The Alexanderson Transmitter

The long-wave transmitter in Grimeton is designed by the Swedish engineer Ernst Alexanderson who is relatively unknown in Sweden, but a very valued and respected inventor in the United States. During his lifetime, Alexanderson had 344 patents granted in electrical engineering and electronics.

The station in Grimeton contained two identical but reverse transmitter devices that run alternately, about a month at a time. The new telegraph connection between Sweden and USA proved to be very stable and reliable, and almost all telegram traffic from Sweden to North and South America were transmitted via Grimeton. It took until 1938 before the new technology with valve for shortwave began to be used alongside the machine transmitters. World War II increased the need for foreign telegram connections via radio dramatically, and shortwave transmitter were installed briskly at the station in Grimeton. The old machine transmitters were used at times during the war to transmit diplomatic telegrams to certain European countries but also telegrams to submarines. After World War II the telegram traffic was mainly transmitted using the short wave transmitters. The old long wave transmitter became more rarley used. In 1960, one of the to long wave transmitters was scrapped in order to make more space available for short wave transmitters.

Today, the long wave transmitter in Grimeton is operated for telegram transmitting a few times each year. It results in reports from listeners in many countires. Read more about the listeners in Listening to Grimeton.

The Alexanderson alternator

Alternatorn75-300x200The transmitter set consists in all essentials of three parts:
– the driving motor
– a gear drive
– the high frequency generator, commonly called the alternator.

They are assembled on a solid base of steel. The weight of the complete transmitter set is about 50 tons.

The driving motor

elmotorn_38-300x203The driving motor is an induction motor with the power of 500 HP (about 370 kW). The stator is two- phase, which is extremely rare. The supply voltage is nominally 2200 V. The two-phase supply is obtained from two Scott-coupled transformers in a separate building. When the driving motor rotates with 711.3 rpm, the high frequency generator gives the correct frequency. The rotor winding is three-phase and is connected to variable liquid resistors through slip rings.

The gear drive

Växellådan-300x199The gear drive increases the speed of the driving motor (711.3 rpm) to the speed of the high frequency generator of 2115 rpm.

The high frequency generator


The high frequency generator has a very different design. This is caused by the fact that it is supposed to produce a frequency of 17200 Hz, which is an extremely high frequency for rotating electrical machines. In order to keep the iron losses at a reasonable level, the stator is wound from very thin iron ribbon, unlike traditional alternating current machines, whose stators are constructed from iron sheets that are pressed together.

Also the rotor of the high frequency generator has a very different design. Normally, the rotor of an alternating current machine has a winding fed by DC (direct current) in order to achieve a rotating magnetic field in the stator. The rotor of the high frequency generator is a steel disc, 1.6 m in diameter and 7.5 cm thick at the periphery. The steel disc has no winding. Instead, 488 slots are milled at the periphery. The slots are filled with non-magnetic material (brass), in order to reduce the air friction.

The magnetic flux is generated by a field coil, situated outside the stator. The stator is designed to encircle the periphery of the rotor. The magnetic flux is conducted through the periphery of the rotor via the stator. The air gaps between the rotor disc and the stator are less than 1 mm wide. On the stator there are 64 armature windings that collect the variations of the magnetic flux. The variations arise when magnetic steel and non-magnetic material passes through the magnetic flux. Each armature winding gives 100 V and 30 A, which is conducted to the output transformers.

An interesting detail on the high frequency generator is the device that keeps the rotor disc centred in the middle of the stator, independent of the changes of length of the rotor shaft as a result of varying temperature.

Nominally, the high frequency generator has a power of 200 kW. In normal telegram transmission this power was seldom used and only the amount of power needed for good readability in USA was generated. Nowadays when the machine is run it is not excited very hard. When transmitting, the generator power is about 80 kW.

The liquid resistors


Two fluid resistance is used as variable rotor resistance for the electric motor . A third fluid resistance is a spare unit.

The liquid resistors consist of about 2 m high containers, in which electrodes are of stainless steel. The containers containing the sodium hydroxide and the liquor level in the containers may be varied by “sluices” controlled from the control board. This regulates the resistance between steel electrodes and thus controlled the rotor resistance. The heat generated is cooled off in the liquor through a heat exchanger for cooling station facility.

The multiple antenna

IMG_46771-200x300The Multiple antenna is carried by six antenna towers. Each antenna tower is 127 m high and the cross arm is 46 m wide. Between the towers are eight leaders (originally twelve leaders) for the antenna current. Radio waves are radiated from the vertical antenna conductor, one from each tower.