23/24 APRIL 2010

See photos below…

We’re pleased to report that the MRHS special event in celebration of International Marconi Day was a great success.

The event was held in cooperation with the Marconi Conference Center in Marshall, CA, site of the original 1913 Marconi trans-Pacific receiving station.  Two days of presentations and demonstrations were held in Buck Hall, originally the power house for the Marconi station.

For information about the Marconi Conference Center please see:



On Friday 23 April the event was open to students from the local schools.  Some attended the presentations in Buck Hall while others visited the Liberty ship SS JEREMIAH O’BRIEN/KXCH at Pier 45 in San Francisco.  MRHS member Denice Stoops, the ship’s R/O, was aboard to demonstrate the restored WWII Radiomarine radio console.

MRHS member Steve Hawes was aboard the Victory ship SS RED OAK VICTORY/KYVM in Richmond, CA, at the controls of the Mackay radio console he has restored.

At Buck Hall MRHS members Bill Ruck, Paul Schinn and Richard Dillman set up dual operating positions using vintage equipment.  A remote control console built by Steve Hawes allowed the transmitters at the 1913 Marconi transmitting site in Bolinas to be keyed and controlled.

Coast station KPH was on the air on 426kc and 500kc in the MF band and on 4247kc HF.  The KPH “wheel” was sent on 4Mc using a Boehme keying head and paper takes punched using a Kleinschmidt perforator

Both ships were in contact with KPH using strict commercial procedure including going UP to the 425/426kc working frequencies.  Messages on correct commercial format were exchanged in both directions.

Amateur station K6KPH was also on the air later in the evening on both days for general contacts and to allow stations to log the contact toward an award issued by the Cornish Amateur Radio Club for the International Marconi Day event.  For information about the Cornish Amateur Radio Club and International Marconi Day please see:


The receiving equipment at Buck Hall included a RCA AR-88LF for MF and HF, a National SW-3 "Thrill Box" for 3.5mc amateur work and a National HRO-5T for 3.5 and 7Mc amateur work.

The receiving antennas were a doublet for HF and a shielded loop for MF.

Transmitters on both days were the original KPH units.  On Friday these were Henry HF-5000D for KPH and K6KPH HF and MF-5000D for MF.  On Saturday classic transmitters were placed on line.

On Saturday 24 April the event was open to the public.  There was good attendance on both days with standing room only on Friday.


Event organizer Bill Ruck proved himself to be more than a transmitter engineer by arranging for excellent presentations on both days.  Bill himself gave his history of KPH while Richard Dillman gave his "Incredible Radio Tales" presentation, both illustrated with photo shows. 

Denice Stoops organized a panel of ex-KPH operators including Jack Martini, last station manager, Ray Smith, senior Morse operator and the man who sent the closing message KPH message and "Rick" Wahl, ace Morse operator.  They gave an inside view of what it was like to work at one of the premier coast stations in the world.

Paul Shinn conducted a class in Morse code for the school kids, teaching them just enough to copy his message: EAT A RAT.  This went over very well with the kids.

David Navone of Navone Engineering did a fascinating presentation on the Branley/Marconi coherer, one of the earliest detectors of radio waves.  As a physicist, Dave was able to determine the operating principle of the device.  But not being satisfied with that, he went on to manufactire replica coherers!  That's when he discovered what precision it takes to make a coherer that will work at all.  This device that seems crude to us today was actually at the cutting edge of technology at the time.  At the end of the event Dave presented one of his finely crafted coherers to the MRHS.  For information about Dave's coherers please see:


Archirtect Steve Murch, who has done much research on the grounds and buildings of the Marconi site and was in charge of the restoration of several buildings, gave an excellent talk on the history and construction of the receiving station.  He followed this with a walking tour of the site.

The MRHS wishes to offer special thanks to Kathy Wippert and her staff at the Marconi Conference Center for inviting us to participate in this event.  It could never have happened without them.  We also want to thank all the presenters who took time to be part of this event and to Denice Stoops who organized the KPH panel and the visit to SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN.  Steve Hawes stepped up to activate KYVM and be on duty at the transmitter site on Saturday.  Bill Ruck did outstanding work organizing the event for the MRHS.  And of course thanks to all those who made a special effort to attend this event at one of the most beautiful and historic radio sites still existing.


View all images as a slideshow

This special QSL card for reception reports or for contacts with K6KPH.

Opening slide of Bill Ruck's "History of KPH" presentation.

Jack Martini photo

Denice Stoops conducts a panel of ex-KPH operators.  L to R: Jack Martini, last station mananger, Ray Smith, senior Morse operator, Denice, "Rick" Wahl, ace CW operator.

Wide view of the operating setup with the kids in the foreground on Friday.

Operating position 1 in Buck Hall.  L to R: RCA AR-88LF used for MF and HF, control console, SW-3 for 3.5Mc.  Note the radio room clock on the console.

RCA AR-88LF receiver used for KPH MF and K6KPH 7Mc work. 

National SW-3 "Thrill Box" at the K6KPH 3.5Mc position.  This outstanding regenerative receiver once again demonstrated the level of performance that can be obtained with excellent engineering and construction.

Operating position 2 with HRO-5T receiver, used on 7Mc.

L to R: Vibroplex cases, land line telegraph sounder in resonator as shown in 1930s KPH photo at Marshall (the sounder is original KPH), Boehme paper tape keying head, Kleinshcmidt perferator with the essential bottle of mucilage and original KPH scissors atop.

L to R: Boehme keying head, Kleinschmidt perferator.  The KPH "wheel" was sent by the Boehme on 4Mc.

Denice Stoops meet her public as Richard Dillman handles the traffic chores.

Jack Martini photo

The shielded loop for MF reception was placed on a tripod just above Buck Hall.  The wire of one leg of the HF doublet may be seen above.

Richard Dillman takes the dictation of a radiogram to be seent to SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN.

Kathy Wippert photo

The kids were fascinated by the mill.  Best quiote: "Wow, it prints right when you press the key! Awesome!"

Students approach SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN Pier 45 San Francisco.

Kathy Wippert photo

Students ascend the gangway of SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN at Pier 45 San Francisco.

Kathy Wippert photo

Denice Stoops, RO aboard SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN/KXCH, before the WWII vintage Radiomarine console used to communicate with KPH, KSM, KYVM and other stations in the MF band.

SS RED OAK VICTORY/KYVM, part of the Richmond Museum of History/Rosie the Riveter WWII/Homefront National Historical Park, Richmond, CA

MRHS Transmitter Supervisor Steve Hawes, RO aboard SS RED OAK VICTORY/KYVM, before the Mackay radio console he restored to operation.  The console operates on the MF and HF maritime bands and on the 3.5Mc and 7Mc amateur bands under the call K6YVM.

Richard Dillman reads out messages received from SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN and SS RED OAK VICTORY.  Bill Ruck to the left, Paul Shinn seated.

Kathy Wippert photo

David Navone's superbly engineered and constructed coherer.

(c) Navone Engineering, Inc.

Architect Steve Murch (center, in dark baseball hat) conducts a walking tour of the Marconi receive site.

Kathy Wippert photo

Paul Shinn's Morse code class in progress.  Paul wisely taught them just enough to receive his special message: EAT A RAT.  The kids went wild when they decoded it.

Kids busily learning the Morse code on Friday, awaiting the fateful message EAT A RAT.