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Author Topic: Thor Heyerdahl Ra Expedition  (Read 9557 times)
KI6GIP
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« on: March 29, 2010, 10:31:25 AM »

Was wondering what type of transceiver  Thor Heyerdahl and his crew used on the RA Expedition. There is photo of the Transceiver he use on this website does any one recognize what brand and model it is ?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/46955914@N05/?saved=1

Thanks,

Eric KI6GIP
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WB6BYU
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2010, 07:08:22 PM »

It was, if I recall, custom built for the voyage. It worked some maritime frequencies
in addition to the ham bands.

I think it predated the move to ham SSB, so transceivers were actually rather uncommon
as commercial units.
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N2EY
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« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2010, 07:48:41 PM »

It was, if I recall, custom built for the voyage. It worked some maritime frequencies
in addition to the ham bands.

I think it predated the move to ham SSB, so transceivers were actually rather uncommon
as commercial units.

The unit in the picture looks a lot like a modified Heathkit single bander (HW-12/22/32).

The Ra expedition took place in 1969, long after hams had been using SSB on HF quite extensively.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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KA5N
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2010, 09:41:42 AM »

I was a school kid when the Kon-Tiki expedition took place (1947) and read the book in 1950 or 1951.  The most interesting thing (to me) was that they were trying to develop and print some film but the chemicals were too hot.  They radioed and some chemist told them how they could make ice on the raft!
Lo and behold they were able to make ice, cool the chemicals and develop and print pictures.  I was interested in radio even then but I knew it worked, but making ice on a balsa raft in the middle of the ocean, man that was something!
By the time of the Ra expedition I was older and jaded and I thought the Ra looked like a hay stack.
Thor Heyerdahl was quite a fellow, a modern Viking.
Allen
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K8AC
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2010, 04:34:08 PM »

A very interesting question!  It does look remarkably like a Heathkit HW-22A or HW-32A in so far as the placement of controls, mic connector location, and the mobile mounting bracket (see the silver knob on the right side of the case).  But of course, the colors, knobs and markings are all wrong for Heathkit (as is the meter).  I have some contacts who worked at Heath at the time - maybe they will have some info on this.

By the time of the Ra voyage, there were a number of SSB transceivers from the US manufacturers that had been in the marketplace for maybe 5-8 years at that point.  The Japanese manufacturers hadn't penetrated our market with transceivers yet.  

73, Floyd - K8AC
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AA4HA
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2010, 05:29:59 PM »

They radioed and some chemist told them how they could make ice on the raft!
Lo and behold they were able to make ice, cool the chemicals and develop and print pictures.  I was interested in radio even then but I knew it worked, but making ice on a balsa raft in the middle of the ocean, man that was something!

That is interesting, the usages for the bubbas down here who are stuck in the woods would be revolutionary. Cold beer!

Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
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Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama
AD6KA
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2010, 07:18:40 PM »

Tells all about the gear in Wikipedia.
Very interesting, especially about the National 173 receiver getting soaked, but then running again after it dried out. Think that would work with of today's rigs? Knut Haugland, one of the radio ops, was the last surviving Kon Tiki crew member, passed away on Christmas Day, 2009.

"The expedition, with the amateur radio call sign of LI2B, maintained regular communication with a number of American, Canadian, and South American stations that kept the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C., abreast of Kon-Tiki's efforts. The success of these contacts was due to the skill of former World War II Norwegian underground radio operators, Knut Haugland, and Torstein Raaby. On August 5, Haugland contacted Oslo, Norway, for a circuit of about 10,000 miles.

The expedition carried three watertight radio transmitters. The first operated on the 40- and 20-meter bands, the second on the 10-meter band, and the third on the 6-meter band. Each unit was made up entirely of 2E30 vacuum tubes providing 10 watts of RF input. As an emergency backup they also carried a German Mark V transceiver originally re-created by the SOE in 1942. Power was supplied by batteries and a hand-cranked generator.

The Kon-Tiki's radio receiver was a National Radio Company NC-173. In his book Kon-Tiki (Rand-McNally 1950, p. 263), Heyerdahl describes the NC-173 slowly drying out on an uninhabited South Sea island after getting soaked in a shipwreck, gradually receiving at higher and higher frequencies until eventually settling on the 13.990 MHz frequency needed to make contact. The crew used their hand-cranked emergency transmitter to send out an "all well, all well" message via LI2B just in time to head off a massive rescue attempt."
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AD6KA
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2010, 08:19:36 PM »

Whoops, mixed up the Ra Expedition with the Kon Tiki expedition. Sorry about that. Just saw "Thor Heyerdahl" and immediately thought "Kon Tiki".
Still pretty interesting info either way.....
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KA4DPO
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2010, 12:37:46 PM »

My novice receiver was an NC-173.  It was a great radio.
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W3HKK
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« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2013, 08:40:00 AM »

Just came across this thread.  I was working in Takoradi, Ghana doing oil exploration for the Ghanaian government during the summer of 1969. Upon arrival in Accra, I stopped by the PTT and met with a Mr. Amatewee, the director.  He issued me  9G1GS which I operated from the Hotel Takoradi that summer using a home made 2 el bamboo quad on the hotel lobby and a brand new Swan 500c ssb  xcvr.

One day I was  back in my room tuning 15M and heard an odd conversation.  turns out it was  Heyerdahl talking to  his PR person  near DC about the state of their raft and what to release to the press.  I heard this sked for 3 straight days, in the afternoon and felt like I was a small part of history in the making.  The RA's tail was slowly sinking into the  Atlantic and he was  considering asking for  rescue. No panic.  Just a very cool customer dealing with the facts of the situation.



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W1JKA
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« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2013, 01:52:19 PM »

Just going through my 1963 paper back edition of Kon Tiki pg.149 mentions their 13,990kc short wave transmitter with 6 watts max power. Other parts of book mention their use of balloons and kites to get their aerials up. I last spoke to Mr. Heyerdahl at one of his lectures at the U.of Maine back in the early 90s, interesting man.
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G3RZP
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2013, 02:55:42 PM »

If they really wanted experience of drift, they should have tried a Swan 350 or a Hammarlund HX50!
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W1JKA
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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2013, 03:48:22 PM »

Re: G3RZP

I get your drift, thank goodness they also had a dependable current supply. Cheesy 
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G3RZP
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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2013, 06:30:35 AM »

Thus the saying for a rig 'It drifts like Kon Tiki!'
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