest distances ever linked by radio. It was sufficient to identify New Zealand amateurs as among the most successful in the world. Those events mark 1924 as the outstanding year in all the history of international amateur radio. During 1925, Following local regulations, large numbers of American amateurs started transmitting on the wavelengths of 40 and 20 metres, in addition to the already popular band near 80 metres. The large numbers of American stations and the keenness of the operators have always provided an attractive target for amateur transmitters of other countries, which accounts
for these wavelengths becoming popular all over the world. For the following four years most of the long distance work was performed on the 40 and 20 bands. For the greater part of this period the 40 band was the most popular although latterly the 20 band provided some excellent and consistent results, particularly as more of the foreign stations explored that region. The New Zealand Government licensed transmitters here to operate on 37 and 32 metres, and it is probable that the latter wavelength provided best all round operating channel so far enjoyed by the amateur operator. On this wave excellent long distance work was consistently performed, and dozens of New Zealand stations communicated with every part of the globe with its aid. It also provided good daytime results for local and Australian working and allowed a good character of signal to be emitted with the ordinary self-excited type of transmitter. In connection with the achievement of worldwide communication, it is interesting to note the stubbornness with which Africa has yielded to attempts at communication, from New Zealand. Although other distant continents were easily communicated with from 1924 onwards, it was not until early in 1927 credit of obtaining the first contact that the first two-way work was accomplished with South Africa. This belongs to Miss Bell of 4AA, who, in the autumn of 1927 established communication, after persistent efforts during the hours just before sunrise. Mr. Black, 2BX of Wellington, also performed early work with South Africa. Contact with Africa is still difficult and all successes so far have demonstrated that the time must be well chosen. 1925 is principally marked by the visit to New Zealand of the American fleet, notable in amateur radio as conveying here Mr. Schnell, then of the American Radio Relay League, engaged on short wave experiments on board the "Seattle". "ARRL" became an identity on 40 metres and did much to popularise that band. The visit of the fleet also helped to familiarise us with the American point of view and to remind us of our indebtedness
to the American amateurs for their example of initiative and progress in radio matters. It may not be out of place here to reaffirm the regard of New Zealand amateurs for the great American Radio Relay League whose efficiency and singleness of purpose continue to inspire our respect and admiration and whose excellent organ "QST" sets a standard for amateur endeavour the world over.
At this juncture it is opportune to review the growth of an organisation for the advancement and protection of amateur radio interests in New Zealand. It was early recognised that an association devoted to the transmitting amateur would be a decided acquisition, and about 1921 Mr. Strong of 4AG endeavour to arouse interest throughout the country with the object of forming an association. Despite persistent efforts success was not forthcoming and the project was abandoned. The next effort in this direction was taken in Auckland in 1926. A meeting of Auckland amateurs decided to take the initiative and form an association. Previous enquiry in other districts showed that amateurs throughout the country would welcome action by somebody, and the Auckland meeting decided to form an association, The New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters, to represent the amateur fraternity of the whole of New Zealand. A provisional constitution was drawn up, and applications for membership invited. The constitution was later confirmed, one of the clauses providing for the annual election of association headquarters by ballot. For three years Auckland has been the headquarters, but possibly another centre will shortly assume the responsibility and distinction of directing the activities of the N.Z.A.R.T. The action of the Auckland amateurs in forming a national association was the subject of some criticism at first, but time has justified their action, and it is very doubtful if the present representative organisation could have grown so quickly without bold action at the start. The Association is now firmly established and is truly representative of amateur interests in
New Zealand. Activities have included representation to the Government on several matters, the publishing of a small news bulletin, "Break-in" amateur representation at radio exhibitions and educational lectures. This has also assumed a place among other national associations in the International Amateur Radio Union. A very bright future lies ahead for organised amateur radio.
In 1927 a periodical contest for a shield presented for low power transmitting competitions by Mr. R. L. Sangster was commenced by the N.Z.A.R.T. This and subsequent competitions have resulted in some excellent work in this direction.
As stated above, the region of 32 metres continued in popularity during the years 1926 to 1928. 80 metres being used for local work and 20 to a limited extent for long distance work. Few outstanding achievements mark this period, but improvements in apparatus and in the numbers of amateurs were continuous. At the beginning of 1926 perhaps twenty were operating with sufficiently high efficiency to bridge the Pacific, but in 1928 scores had overcome that hurdle, a better understanding of the many technical principles involved became more general with consequent improvement in the standard of operating. The achievement of working all continents became fairly common by 1928.
Perhaps in the foregoing, undue prominence has been given to long distance working. This is pardonable when it is realised that the very best test for radio apparatus is the consistent working over long distances, the advances in this direction therefore being a good criterion of general efficiency, This is not intended to discount that very important part of amateur activities-reliable communication over short distances. The value of this cannot be over-emphasised. Such communication usually becomes more like ordinary conversation, wherein lies its value, in increasing friendship and providing higher operating speed practice.
The one outstanding accomplishment of 1928 was the exploitation of wavelengths near ten metres for amateur communication. Although not at present in use for general work, the fact that international work is possible on ten metres was satisfactorily proved. The first successful two-way work with an overseas station was with an Australian amateur, and was performed on September 23rd by Mr. Arthur, 1AN. This was very gratifying to the large number of Australian transmitters experimenting at that time, particularly those in Victoria, who were most persistent. At about the same time signals from American amateurs stations on that wave were first logged here.
On January 1st, 1929 the provisions of the Washington Radiotelegraphic Convention 1927, came into force bringing with them considerable restrictions on amateur operation. The principal effect was the alteration in operating wavelengths, and the narrowness of the bands allowed for amateur use. Previous to the operation of the new regulations amateurs all over the world realised the desirability of improving the character emitted signals to prevent excessive interference under the new conditions, and the American Relay League instituted a campaign for the improvement of amateur station design. This was largely followed in New Zealand, the result being a decided improvement in the general character of signals transmitted. The narrow bands near 80, 40, and 20 metres are now in continuous use by various sections of the amateur fraternity.
80 metres is used for local and telephone work, 40 metres for general purposes, and 20 metres particularly for extreme long distance work. In spite of the restrictions amateur progress is very satisfactory. During the past few years, short waves have been frequently used in special circumstances such as communication with exploration expeditions, and in aviation. In such cases the amateur transmitter has been well provided with entertainment of an exceptional character. Having his station always in good order, and possessing the necessary operating ability and technique, he frequently finds himself in the most direct touch with events whose interest is world Wide. In following closely such undertakings as polar explorations and trans-oceans flights amateurs have spent many hours, the intense interest of which cannot possibly be conceived by the uninitiated.
In conclusion, an apology is offered for the many omissions from this brief summary. It has been found quite impossible adequately to record the many events in the development of New Zealand amateur radio. Even those which have been mentioned call to mind a host more, all important, but which could not be included in an article twice this length. The period which has hero been dealt with, eight years, is so short In time, but that it is long in events no one can deny, One hesitates to contemplate the writing of even a summary Similar to this two or three years hence! ZLIFQ.
OF PRIMARY IMPORTANCE
Proprietor: "Money is a secondary matter to me."
Electrician: "What's primary, then?"
Proprietor: "My wife"
Electrician: "Why is that?"
Proprietor: "She spends all my secondary."
Teacher (in Girls' College): "Name the star which recently was measured and found to be of enormous size."
Young Miss: "Fatty Arbuckle."