KH6/K6MIO (Ham Radio) Six Meter CSVHFS Papers AND some historical 'Coop-Comments' on the
early 5-6 Meter Band WAS Folks.
(This page updated February, 2019)
OK - so you don't give a 'diddly squat' about C-Band and TVRO but the ham six meter band (50-54 MHz or more appropriately 50.000 to perhaps 50.300!) has your attention. You are in the right place. Coop as K6EDX was awarded 6 meter WAS # 21 on March 14, 1957 (there were only 48 states then!); and, #278 on December 11, 1979 as W5KHT (there were 50 states at that time). Missing KL7 'by minutes' he ended his decade as VP5D at 49 and nobody prays harder for Cycle 25 to find legs than he; stuck at 42 from ZL4AAA.
All of this pales when compared to the extraordinary pioneering work done by Coop's "home town pal" Jim Kennedy, K6MIO (you see - we both lived in Fresno, California and - well, you get the idea).
Jim's credentials are (and always have been) impressive. In highlight-form, a PhD in Physics ("Go Gators!") Jim spent a major chunk of his professional career as Project Manager for something you possibly never heard about - but should have; 'Project GONG' (Global Oscillation Network Group) where he helped create and oversaw the operation of the world's most skilled 'solar interior observational data' system (mountain top observatories in Chile, Hawaii, India for a start). Why should that interest you? Because GONG pioneered the first-time-ever raw data that came from 'below' the visible surface of the sun and guess what! Out of that data comes the advanced understanding of how sunspots and the solar cycle works (or does not as has been the case since 2003 (! – think Manunder Minimum).
Enough of the 'fluff'. There have been (late 2011) nine 'Kennedy Papers' presented at the annual Central States VHF Society gatherings and all are here for your review, down-loading, printing and study. When there is # ten, it is likely to appear here as well; think 'All-Kennedy / All the time'. There is more. Check out the Gene Zimmerman (W3ZZ) 'World Above 50 MHz' column from QST April 2011(also here); a review of the extra-ordinary (2010) summer long haul (13,000km) Es season by Jim Kennedy (on six meters here folks), and, a two part series (January-February 2011) by Coop here (click on QST Coop TVRO) describing some quite fascinating 31,000km F-layer (or whatever!) six meter paths during high sunspot count years in previous cycles (you remember them? #18-23 when six meters went F2-ballistic?).
And all of this has WHAT to do with satellite television? Absolutely nothing but "Brother Kennedy's papers" deserve an easy-to-locate home on the web and this is the least we can do for "The Magic Band". These are in date-of-release sequence and by starting at the top ("click on" each to load) and working down you will have a 'travel in time' of the ever 'maturing' 50 MHz propagation data base.
Death of a Pioneer. Robert M. Richardson, known worldwide by his amateur radio callsign W4UCH, died at age 79 in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. Richardson was instrumental in pioneering 10 GHz microwave technology, authoring "The GunnPlexer Cookbook" (1981) and participating in several Coop arranged seminars dealing with this topic in the 70s. Richardson was also the motivating force behind 'DeSug', the private co-operative effort to demystify the Microwave Associates 'Videocipher' technology circa 1986-1987. He appeared on numerous Shaun Kenny 'Boresight' TV programs of that era as a spokesman for the DeSug effort. During Sunspot Cycle 19 (1957-1960) his 50 Mc W4UCH signal was 'HUGE' worldwide.
Yet another Pioneer death. David Barker, amateur K7OMA, the originator of the TVRO image cancel mixer receiver first introduced during the San Jose (California) July 1980 SPTS, has died of a heart attack at his home in Washington state. He was survived by a son, 17, Michael. David's creative design radically altered the complexity and cost of C-band receivers; manufacturer KLM turned the design into an early best-selling TVRO receiver propelling them to become one of the top selling hardware firms. David wrote technical articles for Coop's Satellite Digest from time to time and delivered lectures at numerous SPTS/SBOC gatherings.
And one more. Alan Margot, W6FZA, operating a two-radio RCC from Porterville, California until a mid-life change to professional tennis coach, died at 87 in July (2010). Alan held the original post-WW2 420 MHz distance record, was a familiar call on 6 meters during cycle 19 and earned 50 Mc WAC (Worked All Continents) award #4 from ARRL. Alan's XYL, Norma, K6ZEH earned WAJD (50 Mc) #1 in 1958; the couple had retired to Palm Desert (Ca) where he was active in his favorite mode (40-50 wpm CW) until just before death. Oh yes - Alan was licensed as W6FZA in 1932 at age 9 and QST of that era claimed he was the youngest "full privilege ham" in the USA; perhaps the world (78 years an active ham - there could be 'a record' here; not that we expect QST to research the question!).
Six Meter/Magic Band WAS (worked all states)
An email 'exchange' with friend Gene Zimmerman (W3ZZ; QST 'World Above...' editor) prompts the following. During the era when QST's 'World Above' was created by Ed Tilton (W1HDQ), '50 Mc WAS Standings' were frequently printed. So who (by call letters of course; hams don't have names!) did it first (as in #1) and so on down to say number 50 (not a totally random number as it mirrors 50 megacyles and eventually the number of states)? Time to head for Coop's QST Microfiche file!
Until the close of WW2, continental US had 9 (rather than 10) 'amateur radio call districts'. With the shut-down of ham radio (at government decree) following Pearl Harbor, the amateur assignment was 56-60 MHz; roughly the same as subsequent TV channel 2. W9ZJB (someplace in Missouri) was the first (1939) to confirm contacts with each of the nine districts and was pushing 30 states on "5 meters". When amateur radio restarted post WW2 (March 15, 1946), W9ZJB became W0ZJB although his residence had not changed; but 56-60 MHz was now 50-54 MHz and he like all others would have to retool for 6 meters. Vince would (1948) be the 'second' - that's the 'mystery' that follows - to work all (48 at the time) states on six meters. Although the 1945-1950 solar cycle (#18) had been (by current standards) "good" the newness of 50-54 MHz, crystal controlled rigs, and just "getting America restarted" took precedence for most hams. It would be March 1957 before the number of specially hand-created 50 Mc. WAS certificates passed 20. Ed Tilton, W1HDQ, had begun a QST column ("On the Ultra Highs") in December 1939 after the competitor ham radio publication (appropriately called 'RADIO' and published from Santa Barbara, Ca) had launched their own "U.H.F. ..." column years prior and ARRL was caught 'napping' on this one. RADIO was, a personal opinion, frequently a better publication than QST although their sniping at "the League" was a constant negative. RADIO launched in 1917 with ten issues each year; usually 50-100% 'bigger/thicker' than QST. If you are trying to work out what happened to RADIO, think CQ.
So six meters? Of the first 30 WAS folks, 26 are either SK, or their amateur license has lapsed. The known exceptions are (1) this writer/K6EDX (#21), (2) two possibles in W0ORE (#23), W0CNM (#27). W1LLL (#12) is a another 'possible' if he is now N3WD. And the first 50 (QST ceased listing 50 Mc. WAS tables in August 1960 as Sam Harris - W1FZJ - took over 'The World Above...' from Ed Tilton; October 1960); the following comes from that (final) listing:
(1) W0ZJB, (2) W0BJV, (3) W0CJS, (4) W5AJG, (5) W9ZHL, (6) W9OCA, (7) W6OB, (8) W0JNI, (9) W1HDQ, (10) W5MJD, (11) W2IDZ, (12) W1LLL - now N3WD?, (13) W0DZM, (14) W0HVW, (15) W0WKB, (16) W0SMJ, (17) W0OGW, (18) W7ERA, (19) W3OJU, (20) W6TMI, (21) K6EDX, (22) W5SFW, (23) W0ORE - now in Michigan?, (24) W0ALU, (25) W8CMS, (26) W0MVG, (27) W0CNM - now in Colorado?, (28) W1VNH, (29) W0OLY, (30) W7HEA, (31) K0GQG - appears to be 'the original', (32) W7FFE, (33) W0PFP, (34) W6BJI, (35) W2MEU, (36) W1CLS, (37) W6PUZ, (38) W7ILL, (39) W0DDX, (40) W0DO, (41) K0DXT, (42) W6ABN, (43) W6BAZ, (44) VE3AET, (45) W9JFP, (46) W0QIN, (47) W0WWN, (48) K9EID - see 'C-Band Remembered' here, (49) W0FKY and (#50) W8LPD.
When QST dropped the '50 Mc/MHz WAS' listing the 75th (and last listed) was W0LLU; of the first 50-on-50, 22 were in the W0 district, 4 more in W/K9; more than half the total, therefore, were in or almost within 'single hop Sporadic E range' of all continental states. 1960 was on the waning side of Solar Cycle 19, and a few (of the very limited available to work) DX stations were doing quite well by then in their own WAS quest: KL7AUV was at 44, EI2W at 37, ZE2JV 26 and my personal favorite JA1AUH at 16 (he - you see - was the first JA to work NA on six meters and the guy at the other end was - well, check WAS # 21 here).
I have threatened to research the full history from 1933-34 onward of "The Magic Band" and write a book; maybe, maybe not!
(Errors here are my own with perhaps a generous assist from QST Microfiched copies and factually based corrections should come to me as firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS - There is a post script to all of this (diatribe). According to QST, on June 13, 1948 "Ed"/W9ZHL in Zearing, Illlinois worked W4AVT/4 (South Carolina) for state # 48. BUT - but Tilton wrote; ' Ed refuses to accept the first WAS 50-Mc. award because W4AVT was not a fulltime resident of South Carolina'. Obviously in 1948 when a six meter rig could be 6 feet high in a 500 pound rack, and the receiver was the size of a small refrigerator and weighed 70 pounds, the concept of "roving" had not (yet) occurred to anyone. Problem one: in my 'Rand McNally' and my (London) 'Times Atlas of the World', Zearing, Illinois does not exist. Maybe it did - or maybe - maybe W9ZHL was in 'Zearing, Iowa' (42.08N, 93.13W) - save he would have been W0 not W9. OKay - so in 1948 a place called Zearing existed in Illinois and by 2000 it was gone; puff. Lots of small towns lost their post offices in the 50s and 60s. Problem two: 'Ed' (his last name has not been found in print - maybe it like Zearing in Illinois also did not exist!) REALLY did not want to be the first 50-Mc. (that's the way it used to appear in print; '50-Mc.') WAS guy. Look up 4 paragraphs now to refresh your mind; W9ZHL, after apparently being the first to work 48 states on 6 meters, ended up by August 1960 as the person who received 'Special 50-Mc. Certificate' number 5. Even legendary Leroy in Texas (W5AJG; #4) 'beat him' and as the QST extract (here) reports, Leroy worked a guy who was also portable! (see QST 1950 extracts here)
It gets better and for what it is (or is not) 'worth' some additional research might be in order. December 1948 QST lists two guys with 50-Mc. WAS; (1) W9ZHL and (2) W0ZJB (who by the way reportedly operated from Gashland, Missouri and wonder of wonders, it also does not exist in 'Rand McNally' or 'The Times Atlas'.) Man alive - living someplace and earning a 6 meter WAS is not a good omen for your community! W0ZJB needed Oklahoma (he would work Tulsa at a reported 250 miles - creating an arc in the vicinity of Kansas City for 'the missing Gashland) and Vermont and BINGO! he had WAS. Further checking reveals Zearing, Illinois actually exists as an unincorporated community (in 'Bureau County' near Princeton, Illinois; north central not far from Chicago) and Gashland, Missouri did exist with a postmaster until 1959 when it was 'annexed' by Kansas City; ah, progress!
December 1949: Now we had Tilton's annual 50-Mc. table and it said: (1) W9ZHL, (2) W0ZJB, (3) W9QUV, (4) W0BJV and (5) W0CJS. At the bottom of the tabular listing it reads: "Calls in boldface indicate holders of special 50-Mc. WAS certificates, listed in order of the award number." This apparently indicates W9ZHL was "first to work" 48 states but W0ZJB was first to receive a (sequentially) numbered certificate.
By December 1951 the table has 8 calls listed but "Ed/W9ZHL" has mysteriously slid from #1 to #5; and now he too is boldface. Perhaps he finally worked a 'fulltime resident' of South Carolina! Back in the middle year (1950), W6WNN was listed as # 6 but by 1951 he had disappeared and was back listed under "claimed but not certificated" meaning even if he was granted a certificate back in 1950, by 1951 something equally mysterious had happened and he was dropped from the "boldface (certificate issued)" group. It becomes even more convoluted through the 50s as at one or two a year the 50-Mc. "boldface" (certificated) listings grew up to the K6EDX #21 in March 1957. I have to admit it - I am somewhat challenged by this seemingly straight forward "keep a list and assign consecutive numbers" system. W6WNN never did reappear (boldface) although in the full-first-50 list above there is a W0WWN.
Humm. Maybe I should research it!
FINALLY – a little ditty written sometime in the late 1990s
Ham radio addiction is a disease. Once bitten, almost impossible to eliminate. It has been the most basic thread in my life from age 12. You do stupid, senseless (read: expensive! And life threatening) things because of the passion. What follows is a prime example of my stupidity and passion for the ham 6 meter band.
THE AZORES ON 2 METERS? BOB COOPER It was in 1957 or 1958, my memory dims, when as 'TV-FM DX Editor' for Radio Electronics I received a lengthy letter from an American Air Force chap living on the Portuguese island of Terceira in the Azores. He had come home one day during June to a complaining wife who said their local AFRTS (Armed Forces Radio and Television Service) FM station, operated by the staff at (the American) Lajes Field on Terceira, was being blocked out by 'strange signals'. The letter writer was a ham and his FM radio, to receive AFRTS-Lajes, was nothing more complex than a table set with a whip antenna. Upon investigation he found dozens of FM radio stations all over the dial, stable and clear; over a few hours he identified the signals as originating over an area from southern New Jersey to Boston and above. As a ham from California, W6-something which I have misplaced, he knew and understood 'DX' when confronted with it. The distance in statute miles exceeded 2,200 for any of these signals and they lasted for hours, then several days. I was naturally totally intrigued by this report. The Azores Challenge This is circa 1992 but in fact the roots go back to 1957 or when Ed Tilton (amateur W1HDQ) suggested to Huge Gernsback, publisher of Radio Electronics from the dawning days on the 10s (that would be 1910s) that I replace him as 'TV-FM DX Editor' for Radio Electronics in 1956, my life took a new turn; I was 18 at the time. Tilton was the 'World Above 50 Mc/s' editor at QST and the ARRL (American Radio Relay league) bosses decided Tilton should not be writing for another publication; even if the subject had nothing (or very little) to do with amateur radio. Tilton had visited in my home in 1956 (Fresno, Ca.) and did his best to convince my father "Bob would be best served if he went to University and obtained his EE degree." My parents agreed with Ed, and so off I went and by 1958 I would be re-enrolled at San Jose State in Journalism but that is another story. Fast forward to (K6EDX/ZL4AAA) were arriving on Terceira in early June. We had flown first to the USA, then to London where we purchased some antennas (10m, 6m, 2m) to go with our from-new Zealand 10-6 and 2m 100 watt transceivers. Then we flew to Lisbon with the growing pile of baggage, and headed the next day to the Azores. We wanted to land in Terceira, one of 17 Azores islands but the airline (Air Portugal or something similar) would only take us to San Miguel. In advance I had communicated with an Azores amateur and he assured me in fax messages I could operate as CU2/K6EDX on 10, 6 and heaven forbid 2 meters. In our luggage I also had a triple-standard 14" TV set purchased in London and a Heathkit AJ-15 FM tuner along with a London-sourced log-periodic antenna which claimed it would resonate from 50 to 500 MHz. The objective was to spend 30 days in the Azores, operate on 10/6/2 meters and pay close attention to the possibility that the FM band reception experienced back in 57/58 might repeat while we were there. If it did - well - we would make an effort to contact North America on 144 MHz. A guy with a table top radio experiencing full FM band stereo reception at sea level at the Lajes Field American base living quarters from America seemed like a pretty good indicator of what we might expect. Nobody had yet made a two meter contact from Europe (the Azores so qualifies) to North America and perhaps we could do it. The Air Portugal (or whatever) plane did not go to San Miguel after all; bad weather interceded and we ended up on Terceira in the middle of a downpour. The airline told us they would attempt to get us to San Miguel the next day and we declined; we were by accident where we really wanted to be in the first place! Two days later we had made contact with Jamie Eloy (CU3AK) because his house displayed a tri-band beam at roof level, had rented a car, and found a one-month rental at Biscoitos on the north shore of Terceira. Two more days and Gay and I had a 3 element ten meter beam, a five element six meter and an 11 element two meter stuck on some second hand pipe at the rental house. Just in time for a major solar event that shut down even HF 28 (high frequency) band and turned six meters into a white noise experience. In our rental car, from our +50' sea level rental home, we wandered about ending up on a plateau that tops Terceira at 2,000+ feet where I discovered the FM set in the car was absolutely overloaded with Portuguese and Moroccan and Gibraltar FM stations. It was our first but hardly last experience with the 900 mile 'eastern path' which under the influence of a stable high pressure area just seemed to be 'open' 24 x 7. The interesting thing here was that at our almost-sea level location there was no sign of this reception; height counted for something. Alas, nothing that spoke English save for the Gibraltar UK Forces Service. Nothing from the USA. As the solar event sub-sided 50 MHz appeared; first there were Europeans (in their thousands all anxious for a CU3 QSL card) and then VE1s in Nova Scotia quickly followed by the entire Eastern seaboard from approximately Virginia north. Now we had something, or so we thought. Six meters would open for hours, our triple-standard TV set using the questionable log antenna, displayed pictures as high as American channel 4 and I quickly tired of watching Boston's WGBH with heavy co-channel from WCBS on channel two. One might think that 2,300 mile reception would never become dull; trust me, it does. This went on for days, usually around 4pm - 7pm local time but on some days when I turned on the gear at 7am there would be WGBH - again. Over the course of 24 days (we lost the first few due to the solar event) WGBH was there 15. On (very) rare occasions it would be replaced with channel 2 (and 3 and once 4) further inland - WLWD Dayton (3,005 miles) was seen several times along with WJBK Detroit. The best of the best was KJRH Tulsa (3,662 miles) briefly one late afternoon; triple hop sporadic E I suspect. FM? Once - briefly - from the USA, most certainly double hop Es, from a New Jersey coastal station. Alas, nothing that even came close to 'table top radio with a whip' reception as the chap reported in the 50s. On 50 MHz we worked New Mexico at about the same time as Tulsa was in on channel 2, the furthest west penetrated in the days we were on Terceira. In the opposite direction, east, life was continuously busy. As an aside project, bored with what was happening to the west, I elected to attempt to pin down the exact (as in to the nearest ten hertz) frequency of the more than 50 USSR TV stations operating near 50 MHz. By measuring as best I could with the ham transceiver (an ICOM IC-575H) the Russian TV carriers, plotting these measurements (such as) against the amateur and FM band signals I was hearing (hundreds, more, from Europe simply poured in on Es) a list of 'probable locations' for these mysterious Russian (nominal) TV transmitters was created. On six meters / 50 MHz, more than 50 countries were worked in that less than month period. Two meters? In the middle of a strong Es opening I briefly heard a Gibraltar station - once; we did not complete a contact although whenever six was open to Europe and I had a band filled with non-english (or British) FM signals the 100 watt two meter rig was transmitting. Jamie Eloy, CU3AK, would turn out to be a treasure. His uncle worked at Lajes as a trained meteorologist with more than a decade of experience. His access to records covering the 50s was unlimited and we spent hours and hours going through the faded and filed maps for 'North Atlantic Weather' during the mid-50s through to our visit. He understood precisely what I was looking for, and dragged out map after map showing 'The North Atlantic High' stable and unmoving for days on end, enveloping the entire area from the American coast to Terceira. "Many years, from late May until early July, it is one continuous non-moving high pressure area" he explained. "But not this year." I had chosen the wrong year to be there. "This year it is a much smaller stable high sitting between here and the Spanish and Portuguese coast" he explained with current maps. I told him how this affected VHF (and UHF) propagation and he in turn brought out isosonde soundings for the last few weeks. Sure enough - there it was, at least for the east end of Terceira where the balloons were launched; at around 2,000 feet, a sharp temperature jag in the readings, followed at 2,500 by a moisture jag. To anyone who understood how two meter and higher frequency signals travelled from Hawaii to California, it was a lesson in "here too". And it totally explained why in driving to 2,000+ feet on the Terceira 'plateau' with our car instantly produced the FM band filled with Spanish and Moroccan stations. Alas, it was in the wrong direction for our intended North American reception. So what had we proven? Not much save the Azores has incredibly nice people and delightful seafood and pork (they raised a ‘family porker’ inside their houses – assigned to its own bedroom!) and if we had been smarter a direct flight from Boston (once a week at that time) would have saved us huge dollars and endless hassle as we attempted to move our far over limit baggage half way around the world. The Azores is still there, and the challenge to reach North America on two meters remains.
RB Cooper, 23B Bayside Drive. Coopers Beach 0420, New Zealand