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ARRL Heritage Museum

The ARRL Heritage Museum

The ARRL Heritage Museum is comprised of several collections, including paper artifacts, photos, media, technical books and an extensive hardware collection. Volunteers have cataloged several thousand artifacts, which are being preserved for future generations.


ARRL Heritage Museum Volunteers:

Michael Marinaro, WN1M, Historian; Archivist and Curator- Paper, Photographs and Media

Jonathan Allen, K2KKH, Curator, Hardware

Pete Turbide, W1PT, Volunteer

ARRL Staff

Bob Allison, WB1GCM, Assistant Laboratory Manager, Curator and Liaison to the ARRL Historical Committee

ARRL Historical Committee Chairman

Rod Blocksome, K0DAS 

The Historian's View - Articles Submitted by Michael Marinaro, WN1M



The History of Amateur Radio and the ARRL 


 Click on the above link!!



Commemorative Special Event Reenacts 1921 Amateur Radio Transatlantic Reception


Radio amateurs in the US and in Scotland have reenacted the first successful transatlantic reception of a shortwave Amateur Radio signal nearly a century earlier. Special event station N1BCG in Greenwich, Connecticut, and GB2ZE in Ardrossan, Scotland, completed contacts on SSB and on CW during the December 11 event. ARRL, the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB), and the Radio Club of America (RCA) partnered to support the activity, organized by ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, and Clark Burgard, N1BCG, who loaned his history-rich call sign for the occasion. On December 11, 1921, in Ardrossan, Scotland, reception of a radio signal transmitted from an RCA test station — located in a small shack on the Greenwich, Connecticut, property of Minton Cronkhite, 1BCG — helped to usher in the age of global communication. In Scotland, American Paul Godley, 2ZE, clearly heard the signal using a receiver of his own design.

“These events are fun, because they’re timely, cause us to focus on the history and on the people who made history,” Gallagher said. “We were very pleased with the tenor of it and with the media coverage, and we were happy to make the connection with GB2ZE, although we would have preferred to have made it on 160 meters, where it would have been closer to the frequency used in 1921.” The 1921 transatlantic test, on CW, was conducted on a wavelength of 230 to 235 meters (about 1.3 MHz). The transatlantic tests proved the value of the shorter wavelengths — long considered worthless to long-distance communication.

Burgard spoke on 20-meter SSB with GB2ZE, operated by Jason O’Neill, GM7VSB, in Ardrossan. A bit later, ARRL Field Services Manager Dave Patton, NN1N, chatted with GB2ZE on CW. “After working GB2ZE on 20 meters, I was reminded of how much of a challenge the RCA ops had using 200 meters,” Patton said. “Hearing signals in Europe from across the Atlantic had to be a tremendous thrill for Godley and the others listening.”

The first message sent by Burgard from Greenwich to Androssan on Sunday morning repeated the original 1921 text: “252 AM No. 1 de 1BCG w-12, New York Date 11/12-21 [GMT] To Paul Godley, Androssan Scotland, Hearty congratulations Burghard Inman Grinan Armstrong Amy Cronkhite.” Patton repeated the message 30 minutes later on CW.

Describing the special event as “a rewarding experience,” Patton said the entire team worked together to build a Field Day-style station in wintry weather. He said the complement of equipment included a few “fully-armed vintage AM stations,” as well as such modern radios as a FlexRadio 6500 and an Icom 7700. Among the older pieces was a 1950s-era transmitter owned by rocker Joe Walsh, WB6ACU, of The Eagles. The antennas were simple dipoles.

“In about 9 hours of operating, we logged nearly 525 QSOs, with 106 on AM on 40 and 75 meters through conditions that were only fair,” Patton recounted.

About a dozen operators sat down to operate the Special Event station, set up near the site of the 1921 1BCG transmitting station. The special event drew the attention of news media, especially on the Scottish end of things, with BBC-Scotland producing reports on the Amateur Radio event.

To highlight the historical nature of the occasion, Godley’s grandchildren Bruce Godley Littlefield and his sister, Janice Taylor, visited the special event, and Littlefield brought his grandfather’s complete log books of the experiment, as well as numerous photos and letters from ARRL.

“We enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect the Godley history with that of ARRL and the Radio Club of America,” Littlefield said afterward.

Photo Gallery

  • Clark Burgard, N1BCG, was one of the organizers of the special event. [Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R, photo] Clark Burgard, N1...
  • Clark Burgard, N1BCG, at the vintage AM station position. [Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R, photo] Clark Burgard, N1...
  • Radio Club of America Board Member Mike Clarson, WV2ZOW (left), and ARRL Field Services Manager Dave Patton, NN1N, operate the N1BCG special event. [Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R, photo] Radio Club of Ame...
  • Bruce Godley Littlefield and his sister Janice Taylor are grandchildren of Paul Godley, 2ZE, who was at the Ardrossan, Scotland, receiving station in 1921. Bruce Godley Litt...


Hardware Collection

The ARRL Evolution of Amateur Radio Exhibit: "Understanding the Past to Develop the Future"

Software defined transceivers, new software driven test equipment and the flurry of new digital gadgets and modes are exciting to look at and operate. As Radio Amateurs in a licensed radio service, one of our basic purposes, as stated in FCC Rules, Part 97.1b is, "(the) Continuation and extension of the Amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art". Clearly, many Radio Amateurs are actively engaged in advancing the radio art; new technology such as SDRs and the improvements made to more traditional transceivers are examples of work that has benefited all Radio Amateurs today. One could only imagine what Radio Amateurs will develop in the future!

While it's important to look forward to the technology of tomorrow, it's equally important to understand the evolution of radio equipment that was used by Radio Amateurs; from the earliest "spark days" to the dawn of digital technology. By delving into the past, one can learn to appreciate the hard work, determination and experimentation that brought us one step at a time, to the technology we enjoy today.

Visitors to the ARRL Laboratory can see our exhibit, "The ARRL Evolution of Amateur Radio Exhibit", part of the ARRL Heritage Museum, that features radio apparatus from the early 1900's to the 1980's. This exhibit is housed in a display room, formally a storage room for the Lab's obsolete test equipment and parts. In the Laboratory itself, visitors can see new technology, such as D-Star  and DMR repeaters, an SDR HF transceiver, the ARRL Laboratory Screen Room and whatever the staff is cooking up on the benches. At the ARRL Lab, you will find a balance of the old and new technology. While we look forward to the future, we also have a deep appreciation for the past.

This exhibit was developed by Bob Allison, WB1GCM, ARRL Assistant Laboratory Manager, with the support of the Board of Directors. Volunteers have cataloged the hardware collection, which is extensive. Only a part of it can be displayed at a time. Occasionally, there will be special pieces rotated into the display. Visitors are welcome to sit down and operate at one of the three operating positions, provided a valid Amateur License is presented.


The Gates BC-1T: "The AMbassador"

On March 24th, 2017, ARRL Laboratory Assistant Manager, Bob Allison, WB1GCM, and ARRL RFI Engineer, Mike Gruber, W1MG, made a trip to the National Capital Radio and Television Museum, in Bowie Md. Their mission: to pick up an vintage 1 Kilowatt AM broadcast transmitter on behalf of the Vintage Radio and Communications Museum of Connecticut. With the help of a handful of NCRTV museum volunteers, the 800 pound transmitter was loaded into a rental truck and transported to the ARRL Lab, in Newington, CT. There, volunteers from the VRCMCT unloaded it and rolled it into the ARRL Headquarters building and into the Lab, without incident.

According to the NCRTV museum staff, the BC-1T was found in Arizona. With a transmit frequency of 1340 kHz and some digging into FCC archives, it was determined that this transmitter was used at KPGE, in Page, Arizona. Though a bit dirty, the transmitter was mostly complete, except for its 833A modulator and final amplifier tubes.

VRCMCT volunteers wasted no time in starting its cleanup and by mid April, re-wiring of the power supply began. ARRL Building Manager Greg Kwasowski, W1GJK, has run a 30 A, 230 VAC serice to the transmitter, complete with a fused master switch. Tubes have been ordered.

The story continues....

Once restored by VRCMCT volunteers, other Radio Amateur volunteers will be converting the BC-1T for Amateur use on 160, 80 and 40 meters. With a Gates audio console and a RCA AR-88 Receiver, a grand display of vintage AM equipment will be available for visitors to see (and use with Lab supervision). 

Our "AMbassador" is a great promotional item for both the VRCMCT and the NCRTV museums, plus it is our ambassador to the Amateur AM community. Let us celebrate Amateur Radio's long and illustrious history together.

The Gates is on a permanant loan to the ARRL Lab.from the VRCMCT. Please consider visiting there the next time you're in the Hartford, CT area. The VRCMCT is only a few minutes North of Hartford and 20 minutes away from the ARRL Headquarters.

The Page is under construction...stand by; links and more photos to be activated soon.






Donate To the ARRL Heritage Museum

Have an unusual piece of equipment that is historically significant to the history of Amateur Radio, or the History of the ARRL? Please consider donating it to the ARRL. We will preserve it. Contact:

Bob Allison, WB1GCM

ARRL Laboratory

860-594-0210, M-F 9 AM to 4 PM Eastern Time


Other Links

Vintage Radio and Communications Museum of Connecticut

  • Located on 115 Pierson Lane in Windsor, CT, only 20 minutes north of ARRL Headquarters. Not just a radio museum, it features a large display of a variety of technical items from the early 1800's through to the early 1980's. Talk over antique telephones, hear Edison cylinder phonographs, watch scary Tesla Coils in action. This museum also has a working replica of a 1950 era radio studio. This self supporting museum is staffed entirely by volunteers.

Antique Wireless Association

New England Wireless and Steam Museum

K2TQN's Old Radio and Radio History Web-Site