Highlights From the Forum
October 22 through 28, 2000
(click on the number to go directly to that message)
|18||Re: Get thee to a convent||Marty Moleski|
|19||Re: The LOP (again)||Bob Brandenburg|
|20||Re: W8AQQ?||Mike Everette|
|21||Re: Norwich City||Tom King|
|22||Re: Antenna and Propagation||Hue Miller|
|23||The Marty and Ric Show||Dennis McGee|
|24||Re: Back to the Gilberts||Frank Westlake|
|25||Vee Antenna||Mike Everette|
|26||Re: Proving a Negative||Marty Moleski|
|27||Re: The Marty and Ric Show||Marty Moleski|
|28||Re: Vee Antenna||Mike Everette|
|29||Re: Kites||Mike Everette|
|30||Caution: No Choice Belief Systems||Janet Whitney|
|31||Kite Antennas||Mike Everette|
|32||Re: The LOP (again)||Bob Brandenburg|
|33||Re: Vee Antenna||Mike Everette|
|34||Re: Kites||Bob Brandenburg|
Dennis McGee wrote:
>Judging from clarity,
logic, and persistence of Ric’s and Marty
> LOL! Oh Dennis,
if you only knew! For my part, I’m the product of about
I went to Canisius High School and Boston College (before Doug Flutie), then entered the Jesuits in 1973. I got sober and was ordained in 1981. "Proof" is something that has concerned me since I took St. Thomas Aquinas as my patron saint in 1965.
(Rev.) Martin Xavier
Moleski, SJ, Ph.D.
Dennis, did you think I would debate the nature of truth with just ANYBODY?
Alan Caldwell wrote:
> Keep in mind FN
was an expert at this not a novice. Also keep in mind he had
It’s worth noting that at the time FN thought he was on the LOP, it was daylight and he had just the sun and moon for celestial navigation.
If by "plot drift" you mean he could have made crude "seaman’s eye" estimates of wind speed and direction by observing waves from the cockpit window, I agree. But such estimates would hardly be accurate enough for navigation.
If by "plot drift" you mean using the drift sight on board the Electra, I recommend a thought experiment in which you mentally step through the detailed procedures FN needed to follow in order to use the drift sight. I promise you it is a VERY instructive exercise. Ric and I did it about a year ago.
As I understand it, the moon was in a pretty awkward place for it to be used that morning and shooting the sun for "speed lines" would be Noonan’s best method of confirming his groundspeed, but I don’t see how that would give him "drift" information.
Clarification on the matter of K8AQQ/KHAQQ:
As mentioned previously, no stateside ham radio call signs began with K in 1937. They were all W-number-letter-letter or W-number-letter-letter-letter.
It’d be easy to misunderstand KHAQQ as K8AQQ. REAL easy. Hmm... looks like we may have another candidate signal. Any details please, Bill Moffett....? Can you cite the news article or whatever?
As for ham calls beginning with K, these were all overseas. And the number associated with them was always the same as the closest US mainland ’call area." All Pacific Island calls in 1937 began with K6, because California, the W6 area, was deemed closest and the islands were under the same FCC administration as California. Alaska was K7, adjacent to the W7 Pacific Northwest area. Caribbean possessions were K4, being adjacent to the W4 Southeast call area.
W8 and W9 were in the Midwest and landlocked except for the Great Lakes. I am fairly certain there would have been no K8 calls issued, nor K9s, in 1937. (And there was no W-zero call area, also in the Midwest, until after WW2, in case some may wonder about this.)
By the way, the Philippine Islands ham calls began with KA, followed by number and two or three letters, in 1937.
For those who came along after the war, Hawaii prefixes were changed to KH6, Guam to KG6, Alaska to KL7, Guantanamo Bay Cuba to KG4, Virgin Islands to KV4, Puerto Rico to KP4 etc... sometime in the mid to late 40s. No US mainland ham calls were issued with a K prefix until around 1950.
An observation... people in the 30s who were not hams, but listened to short wave, often did not know exactly where the ham bands were located on the dial; and given the free-wheeling dial calibration of a lot of these radios that comes as no real surprise. People heard lots of things on the radio that they may have ascribed to "ham radio operators" but in fact were something entirely different.
Maybe that could be another reason more people who may have heard AE did not recognize the signal for what it was.
LTM (whose calibration
is always right on) and
Charles L. Russell of 226 Grant St., Dennison, OH reported to the Adjutant General of the U.S. Army that on July 6:
> A very cautious
and minimally invasive survey of the NC debris field,
OK, but why look any more carefully for aluminum in the NC debris field than anyplace else on the Nutiran reef? We have no reason to think that the airplane wound up in the ship, but it certainly may have wound up distributed in itty bitty pieces all over the reef flat. A very careful search for aluminum throughout the area makes sense if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, but I don’t see any reason to give the NC debris field itself any special attention.
I would say forget about aluminum on the reef flat. If there was ever an environment designed to promote corrision in aluminum, that’s it. Alternating washing with salt water and exposure to air -- forget it. Long gone. However, the "steel pieces" Emily reported seeing on the reef are a different matter. There were steel pieces in the Electra --- some of them quite beefy (gear legs, for example). Emily says the wreckage she saw was north of the shipwreck. We know from the distribution of NC wreckage that storm events push debris on the reef flat southeastward toward the lagoon passage. The shipwreck and its associated scatter of debris lie between the place where Emily says the airplane wreckage was and the lagoon channel. It is not at all outside the realm of possibility that one of those long steel pieces that Emily saw was driven southeastward by subsequent storms and became mixed in with NC debris of the same color (red).
I think we need to take a close look at the NC debris to make sure that there isn’t non-NC debris hiding in the jumble.
Bob Brandenburg writes:
I don’t see any facts to "grind", but then, I’m having
Alright, you are working on these issues. To date, we have seen copious parsing of Betty’s notations, and no more substantial suggestion of how these supposed intercepts could occur, except the like of "propagation was good in 1937". Remember "exceptional claims require exceptional proof"?
> What is the relevance
of the harmonic radiation properties of military
I used these figures only as comparative, ballpark figures for HF transmitters with simple output networks, from the same approximate era. To the second part, yes, same as the WE13 would have been tuned.
> Should we make the same assumptions for AE’s transmitter? Why?
Read above. Can you suggest why the ballpark figures here are extraordinary? Are they a magnitude out?
> Given that Terman
(Radio Engineering, 1947) cites relative power levels for
Which figures do you think are closer to some ballpark starting point, my examples or your Terman figures for harmonic generator, i.e. circuit designed to maximize harmonic energy?
How does a high antenna relate to discrimination against harmonic energy, delivered to the antenna?
> Should we assume a high antenna for AE’s transmitter? Why?
>> But let’s say
the WE is really bad about harmonic radiation, for example
--I do not have the math to analyze the effects of conduction angle, coil Q, and impedance matching on the actual figure for harmonic output. Do you? Do you think -3 dB would be a realistic figure, in our range for simulation?
> Is the radiated
harmonic power level solely a function of power input to
Clearly, no, and you know this.
>> So when you do
the computer simulations for path, Betty’s
What do you suggest as a starting point at 3rd harmonic? 20 watt? 10? What?
> Did you take those
factors into account in arriving at your 5 watt figure?
I am suggesting a starting point.
> What factors determined
the radiation efficiency of AE’s antenna at
I am sorry, I am not taking a quiz, and I will spare the general readers discussion of antenna efficiency factors.
> Then when you
consider the 3x harmonic possibility, imagine what
Let’s you suggest your own favorite figure, and start with that. I’ll give you a whole magnitude more to work with. Will this sway the feasibility?
> Why 1 watt? Why
less? Why not more?
Now, you tell me how much gain you expect from a wire antenna, on a landed plane, at the frequencies being discussed, i.e. from 3 to maybe 18 MHz. I respect you for doing the heavy lifting as far as numbers. However, I ask you: you are suggesting also, with a mathematical reinforcement, that the circuit of the WE transmitter, plus antenna gain, or directionality, somehow enabled such an extraordinary reception, from the Pacific to the east coast of the United States. Look, I’ll give you 25 watts third harmonic, say 50 watts if you want. You do the math. I’ll just say from my experience, and plentiful readings from radio ham and listener literature from the 1900s to now, that I am *very* skeptical of such claims.
>> That reception
of Betty’s would appear to be a real "DX catch".
See above. I am also *very* eager to see the results of your computations. Perhaps they will *prove* Betty at home, did really receive over an extended period of time, via her family’s home radio, a message from AE. When that is proven, there is even a greater challenge, and that’s how the Maine listener heard the AE messages on a frequency not related to AE’s transmitter.
> You have only
mentioned output power as a determinant of whether Betty could
If I fail your quiz, is the viability of your (plural) thesis substantiated?
>> (or more) of
other SWLs somehow missing the reception,
--Sorry, I have not quite completed the list of names. Familiarity with the radio listening hobby and literature of the times suggests a good many people tuned in to listen to shortwaves, many more than today.
AE’s signal was not the only signal transiting the Pacific. You have numbers of aircraft, ships, and hams doing local work, or trying to reach out as far as possible. From the records of time, including DX reports in literature of the time, we can get an idea of what actually was achieved in the realm of reality. In addition to this, we have suggestions Divine Providence somehow especially smiled on this one effort.
I know you have your department. But let’s not, I suggest, divorce the computations from the whole picture. What do YOU think of the content of the messages heard by Betty and the Maine listener? How do you rate the veracity of the Maine reception?
> How do the possible
numbers or locations of other SWLs bear upon the feasibility
So, there were what, no other listeners within a several mile radius of Betty, even during "prime time"?
> What about transmissions
on other frequencies? Would such transmission also
Okay, my turn. WHAT other frequencies?
> How do you quantify
If you really need these, I will deliver, after some time to round up same. Will this really help you?
> Instead of assuming
a generic receiver, why not assume the actual make and
(Digression limited) What is magic about the Betty receiver? We can be sure at best, it was within certain limits bounded by the technology of the day. If you need them, a range of specifications can be developed from the service literature of the day. Forgetting external gingerbread, and loudspeaker quality, there were only few templates for home receiver circuitry.
>> To get from one
area of interest to another you have to cross the
Obviously not, so why even mention that? However, the suggestion is that the Betty reception occurred over a spread of time, and not just in "message-over and out" format. Some have asked if the mic button was locked down. Prime time hours for listening, Betty was not the only listener scanning bands, her receiver and antenna were not magic (unless one wants to suggest another conspiracy theory).
>> Also, the Maine
reception was right
Okay, ball in your court. You explain how such frequency, in defined SW broadcast bands, as I listed, related to any energy transmitted from AE’s transmitter, please.
> I look forward to your answers and the facts they will bring.
Here’s how I see it, and finis for me: People are so entranced by this shining possiblity of poignant AE messages being heard by just plain folks at home, in a case of extraordinary, freakish reception, that they are working, really working, to justify the scenario. This includes stretching the physics of it to the max, and downplaying glaring problems in the scenario, and investing the content with all kinds of imagined meaning. In one year this whole thing will have blown over. ( Sorry, no mathematical proof of that figure either.)
If anyone thinks I’m going to referee a debate on existentialism between a rabid Presbyterian of Scottish ancestry and a Polish/Russian (?) Jesuit priest-professor . . . do I look THAT dumb? I’m outta here!
LTM, who promises
to forever do good and avoid evil
Patrick Gaston wrote:
> In essence, TIGHAR’s
theory assumes the following thought
I don’t assume that thought process at all, and I doubt that TIGHAR does. It appears that Earhart and Noonan had a relatively good working relationship; she did the flying and he did the navigating. But her past behavior shows that she did not simply accept what Noonan recommended (something during the Atlantic crossing), she thought about it and made her own decision. So I’m not assuming any particular thought process at all.
> The Gilberts theory
assumes that AE looked beyond the
"Civilization" was at their disposal (Itasca) and would very likely follow them to wherever they went. I think a desire to find civilization would’ve been very low on the check-off list.
Maybe you have to have been in the position of having to contemplate putting a land airplane in the water with no land in sight to understand how terrifying a prospect it is. You sit in a noisy little room and contemplate your own mortality in very immediate terms. There is no doubt in my mind that at 20:13 GCT and thereafter, AE and FN had one priority and one only: find land before the fuel is gone. Whatever course of action stood the best chance of accomplishing that end is, in my opinion, the only course of action they would consider.
The Vee antenna was not necessarily "too long." It was indeed longer than in the original installation, after Joe Gurr’s modifications. That in and of itself is not the problem.
The potential problem lies in the transmitter. Was the tuning network in the transmitter now able to properly "match" to the longer antenna?
The problem would concern whether the transmitter tuning could be adjusted for proper resonance in the final amplifier stage, and coupling to the antenna, while maintaining the correct ratio of parameters (inductance to capacitance or L/C) in the circuit to suppress harmonic radiation (and in this circuit that was not possible to completely avoid in any case) or to ensure the transmitter was not tuned to the wrong frequency entirely, i.e. a harmonic instead of the fundamental.
The tuning methods and procedures for this radio were cumbersome. If a tech took short cuts, or if he was not sure what value of antenna current reading to expect on a given frequency with the altered antenna, then it is quite possible that excessive harmonic radiation resulted.
Notice I did not say it DID result. I said it is LIKELY (in my considered opinion, shared by others, VERY likely).
Now please allow me to correct myself on something I posted yesterday. In running thru the list of 1930s superheterodyne receivers (a very imcomplete list by the way), I mentioned the National HFS. I meant to say the National AGS, a receiver used mainly by the Government (Bureau of Air Commerce, CAA etc) in airways communications. It appeared in the early 30s. The HFS was a postwar receiver. Sorry.
LTM (who likes alphabet
I need to be sure I understand this so forgive me if I seem to flog this poor beast. I was under the impression that the "perfect" antenna for any given frequency would be one that exactly matched the length of a full "wave." The lower the frequency the longer the wave. That presents some problems for airplanes that can’t accommodate an immensely long antenna. That’s why trailing wire antennas were popular. The next best thing is to have an antenna that is exactly a half or a quarter of the optimum desired length. That’s what the original 40 foot Vee on NR16020 was intended to accomplish for 3105 and 6210 during the first WF attempt. (The trailing wire was for 500.)
Sometime during the repairs the decision was made to save weight by chucking the trailing wire and fudging the length of the Vee to provide some modicum of capability on 500 Kcs. However, now the Vee, at 54 feet, was not a quarter or a half of the optimum length for 3105 or 6210 (and hence "wrong" for those freqencies). The transmitter now had to be "fooled" into thinking the wire was a different length than it was. Is this what you’re talking about when you wonder whether the transmitter could be "tuned" to accommodate this antenna length?
Have I got this messed up?
Frank Westlake writes:
> That’s a rather
wild assumption. Do you have proof or even evidence that
I’m scheduled to see my confessor tonight at 8:00 PM EDT. I promise to repent of making wild assumptions about Santa Claus, leprechauns, and aliens. "Oh ... I am heartily sorry ..."
The researcher who brought up those three examples did not suppose that they were spiritual beings. He did say that those who believe in them imagine them to have the power to vanish at will. Hence, no one could ever prove the believer wrong. And in that case, under those assumptions, one could not prove THAT KIND of negative.
Now THAT’s what this forum needs -- an official, honorary confessor. No more concerns about banishments and so forth. Just confess, do your penance and back into the fray. I nominate Father Moleski.
Dennis McGee writes:
> If anyone thinks
I’m going to referee a debate on existentialism
FWIW, all Polish/Canadian on Dad’s side; Irish/Welsh/Canadian on Mom’s; born in the U.S.A. after Mom and Dad met at U of T and got married.
I love TIGHAR and the Forum because the quest to determine what happened to AE and FN stimulates me to think about how we know historical realities. This has become my number one forum, but in times past I’ve browsed through sites about the search for Mallory and Irvine, the Kennedy assassination, and the loss of the Terror and Erebus on the Franklin expedition (each of which was equipped with a 15-ton steam engine--and neither of which has yet been located). The truth may be out there somewhere, and perhaps it will even be found some day.
> I’m outta here!
Mom always liked you best.
This is indeed a complex subject. Actually you are kinda close to grasping it, but let me clear some stuff up.
For the benefit of nonradio people I am keeping it real simple. The IDEAL length for an antenna is one which is a resonant length, i.e. its physical length is at least 1/4 wavelength long. That length will of course change with changes in frequency.
1/4 wavelength at 3105 KHz is about 78 feet. At 6210 (double 3105) this is 1/2 wavelength. Still okay.
But remember this important point: the quoted lengths are for an antenna in free space. On an aircraft they are subject to quite a few variables.... but hold that thought for the moment.
On an aircraft, unless it’s a large one, there may not be room for 1/4 wavelength of wire... was not on the Electra. So we get as much wire out there as we can, then use some kind of tuning network to electrically lengthen the wire, or "fool" the transmitter into thinking it "sees" a resonant length.
The antenna on the Electra was originally 46 feet long including the lead-in wire, which is part of the system. That length was kind of handy, though that may have been -- probably was -- a happy accident.
46 feet is way less than 1/4 wave at 3105 or 1/2 wave at 6210. It’s just a hair over 1/8 and 1/4 wavelength respectively. These are odd fractions, but still theoretically sort-of, close to resonant lengths, OK sort of... in practice, fractions less than 1/4 wave, and all the odd fractions (except 3/4, for complex reasons) can be hard to tune properly...
The object of the game would be, at 3105, to electrically lengthen it to 1/4 wavelength by using the network in the transmitter. Not too hard to do; but you do lose some power that is "eaten" by the network rather than radiated by the antenna.
But it was better than 57 feet, which is what the length became after Gurr.
The antenna was now about 9 per cent shorter than 3/16 wavelength at 3105 and 3/8 wavelength at 6210. We could call this a nonresonant length.
The antenna would now be somewhat difficult to tune, with this transmitter. The output tuning network could have conceivably been unable to compensate for the added length, unless the tuning was achieved at points other than optimum. In this transmitter a delicate balance must be struck between the antenna tuning, the resonance point of the final power amplifier, and the ratio of values in the network (inductance/capacitance). If the L/C ratio is off, the network’s ability to reject harmonics and keep them from being radiated by the antenna is greatly compromised.
Does this help clear things up?
By the way, where things get complicated real fast is that this is a Vee antenna, doubled back upon itself. Also because so much of it is in close proximity to the metal skin, resulting in high capacitance to ground. These factors will have a large bearing upon the tuning, as well as what constitutes an actual "resonant length" of antenna wire for a given frequency.
Let’s not go there right now. As the old maps said, "Here be dragons."
LTM (who always
deals in even numbers) and
That’s a big help. Thanks.
Kites were of course used for antennas... one notable example was the World War II "Gibson Girl" (SCR-578, later the AN/CRT-3) emergency transmitter, used in life rafts. It used a kite (or a balloon) to hoist a wire antenna about 250 ft long. The radio transmitted only (no receive), on 500 KHz, 4140 KHz, and 8280 KHz. Morse Code only. Automatically keyed SOS only; but later models had a crude hand key in the front faceplate (but try cranking and keying at the same time... durn near impossible. I played around with one, back in high school, that the Civil Air Patrol had acquired...) One after the other in sequence. To use it the radio was strapped between the thighs, and hand cranked; it put out about 3 watts (maybe).
Lord help you if the raft capsized while that thing was strapped between (glub) your (glub) legs.... You’d sink faster than the Scrubbing Bubbles down the drain.
It was called the Gibson Girl because of the shape of the case.
But the Gibson Girl was not around in 1937. It was a copy of a radio the Germans developed for their pilots. Acquired via the Brits, following the Battle of Britain.
The Gibson Girl could not be voice modulated either.
Whether AE had SOME kind of emergency radio, I have no idea. I can say this, almost unequivocally, though:
She was not using any kite to fly an antenna for the radio in the plane.
That radio had to be tuned by a technician, using a test set (and AE did not have the test set, and would not know how to use it if she did). There were, as the sticker on the back of TVs used to say, no user-serviceable parts inside.
To use any other antenna than the one on the plane, the rig would have to be re-tuned. This was a complex procedure. She could not have done it. At least I REALLY don’t think so.
LTM (who is not
a mechanical ignoramus) and
Interesting that we’re seeing complementary postings from practitioners of a couple of "no choice" belief systems (abbreviated "B.S.") that allow for a few "permissable" outcomes, no matter what other outcomes could occur. Is TIGHAR a religion too?
Allow me to update the quality of your data. I said I was "the product of 300 years of rabid Presbyterianism." I did not say that I am now a Presbyterian. That belief system encourages individual interpretation of scripture rather than unquestioning acceptance of dogma and I’m afraid that it produced, in me, some unintended consequences. I consider myself to be free to believe anything that makes sense to me.
TIGHAR is not a religion. We’re not that respectable. TIGHAR is a cult.
Ric, I am going out on a limb and modify that position re the kite antenna and AE.
In desperate times, desperate men (and women) do desperate things.
This is total anecdote, and leads to total supposition, but bear with me.
During my high school days I acquired an ancient WW2 Army handie-talkie radio, that the school got through the Federal Surplus program, to tinker with. It had tubes in it... used big dry batteries... and put out less than 1/2 watt on 3885 KHz.
Its antenna was a three foot telescoping whip.
Just for grins one day I tried touching the antenna to the school flagpole.
WOW. The thing got out like Godzilla! I could be heard clearly, over three miles away. Before, I could almost spit further than it would transmit (actually, a half mile was exceptional range with the original antenna).
I doubt the thing was very well matched to the flagpole/antenna... but the point is, the "antenna" made a huge difference.
Who knows what they may have tried?
LTM (who says size
Jerry Hamilton wrote:
> Re: navigation
in the old days in response to Bob’s comment below:
I happen to be an old Navy "boat captain", and I agree with your observation. The Polynesian stick chart navigators may have been the best the at using "crude" techniques. On a personal note, I once navigated a Navy ship from Pago Pago Samoa to San Diego, in pre-GPS days, under complete overcast the entire way. No stars, no planets, no sun lines, no visual landfall, no radar contact with land (until Guadalupe Island, about 250 miles south of SanDiego, off the coast of Mexico) , and no LORAN. Distance from Samoa to radar landfall was about 3800 nmi, and elapsed time was 11 days. Had to navigate by dead reckoning, using wind, waves, and historical current data to estimate set and drift. Made radar landfall on Guadalupe Island within 5 miles and 30 minutes of predicted position and time - - and didn’t win the landfall betting pool !!! I had predicted 3 miles and 10 minutes.
> I think we have
to be careful making judgements from our "more advanced"
Couldn’t agree more. The point of my remark about eyeballing set and drift by observing wave tops was that if FN did attempt to get back to the Gilberts, his margin for error was very small, given fuel constraints and the vast expanses of open ocean between islands. Maybe he could do it by seaman’s eye, maybe not. If we accept that FN was among the best aircraft navigators of the day, I think these factors would weigh heavily in choosing his end-game strategy.
In the Navy, we have a maxim that running a ship aground can ruin your whole day. I expect that the same could be said for running out of fuel before reaching land during an overwater flight.
LTM, who prefers
Mike Everette wrote:
> ... The antenna
would now be somewhat difficult to tune, with this
If I remember correctly, the evidence from all transmissions on the last flight shows that 3105 (nighttime frequency?) was working well enough at both ends of the flight (takeoff and approach to Howland), but no one ever heard AE on 6210 on the last flight.
If so, this may lend some support to your analysis about the difficulties of tuning the antenna.
Not quite. Itasca never heard anything on 6210 but the tranmsissions heard by Lae were on that frquency. It is however, interesting to note that Lae didn’t get anything on 6210 until the aircraft was over four hours away and continued to hear transmissions until the aircraft was over seven hours away. Itasca first got intelligible voice on 3105 at 03:45 local time, four hours from when the aircraft "must be on you but can not see you" at 07:42.
Issues of daylight and nightime aside, it would appear that 6210 could only be heard by stations over four hours away and 3105 could only be heard within a "distance" of four hours. In other words, Itasca’s experience of not hearing Earhart once she switched to 6210 at 08:43 (when she was certainly quite close to Howland) matches Lae’s experience the day before.
> Radio Rangers?
What say ye to the prospect of a kite antenna? The kites
It’s easy enough to recalculate the propagation pattern for a kite antenna, provided we have the parameters of the wire length and slope. I haven’t flown a kite for a long time, but I do recall that kite height and horizontal displacement from the ground point depend on kite size and shape, and wind speed. There’s also the matter of allowing for the catenary in the wire, but we could overlook that in a first look at propagation feasibility. Are there any kite experts on the forum who would be willing to estimate kite height and wire slope?
For Mike Everette: Assuming that AE/FN had kites, and assuming the kite kit included idiot-proof instructions on where and how to attach the kite, what do you think the practical options might have been? We can discuss this off-forum, if you like.
Bob Brandenburg, #2286
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