Ed, W2IDZ - Silent Key, 9th June 1994
Issue 42 Six News, July 1994

On Thursday 9th June 1994 Francis E. (Ed) Ladd, W2IDZ, UKSMG #200 became a silent key. The following letter was received a few days after his death and dated a couple of weeks earlier...

I have recently been thinking about some of the things I have done on 6 meters and on 5 meters during my amateur life time. It has been quite a job digging up this information, but I think I have found almost everything that might be of interest to The UK Six Metre Group and Six News readers.

Ancient History

I was first licensed in 1933 as W1GHD and operated on 160, 80, 40, 20 and 5 meters. In those days 5 meters (56 to 60Mc/s) was really UHF and was considered to be good for local contacts only. My log for those days only has entries for stations worked, so I cannot give exact times. However the following may be one of the first sporadic E observations ever made on 5 meters.

In the afternoon in early June 1933, W1AFF and myself heard W4TM call several CQ's. His signal was quite readable and was fading and eventually faded out. Neither of us called him as we could not believe it. We thought he was a bootlegger and was having fun. A large percentage of 5 meter stations at that time were illegal. We should have written to him but did not. A pity because it was at least 2 years before sporadic E contacts on 5 meters were confirmed.

In 1934 I operated the same bands from Philadelphia, PA, with the call of W3ERX. In 1935 I was licensed as W2IDZ. I operated on 5 meters until amateur privileges were changed from 5 meters to 6 meters on 17th March, 1946. On that date my first 6 meter contact was with W2EUI. I doubt if anyone can claim an earlier 6 meter QSO.

Sporadic E

The only sporadic E contact I made on 5 meters was with W9BDL on 4th July 1941. I am sure more was workable but like almost everyone else I did not expect any skywave signals on 5 meters and never had much of an antenna. When we changed from 5 meters to 6 meters I put up a 4 element horizontally polarized antenna and worked a considerable amount of sporadic E DX during the summer of 1946 and thereafter.

Meteor Scatter

On 9th October, 1946 I worked quite a few stations via meteor scatter from the ionization caused by the tail of the comet Giocobini Zinner.

F2 Layer

On 3rd October 1947 at 1521 GMT I heard W1AW announcing F2 skip on 50MHz. On 1st November and 2 November 1947 I worked several W6, W7 and VE7 stations (16 in all).

There was a little F2 DX in 1948 but it seemed insignificant as compared to getting across the Atlantic for the first time in 1947. The next F2 DX of any great amount was in 1957 and 1958 followed by the last two Sunspot peaks.


Miles per watt record on 50MHz?

On 10th July 1955 I asked a W4 to look for my 3.6 milliwatt output transistor transmitter. The station I asked did not hear the flea-power signal, but W4QN in Orlando, FL did and W4AYV in Umatilla, FL also did. Both called me to let me know that the 3.6 milliwatts of output had produced readable CW signals. I figure this to be something around 263,000 Miles Per Watt.

"Lil-Lulu" 6 Meter TransmitterAbout 1960, as a club project for the Morris Radio Club, I designed a compact low powered 6 meter transmitter. Complete construction data was provided and hundreds of these were built. A commercial version was produced. It used identical circuitry but it also included a built in power supply for either 117 V.A.C. or 12 V.D.C. operation. This unit was not written up for publication, however it was reviewed by CQ magazine.

W2IDZ Converter

I designed a bandswitched converter that covered from 21MHz to 148MHz. I wrote this up and it was published in the April, 1951 issue of QST. A lot of these were built and it became almost the standard 6 meter converter used by the 6 meter leaders of that time period.

50MHz TVI its causes and cures

In 1954 I wrote an article about 50MHz TVI. It was published in QST in 1954 in two parts, in the June and July issues.


I am afraid I got a little carried away with some of the above. I guess I have been bragging. One thing seemed to lead to another, and so it went. Anyway I sure hope some of this will prove useful.

73 Ed Ladd.

The day before they said goodbye to Ed, the 6m band opened between W2-land and 5T5JC, Mauritania in Africa, for the first time ever. I'm sure Ed had also arranged this in advance as a final goodbye. The UKSMG would like to Salute Ed for his unparalleled commitment to the world of 50MHz. A true pioneer in every sense of the word.

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