Thursday, February 14, 2013

#Errandonnee the Fifth: Packard Radio Test Car

After bicycle-skating over the pop-up black ice lurking on the Custis Trail, I magically found myself repetitively returning to the identical location as yesterday, only today the Errandonnee destination was a library (it may look like work, it may be as boring as work, it may have all the complementary white noise as work - but today its a library).  And while its probably sacrilege to go on an Errandonnee and celebrate a petrol burning vehicle, here's what I found in the library:

 This is a Packard Radio Test car, circa 1926.  According to the display in the library:
"Under the Radios Act of 1910 and 1912, the Department of Commerce received the authority to monitor and inspect shipboard radio equipment, license radio operators for that equipment and prevent interference between stations. Prior to 1930, there were few radio services. The primary users of the available frequencies were ships, coastal stations, point-to-point telegraph, AM broadcasting, and radio amateurs with the radio amateurs far outnumbering the other radio operations. The budding AM broadcasting segment of radio operations began to grow phenomenally after he start of KDKA in a basement in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1921. Licensed and unlicensed broadcast stations were in service, causing a need for a frequency monitoring facility.
"The Radio Division in the Department of Commerce in Chicago, Illinois used Packard radio-test cars and other equipment to determine the best location for a Central Frequency Monitoring Station. After an extensive search, the flat prairie region of central Nebraska, specifically, an area six miles west of Grand Island, Nebraska was selected because of its superb reception conditions, central geographic location, and freedom from nearby transmitting stations. The original track of land for the monitoring station was comprised of 50 acres, which was purchased in April 1929 for the sum of $1, from the estate of Fred Matthiesen, Jr. The 47th Legislature of Nebraska passed a bill in 1931 that allowed school land to be purchased by the Department of Commerce for the development of a radio monitoring station.
"At the Sesquicentennial Exposition honoring 150 years of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which was held in Philadelphia in July of 1926, displays on the growth and greatness of our country were emphasized. The Radio Division, Department of Commerce had a varied exhibit of radio equipment which included a model of the latest Packard Radio Test Car. The task of building the model was quite an undertaking in both time and money. The finished model cost more than one of the original Packards. Every single part, both inside and out was hand made. The model Packard Radio Test Car was housed in the museum portion of the Grand Island Monitoring Station until 1994 when it was sent to FCC headquarters to be warehoused."
 I have now completed 11 errands and gone more than 30 miles (my Errandonnee Score Card).  Can I please go to sleep now?

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