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General Electric's Involvement in Amateur SSB & the CE 10A Exciter

During the War Years, small teams of engineers were developing revolutionary single sideband radio apparatus for military and commercial applications. One GE engineer, Donald E. Norgaard (W2KUJ and later, W6VMH, when he moved to California), was very enthusiastic of his research and wished to introduce this new bandwidth-saving technology to radio amateurs. Of course, such a new mode of operation faced an uphill battle with the status quo, so equipment for amateur experimentation had to be both simple in operation and easy to construct.

The results of Norgaard’s pioneering work were published in General Electric’s Ham News and were introduced to the world in November 1950 as the SSB, Jr. Of course, it is one thing to transmit single sideband, but what about reception? Don fixed that problem, too, by introducing a companion Signal Slicer in the July 1951 issue of Ham News. Many hundreds of SSB, Jrs were homebrewed by eager hams and the uniqueness of single side caught the attention of Wes Schum. In fact, Wes and Don’s work had very close parallels, but the SSB, Jr and the Slicer were, in fact, a complete system and that got Wes’ full attention.

One thing lead to another and the Central Electronics Model 10A adaptation of the SSB, Jr contained its own form of uniqueness by being the first to utilize the heterodyning scheme rather than generating SSB on-frequency. Other features such as multiband plug in coil sets, vfo operation and voice transmitter control (VOX) resulted in a superb piece of pioneering equipment that could be produced affordably for the amateur radio market. Since the ideas contained in the SSB, Jr were protected by General Electric Company patents, Wes went about having his Model 10A exciter licensed by General Electric for production and along the way developed a strong personal friendship with Don Norgaard.

View this paper from Wes Schum’s personal archives. It was written to Wes by Don in late 1951 and is perhaps one of the best discussions of single sideband generation and reception ever developed for the phasing method. I hope you enjoy this step back into single sideband’s early days.

© 2012 Central Electronics