RAN Technology

Apollo 11 and Collins Radio


General Information 0 Comments 07/21/2019 

“Every American voice transmitted from space was via Collins Radio Co. equipment”

Those who may be interested in the technical details and the history of the space program leading up to Apollo should find plenty of interesting reading at this site:

https://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4204/contents.html

Used with permission.

The Manned Space Flight Network antennas operated in the S-Band, on frequencies around 2.2 GHz. The system employed was known as the "Unified S-Band System" (USB). This system combined tracking and ranging; command, voice and television into a single antenna.

S-Band frequencies were minimally attenuated by the Earth's atmosphere and were suitable for both Earth orbit and Lunar use.

A USB-equipped antenna could transmit and receive simultaneously. Voice, telemetry and television were all received together. From the Lunar Module, for example, slow-scan television was frequency modulated on the carrier, and telemetry was phase modulated on the subcarriers. In addition, the system allowed for very accurate ranging to determine the distance of the spacecraft from Earth. JPL developed the Block III Receiver Exciter and Mark I ranging system. Collins Radio developed nearly all of the remainder of the USB system.

Some Apollo-era communications modules are part of the display at the Collins Museum in Cedar Rapids.   Virtually every unit was redesigned after the tragic capsule fire in 1967 to a more modular approach that incorporated hazardous area protection techniques.  

Fortunately "space collectors" have preserved this hardware and no doubt kept at least some of it out of the landfills and scrappers.   The pictures below are from the http://www.collectspace.com  website  which is well worth a visit.

See the "Gallery" section for more photos.

 

 


    A while back I acquired a six channel HF transceiver made by the Radio Industries division of Hallicrafters, probably in the 1960s, called an SBT-20.    It is capable of 20 watts SSB or 5 watts AM (or CW with an optional board) in the range of 2-12 MHz and thus was probably aimed at commercial and light-duty military applications.   The radio could by ordered with fu...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  06/07/2021 
    I'm always thinking about interesting combinations of equipment to try out on the air.   One day while rearranging the shack I was getting ready to connect my Globe Scout Deluxe back up with a Collins 51S-1 receiver when the LED (the energy-efficient version of the old light bulb) came on.When I first started playing with DVB-T dongles back in 2012 I wanted an upconverter so I ...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  05/29/2021 
  

6AG7-6LG Novice Transmitter

Classic circuit with some modern twists
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
 There's a good chance that more homebrew ham transmitters have been built using a 6L6 than any other tube, and when combined with the superior performance of the 6AG7 oscillator, it's a hard combination to beat (click here for an explanation of the 6AG7's benefits)I'll be adding more info about this project soon, but one of my goals was to reproduce what was a budget-friendly...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  05/21/2021 
    All who operate AM in the midwest know and probably have talked to Masa, AB9MQ, who is a very active AM operator.    Having become interested in ham radio while still living in Japan in the early 1960s,  Masa's memories of the "dream rigs" is a bit differen than most US hams, and because the markets were still quite regional at the time, much of the ham gear...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  05/18/2021 
  

Hudson American Corporation

Manufacturer of marine radios in the 1940s
Category: Vintage Radio
 I enjoy playing with old marine radios that operated in the AM mode between 2-3 MHz.    This was the standard for "ship to shore" radio and telephone service from marine radio operators from after WWII until about 1970 when SSB was phased in and AM became obsolete.     Through this era a number of manufacturers were major players including RCA (Ra...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  05/02/2021 
    I've always thought that knurled aluminum knobs were a high-class option for radio gear, and while they are more durable than plastic they do accumulate tarnish, corrosion, and grunge from dirty fingers over the years and start to look poor.   Fortunately it is easy to restore them to a new attractive appearance using a bead blaster. Mine is a Harbor Freight floor-standing...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  04/29/2021 
  

Replacing C-frame fans

Boatanchor parts from the home improvement store
Category: Technical
 It's not often that you can buy a replacement part for a vintage transmitter or amplifier off the shelf at the home improvement store, but this is one example.   And since it's not a perfect drop-in replacement, here's now I adapted a new Broan-Nutone BP-27 bathroom-kitchen exhaust replacement fan to fit into a Johnson Desk Kilowatt.These small shaded-pole "C frame...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  04/23/2021 
  

My SWR Dilemma

Learning about trap dipoles and SWR
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
 When I got my Novice license in the fall of 1965, my dad had also decided that as long as he was taking me to the classes at Blue Valley Amateur Radio Club in Seward, Nebraska, he might as well try for his license too.    I was fortunate that not only were my parents supportive of my ham radio interest, but my dad could build anything.   So the first thing was a 40 f...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  04/13/2021 
  

The WRL Duo-Bander 84

An "only 50 cents per watt" transceiver
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
  Go Mobile!  That was an attractive marketing message to 1960s era hams who were enjoying the fun of operating SSB mobile, and WRL knew a low-cost rig that didn't have to be hauled back and forth to the car would be a winner.   Heathkit and Swan had already proven that with their single (mono) bander transceivers, but what if you're heading out in the middle of th...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/27/2021 
    After the conclusion of World War II, there were only about 300 radio amateurs in Japan.   In the  year 1952, the JARL reported that only 30 provisional licenses were granted.    Realizing the value of ham radio in developing a technological workforce, Japan introduced its entry level Class 4 licence in 1959 -  it would prove to be the world's most succ...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/24/2021 

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