November 2023


Our annual business meeting will occur during the Christmas party on Thursday, December 28th, 2023. Save the Date! The meeting will be our required year-end Society member’s meeting, to include an annual review, election of 2024 officers and board members. (I promise the business portion of the event will be very short.) We will need a list of attendees, including guests, and the sides or desserts each party will bring. As usual, the Society will provide the main course. Details will follow as the date gets nearer. See you there!

In accordance with AHRS Bylaws, the annual Nominating Committee (Dave Johnson as chairman, “Doc” Holladay, and John Outland, board representative and member Maurice Hill) are finalizing the slate of candidates to stand for election at the year-end business meeting and Christmas party. All current officers (President, Vice-President, Recording Secretary, and Treasurer) and the three term-expiring board members have offered to serve again. However, we will accept nominees from the floor or if anyone is interested, please make your desire known to the Nominating Committee or an officer listed at the bottom of this newsletter. One simply requirement is the nominee must be a dues-paying member, in good standing.

Speaking of dues, 2024’s will soon be due and you will be hearing from Mike Woodruff, our treasurer shortly. Dues can be paid by cash, check or through Paypal on the Society’s website The mailing address is AHRS, P.O Box 131418, Birmingham. Alabama 35213 or you can give your payment to an officer the next time you are at the Shop.

AHRS again participated at the Montgomery Hamfest on Saturday, November 11, 2023. Thanks to all who assisted. Despite all the competing events (from Veterans Day to an active football Saturday), the Society considered the event a success.

Boyd Bailey’s December 2nd electronics class (in person and via Zoom), should complete the topic of capacitors. The Zoom link will be sent soon. Our shop tube testers should be in excellent shape and an upcoming class may discuss this subject. Speaking of tubes: John Outland continues to be in charge of our collection and hosted a “sorting party” Saturday morning November 18th 2023. By all accounts this effort was successful and should really help in locating replacements. Thanks to all who participated!

Our next auction will be after the first of the year, as we restock items and enter the Holiday season. We culled the herd recently by removing some consoles that have been in our downstairs storage with no member interest or likelihood of being restored.

Sometimes the unfortunate happens; some miscreant has engaged in hacking and spear-phishing at least one AHRS member. For transparency, the officers have put our contact information on brochures and in the newsletter, which perhaps invites such activity. Specifically, my name and Mike Woodruff’s were used but the email associated with me is bogus; I have an AOL account. Further, the Society will never ask anyone but an officer or designated board member to pay for any financial obligation to a third party on behalf of AHRS. We do not use Venmo. Financial obligations of a member (eg, dues, payment for parts or an auction item) can be paid by cash, check, or PayPal, but only to the Treasurer (Mike) or a known leadership designee and certainly not solicited by text or email. If you suspect such an effort directed at you, feel free to contact the Society leadership or a board member. This is the email received by the member:

On a positive note, AHRS has had a long and collegial relationship with the Alabama Broadcasters Association and its president Sharon Tinsley. On November 14th we donated, the Detrola radio highlighted in last month’s newsletter. It was restored originally by Tom Hayes and was checked and brought back to operability by Dave Johnson, Steve Musch, and Ray Giles. The radio receives AM & Short Wave broadcasts and was manufactured in Detroit about 1939-1940.

Sharon Tinsley, ABA President, and Wag at ABA headquarters.
The AHRS delegation from right to left: Dee Haynes, Dave Johnson, Steven Westbrook, and me (with the radio). Members Tom Killian and Dave Cisco were unable to attend. To my left are ABA President Sharon Tinsley and staff members Lesa Rice and Tina Kunze.(Photo by Sharon’s husband.)

Our project to catalog library and radio holdings and place this information into a web-searchable platform known as Pastperfect is continuing. I will update the membership on our progress in upcoming newsletters and be on the lookout for a call for volunteers.

Finally, we completed some financial housekeeping this month, including purchasing a 13-month CD with a very competitive interest rate.

As always, please suggest topics for the newsletter and programs for the monthly business meetings.

Respectfully submitted in the spirit of the Holiday Season,


President, AHRS

Alabama on the Edge of Technology---again

As we all may have noticed, the rest of the country tends to look down their collective noses at the south, as a whole, thinking we are somewhat slow and not up the challenges of the modern world.  I tend to disagree … We have to look no further than that at the various major facilities of NASA, located in Houston, Texas, Mississippi and our own Huntsville, Alabama to make my point. Not only is NASA in Huntsville, by also the US Military seems to like us also, since Redstone Arsenal is there and possibly the headquarters of Space Force (if the politicians will get out of the way)

I have reprinted two articles below relating to the issue. The first is about the first “Space Fence” program, which had a transmitter facility at Lake Jordan, Alabama and the second involves the second incarnation of “space fence” being based in Huntsville, Alabama.

Alabamians can be proud they are doing their part to expand human knowledge of the universe and maybe help maintain a peaceful earth.


“Space Fence 1.0”

The AN/FPS-133 Air Force Space Surveillance System, colloquially known as the Space Fence, was a U.S. government multistatic radar system built to detect orbital objects passing over America. It is a component of the U.S. space surveillance network, and according to the U.S. Navy was able to detect basketball sized (75 cm (30 in)) objects at heights up to 30,000 km (19,000 mi).

The system ceased operation in September 2013. Plans for a new space fence are underway with sites at the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, along with an option for another radar site in Western Australia.

The operation's headquarters were at Dahlgren, Virginia, and radar stations were spread out across the continental United States at roughly the level of the 33rd parallel north.

There were three transmitter sites in the system:

·         216.983 MHz at Lake Kickapoo, Texas ( 33°32′47″N 98°45′46″W) (Master transmitter)

·         216.970 MHz at Gila River, Arizona ( 33°06′32″N 112°01′45″W)

·         216.990 MHz at Jordan Lake, Alabama ( 32°39′33″N 86°15′52″W)

The master transmitter at Lake Kickapoo was said to be the most powerful continuous wave (CW) station in the world, at 768 kW radiated power on 216.97927 MHz.

When the system became operational in 1961, the original frequency was 108.50 MHz (just above the FM broadcast band). In 1965, the "Fence" system was modernized with the operating frequency doubled to 216.98 MHz (just above Channel 13 in the VHF TV broadcast band) to obtain higher resolution and to locate smaller objects. This frequency was used until the “Fence” was decommissioned in 2013. Fill-in transmitter sites at Gila River and Jordan Lake, Alabama used offset frequencies listed above from the early 1990s to 2013 to help better detect which transmitter "illuminated" an object in space, as multiple transmitters could have illuminated the same object at the same time. Overhead imagery (see coordinates given above) of the Gila River and Jordan Lake, Alabama sites shows the original design at the lower frequency.


Swinging for the Space Fence 2.0

  • Published April 7, 2020
  • By Erica Blanton
  • 21st Space Wing Public Affairs


The 20th Space Control Squadron Detachment 4 at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama manages a fence. But not just any fence. A Space Fence. I know what you’re thinking…is it actually a giant fence in space? Kind of…yes, and kind of no. It’s a radar. On the ground. And now it’s operational.

The Space Fence is made up of a ground-based sensor that broadcasts constant bands of energy (like fence posts) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in an east to west surveillance direction about 1,900 miles out; this is called the Field of Regard. Any object that passes through those “posts”— debris, satellites, even the International Space Station— is automatically tracked. This is an improvement from other radars where an object’s location needs to be known in order to track it.

The Space Fence operations center is at Redstone Arsenal, but the radar itself is located at 20th SPCS Operating Location Alpha on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. It’s equatorial location, as well as the high wave frequency the radar will operate at, aids in detecting and tracking nanosatellites and debris measuring less than 10 centimeters. This is due in part to the Gallium Nitride (GaN) powered S-band radars in use by the Space Fence. GaN transistors can operate at higher temperatures, frequencies and voltages, making them high-efficiency amplifiers for the radar.

“The mission is space domain awareness,” said Maj. Bryan Sanchez, 20th SPCS Det. 4 commander. “Space Fence provides the Space Surveillance network with enhanced SDA in all orbital altitudes, a better revisit rate of objects in low-Earth orbit, and an increased capability to create initial orbit determination on new objects. We’re expected to field this capability to achieve actionable space domain characterization.”

The radar isn’t just for tracking items. It monitors movement from low-Earth orbit (altitude of 400 to 1,200 miles) to geosynchronous orbit (altitude of 22,236 miles that allows satellites to match Earth’s orbit) as well as the spacing of objects. Cast-off pieces of satellites or rockets, collisions between objects and general deterioration, increases the amount of space debris as well as the risk of future collisions, which then creates even more debris that needs to be tracked. More debris, more problems.

“Space Fence satellite observation collections are forwarded to the 18 Space Control Squadron, on Vandenberg Air Force Base, where it is integrated with other space surveillance data sources”, said Robert Pascal, 18th SPCS technical director.  “The additional capabilities provide improvements to enterprise revisits rates of resident space objects and increases quality of their positional accuracies.  Ultimately, the Space Fence improves USSPACECOM’s Space Domain Awareness and human spaceflight safety.”

What does this mean? The U.S. military considers space a warfighting domain, just like land, sea and air. So the most current, and even predictive, information we can gather to identify, characterize and understand factors that can impact space operations makes our nation and its allies better prepared to act against potential threats. Those threats can impact lives, especially those exploring space in person.

“You’ve seen the pictures of what looks like a million dots of all the satellites and debris out there, traveling at speeds that are almost impossible to imagine,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Nick Hague, NASA astronaut. “To witness firsthand, crawling inch-by-inch along the outside of the ISS, where debris have dented or even blown holes through protective panels. The mission that Team Pete is doing in terms of creating awareness of what’s up there keeps us alive and makes it possible to explore space.”

So, 21st Space Wing team: keep up the hard work, because whether you know it or not you are the reason we can discover space. As the old saying goes, “Swing for the Space Fence because if you miss you’ll still land among the satellites.”  Or something like that…

Quotes of the Month

I know the earth is round, because if it was flat my cat would have already pushed everything over the edge.


Another opinion:

We all know that if the earth was either ball-shaped, or frisbee shaped, the dogs would have slobbered all over it and chewed it to pieces.


Galileo was not put in prison because he was wrong about anything he discovered looking through his telescope; rather, he was incarcerated simply because he saw what others did not wish to see.

-Brim Jonathan Butler

The offerings at a Northern Ireland coffee shop or just good advise for any radio repair person?

We meet every Saturday (unless a Holiday weekend) at 8:30 A.M. until around 11:30 A.M., at the one-story AHRS Shop at the corner of 8th Avenue North and 18th Street, (1801 8th Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203). Please use the rear (Southeast) entrance.

The Shop is open on Tuesdays at 8:30 A.M. until around 11:30 A.M. Note that parking can be a problem on Tuesdays, so you may have to find street parking occasionally.

Regular monthly members meetings are on the fourth Monday night starting at 7:00 PM with the Executive Meeting starting at 6:30 PM

Please come join us!

The electronics classes are generally on “Zoom” and “in-person” at the AHRS Shop, typically the first Saturday of each month (except when something special is taking place, then we agree on an alternative Saturday)

Check your emails for the schedule and how to participate.

We start from the beginning Ohms Law, inductors, resistor and Capacitors color codes, as well as what each component does within the radio circuits. We also teach how to use test equipment used in the repairing of radios. We teach troubleshooting radio troubles, as well as how to read a radio diagram.

Currently the class is studying advance topics relating to troubleshooting and project radio repair. We are retooling our website in hopes of archiving prior classes for those who may have missed a prior class. Email will provide timely details on date, topics & links.

There are coil winding classes, and one-on-one repair help. Come join these classes!

Membership dues are $25.00 a year, payable beginning in January. If you have questions about your dues, you can contact Treasurer Mike Woodruff at 205-823-7204. Dues can be mailed to AHRS at P.O. Box 131418, Birmingham, Alabama 35213 or paid on-line at

Be sure and check out our website at, which has copies of all newsletters from 2006 to the present (click on News), videos, photo galleries, museum, Old Time Radio columns, Projects, Reading Rooms, Archives, and Contact Information. Within the next few months we hope to update our website and add additional content and new capabilities

President – Richard “Wag” Waguespack

(205) 531-9528

Vice President – Steven Westbrook

(205) 305-0679

Recording Secretary – Grady Shook

(205) 281-3007

Treasurer – Mike Woodruff

(205) 823-7204

Boyd Bailey, Member and Instructor

(334) 412-6996

Newsletter Editor/Webmaster – Steven Westbrook

(205) 305-0679

Web Address:

E-mail Address:

Youtube Channel: Alabama Historical Radio Society - YouTube