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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 N397, October 2, 2016

The Story of a Megasized Shortwave Station in Alaska (HAARP)

Construction work on a megasized shortwave station in Alaska began in the year 1993. The location for this huge project was at an American Air Force base at an isolated location near Gakona, nearly 200 miles north east of the state capital, Anchorage.

The ground plan for this massive shortwave station, HAARP High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, called for 360 transmitters at 10 kW each and 180 antenna masts, all compactly installed into a square pattern occupying 30 acres. The Continental transmitters are grouped in pairs in special weatherproof temperature-controlled containers. The antenna masts support a total of 720 low band and high band shortwave antennas.

This very expensive project was constructed in three separate phases at an initial cost of $30 million. An additional supercomputer system cost $25 million, and operational costs have been estimated at $30 million.

The first phase of construction was completed in 1998, and a secondary phase was completed four years later. The entire facility was finally and fully completed in 2007; though 6 years later, HAARP Alaska was shutdown.

Initial test transmissions took place on March 8, 1997 on 3400 kHz and 6990 kHz with an open carrier from the total system, and messages in Morse Code. These tests were announced in advance and special QSL cards were available.

Another series of tests took place two years later on March 27, 1999 and one international radio monitor who was in London England at the time reported that even with the total signal output at a massive 3.6 megawatts, HAARP was not audible in the United Kingdom.

Back in January 2008, HAARP conducted an additional two day series of tests beamed to the moon. These moonbounce transmissions were noted on two shortwave frequencies, 6792.5 kHz and 7407.5 kHz.

The purpose for HAARP Alaska was to study the impact of massive radiated power into the sky, with the possibility of controlling the ionosphere and nullifying incoming radio signals from other countries. Much speculation about the HAARP project has suggested that weather patterns may be altered, deep earth radar could detect underground patterns, and communication could be achieved with deeply submerged submarines.

However, the government authorities at HAARP Alaska have been quite open about the activities associated with their project, and open house events with guided tours have been staged periodically. The well-known amateur radio operator and radio writer, Gordon West, WB6NOA, was granted an inspection tour in September 2001, apparently in an attempt to dispel conspiracy theories that abound about the station. He stated in an article in Popular Communications magazine that normally the station cannot be heard on regular shortwave receivers because the transmitters operate with a frequency hopping technique, that is, a rapid and continuous change in frequencies.

Ownership of the HAARP facility has recently been transferred to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and plans are now underway to reopen this transmitter station and to conduct additional propagation experiments. The FCC has issued two transmission licenses for the revived HAARP Alaska. Callsign WI2XFX permits experimental transmissions on seven in-between bands in the shortwave spectrum, and callsign WI2XDV permits experimental transmissions ranging from 1 MHz up to 40 MHz.

A few years ago, a total of 720 transmitting tubes were removed from the 360 transmitters and placed in warm storage for safety, and currently staff are in the process of re-inserting them back into each transmitter unit.

Interestingly, HAARP Alaska is not the only shortwave facility for ionospheric research. It is understood that other similar, though smaller facilities are located at Fairbanks in Alaska, and also on the island of Puerto Rico, as well as at Tromso in Norway, and Vasilsursk in Russia.

The QSL card issued by HAARP Alaska presents a photo in color depicting part of their enormous antenna system.

Ancient DX Report

Research into the radio events that took place during the year 1911 indicates two areas of major activity; rapid and widespread development of the Marconi company in England and beyond, and the equally rapid and widespread activity of amateur radio operators throughout the world. It should also be mentioned that primitive radio communication was conducted from an equally primitive airplane, and that wireless stations were installed at many locations worldwide, on lonely islands and in isolated countries.

The Marconi company was involved with so many projects worldwide that they introduced their own radio magazine, Marconigraph, in April (1911). Even this very first issue presents a mind-boggling array of new projects and stations in which the Marconi company was involved.

For example:

At the end of the year, Marconi reported that more than 600 commercial ships were carrying Marconi wireless apparatus, in addition to an undisclosed number of ships in major navies throughout the world.

In India, four stations were erected and these were installed in the British Fort in Calcutta, the Red Fort in Delhi, on top of a sharp hill at Jutogh on the edge of the Himalayas, and in Allahabad, apparently in the old fort. It was also in this year, 1911, that the British transferred the capital city of India from Calcutta to Delhi.

At midyear, the Radio Division of the Department of Commerce was formed for the regulation and control of wireless and radio throughout the United States. In Canada, a total of 30 shore stations were in operation for maritime communication.

The United States installed a wireless station on lonely and isolated St. Paul Island, off the coast of Alaska, for the purpose of monitoring and controlling the seal population in the area, thus ensuring that encroaching sealing ships did not endanger the viability of the seal colony.

In Australia, a new though temporary wireless station was installed on the 6th floor of the Hotel Australia in downtown Sydney for maritime communication. This station was granted the monumental callsign AAA and it was in continuous use until a new and larger station at Pennant Hills was inaugurated during the next year.

In Italy, King Victor Emmanuel officially opened a new wireless station at Coltano; and in Germanic Europe, successful communication was established between two new wireless stations, one at Nauen near Berlin in Germany and the other at Vienna in Austria.

A large new station was installed at Cadiz in Spain and a photograph shows the large antenna system that was supported on four masts. Each pair of masts was connected with aerial wires, and 10 cross wires were stretched between the two pairs. Although wide area coverage was intended with this aerial arrangement, yet it would seem that the resultant propagation gave two major lobes, one straight up and the other straight down.

The first overseas tour for a reigning British monarch took His Majesty King George V and Queen Mary to India and beyond. While en route on the HMS Medina, maritime wireless communication was maintained with England for the transfer of news and royal information.

During the year 1911, the authorities in New Zealand enacted the stringent requirement that all outdoor antenna systems were banned. In Australia, if an outdoor aerial was erected, the payment of a wireless receiver fee was required.

On January 21, a wireless test was conducted between an airplane and a nearby ground location. The Western Wireless Equipment company built a special radio transmitter with a Morse Code key on top for the occasion. Lt. Paul Beck held the 29 pound box of wireless equipment on his lap while the Wright brothers' plane travelled at 55 miles an hour at a height of 50 feet for a distance of 40 miles.

The wireless aerial was a 95 ft. long 7 strand trailing wire, and a clip-on wire from the transmitter was attached to the open metalwork frame of the plane as a grounding counterpoise. Thus the counterpoise grounding system was actually above the transmitting aerial rather than below, a unique though successful procedure.

A photograph taken at the time shows the totally open frame of the plane, with the pilot and the radio operator sitting without any apparent protection from falling off. The noise of the plane motor was so loud that reception in the air was impossible, though Morse Code signals were successfully sent from the plane and received on the ground.

During the year 1911, radio programs were broadcast by William Dubilier in Seattle, Washington, and also by Charles Herrold in San Jose, California. An innovative entrepreneur in Seattle erected a small tent and charged a small fee for people to come in and hear the Dubilier music programs.

Back at this era, it is estimated that there were 10,000 amateur radio operators in the United States, and another 10,000 in England, together with another 10,000 more throughout the world. Although the total information is unknown, yet it would be suggested that at least some of these radio amateur operators throughout the world were at times transmitting music programs during the year 1911.