Innes House (depicted on the ZS6IEE station QSL card) in Observatory, Johannesburg, was completed in 1910 under the auspices of world renowned architect Herbert Baker, who was also responsible for the Union Buildings in Pretoria. It is the former home of Dr Robert Innes, Union Astronomer and Observatory Director.
Robert’s son, Sydney Albert “Toby” Innes (2OB, ZS6D, ZS1D), played a major role in the establishment of broadcasting, and amateur radio in the early 1920’s. Whilst a student at the School of Mines, he used a 10 inch spark coil and a coherer to achieve 2 way contact between his father’s house in Observatory and a Mr Wallace Clements in Bellevue East. To Robert’s surprise, the spark signals caused the lightning recorder at the Observatory nearby to register severe storms when none were evident.
In 1919, after the first-world-war restrictions were lifted, he began experimental music transmissions. A relative played the piano into the carbon microphone of a newly constructed valve transmitter, for which a morse test was now required to obtain a license. His call-sign 2OB gave rise to his nickname “Toby” Innes.
After upgrading the transmitter to a 6-valve unit constructed by a Mr Alf Goodman and a 45ft high sausage aerial, he broadcast concerts and gramophone records nightly between 1922 and 1924, and his listenership grew to around 3000.
Innes House has now been refurbished by the SAIEE as a museum for the Institute’s Historical Section to display some of the artefacts in the Institute’s possession and to honour the contribution of some of its more prominent members.
The museum’s amateur radio station ZS6IEE preserves a link to the heritage at this historical location, a joint project between the SAIEE and the Antique Wireless Association of Southern Africa.
ZS6IEE commenced operations at 06h30 GMT on Thursday 20th March 2014 on 7140kHz and 14140kHz. The station operates on the AWA Saturday morning nets from time to time, and participates in International museums on the air taking place on the 3rd and last weekends in June. All contacts receive a QSL card via the bureau.
The museum station's QRZ page, with some beautiful photos, can be found HERE.
For the address and directions to the museum, please see HERE.
Photos of the station and events at SAIEE can be found HERE