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Alexanderson Alternator Transmission from SAQ in Sweden Heard in US


Nearly 300 listeners — most of them in Europe — reported hearing the 17.2 kHz CW transmission from the Alexanderson alternator transmitter SAQ in Grimeton, Sweden, on Christmas Eve 2013. That’s 50 more reports than in 2012. The reports included three from the US. Listeners in Germany filed the most reports — 116.

Dating from the 1920s, the Alexanderson alternator — essentially an ac alternator 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. 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. Amateur Radio station SK6SAQ operates from the Alexanderson alternator site.

The next SAQ transmission is set for Alexanderson Day, June 29, 2014, 1000 to 1600 CET. Contact World Heritage Grimeton for more information.




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