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Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station (BNJARS)
Current Year 2013
April 19 - This update will cover the past 3 Saturday work parties, mainly because the nice weather has found me involved with household items.
Thanks to the efforts of "Princeton" the HP-85 mini-computer (1982) located in Main Plot Forward is now running a program that uses information from a ballistics table designed for the 16/50 guns. The table gives range versus gun elevation and powder charge information. Dave's screen display shows target bearing, range, gun elevation, time of flight and initial velocity. After waiting the length of the Time of Flight value the program recycles to display a different set of values then continues as before. One major concern was the availability of the computer keyboard to visitors, which could lead to loss of the programming due to wandering fingers. A short note to the ship's Maintenance Department resulted in a fast response from Gary Crispin who fabricated a really nice and secure Plexiglas cover for the keyboard. Thanks Gary. Bill B did some relamping of status indicators in Main Plot Forward.
The long silent modification to the Left Gun Projectile Hoist controls is finished, tested and visitor approved. This design allows the large brass lever that originally operated the hydraulic system to hoist those heavy projectiles to now operate the hidden electric hoist that moves one of the fiberglass mockups. Based on staff, visitor and news reporters this modification has made a positive affect on the visitor's experience. Thanks to Ski for the work on the new control box.
Too Tall Tom reports that the problem with the HRO-5 HF receiver has been found (broken speaker wire) and repaired. Soon this radio will find its new home in WWII Radio. Thanks Tom.
On Sunday I received word that Harry had been to the shack and managed to make a CW contact with Mongolia. Good work Harry. Needing the use of the AL-80B amp at Ham-3, Harry also performed the testing of the recently installed new final tube in the amp.
John has expended an enormous amount of time on troubleshooting the HP 141-T spectrum analyzer that normally resides in FACCON 2. Although most sections of the equipment are back in service there continues to be a gremlin or two in the high voltage section. He also reports that advances have been made on the rebuilding of the HP tracking generator that is part of the FACCON 2 Quality Monitoring System. Goooo John.
Rich E and I installed the guts of the audio switchboard (SB-2727) in the Transmitter Room. The front panels had been removed to make internal work easier but this action removed the panel from service; therefore no receiver audio in the compartment. As part of the return to service testing we discovered a broken connection inside the USB Audio output connector on the back of the FRR-49 receiver. A quick touch of the soldering gun cured the trouble. Don't worry Jerry; your favorite receiver is still operating.
Bill B did some dummy load testing of the TS-950 transceiver, located at Ham-4, which went OSS during Museum Ships Weekend last summer. It appears that the bad audio and loss of output is only happening during side band operations. The testing revealed that AM, FM and CW do not appear to have any problems. More testing and work is needed with this equipment.
Margaret has joined ranks with Rich and Tom (Brass Team) in their efforts to return the Men of the Jersey kiosk to operation. Once located on the Aft Mess Deck but now part of the Sailor's Life on Main Deck, this unit now has a new computer and touch screen. Margaret is loading the computer database with information about the WWII crew; things like name, service number, date of enlistment, place of enlistment, former duty station, next duty station, rate and rating, changes in rate / rating, etc, all hand typed into the database. Some items of interest that have been found are that a dozen crewmembers were transferred, in August of 1944, to the USS Indianapolis. Think about this for a minute: where were these guys in July of 1945? Four days after commissioning, why were 7 crewmembers transferred to the Philly Shipyard Hospital? Why, after a Captain's Mast, was one crewmember's rate increased and his rating changed?
Somewhere along the time line Too Tall Tom and Bill B installed a connection from the MARS antenna on the Aft CWIS deck, to GCS for use while doing equipment repairs.
March 30 - As mentioned in last weeks update there were three priority jobs for this past Saturday. One was completed without incident while the other two have more to be done.
The staff request for a FAX line was not finished due to a decision that Turret 2 had the highest priority. But Rich and I did spend enough time on the job to remove the improper wiring that we found, and then installed a new wall jack. The main cause of the existing FAX machine to malfunction was the intervention by someone lacking any knowledge of telephone circuits. ie. Never try to connect an analog machine to a digital voice network or use the wrong machine jacks for improper uses. We still have the final cross connect to do at the Main Deck IDF. Along the way Rich gave 9-year-old Sherman an introduction to Amateur Radio via a 2-meter contact followed by a tour of the NJ2BB shack and the Message Handling Area.
Thanks to Rich E and “Princeton” the HP-85 all-in-one mini computer (Hewitt Packard vintage 1984) is now back home in Main Plot Forward, powered, tested and ready for a bells and whistle program. “Princeton” is bench testing the software this week and should have it transferred to the HP-85 by the end of next Saturday’s workday.
The Turret 2 left gun projectile hoist modification project spent the week in Barnegat for some prefabrication and bench testing. Currently 95% of the modification has been installed in the Upper Projectile Deck of Turret 2. The final tie in may be next weekend, depending on staff approval of the design and installation.
Rich R has completed the SPS-49 radar control panel “blinky light thing” installation; therefore this large panel is ready for a return voyage to CEC.
Up in GCS “Too Tall Tom” was busy working on either the SRR-13 or the HRO-5 HF receivers.
Bill L arrived with a guest and showed him around the shack and some of the ship spaces. Flat Stanley seemed to enjoy himself and promised to give us a favorable review when he returns to Georgia and his second grade class next week.
I was going to leave the Flat Stanley report as written but decided that it wouldn’t be long before I was keel hauled over a non-paying guest being given open access to the ship. Flat Stanley is based on a children’s book about a young boy who is flattened during a home accident. After learning how to slip under closed doors, his brother started mailing Flat Stanley, in an envelope of course, to other places. In our case Bill’s nephew, in Georgia, sent the paper cutout of Stanley on a vacation trip to New Jersey. Bill thought that a day at the ship was in order for his young visitor. During his visit Stanley was photographed approaching the ship, with the Quarter Deck watch standers, operating 20-meters at Ham-3 before moving to numerous other locations. The strangest photo op has Flat Stanley standing beside the flat cutout of Bob Walters, former BB-62 crewmember/Archivist and other former crewmembers. On Thursday Flat Stanley will be mailed back to the Georgia classroom with the photos and a journal of his visit. The nephew will read the journal to his classmates as a form of learning exercise. Curious? Check the Project Flat Stanley web site for more details. As my all time favorite newscaster would say, “Now you know the rest of the story”.
March 23 - With the scheduled annual Navy safety inspection underway Rich E and I spent most of the morning doing small jobs in the NJ2BB shack, including the replacement of the final in the AL-80B amplifier. During the morning we had a visit from Hal, N2FI, who made a few HF contacts on 40-meter SSB, as did Rich using 20-meter PSK. I heard from Hal later that he would make a return visit with a goal of over one hundred new contacts for the NJ2BB log. With the help of Doug McCray we also provided some education and fun for the BB-62 Sea Cadets, not only with time in the shack but also a visit to the restoration shop on the O2 level for some exposure to electronics.
Rich and I traveled to the Transmitter Room for some measurements for a future project. We then continued our roaming with a stop in Main Plot Forward to make repairs to the cover hinge of the SPA-25A radar repeater. The cover now closes completely without any exposed edges that might catch a visitor’s fingers.
A trip up to the restoration shop for news of John’s adventures with the Sea Cadets while a status report on the spectrum analyzer and R-390 A finished our day at the ship.
For this coming Saturday we have three priority jobs including the installation of a FAX line in one of the staff’s office, making the final connections for the HP-85 computer in Forward Plot as well as the installation of a modification to the projectile hoist in Turret 2. The last two items have a direct effect on the soon to open Turret 2 Experience Tour. Hopefully next weekend the HP-85 computer will be ready for programming in an effort to add some more flavor to the compartment.
March 16 - The big news from the NJ2BB shack is the successful installation of the computer software that provides complete control of the Harris RF-350 transceiver located at the Ham-5 operating position. Written by KO6NO, this program provides not only an easier method of tuning the rig but also adds many features that do not exist within the radio.
Steve cleaned up the installation of the analog phone line in the Ship's Store, some items of which were left by the original contractor of years ago.
Bill L performed his normal checks of the Wind Speed / Direction equipment, reporting that the replacement spur gears are holding up to the constant operation of this mini analog computer.
Steve and Bill L then headed down to CIC begin the reassembly of those SPS-25 radarscopes we gathered from the former USS Forrest Sherman.
Jerry and Bill B spent time in the transmitter room inspecting and devising a plan to connect the donated AN/URR-74 HF receiver into the compartments audio switchboard. John was, as usual, busy in the O2 level shop working on equipment restoration and repairs. Too Tall Tom was busy in GCS working on the repairs to the HRO-5 receivers.
Although he was not at the ship we hear that Rich R was busy at the Trenton Computer Show passing his Tech Class test and almost passing the General test. Good job Rich.
As all of you should know by now there is a chance that the Turret 2 Experience may be opened to the public soon. With only a couple of jobs left for us in those areas the next two or three Saturdays will find most of our work effort being directed towards that end.
March 9 - This past Saturday started off with a crowded shack but settled down after awhile. Yes, the Ham-3 operating position now has EQF running again, including the RigTalk circuit that allows the program to track the frequency and mode of the transceiver.
Yes, the Ham-2 replacement computer has been placed on the equipment shelves and EQF installed but minus the Rigtalk feature due to a serial port conflict, which will be corrected soon. Digipan has also been reinstalled but needs some fine tuning of settings.
If you open Ham-3 or 4 for some operating time do not be surprised if EQF presents you with a message about a radio error. Opening the program without the radio being powered causes this message. The program will catch up with you after a short period of time. Better yet, turn the radio on before opening the logging program. Either way receiving the error message will damage nothing.Because of a problem in setting the clock in the Ham-5 computer, we have obtained a replacement machine, which will be installed, most likely, next Saturday.
Yes, a large pile of incoming QSL cards have been placed in their proper position within the QSL card file cabinets. Yes, a nice rag chew was held with the gang on the USS Wisconsin while they were operating as part of the Wisconsin State QSO Party event. Yes, the phone line for the Encampment Store credit card machine has been installed and tested.
March 2-3 - Wow, what a weekend at the ship! If you have been following these reports or been to the ship during the past 4 weekends you know that we had been preparing to try our hand at the 2013 ARRL International DX SSB Contest. These preps included adding software and cables to Ham-2,3 and 4 so that the transceivers could talk with the logging program, supplying frequency and mode updates. Along the way the age of two of the computers became evident when one suffered a stroke and the other a full cardiac attack. We even discovered a couple of network connectors that were suffering from a bit of arthritis. Even on Friday afternoon when we brought the whole system on line just before the contest start time of 7PM one of the computers stuck its tongue out at us.
But during the contest all equipment and programs acted like true professionals. True there were a couple of hiccups but they turned out to be human errors. You had better believe that the computers were laughing at us humans. At contest end the team had totaled 666 contacts with 89 countries. This is far from a winning score for this contest but it ain't in the bilges either.
Operators Pete, N2LVI; Rich, KB3NRL; Dave, KC3AM; Jerry, WB2CAK and Dave, WA2TVS appear to have had a great time working the contest. Behind the scenes we had Margaret, KB2BRR, tending to the computers, interfacing with the ship's Overnight Encampment Team for food and lodging of the operators and doing whatever was needed to help the team. How many contest stations that you know of are fed by a real restaurant catering service, not take out from some fast food place? My personal thank you to the NJ2BB contest team for a great weekend at the ship.
On Saturday there was a turnout for the work party. While Too Tall Tom worked on the HRO-5 receiver, Steve helped recover station logs from the computer that suffered the cardiac arrest. He also extended an analog telephone line into the Overnight Encampment Store, aft of the Mess Decks, for use with a credit card machine.
Next Saturday's first jobs will involve returning the shack to normal use and appearance, followed by general ship and BNJARS work.
Feb 17 - Due to the general membership meeting we had an extra large pool of members to "abuse", work wise. Prior to the meeting I needed to visit a number of compartments to correct or assess some requests by the Curator. Problems in Forward Plot and the Turret 2 Gun House were corrected, while requests for telephone service to one staff stateroom and the Captain's stateroom were found to be "no brainers". These last two will be taken care of next week when full access to the areas will be available.
After the meeting Bill B and Ted tackled the serial communications idea involving the Harris RF-350 located at Ham-5. Based on the design and work performed by the gang at the USS Hornet we have discovered that our RF-350 has its original serial control board installed. Bill and Ted worked on establishing communications with a dumb terminal that is temporarily sitting along side the RF-350. If you have ever worked with an undocumented serial network you can understand the headaches encountered. By the end of the day we had the dumb terminal displaying AGC, mode and frequency of the RF-350. Next week we will do phase 2, getting the rig to talk with the Ham-5 computer running the USS Hornet graphic display of the RF-350. This program provides for full remote control of the transceiver and power amp via the RS-232 line. Once this phase is completed we will, in the future, try to get the Harris talking with our EQF logging program followed by interfacing with the N1MM contest program.
TV Dave installed Pl-259 and N-style connectors on the Transmitter Room coax cable used as an antenna feed line for the recently installed Hammarlund SP-600 HF receiver. I didn't get a chance to see TV Dave at the end of the day but I did venture down to Broadway to give the radio a try. Thanks to the months of work by the restoration shop we how have the joy of using another classic radio.
Also in the Transmitter Room Roberto and Lenny rearranged the coax that had been feeding R-290 #6 and converted the coax into an antenna feed line for our second RF-350, which we have been using as a receiver only due to the limited 120-volt power available on that side of the compartment. A few weeks ago the RF-350 was moved to the opposite side of the Transmitter Room where proper power is available. Roberto and Lenny also moved the coax into the Transmitter Antenna Patch Panel (CA-1100). We did not get a chance to try the transmitter side of the rig due to the lack of "N quick connect" to "N" adapter. John has a bulkhead mounted "N" connector that he is donating to the cause for installation next Saturday. I can guarantee the rig will get a good on-the-air testing after the connector mod is completed. This will also be the first time use of a donated Navy "cross needle" SWR meter. You have to see this rack mounted meter to really enjoy the Navy design of a cross needle meter. While the work at the RF-350 was taking place Bill L helped with front panel changes to the CA-110 to accommodate the relocated RF-350.
One of the multitudes of "get to it later" jobs was given to Beth and Jerry. In Forward Plot they documented the correct position of all 46 snap switches on the Fire Control (big guns go BOOM) Panel. During this week I will be printing and laminating the final product, which will be hung on the Fire Control Panel, with a copy being sent to the Curator. Hopefully this will stop the endless trips to Forward Plot to correct senseless switch movement by people who should not be touching switches.
Up in the Restoration Shop new guy Rob W. revived ancient memories of working on R-390A receivers. John is glad to have a R-390 helper since there are 4 more to pass through the shop. Rich E continued with the reassembly of the HP spectrum analyzer in preparation to its return to FACCON 1 for transmitter and antenna testing.
I did see Rich R in passing but did not talk with him about his on going radar control panel restoration project.
During the entire day the NJ2BB shack was filled with members like Ron R (AA2RR) operating SSB at Ham-4. I have already mentioned Ted and Bill B working at Ham-5. In the middle of all this was PA Dave (K3FT) who was setting up the N1MM contest logging program in prep for the DX contest in less then 2-weeks. He has run into a problem setting up the local area network that allows for spotting, master log and various other features of the program. For those with no knowledge of the N1MM program it is full of more features than any one operator would use at one time, but is very clean and easy to use from the "front panel". The space bar and two mouse clicks are all that are needed to log a contact.
In the midst of all this activity you would have found Gene and Ed acting as AO, Logger, Technical adviser and general gofer for the others in the shack.
As we were heading towards the shack after lunch on the Mess Decks we passed someone who said "hi Dave". I replied in kind, took a couple of steps, stopped, put the engines in full reverse and changed my reply to "HI Rob". Visiting the ship and his former Sea Cadet Detachment was BNJARS member U.S.N. Ensign Rob DelConte. Rob paid a long visit to the shack and an even longer visit to his old work area up in the O2 Level Restoration Shop, aka John's World. For those who do not know of Rob, as a teenager he was a member of the BB-62 Sea Cadet Detachment, became interested in our work on the ship during the year 2004 and gained knowledge of electronics by spending Saturdays in John's world. He than joined the Navy, attended MM School, Nuclear Power Training School and Nuclear Power Prototype before changing course towards the U S Naval Academy. He is now stationed only a couple of hours away from the BB-62 so he took the opportunity to stop by and say hello. In my words, Rob is BNJARS favorite son. Rob's visit also sent Roberto and Lenny back down to the Mess Decks to work with the Sea Cadets and their CW skills.
As we were leaving for the day I learned that the three SPA-25 radar repeaters, obtained during our last shipyard raid, are back from the Brass Team with a new coat of paint. Located on the O3 Level these small cabinets need to be separated into two sections each before being transported down 6 levels. Two are headed to CIC while the third will find a new home in Aft Plot. Can anyone guess that this is the point where I ask for a couple of strong backed, weak minded members to handle this chore next Saturday?
Jan 26 - The workday began with a small group of the Battleship Bandits, all three of us, gathering in the NJ2BB shack. By the end of the day we still had only three of us. I guess the threat of snow was most likely the reason for the large turnout. To say that the ship was quiet for most of the day would be an understatement.
Two of us headed down to the Transmitter Room where John connected his test equipment and performed another sweep of the Disc antenna. With new knowledge about the antenna matching network this second sweep showed a fully functional antenna. But the story of the Disc does not end here because we found another "N" style connector that needs replacing. Guess what has been added to the work list for next Saturday.
While John was doing his magic I worked on a couple of small jobs in the Transmitter Room. That list of old jobs is on the decline.
After returning from lunch Margaret, with tools in hand, opened the Harris RF-350 located at Ham-5 and discovered that the very rare serial communications board is installed. This leads us to the possibility of having the EQF logging program exchange frequency and mode data with the rig, as happens with the other operating positions. Thanks to work performed by our counter parts at the USS Hornet we have paperwork and software for some early testing of this idea this coming Saturday.
Jan 19 - As you may have deciphered from my last update the visit to the NJ2BB shack by the Sea Cadets was in a fluid state. But things finally settled down and the NJ2BB gang hosted 30 Sea Cadets from both the BB-62 and the Cape May detachments. As I understand it the Cape May group suffered a last minute loss of their meeting building due to a heating system failure. This is when the BB-62 offered them the chance for a combined drill weekend on the Battleship.
Thanks to Ed W2KP, Ed N2PV, Gene N2WFN, Bob N4XAT, Sheldon K2MEN and Lenny WA2BTK, the shack was able to offer some airtime as well as a lesson or two in CW (Morse code to you non-hams) to the Cadets. Thanks guys for a job well done!
Although the Disc antenna was returned to service last week I asked John and Rich E to perform a TDR sweep of antenna. The results looked funny until we found a document that indicated that the antenna contains an internal "shorted coax stub" matching device. This style of construction explained the reading John obtained. We still have one "N" connector to replace before calling the antenna completely healed.
Rich R has been immersed in thought about 555 timers and light bulbs, all due to the blinky alarm light project on the radar control panel from CEC. Too Tall Tom was seen busy with his restoration project.
After the Sea Cadets were finished with the NJ2BB shack a group of us tore into the operating positions doing some upgrades to Ham-2, 3 and 4. These three operating positions now have "computer assisted tuning" for use with our logging program. No longer is the operator required to enter frequency and mode. There are other added features due to this modification that will be explained later. But have no fear, operating the stations remains the same, just easier.
Also added to the three mentioned positions was the contest logging program N1MM. This was added in preparation for the upcoming ARRL DX (SSB) contest in March. Again, no effect on the normal daily operation of the equipment.
While the shack was in shambles a handful of members traveled to the Transmitter Room to pull 6 new coax cables from the Receiver Antenna Patch Panel to each of the recently added or relocated receivers. This removes one more of those "hanging around too long" jobs that I mention from week to week.
Jan 12 - First was the 2-meter communications support, provided by Harry, Bob and Lenny, for a large group of Boy Scouts during their day at the College of New Jersey School of Engineering.
Second was the discovery of three items that had caused so much trouble with the Disc antenna over the past few weeks: 2 bad “N” connectors and one very loose UHF connector. Down in the Transmitter Room work on the Receiver Antenna Patch Panel is about finished. All that remains is the proper marking of all those cables. Thanks to Bill L and Rich E another of the Ft. Monmouth R-390 receivers is sitting in its new home. Now we have only two more to go.
I know that Too Tall Tom and Rich R were at the ship but I did not get around to their section of the ship for any updates, but no doubt they were hard at work with their projects.
This upcoming Saturday ( Jan 19) will be a busy time in the NJ2BB, what with an updated count of 31 Sea Cadets venturing into the area as part of their weekend drill. As I typed these words I learned that the Cape May Division of Sea Cadets will be joining the BB-62 Cadets for the weekend drill which means the number of visitors to the shack will be increased by who knows how many teenagers.
One thing that has been talked about doing during this Sea Cadet visit to the NJ2BB shack is to move the Ham-4 transceiver out to the normally empty Ham-1 position in the Message Handling Area. Since there won’t be any civilian visitor during the day the normal noise conditions that hinder Amateur Radio operations from the area will also be on absent.
Jan 5 - First to happen was the total test of the SITE System directors intercom system. I am happy to report that all but one of the cables tested OK. The single failure was due to the lack of memory as to where that cable (museum) is hiding. But since this circuit has never been used I’m not going to lose any sleep over it, but it will be re-discovered at the next opportunity.
Next was a request for more new phone work. We lucked out by finding some existing station cables that run between the needed locations.
While Steve and I were doing the above-mentioned tasks, Bill L and Bill B moved three of the Ft. Monmouth R-390 receivers from the O2 Level down to Radio 2. Along the way they also picked up the SP-600 receiver from John’s World and transported it to Radio 2.
Rich R appeared at the ship expecting to work on his “Minor Alarm” blinky light thing but instead found himself working on the tally light mounted on SITE camera #2. All hopes of a simple burnt out bulb vanished within minutes. A swap with a spare view finer made the tally light operational, but the spare video monitor was bad. When last seen he was working his way through the tech manual learning the circuits that control this red lamp on top of the camera. Who said life is simple on a Battleship?
Both Tom and John spent their day in the O2 Level shops doing their continuing restoration work. Gene tried to place more PSK contacts in the NJ2BB logbook but found the ongoing contest to be a hindrance to his adventures.
Joe and Bill L were able to overcome some speed bumps with the AN/WRT-2 transmitter. The major one was a broken screw head in a barrier style terminal strip. They used a dremel tool to cut a new screwdriver slot in the broken screw shaft and were then able to extract the pesky piece of metal. Joe has ordered a 3-phase bridge rectifier module to eliminate the need for the bank of mercury vapor tubes that once graced the lower drawer of the transmitter. When last used, in Pittsburgh, these tubes had been replaced by a single phase, free-floating set of diodes, but since we are returning to a 3-phase supply why not do it the right way?
Steve set about building the slides needed to mount the R-390 receivers in a 19” rack. By the end of the afternoon one rig was in place, a second was about to be hoisted into the rack and a third set of slides was being manufactured. The SP-600 now sits in an adjacent rack awaiting connection cables.
As for me I picked up where Rich E left off the other day while changing the internal wiring of the SB-2727, receiver audio switchboard, to their final arrangement and appearance.
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