What broke down in the Marconi room?


Mar 3, 1998
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Sam,

Virginian could not have heard any land station where she was. Titanic had the highest and longest aerial out there, and she could just pick up Cape Race. Even MWL couldn't hear MCE.

I don't doubt that Virginian heard Titanic. What I doubt are the times. How sure are we that the clocks aboard the Virginian were set properly, or translated correctly into Titanic ship time?

Parks
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Sam,

I didn't answer your other question. I am restricting myself to Titanic's apparatus, maybe also Britannic's, depending on what happens later this year.

Parks
 

Dave Gittins

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Actually, Virginian could hear Cape Race and was in touch at 11-50 NYT on 14 April. See her PV, which you no doubt have. Carpathia, even further away, could hear Cape Cod.

Personally, I'm inclined to think Virginian heard Titanic, if only because the signal dropped out. As to the time, she was only using a mechanical clock and it might have been out a bit, though not a lot, because of the TRs the ships exchanged.

The whole radio story is queer. I'd like to hear the opinion of an expert on skip distances. It's odd that some stations heard signals that others missed.
 

liam forber

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Mar 8, 2006
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why the hell did the moarse code machine no idea what its called break down i read that shortly after the collison it gave up doesnt that stay on as long as the power is on and that stayed on till the very end

[Moderator's Note: This message, originally posted as a separate thread under a different topic, has been moved to this pre-existing one. MAB]
 
Mar 3, 1998
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OK, Dave, point taken. I shouldn't have spoken so off-the-cuff, as I am distracted by another matter at the moment.

Sam and Yuri, if you want to pursue the possibility that Virginian heard some stray signal, then I won't argue. But I won't support the notion, either. My only advice to you will be to not forget Occam's razor.

Parks
 
Mar 22, 2003
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What I can tell you Dave is that radio propagation at night, especially during active sunspot cycles, can be very unpredictable and subject to slow fading. The Northern lights were quite active that night as reported by those in the boats. It does not surprise me that Virginian may have been able to pick up a stronger signal than the Carpathia or Mount Temple although it was much further away. I'm just saying that it wrong to assume that those two faint Vs and later a faint CQ came from the Titanic. There was no confirmation. I believe the last transmission heard very faintly by the Virginian at 12:10 AM NY time was the last sent by Phillips as it matches what Bride said was done before they abandoned the wireless cabin.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Sam,

You and I will have to disagree. I found forensic evidence in the Silent Room that supports the letter "V"s coming from MGY. My detailed reasoning on this, though, I'm saving for my book.

I don't have evidence to support the faint CQD from MGY at the end. Here, though, I defer to Occam's razor and assume that it was as the Virginian claimed.

Parks
 
Mar 3, 1998
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My book was owed to the publisher this Spring. However, my unforseen work on these TV documentaries has caused me to delay putting my pen to paper. And now, there may be a chance later this summer for me to gather more information that could be used to write the final chapters of the book. So, maybe this Autumn?

Parks
 

Inger Sheil

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Fingers crossed for Autumn, Parks - but as it looks like the information is still coming in steadily and expanding your knowledge and interpretation all the time, I'm content to wait until you feel it's ready to go!
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Ing,

As you probably know, it's hard to draw the line and commit yourself. But, I know that it's got to be done and so it will be. Some day.

Parks
 
May 3, 2005
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Assuming that Phillips had been working Cape Race just prior to the collision....would Cape Race have picked up the Titanic's CQD/SOS and relayed it (re-transmitted it) ? This is a point that all the Titanic movies fail to mention ?
 
May 3, 2005
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There was also a story (Probably should check into this more before posting this) that a young David Sarnoff picked up Titanic's distress message in New York. Just for the sake of my own fiction, would it have been possible to have been received at Cedar Rapids, Iowa by a young teen-aged "Ham Radio Operator" named "Ben Calvert" ?
I was going to write Arthur A. Collins into the story, but he would have only been 3 years old in 1912.....He would have to have been even more of a "wireless" child prodigy than he was later when he was 15 years old ? LOL.
 
May 3, 2005
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Michael Standart, Parks Stephenson..and others in the field of expertise :

PS- In the "I have heard" category, "I have heard" there was unusual aurora borealis and other atmospheric activity that night affecting "wireless " on the late night and early morning hours of 14-15 April 1912.
Could the Titanic's signals have been heard in other parts of the world due to "skip" conditions ? Were there any reports of this in historic records ?
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Robert,

Sorry, I was occupied elsewhere.

To answer your question about Sarnoff, people who repeat the myth often forget that Wanamaker's (where his station was located) was closed on Sunday. Sarnoff would have arrived Monday morning, in time to receive messages relayed from other ships and shore stations. He did not hear Titanic's call directly. Read "Empire of the Air" for a factual look at Sarnoff and the early days of wireless.

So many wireless stations, both land-based and sea-borne, professional and amateur, began buzzing with news of the disaster on the morning of the 15th that it's impossible to track the path that the news took to the public. Ships relayed information, land stations picked them up and passed them along. The clamour and confusion got so bad that the American Marconi Co. asked the US Government to close down all stations north of Hatteras, except for 4 stations to handle Carpathia exclusively. Department of Justice officials raced around, trying to trace the origin of unauthorised signals. Read "SOS to the Rescue" for more on this.

I am not aware of any reports of Titanic's signals being directly received by anyone other than the ships in the area. Some may have been outside Titanic's theoretical range.

Parks
 
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>>Could the Titanic's signals have been heard in other parts of the world due to "skip" conditions ?<<

If what "You Heard" is accurate, it's possible as far as I know. I can't say for sure since I'm no expert on radio technology. Like Parks, I'm not aware of any accounts of the Titanic's signals being recieved by anyone outside of the ship's range. That doesn't mean there isn't some notation sitting forgotten in some dusty old station log, but if it's there, it hasn't seen daylight in 94 years.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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>That doesn't mean there isn't some notation sitting forgotten in some dusty old station log, but if it's there, it hasn't seen daylight in 94 years.

Or it could be that our research is not thorough enough.

Parks
 
Mar 22, 2003
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This discussion of skip distances, etc., brings me back to my earlier career days at Bell Labs when I worked in a radio research department in Holmdel, NJ. What I could say about propagation at Medium Frequencies (300 to 3000 KHz ) is that nighttime range was far greater than daytime range by about two to three times because of sky wave propagation; that is refraction off the F layer of the ionosphere. During the day, distance is limited by what we call ground wave propagation. There is no sky wave during the day at these frequencies because of absorption by the D layer which disappears at night. On occasion, there can be multiple hops at night between the ionosphere and the Earth extending coverage to very great distances. Usually, there is much more propagation loss in these multiple hop cases requiring very sensitive receivers to detect the transmissions, something not readily available in 1912.

The term "skip distance" is usually used in the wrong sense. It is the distance from the transmitter to the point where the sky wave is first returned to Earth. The skip zone is a region of silence, a dead zone, between the point where the ground wave becomes too weak to be detected and the point where the sky wave is first returned to Earth. When the skip distance is short enough that there is no zone of silence, then there is no skip zone. However, in a region where the sky wave and ground wave may be of near equal intensity, there could be severe fading caused by the sky wave alternately reinforcing and canceling the ground wave. This is due to the longer path that the sky wave has to travel that brings it in and out of phase with the ground wave. This, at times, would make it difficult to detect signals in addition to any other impairments caused by interference from other stations fading in and out, as well as any added atmospheric noise disturbances.

The energetic particles that come from the sun to create the visible aurora alter the ionospheric layers that affect radio propagation. These incoming particles cause rapid radio signal fading called fluttering as a result of changes to the multiple paths that the radio waves take during these disturbances. During some peak sunspot periods, variations in the Earth’s magnetic field up to about 2 degrees have been reported. 1912, as it turned out, was not a year of peak sunspot activity or magnetic disturbance. Nevertheless, the aurora borealis was very much active the night of April 14, 1912 as reported by several passengers that took to the lifeboats (e.g., see Beesley’s account).

On the night of April 14th, conditions for radio reception were good but far from ideal. Consider what senior operator E. J. Moore in the Olympic wrote in his PV: “10.50 p.m. Hear Titanic signaling to some ship about striking an iceberg. Am not sure it is the Titanic who has struck an iceberg. Am interfered by atmospherics and many stations working.â€Â

Also, to my knowledge, Cape Race was the only land station that directly picked up Titanic's 500 kHz transmissions that night.
 

Dave Gittins

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Sam, could this skip distance explain something that's long puzzled me. Apart from Virginian's very late reception of CQ, all the other ships seem to have lost contact with Titanic well before she sank. Yet we are told Phillips kept repeating his distress calls to the end.

Could there have been some kind of dead zone within 40 - 50 miles of Titanic?
 

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