The story behind the card #35 The Specialist W1BB

When radio amateurs found that they could easily contact distant countries on the shorter wavelengths below 100 metres, the 160 metre band was neglected except for inter-G and near European QSOs. Additionally an input power limit of ten watts was a rather discouraging factor.

Across the Atlantic in the USA and living in Winthrop, Massachusetts, a seaside location near Boston, Stewart S Perry W1BB managed to stimulate work on 160 metres by organising 1.7 MHz International Tests in the late 1930s. The November 1937 issue of the RSGB ‘T & R Bulletin’ gave details of the Tests which were to take place on each weekend during the coming December and January. The operating times were from 11.30 pm to 2.30 am (British time) which was to be divided into 10 minute transmitting and listening periods.

At that time antenna technology was limited for Top Band DX working and that, together with the transmitter input power restriction meant that very few European/North American contacts took place. The W station could often be copied but actual two-way contacts were few.

After WW2 and the resumption of amateur activity, Stew Perry continued his 160 metre work despite the severe restrictions of power and available frequencies in the USA. These were imposed to ‘protect’ the LORAN (Long Range Air Navigation) system from interference. I well remember the powerful pulses wiping out much of the 160 metre band after dark. For many years after the War, LORAN was the cause of many operating restrictions on Top Band in North America.

Massachusetts and other East Coast States had an input power limit of 100 watts, which could only be used between 1800 and 1825 KHz. For the frequencies between 1825 and 1850 KHz only 25 watts was allowed during the darkness hours.

Despite such restrictions Stew W1BB persisted and build an alternative station on a cliff top where he could put up really big antennas. Sew was my first N. American contact on Top Band on January 14th 1968 when I lived in a bungalow on The Ridge. A few days later I contacted him again during the CQ 160 metre CW Contest. Stew was using just 100 watts and an inverted ‘V’ antenna that was 265 feet high. My report to him was 579 whilst I was a puny 449 when using my KW2000 transceiver and an awful 125ft of wire with its centre only 25ft above the ground, its ‘high point.’

Stew continued his 160 metre operating and ‘Missionary’ work for the band. Every DX station that he had contacted received a home produced and duplicated “W1BB – 160 meter DX Bulletin” every May. My 1968 copy, which I still treasure, runs to seven close typed A4 pages. I think W1BB gained the first 160 metre DXCC and his single minded enthusiasm encouraged thousands of others to take up the LF challenge. Of course he is now a well remembered ‘Silent Key’ but he will always remain one of my all-time radio heroes.

John Heys G3BDQ – August 2006.

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Popular pages

Get your amateur radio licence - Find out more about amateur radio licence training.
Month on the Air - G3MGQ's popular monthly DX contest/expedition list.
Wilf Gaye Memorial Cup - The clubs annual operating event in the memory of Wilf Gaye M0GYE.
St. Richard's College Buildathon/STEM/ARISS - HERC attends St. Richard's Catholic College for their various events surrounding the Tim Peake ARISS contact.
G3BDQ - John Hey's Rare QSL Cards.
Sussex Electronics Radio Fair - SERF Sussex Electronics Radio Fair 2016.
Vital Spark - A selection of articles re-published from the Vital Spark.
RSGB News - Find out how to get RSGB news on your mobile or PC.
Experimenters Corner - A selection of Proteus projects by Bob Gornal (G7DME)
BBADL - Bath Based Distance Learning Course.
Conquest Hospital Radio - Presented by HERC member Antony (G4CUS).
Radio Rallies 2016 - An up to date list of radio rallies scheduled for 2016.
Club QSL Cards - A selection of QSL cards the club has received over the years.
Other Newsletters - Excellent newsletters and magazines from other clubs.
TX Factor episodes - Take a look at the TX Factors YouTube videos.
John Taplin - A bio of the late John Taplin.

Amateur Radio Resources

Other Radio Clubs & RAYNET

BSARS - Brede Steam Amateur Radio Society

RAYNET - The Hastings and Rother RAYNET Group.

HERC members sites

Sigord - Gordon Sweet
Hastings Radio Comms - Andrew Haas-Campbell
Hoofbags - Liz Costa

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