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"Wavescan" is a weekly program for long distance radio hobbyists produced by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations for Adventist World Radio. AWR carries the program over many of its stations (including shortwave). Adrian Peterson is a highly regarded DXer and radio historian, and often includes features on radio history in his program. We are reproducing those features below, with Dr. Peterson's permission and assistance.

Wavescan, October 21, 2012

Pitcairn Island on the Air!

Back 3 years ago, we presented a series of topics here in Wavescan on the story of wireless and radio on lonely Pitcairn Island, way out there in the wide areas of the South Pacific. That series of topics covered the entire spectrum of wireless and radio events on the island, beginning with the first attempt at the usage of wireless in 1921, and ending with the dismantling of the government wireless station in 1994.

Interestingly, 7 years later, that is during the year 2005, the government made an assessment study of the needs on Pitcairn and they recommended that a radio station should be installed on the island. And that is exactly what has happened. In fact, these days, the small population of residents on Pitcairn, numbering around 50, can tune in to three broadcasting stations, 2 radio and 1 TV.

Just one year after the government recommended that a radio station should be installed on the island, the 1st new radio broadcasting station was inaugurated. In August 2006, this new, and we should say, very small radio broadcasting station was launched, with just a 1/2 watt power output on 100.4 MHz FM.

Programming for the new Pitcairn Radio consisted mainly of C&W, Country & Western, recorded music, with Christian music during the hours of Saturday. The station was on the air full time, 24 hours a day.

However, on Pitcairn, they quickly realized that many of their FM receivers automatically defaulted and retuned to 87.5 MHz when the power went off. Consequently, the transmission frequency of their new radio station was adjusted accordingly to 87.5 MHz, so that when power came on again, the radio receivers would already be adjusted to that FM channel.

The power of the transmitter has been increased to 2.5 watts, and the station is now on the air only when the island power generator is running, that is for about 10 hours daily. This neat little radio station is operated by local resident, Paul Warren.

Five years after the first little FM station was inaugurated, 2 more broadcasting stations were installed; one TV and another FM.

On August 1 last year, Pitcairn TV took to the air, with 3.5 watts on the UHF channel 29. Programming for this broadcast outlet is provided via satellite from the Hope TV building, which is adjacent to the world headquarters of the Adventist church on the edge of suburban Washington DC. The TV signal from the Hope Channel is provided by the satellite NSS9, and the downlink relay in English via Pitcairn TV is on the air daily from 8:30 am till 10:00 pm.

The programming source, Hope TV from Silver Spring, Maryland is on the air worldwide with a dozen different program channels in many European & Asian languages.

At the same time as the new TV station was inaugurated last year, an additional FM station was launched also. This new relay station carries the programming from Life Talk Radio in California and it is down linked from the same satellite that delivers the TV programming. Life Talk Radio on Pitcairn is found at 107.0 MHz FM, and the transmitter power is just 1 watt.

Life Talk Radio, from its studios in Simi Valley California, is on the air via more than 100 downlink relay stations throughout the United States and the Caribbean, as well as in several countries of the Pacific & in England. Life Talk programming is made up of educational & health topics, as well as easy listening Christian music and Gospel messages.

We are indebted to David Ricquish, with Radio Heritage in Wellington, New Zealand for all of the information on the 3 new radio & TV stations on Pitcairn Island. As David stated in the information he provided to Wavescan, the man who was responsible for establishing these 3 fascinating little radio & TV stations on Pitcairn Island was fellow New Zealander, Pastor Ray Codling. For a period of 6 years, Pastor Codling served as a missionary to the small population on Pitcairn Island, though his term of service ended quite recently.

Now, as far as QSLs from the new radio & TV stations on Pitcairn are concerned, we would suggest that you would need to hear the stations first. Now, the only place you would be able to hear the stations is either on the island itself, or else on a ship that is passing nearby. If you have a few thousand dollars of spare money, that would help to get you into the area!

However, it would be so nice if the programming from one or all of these 3 stations was relayed on shortwave as a special event by one of the already established amateur stations on the island. Way back 1/2 a century ago, that really did happen when amateur station VR6AC ran a few programs on shortwave. That took place way back in 1966, but these days it would be necessary to obtain a special license for a special event radio broadcasting station on Pitcairn.

Ancient DX Report 1900

During the year 1900, which many people would identify as the 1st year in the new century, multitudes of wireless signals in Morse Code were noted in many countries on five wide spread continents. Long distance coverage for wireless transmissions began to increase quite rapidly; and in addition, wireless equipment was installed into a large numbers of ships, mainly naval vessels, though some cargo & passenger ships as well.

In England for example, Marconi reported that his manufacturing company had supplied transmitting & receiving equipment for 26 ships & 6 coastal stations. In addition Captain Jackson of the Royal Navy at Devonport on the south coast of England provided an additional 19 sets for navy usage during this same time period.

In October, Marconi commenced work on the construction of 2 major coastal wireless stations, a larger one at Poldhu and a smaller one at the Lizard, both on the Cornwall coast. The large Poldhu station was designed for international communication, and the smaller Lizard station was designed as a fill in for Poldhu as needed, and also to check on the actual performance of Poldhu.

Germany opened its first permanent wireless station as a maritime coastal station on Borkum Island on February 19. Then, a half year later, two more wireless stations were opened in Germany for mutual communication, one at Kugalbake at the mouth of the River Elbe, and the other 30 miles distant on the island of Heligoland.

Russia also opened its first maritime wireless stations during the year 1900, one at Hogland Island and the other 25 miles distant at Kymi on the coast of Finland. The Finnish station operated in Morse Code on 1155 kHz.

Over in the Americas, there were three successful attempts at wireless communication by voice. In the Spring of the year 1900, the Canadian born Reginald Fessenden established a wireless station for the Weather Bureau on Cobb Island in the Potomac River some 50 miles south of Washington DC. On December 23, he successfully transmitted the human voice over a distance of one mile from one end of the island to the other with the use of two wireless masts 50 feet tall. Due to the fact that this transmission was via spark wireless, the voice comprehension was almost unintelligible.

It is also claimed that Archie Collins successfully transmitted the human voice over a distance of one mile across the Delaware River in the United States during the year 1900. For this event, he used the spark
transmitter that he had developed during the previous year.

Down in South America the Catholic priest Padre Landell de Moura made several successful voice transmissions on the edge of Sao Paulo in Brazil. He conducted his experiments in the vicinity of the hill Santana; and on June 3, he made a successful transmission to the down town area, Avenida Paulista, a distance of 5 miles, and this was reported in the city newspaper.

De Moura had invented three different though related systems of transmission & reception and an examination of his circuitry reveals that he was at that time actually a little ahead of his fellow inventors in Europe and the United States.

De Moura gave technical names to his inventions, which in English could be described as follows:

Down in Australia, successful wireless experiments were independently conducted in three different states. Mr. Henry W. Jenvey, Post Office Engineer for the state of Victoria, sent a telegram to a fellow experimenter on November 17, in which he mentions the success of some of his own wireless experiments.

Early in the year 1900, Mr. W. P Hallam of Hobart, the capital city of the island state of Tasmania, conducted successful wireless transmissions between ship and shore; and up in Queensland, the navy conducted successful transmissions between the gunboat HMQS "Gayundah" and the shore based navy depot at Kangaroo Point, in suburban Brisbane, the state capital.

Over in Europe, the Belgian passenger ship, "Princesse Clementine", was fitted with Marconi wireless equipment which was called into action for several wireless experiments over progressively increasing distances, at 50 miles & 60 miles and then 90 miles. The German luxury liner, "Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse" was the first passenger ship in the world to be fitted with wireless, on February 28, 1900, and their new equipment achieved a distance of 60 miles.

The Russian navy vessel "General-Admiral Apraksin" carried personnel for the installation of the wireless station on the island of Hogland but it became stranded in the frozen waters of the Gulf of Bothnia at the end of April. A rescue ship was summoned by wireless, the icebreaker "Yermak", which came and freed the ice bound "Apraksin."

Off the east coast of Africa, wireless equipment was installed into 5 vessels of the British navy. This equipment was a blending of wireless equipment from English Marconi & German Siemens which had been imported into South Africa during the Boer War. The 5 navy vessels established a new distance record for wireless, covering a distance of 250 miles from Delgoa Bay in Mozambique to Johannesburg in South Africa. It should be mentioned though, that this accomplishment was made in a cascade relay, from one ship to another.

Next month, you will hear another bulletin of Ancient DX News, and this time it will cover the year 1901.