SAQ - heard in New Jersey

AWA member Al Klase, N3FRQ, is the new editor of the Delaware Valley Historic Radio Club's Oscillator.  More importantly, he is the only known person in the United States to receive SAQ in the last two years. The following story is a web exclusive for AWA's Page_2.

Ernst Alexanderson meets Bill Gates
by Al Klase, N3FRQ

    Using a cold-war era receiver backed up by late-twentieth-century computer technology, your writer was able to copy the 17.2 KHz commemorative broadcast from the Alexanderson alternator at Grimeton Sweden on May 28th. 1998.

The station building at Grimeton and the antenna system carried by six 127m. high masts.
    Radio station SAQ, the "great radio station" as it was called by the Swedes, was built during the years 1922-24 by RCA for transatlantic wireless telegraphy. The transmitter, the heart of which is an alternating-current generator (alternator), was developed by the Swedish-born engineer Ernst Alexanderson (1878-1975) who was a pioneer in radio engineering, Educated in Europe, and employed at General Electric in Schenectady, he later became chief engineer at Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Of the some twenty 200-kilowatt Alexanderson transmitters that were built in the USA by General Electric and installed all over the world, only this one at Grimeton remains.  

    Click here to view the 200 KW Alexanderson high-frequency alternator installed in Naval Radio Station, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1918.

    The SAQ transmitter is operated occasionally for special events. This time the Grimeton station was receiving an Industrial Heritage Award from the Swedish government. As the Morse code message explained,


    Without the elaborate antenna farm used by RCA at their Riverhead, Long Island receiver site, hearing SAQ is a considerable undertaking. A shielded 40-inch loop antenna and a Watkins Johnson 357 VLF receiver recently snagged at the Middletown hamfest helped a lot, but, even then, the signals were just barely perceptible. Modern technology came to the rescue. The receiver output was recorded on a lap-top computer via its sound card. The resulting ".WAV" file was processed by a spectral analysis program that made it possible to visually correlate the dots and dashes with the feeble sounds.  Click here to hear SAQ as received.      The software package, Spectrogram Version 4.2.0 by R..S. Horne, is available as shareware on the Internet. It runs under Windows 95.

  Watkins Johnson 357 VLF receiver used for SAQ reception.

Actual output from the "Spectragram" of the received signal from SAQ. The name GRIMETON is pretty clear. The "E" is faded out though. Click here to see a full size Spectragram.