World Amateur Radio Day

April 18, 2020

Amateur radio came into being after radio waves (proved to exist by Heinrich Rudolf Hertz in 1888) were adapted into a communication system in the 1890s by the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi. In the late 19th century there had been amateur wired telegraphers setting up their own interconnected telegraphic systems. Following Marconi’s success many people began experimenting with this new form of “wireless telegraphy”. Information on “Hertzian wave” based wireless telegraphy systems (the name “radio” would not come into common use until several years later) was sketchy, with magazines such as the November, 1901 issue of Amateur Work showing how to build a simple system based on Hertz’ early experiments.

Malaysia was one of the earliest British colonies to operate a radio broadcasting service. However, the British government did not show much interest in radio in its early stage of development (Asiah Sarji, 1994) Amateurs electric companies, telecommunication personnel, and radio enthusiasts were among those who started the ball rolling. In 1921 A.L Birch, the chief electrical engineer of the Johore state government, experimented with a Peto Scott type of wireless set obtained from overseas (Malay Mail July 30 1921). In 1923 he formed the Johore Wireless Society, which triggered the formation of nearly one dozen radio societies throughout Malaya. News music, and songs from the phonograms were among the first programmes broadcast.

The first radio station was established not in Singapore but in Kuala Lumpur. It was the up-country gathering point for rubber estate workers and tin mines and also the capital of the Federated Malay States. It was an unofficial and an amateur radio club, which organized plans to creat a local service. Although experimental broadcasts of the Singapore amateur group had begun earlier, the Kuala Lumpur operation was more successful. The Kuala Lumpur Amateur Wireless Society started experimental work in November 1929 and officially commenced its regular broadcast service at 6.30 pm with “tea dance music from the Selangor Club”. A talk on the acvtivities of the radio club was also transmitted that night. For this and subsequent broadcast, the group was allowed the use of the Post and Telegraph Department transmitter located at Petaling Hil. The station had been constructed in 1928, and than rebuilt the following year to make it permanent installation. This was the the central station in the Malayan telegraphic network, but the amateurs managed to convert it to operate telephonically so that voices and music as well as morse code could be transmitted.

In 1931 the Kuala Lumpur Amateur Radio Society (KLARS) acquired its own transmitter a crystal controlled “Marconi S3A” through government channels and begun using it in May 1931. The chief enhancement afforded by the new equipment was that it operated on shortwave. By functioning on much higher frequencies, the transmitter could provide signals to cover the full length of the peninsula, parts of the Netherlands East Indies and Borneo, even though its power was only 180 watts. The post and Telegraphs Department of the Federated Malay States (FMS) was responsible once again for providing the new equipment to the amateurs, and it volunteered to “render any assistance to the society” The selection of the exact wavelength was debated upon by the members, but in the end 75 meter band (4 Mhz) was chosen as best fro reception for the whole country. After two years of operation, the station shifted to 48.92 meter band or 6.125 MHz. In 1933 more permanence was given to the amateurs when they were allocated space to construct a studio next to the transmitting room at Petaling Hill

Source: The Malayan Amateur Radio Journal 1961


An amateur radio operator, military veteran, jack of all trades and master of none.

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