Monday, 29 August 2016

Toomas Karmo (=VA3KMZ): Moral-Uplift Images Pertinent to Radio and Department of National Defence

Quality assessment: 

On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3'5 is "mediocre pass", 4.5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 4/5. Justification: Kmo had time to do a reasonably complete and (within the framework of the version 1.0.1, 1.0.2, .. process) reasonably polished job. 

Revision history:

  • UTC=20160830T1339Z/version 2.1.0; Kmo added a small remark on jamming of Red Army signals in 1991 August. - He reserved the right to make tiny, cosmetic, nonsubstantive tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.3, ... . 
  • UTC=20160830T0157Z/version 2.0.0: Kmo finished converting the point-form outline into coherent prose. He reserved the right to make tiny, cosmetic, nonsubstantive tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.0.1, 2.0.2, 2.0.3, ... . 
  • UTC=20160830T0002Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo was unable to get everything finished, and uploaded a mere point-form outline. He resolved to get the writing and polishing into an adequate state by 20160830T0401Z. 
[CAUTION: A bug in the blogger software has in some past weeks shown a propensity to insert inappropriate whitespace at some late points in some of my posted essays. If a screen seems to end in empty space, keep scrolling down. The end of the posting is not reached until the usual blogger "Posted by Toomas (Tom) Karmo at" appears.]

Imitating my practice on earlier occasions, I once again show a screenshot of one of my (at all times foufold) Debian GNU/Linux desktops.


Here, as in previous screenshots, I show in the upper right-hand corner a pair of operations clocks - green for Toronto civil time, and red for UTC - generally attaining a precision tighter than plusminus 200 milliseconds. These clocks are disciplined over Network Time Protocol essentially once in 24 hours, on essentially all occasions against that peer of and which is


Today I have caused two Debian GNU/Linux /usr/bin/xterm windows to show excerpts from some flat-ASCII private study notes on radio.


The two depicted rigs are from "back Home", i.e., from Estonia. They saw civic service in the most serious European crisis since the 1939/1945 war, in 1991 August. (European history has thus just this month, in 2016 August, passed a quarter-century milestone.)

In the 1991 crisis, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania regained their interwar independence. The Ukraine of 1991 August attained, or moved to attaining, the independence which many of its brave people had sought in vain during the post-1917 Bolshevik-Menshevik civil war. And similar developments, of a generally promising character, occurred elsewhere that anxious August, in the now-imploding USSR.

At the onset of the crisis, a putsch had temporarily removed M.S.Gorbachev (1931-) from Kremlin power - leaving, however, B.N.Yeltsin (1931-2007) able to play a constructive role, in defiance of the absurd would-be junta.

The Red Army, prima facie putsch-supporting, had occupied terrain at the base of the Tallinn Television Tower. Pro-independence Estonian personnel in the tower were asserting that if this facility - crucial to Estonian public broadcasting, and to Estonian peacetime communications abroad - came under Red Army attack, they would respond by activating their building's halon fire-suppression system. They would thereby in one stroke be both ending their own lives and demonstrating to world opinion the firmness of Estonian political resolve.

Had the widely feared attack occurred, events could (I now in hindsight suggest) have escalated out of control, ultimately to the grief not of Estonia alone but of many nations.

It was therefore essential for authorities in Estonia's principal nucleus of government, Tallinn's Toompea citadel, to monitor the radio traffic of Red Army units within Estonia; to monitor public broadcasting services in Russia and the West; and to maintain their own external communications, inbound and outbound. There was additionally some mission-critical jamming of Red Army signals.

The rig on the left (so explains is a model of an HF ("high frequency", "shortwave") receiver used widely in the USSR army and navy, and available also to USSR hams, and kept in production from 1948 right up to 1981: Tema väga oluliseks omaduseks oli äärmiselt suur töökindlus. Seade ei läinud praktiliselt mitte kunagi täielikult rikke ja mõne raadiolambi halb töötamine sai uue vastu väljavahetamisega kiiresti kõrvaldatud. ("Its exceptionally relevant feature was its extreme robustness. The set would practically never get so out of order as to be beyond repair. A deficiency in some valve would be quickly remedied, by swapping the old valve out for a new one.")

This set was used at Toompea for monitoring public broadcasts, both  within the USSR and outside it; for receiving ham-operator situational reports; and for monitoring the movements of a Red Army Pskov (I suspect, a paratroop) division.

The homebrew transceiver on the right (so explains was used by a Tartu ham, the either-then-or-eventual ES5MC, in support of the Tallinn-Vilnius intergovernmental hotline. My lookup today, in the Toronto afternoon of 2016-08-29, at indicates that ES5MC (Mr Arvo Pihl) is still licensed under that callsign. Mr Pihl is indeed shown in my database lookup to have an e-mail adress on the Estonian equivalent of Canada's ham-radio server, namely

At the lower right is the most photogenic, though not necessarily the most operational, part of the the Toompea facilities, the 1360-1370 "Pikk Hermann" ("Tall Hermann") tower.

An English writeup correspoding to the just-cited may be found at

Further, an English writeup of Pikk Hermann, placing it into its wider architectural and governmental context, can be found on the Estonian parliamentary Web server, at


In the centre image is a small part of a many-hectare thing I have seen on dozens of occasions from the VIA train window, namely the antenna farm on the Tantramar Marshes outside Sackville, New Brunswick.

It is a standing joke in radio engineering that an antenna farm is optimally sited on a mountaintop salt marsh. Tantramar has the desirable radio-reflective salty (and so electrically conductive) salt water, although it is, alas, at no considerable elevation.

The main user of the farm was Radio Canada International (RCI). The RCI shortwave service was discontinued, in favour of an Internet service with a reduced number of languages, in 2012. But according to, this same antenna farm was also used under time-share arrangements by Radio Japan, China Radio International, the Voice of Vietnam, the BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle, and Radio Korea. The same source indicates that the farm was demolished in 2014.

Kipling writes, in a poem that attracted the admiration even of T.S. Eliot,

Far-called, our navies melt away; 
On dune and headland sinks the fire. 

My last train-window glimpse of the imposing setup was in the summer of Mum's death, in 2011.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated. For comment-moderation rules, see initial posting on this blog (2016-04-14).