George M (N2XM)'S NDB IMAGES

~~ GALLERY EIGHTEEN ~~

The four beacons in this collection are located in the far western section of Pennsylvania. Three are in the southwestern Pittsburgh area - 'SYS' on 209 Stoystown PA, 'BHU' on 382 Latrobe PA, and 'VV' on 299 in Camor PA. The fourth, 'UCP' on 272 New Castle PA, is along the Pennsylvania-Ohio border. In addition two other beacons in the Pittsburgh area - 'PNU' on 255 'Washington Co' Washington, PA and 'MKP' on 287 McKeesport, PA - were visited but not photographed. They have been decommissioned and dismantled.

NOTE# - All of the following pictures are copyright 'George M N2XM', and should not be re-produced with out first obtaining his permission - please ask us for his contact details if you should require them.


'SYS' on 209.0 kHz located at Stoystown, PA:
Located off a short section that remains of the historic Old Lincoln Highway, the beacon is approached via Highland Road from US Route 30 (the New Lincoln Highway). It is accessed via a gravel driveway leading into the rear yard of a private residence. This section of the Old Lincoln Highway runs for several miles along the summit of the Allegheny Mountains (part of the Appalachian Chain) at an elevation of 2200+ feet. Transmissions from its uncluttered and elevated site are often easily heard at my primary NJ QTH, 230 miles to the east.

Click on the image to see the full sized larger version:

SYS 209.0 kHzSYS on 209 kHz at Stoystown, PA:

SYS 209 is a conventional center-fed symmetric-T. The supporting poles, 30 feet high and separated by 280 feet, support a pair of horizontal capacity-loading top wires. (189.0kb)
SYS 209.0 kHzSYS on 209 kHz at Stoystown, PA:

An usual feature of this NDB is the absence of a shack to provide protection of the transmitter and other components from the weather. The surrounding grounds are well tended and the weeds inside the security fence had been recently sprayed with herbicide. (289.0kb)
SYS 209.0 kHzSYS on 209 kHz at Stoystown, PA:

Although no identifying manufacturer label could be found, the heat sink on the transmitter box (mounted on the pole below the dome-shaped cover of the base loading coil) and the large backup battery box (resting on the right on the concrete pad) are identical to those of Southwest Avionics units found at other NDB sites. (75kb)
SYS 209.0 kHzSYS on 209 kHz at Stoystown, PA:

Although the transmitter box and other component covers appear to have been recently painted and in good condition, the supporting pole and security fence are succumbing to rust. (93kb)
SYS 209.0 kHzSYS on 209 kHz at Stoystown, PA:

In this view, Sys_209 is located about 50 yards off to the left of the road at the top of the hill. This road is one of the remaining sections of the historic "Old Lincoln Highway" still in (local) use although it has lost its designation as " US Rt 30" (which is the "new" Lincoln Highway). Completed over a century ago in 1913, this section of road was part of the first US transcontinental highway for automobiles, running some 3390 miles from Times Square in New York City to San Francisco. (Actually, until the Holland Tunnel was completed in 1927, the highway included a water link - via the Weehawken Ferry from New York to New Jersey.) The Lincoln Highway Association, a private citizen group formed in 1992, is active in preserving the remaining sections of this historic road. (399kb)
SYS 209.0 kHzSYS on 209 kHz at Stoystown, PA:

Driving west on US Rt 30 (the "new" Lincoln Highway), a few miles before of the SYS-209 beacon site is the memorial marking the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93. Flight 93 was the fourth plane in the infamous 9/11 al Qaeda terrorist attack; two planes struck the World Trade Towers and a third the Pentagon. The passengers on Flight 93 fought with the four terrorist seeking to regain control of the plane. Their attempt failed causing the plane to crash in an open field in rural Stonycreek Township, PA, killing the 40 passengers and crew along with the four terrorist hijackers. But their valiant effort prevented the plane from striking its objective in Washington, DC - the US Capital Building. (160.3kb)
SYS 209.0 kHzSYS on 209 kHz at Stoystown, PA:

View from the US National Park Service Pavilion looking out onto the crash site which is to the left in the open field seen to the front in this picture. See next picture for the orientation of this view. (80.0kb)
SYS 209.0 kHzSYS on 209 kHz at Stoystown, PA:

Photograph of a US National Park Service map of the Memorial site. The "You are Here" marker denotes the position from which the preceding picture was taken. (52kb)



'BHU' on 382.0 kHz at 'Benje' Latrobe, PA:

This beacon is sited in a bucolic meadowland in a flat region on the gentle southern slope of a broad valley in the western Alleghany Mountains (part of the Appalachian chain). Aside from the beacon and its security fence, the only hint of civilization for miles around is a series of telephone poles bringing power to the beacon. At an elevation of 1143 feet and along with its uncluttered surrounding, the site is thought to provide a near ideal location for a radio beacon. Although often heard at my primary NJ QTH, 250 miles to the east, BHU was not transmitting on the day of my visit (20 Jul 2014). BHU 382 is accessed with some difficulty via a gravel road, Benjetown Road. Goggle Earth incorrectly labels Benjetown Road as Ankney Road. The latter road, also of gravel base, provides the only access to Benjetown Road from PA Route 217, the beacon's main access road from Derry, PA.


Click on the image to see the full sized larger version:

BHU 382.0 kHzBHU on 382 kHz at 'Benje' Latrobe, PA:

BHU is another of the scaled-down symmetric-T antenna often found among Pennsylvania NDBs. Two telephone poles, but 20 feet high and separated by about 70 feet, support a center-driven, horizontal three wire capacity-loading top wires. The area within the security fence is heavily overgrown and in serious need of tending. (189.0kb)
BHU 382.0 kHzBHU on 382 kHz at 'Benje' Latrobe, PA:

The substantial concrete-block shack which houses the transmitter and other component is partially blocked from view by the untended overgrown vegetation within the security fence area. (289.0kb)
BHU 382.0 kHzBHU on 382 kHz at 'Benje' Latrobe, PA:

View of the northern support pole and center connection to the antenna's capacity-loading three-wire system. (75.0kb)
BHU 382.0 kHzBHU on 382 kHz at 'Benje' Latrobe, PA:

The southern support pole has a fraying top section. (93.0kb)
BHU 382.0 kHzBHU on 382 kHz at 'Benje' Latrobe, PA:

A few miles west of SYS 209 on US 30 (the "new" Lincoln Highway) on the way to BHU 382 in Derry, PA, the entrance to the Stony Creek Wind Farm comes into view. This renewable energy source straddles the highway as it runs along the summit of the Western Allegany Mountains for about 3 miles. (399.0kb)
BHU 382.0 kHzBHU on 382 kHz at 'Benje' Latrobe, PA:

A few miles further down US Rt 30 at an elevation of 2400+ feet, one is afforded a spectacular view of a hundred or so wind generators sited on the open land straddling highway, their blades gracefully rotating asynchronously and very slowly changing their orientation as the wind's direction changes. A panoramic photo of the scene is required to do justice to the scene, but unfortunately I did not have my indexing-head tripod with me on this trip. A partial view of this scene, taken with my wide-angle lens (28mm), is shown here. (163.0kb)
BHU 382.0 kHzBHU on 382 kHz at 'Benje' Latrobe, PA:

Front view of a pair of the many generators on the south side of the highway. (80.0kb)
BHU 382.0 kHzBHU on 382 kHz at 'Benje' Latrobe, PA:

Rear view of one of the many wind generator on the north side of the highway. (52.0kb)



'VV' on 299.0 kHz located at Camor PA:

Located in the side yard of a private residence off Old Walnut Street Road, VV 299 is about 1 1/4 miles southwest of Uniontown, PA. The beacon could not be seen from Old Walnut Road as the view is blocked by trees and heavy undergrowth. An unusual view can be had from the northbound exit ramp of "new" Walnut Street Road onto highway US 40, the George P Marshall Parkway. Unusual in the sense that the view afforded is looking down into the 50 yards distant site from a level about even with the top of spider-web top-hat antenna. A close approach to the site would have required scrambling down the earthen side of the ramp through a tangle of thorny blueberry bushes. Such was not attempted. Instead a 5x zoom lens was used to take these photographs. (Incidentally the blueberries were delicious.)


Click on the image to see the full sized larger version:

VV 299.0 kHzVV on 299 kHz at Camor, PA:

View of site when standing of the side of the northbound exit ramp. (334.0kb)
VV 299.0 kHzVV on 299 kHz at Camor, PA:

View looking down into the site ... certainly a compact if not petite configuration. Note the cone about halfway up the antenna mast. It shields a center loading coil from inclement weather. (471.0kb)
VV 299.0 kHzVV on 299 kHz at Camor, PA:

A closeup view of the radio shack. The site appears well maintained and the beacons puts out a strong signal. On the day of my visit (20 Jul '14) my Tecsun 380 UltraLite receiver picked up the signal when about 6 miles distant from the site. Usually must be within a mile or so for my Tecsun to jump to life. (424.0kb)
VV 299.0 kHzVV on 299 kHz at Camor, PA:

View of the spider-web top-hat ... only 6 spokes ... 12-16 spokes more commonly found. (290.0kb)



'UCP' on 272.0 kHz located at 'Castle' New Castle, PA:

Located in the southeast corner of the New Castle Municipal Airport, the beacon is accessed from US Route 224 to Old Youngstown Road, then to the airport entrance. Access to the NDB site bypassing the airport's security fencing can be had via a gravel road leading behind the first group of hangers on the left after the airport entrance.


Click on the image to see the full sized larger version:

UCP 272.0 kHzUCP on 272 kHz from 'Castle', New Castle, PA:

Sign announcing the entrance to the New Castle County Airport. (285.0kb)
UCP 272.0 kHzUCP on 272 kHz from 'Castle', New Castle, PA:

In an otherwise overcast sky, in the early evening a timely break in the clouds to the west allowed the setting sun to highlight the airport's office and hanger complex as seen in this view. (285.0kb)
UCP 272.0 kHzUCP on 272 kHz from 'Castle', New Castle, PA:

UCP 272 is sited in the southwest corner of the airport outside the security fencing surrounding the office and hanger complex and the tarmac/taxiway region. Although the airport was closed, this lapse permitted the close approach to the beacon to take this and the following photographs. (285.0kb)
UCP 272.0 kHzUCP on 272 kHz from 'Castle', New Castle, PA:

Small shed housing the transmitter and auxiliary equipment. The doors of the shed are of vinyl construction but the remaining sides and roof are constructed of sheet metal. (285.0kb)
UCP 272.0 kHzUCP on 272 kHz from 'Castle', New Castle, PA:

View of the rear of the shed displaying the exit point of the transmitter connection to the Southwest Avionics Model PC1000 Antenna Coupler housed in the box. The base coil can be viewed through the Plexiglas window in the box. Note that the vertical radiator is end-loaded with an additional coil. (285.0kb)
UCP 272.0 kHzUCP on 272 kHz from 'Castle', New Castle, PA:

An unusual grounding scheme ... copper strips (rather than wires) leading from inside the transmitter shed and the base loading coil box sealed into the concrete support pad. (285.0kb)
UCP 272.0 kHzUCP on 272 kHz from 'Castle', New Castle, PA:

Closeup view of the additional loading coil at the base of the vertical radiator. In addition the vertical radiator is centered loaded (see next picture). This end/center loading scheme is characteristic of all (short) Southwest Avionics 34-foot spider-web top-hat antennas. (285.0kb)
UCP 272.0 kHzUCP on 272 kHz from 'Castle', New Castle, PA:

View of the enter loading coil halfway up the vertical radiator. (285.0kb)
UCP 272.0 kHzUCP on 272 kHz from 'Castle', New Castle, PA:

The six spoke spider-web top-hat. The taller (about 50-feet) Southwest Avionics antennas usually have 10-16 spokes in their top-hats but they are devoid of end and center loading coils. (285.0kb)



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We're very grateful to George for sharing this wonderful piece of NDB history with us, and if you have shots of your own that you would also like to see on display here in the NDB List Photo Gallery, we would love to hear from you too!



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