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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Getting Ready to Listen for Sputniks

October 4 is approaching and I DO NOT have a homebrew Sputnik transmitter in the works. I hang my head in shame. AA1TJ sent me the parts, but they went to one of my many APO or FPO addresses, so I suspect they are orbiting around the Azores, or London, or Lisbon, or Rome. I'm sure they will reach me eventually.

But I have come up with a way to participate in this historic event even without a homebrew replica transmitter: I will be listening for the Sputnik transmitters, and I will be doing so with a receiver of that era, a receiver that could have been used by some earnest teenager eagerly tuning for the beeps of the overhead RED MENACE. Like the intrepid young man in the picture. What a great shot! Wow, that's Roy Welch W0SL, then W5SLL! When I got into satellites in the Dominican Republic in 1994, the first tracking program that we used was Orbits II... by Roy Welch. We loved that software. From the AMSAT page:
"Roy and his two-year-old daughter would put the radio speaker in a window and then go outside and listen to the strong signals while they watched the third stage booster tumbling end over end like a bright pulsating star as it passed over in the evening sky."

I will be using a Hammarlund. Moore's "Communication Receivers" says my
HQ-100 was made between 1956 and 1960. PERFECT! (Mine was probably in the Dominican Republic on October 4, 1957.)

By the way, I got into the old Electric Radio magazines again, reading some more of Lew McCoy's wonderful reminiscences. He reports that during the Sputnik period he -- and apparently others -- were asked by their Uncle Sam to use their skills to monitor Soviet space activities.

Let the beeping begin! (Sputnik signals recorded by Roy Welch:

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  1. Good luck, I hope you hear them all!

    Thanks for the opportunity to hear Sputnik! That must have been an exciting time. I wonder how prevalent RealAudio is these days though. I took the liberty to convert your ra file to mp3 and post it. http://unforgettability.net/files/random/Sputnik.mp3 I hope you don't mind. I can take it down if you like.

  2. While tuning 'round the band one day

    What to my surprise.

    A weak little signal was warbling there

    From somewhere in the skies.



    The sig. went beep-beep-beep.

    (with apologies to The Playmates, 1958)

    73 from the Left Coast Sputnik Clone Works.......Steve Smith WB6TNL
    "Snort Rosin" & "ROOSCCh"!

    September 22, 2011 6:26 PM

  3. Why would all these guys be standing around the radio if the audio is routed to the headphones?

  4. Simple, the guy with the cans on his noggin' is the Engineer! Either that or he was hard of hearing and those are part of his tube-type hearing aid.

    OR......the photograph was staged and the whole Sputnik thing was faked on a Russian movie sound stage!

    73 from conspriacy-ville.......
    Steve Smith WB6TNL
    "Snort Rosin"

  5. Hello Bill,
    Yesterday I started to build the Спутник transmitter. I received the tubes via Peter > last month. But I could not start earlier.
    This is the first time ever, I build a transmitter with tubes. So I still have some hurdles to take. hi. But I expect to be ready before the 4th of Oktober.
    Thanks to michael AA1TJ and the others, there is soldersmoke here after a long time. Beep.. beep...
    73, Bert PA1B

  6. Best of luck with your transmitter, Bert. I hope we can QSO during the operating event.

    73.......Steve Smith WB6TNL
    "Snort Rosin"

  7. Steve, what a riot hearing those Sputnik test beeps coming from somewhere. "Beep Beep" cracked me up. Don't remember it on Dr. Demento, though?


    Bert, FB on the progress. I'm building a 15m receiver today and really getting excited here!

    Beep, beep,
    Mike, AA1TJ


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