SAQ to Carry on Tradition of Christmas Eve VLF Transmissions


Alexanderson alternator transmitter station SAQ at the World Heritage Grimeton site in Sweden will continue a holiday tradition begun 10 years ago when it takes to the airwaves on Christmas Eve, December 24. There will be a CW transmission from the Alexanderson alternator on 17.2 kHz from Grimeton Radio/SAQ at 0800 UTC on December 24, with transmitter tune-up starting at 0730 UTC. Amateur Radio station SK6SAQ will not be active this year, because the radio room is being refurbished. The Alexanderson Association website has information on how to receive the VLF signal.

SAQ accepts listener reports via e-mail, direct mail to Alexander-Grimeton Veteranradios Vaenner, Radiostationen Grimeton 72 SE-432 98 Grimeton, Sweden. The radio station will be open to visitors.

The vintage SAQ Alexanderson alternator, dating from the 1920s, is essentially an ac alternator run at extremely high speed. It 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 for special occasions.

The transmitter was developed by Swedish engineer and radio pioneer Ernst Alexanderson, who was employed at General Electric in Schenectady, New York, and was chief engineer at the Radio Corporation of America.

Six 400+ foot towers with 150 foot crossarms support a multi-wire antenna for SAQ. The actual signal radiates from a vertical wire, one from each tower. — Thanks to Lars Kalland, SM6NM