Oral-History:Clinton Gilliland

About Clinton Gilliland

Clinton Gilliland graduated with a BS in Physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1959, and from 1960 to 1964 was mainly operating field sites of HF radio receiving equipment collecting data from distant transmitters. His largest project at the Stanford RSL was design and building the antenna beam control for the 2.5 km long array of whip antennas built in the California central valley. In 1968, he went to Barry Research, and was involved with circuit design for the Chirp sounder production designs. In 1968 and 1969 he spent several multi-month stays in Routhwesten, Germany, Aviano, Italy, and San Vito, Italy operating BR Chirpsounder receiving equipment at US military sites.

Gilliland received a patent with Dr. Fenwick for an HF Time Diversity Modem. The modem could overcome the fading and noise impairments to HF (shortwave) that caused errors in teleprinter circuits. The data speeds at the time were 60 to 100 Baud. After BR merged with TCI in 1983 he continued to manufacture the Chirp equipment while TCI manufactured very large HF antennas.

Around 1993 TCI had a large contract to build multiple groups of very large antennas at three VOA transmitter locations; Thailand, Morocco and on the island of São Tome. Each antenna was designed for 500kW watt broadcast transmitters. Multiple dipoles connected by 12 motor driven switches that, by inserting delay lines, could steer the beam =/- 24°. Gilliland was involved with overseeing installation and testing the beam steering equipment and electronics at these sites.

About the Interview

Clinton Gilliland: An Interview Conducted by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, 14 December 2020

Interview #848 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, IEEE History Center, 445 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854 USA or ieee-history@ieee.org. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

Clinton Gilliland, an oral history conducted in 2020 by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, Piscataway, NJ, USA.

Interview

INTERVIEWEE: Clinton Gilliland
INTERVIEWER: Michael Geselowitz
DATE: December 14th, 2020
PLACE: Zoom

Ted Gilliland early life and education

Geselowitz:

Okay. This is Mike Geselowitz from the IEEE History Center and I am here to interview remotely, over Zoom, Clinton Redmond Gilliland and it's going to be an interesting interview because we're going to have two subjects, himself of course--Clint himself--but also his father Theodore R Gilliland. Clint, can I refer to him as Ted throughout to make it easier on myself?

Gilliland:

Definitely.

Geselowitz:

Okay.

Gilliland:

Ted was what he wanted to be called, mostly.

Geselowitz:

I know he went by Ted. So tell me about your father, you know, when and where he was born and his education and how he became an engineer.

Gilliland:

Well, he was born in Danville, Illinois. I visited his hometown once. It's a small town, southeastern, almost to the Indiana border. He said in high school he was a delivery boy for telegrams. And it was the Postal Telegraph Company in that region, not Western Union. One of his comments I remember my father describing was that he would deliver telegrams to Joseph Cannon, who was the speaker of the house at the time. He remembers, I guess, yeah, he called him in and talked to him. And somehow—I don't know the sequence here—he then became a landline telegraph operator…and he's still in high school! So he became excellent in Morse Code and that. And then his sister, he and his mother moved to California, around 1921, to Glendale. He ended up going to Cal Tech. He started out SBUC, which is Southern Branch University of California, but it's UCLA now. Because he was out of state he had to pay all the tuitions. So he transferred to Cal Tech. But to work his way through Cal Tech, he worked as a radio operator on a number of ships along the West Coast. I believe he took semesters off and maybe even one year. But he was on a number of ships. One of the most interesting was the yacht Goodwill, which belonged to Keith Spalding of Spalding sporting goods. He went on that on two different cruises, and he worked on another ship that Cecil B. DeMille the movie producer was using for filming a race between two clipper ships and some of those Clipper ships were still around in those days. DeMille acquired two three-masted ships. And DeMille decided, because we have two ships we could use a radio to talk from one to the other. My father’s radio equipment was placed down in the hold of this old wooden ship. The deck wasn't tight and when they watered it down, the water came through. Ted went through Cal Tech and eventually graduated in 1927.

After graduation, Ted went directly to the National Bureau of Standards in Washington. He was working there in the very early beginnings of the research in the ionosphere and ionospheric sounding. It started out that—in the twenties they knew about the ionosphere which was then called the Kennelly–Heaviside layer. The Bureau started its investigations in the mid-1920s. Dr. Breit and Dr. Tuve, who were with the Naval Research Lab, had done a pulse sounding of the ionosphere. You'd send an HF signal up and get a reflection back because the ionosphere reflected it back. But this was data on only one frequency. And the transmitter had to be located at a separate site. It was not a very good way get a good understanding of what was going on, especially because it was single frequency. The Bureau of Standards started working on sounders and sweep sounders and Ted was in on the early designs in the Washington area. The Bureau had several field stations. One of the things Ted did was the single location sounding. The transmitter and receiver were located together and the variable oscillator for the transmitter then was heterodyned to be the local oscillator for the receiver – his idea. It took several minutes to sweep from the low end of the short wave (HF) band to the high end. That first sweep sounder was done in ‘32—the summer of 1932. It was the beginning of understanding the full HF band conditions and at all times of day, and the National Bureau of Standards eventually did a lot of work in developing an understanding of what the ionosphere is doing.

Geselowitz:

So this is before the build up towards the war. What was their main interest in that point in getting those measurements?

Gilliland:

Initially it was civilian communication. The ionosphere is variable. Are you familiar with shortwave communication? Time of day and then time of the year, latitude and other variables. Picking a frequency to communicate isn't easy if you don't know what you're doing. Of course, the commercial radiotelephones and telegraph companies where permanent workers were experienced in coping with the ionosphere were okay. But other shortwave communicators (military, etc.) had problems. And there was not a lot of information explaining how to pick the frequencies that would work. So the Bureau did a lot of research and ended up by the late thirties coming up with predictions. I sent you an IRE reference to that. They published a monthly prediction in the IRE at that time. And then of course as World War II came in, the military needed a lot of information.

Geselowitz:

Once the war started, they needed a lot of information about the ionosphere.

Gilliland:

Yes shortwave was it in those days, the only way for communications and so the bureau's work heavily built on understanding the ionosphere and then being able to predict it.

Geselowitz:

Now, with all this radio work, was Ted a ham in his spare time as well as his professional radio work?

Gilliland:

Oh, that's right. While he was in Illinois before he went to California he was definitely a ham, and I have a picture of his equipment if you want that. But I don't know how active or anything he was after that, because I don't think he did any ham work once he went to Washington.

Geselowitz:

Just before the U.S. entered the war, I know you had mentioned that there was an interesting excursion to Brazil involving the National Bureau of Standards.

Gilliland:

Yes. What it was—the ionosphere is affected by the solar radiation, so everybody said, well, if the sun goes away, what happens to the ionosphere. There was a total eclipse of the sun in 1940—the totality was basically visible in Brazil and the Bureau now had automatic sounders. The Bureau’s started with models A and B and then the C. And it was probably the (original) A that was put in a trailer, and that whole thing was taken to Brazil by Ted in 1940. The expedition was actually a joint NBS National Geographic expedition and most of the scientists on it were astronomers from Georgetown University who were also Jesuit priests, led by Father Paul McNally. My father has good stories about the priests and that. But he looked at the ionosphere during the middle of the day when the eclipse occurred and, yes, the ionization dropped down so the higher frequencies that would normally reflect ended up passing through the ionosphere and not reflecting. So it was another proof of how the sun UV radiation worked. That same equipment—he didn't go with it—was on an arctic expedition, and the trailer also went to Del Rio, Texas for another solar eclipse or something. But that equipment was used quite a bit by the bureau.

Wartime activities

Geselowitz:

So what was his main activity during the war?

Gilliland:

Oh, well, he worked with the bureau up into the war but decided to—well, not exactly retire. We went to my grandmother's home in New Hampshire. We spent a year there, and I ended up getting rheumatic fever and it was said, well, you should go to warm climates. So that's why we went to Texas--went to Corpus Christi, where he worked at a radio station and some other stuff. It was not really his forte but he did it for the family.

Geselowitz:

Now what year were you born?

Gilliland:

1937.

Geselowitz:

And what year did your family move to Corpus Christi? Just after the war?

Gilliland:

Yes, 1946. I remember the war ending while in New Hampshire. I was a kid walking in Boscawen, New Hampshire and the town's local volunteer fire department siren went off and it was a big announcement that the war had ended.

Geselowitz:

Was that VE-day or VJ-day?

Gilliland:

VJ-day I think. But we stayed in Corpus Christi through my sixth grade and it turns out the fellow who had been the head of Ted’s department at the Bureau was on a personal vacation driving to Mexico and since Corpus Christi was on the way and he dropped by. This fellow basically drafted my father to come back to the Bureau.

Geselowitz:

So did you move back to Washington?

Gilliland:

Well, what it was—at first, we stayed in Corpus Christi. TX. The Bureau wanted to set worldwide network of these ionospheric stations including one in Puerto Rico and—which of course fit with me fine—nice tropical climate. So, my father spent six months in Washington on his own--six months based in Washington and several trips going to Puerto Rico trying to find a suitable location. When it was all set —we just spent a month in Washington while he was finishing up the details—then we all went to Puerto Rico (by passenger ship, not a cruise ship.).

Geselowitz:

So, where did you live in Puerto Rico?

Gilliland:

Ramey Air Force Base on the north-west corner of the island. Part of the reason Ted spent several months touring the island finding a location was that was suitable for the sounder as you don't want mountains near where your antennas are. It would be preferable to have government land. Otherwise, I guess you have to have an act of congress to buy land for the station. And the Ramey Air Force Base, near Aguadilla, PR, was very, very sleepy. The war had ended. The base had been important during WW-II because it was protecting the routes to the Panama Canal, but now it was underused. It had the land. It had a school, it had housing and that. So the Bureau made arrangements to get this set up, and we got nice quarters on the base, and I and my sister went to high school there. I'll tell you a little story. We were civilians. We were living in a nice military officer’s house. It was very nice. And the base started getting bigger and bigger because Curtis LeMay's Strategic Air Command moved in. From next to nothing on the base to getting overfull so every time a new base commander would come in he said, “what is this damn civilian doing living in this house?” So my father would go back to his office, bring this letter from General Vandenberg that said that the Air Force would please help and support and so forth and that…I wish the heck I could find whether my father kept that letter . But we stayed there while the base just got huge. Then I went off to Georgia Tech in 1955 and somewhere around 1960, I guess, the Bureau decided to close the station. My father had been providing vertical sounding information on a routine basis to Arecibo Observatory, which started around 1961 or 1962, because Arecibo research at the beginning was only for 430-megahertz incoherent scatter of the ionosphere. Because it was incoherent scatter Arecibo was measuring, it would be nice to know what the regular ionospheric ionization levels were. And so when Ted said he wanted to retire and Arecibo said, well, we still need the data. Arecibo tried to get the Bureau of Standards to give or loan the NBS C-3 sounder from the Ramey station to Arecibo but the Bureau said, no, the Bureau wanted to use the C-3 sounder at another station. But the Bureau did loan it to Arecibo for a year. Since the C-3 sounder had come with a full set of spares the Bureau would let Arecibo have the spares. So my father built a new sounder for them from the spare parts! But rather than use the photographic camera Ted built from scratch a system for recording the images on Teledeltas (spark) paper. The record I showed you on the blue-grey paper.

Arecibo

Geselowitz:

Now, who was operating Arecibo at that point?

Gilliland:

That was Cornell under a Dr. William Gordon. I met him and I'd met a number of the other people when I went by there in 1963. Here is the way Arecibo works. A parabolic reflector has a single focus so the whole reflector has to move to steer the beam, but the Arecibo reflector is a partial sphere, which doesn't have a very good focal point. But if you look at the pictures of the original antenna up in the suspended platform, there is a long waveguide aimed downward. The radiation is emitted from slots on the sides. This I believe corrects for the spherical aberration. The way it looks like is the radio signal goes down to the bottom of it and comes out at a steeper angle than the stuff coming out from the upper part. Therefore, you could use the sphere and so at Arecibo you don't have to move the whole antennae like at Green Bank and all those other sites, which were huge parabolic dishes. That was the main key for the design which was Dr. Gordon’s work. There was another reason why the project was located in that location. We lived in Puerto Rico well before the Arecibo project was conceived. In our Sunday drives around the island, when we would drive down the mountains on the south side, then come over the mountains toward Arecibo there were round exitless valleys/bowls/sinkholes where the dish is now. There's a river we were following up the mountains, going up, following the river uphill. The mountains are going up but the river was going downhill and then it disappeared. Well, it turns out that part of Puerto Rico is what's called karst country. It has all of these sinkholes. Cornell found at Arecibo there was this wonderful sinkhole that was almost perfectly spherical. They suspended the dish reflector over that. It worked out quite well.

Geselowitz:

Wow. Interesting. So what happened after the year?

Gilliland:

Since Ted wanted to retire and he agreed to work at Arecibo for about a year and then retired. He liked tropical climates and but did not want to retire to central Florida, which is horrible, humid and hot. So my parents moved down to Marathon in the keys near Key West and stayed there. Eventually, they moved to Marshalltown, Iowa, where my sister and her husband—my brother-in-law—lived, which had snow!

Geselowitz:

To be near your sister, he gave up on the tropical climate.

Gilliland:

Yeah. They finally, I guess, gave up the tropics.

Geselowitz:

That's the famous Marshalltown with the Marshalltown Trowel company. Is that the same?

Gilliland:

Yes, yes. You know that! Ah. That's something I hadn't known about before they moved there. There's another aside on that. I don't speak Spanish. I can read it and get along in it, but my sister is fluent. We were taking regular high school Spanish in at the Ramey AFB school. But my sister knew our Spanish teacher who lived about 30 kilometers away so my sister would spend weekends with her and thus learned fluent Spanish. Now, here in the middle of Marshalltown in the middle of the Midwest and everything the local hospital contacted her and said do you speak Spanish? She said yes. Well, we now have all of these workers coming in and we're having trouble. You know? They can't communicate with them. So her Spanish came in very handy.

Geselowitz:

What had she been doing before that?

Gilliland:

Well, my brother-in-law was Air National Guard, but he was fulltime. He'd been the commander of Iowa ANG. I believe he was the commander of the Puerto Rico ANG when she met him in Puerto Rico. His hometown—Marshalltown. He got into World War II very young and was a P51 Mustang pilot. He got shot down and was in a prisoner of war camp. But he stayed in the Air Force. He flew in Korea and everything and then ended up basically fulltime Air National Guard. By the time he wanted to retire as a Lt. Colonel, they went back to his hometown.

Geselowitz:

But then your sister got involved in his hospital administration stuff of being a translator for Spanish speakers.

Gilliland:

Yeah.

Geselowitz:

That's cool.

Gilliland:

She had been working with the hospital. She almost looked into getting a medical degree. But she was excellent on medicine stuff and she worked in Iowa there. For example, she'd go around interviewing and translating death certificates for the state—they were trying to get the statistics on what causes of death and the doctors weren't very consistent. So she was part of the data collection interpretation and she was also heavily involved with the hospital in cancer support, things for women and so forth.

Geselowitz:

Was she older or younger than you?

Gilliland:

Younger. Two and a half years younger.

Geselowitz:

Okay. But she's the one who picked up the Spanish. Is that right?

Gilliland:

Yeah. Oh, yeah. She was good at that.

Geselowitz:

Okay.

Gilliland:

I'm ashamed I don't speak Spanish, but I can read it and somewhat understand it. My times in Italy, I could understand a bit because Italian and Spanish are similar.

Geselowitz:

Right. So before we pick up. So that's a great story for your dad. Let's pick up your story from when you graduated from Georgia Tech. Anything else you want to add about your dad? I think it said in the material that you sent me that for that National Geographic expedition to Brazil for the solar eclipse he actually published in National Geographic.

Gilliland:

Oh, yeah. Through a used book sites, I found the publication. It's one of NGS separate publications. I have scanned a lot of the sections of it into a PDF if you would like that.

Georgia Tech

Geselowitz:

Yeah. That would be very interesting to have in the archive to go with the oral history. So any anything else about your dad before I ask about you? So when you went off to Georgia Tech, what were you thinking of doing? Since you grew up in an engineering family, what was your thought process?

Gilliland:

In the first place, because of my rheumatic fever—I'll tell you at the very end that wasn't actually the right diagnosis—I had to look for a warm climate and I wanted to go to engineering school. MIT was the type of place to go, but that's not warm. And Rice University was excellent and Rice in those days was tuition free. I applied there and at Georgia Tech. I think that was about it. And I got down to third on the waiting list and time was getting close and Rice hadn't opened up. So I went to Georgia Tech, which I find was wonderful. Anyway, our younger daughter actually did go to Rice and tuition in her time, which was ten, twenty years ago, was about half of a similar school. Originally, you didn't pay tuition and then that changed—but what she paid was still probably half of what you would normally pay. It's a very good school. But I went to Georgia Tech, and my parents were still living in Puerto Rico, in Ramey, until about 1963. That's why I'd go back there after I went to Tech between semesters and that sort of thing.

Geselowitz:

And what was your course of study like at Tech?

Gilliland:

Well, I decided on electrical engineering. My first year was electrical engineering, and I said, oh, all these darn circuits and this and that. That's a little too boring, and I shifted to physics. So, the rest of the time I got a degree in physics. While I was a freshman, I joined IRE. So I've been IRE since then, but I went to physics and it covers everything. I was very interested in that. Basically, I fell right into some projects related to ionospheric the field. I wanted—between junior and senior year—I wanted a summer job. And Georgia Tech had what was called the Georgia Tech engineering experiment station (EES), which is now called the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). They said, well, we don't have any summer openings. Both The Stanford Radioscience laboratory and Georgia Tech were working on the same summer experiment at the Eglin AFB Gulf missile range. Tech had the optical task and Stanford had ionospheric radio tests. I don't know if you know that Florida gulf coast, Fort Walton Beach area. East of Pensacola, there's a long series of offshore islands there [Santa Rosa Island]. The Eglin Air Force Base, which is inland, has a rocket test range down there. [There was a German V-1 Buzzbomb still on launching rails there.] This summer test involved shooting rockets up into the ionosphere and exploding a barium cloud. Stanford basically set up a HF radio transmitter in Pensacola and a receiver near Panama City, FL, which is to the east of the where the launches on Santa Rosa island took place. Also a second receiver to the north at Ft. Rucker, Alabama. We had multiple—two or three—fixed frequency transmitters. With frequencies that are so high (25 to 30 Mhz) were not getting any reflections at the time of day the barium clouds were released. But when the burst goes out, you now get radio reflections, and you hear the signal. It then it dies away in a few minutes. So Stanford needed somebody beyond the two people they sent out from California to run the equipment. This is ionospheric radio work. So I worked for Stanford for the summer and we ran that project. It was not the most comfortable time. For these barium releases--they wanted to be able to see the cloud. So what they did is you wait until the sky is dark overhead. You shoot the rocket up but you come out of the shadow and come out into the sunlight. And so when the barium release went off, you see this big cloud explode.in very slow motion, and no sound. So we're either working just after sundown or at three in the morning. But with wonderful experience. I ended up then getting the next summer job. I took some graduate work in physics, but it wasn't quite my interest, but I was at Tech. And so the next summer, Georgia Tech again didn't have a position, but one of the Georgia Tech EE graduate students was doing a research project on ionospheric reciprocity. They were sending a pulse signal from Atlanta to Boston and simultaneously from Boston to Atlanta at exactly the same time. At each end, a picture of each pulse was recorded on film. Because the signals (pulses) are going through the ionosphere on the same path at the same time but north to south and south to north to see if there was reciprocity. Tech said somebody needs to run the other end. So I worked the summer up there in the north of Boston (Ipswitch).

Geselowitz:

Oh, no. Well, at least it was the summer.

Gilliland:

Well, that was just one time thing. I ran the transmitter at the MIT Lincoln Labs Ipswitch site for a Georgia Tech grad student’s project. He was in Atlanta and needed someone at the north end. His project was to see in reciprocity was valid for an ionospheric path. The experiment used an HF transmitter at both ends sending pulses. A receiver at each end photographed the individual pulses, the one that went north-south and the one that went south-north. It turns out there's a very slight difference. He proved that basically (if you can see my hands) the signal went from here to there and from there to here except this one went a little this way and this one went a little that way. It was so small amount that reciprocity—you didn't need to worry about anything. The signals were reciprocal. That's all I did. I knew a few people at the group and that but that was just a short summer job.

Geselowitz:

Yes.

Gilliland:

It was in Ipswich and it was an MIT Lincoln Labs fieldsite and I worked for MIT Lincoln Labs under Paul Green. The site was a small building still holding the equipment used for an earlier major spread spectrum (Rake) project. . There was another Lincoln Lab researcher on a different project that came and went from this field site trying to find out if there was some resonances in the ionosphere. Think of the ionosphere and the earth as sort of a waveguide. He figured its resonance was a very low frequency around 60 hertz. And he had this field site and equipment set up—I'm not sure how he did it. His project didn't work out there because—for a very unexpected reason. Since his prediction of the resonance was near 60 hertz. He figured out he would have to notch out the 60 Hz power line noise. Well, Ipswich in those days was not on the national power grid and their generators couldn't keep frequency accurately so powerline noise kept drifting out of his notch. I read his paper later. The next year he went out on a ship and his prediction was proved correct. Anyway, that was all that was going on that field site other than the pulse transmitter for the reciprocity project. And this experiment proved that there is reciprocity in the ionosphere propagation.

Geselowitz:

Did you know going in? Why did you end up in sort of the same line of work as your father? I mean, there's such a broad range of electrical engineering projects and physics projects going on at Georgia Tech. How did you end up in ionospheric study?

Gilliland:

Well, I sort of luckily fell into it. These two summer projects were right up the ionosphere line. I couldn't have possibly picked those. Then the next year I ended up working fulltime for the Georgia Tech EES. The EES had a contract through The Stanford Radioscience Laboratory (RSL) to work in the Atlanta area. Basically what we were doing—we set a little field site up outside Atlanta to receive HF signals passing over the Cape Canaveral missile launches. The continuous wave (CW) signal was from a transmitter operated in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, by a Dr. Braulio Dueño of the University of Puerto Rico's EE program in Mayagüez. Dr. Dueño was a good friend of my father. And so we were picking signals up and measuring, the disturbance when the missiles or the rockets go through the ionosphere. It was a Stanford RSL subcontract to Georgia Tech to run it. This project ran for more than a year in Atlanta and then Dr. Villard, who was the head of the Stanford RSL project, said, well, let's move the receivers up to Greenville, South Carolina for a while. All along as Dr. Villard said, we eventually want to move this project overseas but we kept wondering, well, when will this happen? All of a sudden, Dr. Villard finally says we want to move it to Malta. So basically I worked a year in Malta running this project for Stanford, but we were being paid by Georgia Tech. But Georgia Tech is a state university and they couldn't figure out how Tech could ever finance a project in Malta. One of the research engineers that had been involved with the project at Tech was with a small Atlanta electronics company (RMS Engineering). Thus the contract was from this small company to pay us. But it was run all the way back to Stanford really.

Geselowitz:

As usual.

Gilliland:

I mean, it's very interesting. As I said, I just fell into all these. Actually, when I graduated from Tech I went and did a couple of interviews for jobs. One of them was with the National Bureau of Standards—it had to do with pressure calibration standards. It was mechanical. It just didn't quite fit what I was interested in.

Stanford

Geselowitz:

You said you working for several years off-and-on for Stanford. How did you end up at Stanford?

Gilliland:

Oh, okay. The Malta project ran slightly over a year and then Dr. Villard said we want to move it to southern Italy to Brindisi, Italy. Because it was a government (ARPA) project, it was arranged for a Navy DC-3 (R4D) to be sent to Malta to ship all my equipment. So I flew in this plane from Malta to southern Italy with our equipment, arrived, and I can't remember the date. But I remember the time arriving in Brindisi absolutely. I went in my hotel room, turned my shortwave radio on. It was when President Kennedy was assassinated. So you got a date there.

Geselowitz:

You can figure out a date [(22 November 1963].

Gilliland:

I ran that end of the project for about six months. At the San Vito dei Normanni Air Station, the Air Force was running what's called a Wullenweber HF/DF antenna (AN/FLR-9). Do you know anything about that?

Geselowitz:

No.

Gilliland:

Basically, it was a receiving site for shortwave direction finding (HF/DF), and the U.S. Air Force was monitoring everybody. The antenna system is a huge round series of monopoles and dipoles in a big circle (260-meter diameter – 120 monopoles). Multiple dipoles and monopoles come back in to the central building where they then can connect dipoles together with delay lines to create a phased array beam. And then you drop one of those antennas off and pick another one up. You then have a beam at a slightly different direction. So they had every possible beam direction available brought into the separate operations building, - which they wouldn't allow me in. This is where the monitoring personnel were. San Vito was a small Air Force station, and, in the base library, there were all sorts of books in Russian and other languages! So these are intelligence guys listening to things, which was very important, then especially tracking Russian submarines (I read about this much later.). So my project used basically one beam spigot off this antenna for my receiving. We ran that operation for about six months. Dr. Villard said, well, when it's finished why don't you come out to Stanford and work for us. So that's how I got to Stanford.

Geselowitz:

Oh.

Gilliland:

But I was working with the same people that I had worked with back there in Florida on that barium release project.

Geselowitz:

Uh huh. So you were working with them, but you also decided to take classes and get your master's. Is that what happened?

Gilliland:

Okay. When I was at Stanford, Stanford wouldn't let anyone go as a part time student. But if you worked for the university, you could take one course at a time and so I was taking master's courses in EE. The Stanford EE department said, well, since I had a degree in physics and not EE, why don't I take a couple of senior undergraduate level EE courses, which I found were some of the most interesting courses. And one of the courses that I didn't like was at the graduate level. I don't know if you've ever heard of the Ebers-Moll equation.

Geselowitz:

No.

Gilliland:

It's one of the key equations for bipolar transistors. Well, I had Dr. Moll. So it was the worst course I've ever had. We'd get out of an exam and people would look at each other and ask--did you do anything? Oh, no. I couldn't. You know? It was a horrible teacher. And yet the undergraduate courses were good. I don't know if you've heard of Dr. James Gibbons at Stanford. He later became the dean of the engineering school. He had the most wonderful way of teaching. In class he said, well, now, this is solid-state theory course and we're going to learn about something; we're going to look for an electron. Gibbons says, well, I work with Shockley—Shockley was at Stanford then—and said Shockley says you can't do that. But Gibbons said we're going to look at an electron. We did this experiment. So it was a total difference in the teaching. After I was at Stanford a bit more than two years there was all this big brouhaha at Stanford about all classified contracts. There was the Stanford Radioscience Laboratory, and the Stanford Electronics Laboratory was in the building behind us. And all of these groups were doing a number of military contracts and there was this big brouhaha. So a lot of these groups split up and half of the radio science group I was with went to SRI, Stanford Research Institute. In fact, Dr. Villard worked part time there. The other small group I was with went to this company called BR Communications At Stanford RSL there was Dr. G. H. Barry and Dr. Robert Fenwick who I knew from the very beginning of my Stanford jobs. Barry founded BR, Barry Research, and Fenwick had finished his Ph.D. just a few years earlier and joined Barry. I went to BR about a year after BR was founded. BR’s main emphasis was trying to manufacture what they called a CHIRP sounder. These are oblique ionospheric sounders. Previously every vertical or oblique sounder was a pulse sounder. You have very high-powered pulse but your signal-to-noise ratio is pretty small because. Vertical pulse sounders were quite good but no really practical oblique pulse sounder was available. Barry and Fenwick said, well if we could send a continuous wave swept frequency signal—if you sweep it—basically if you have a linear signal sweeping—you would get a much better signal to noise ratio. Say you have a 100 kilohertz per second sweeping signal and you beat that in the receiver with another synchronized (local) oscillator going 100 kilohertz per second, you'll get a fixed tone. But if the sweeping transmitted signal goes by a different delay, the beat will be slightly off frequency and so the time delay is now changed to frequencies down in the audio range. You are now working with a low power in a very narrow bandwidth receiver. So the signal to noise ratio is much better. Well, all the time we were at Stanford there had been no practical way you could make a precision linear sweep. You had to get the linearity down into the few microseconds of linearity, and you couldn't generate that with a voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO). Then digital synthesizers became available. Hewlett-Packard had made their model 5100, so before we left Stanford we had the CHIRP sounder working. Dr. Barry and Fenwick decided to start this company and actually manufacture Chirp Sounders.

Geselowitz:

So you really ended up there just along for the ride as part of Stanford's divestment of some of the military programs basically.

Gilliland:

Yeah. That and also a lot of these overseas (ARPA) programs got picked up and continued by BR.

Barry Research

Geselowitz:

A similar thing happened at MIT with Lincoln Labs. So then when you went to work for BR, what were the kind of projects you were working?

Gilliland:

Okay. Basically, I did some circuit design work. We were actually manufacturing things. So there's a piece of that. But we were also still involved in some of the over the horizon stuff and we ran some equipment, and then we finally built these CHIRP sounders and we sold those too. Are you familiar at all with the 440 L project?

Geselowitz:

No.

Gilliland:

Well, I guess it was all classified, but it's so long ago. I mentioned we were watching the signals from Puerto Rico to Atlanta. Well, basically, these European receiver sites that were set up were listening to transmitters in Japan and Okinawa. They go right over Russia. Basically, it was to be a very early warning for missile launches. We ended up outfitting these sites with CHIRP sounders. So they knew what the ionosphere was doing because to get a frequency that's going to hop along the whole distance, you know, it's a time of day you have to change and that. I spent several months at a time, you know, on some of those sites in Europe. We were doing that and then basically BR was building and selling the CHIRP sounders. And then Barry left the company, and then Fenwick continued as president. But then company came out with this new thing. It's slogan was “Make HF work.” The military had wonderful Collins HF communication equipment. In portable vans with beautiful transmitters and everything. But they didn't know to communicate. I'll tell you an example. We built portable CHIRP sounders. And so you're trying to communicate from A to B. You set a CHIRP over the path and you now have a picture of the ionosphere. Here's the best frequency—you could take a guy with one stripe and show him the picture and say that's the frequency. You know it will get through, and he understood it. So we made portable equipment that the military could put in their vans and we worked with the Air Force first and eventually the Navy, Marines and Army—I enjoyed working with the “customers." The only way we seemed to be able to sell equipment was you work with the military—the communications people—and they say, well, we've got an exercise coming up. They had sites in Georgia and Oklahoma and Alaska, NATO in Europe and places like that. We would loan the equipment and I would get to go to some of these exercises and set it up, and we would show them how it worked and help them get going. Then six months to a year later, we finally get a contract. I mean it took that long to sink it in and work up to the top. One of the things that we really did was support field exercises with HF communications help. The military were in little shelters out in the field and we went and set up our equipment with them. On one exercise, I went to Warner Robins, Georgia. We had our equipment in one of their communications vans and there was another van next to us. One of our guys was in Oklahoma site and another in Alaska. We (BR) developed a very reliable way of getting in communications. We set up the Chirp Sounder over the paths from the sites. You don't know what HF frequency is going to get through but because we had the Chirp Sounder ionospheric information showing the best propagating frequencies we were not running blind. But we had a method using the Chirp Sounders. We had a small group of assigned communications frequencies over the range and we would try the best at a certain times knowing from the Chirp which would propagate. So we setup, and I got communications with our guy in Oklahoma very shortly after getting setup. We were up and running and an airman from the military van came over and said, can we use your telephone. We don't have a phone! He said, well, how did you get in communication with Oklahoma. Well, we used the shortwave. That's what we were trying to show you how to do. So we built sounders that would show them exactly what frequencies and how they pick it. And they were always having another problem. Here's an exercise. There's the FCC and the military. There's sort of two arms of that that assign radio frequencies. When they go on an exercise, the headquarters says here are your frequencies. Here's your day frequency and your night frequency. Well, that's not very good because a selected frequency may be occupied but there were whole batches of frequencies in the pool. Probably some operation over on the other part of the world is given the same frequencies. Well, we came up with this idea. We developed a device, which was a spectrum monitor that could look at the whole spectrum. But it looked at the spectrum but also would show you your channels usage. We've got one frequency. You look and see was somebody on it now. But we also could also see that it had been used before—it would store information for half an hour. We finally convinced the military, you don't give this operation just two frequencies and another operation two frequencies. You give everybody the whole pool and they can watch and find frequencies that haven't been occupied and so that they can use that frequency without interfering with some other user. So that worked. We worked with the Air Force and finally got to the Navy where the Navy has shore stations working all its ships. The way the navy used to handle the ship-to-shore frequency assignments was the shore stations would assign a frequency to the ships. The ship had to use that frequency. We finally got around to putting our CHIRP sounder at the each Navy shore station and every ship could see which frequencies were best. We turned the Navy around. This HF usage cycle went through the eighties then lost emphasis due to satellite communication. This cycle went through two 10-year cycles. Shortwave was it. And during the first Iran hostage crisis with the Navy out in the Indian Ocean. They only had one satellite and they were putting all their eggs in that basket. The Navy had beautiful shortwave equipment on the ships. So we had to sell the navy a lot more sounders in a hurry. They bought all of our sounders and we had to loan them all of demos until they got theirs and that all went for another five to ten years. Then some admiral said, oh, we don't care about HF and it all went away. Then—I can't remember exactly—in the early nineties there was another emergency and they went back to shortwave. But by now the military had pretty well given up all their shortwave communications. But meanwhile BR is still doing research.

Geselowitz:

Are they using microwave communication?

Gilliland:

Oh, satellite. Microwave does not work for these distances.

Geselowitz:

Satellite. Right.

Gilliland:

Well, the military had a wonderful system. The Air Force has a big communications center at Andrews Air Force Base, one in Illinois and Hawaii and Guam and that. And they were all connected to landline. Well, here's another thing that we finally taught them. You're flying an airplane from Hawaii to California and you don't have satellites—they still use shortwave for some of the overseas things. Okay. Basically, you're bouncing off the ionosphere. So a long distance path is basically at a low angle, but as you get closer and closer and closer, the angle becomes steeper and steeper. And so your frequencies have to change—you either have to go lower and lower or you're going to penetrate the ionosphere. Well, you're coming from Hawaii to California. As you're getting closer and closer to California, why would you talk to somebody in California when it's easier to talk to Hawaii because Hawaii is connected to California by landline. The military had these wonderful comm stations and they're all connected. We also taught things to the Marines. The Marines are doing a landing and they're about 100 miles offshore. It's too far for your 2-way VHF radios, but you're too short for good shortwave especially up in the artic. So you're in a ship off Norway, why don't you talk to the comm station in Sicily who them relays back to Norway and that—we spent a lot of time there. We also did a lot of information on backscatter.

Geselowitz:

Now, when did you get married?

Gilliland:

I got married in 71.

Geselowitz:

1971.

Gilliland:

Yes. When I got to California. In fact, the fellow that I worked with at Stanford in Florida, which would have been 1958 or something, was out here and he's the one that introduced me. So I've been with some of these same people for a long time.

Geselowitz:

I asked because I wondered how did your wife, Mary, feel about all this—you were doing a lot of fieldwork.

Gilliland:

Well, yeah. I was gone a lot, and a lot of the original stuff wasn’t appropriate for her to travel with me. But we've done an awful lot of traveling together since then. In fact, it turned out—I didn't mention this. It was 1971. Besides what we're calling oblique sounders at BR, we also built a vertical Chirp sounder and we sold one there at Arecibo to replace my father's sounder.

Geselowitz:

Ha.

Gilliland:

I got to take it to Puerto Rico, and Mary went with me. So it was sort of our honeymoon but at the same time we had also worked with the French military. So I continued from Puerto Rico to Paris to work with them and Mary speaks fluent French. So the company paid her way.

Geselowitz:

Oh, that's great.

Gilliland:

Yeah.

BR and TCI merger

Geselowitz:

Wow. But BR Communications was merged with TCI in 1983. Correct?

Gilliland:

Yeah.

Geselowitz:

So how did that impact your work?

Gilliland:

Well, it sort of shifted my field. We made radio receivers in that as well as doing some research work, and TCI had made a lot of big antennas for military and commercial. I'm not sure exactly what their market was. But TCI would buy receivers or special parts of receivers that we built. We were occasionally involved with antennas too. We probably could have bought TCI, but there's something sort of slightly changed in the balance of things and they ended up buying us out in 1983. For several years, it didn't make too much difference. 1983/84, we all moved in together. TCI had been a lot bigger earlier in some ways. Besides that, TCI built a lot of classified equipment for military. But we moved altogether and by then we were building more sounders and things and that. But at this time, TCI got this big contract to build three major shortwave broadcast stations for The Voice of America. They had already put antennas in a number of Voice of America places and for the BBC. The antennas are very large, with 120-meter tall towers with 100-meter wide curtains between them holding multiple dipoles. You know a dipole is usually a half wavelength. Well, a wavelength at 10 megahertz is 30 meters, so the dipole is 15 meters. These towers were multiple wavelengths high—they had typically four dipoles wide in a curtain. It's all flat. Wires with insulators. And then each dipole transmission line came back down to the ground and then it went through delay lines and switches. And so you could switch delay lines in. So now you've have four dipoles. Well, if you have two dipoles here, you've got a beam in this direction. But if you could effectively move the dipole in the direction of transmission, you'll steer the beam. So these big switches could switch delay lines in to the point that it could steer the beams of these transmit antennas up to plus or minus 23 degrees. But also they had multiple dipoles stacked vertically so you could change the vertical takeoff angle. If you're in the ionosphere and you want long distance, you want a fairly low takeoff. But a shorter distance, you'd like a higher takeoff. Well, these switches are rotated by big half-horsepower motors driving great big arms. Well, if you look at me now, these arms are, like, about this far apart and that and the transmission lines—well, you know what a 300 ohm transmission line looks like for your TV. The impedance of transmission line is a function of the diameter of the conductor and its spacing. Well, these are half million watts. So our transmission lines were copper pipes, you know, that far apart (a meter or more). And for the motors, there was a computer and a bunch of electronics to control them. And it turned out my hobby came into play. I didn't go into detail before—my hobby is with telephones. I've got a Strowger Step-by-Step switch exchange—the original mechanical telephone switch—in my garage and all that stuff. Well, these big motors are like great big telephone switches, and I sort of got totally drafted into overseeing the installation and design of the controls for these big antennas. Each antenna had a small hut with a computer controlled from the transmitter building. The computer had a table with the switch pattern for each beam direction. This computer then used 24VDC sent to each of the twelve beam switching motor control relays under the transmission lines. One of the big fortes that TCI had is they could design an antenna with their proprietary software and if you built it, it would have the perfect desired beam pattern. Most antennas are black magic, and others who designed antennas found out they wouldn't work and you'd have to make a lot of changes to fix them. And so TCI had some wonderful people working on this. An antenna for the broadcast had to be very broadband because many different frequencies are required in each band. And the manager I worked with knew how to solve problems. He'd walk along under these delay transmission lines and say, well, look, you know, we need to put a little capacitance here but it was a mechanical pipe. You see? We put one right here, you know, and that sort of thing. They knew what they were doing. But I ended up supervising the control installation and all of that for these major antennas – not RF work.

Geselowitz:

Okay.

Gilliland:

But anyway, it was a different field for me and in the end they were building several other antennas. There was quite a complex set of drawings for the controls. And I ended later drawing up some controls for some antennas, which I never went to work on.

Geselowitz:

Okay. So is that more or less the work you did until you retired?

Gilliland:

Yeah. There were other projects at BR in the middle, like we built a buoy that would receive the HF signal and retransmit it back after a short delay. It was an interesting thing that was sent way out in the ocean that they get backscatter from to see what was going on. I was involved in the circuit. Also, with Dr. Fenwick I've got a patent on a shortwave modem. Basically shortwave has fading and multipath. If you can have a signal from A to B that does one bounce or two bounces and both of those signals come in together and they can interfere and cancel each other, which is called fading. And so I was trying to send a teletype signal over shortwave, a modem. We're only talking about 75 to 100 baud in those days and you had lots of dropouts caused by both fading and noise bursts. Fenwick did some research work on the nature of the correlation on this fading—if you can extend beyond about seven seconds of the fades, you can eliminate the data loss. And so Fenwick came up with a very, very simple, but very clever idea. We took your teletype data signal and put it into a digital delay and came out with seven tapped outputs, each one a second apart. And then in the modem, we transmitted each of those seven different signals on a separate FSK audio tone. At the receiving end, you received them and put in delays so that all seven data streams came out at the same time. And then did a vote on them--a very simple vote. You could have a total outage for three seconds and it wouldn't interfere with your signal or a big static crash wouldn't affect all of them. And so I ended up doing design work on the electronics. It was Fenwick's idea on the delay. It that was actually quite a popular product for BR. I remember we sold one to—I won't be sure, but I think it was—the CIA. They had an office in Israel and another one in Jordan. Their circuit was by a government satellite and the satellite was giving them all sorts of troubles. So they put one of our modems on an HF circuit and had a much better quality circuit than the satellite. We did things like that at BR.

Voice of America

Geselowitz:

Didn't you do some work for Voice of America?

Gilliland:

Well, these three big antennas projects were Voice of America (Thailand, Morocco and São Tomé). Up to ten 500 kW transmitters at each site.

Geselowitz:

Okay.

Gilliland:

Well, it actually goes way back. Dr. Villard had helped the Voice of America in the Cold War days. The VOA had transmitters in Munich trying to send a Voice of America and Radio Free Europe into Czechoslovakia and all the eastern European countries. And, of course, the Russians were jamming the signals. So it was a lot of work with the VOA, teaching tricks for listeners to help receive the VOA broadcasts. Shortwave has what's called a skip zone. If you're within 10 to 20 miles of a transmitter you can hear it, and if you're 100 miles away it's going by the ionosphere. But if you're 20 to 30 miles away, you can't get it. Villard taught people how to get around jammer groundwave and there's a lot of VOA work through Stanford and then BR did some VOA radio work (not antennas). Then TCI came in and was building the big antennas for a number of new stations. Shortwave has really gone downhill now, especially shortwave broadcasting. I mean I never travel anywhere without a shortwave receiver and listen to the VOA or, mostly, the BBC, as you’ll see. BR had an earlier project with the Voice of America. The VOA was paying RCA to run small shortwave transmitters from Europe to get teletype news data to our U.S. embassies in Africa and it was low power. I mean, 10 kilowatt. But the Voice of America is running a 100 kilowatts or 500 kilowatts radio program transmission to the same areas. Dr. Barry came up with a method to put teletype traffic as a subcarrier on the Voice of America broadcast so the embassies could pick the teletype news off the voice broadcasts. The U.S. has a government news service US Aid that is available for any newspaper in any small country to get—they go to the local embassy and get all this news wire free of charge. The VOA was separate from the RCA. So we built a phase modulator to put a carrier on their Voice of America transmitters, which cost the government nothing. I ended up in Liberia testing the system. This is my VOA/BBC story. I went outside of the main VOA program receiving site as it was time for some news. Oh, I'm sitting in this major VOA site where they're receiving the programs by HF to retransmit to the rest of Africa--it was before satellite so they're receiving signals by shortwave from the U.S., retransmitting them to the rest of Africa on different frequencies. I'm hearing all these live VOA broadcast in English and other languages. So I went outside to get news. I turned the BBC on and it was just as the Kent State riots were occurring, Students were shot. I go back into the VOA building and the VOA did not say anything about that for a day. So I always carried a shortwave and listened to the BBC.

Geselowitz:

That's interesting. I still sometimes tune into the BBC when I want to know what's going on.

Gilliland:

The problem is the BBC, the Voice of America, all these shortwave broadcasters have pretty much turned it off. The BBC—I used to listen here at home when we're going on a camping trip. I'm getting the BBC by shortwave because you don't have Internet in the woods. Well, to run a half million-watt transmitter on several different frequencies you're talking about several hundreds of megawatts from the grid. It's too expensive and nobody is listening. So the BBC has turned off all their shortwave beams towards North America and Australia and more. The Voice of America is only covering things like the Middle East and developing countries. And the military, as I said earlier, has just about lost their skill in voice and data HF communications. So I think the military is thinking of restoring some HF right now as a backup to satellites. So we were definitely involved with anything that had to do with shortwave back in those days.

Geselowitz:

Wow. Any other particular projects that come to mind before I ask you some closing up questions?

Gilliland:

Oh, sort of on the side is my telephone interest. I played with telephones as a hobby for years and built switching exchanges in my garage. BR was a small company—at its biggest it may have been 200 but it was generally 100 people or less. So I took over running the phones for the company. Back in the Bell days I'd move phones and that. We never called the phone company. In 1983 when the Bell system was broken up, BR moved to a new building and I bought a bunch of key telephone equipment and basically installed all our phones at the office. That was a hobby of mine. But it started way back. It was the NBS transmitter in Puerto Rico that my father operated, the C-3 sounder. It ran automatically every 15 minutes and when he wasn't at the station, he wanted to know if it was working. So I built a device that would automatically answer the phone line so he could listen to it from home. This is in high school. So I was always involved with doing phones in the proper way.

Geselowitz:

And shortwave both. You combined the two interests.

Gilliland:

Yeah.

Geselowitz:

It's been fascinating stories. What have you been doing since you retired?

Gilliland:

I worked very, very small part time maybe on and off for a year or two for the company because at BR the kind of product we made, you build the same model for years. Our problem was integrated circuits and stuff like that. You want to build it next year? Well, they don't make that chip anymore. So the company had to find old stock. Well, anyway, we were selling equipment that had been designed ten years earlier. Some of the people that worked for the company didn't know how to test the product. So I was involved with helping, you know, the production on that. Oh, as an aside, back when I was working on circuit design for some of this equipment there was some integrated circuit that was needed. I looked at the datasheet and I needed more information. So I would call the company, which happened to be in the Bay Area. Unlike normally you would get in touch with their marketing guy, But here the sales rep would say, oh, so and so invented that circuit. We'll let you talk to him. That was the greatest thing. I could talk to the guy that designed the circuit. But after that generally--I don't think there's anything specific that I did other than my wife and I did a lot of traveling and I fiddle with things around the house.

IEEE

Geselowitz:

So, as we get ready to wrap up, I always ask this question. You mentioned joining IRE very early on and I know your father published in IRE. What was your interaction with IRE and IEEE over the years in terms of conferences, publications, anything like that?

Gilliland:

Well, at Tech I remember going to meetings. I got the Proceedings and I also got the communications transactions, and I've been to a lot of meetings and events like that. And out here I follow the Sections. Actually, my father-in-law was an IEEE member—this is back in the seventies—there was the IEEE San Francisco Section and it had subsections and he was involved in the subsection and I ended up being the chairman of the Santa Clara Valley Subsection one year. And it was wonderful. I don't know if you've heard of WESCON.

Geselowitz:

Of course.

Gilliland:

Well, the conference alternated between San Francisco and LA. One year it was San Francisco and I was involved with working with that, you know, in different things. One of them was the registration committee. WESCON just sort of disappeared about twenty years ago. I guess it was the interest. And then I've gone to some of the lecture meetings they have around here. In fact, the last one or two has been Zoom, which is wonderful.

Geselowitz:

It's easier actually in a sense.

Gilliland:

Yeah. This time I wouldn't have gone to if I had to drive in the local traffic. I'll back up. This is more history of George Barry and BR. We (BR) had some equipment lying around. And I said, well, it's either the prototype or it's an early finished production. He says, well, throw it out. He had no interest at all of keeping any of the equipment and company history. I and a couple other guys I worked with are sort of packrats, and we'd take the items home. But to me history, you know, of stuff is very important. Hewlett-Packard evidently has had a pretty good collection—they have sort of a museum and they've kept their equipment and documentation.

Geselowitz:

Engineers never want old stuff. They only want new stuff.

Gilliland:

Yeah. Luckily, there are some packrats. There's another fellow that came to work for our company. You're talking about hams. Bob Fenwick, the head of BR, was a ham. And a number of other people in the company were hams. It was very ham-oriented and people that were really experienced in shortwave. And one of the later employees that came was a retired Green Beret but in the HF business and he is a bigger packrat than I am and managed to save a lot of equipment.

Geselowitz:

What's his name?

Gilliland:

Oh, this fellow. Richard McClung.

Geselowitz:

When we do the final edit on the tape, you can fix that if you look it up or think of it. I was just curious about--we like to know where the stuff is.

Gilliland:

Oh, I see. Yeah.

Geselowitz:

In case it’s going to get thrown out.

Gilliland:

The difference now is TCI had all of this quite sophisticated engineering design work in antennas and radiation patterns and that. But it was also manufacturing. And to make these huge curtain antennas, so originally they had a very long wire shop. Think of a flat curtain made of a series of wires.

Geselowitz:

Right.

Gilliland:

With 120 meters high and maybe 200 meters wide with a grid of wires. Well, it's held up by a catenary of cables between two towers. Well, they built these curtains in the wire shop which where they would stretch these long (horizontal) wires with the tension they're going to have in the final installation, and then connect the cross wires. When it's all put together and released the assembly sort of crumbles up. Take it out in the field and unroll it. When you pull it up the towers, it comes out perfectly. Well, they also made coaxial transmission lines up to 12-inch coax. I have an 8-inch coax elbow. It's an aluminum casting that looks like elbow macaroni, but it's 8-inch diameter and they had a scrap bin where some ended up. It was aluminum “scrap” and I went in the scrap bin and there one of those elbows in there. I said that's great. Right now it's on my back porch. But actually I had gotten another larger one and the company got an order that part about four or five years later for that part. But they had stopped making them thus I gave it back so they could fill the order.

Geselowitz:

That's a great story about the use of technology. That's a good one. So I really appreciate your love and interest in history and the fact that you support the IEEE History Center and that you're willing to do an interview about yourself and your father's work. Especially, like I said, about the work in Arecibo. Anything else you'd like to add before we end the interview?

Closing remarks

Gilliland:

I was never a ham. But all this work in the field exercises with the military, I ended up working as a radio operator quite often.. So I got enough ham-like work in and it was interesting. I think I mentioned it here. I'll explain a little more. At BR, we worked on auroral HF propagation. The earth's magnetic field has its north pole in northern Canada and the auroral oval is centered around the pole—do you know what the auroral oval is?

Geselowitz:

Uh huh.

Gilliland:

Because of this shortwave propagation into that region is terrible. The arctic communication is all messed up. To understand what is happening BR ran a project to measure arctic ionospheric conditions. So we flew our CHIRP Sounder receiving equipment on an Air Force KC135 from Goose Bay, Labrador, across Northern Canada and ended up in northern Alaska and then down to Eielson AFB. The flight stayed at midnight under the Aurora for nine hours. And to do that the airplane had to sort of zigzag because we could go faster than the earth turned up there. And we were sending a signal from Utah and measuring it on the plane. I got to do a summer and a winter set of those flights. That was quite fascinating.

Geselowitz:

So that actually reminds me—the fact that you went up to Alaska, which is usually really cold. You said at the end that you would say a little extra anecdote about your rheumatic fever and tropical climes.

Gilliland:

Oh, yeah. What it I was I had rheumatic fever. I was seven, I guess. After I recovered, I had what's called a heart murmur. And it was recommended I stay in tropical climates. Well, it was so slight that over the years some doctors didn't say anything. I said, well, I have a heart murmur. They'd listen. Oh, yeah, yeah, we can hear it. Well, my newest cardiologist—it's only been eight or ten years—he listened and everything and said for me to have an echocardiograms. They said that's not rheumatic fever. It's congenital—I had a bicuspid instead of a tricuspid heart valve. And so there is a murmur and the doctor said, well, you know, it can begin leak and become a problem. So eventually I ended up having a heart valve replacement. That's the only problem—it wasn’t rheumatic fever that was the main cause.

Geselowitz:

I see.

Gilliland:

I've appreciated being in warm climates anyway.

Geselowitz:

You learned to enjoy it.

Gilliland:

Yeah.

Geselowitz:

Okay. That's terrific. So I'm going to stop the recording. Thanks again for your time.

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