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VIDEO: Middletown Amateur Radio Club Marks 50 Years Since Telstar Launch

The local ham radio enthusiasts met on Crawford Hill in Holmdel on July 10, and got a special visit from Holmdel's 1979 Nobel Prize for Physics winner, Robert Wilson.

On July 10 the Middletown Amateur Radio club celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Telstar radio satellite launch. We wanted to operate our five amateur radio stations from where the historical Big Bang receiver Horn Antenna is located, atop Crawford Hill in Holmdel.

The Horn Antenna has a very large significance to Telstar. Fifty years ago, the first radio signal was transmitted from a 65-foot dish antenna in Andover Maine to the Telstar satellite. Telstar then transmitted the signal back to earth which was received at Horn Antenna.

Our club setup three talking (phone) stations, one computer (digital) and a Satellite station to talk through the amateur radio satellites still orbiting the earth. We were able to communicate to distant amateur radio stations around the world. The total number of stations we communicated with totaled more than 100. Everyone we talked to were very happy to contact us and celebrate the special day with our club. 

One of the best moments was when we had made our first of three contacts to a foreign ham radio operator through the Oscar 27 radio satellite. Many other hams we talked to were ex-Bell Labs employees who wanted to share their Telstar stories with all of us.  Others spoke about working with Arno Penzias and Robert "Bob" Wilson on the Big Bang theory.

For this special celebration event, I had invited Bob Wilson - “Big Bang Theory” to the site. Wilson, who lives in Holmdel, stopped by in the afternoon and spoke to all of us with many stories of the Horn Antenna.  We even had him communicate to a Ham radio operator using our equipment.  Right away he noticed a very old antenna tuner being used. He knew right away how the tuner worked and all the components inside.  He told us that in his younger days, he loved to fix radios and TV’s and tinker with electronics.

At the end of the day our whole club felt like they were still in the “clouds” from meeting and  talking with Bob Wilson. We succeeded in getting the word out about our special event station to over 100 fellow ham radio operators around the world! 

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