August 14, 2009. Thanks to the inspiration, planning, coordination and hard work of Dave W2VW, the special event station W2A became a reality. The event was not a celebration of any Armstrong milestone it was just an opportunity to share the famous Edwin Armstrong tower site with other Radio Amateurs via the airwaves.
The base of the Armstrong tower is 520 feet above sea level and the tower itself is 400 feet tall. There are numerous commercial radio systems at every level on the tower. Immediately after 911, the major NY TV stations relocated to the Armstrong Tower site which required strengthening the tower, adding communications rooms and emergency generators.
Dave W2VW and his son, Dave Jr, brought a large carload of gear and they immediately went to work unloading and setting up the station.
The first order of business was getting the antenna up, so Dave unrolled his homebrew open wire feeders and laid the antenna out on the ground. Dave's plan was install his 130 foot dipole between the Armstrong Tower and the smaller Doppler Radar tower at the 110 foot level.
Tower climbing was limited to permanent site personnel. Brad Bliss, the site manager and tower climber, made it to the 110 foot level on the Doppler tower and dropped pull-up lines to his partner Brian Bliss, a site technician, who was at ground level.
Frank KA2TRU, with his professional Hi-Def video camera, recorded the event on a perfect weather day.
After pulling up the dipole on the Armstrong Tower side, Dave and his son connected the open wire feeders to Dave's homebrew balanced line antenna tuner. They also ran several hundred feet of low loss cable between the tuner and the station equipment located inside a communications room within the building at the base of the Armstrong Tower.
Having installed the antenna and tested the equipment, Dave and his son took a much needed rest and ate some pizza.
With everything operational, Ken W2DTC was given the honor of being the first W2A operator. After several CQ's on 3885, Tom N1HCI became the very first contact with the special event station W2A ! After Tom generated some activity on the band, it didn't take long to work 5 states with decent signal reports while W2A ran a mere 35 watt AM carrier on the Yaesu FT-1000 transceiver.
Photos courtesy of Paul, WA3VJB
After operating for several hours, Ken turned the mike over to the lovely Kerri KC2UFU, and after her voice was heard, a pile-up developed on the band. Everyone enjoyed Kerri !
Back outside, Frank KA2TRU suggested that it would be neat to record video from the top of the tower. The tower climber, Brad Bliss, volunteered and it took him a half hour to reach the 400 foot level. Frank gathered everyone outside for a video opportunity and Paul WA3VJB took some video of his own, as Frank coordinated the event via handi-talkie. While everyone was gathered, it was also an opportunity for still photos. Paul and Frank joined in at the second group photo. The gentleman at the far right is David Amundsen, Director of Engineering at the Armstrong Tower site.
While touring the facility, Brian Bliss, a site technician, pointed to a later version of the Armstrong FM Transmitter set on 42.8 mHz. The transmitter was located in the building at the base of the 400 foot Armstrong tower. It was a quality built rig.
Brian Bliss, then opened the W2XMN museum where Edwin Armstrong had his Field Laboratory. Armstrong was the inventor of the regenerative receiver, the superheterodyne receiver and of course high fidelity Frequency Modulation (FM). There were numerous photos of Armstrong in the Army, working in his lab and working on the tower, including one photo with Armstrong on the tower with one inch thick ice.
Part of the museum contained vintage radio gear that was never used by Armstrong but was owned by folks who wanted to donate their gear to a facility that would give it an appropriate display.
"Man of the hour", Dave W2VW, who planned and created this special event, took a turn at the mike. Dave and his son Dave Jr. set up the antenna system and made operational their own radio equipment for all initial W2A contacts.
Photo courtesy of Paul, WA3VJB
A major contributor to the event was Paul WA3VJB, who brought his Collins 32-V2 transmitter and his R390-A receiver. Paul put in many hours at the mike, and posted many videos on youtube.com while the special event was still in progress.
Photo courtesy of N2ZYZ
Somewhere along the line, this gentleman, Steve
Hemphill became hooked on the accomplishments of Edwin Armstrong and Steve is known to his
friends as the "Armstrong historian". Hard to believe, but Steve built a
replica of the Armstrong FM transmitter and it looked as well built as any
manufactured commercial gear. Amazing !
Click here to see Steve's Phasitron transmitter
Around the 6 PM hour Frank KA2TRU and myself (Ken W2DTC) left the site. First photo: Frank KA2TRU. Second photo: site personal Randy Bleiweiss, field engineer and Brian Bliss, a site technician. Third photo: Dave Calhoun Jr and Ken KC2UDZ.
This special event was a fun experience and everyone who visited learned a lot about Major Armstrong and his tower facility.
Videos courtesy of Paul Courson WA3VJB who posted them on youtube.com
1. W2A just became operational and Ken, W2DTC is on the Yaesu FT-1000.
2. The lovely Kerry, KC2UFU on the Collins 32-V2.
3. Chris, W2JBL on the Kenwood TS-2000.
4. Paul, WA3VJB scans the Doppler tower, the Museum and Armstrong Tower.
Additional photos courtesy of Bill Russell KC2IFRBill's studio shots and more museum shots.
Edited sound bites of W2A on the air, courtesy of Bill Russell KC2IFR. Note: the recordings were made at South Glens Falls, NY not at Alpine, NJ.
1. W2A live - Ken W2DTC at the mike working Bear WB2GCR.
2. W2A live - Ken W2DTC has fun with Paul WA3VJB cleaning his Collins 32-V2.
3. W2A live - Ken W2DTC gets WBCQ broadcast information from Tim WA1HLR.
4. W2A live - Glenn N1YTN mentions the unexplained part of becoming contact #13.
5. W2A live - Peter KA3STN putting out a good signal from Breezewood, PA.
Commemorative QSL card courtesy of John Gonzalez N2ZYZ, the QSL manager.