W6BB History According To The Members
According to the January 1923 issue of CALIFORNIA ENGINEER, the University of California Radio Club was formally established in the Mechanic’s Building in February of 1914. (Matt Trail, KN6CR, Amateur Historian, 8/25/1993) Early experimental stations in Berkeley, California:
- 1913 6XR Frank Rieber
- 1914 6XB University of California
- 1921 6XK Bernard F. McNamee
- 1921 6XM University of California
According to the U.S. Special Land Stations: 1913-1921 Recap by Thomas H. White — October 7, 2000, the sixth United States and first West Coast expermental call sign 6XR was issued on or before 7/1/1913 to Frank Rieber in Berkeley, California. This Frank Rieber may have been the scientist, Frank Rieber, who was the son of Dr. Charles Henry Rieber. Frank graduated from Berkeley High School and received his B.S. degree in 1915 from the University of California. The Charles H. Rieber house at 15 Canyon Road, built in 1904, is Berkeley City historical landmark #217 (LPC #216). I do not know if Frank operated from on campus or not, but he may have.The experimental radio station call sign 6XB was issued to the University of California between 1/1/1914 and 4/1/1914. It appeared in Supplement No. 3 to the 7/1/1913 Radio Stations of the United States published 4/1/1914. Supplement No. 2 was published 1/1/1914. This is consistent with the club being formed in February of 1914.Commercial and amateur radio operation was suspended for World War I on 4/7/1917. Civilians were not allowed to possess radio transmitters. Call signs appear to have been reissued following the war. The experimental radio station call sign 6XM was issued to the University of California in 1921. (Amateur radio call sign 6BB may have been issued about this time. This needs to be researched further.) The call sign 6XB was assigned to another station. “KFDB, a commercial 1,500 watt radio station in San Francisco, began operation in August 1922 using the experimental call sign 6XB;” and “KQI, an educational station operated by the University of California in Berkeley, hadn’t been on the air a month before it folded for some long-forgotten reason” according to EARLY BROADCASTING INTHE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, STATIONS THAT DIDN’T SURVIVE: 1920-25 by John F. Schneider (1997). KQI is listed in 1923 with the assigned frequency of 833 KHz. (Educational FM radio station KALX at U.C. Berkeley began broadcasting in 1967.)(William Wells, WB6NLL, 10/21/2005)That same list [U.S. Special Land Stations 1913-1921 Recap] shows another Cal license 6XM issued in 1921. Right next to 6XM is 6XK, issued to my grandpa Bernard F. McNamee, who was a business partner in Berkeley with Lee DeForest, the inventor of the vacuum tube (or so DeForest claimed). 73 de WB6PIO P.S.: In those days radio licenses came from the Dept. of Commerce, whose Secretary was a certain Stanford geology Ph.D. who later became president of the U.S. And whose son served many years as the president of the A.R.R.L., into my own childhood memory.(Bernie Walp, WB6PIO, 10/20/2005)
From: Matt KN6CR, President The club no longer has our pre-WWII archives, so I’ve been doing a little digging to recover some our early history. The following is still somewhat sketchy, … I have a slightly more detailed account …
- 1914 First wireless messages from government station in Arlington are received on longwire stretching from top of unfinished Campanile to Mechanics building.
- 1916 First mention in Daily Cal of University Radio Society.
- Club broadcasts Big Game (with Washington) from bleachers. Club enters Carnegie foundation sponsored League of University Wireless Clubs to relay news, sports, etc.
- 1917 Club helps government radio inspector to rid Bay Area of pesky, interfering unlicensed radio stations!
- Reference to “special experimental license granted to club”.
- 1921 First commercial wireless operator’s license to woman, Barbara Burks ’24.
- 1921 Charter affiliation with ARRL. (They don’t have any record, tho’.)
- 1923 Club broadcasts alumni banquet; heard around country. Club establishes university substation for Oakland Tribune’s 500 watt transmitter.
- 1927 New distance record HF contact for club–Australia, 40 meters, 10 watts.
- 1929 License W6BB granted.
- 1930′s Club appears to be pretty inactive until 1939 reorganization. Repeated references to acting as wire service for campus papers.
- 1946 Club reactivated after WWII; gets donated Signal Corps equipment and has shack in men’s gym.
- 1950 Club (re)affiliated with 1950 (we have this certificate; first ARRL HQ record on us.
- 1954 Club now on 5 bands with 30 members. We have shack in Cory Hall for next 30 years, when we are displaced and homeless for 4 yrs.
Anyways, there is more, but this covers the highlights of the earlier decades.(Matt Trail, KN6CR, 8/14/1993)
I operated W6BB while I was in grad school during 1958-1960. At that time the transmitters were a Collins CW rig and a Navy surplus TDE (as I remember) for AM. There were a number of surplus (mostly Navy) receivers. The antennae were a 20 meter beam and several wires with tuners. No VHF (that was before 2 meter FM).(Jack Mackinnon, K6TYF, 10/21/2005)
Matt Trail (KN6CR, now AF4RF) was president ’92 to ’93, Bill Johnson (KN6OT, myself) was either VP or Treasurer. ’93 to ’95: Bill Johnson, president. James Chesko, VP, I believe. Tim Ikeda I believe was treasurer. After that year, it was pretty much Chesko and Erik Swanberg running the show.(Bill Johnson, KN6OT, 11/21/2005)
The UC Amateur Radio Club, W6BB, will hold its fall general meeting and election on Tuesday, October 27, 1992 at 7pm in the shack, 247 Hesse Hall on the north side of the UC campus. From Hearst and Euclid, enter the new gate and turn left behind Northgate Hall. Hesse is your next right. Enter through the rightmost huge wooden doors and come up the stairs. Talkin on 146.43 MHz simplex. This meeting is open to anyone interested in Amateur Radio, and will include our annual election of officers. The club has a mentorship program and study materials to assist you in getting licensed. There is now a license that requires only a 55 question multiple choice test and no knowledge of Morse code. Getting on the air is easy. Our social meetings are at noon every 2nd and 4th Friday in the glade just east of Sather Gate on the UC Berkeley campus. Talk-in on 146.43. The Bears Net is every Wednesday and Friday at noon on 146.43 simplex. All Bay Area hams are welcome to check in. 73, Bob KJ6CS(Bob Tidd, KJ6CS, 10/2/1992) Shack hours with the new Kenwood 440s have been inaugurated! They are Tuesdays, 4-6 PM (or whenever!). Of course, please feel free to operate the shack earlier or whenever. If you need to be checked out on the rig or need the locker combination for the keys, give me a shout at mtrail@violet or at 658-3647. If you can’t make it, give a shout on 146.43 and check in there! Recent DX include Argentina, Luxembourg, South Cook Island, Sakhalin Island, and the Philippines! Stop by!! 73 73 73 Matt(Matt Trail, KN6CR, 11/20/1992) The shack has been relocated to 243 Hesse Hall (2 rooms down from the old site.) Both antenna leads have been relocated and the HF and 2 meter rigs are operational.(Matt Trail, KN6CR, 11/24/1992)
The UC A.R.C., W6BB, and the Northern Alameda County Races group in Berkeley will once again be operating Field Day from the Lawrence Hall of Science, June 26-27. Our next Friday meeting at the Bear’s Lair (May 14) will be partially devoted to planning for Field Day. Please come, or contact hams@violet if you’re interested in participating this year. Two other brief qst’s: Our Memo of Understanding with the university police department regarding emergency communications is making progress once again. Stay tuned. The Police Department is making favorable noises about putting up HF antennas on Sproul or between Sproul and neighboring buildings, and about giving us room 36. We plan on running a test in the near future to see whether a HF rig would qrm their communications. Meanwhile, as nothing is guaranteed in life, we are still exploring other shack site possibilities.(Matt Trail, KN6CR, 5/5/1993) Scott Kamena, ASUC Exec VP, informs me that the club will almost certainly be given a room on the sixth floor of Eshleman Hall. We’ll know for sure on Monday, but it’s all but ours. We can move in July 1st.(Matt Trail, KN6CR, 5/23/1993) SHACK HOURS: We plan to begin shack hours in our Eshleman shack again, hopefully starting this week. At the moment, we are planning on Fridays, from 4-6??. This schedule could be expanded, depending on interest and willingness on the part of members to act as “hosts”/organizers. Give a shout on 146.43. Of course, the shack is also open to dues-paying members who have been checked out on the equipment whenever the building is open.(Matt Trail, KN6CR, 9/13/1993)
NAME: University of California Amateur Radio Club, W6BB ADDRESS: 300 Eshleman Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley CA 94720 CLUB OFFICERS President: James Chesko AB6YH chesko AT csa3.lbl.gov VP: Michael Dahl KC6UFR michaeld AT uclink.berkeley.edu Secretary/treas: Jeanne Luce KE6DQW jeanluc AT cmsa.berkeley.edu REPEATERS: None CLUB STATION: Kenwood TS-440s/at, linear amp, 40 meter dipole, PK-232, Azden PCS-2000 2 meter rig, a couple 440 HTs, miscellanea. ORGANIZATIONS: ARRL affiliated since 1949 (our records say it goes back to 1921, but ARRL has no record of this) YEAR STARTED: 1914 NUMBER OF MEMBERS: 22 voting members, roster of around 75 BANDS ACTIVE: HF bands, 2 meter and 440 (some sat work) E-MAIL ADDRESSES: general membership: W6BB AT violet.berkeley.edu officers/board: hams AT violet.berkeley.edu HISTORY: I worked on this last year. Essentially, we were formed in 1914 as one of the first stations on the west coast. We started DX receiving experiments at this time, and soon established skeds with the University of Washington and a few other schools. Our first call was 6BB and dates back to at least 1920. I think one of our members was the first woman to get a commercial radiotelephone operators license in 1924. Early on we were also connected with the commercial station here at Cal, and did early broadcasts from football games, alumni dinners, etc. Club fell into decline in the 1930′s, but was revived after the war, and has followed typical boom and bust cycles since.(University and School Amateur Radio Club List Version .06, 2/14/1995 Attributed to Matt Trail, c. 1994)
We got another first place certificate from the ARRL today. This time it’s for first place in the East Bay section for limited multi-op in the January VHF-UHF contest. Also, this last weekend W6BB was on top of Bald Mountain, near Fresno, for the June VHF contest. Our score looks to be a little over 25,000 points, which is the highest we’ve ever gotten for a VHF contest. A 6 meter opening on Sunday let us work as far away as Georgia and Canada, with 41 (I think) grid squares on 6. Thanks to those generous enough to let us barrow equipment. Till next time Erik Swanberg President, UC Amateur Radio Club(Erik Swanberg, 6/11/1996) W6BB appears to have gone off the air about August of 1998 before Erik Swanberg left for graduate school at Georgia Tech. in September 1998.
I started on campus in October of 2005, Fritz, K6EE started in September of 2005. All that remained of W6BB were a few Faculty and a handful of others who were on the W6BB Listserv. We held one meeting at a pub on Telegraph (anyone recall the name?). It was well-attended by members old and new. We nominated Johnathan Ritzi (AG6JR) as club president. During the remaining part of the year we drafted what later became our Charter. A few issues we face:
- Office of Student Life strictly forbids the use of the word “University” or “UC” as part of club names.
- we no longer have a space for our station
- our equipment has disappeared
- UC liability issues with us working on antennas on the tops of buildings
- reaching a consensus and keeping members motivated to keep working at making this an active club again in spite of increasingly-busy schedules
(Jack Burris, K6JEB, 2005)
Earlier this year in January a few of us registered with W5YI as volunteer examiners. Fritz Sommer (K6EE), Johnathan Ritzi (AG6JR), and me Jack Burris (K6JEB) are the W6BB VEC! Fall 2006 and it seems like the club is going to be revived. We got enough signatories and drew up a charter (we hope it will serve well, but it will need some editing in further iterations). Our first meeting for the academic year was at La Val’s Pizza 1834 Euclid Ave, Berkeley. Mal Raff (WA2UNP) brought in a hefty folder full of W6BB history which we scanned-in and posted to our website w6bb.org.(Jack Burris, K6JEB, September 7, 2006)