The Ardrossan Transmissions refer refer to a series of transmissions made across the Atlantic on 11 December 1921.
The transatlantic transmissions referred to originated in Greenwich, Connecticut, and a reference to Ardrossan Reception would actually be more accurate, since the equipment installed at the Ardrossan radio station was only capable of reception.
American Paul Godley had travelled to Britain and eventually set up a receiving station in a tent in a field just outside the town, using equipment he had brought from America. He succeeded in receiving a radio signal transmitted from a Radio Club of America (RCA) test station located in a small shack on the property of Minton Cronkhite, 1BCG in Greenwich, part of a series of American Radio Relay League (ARRL) transatlantic tests.
An initial attempt to receive the transmissions in Middlesex had failed, apparently due to the level of interference, particularly from existing radio equipment already operating in the area, and this problem is understood to be the reason for Godley's trip to Ardrossan. Less interference would have been expected at the more remote site, and the west coast location would have had a clear 'line of sight' towards the American transmission source.
Significance of the transmissions
While transatlantic radio communications had first been established in 1906, between Machrihanish and Brant Rock, Massachusetts, during experiments by inventor Reginald Fessenden, these had used massive antennae and huge amounts of power, even needing a small steam driven power station to be built on the site. Fessenden's transmitter at Brant Rock is understood to have begin operation at 50 kHz, later increased to 75 kHz at 500 W.
The transmissions to Ardrossan were achieved using significantly smaller amounts of power, higher frequencies, and much simpler equipment.
Len Paget from the Radio Society of Great Britain (call sign: GM0ONX) said: "The frequencies used for the transmission were thought at the time to be useless for long distance communications and were given to radio experimenters as they were thought to have little or no commercial value.
"The success of these experiments showed that trans-Atlantic transmissions could be achieved using short wave frequencies with a power equivalent to that used by your toaster in kitchen. "
He says the successful test back in 1921 proved that world-wide communication could be achieved using short wave.
A more detailed description of the original test was given by the ARRL, in an article describing the recreation of the event for the 95th anniversary:
Reception in Scotland of the 1BCG signal was part of the second series of ARRL transatlantic tests. For the receiving end, the ARRL Board had selected a receiver designed by Paul Godley, 2ZE, and Godley traveled to the UK to oversee that end of the circuit. Joining Godley in a field in Ardrossan, southwest of Glasgow, was Marconi Company District Inspector D.E. Pearson. As the QST article, "The Transatlantic Tests" (QST Dec. 2014) by Michael Marinaro, WN1M, recounted, "The two attempted to keep out of the driving wind and rain by sheltering themselves -- and their equipment -- in a tent. This rough listening post was comprised of a (superheterodyne and regenerative) receiver, a 1,300-foot Beverage antenna suspended 12 feet above ground, batteries, and auxiliary equipment."
On the morning of December 10, CW signals of 1BCG, which had been designed and constructed by Radio Club of America members -- were solidly copied on 230 to 235 meters (about 1.3 MHz). They were the only signals heard that morning in Ardrossan. By the end of the test, eight spark and 18 CW stations had been heard as well.
N1BCG operation will be on AM on 75 and 40 meters; CW and SSB on 40 meters, CW on 30 meters, and CW and SSB on 20 and 17 meters.
Approximate frequencies are 3.880 (AM), 7.290 (AM), 7.235 (SSB), 7040 (CW), 10.112 (CW), 14.280 (SSB), 14.040 (CW), 18.125 (SSB), and 18.088 MHz CW.
A very long and highly detailed account of the events which took place at Ardrossan, and surrounding them, can be found in the following article: Crossings II—Ardrossan | Ham Radio History.
On 11 December 2016, radio enthusiasts recreated the first transatlantic shortwave broadcast, 95 years after the original communication between Massachusetts and Ardrossan.
Members of the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) set up a station in Ardrossan and exchanged broadcasts with the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and the Radio Club of America in Connecticut, using both modern and historical equipment to recreate the broadcasts.
A couple of images were found online, confirming the reception at Ardrossan.
2 ⇑ Homage to first shortwave trans-Atlantic radio broadcast - BBC News Retrieved February 08, 2017.
3 ⇑ Transatlantic Reception Anniversary Special Event Set for December 11 Retrieved February 08, 2017.
5 ⇑ Historic transatlantic contact - Radio Society of Great Britain - Main Site : Radio Society of Great Britain – Main Site Retrieved February 08, 2017.
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