Marconi 122 – Celebrating 122 years of Radio
As amateur radio operators, we explore new technologies on a regular basis but we have to also embrace and celebrate the accomplishments of those before us. One such accomplishment, that some would say was the start of radio as we know it, happened on December 12, 1901 at Signal Hill in Newfoundland, Canada.
On 12 December 1901, Guglielmo Marconi raised a 150-metre-long antenna (which was attached to a kite) over Signal Hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. This antenna received the first transatlantic signals ever sent via radio waves. The signals - for the letter “S” in Morse code - came from Marconi’s high-powered wireless transmitting station in Cornwall, United Kingdom, some 3,500 km away.
On December 12, 2023, the Inverhuron Ham Radio Club, lead by Rob Noakes, VE3PCP, the founder of the club, conducted an all day operation using their “Remote Station” in the tiny Hamlet of Inverhuron Ontario, Canada. On the shore of Lake Huron, one of Canada’s Great Lakes.
We operated with our club call sign VA3XXT. This was the first operation with this call sign.
Remote operated stations in Amateur radio are becoming more common place and in Canada one has to hold an Advanced qualification to own and set up one such station. Rob has held such qualifications since 1986. The club has both an HF and a dual band VHF/UHF remote station in operation, 7 days a week from 4:30AM until 10PM.
As the station is owned and operated by Rob and he was in the station and in control, he was able to have others join him and participate in the communications during the day. As per Canadian Radiocommunication Regulation SOR-96-484 Section 46(1)
Rob began the operation at 5:45 AM local time on 160M. Each hour, we moved up to the next band. We covered 9 bands during the day and had contacts on all bands except 10M. The propagation just wasn’t there by the time we got to 10M. We ended the operation at 4:45 PM local time.
At 8:20 AM, Raisa, VO1BIG joined Rob for some time operating on 40M. She is affectionately known as YL Raisa by many with her main call sign R1BIG and OH7BG. She was operating from her home in St Petersburg, Russia.
She has a large following on Social Media and YouTube and has also been named Amateur Radio Newsline’s International Newsmaker of the year for 2023. She works tirelessly promoting amateur radio but most especially to get more YLs inspired and involved in Amateur Radio.
YL Raisa International Newsmaker of the Year 2023
At 11 AM, Eva, VA3QET joined Rob to operate on 15M. She is also known by her home call sign as HB9FPM and is an accomplished SOTA activator with more than 750 peaks to her credit and 4 GOAT Awards. She joined us from her home in Muri, Switzerland. She has put together two YL specific operations in Czech Republic, OL88YL in 2019 and Poland, SP88YL in 2023 where a group of YLs operated from contest stations for a week. She is very actively involved in USKA, Union of Swiss Short Wave Amateurs.
At 2 PM, Raisa once again joined Rob on 10M. We operated on 10M with no success for contacts so we moved to 40M for some time and had many more contacts there.
At 3:30 PM, our third guest Cal, M0MCX joined us from his operating station at Holley Farm in the UK which is not that far from where the transmitter was located in 1901 that sent the signal “S” from Cornwall which is approximately 350 km as the radio waves travel.
Cal is a well know amateur and operates often as M0XXT with livestream videos each week. He is also known as the DX Commander, founder and owner of DX Commander Antennas, a manufacturer for an offering of all band vertical antennas and related accessories. Sold and shipped worldwide.
Cal listened along with Raisa operating for a period before taking over and operating until the end of the day and putting a ribbon on a great day of amateur radio. Cal brought his own pileup with him and made contacts on both 40M and 20M. Many stations that would have had trouble working him from the UK were able to get in the log. He did a livestream from his shack and his many viewers followed along and made contact as they could.
The technology we use is called RemoteHams. Also known as RCForb. This software works with 2 parts, a server and a client. The server resides in Rob’s location on a “shack” computer and is connected to his modest station, a Kenwood TS-870 connected to an Ameritron AL-811 amplifier and then to a modified vertical antenna that covers 160M through 10M. There is also a full sized 80M Delta Loop and a tri band yagi that can be used as necessary. For the most part, the vertical gives excellent performance for the remote station as it provides omni directional coverage without the need to rotate a directional antenna around. We do tend to use the delta loop on 80M due to its wider bandwidth however.
VA3XXT Full Shack
The Client resides on the users computer and enables them to connect over the internet to the server and radio. With Rob being in the shack, he controls all the parameters of the operation so the guests only have to push the PTT or VOX and make contacts.
RemoteHams is different than many other remote connection software solutions in that it allows many consecutive users to connect at the same time so operating as a group is very easy. It enables the coaching and support for all connected users by each other.
Rob also has a second computer in the shack that he uses to livestream to his YouTube channel for remote operations. The entire day was live streamed with a few breaks during the day. Both Rob and Cal streamed simultaneously for the time when Cal was operating. I am not ware if anyone else has ever done that before.
Embracing technology is what “Hams” do and have always done. In many cases, Hams has been on the leading edge with technology in operating our beloved radios. Unfortunately, not all rules and regulations in all countries have kept up so our hope is that will eventually happen and make things easier for Amateur Radio to truly be connected worldwide not only over the air but with other emerging technologies.
To further celebrate the day, we put together a certificate that we could personalize for anyone that had contact with us and send out to them. Many have been sent out already.
VA3XXT QSL Card
The results of the day were logged and uploaded to a web site to produce an analysis and a map showing the QSOs.
VA3XXT Marconi Day 2023 QSO Map
Our overall results for the day were: 223 total QSOs. 4 of those being CW on 30M with the rest were SSB across 8 of the 9 bands. 11 countries and an operating time of just under 11 hours.
During our QSOs, we took the time to interact with those contacting us and explain the day and the operation as we went. Cal’s operation saw 115 SSB QSOs from 5 countries. He operated for just over 1 hour. He was operating at full speed and managed a big pileup for that time.
All the information about the day and the link to all 5 live streams have been posted to our QRZ page. https://www.qrz.com/db/VA3XXT
In closing, one can’t help but wonder, what would Guglielmo Marconi think of where we are today with radio? 4 operators from 4 counties on different continents operating through one station. All the best to all and please do enjoy your radios and get on the air and talk to others. That’s what Amateur Radio is all about!