Sequenced beacon--main & backup TX with controller rack in center.

Radio Beacon

   The photos and instructions lower down the page are from the "Operating Instructions for Automatic Radio Beacon Equipment--Department of Marine, Radio Branch 1930". This is a three tube regenerative receiver: one detector and two stages of audio amplification. The following italicised text is taken directly from the equipment manual and gives some insight on receiver tuning. In the photograph below the three vacuum tubes have been removed for clarity--the four pin sockets remain.

   Thehe sequenced radio beacon equipment was devised as an assistance to mariners. For example three radio beacons could be scattered along the coast all transmitting on the same frequency in sequence. Only one beacon would be transmitting at any one time. A navigator could tune is radio direction finder to the sequenced beacon frequency in his area and, as each beacon transmitted for its allotted 1 minute interval, could note the bearing of each.

    Applying the bearings to his chart the navigator could be assured his position was where the three lines intersected, sometimes call the 'cocked hat', as they seldom intersected, but usually came close, leaving a small triangle of error--hence the name. If the beacons were not sequenced, they would be transmitting continually on, in this case, three different frequencies, requiring the navigator to tune to each station in turn. Sequencing was economical on frequencies used, and reduced navigator error.

   Each beacon had its 3 minute transmit window, thus it was important to ensure the mechanical clock timing was accurate to ensure only one station was ever on at any one time. The station's clocks were checked regularly against the time 'ticks' from the US Navy Station at Arlington, Virginia. Thus the requirement for a good receiver. Below is taken from a beacon receiver manual of the time.

The illustration shows the new receiver for use on Beacon Stations.

   At the bottom left of the panel is located the filament switch plunger which must be pulled out to put the set in operation. Always push the plunger in after using the receiver. At the bottom right of the panel the phone jack, marked “output”, is located. The head-phones should be plugged into this jack. At the top centre of the panel is located the range switch. When this switch is in the “short” position the receiver will function from 500 to 730 meters, and the “long” position gives a wavelength range from 2,400 to 3,000 meters. The reaction is controlled by the knob in the centre of the panel, while the aerial tuning is controlled by the left hand dial, and secondary tuning by the right hand dial.

    The aerial tuning may vary greatly on different stations and the Secondary tuning will vary slightly, but on a standard aerial the Secondary tuning dial, for reception of NAA (Arlington) time signal, should be set at approximately 36 with the range switch in the “long” position. The aerial tuning and reaction controls may be in the neighbourhood of 55 and 40 respectively, but these adjustments may vary greatly according to local conditions. Arlington should be received at good volume by all East Coast and Great Lakes Stations, and over the entire length of its two ranges the receiver should be found sensitive and easily controlled.

   The battery connections are made to suitably engraved binding-posts at the back of the receiver. The receiver is intended to use UX201B tubes with an A battery of 6 Volts. The B battery should consist of two 45 Volt blocks


Arlington Time Signal

   Commencing at 11:55 a.m. E.S.T., NAA sends a series of 29 dots at intervals of 1 second. This makes the 29th dot coincide with 28 seconds past 11:55. On the 29th second there is no dot, but commencing at the 30th second NAA sends a series of 25 dots at intervals of 1 second. This makes the 25th dot of the second series coincide with the 54th second past 11:55. No dots are made on the 55th, 56th, 58th and 59th seconds, but at 11:56 NAA commences another series of dots. Each minute thereafter until 12 noon is similarly marked with the exception of the second series of dots in the last minute preceding the hour. Commencing at 11:59 ½ NAA sends a series of 20 dots at intervals of 1 second, the 20th dot coinciding with the 49th second of the last minute before the hour. From the 50th to 59th seconds NAA is silent and on the 60th second—12 noon E.S.T.—he makes a dash. This completes the time signal, which is repeated at 9:55 to 10 p.m., E.S.T.

Tracing Faults in Receivers

   If Receiver is noisy, see that grid-leak is firmly in its clips and that the grid-leak end pieces and clips are clean. Examine all receiver binding-posts and see that they are screwed down tight. Examine battery connections and see that they are tight and clean. Using spare tubes, replace the tubes in use—one at a time—to ascertain if any of the tubes in use are noisy. Replace the batteries in use by spares to ascertain if the batteries in use are noisy. Examine the aerial tap connections on the two aerial tuning coils and make sure that the spade terminals are securely screwed down to the small brass posts. Examine all soldered connections making sure that they have not become disconnected or crystallized. Using fine glass-paper, clean the contacts of the Short-Long switch. Check over the tuning condensers for alignment and make sure that there is no dirt or dust between the plates. Clean out the spark-gap by passing a piece of stiff paper between the points. Move the filament switch out and in several times, turning the plunger around while doing so, to clean its contacts. Make sure that the phone jack is making good contact with the phone plug, and that the phones and phone leads are in good condition.

   If no signals or only very weak signals are heard, check the condition of A and B batteries. See that the aerial and ground connections, all battery connections, all soldered connections, the two aerial tuning coil tap connections and phones are O.K. See that the spark gap is clean and not shorted. See that all tubes are alight and in good condition. See that the .005 mf. condenser across the first AF transformer primary is not shorted. See that the tubes are alight and in good condition. See that the .005 mf. condenser across the first AF transformer primary is not shorted. See that the Long-Short switch is making good firm contact at all points. As a last resort, unsolder the two AF transformers and check their primary and secondary windings for continuity. Should the 2nd AF transformer show an open circuit it may be left out of circuit, in which case the phones should be connected between the +90 volt terminal of the B battery and the B 90 + binding post of the receiver, and the third valve should be removed from its socket. Should both transformers be defective the receiver may be used with one valve. To use the receiver with one valve removed the last two valves from their sockets. Remove the two A.F. transformers from circuit. Connect 67 ½ volts of B battery to the B 45 + binding post of the receiver, and connect the phones from the B 45 + binding post of the receiver to the end of the reaction coil not connected to the Detector plate. Make no connection from the 90-volt B battery terminal to the B 90 + binding post of the receiver.

Continuity Testing, AF Transformers

   Use the Weston type 279 voltmeter and a No. 6 dry cell. Connect one terminal of the cell to one terminal of the voltmeter. To the remaining terminals of the voltmeter and cell, connect two twelve-inch lengths of wire. When the ends of these two lengths of wire are touched together a deflection should be noted on the voltmeter. Test the transformers by placing the ends of the two test wires on terminals B and P of the transformer. In no deflection is noted on the voltmeter, the transformer primary is open. Next place the ends of the test wires in firm contact with the G and F terminals of the transformer. If no deflection is noted on the voltmeter, the transformer secondary is open. If either primary or secondary are open the transformer in useless.

   Immediately phones, valves, transformers, etc., are found defective, replacements should be wired for, and the defective apparatus should be returned at first opportunity to Headquarters.

Light House Radio Beacon

   This photo was taken in 1975 at Kains Island lightstation (Quatsino). The two outside racks date from the 1950's while the center is from the 1960's. Mouse over the photo.

   The two outside racks comprise the two identical transmitters, one active and the other on standby. Directly below the Hammerlund general coverage receiver in the middle rack is the monitor panel. It senses the transmitter power output, provides the identification keying, and monitors the transmitted Morse signal. It will automatically switch transmitters if it detects any abnormality.
   The old receivers are located near the bottom of each transmitter rack. Note the rectangular dial.
   These transmitters had the capability of shifting to the 500kHz band and provide emergency Morse communication to the nearest coast station.
   I'm a little fuzzy on the rest of this, but below the monitor panel are two timers, one for each transmitter. They provided the sequence timing to the transmitters. (This beacon would share a frequency (in the 200-400 kHz band) with two other transmitters along the coast. Each beacon would transmit for a short period of time and allow a vessel to get three bearings quickly, without having to retune the receiver.)
   The bottom panel with the round meter was a battery charger for a small battery. It kept only the timers running in the event of a station power outage, for instance the short period of time when the lightkeeper swapped over station diesel generators.

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