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Early Television Stations

W9XAK - Manhattan, Kansas

The following information is from a presentation made by George Lemaster at the 2007 Early Television Convention:

Kansas State University was founded as Kansas State Agricultural College in 1863, it was renamed Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science in 1931, and finally Kansas State University in 1955.

It began its broadcasting history in 1918, when the Department of Physics broadcasts weather reports. In 1924, a campus radio station 9YV was started, which later became KSAC-AM.

In 1930, Prof. Royce G. Kloeffler, head of the Electrical Engineering department, planned an experimental television project. In September of 1931, Kloeffler hired H.H. Higginbottom, formerly with District of Columbia television pioneer C. Francis Jenkins, to run the project. Higgenbottom had been let go by Jenkins because of the 1929 depression.

KSC graduate Leroy Pasley was hired from GE as assistant professor, in charge of design and construction of the transmitter. Walter Mitchell, a former student, was asked by Kloeffler to return to construct a superhetrodyne television receiver for use with the college's three scanning disks. One was for 45 lines 15 fps (the Western Television standard being broadcast from Chicago), one was 48 lines 15 fps, and one was 60 lines 20 fps, the emerging east coast standard. [the 60 line scanner is in our collection]

On Nov. 9, 1932, a license was granted for W9XAK, for operation on 2150 kHz (2100-2200 kHz), with a power of 125 watts. The original antenna was horizontal polarization, but it was replaced with a 100 ft vertical antenna in December. The vertical polarization was used to reduce ghosting, a major problem with early television transmission.

By 1935, the station had moved to 2.0-2.1 mHz.

 

Prof. Royce C. Kloeffler

W9XAK was received as far away as Maine and Texas. There were bi-weekly broadcasts using the KSC-built mechanical scanner.

Mechanical broadcasts continued until 1936. During this time the college experimented with the use of a Kerr cell to produce large pictures, and a demonstration of the projector was made at an open house.

In 1982 Walter Mitchell (the student mentioned above) wrote a letter detailing his recollections of the early days of W9XAK.

QSL card

Courtesy of Tony Ricicki W2VRK

Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering