November 24, 2020

This Week in Amateur Radio

North America's Premiere Amateur Radio News Magazine

Constructing the First “Real” Radio Station

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Much has been written about the program, performers and setting of KDKA’s “big broadcast” of Nov. 2, 1920, including our recent story “Radio Broadcasting Becomes a Reality,” but precious little is documented about the technical aspects of the equipment package that made it possible.

With the aid of detailed photographs; magazine articles about the station and its progenitor Frank Conrad; and a published account by an eye/ear-witness to what transpired, it’s possible to piece together many of the missing details.

Perhaps most useful is a 1955 American Heritage article by Donald Little, a Westinghouse engineer who helped to construct that first KDKA transmitter.

“During the fall of 1920, Dr. Conrad had me design and help the model shop at the works build the transmitter. The transmitter had a power of about 100 watts. They built a room on the roof of one of the taller buildings at the East Pittsburgh works and put up an antenna and counterpoise from a steel pole on that building over to one of the powerhouse smokestacks. The antenna and transmitter were completed only a few days before the presidential election of November 2, 1920.”

The association between Little and Conrad extended back some three years when Little, who had been working for what was then called the National Bureau of Standards (now the Institute of Standards and Technology) was dispatched from Washington to East Pittsburgh to oversee the development and production of transmitters and receivers by Westinghouse for the U.S. Signal Corps.

Read more – Radioworld: https://bit.ly/37SJ1KI

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