The Museum’s Amateur Radio Club, Museum Station K3RTV

Membership in the Museum’s amateur radio club is available to any Museum member without charge, but only licensed amateurs may operate the museum’s amateur station, K3RTV, after undergoing an orientation to become familiar with the vintage equipment and station procedures. Those wishing to operate are encouraged to sign up on a first-come, first-served basis, to ensure that the station is available during the desired time slot(s). Currently, there is no limit on the number of times a member may sign up. Amateur operators who use the station are encouraged to be Museum members at a level above the Basic level.

We are recruiting volunteers to staff the station so that it can be on the air on a regular schedule during hours that the museum is open. Museum visitors can then experience a vintage amateur station in operation. We believe that there are many amateur operators who would enjoy sharing their enthusiasm for the hobby and presenting its “story” to visitors. In addition, special programs and classes will be developed to be used with the station, Contact the Museum if you would like to be involved in this activity.

Equipment:

The Museum has a restored 1957 Johnson Ranger transmitter that is used for AM or CW operating, with a 40-meter inverted-V dipole antenna. A Hammarlund HQ-140X is the usual receiver. Many other receivers from Hallicrafters, National, Hammarlund, RME, etc., may be restored to operating condition at a later date. A modern SSB transceiver is also available for those who prefer that sort of equipment.

The station also has a 1951 Collins 250-watt broadcast station AM transmitter that has been modified to operate on the 160-meter band. A 160-meter vertical antenna is used with the Collins, but radials must be strung prior to, and rolled up after operating, so this transmitter is used only on special occasions. Operators must be trained before being authorized to use the Collins.

Global Tuners:

The website Global Tuners is a remarkable Internet service that allows one to use a computer as a remote control for shortwave receivers all over the world. While anyone can sign up without charge use this service directly, a probationary period is required. As a service to Museum members, the Museum has arranged a special link to Global Tuners through the Member’s only section.

No license is needed for reception; we plan to utilize this resource as part of a licensing instruction program eventually being developed with an established training group, the Anne Arundel Amateur Radio Club.

The computer-controlled receiving system can be used in conjunction with being on the air at K3RTV, and whenever a member is elsewhere with an internet connection and wishes to check out the bands. Thus the Museum dramatically illustrates a time span of technology from our vacuum-tube shortwave station to the latest internet-based receiver through this arrangement with Global Tuners.

How Global Tuners Works:

Today “software-defined radios” (SDRs) are increasingly popular. An SDR is a receiving device (and transmitting, with some models) that attaches between an antenna and a computer. With the computer connected to the Internet, a person with Internet access at some other location can use the remote SDR as if it were in the same room.

The graphic control interface appears on the computer monitor and resembles the front panel of a modern receiver. By using the keyboard and mouse, you tune frequency, select audio quality and pick the mode of reception, such as AM. It is as easy to operate a remote receiver via Global Tuners as sitting in front of a “hardware” based receiver. Streaming audio is delivered to the computer speakers. Many radio hobbyists around the world have volunteered to make their SDRs available to others as “nodes” that are selected from a list on Global Tuners.

By going to this website, one can see the status of available radios at any given instant. For example, if one wanted to listen to a receiver located in Australia, one scrolls down and clicks on a node listed for that continent. At times, such as during hurricane emergency communications, many users are tuned into the same node, sharing control and reception.

When K3RTV is on the air, users from around the world can tune the Museum in at Global Tuners to share the real-time experience as volunteers are on the air with others, and as a Museum member, one can access Global Tuners without going through a probationary period—just one more reason for joining the Museum.