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NU6XB/W6BB University of California Amateur Radio Club: 103 years and counting..

Our Webpage,  Facebook page
Time line: founders, calls, shack locations and officers
1914 - 1918:          6XB (Experimental Special Land Station - and Amateur Station)
1913 Shack and radio laboratory in the Mechanics Building. These facilities were established by three senior students who taught the Berkeley professors about radio technology, not the other way around. This somewhat concluded activities these students had started in their teens. Beginning in 1905 they operated strong transmitters from their homes and formed in 1907 the Bay Counties Wireless Telegraph Association. Karl H. von Wiegand describes in his 1908 article "Stop it Kid!" how these activities triggered the first legislation about broadcasting. Our three founding members are:

Frank Rieber (1891-1948), 6XR in Berkeley, UCB Physics degree 1914. His inquiring mind and rebel tendencies led to a number of quasi-scientific experiments as introducing skunkboms into the ventilator system of the auditorium during a disciplinary assembly called by the Dean. Became a geophysicist, inventer and entrepreneur, who developed seismic measurement equipment.   

Lewis Mason Clement (1892-1979), 6XC in Oakland (later K3AA, K4UR, K4UV), UCB EE degree 1914. Wireless operator on the Alaska coastal steemer S. S. Spokane when it sank in 1911. First person to talk by voice from an airplane (JN 4 Curtis Jenny) to ground in 1917.

Haraden W. Pratt (1891-1969), San Francisco - UCB EE degree 1914. He was an avid amateur operator using a 8KW spark transmitter from Lombard St, San Francisco (call letters S.K.H.). In 1912 he quitted after the law was introduced that limited amateurs to 200 meters and down and to less than 1KW transmit power. He became telecommunication advisor of presidents Truman and Eisenhauer. 
1914: First documented activity of 6XB club members (article in the Oakland Tribune of Jan 1914, figure 1 below). Senior students LM Clement and HW Pratt flung up an antenna wire from the chimney of the Mechanics building to the bell tower construction site and succeeded in establishing wireless communication with the NAA station in Arlington.
1920 to 1930-1933:  6XM, nu-6XM (1926), W6XM (since 1927) University of Cal. Dept. Physics (Experimental Special Land Station)
1920 or before:           6BB  Univ of California Radio Club (Amateur Station)
1920: Shack in the Mechanics Building (Shack photo in figure 3 below).  Report in Pacific Radio News of weekly 1/2 KW spark transmissions from station 6BB on 500KC (Figure 2 below).
1920: Dr. Alvin K. Aster (1897-1967, 6AA in 1913), 6ABC, Instructor in the Physics department writes article "The Audion Ampifier" in Pacific Radio News. (In 1929 Aster had moved on to Bell Labs.)
1920: The University of California Radio Club participates as one of sixteen major radio clubs at the Pacific Coast Radio Convention in San Francisco (see figures 4 and 5 below). Arthur L. Bolton (1906-2002), 6AGY, earns at the radio show of this convention his first grade radio license, later he held NM6K. He went on to earn his bachelor at UC Berkeley. His father was Arthur L. Bolton (1877-1958), an ornithologist who served as the Superintendent of Grounds at the University of California Berkeley from 1902-1905. 
1921, June 4th: Ratification of the official affiliation of the University of California Radio Radio Club with the Amateur Radio Relay League (together with the following other school clubs: Radio Club of the Carnegie Institute of Technology, University of Virginia Radio Club) - from QST 1921.
1924: Shack in Stephens Union (Stephens Hall) 
1926:                       nu-6BB (Introduction of first international prefix system: n=north america, u=United States)
1927 to present:      W6BB
1927 to 1930 or later: Shack in Stephens Union. Trustee K. Gordon Morrison, W6SQ (lic. 1927). Served in 1938 as the chief engineer at KRE
1940-1946: Shack in Stephens Union Room 401. Trustee R. I. Wilson
1948-49: Trustee Thomas C. Larter, W6NSQ, 2521 Hearst Avenue - moved later to LA (1954+58 callbooks: 337 West Lomita, Glendale 4)
1950-51: Shack in Men's Gym with donated Signal Corps equipment, Room 143. Trustee George M. Welles
1952-54: Shack in Cory Hall. Trustee Phillip H. Ellis, W6JVV (1952 callbook) Bachelor EE in 1952
1957-59: Shack in Cory Hall, Room 400-A (Club members from this era in figure 6)
1961-69: Shack in 346 Cory Hall (see figure 7)
1972-87: Shack in 344 Cory Hall (address listed until 87 callbook although shack was evacuated in 1984)
1983-1992: President Matt Trail, KN6CR (now AF4RF)
1984: Cory Hall shack lost due to the reconstruction of Cory Hall (club members of this era on figure 8 below)
1992: Shack in 247 Hesse Hall. President Eric Swanberg, KD6CYZ
1994: Shack in 300 Eshleman Hall. President James Chesko, AB6YH. Trustee Charles E. Woodson, W6NEY, 2301 Oak St, Berkeley
199?-2005: No Shack. Trustee Bob Tidd, KJ6CS (see writeup about club activities in figure 9 below)
2005-present: President Jack Burris, K6JEB. Trustee Fritz Sommer, K6EE
2008-present: W6BB Shack at Richmond Field Station
2012: Operation of the W6BB team from USS IOWA BB-61 before the ship left the Bay Area (figure 10 below)
2014-present: Second shack in Cory Hall. 
2016: To avoid confusion, we introduced unique call signs for each shack: 
NU6XB: Cory Hall on the UC Berkeley Campus - Alameda County. Trustee Miki Lustig, KK6MRI. Note that this "new" call is our original 1914 call with the first international prefix issued to the US: nu-6XB.
W6BB: Richmond Field Station - Contra Costa County.  Trustee Fritz Sommer, K6EE.

Other notable club members

Thorn L. Mayes (1903-1988), 6AX, 6BTE in 1920 - UCB EE degree 1927. Built 1KW spark station at Coalinga Highschool in 1921. Member of the Norman Nevills River expeditions in the 1930s. Built water pumps for irrigation while with GE. After retirement in 1963 he returned to the west coast as K6BI and started to collect information about the wireless history in the west.  
Harvey Elliott White (1902-1988) He started wireless in 1916 as 6KS in Pasadena and was again active in the 1970ies and 1980ies as N6AQ. Worked in the 1920ies under Friedrich Paschen at the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt in Berlin, Germany, and was a proponent of the vector model of the atom. Then he served as a physics professor at UC Berkeley from 1930-1969. In addition, he was active in instructional television, see his lecture about heat convection.
Clyde E. Wiegand (1915-1996), W6CGD - PhD Physics. Member of Manhatten Project and co-discoverer of the antiproton. 
Virgil L. Ariola, W6RXK, graduated around 1940.
George M. W. Badger, W6RXW, W6TC (1925-2009) - UCB EE class of 1951. Research engineer at Eimac who was part of the Eimac team who succeeded in the first earth-moon-earth communication between the US east and west coasts.
Malcolm I. Raff, WA2UNP (1940-2010), Berkeley - PhD Astrophysics UCB 1976.
Some historic documents
Figure 1: Jan 13, 1914, Oakland Tribune: First documented activity of 6XB (W6BB) club members. Senior students LM Clement and HW Pratt (see above pictures of them from later years) flung up an antenna wire from the chimney of the Mechanics building to the bell tower construction site and succeeded in establishing wireless communication with the NAA station in Arlington, VA (Curtesy: Steven B. Finacom). It is not quite clear from this article if the NAA signals were just received or this was a two-way communication. This event was referred to as "WIRELESS FLASH CROSSES COUNTRY" because it connected Berkeley to the east of the contintent and with that to the rest of the world - a few months earlier, in 1913, NAA had established communication with the Eiffel tower in Paris, France. 
Figure 2: Report in Pacific Radio News of 1920
Figure 3: University station 6BB in 1920 (picture wall on campus in 2015, brought to our attention by Ernst Niebur, KB3CEE).
Figure 4: The University of California Radio Club participated as one of sixteen radio clubs at the Pacific Coast Radio Convention of 1920 in San Francisco.
Figure 5: Program of the "Radio Ball" of the Pacific Coast Radio Convention of 1920 at the Century Club. It was called the Radio Ball because the dance music by Art Hickman's Jazz Band was transmitted live from the St Francis Hotel to the Century Club.
Figure 6: Unknown club members at information table in the 1950ies (Do you recognize anyone?).
Figure 7: Sam Vigil, WA6NGH, operating W6BB in 1969. The club had two rooms in Cory Hall, the Electrical Engineering Building. Club members had access to the roof, a tri-band yagi and a 2M antenna. The rig was a Collins KWS-1 (1 KW AM and SSB) and a Collins 75A4 receiver.
Figure 8: W6BB information table in the 1980ies at Sather gate with K6XX (N6IP) pointing to his favorate QSL card (Do you recognize any other club members?).
Figure 9: Notice in  the Michigan Daily of February 1989 reprinted from the Daily Californian. This is the first account of club activities in emergency preparedness. At the same time, this rather underwhelming notice marks the beginning of our long silent period on shortwave, an agony which lasted until 2005. (In 1984 constructions had started to add a fifth floor on Cory hall and as a consequence the club had lost the radio shack, equipment and antennas.) To his credit, the mentioned Bob Tidd, KJ6CS, served as trustee of W6BB until 2005 and thus saved the call sign. 
Figure 10: Operation of W6BB club members on board of BB-61, USS Iowa, May 2012. This was probably the only amateur radio activation of the Iowa while still ancoring in the San Francisco Bay area. Later in 2012, the ship was towed to Southern California. USS Iowa serves now as a museum ship in the harbor of Los Angeles and can be heard on amateur radio bands as NI6BB.
Here a brandnew vintage rig the club got donated in 2016, a Global Dynamics B-line. The AN/WRC-1B is a shock-mounted receiver-exciter-PA combo, consisting of R-1051B/URR, T-827B/URT,  AM-3007/URT and automatic antenna coupler. It operates 2-30Mhz, puts out 100W and is fully operational.  The AN/WRC-1 and the AN/URT-35, a combo consisting of exceiver RT-618/URT and PA AM-3007/URT, was developed by Global Dynamics from 1960-1965 under contract NOBSR77628 issued in June 1959.  The receiver R-1051/URR was the NAVY's replacement of the famous Collins R-390/URR.  With the introduction of Harris transceivers on NAVY ships in the 1980ies, most of the Global Dynamics/Bendix gear was decomissioned and crushed. This one was aquired for a submarine but then somehow forgotten in its boxes. To counterbalance the fancy SDR transceiver in the NU6XB shack, this vintage rig will be used in the W6BB shack for net traffic and fixed frequency operation.
If you have information about former W6BB members to be added, please let us know...

In March 21-28, 2014 for our centennial we used the special event call W6C.  

7939460 Last modified: 2017-03-02 19:57:37, 15937 bytes

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