Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Message on Very Longwave Indeed

There will be a transmission using the Alexanderson 200 kW alternator on (Very Low Frequency) VLF using the frequency of 17.2 kHz. The Morse code transmission originates from Grimeton Radio, Sweden today, Christmas Eve, Wednesday, December 24th, 2014.

The message transmission will take place at 08:00 UTC (09:00 local time). The transmitter will be tuned up starting around 07:30 UTC (08:30 local time).  There will be also be activity on amateur radio frequencies with the call SK6SAQ on any of the following frequencies:
  • 17.2 kHz CW
  • 3755 kHz SSB
  • 7035 kHz CW
  • 14215 kHz SSB
  • 14035 kHz CW
The transmitter site today (source wikipedia)

QSL Reports on SAQ are requested by e-mail to:  or by snail mail to

Alexander – Grimeton Veteranradios Vaenner
Grimeton 72
The Radio Station will be open to visitors today. No entrance fee.

More details are on the

Until the 1950s, the Grimeton VLF transmitter was used for transatlantic radio telegraphy to a station in Long Island, New York, USA. From the 1960s until 1996 it transmitted orders to submarines in the Swedish Navy.
In 1968 a second transmitter was installed which uses the same aerial as the machine transmitter but with transistor and tube technology. The Alexanderson transmitter became obsolete in 1996 and went out of service. However, because it was still in good condition it was declared a national monument and can be visited during the summer.
On July 2, 2004, the Grimeton VLF transmitter was declared a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO. It continues to be used on special occasions such as Alexanderson Day to transmit Morse messages on 17.2 kHz. Its call sign is SAQ. The Grimeton/Varberg site is still used by the Swedish Navy, transmitting on 40.4 kHz using call sign SRC using the vacuum tube transmitter. Since the naval transmitter uses the same aerial as the Alexanderson mechanical transmitter, a simultaneous operation of both transmitters, which would require an expensive high power diplexer, is not possible. Therefore the special transmissions from that machine transmitter are very rare.

Wireless Telegraphy Lives Again

Grimeton Radio Station uses technology for wireless telegraphy that was developed by Swedish-born American Ernst Alexanderson. Today, with its alternator and multiple tuned antenna for longwave transmission, Grimeton Radio Station is unique as the only radio station remaining from the time prior to high-power radio tubes, i.e. before shortwave transmission gained prominence.

Grimeton Radio Station (call sign SAQ) began operating in 1924, primarily to facilitate telegraphy with the US. After experiencing severed cable connections during WWI, the Swedish Parliament decided in 1920 to erect a large-scale radio station on the west coast for wireless telegraphy that used longwave transmissions. This would prevent any similar disruptions to communications by making Sweden independent of other countries' cable networks. For precisely this reason, Grimeton Radio Station experienced a boom during WWII. Cable connections had again been severed and wireless telegraphy became Sweden's primary means of communication with the world.

Dutch Long Wave from Kootwijk

In the Netherlands, they built an alternator transmitter too, located in the village of Kootwijk. We made it the subject of a special edition of Media Network in 1988.

Here's the edition in question.

In this programme we tell the fascinating story of the Kootwijk transmitter built in the centre of the Netherlands on the heathland. In the early 1920's the main goal of the station was to maintain contact with Indonesia, then called the Dutch East Indies. It was pretty amazing bearing in mind they were using the wrong frequency band because the existence of short-wave radio was as yet unknown. The listening site in Eemnes mentioned in the programme is still there, although I believe the station is part of the monitoring network used by the military. The original airing of this programme was on March 3rd 1988. We went back at the end of the Millennium for the close of the station - those shows have yet to be re-released. It was a great story to make, even though its about a "utility" station not a broadcaster. In fact, the same place was used for a short period after the Second World War for longwave broadcasts.
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