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Friday, July 24, 2015

Ham Radio on the Kon-Tiki

Hi Bill
Just found a short Youtube QRP video which is quite fun. It's of the radio side of  Thor Heyerdahl's cross-Pacific Kon-Tiki raft expedition in 1947, operating /MM with 7 watts. I found a longer description of what they had and what they did - including a thrilling tale of drying components on coral reefs while they desperately tried to make contact having washed up on an island - but not of the unusual parrot incident with a hydrogen balloon-lofted antenna during the voyage. That's only in the video.
It's all gripping adventure radio stuff, and shows what HF and a bunch of tubes could do before the digital satcom age.
"The expedition used call sign LI2B and carried three watertight radio transmitters. The first operated on the 40 and 20 meters, the second on 10 meters and the third on 6 meters. Each unit was made up entirely of 2E30 vacuum tubes providing 10 W of RF input. As an emergency backup, they also carried a German Mark V transceiver originally re-created by Britain's Special Operations Executive in 1942. Other equipment included a hand-cranked emergency set of the Gibson Girl type for use on the maritime bands, a special VHF set for contacting aircraft and two British Mark II transmitters. The Kon-Tiki also carried a National Radio Company NC-173 receiver. Dry batteries and a hand-cranked generator supplied the power."
Rupert, G6HVY

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  1. Thor Heyerdahl had a later expedition, and it was covered in Electronics Illustrated in 1971 or maybe 1972. They used a modified Heathkit transceiver that time. Apparently one crew member had been with the OSS or something during WWII, but the experience was so traumatic that they'd didn't want to fuss with radio anymore. So they hd to modify things so "anyone" could use it.


  2. Great Video, one detail caught my eye:
    Anybody knows what that magic powder is, that allows to inflate a balloon within minutes - sounds great for portable
    operation especially for low bands.

    1. I had the same question. There has to be a chemist out there who can let us know.


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