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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sonya's Rig

Stewart, G3YSX, provided us with Part II of his article on the espionage radio work of the Soviet spy Sonya (who had the Knack).

Sonja Continued

A few days after my article on Sonja the Spy was published in the September 2004 edition of the CARC newsletter, I received a letter from club member Eddie Ramm
DK3UZ filling in a few additional details.

The Fuchs antenna that Sonja used was first described by Dr Josef Fuchs, OE1JF, in 1928 and is a half-wave end-fed design.

End-fed half-wave antennas are very efficient and do not need a particularly good ground, but they are very high impedance and need a suitable matching circuit. For a spy the use of a simple, but efficient, antenna of this type would have its attractions.

Eddie then pointed out that the design is of current interest to the QRP community by pointing me to the following URL: This describes a 5 band portable QRP antenna designed by Frank, DL7AQT, based on the Fuchs design. The antenna is a 40m to 42m length of wire and the ATU is a parallel tuned circuit using a pair of toroids and a 200pf variable capacitor. It is worth reading the English version of the manual, which discusses the issue of self-resonance in these high impedance matching circuits. Matching circuits of this type only function correctly below the self-resonant frequency. Frank used of a two toroid arrangement to the move the self-resonance from 18MHz to 60MHz, thereby producing an ATU that operated correctly from 80m to 10m.

The second point that Eddie raised was the term “Three Point Oscillator” that Ruth used to describe her (Sonja’s) transmitter. The German term is “Dripunktsender” (three point sender), which Eddie tells me is the term was used to describe both the Hartely and the Colpitts based transmitters. Both oscillator designs are similar in the way that they use the reactive components in the tuned circuit as an impedance transformer to provide the coupling between the tuned circuit and the amplifier, so the use of the common term makes sense. He included an article dated January 1939, which shows a 3W automatic transmitter for maritime use, which is of the Hartley design and is described as a Dripunktsender. The article can be found at and the Hartley transmitter circuit is shown above.

We have no way of knowing which type Sonja actually used, although, as I suggested before I would suspect that it was the Hartley. This is likely because the Hartley was popular in the amateur radio world at the time and we know that she improved here spy transmitter by using amateur radio techniques. Secondly, because her transmitter had to fabricated, without raising suspicion, using material found in the field, a Hartley would seem to be the preferred design. A Hartley has no critical capacitors, just a coil which can be fabricated out of an “innocent” piece of wire or metal, and adjusted to give both the right inductance and the right feedback.

Stewart G3YSX

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