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Antenna Fire Puts SAQ Alexanderson Alternator Station Off the Air

10/18/2016

An early October fire in the SAQ Alexanderson alternator long-wave antenna is under investigation by the Grimeton World Heritage Foundation, which owns and manages the station in Grimeton, Sweden. The fire, attributed to arcing, was quickly extinguished, and no injuries occurred. The Foundation said that determining the extent of damage and completing repairs could take a while.

“There is a risk that the incident will affect the planned transmissions with the long-wave transmitter SAQ for some time to come,” a Foundation announcement said. The fire will keep SAQ off the air for a scheduled UN Day transmission on October 24. SAQ, which operates on 17.2 kHz, also typically schedules transmissions on Christmas Eve and other occasions.

Dating from the 1900s, the Alexanderson alternator — essentially an ac generator run at extremely high speed — can put out 200 kW but typically is operated at less than one-half that power level. Once providing reliable transatlantic communication, it is now a museum piece and only put on the air on special occasions. It was built in the 1920s.



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