five years absence Heath, now Sgt. Maj. (W.O I) returned to Dawson,
Aug. 16th 1933 to once more take charge of what he always, and fondly
considered "his" station. SM. Armstrong left for the Depot
a few weeks later. To Heath it was like coming home again, and in
no time at all was settled into the old familiar routine and surroundings
as if he'd never been away.
now the call sign of Dawson was no longer XWBA but, since 1929,
VEA, and some progress was being made with "short wave",
or S/W as we commonly referred to it. The more or less famous Signals
M7X, Short Wave (or S/W, or High Frequency, or HF) transmitter and
a welter of special aerials, leads and gadgets of all sorts had
been installed, and we had accumulated several modern receivers
and, incidentally, the facilities to receive occasional broadcasts
from Pacific coast stations which had recently been opened in Seattle,
San Francisco and Los Angeles.
in 1933 our broadcast reception was erratic and inconsistent. The
receivers available were mainly intended for standard broadcast
frequencies, and we were still a long way from the comparatively
low power source of the broadcasts; in addition we were just beginning
to realize that atmospheric, or ionosphere conditions greatly influenced
reception in this area, especially the reception of high frequency
of short wave signals which were then just commencing to come into
more of less general use, and it was no fault of the receiver if
signals failed completely for days at a time. Our own long wave,
or comparatively low frequency signals however, remained fairly
consistent and reliable day after day.
the summer of 1934 Red Waddell was posted to Burwash landing, a
small "Bush" station operated by the newly organized pan
American Airlines on its route from Fairbanks to Whitehorse. Instead
of another operator being posted to Dawson to replace him, we hired
a local lad to act as messenger, janitor and counter-clerk. We were
now a two operator station yet we kept the business moving as before;
but if one man went sick, or was off duty for any length of time
it made things quite awkward for the other man, because we were
still handling weather reports, and three times daily by now, at
3 am, 9am and 3 pm., plus regular traffic.
certainly missed that third operator, especially whenever trouble
developed with engine and batteries and lots of times we were on
the verge of hollering for more help or saying "to hell with
it all". Meantime, S/W was being experimented with extensively
to ascertain and check some of its peculiarities, workable and consistent
frequencies, etc. But the M7X transmitter was patterned very much
after the Signals SITD.500 long wave rig. It was the "Tuned-Grid-Tuned-Plate:"
circuit with two VT5B valves in a series feed, push-pull connections;
and, with two sets of suitable, ¼" copper tubing coils,
ranged from 19 to 54 meters. No refinements whatever. Very simply
constructed and easy to "get at". Sometimes it worked;
but often it just wouldn't. For four long years we wrestled, coaxed
and begged it to justify its existence.