Calling all VLF Monitors
A report on the VLF transmission from Grimeton (Sweden) on 28th October 2018 (United Nations Day)
The editor evaluates the UN Day message sent by the World Heritage Radio Station SAQ Grimeton on 24 October 2018.
Calling all VLF Monitors
The SAQ World Heritage site radio station in Grimeton, Sweden was on the air again, with a very special transmission, on 17.2kHz on 24th October 2018. SAQ is a machine transmitter, without electric parts, transmitting up to 200kW. It was once part of the Swedish communications network with the country’s diaspora, an early ‘internet’. It is the brainchild of Ernst F. W. Alexanderson. The station broadcasts an A-1 mode Morse code signal from its six, 400-ft, towers. SAQ is on the air for special occasions, such as Christmas, Marconi Day, Alexanderson Day, UN Day or World Radio Day. Other transmissions have commemorated the European Year of Industrial Heritage (2018).
During UN Day 2018, October 24th, the transmitter started up at 16.30 UTC, and the peace transmission was scheduled to start at 17.00 UTC. The station, once again, promoted peace, using these words: “A roaring machine, Morse code and Irish folk music – celebrate the UN Day of October 24 at the World Heritage Site Grimeton! Man’s quest for contacts and for faster relationships between each other is tireless. A proof of this is the many attempts to put a telegraph cable on the bottom of the Atlantic before the seemingly impossible project was finally landed – the connection between Europe and America was established, from Ireland to Newfoundland, and opened for telegram traffic in August 1866. We celebrate this great event in international relations by sending out a peace message to the world with the long-wave transmitter SAQ and then a concert in the Irish folk spirit with the Varberg band Green Hill.”
Here is the message of 24th October 2018, recalling the time of the laying of the transatlantic cable:
WEDNESDAY 24TH OCTOBER 2018 SAQ Sweden RST 337
16:43 UTC TUNE UP STARTED:
||: VVV VVV VVV DE SAQ SAQ SAQ :||
17:00 UTC MESSAGE STARTED:
CQ CQ CQ DE SAQ SAQ SAQ = THIS IS GRIMETON RADIO/SAQ IN A TRANSMISSION USING THE ALEXANDERSON 100 KW ALTERNATOR ON VLF 17.2 kHz = THE ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH LINE WAS OPENED IN 1866 II II II II 1866 BETWEEN IRELAND AND NEW FOUNDLAND THUS CONNECTING THE TWO CONTINENTS. TODAY WE PAY TRIBUTE TO COMMUNICATION BETWEEN PEOPLE, IN A WORK FOR BUILDING PEACE. = NB IME WE NEITHER REQUEST QSL REPORTS ON THIS TRANSMISSION NOR WILL RESPOND WITH QSL = CARDS = SIGNED OS WORLD HERITAGE GRIMETON RADIO STATION AND THE ALEK II II II II ALEXANDER = GRIMETON VETERAN RADIOS VAENNER ASSOCIATION = AR QRU DE SAQ ST II II SAQ SAQ SAQ VA
17:06 UTC END
Many monitors and ARCs received the signal globally and were in touch with the Grimeton site’s Amateur Radio station SK6SAQ. A live video stream normally accompanies the transmissions on the website of the Alexanderson Society.
In the UK, RadioUser magazine was on call, and the editor received the message loud and clear in Lancashire. The pictures show some screenshots, as well as some of the dedicated ELF and VLF equipment used. You can receive Grimeton simply by using a (48kHz sampling-rate) soundcard and your PC.
It was important to be mindful of the wider context of this transmission and to celebrate UN Day, in the spirit of anti-nationalism, isolationism and the indispensable multilateral international cooperation, so often sadly lacking in the contemporary world. The next SAQ Grimeton transmission on 17.2 kHz is planned for Christmas 2018. We are listening.
(See also: SAQ Grimeton: A Rare Catch, RadioUser, June 2018: 33; Warm thanks to Bob Houlston for the extra information about the message sent – Ed.).