History of wireless telegraphy and broadcasting in Australia/Topical/Stations/6WF Perth

6WF PerthEdit

A comprehensive article about 6WF Perth has not yet been prepared for this Wikibook, however the following resources have been assembled in preparation:

Key internet links:

Maxwell Hull, VK3ZS, Federal Historical Section WIA: biography "Walter Francis Maxwell Howden" in "Amateur Radio" of October 1983[1]

Neville Williams' biography in "When I think Back . . ." section of Electronics Australia of December 1996[2]

Tribute page by Andrew (current 3BQ callsign holder) "A3BQ (VK3BQ) a Very Historic callsign."[3] (includes several other links)

Wonderful 41 minute recording of an oral history interview with Max "Maxwell Howden interviewed by Mel Pratt ion 1972 for the Mel Pratt collection" [4]

Another excellent 35 minute recording of speech by Max in 1974 to the Radio Amateur's Old Timer's Club about amateur radio late 1910s through 1930s Youtube

Pending further progress on the foregoing, the following lovely article from Melbourne's Table Talk, summarising Max's life to 1927, and accompanied by a wonderful caricature touches briefly on how much Max contributed to the development of wireless in Australia in the 1920s

Prominent Personalities. Written by C. R. Bradish. MAX HOWDEN, A RADIO PIONEER. Illustrated by L. F. REYNOLDS. WHY Max Howden allowed a good part of his countenance to retire behind a mass of foliage to give zest to the suspicion that he was either learning painting under Max Meldrum or Bolshevism under Zinobiffsky is, of course, his own affair, but the probable explanation is that he was too busy to shave. When a comparative infant in his early twenties cheerfully stays up late, not for the pastimes that keep most of us out of bed, but for the business of experimenting in wireless, shaving is frequently superfluous and may even become a serious interruption to the scientific purposes of life. Anyhow, Max, christened Maxwell by his parents in his baptism, has allowed his beard to grow and is so content with the innovation that he can gaze without any noticeable increase of pulse on the prettiest shaving soap advertisements and all those other subtly-worded communiques offering miraculous safety razors for immaterial prices. Max Howden is an uncommon young man. To the average listener-in who takes his evening fill of talk on beet growing or fowl-raising interspersed with orchestral selections from the works of Professor Whizzbang, the name of Howden is little known, but to the scattered world of experimentalists he is one of the Columbuses of the ether, a fellow of infinite worth and enterprise. What he has done will go down in the records to remind us of an unflinching pioneering spirit in the face of all sorts of difficulties and discouragements. Remember that he took up the problem of long-distance wireless when it was being cradled in the lap of officialdom. Apparatus was crude and expensive, and other conditions governing research were not attractive. At the beginning Max Howden was allowed to experiment under Permit No. 19 issued by the Navy Office. He was keen, and he possessed a patience and perseverance that nothing could affect. At first he employed a double slide tuner and crystal detector and started to pick up the ships and Australian coastal stations — then considered something like an invigorating mental adventure, though it is hardly ten years ago. Howden, a practised reader of Morse, heard the calls going back and forward for several months, all the while developing his apparatus, but never assuaging his consuming thirst for experiment. Soon he was listening to the messages thrown into the void by the V.L.A. station in New Zealand, and with this awoke the ambition to have the whole world of wireless audible and build a machine that would leap oceans and establish two way communication. In 1920 a boon of great price came into his hands. The first shipment of valves, a mean half-dozen in all, was landed in Melbourne, and he was lucky to get one. It may interest the present-day amateur to learn that those valves were 65/ each, which will give some idea of the high cost of wireless to a moderate pocket. With the single valve installed Howden's range of reception was vastly increased. Though he is now hardened to the sensations of discovery and achievement, he can still recall the thrill when he distinctly heard JOC (Japan) on a wave length of 600 metres. After that exploit several other high-powered stations studding the globe practically became next-door neighbors. Among them was POZ, of Nauen, Germany, celebrated be fore and during the war; FL, attached to the Eiffel Tower, Paris; YL, at Lyons, in the South of France; MUU, of Carnarvon, Wales; and NAA, of Arlington, America. By this time Howden was hard at it. To him wireless had attained the proportions of a fashionable vice. Whilst other young men were wearing their feet sore in the company of syncopated dirges, or were sitting up late trying to make four aces grow where one grew before he was among his instruments, experimenting with R valves, Muirhead Amplifying valves and what not, and losing sleep with the stoicism popularly associated with scientific work. Hereabouts he built his own audio frequency transformer to use additional amplication and received his first transmitting licence, he first practising on a wave length of 400 to 440 metres. Shortly after the Government kept that wave length exclusively for commercial purposes, and amateurs were then only permitted to play with a wave length not exceeding 250 metres. That did not deter Master Howden. As he proved afterwards, no arbitrary rules about wave lengths could keep a resourceful expert isolated from the world abroad. As a matter of fact, just about the height of the first trans-Pacific tests his own specially designed simplex receiver picked up 23 American amateur stations on a 200-metre wavelength, which was an unprecedented patch of purple in the history of wireless experiment in this country. Thereafter he settled down to experiments in transmission, and he and others, including the brilliant Maclurcan, of Sydney, collectively developed shortwave apparatus. His first great success, after infinite endeavor, was to signal through to California. This happened on November 2, 1924, with a wave length of only 87 metres, and Howden's elation in the circumstances can be imagined. Two nights later 1SF (Boston) reported that a message from Howden had leapt the Pacific and the American continent and had been picked up intact. But an even finer triumph was to follow. A little after five in the morning of November 13, the same year, Mr Simmonds, a clever English amateur, officially known as G2OD, heard his call, and in a few seconds he was talking to Simmonds — which was the first two-way wireless communication between England and Australia. That is not the full story of his work, but it must suffice. It indicates in some measure the temperament of the man and the cool, relentless striving that has won him his position in this strange new science. A curious man, this, with a face paled by long vigils and with eyes lighted by the fanaticism of one who has dedicated a life to a passion. The technics of wireless slip off his tongue as glibly as the prayers of a Buddhist monk, and I doubt if he has in recent years ever mentioned any other subject with animation. He has that strange gift of concentration on one thing which marks men of high talent.[5]

  1. https://worldradiohistory.com/hd2/IDX-AUSTRALIA/IDX/Amateur-Radio/80s/Amateur-Radio-AU-1983628.pdf
  2. http://messui.polygonal-moogle.com/valves/NW199612.pdf
  3. https://www.vk3bq.com/2014/10/29/a3bq-vk3bq-callsign/
  4. Howden, Maxwell, 1899-1980; Pratt, Mel, -1986 (1972-04-04), "Maxwell Howden interviewed by Mel Pratt for the Mel Pratt collection", Mel Pratt collection [sound recording], retrieved 12 February 2021{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. "Prominent Personality MAX HOWDEN". Table Talk (Victoria, Australia) (3112): p. 17. 29 December 1927. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article146842335. Retrieved 8 February 2021.