Conelrad in Boston area
Fri Nov 23 11:49:18 EST 2007

I don't doubt Dan's assertion that different stations may have been 
used at different times.

There still could have been technical limitations to which stations 
could transmit on which frequencies effectively.  Most likely 640 would 
not have emanated from a station designed for above 1200 kHz, since the 
shorter antennas would be quite inefficient.  On the other hand, any 
station could have likely radiated a decent signal on 1240.

On the occasions I listened in 1961, the 1240 signal was definitely NOT 
strong enough to be from WCOP-1150's site on Concord Avenue in 
Lexington, less than 2 miles away from Arlington.  I think that the 
stations normally on 1260 and 1330 would have been possible candidates. 
  1330 was a bit stronger than 1260 but both of these were (/are) far 
weaker than 1150, 1030, 850, 680, and 590.

640 did seem strong enough to be from either the 590 or 680 site.  Both 
stations could have been utilized in the round-robin sequence.

If 630 in RI was being used to provide coverage on 640 to Providence 
and either 590 or 680 to cover Boston, one would think that there would 
be quite an interference zone extending down US-1 from Dedham through 
Sharon to Walpole and Mansfield.  Admittedly if the frequencies were 
precisely controlled within a few Hz and the program feed perfectly 
synchronous, the effect of the overlap would be minimal.

I'm not sure that all content was identical and perfectly-synched 
nationally or if there were localizations in content specific to cities 
covered by given outlets.

I seem to remember that with many domestic frequencies vacated during 
the tests, it gave more opportunities to pick up daytime groundwave 
signals from Montreal and the Canadian Maritimes.

Mark Connelly, WA1ION - Billerica, MA

-----Original Message-----
From: Dan.Strassberg <>
Sent: Fri, 23 Nov 2007 10:41 am
Subject: Re: Conelrad in Boston area

The whole idea was that you could not do direction finding and 
especially that enemy aircraft cound not do direction finding! There 
was not _A_ 640 transmitter or _A_ 1240 transmitter. The various 
participating AM stations in a region (such as greater Boston) were 
divided into two groups--a 640 group and a 1240 group. The program 
material was fed to all participating stations (I think via a land 
line). The several stations in a group would go on the air for a few 
seconds apiece in a round-robin sequence. I think that the order of 
the round robin and the precise amount of time (number of seconds) 
that each station would stay on the air in the sequence varied minute 
by minute--controlled by signals sent down the line with the program. 
The idea, I gather, was to make each iteration of the round robin 
different from the others. Given that the system was set up in the 
early '50s, the algorithms that varied the sequences in real time were 
probably not very complex because they were likely implemented by some 
rather primative mechanical switching technology--a rotating drum, 
Anyhow, my understanding is that all participating stations were to 
operate ND and that the maximum power of any station during ConElRad 
operation was to be 5 kW. There may have been a minimum--I'm guessing 
250W--but I don't know that. 
If the signals during the test you heard appeared to be coming from a 
single source on each frequency, the technology must have improved 
considerably from the test I heard in Troy NY in the mid '50s. It was 
very obvious when the transmitter switched and because of the smaller 
number of stations in the market, there were gaps in the transmissions 
(when no station occupied the time slot). The designers of the system 
had apparently foreseen this problem (shame on them if they hadn't; it 
was pretty damned obvious), so the messages repeated many times--I 
imagine, by use of an endless tape loop. 
BTW, ConElRad was developed in response to Pearl Harbor; the Japanese 
aircraft had used the signals from either KGMB or KGU as directional 
beacons. As with so much Civil Defense technology, ConElRad was 
designed to fight the last war and not a war that used different 
weapons--guided missiles, for example. 
Dan Strassberg ( 
eFax 1-707-215-6367 
----- Original Message ----- From: <> 
To: <> 
Sent: Thursday, November 22, 2007 1:15 PM 
Subject: Conelrad in Boston area 
> When I heard a Conelrad test in 1961 (at age 12), the 640 
> transmitter was strong and 1240 was much weaker. 
> I was living in Arlington, MA at the time, right next to Menotomy 
> Rocks Park and 500 ft. north of Route 2 / Belmont town line. 
> The 640 signal was good enough to be from either 590 (Medford) or 
> 680 (Burlington): both local-quality then as now of course. 
> 1240 may have been from 1260 on the Quincy-Milton line, hardly a 
> "barn-burner" signal in Arlington but fine in Boston and nearby 
> South and North Shore areas. 
> At the time I was under the likely-incorrect illusion that the 640 
> and 1240 rigs were at the Framingham (or Natick?) Civil Defense 
> facility. 
> Since I was so convinced that these transmissions were from 
> Framingham-Natick, it didn't occur to me to take any 
> direction-finding cuts at the time. Because I wasn't driving yet, I 
> would have had to take a few bus rides to get enough DF lines to 
> triangulate these accurately. 
> Happy Thanksgiving everybody ! 
> Mark Connelly, WA1ION - Billerica, MA 
> << 
> -----Original Message----- 
> From: 
> [] On 
> Behalf Of 
> Kevin Vahey 
> Sent: Wednesday, November 21, 2007 9:47 AM 
> To: Dan.Strassberg 
> Cc: 
> Subject: Conelrad in Boston area 
> Back in the 50's and early 60's national alerts were to be 
> transmitted 
> by Conelrad at 640 and 1240 on the dial. 
> I recall one afternoon in the early 60's that all Boston ( and 
> perhaps 
> it was nationwide ) stations signed off for a Conelrad test and 
> listeners were asked to go to 640 or 1240 for instructions. 
> Where were the Conelrad transmitters liocated for Eastern Mass? 

> Email and AIM finally together. You've gotta check out free AOL 
> Mail! - 

Email and AIM finally together. You've gotta check out free AOL Mail! -

More information about the Boston-Radio-Interest mailing list