Understanding Marconi's 1901 Transatlantic Wireless Feat


Marconi 1901

"Gugliemo Marconi is generally recognized as being the father of modern radio.  This stems from his claimed reception of the letter "S" atop Signal Hill, in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada on December 12, 1901 between 1600z and 1750z.
 
Due to the fact that this was supposedly achieved in broad daylight in NL on a frequency believed to be in the AM broadcast band some, over the years, have come to dispute this claim which later led to Marconi's receipt of the Nobel Prize.
 
In an attempt to learn more about the possibility of such a feat, the Poldhu Amateur Club (PARC-UK) and the Marconi Radio Club (MRC-NL) conducted a series of beacon tests on 160m from late 2006 into early 2007 from a location near Marconi's original transmit site which was close to Land's End in Cornwall, UK.
 
From my contest station at VY2ZM I was able to receive the 100w beacon GB3SSS transmissions and AM/BC stations down to 855kHz at the time of Marconi's reported receptions. The beacon, in fact, was audible nearly 24 hours a day on Prince Edward Island which led me to play a minor role in the ongoing experiment led by Keith Matthew, G0WYS and Joe Craig, VO1NA.
 
While it is unlikely we shall ever know with certainty whether Marconi actually accomplished his famous feat, some highly interesting data was assembled which explains much of the mechanism that may have allowed it to take place.  A reasoned analysis, with the possibility of more tests being conducted and precise measurement data of arriving signal levels in NL becoming available at some point, suggests that the scales of credibility may now have tipped somewhat in favor of Marconi's claim.
 
This paper (which is copyrighted) summarizes the factual work undertaken at VY2ZM in 2006/2007 and admittedly includes some logical conjecture.  It may not be used without the express permission of the author.  The description of the joint efforts of the PARC and MRC in conducting the GB3SSS beacon tests is used with permission.  Special thanks are also noted to Don Toman, K2KQ, and Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, without whose help this paper never would have been possible. The reader is left to form his own opinion as to whether Marconi actually did what he said he did in 1901 or whether "he duped us all!"
 
Comments and questions about this material are most welcome at K1ZM@aol.com.  Thanks for taking a look at the material."