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The EARS WA4IWLetter



(The following editorial broadcast from Toronto by Gordon Sinclair, a Canadian TV commentator, was published in the Third Quarter 2000 RWUEA NEWSLETTER and is courtesy of Ken Anderson, W4JQT.)

73 de Jack, W4JS


This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth.

Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of these countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.

When France was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it.

When earthquakes hit distant cities, it is the United States that hurries in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes. Nobody helped.

The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, warmongering Americans.

I'd like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplane. Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing jumbo jet, the Lockheed Tri-Star, or the Douglas DC-10? If so, why don't they fly them? Why do all the international lines except Russia fly American planes?

Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman on the moon? You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy, and you get automobiles.

You talk about American technocracy, and you find men on the moon--not once, but several times--and safely home again.

You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they are breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma and pa at home to spend here.

When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke.

I can name you 5000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don't think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.

Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I'm one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of those.

Stand proud, America!


Our deepest sympathy to Bert Van Houten, W3TPW, on the passing of his devoted wife, Olive, on 24 August 2000. A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00AM, 19 September at the Village of Holiday Lakes Recreation Center, CR 771 and Marathon Drive. Bert will join his daughter, Cynthia, in New York on 22 September.


The next EARS meeting will at 7:30PM, 15 September in Room 400, Friendship Hall of the Englewood United Methodist Church, 700 East Dearborn St. Following the business meeting the program will be a video of a "1935 Tour of ARRL Headquarters".


EARS holds an informal roundtable session, open to anyone, on the WB0GUX Repeater, 146.700(-) every Friday except meeting nights at 7:30pm.

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Minutes of the Meeting

August 18, 2000

President Jack Sproat, W4JS, called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm with the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag. There were no new members nor guests present. A total of 19 members were in attendance, who introduced themselves by call sign and QTH.

Ken Anderson, W4JQT, made a motion to accept last month's meeting minutes. The motion was seconded by Frank Maren, W4VV, and passed unanimously.

Howard White, KD4MMY, our Treasurer, gave his report on our finances. Our balance on hand was $4540.07. $111.00 was spent during the preceding month. Receipts totaled $58.00. Howard's motion to accept the Treasurer's Report was seconded by Gabe Meckenberg, K2GQU. The motion passed unanimously.


In response to an invitation from the Charlotte Co. PIO Larry Brown, KD4KVE, for EARS to participate in an Amateur Radio Awareness exhibit at the Town Center Mall 16 September, a background letter on EARS will be sent to Larry, which he'll copy and have available for handout.

Members were reminded that EARS would be operating from the Boca Grande Lighthouse for International Lighthouse Weekend.


SUNSHINE - It was reported that Olive, wife of Bert Van Houten, W3TPW, had suffered a stroke and was in the Venice Hospital. Larry Yacobelli, W4ERN, has been in Sarasota Memorial Hospital recovering from heart bypass surgery.

TESTING - One recent upgrade was reported: Bob Carstens, KG4IAW, passed his General Class test.

EOC - Frank Maren, W4VV, reported that we are all invited to tour the new EOC operations center and attend the RACES semi-annual meeting. Both the tour and the meeting will be held at the Sheriff's office near the Charlotte County Airport on Friday, August 25 at 6:30 pm.

The 146.865 MHz K8ONV repeater located in Grove City is operational but lacks sensitivity to the North. The autopatch and speed dial are working--give it a try. If you experience troubles, contact Bruce Robideau, K2OY.

GOVERNMENT LIAISON - Gerry Meckenberg, K2JWE, attended the first of two public hearings on communication tower siting. Charlotte County is considering changes to the existing ordinance to address safety issues related to tower setbacks from property lines. Gerry reported that none of the proposed changes, nor the ordinance itself, apply to amateur radio towers.

Gerry has also sent a letter to the Charlotte County planning department requesting a position paper on County Ordinance 3976 which may apply to amateur radio towers but is in need of revision. He will keep us advised on this matter.

OLD BUSINESS - All members were reminded of our opportunity to set up a display of Amateur Radio gear and memorabilia at the Englewood-Charlotte County Library in October. Contributions of ideas, suggestions and exhibits will be appreciated. Contact Vic Emmelkamp, KF4VHX, or Frank Maren, W4VV.

NEW BUSINESS - The Alzheimer's Society has contacted EARS and requested communications assistance in conjunction with their fund-raising walk which will be held Saturday, October 14 in Englewood. Members who would like to participate should contact Frank Maren, W4VV.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:15pm..

Vic Emmelkamp, KF4VHX



The EARS VE Team offers ARRL VEC license exams at 9:30 am the 3rd Saturday of each month at the Chamber of Commerce building, 601 South Indiana Avenue, Englewood. Two-day advance reservation is required--no walk-ins.

Candidates must bring:

(1) Original license and a copy of that license.

(2) Original CSCE's and a copy of each CSCE.

(3) FCC Licensee ID No. or Social Security card.

(4) Two forms of identification.

(5) A check in the amount of $6.65 payable to "ARRL VEC", or cash in the above amount.

For further information and reservation, contact Jack Sproat, W4JS, at 475-1929


FOR SALE - The following equipment is available:

Yaesu FT-890 HF Xceiver w/manual (1993) $700

Astron RS-35-A Power Supply (Feb '97) 100

Cushcraft R7000 10 to 80-m Vertical (Feb '97) 300

Kenwood Low Pass Filter 30

Yaesu FT-2500M 2-m FM w/manual (Feb '97) 300

Cushcraft ARX2B 2-m Ringo Ranger ( " " ) 40

ADT-201 HT w/manual + speaker mike, BNC/

VHF adapter, cigar plug adapter (Dec '99) 175

Call Harley Cox, W0CU, at 426-4361

FOR SALE - Alpha 91-B 1500-watt linear amplifier. Asking $2000, which is well below original cost. Call Dick Dean, N4RD, at 475-2697.


Just because the Snowbirds aren't here doesn't mean EARS members still don't get together at the Country Hound Cafe, Palm Plaza, McCall and Placida, Englewood every Tuesday, + 8am. Come on out and enjoy the great food and chit-chat.

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(The following is taken from "Computers and Internet, Is the Internet Our Enemy--or Just a Tool?", by Don Rotolo, N2IRZ, September 2000 CQ)

Many amateurs see the Internet as a major competitor to ham radio, being a faster/better/cheaper messaging system that anyone with a little bit of equipment--no test required--can use. In reality--like a computer--the Internet is nothing more than a tool, and the results one gets depend upon knowing the tool's capabilities and how to use them.

Peter Dillon, JY9NE/N3FNE, offers some examples of how he uses the Internet there in Amman, Jordan. By subscribing to a number of e-mail reflectors, he can set schedules, post operating times, ask questions about equipment and keep in touch with members of 10-10 International and the 6-meter club in which he is active. Peter also gets the ARRL DX List and the 425DX News to keep updated on DX operations, DXpeditions and QSL routes. He makes use of callsign servers, such as KD4UJK's DX Info page, and the on-line versions of the Buckmaster and QRZ callbooks. The DX Summit web page provides DX spots. (A lot has changed since your editor operated as JY9LC from Amman 1987-89, and there was no Internet for the public and only weekly DX newsletters a couple weeks late from the States!)

E-commerce is the buzzword for doing business via the Internet, and the vast majority of display ads in the radio journals show their web site. These sites range from a few pages of information to complete catalogs and on-line ordering system. For hams who must do their business via telephone or mail order, the Internet is a viable alternative.

Keith Lamonica, W7DXX, has connected a Kachina 505DSP transceiver to the Internet, allowing anyone with a license to operate from Keith's Boston QTH. After logging on to the W7DXX Remote web site, the operator can select the frequency, mode, power level and even switch on the ACOM 2000 amplifier and rotate the Cushcraft yagi. If you just want to listen to the propagation into Boston, there is a RealAudio feed. If you want to transmit, you must first get a password via the automated password server and then log in to the remote base via Microsoft NetMeeting. This system ensures that only one person is operating the remote at any one time. There are over 300 remote operators in some 65 countries now registered with the system.

The potential for ham radio-Internet relationships is just being touched. Some sites of interest include:

PSK31: <http://www.kender.es/~edu/psk31.html>

Win1010 logging software: <http://www.hds.net>

W7DXX Remote Base: <http://www.lamonica.com>

Buckmaster Publishing: <http://buck.com>

-- "A RADIO GIRL" --

If she wants a date---"Meter"

If she comes to call---"Receiver"

If she wants an escort---"Conductor"

If she wants to be an angel---"Transformer"

If she proves you were wrong--"Compensator"

If you think she is cheating---"Detector"

If she eats too much---"Rectifier"

If her hands are cold---"Heater"

If she wants a vacation---"Transmitter"

If she talks too much---"Interrupter"

If she is narrow in her views---"Amplifier"

If her way of thinking is not yours---"Corrector"

If she won't be true---"Eliminator"

Bessie Hardin

(Ed. Note--The foregoing was furnished by Don DiBello, KF4WJW, from a US Navy publication when he was in radio school.)


Gordon L. ("Tex") Beneke, K0HWY, died 30 May at 86 years of age. As a young tenor sax player from Ft. Worth, Tex joined the great Glenn Miller orchestra in 1938, where his singing and whistling talents were highlighted on such Miller classics as "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" and "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree". With the breakup on the Miller orchestra after Glenn's enlistment, Beneke joined the US Navy, rising to Chief Petty Officer. What with Glenn's death in 1944, Tex reorganized the Miller band after the end of WW II, opening to a record-breaking crowd of 6,750 dancers at the Hollywood Palladium in 1947. In the early '50s Beneke fronted his own dance band, working out of St. Louis. He moved to southern California in the early '80s, but going out on tour playing "The Music Made Famous by Glenn Miller". (Biodata from The Big Band Almanac, Leo Walker, 1989. In 1987, your editor had the chance to see a great performance by Tex in Boca Raton.)


Fifteen-year-old Heather Cox, KB8VYQ, of Ann Arbor, MI received an American Statistical Association Certificate of Recognition for her paper, Which Ham Radio Antenna is the Best Choice for Point to Point Communication? The paper, submitted to the Southeastern Michigan Science Fair 2000, is an experimental thesis demonstrating how to determine the effectiveness of various antennas. Heather's experiments were carried out on 70 cm and concluded that the Yagi was the best performing antenna of those she tested. Her report's at <http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/antheory.html>. (From The ARRL Letter, September 1, 2000)


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As of 01 September 2000, every American Amateur Radio station is required to fully comply with the FCC's RF exposure guidelines.

These regulations, which went into effect 01 January 1998, require all operators to read and understand the RF exposure rules and, where necessary, perform evaluations to determine if their stations comply with the new regulations. Under those regulations, an amateur station must not exceed the maximum permissible exposure (MPE) limits for transmitter operation. MPEs are both frequency and power-dependent.

Until now, the FCC has put amateurs on the honor system, but compliance with the RF exposure rules is not optional.

A complete description of the rules is available on the ARRL Web site at <http://www.arrl.org/news/rfsafety/>. The site also contains resources to make your own station evaluation in short order.

From the above site, one can access the University of Texas Radio Club Home Page, thence to the "Amateur Radio RF Safety Calculator". This page provides a simple way to input your station's characteristics into a BASIC program written and published by Wayne Overbeck, N6NB. The following data are entered:

1) Average Power at the antenna. Average power equals the transmitter output on AM and FM, but is 0.707 times the transmitter's PEP for SSB.

2) Antenna Gain in dBi. Verticals and dipoles have a gain of 2.2 dBi. Most directional antennas (quads and yagis) measure their gain in dBd, so if you have a 3-element yagi with a gain of 6 dBd, add 2.2 for a total of 8.2 dBi.

3) Distance to the area of interest. This is the distance from your antenna to (a) the "controlled environment" (your home) and/or (b) your property line and the "uncontrolled environment" of your neighbor. To calculate that distance, square the height of your antenna (in feet), add that to the square of the horizontal distance from your antenna to the area of interest (in feet) and take the square root of that sum.

4) Frequency of operation. RF exposure becomes more critical with increased frequency, so if you run a kilowatt on 10 meters, that would be the frequency and power to choose.

5) Ground Reflection Effects. If your antenna is close enough to the ground such that ground effects enter the calculation, this factor can be entered.

Upon entering "Calculate RF Power Density", the results are available within seconds.

If you don't have Internet access, have a friend perform this simple exercise for you. "Be prepared."

(From The ARRL Letter, September 1, 2000)


FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth, K4ZDH, in speaking at the ARRL new England Division Convention 26 August, offered ten personal suggestions for American Amateurs:

1. Be proud of what you have and let your feelings be known. Let the public know what you are, what Amateur radio is, and why it's valuable. Let your feelings be known to Congress, to the FCC, to the media, to your states and to emergency agencies. Sprint does. AT&T does. Motorola does.

2. Operate as if the whole world is listening. It is!

3. Take nothing for granted. Bill Gates can't, and you can't either.

4. You're at a crossroads now. An old Chinese philosopher (or was it my grandmother--I can never remember which!) said, "Be careful what you wish for. You may get it." Seize the moment, and make this your finest hour. Ham radio has been at a crossroads before and has thrived. Continue that tradition.

5. Make sure that, on your watch, Amateur Radio never becomes obsolete.

6. Teach the new licensees all you know. We've needed numbers for a long time. Respect this wonderful legacy known as Amateur Radio that our mentors and Elmers gave us. Every time you key the mike or hit the key, think about what a legacy you were given and your duty to pass it on.

7. Enjoy ham radio. Celebrate it. But realize it comes with responsibility. Every gift of lasting value always does.

8. Stay away from arrogant, negative operators who know all the answers. They just haven't thought of all the questions. Encourage them to take their anger and hate to the Internet. Every minute they are on the Internet is a minute they aren't on Amateur Radio.

9. Never allow Amateur Radio to become the audio version of The Jerry Springer Show.

10. You may not always agree with the League, and that's fine. But I'm standing here before you tonight talking about enforcement because they never gave up. Take care of the one voice you have. You must never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world. They just did.

(From the Web edition of The ARRL Letter for September 1, 2000 at <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/>)


FOR SALE: Two push-up masts; one 30' and one 40'. $5 each OBO. Call Ken Anderson, W4JQT, at 475-3172.

FOR SALE: Mosley TA-33 Junior w/rotator, $150 OBO. Call Larry Yacobeli, W4ERN, at 497-4247.


Page - 5

Contest/Special Event Times/Dates Bands/Modes QSO With Exchange
QCWA QSO Party 1800 GMT 16 September

1800 GMT 17 September

160 Meters Up


QCWA Members 1st license year, Chpt#, (QTH for non-chapter members)
Washington State Salmon Run 1600 GMT 16 September

0700 GMT 17 September

1600-2400 GMT 17 Sept

160 - 6 Meters


Washington Stations Only R/S/(T) + State
North American Sprint 0000 GMT 17 September

0400 GMT 17 September

80 - 20 Meters

SSB Only

States, Provinces and other North American Countries Serial #, Name and QTH
Panama Anniversary Contest 1200 GMT 23 September

2359 23 September

40 - 20 Meters

SSB Only

Panama Stations Only R/S + Serial Number
CQ/RTTY Journal Worldwide RTTY Contest 0000 GMT 23 September

2400 GMT 24 September

80 - 10 Meters


Anyone, Anywhere R/S/T + CQ Zone & QTH

From September 2000 CQ and September 2000 QST.


The second annual International Lighthouse/Lightship Weekend was 19 - 20 August, and once again EARS put K8ONV on the air from the Boca Grande Lighthouse at the south tip of Gasparilla Island.

Ken Anderson, W4JQT, Howard White, KD4MMY, Ken Blackshaw, W1NQT, Colin Eggleton, KG4EDG, Bryce Eggleton, KG4EDE, and Jack Sproat, W4JS, helped man the station. Operating a total of 15 hours and 20 minutes, 313 QSOs were made in 13 countries. At least 8 other lighthouses were worked, both Stateside and in Europe. This year the weather was beautiful, and there was no problem with the commercial power at the park. (Howard had the generator on board just in case, however!)

The 24 August edition of the Gasparilla Gazette had a nice writeup on our activity, complete with three color photos of the operators.

EARS is grateful to the Florida Park Service and the Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum for permission to operate from the lighthouse grounds, and we look forward to doing it again next year.


The Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA) invites all amateurs to participate in its 44th Annual QSO Parties. TARC member Croft Taylor, VE3CT, is the QCWA Vice-President, and a number of TARC members are locally active in the QCWA.

While the first party of 2000 was held back in March, the Fall QSO Party runs from 1800 GMT 16 September to 1800 GMT 17 September. Both Phone and Morse modes may be used on all amateur bands, other than the 12-, 17- and 30-meter WARC bands, from 160 meters up through the UHF frequencies.

While QCWA members can work anyone, anywhere, non-members can only work QCWA members. The information exchange consists of (1) the last tow digits of the year the station operator was first licensed, and (2) the Chapter number of the QCWA member. Non-QCWA members and QCWA members not belonging to a chapter are to give their State, Province or Country in lieu of a Chapter number. Special Event Station W2MM will be on during the contest, operating from the vicinity of the Toronto International Airport.

Suggested operating frequencies are (CW/SSB): 3.540/3.890 , 7.035/7.244, 14.040/14.262, 21.050/21.365, 28.050/28.325 . (From Summer - 2000, QCWA Journal)


24 Sept Suncoast ARC Pasco County Hamfest, New Port Richey Rec Center, 6630 Van Buren Rd, New Pt. Richey. TI: 145.35, Info: Ron, N9EE, (727) 376-6575

30 Sept ERARA & DBARA Hamfest sponsored by Embry-Riddle ARA and Daytona Beach ARA at the Embry-Riddle campus on Clyde Morris Blvd. 1-mi. south of International Speedway (US 92) TI: 147.15 Info: John, KB3GK, (904) 677-8179

13-14 Oct Starke Hamfest at Trading Post Restaurant, US 301 8 mi. south of Starke. TI: 145.150 Info: John, KU4AY, (904)782-1185

14 Oct Egypt Shrine Temple ARA Hamfest, 4050 Dana Shores Dr., Tampa. TI: 146.940, Info: Jay, K9BSL (727)822-9107

14/15 Oct West Palm Beach Hamfest at Amara Shrine Temple, 3650 RCA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens TI: 147.165 Info: Ken, KD4CTG, (561) 640-9447

(From June 2000 CyberSKIP Digest, September 2000 CQ and September 2000 Worldradio)

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(Band/GMT for best chance of S5 or better signal)



BEARING 80 40 20 17 15 12 10
Tristan da Cuna - ZD9ZM

Spratly Is - 9M0F

Gabon - TR0A/p

Swaziland - 3DA???

Togo - 5V???

Kingman Reef - KH5K

Cambodia - XU7ABD

East Timor - 4W/K7BV

Agalega - 3B6RF

Burkina Faso - XT???

Eritrea - E3???

Mt. Athos - SY2A

Now to 25 Sept

11 - 18 Sept

22 - 26 Sept

23 - 28 Sept

03 - 09 October

During October

05 - 11 October

06 - 17 October

08 - 25 October

10 - 15 October

17 Oct - 01 Nov

Oct to Dec

































































































Updated 06 September 2000, based on 04 September 2000 QRZ DX and 01 September 2000 The 59(9) DX Report.

Notes: NO = No opening forecast. ??? = Callsign not yet known. Long path bearings and opening times (if any) are underlined.

Solar Flux assumed at 170 and K-Index at 2 for all forecasts.


The four French operators who put FR/F6KDF/T on from Tromelin Island the first two weeks of August raked up some 51,500 QSOs from their efforts. (W4JS worked them on six bands, 40-10 meters, SSB.) The last several days there were fraught with poor weather conditions and a storm-damaged generator that put out 300 volts, rather than the normal 220, damaging their RTTY gear. QSL via F6KDF . (From 21 Aug QRZ DX and 25 Aug The 59(9) DXReport)


Even non-DXers know that there is a thrill unlike any other when you hear your callsign coming back to you from a station on the other side of the world. The following DX books, well written by the experts, will help anyone relive that thrill or gain DX knowledge--if you can still find them in print somewhere.

DX POWER--Effective Techniques for Radio Amateurs This great book written by Eugene Tilton, K5RSG, was published in 1985 by TAB books and the ARRL.

The COMPLETE DX'ER was written by Bob Locher, W9KNI, and published by Idiom Press in 1983.

Antennas and Techniques for Low-Band DXing was written by John Devoldere, ON4UN, published in 1994 and available from the ARRL.


The Solar Flux averaged 163 during August, with the A-index < 10 for 15 days. The NOAA National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, CO prediction shows that Sunspot Cycle 23 peaked in July-August with a smoothed Sunspot number of 117. It will be another six months until the smoothed value can be determined, however. On the down side, geomagnetic storms, which are more prominent during periods of high sunspot intensity, frequently caused the HF bands above 14 mc to close down, especially on the transpolar paths.

By mid-September daylight hours will be noticeably shorter and nights longer in the northern hemisphere. This should result in a greater of DX openings on 10, 12, 15, 17 and 20 meters during the daylight hours. Due to longer hours of darkness and lower static levels, DX propagation will improve on 30, 40, 80 and 160 meters. A seasonal decline in 20-meter propagation during the hours of darkness will be noticed.

The autumnal equinox will occur on 22 September, as the sun crosses the equator into the southern hemisphere. On that day the hours of daylight and darkness are equal throughout the world. The effect of the equinox on DX propagation will be noticed from mid-September through early October. As the ionospheric conditions are similar over large areas of the world during that period, this is usually the best season for DX openings between the temperate regions of both the northern and southern hemispheres.

The best times for such openings should be in the twilight periods around local sunrise and sunset. Many of such openings may follow either the long or short great circle paths, or both.

(From "Propagation", George Jacobs, W3ASK, September 2000 CQ)

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(The following is courtesy of Ken Anderson, W4JQT)

Since Amateur Radio has always used Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) for logging and QSL confirmation, it should be of interest to amateurs to know how Greenwich, England became the time standard for the world.

In just one minute of time, the Earth at the Equator spins 15 nautical miles. For a ship at sea to know its position from home port to within 15 miles, it must know the time at its home port to within one minute. In the 17th Century, ships at sea had no way to determine this. They could use the stars to determine their latitude, but not their longitude. In those days, most ships did not venture far from the sight of land. The best brains of England pondered this problem from the late 17th Century onward. Led by Sir Isaac Newton, they believed the answer must lie in astronomy.

In 1675, the British government built an observatory at Greenwich, England. The purpose was to observe the Sun and stars and find a way to fix the exact time of day. If a way could be found, then ships at sea would have a means to accurately determine both latitude and longitude, using the stars for navigation.

The site at Greenwich is a suburb of London, a dozen kilometers to the east, and on high ground on the south side of the River Thames. The first buildings of the Greenwich Observatory were designed by the famous English architect, Sir Christopher Wren. Scientists at the observatory observed the movements of the Sun and stars and, with mathematical calculations, figured out a year in advance just where in the sky the Sun and stars would be on each day and night. This information was published in a book called the Nautical Almanac, which experienced wide use on ships at sea for navigation, but did not solve the problem of determining longitude.

Although the problem of finding longitude remained unsolved, the research and publications at Greenwich resulted in a practice among navigators to use Greenwich as a reference, and it eventually became the site of the prime, or zero, meridian. Thus, the time at Greenwich became very important to navigation.

In the early 1700's, finding longitude was still mostly guess work, and in 1714 the British government offered 20,000 Pounds to anyone who could devise a way of fixing a ship's longitude to within 30 nautical miles after sailing for six weeks across the Atlantic Ocean.

John Harrison was a little-known Yorkshire clockmaker but he had discovered some valuable secrets. In 1726, at the age of 33, he had made a wooden clock that lost or gained no more than one second per month. The secret of this clock was a pendulum whose length did not change with temperature, and by eliminating friction through the use of roller bearings, which he invented. Such a clock as this, however, could not be used on a lurching ship at sea.

Harrison came to London in 1737, had an interview with Edmund Halley (after whom the comet is named) at the observatory and, with the help of others, managed to raise enough money to get started on building what he called his sea clock. His first model, called H-1, met the test of determining a ship's longitude but was quite large and not suitable for general use aboard ships. Harrison did not claim the prize, as he felt he could do better. The second model, H-2, was better but still Harrison was not satisfied. This clock was also large and somewhat delicate. During his work on H-3, he realized his approach was flawed and he moved on to H-4, which turned out to be the prize winner. It was only 5 inches in diameter and similar in construction to a pocket watch.

By this time Harrison was 68 years old and the year was 1761. After several trials, H-4 was used on a trip from Britain to Barbados in 1764. The results found that H-4 had just 39 seconds error after the voyage, or 9.8 nautical miles. This was one-third the error allowed in the terms of the prize.

John Harrison spent over 30 years building the world's first useful marine chronometer. He was an infinitely painstaking man with a genius for perfection. The marine chronometer allowed sailors, for the first time, to know where they were at sea. Great Britain went on to build an empire on sea power and on sea-borne trade. John Harrison, as much as anyone, made that possible.

The observatory time at Greenwich gradually was accepted as the time standard for the world. By 1884, all the countries of the world had decided to accept Greenwich Time as the standard.

The old observatory is now a national maritime museum, and the actual time pieces that John Harrison built still tick away in Greenwich today, representing over 230 years of continuous operation. One of the buildings, setting on higher ground, has a tall pole with a large red ball that drops at exactly 12 noon so that ships in the Thames River can still set their chronometers to Greenwich Time.

Over the years, the time at Greenwich, England has been universally recognized as the standard time in all international affairs, including Amateur Radio. Thus for amateur radio contacts wherever you are, you and the station you contact will be able to reference a common date and time easily. Greenwich Mean Time is now called Coordinated Universal Time (abbreviated UTC) from the French Universelle Tempes Coordinate.

(References: The Radio Amateur Handbook and The Economist, January 1993)


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