These are a couple pictures from 1960. The occasion is an antenna measuring party at Beresford Park in San Mateo. I dont really know the purpose of an antenna measuring party, but dad was at a few. My brother Bob is standing next to my dad in the first picture. I do have a picture of them both many years later at another measuring party.
The second photo is also at Beresford and shows most of the hams that were there that day. Standing, left to right W6VSV Bob Melvin, W6AJF Frank C. Jones, K6ONM Glen Hatley, K6AXN Mike Krivohlovek, W6HCP, W6UOV Bob Sutherland, Nick ?. Crouching left to right: W6BHR John Ludeman, W6PBC Everett Emerson, W6EDC John Cunningham, W6GQK Harold Barber, K6BAT Lloyd Summers, and W6FZJ Joe Reisert (W1JR). Bob Melvin brought the 16 foot (half) dish. W6UOV made the big aluminum foil-lined plywood horn. Bob Melvin made the 6 El Zig-Zag array. Thank you very much to Bob Melvin for identifying the people in the photo.
This is a picture of Robert Alan Sutherland (ex-WA6QCD) and Robert Ivor Sutherland (W6PO) at an antenna measuring party in 1975.
The Perseids meteor shower is here again. As kids we used to lay outside on the grass watching for meteors while dad was in the ham shack working the radio. Even when we got older my sister and I used to get the cots and sleeping bags out every August to watch the shooting stars. This year's show is supposed to be a great one!
My dad had a big map on the wall by the radios. He tracked contacts made by meteor scatter, by tropo and by EME. I made the little flags he pinned into the map that showed the origins of his contacts.
The April 2004 Tube Collector Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 2 has a SK article about Dad. Page 11 and 13 have the Ham TV photos that I posted earlier in the blog. There's a nice description about my dad's radio and Eimac history. The information was provided by Mike Bach, WB6FFC.
Federal Communications Commission
Washington DC June 24, 1975
Mr. Bob Sutherland
301 Industrial Way
San Carlos, CA 94070
Dear Mr. Sutherland:
We have determined your request to operate your Amateur station with a peak power output of up to 2500 watts for the purposes of experimentation with earth-moon-earth (EME) communications to be within the basis and purpose of the Amateur Radio Service. We also agree that a waiver of the power rule is justified for your EME experiments, since the signal loss to the moon is great and it is difficult to construct an antenna with enough gain to adequately overcome these losses. For these reasons we hereby waive Section 97.67(a) of the Commission's Rules to permit operation of station W6PO subject to the following conditions:
(1) An accurate log of station operation must be generated and maintained with your station records. The log must include the dates and times of each transmission, call signs of contacts, types of emission used, and frequency of operation.
(2) Reports detailing the operation, an analysis of the results, and a sampling of the station logs must be submitted to the Amateur and Citizens Division every 90 days during the term of this authorization.
(3) This waiver applies only to EME experiments and communications, and is not applicable to non-EME transmissions.
(4) The maximum peak output power authorized by this waiver is 2500 watts in CW and SSB modes.
(5) This waiver expires January 1, 1976 and may be revoked by the Commission at any time.
Charles A. Higginbotham
Chief, Safety and Special Radio Services Bureau
This request is for temporary permission to operate a 144 MHz amateur transmitter with a peak power output up to 2500 watts on CW and SSB modes. Transmissions will be confined to the EME (earth-moon-earth, or moonbounce) mode.
A summary is enclosed of my equipment and experiments over the past few years using this mode of communication at the 1000 watt average power input level. Also enclosed is a series of EME notes I have compiled and mailed to over 300 VHF enthusiasts to help them learn about this fascinating method of amateur radio communication. A photograph of my present 144 MHz moonbounce antenna installation is also enclosed.
The moon is approximately 2160 miles in diameter and orbits the earth at a distance that varies from 221,463 to 252,710 miles. The reflection coefficient of the moon is 7%, 93% of the energy that strikes the moon being absorbed. The re-radiated signal is mainly diffused through space as the earth, as viewed from the moon, subtends an angle of only 2 degrees.
The VHF signal that returns to earth is spread over a surface area of about 98,470,000 square miles. Of this area, only a very small portion is taken up by the receiving antenna. Thus, only a small fraction of the transmitted signal in an EME circuit is picked up by the receiving antenna. This problem has challenged the ability of many of the world's most skilled VHF amateurs.
Under the best of conditions, using the maximum legal power, the most sensitive receiver and the largest possible antenna array, two-way EME communication is a marginal operation. A boost in the EME circuit by 3 t0 6 decibels would improve chances of communication immensely and raise the level of interest among amateurs who do not have the time, space and money to erect the large antenna array necessary for effective EME communication. ... continue..
January 21, 1976
W6PO - Robert I. Sutherland, San Mateo, CA
The second three months of operation with up to 2500 watts of output power on 144MHz moonbounce have been just as rewarding as the first three months even though my fellow experimenter Lester Whitaker, W7CNK, lost his antenna.
The W7CNK antenna array consisted of eight-sixteen element log periodic yagis. The antenna was well constructed and braced for everything except a swirling wind coming up from the ground. The wind lifted both ends of the main boom and then very abruptly dropped them. The result was a fracture in the center of the boom. The loss of the antenna aborted my plans for tests with half of W7CNK's antenna. He plans on having the array operational again in March 1976.
The loss of W7CNK's antenna is indicative of the problems a moonbounce operator has with large VHF antennas. WA7BJU, a moonbouncer in Oregon, lost his antenna in the same storm. A smaller array with a higher power transmitter can provide the same effective radiated power with considerably less trouble.
The four-fourteen elements antennas which were ordered for W6PO during the first 90 day test period, have arrived. I have enlisted the aid of Brian Palumbo, WB6LAM, to help modify a U.S. Navy surplus large TV Camera "pan mount" to use with the small 144 MHz EME (earth-moon-earth) array mentioned in my first 90 day report to the FCC. In addition to the azimuth and elevation drive provided by the camera mount, a system is being devised to change polarity of the antenna array. It is hoped that a smaller array with variable polarity can be adjusted for optimum signal strength. A larger array having only azimuth and elevation adjustments is very seldom operating optimumly.
While using the 2500 watts power output, there have been no complaints from neighbors concerning TVI, BCI or interference to high-fidelity systems. I have had past troubles in one azimuth direction when I use my 40 element collinear and on kilowatt input. Normally during prime TV time I do not point the large antenna in that direction. If I must, I drop the power down to 200 watts which seems to stop the problem. My 160 element collinear antenna will not go below 25 degrees above the horizon, so at no time does the main lobe ever point at a neighbor. This is probably why the 2500 watts does not cause a problem.
I am almost certain a quarter-wave open stub on the neighbor's TV set would allow me to run a kilowatt input when using my horizon antenna. However, the only time I need the kilowatt input is when I am running meteorscatter schedules early in the morning. The neighbor isn't watching TV at this time so no problem exists.
An unexpected problem did arise with the 2500 watt output power permit. When the transmitter is keyed, the power line voltage at the service drop fluctuates three volts. I contacted the local power company and found that the California Public Utilities Commission allows a six volt fluctuation. That is to say, the power company will do nothing to reduce the voltage drop if it is under six volts. It is surprising but three volts of flicker can be seen in an incandescent lamp and can be annoying to someone reading. To solve this problem, I designed and constructed a special power supply ballast system. I have two ballast tubes in parralel across the power supply that dissipate the same power on the key-up that the transmitter draws key-down. This is a rather expensive and inefficient way to do things, but does eliminate power line fluctuation.
A review of the station log for the second 90 day period reveals a number of "almost" contacts. I could hear a moonbounce station calling me, but I could not copy it adequately for a contact. The increased power at my end probably accounted for most of this problem. They could hear me, but I could not hear them. However, even when stations have identical power the EME path is not always reciprocal.
I have received many requests during this second 90 day period for schedules from potential moonbouncers. Most of them felt that my increased power would allow them to test their antenna and receiving capability even though they did not have sufficient power, or antenna, to make a two way contact. Several well equipped European meteoscatter stations have been attempting moonbounce using the setting moon at their end. HB9QQ (Switzerland) and OZ6OL (Denmark) are two of the successful stations.
There has been much discussion among the moonbounce amateurs as to the reason for the non-reciprocity of the EME path. My personal conversations with Dr. Taylor Howard, of the Stanford University Radio Propagation Department, indicate the path should be reciprocal. Amateurs are attempting to correlate this non-reciprocity with the relationship of the amateurs longitude and latitude with the magnetic north pole. It has been observed, for example, that a station in Tacoma, Washington, will hear a different group of EME stations than a station in San Mateo, California, in the same time period.
Amateurs also have noted a complete inability to work moonbounce during the auroral display. Don Falle, VE2DFO, in Montreal, Canada, reports all EME echoes stopped as if a switch had been thrown at the start of an Aurora. At the very same time, I was able to successfully complete a two-way contact with a station in Missouri. Apparently the Aurora attenuates the signal sufficiently to remove any excess gain in the path loss resulting in a loss of echoes.
The W6PO station log pages showing the EME operation during the period November 16, 1975 - December 21, 1975, are included in the Appendix.