Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station (BNJARS)
Nov 23 - Here is the report on our visit to the Philly shipyard for a parts raid. I would say that the best description of the week, in one simple word, is poor. Three of the ships had seen us before and even the newly arrived ex-USS Austin had little for us. In fact no radios of any kind were obtained. The Austin did provide the needed cables for the single AN/URT-24 in our Transmitter Room, as well as some shock mounts for any future AN.URT-23 transmitters that we may find.
The Merit Badge gang did inherit a rather large "white board" for use during classroom sessions. Of course, this board will also be used by others as needed. The Avionics Management Team did receive two large multi-drawer storage units with about 150 hand-sized drawers. Equipment wise there were several audio amps, radio room speakers and coax connectors.
The O2 level restoration shop now sports a bench height "Vidmar" brand cabinet which John has already loaded the top of with his favorite RBA, RBB and RBC receivers.
The former Radio I, now known as WWII Radio, has ownership of a pneumatic mail valve-head with some piping attached. This large, heavy brass item will eventually be mounted in the space for public viewing. We also located, and removed, a version of a "Sailor Phone" to be used in a future exhibit, which has passed the curators first approval.
Oct 18 - The NJ2BB shack was devoted entirely to visitors for the weekend long Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) event. Doug, WA2NPD, has already reported via E-mail about the success of the event. For a while all three operating positions were active scouts and their leaders. This was a great job by all involved.
Elsewhere, Rich was working on the final design for the "YUK-20" relighting project.
Out in the former Harbor Master tower, Ski made the final installation and local connections for the super-cam job. The next phase of this job is to run coax from the tower to the White Gate guard hut. I'm waiting for word from the ship's staff as to who will do this work, the ship's gang or us.
Tom reports that he is nearly finished with the wire install for the TCK transmitter after which he will modify and install the high power resistors for the power supply.
Oct 11 - Finally, the lost updates have been located, checked for accuracy and are published here. What? In other words, I've finally sat down at the computer and typed these words of wisdom.
The WRT-2 transmitter has been mounted in its final position in the Transmitter Room. Also completed was the inspection and repair of any damages to the cabinet wiring harness during transport to the compartment. We still need to fabricate the upper mounting bracket for this 6 foot high piece of equipment. Only after this bracket is installed can the re-installation of the drawers commence. The interconnect wiring for the WWII TCK transmitter is nearing completion. After this phase is completed, the re-powering of the RF decks can gain momentum.
Super-Cam has passed its last lab test and has been mounted on the upper level of the former Harbor Master tower located at the west end of Clinton Street. With any form of luck this system will be alive, at least to the gate hut, by days end this Saturday. Extending this system to the ship will be a whole job in its self. The design allows for this camera to be controlled from any one of five locations.
One of the "YUK 20" computers is resting, in parts, in one of the O2 level shops undergoing a re-lighting process. By the end of this project the upper machine will have its door left open exposing the maintenance lamps, while the lower one will remain closed with only the power light showing.
Chief Harry reports that Radioman Smith, a mannequin, is now standing watch in WWII Radio. He is copying the sounds of CW, but due to security is not revealing what the message is.
Saturday also found two of us giving a special tour of our spaces to a couple of guests from North Carolina. Nick (KD4CPL) and John (K4OZY) seemed quite taken by the accomplishments to date and have offered some very special help with our BB-62 projects. I highly recommend Nick's Navy equipment web site at http://www.virhistory.com/navy/index.htm Take the extra time to work your way into the many photos of the Teletype comm. station that was located on Guam Island. You'll find lots of machines and even more paper on the deck.
Sept 15 - WOW!!!! - - That three letter word best describes the move of the AN/WRT-2 transmitter from my truck, to the pier, to the weather deck, 2nd deck, Broadway and ending up in the Transmitter Room. The members divided into groups to cover the needed work along the path. The work on the pier included the final dis-assembly of the rather large and bulky cabinet into two sections; held together by 40+ bolts and hardware. Total time spent of the transfer was 2 hours, not counting the general membership meeting and lunch.
Thanks to all the members that helped get a WRT-2 back onto the ship. Even though she had several of these WRT-2 onboard, one is plenty for her now. Yes, this rig will be returned to operation for "All Navy, All Battleship" operations.
Elsewhere on the ship attempts to make the first CW contact with the recently installed RF-350, at HAM-4, were not successful. A combination of high local noise and poor band conditions stood in the way of a "All Navy" contact. Oh well.
A report from the O2 level restoration shop says that the new RBB receiver is actually that, new for a RBB. The production date of the radio is 1962, just before the final run for this fine radio. The report continues that the interior condition of the radio makes one believe that this rig sat in storage, never made it into the field, before landing in a basement in Atlantic City. Another WOW here.
Aug 30 - Even though it was the first day of the Labor Day weekend, there were enough members on hand to move several pieces of donated gear into the ship. All gear is in the compartments where it is to be used or worked on, with the exception of three drawers from the recently acquired WRT-2 transmitter. These are in temp storage on 2nd deck near the HT shop. All of the WRT-2 parts, including those still loacated here at the Jersey Shore should be in the Transmitter Room by the end of next Saturday's workparty.
Repairs to the Mess Deck TV cable system resulted in a greatly improved picture on 2 of the 3 sets in those areas. The third set is just plain broke!
In the forward port side of the Main Deck, a broken piece of coax was located and repaired. This returned high quality TV to this section of the ship. However, the elusive problem with the Wardroom area is yet to be isolated.
The HAM-4 position how sports a military RF-350 HF transceiver for use on those days when we feel like operating "Navy" from the NJ2BB shack. Operational training is available for those interested in its use. Work did continue on the upgrade of the YUK cumputers.
At the forward end of Broadway, the job of adding tracking numbers to each of the wind speed integrators has commenced, as an aid to documenting the use and repairs of these mini analog computers.
Up in the SITE Control Room the channel 6 processor was placed back into service following repairs. It has been awhile since TV 6 looked this good. Just another example of "good work takes time" or "slow work takes time".
Aug 23 - The big news for those of us who believe that “real radios glow in the dark” is that BNJARS now has possession of an AN/WRT-2 transmitter. This 1000-watt HF transmitter contains countless numbers of those things called vacuum tubes that do glow in the dark.
I’ll try to keep the WRT-2 story short. A notice of this rig being available appeared on the Museum Ship discussion list one Tuesday morning. Within the hour I replied and received notice that the rig was ours, that it was in Pittsburgh and had to be removed by the end of the month. Now, the preceding words may seem a little stern but Jack, my counterpart in Pittsburgh, was nothing but helpful. That same night while attending a local Ham club meeting I mentioned the WRT-2 and the upcoming day trip to western Pa. Well, within minutes one of the members scolded me about the drive and offered the use of one of his semi-rigs the next time he had a run to the area. Ten days later the transmitter was sitting in a warehouse only 15 minutes south of me. The next part of the transmitter’s travel plan is the final leg to the ship and down to the transmitter room, hopefully in a week or so.
Also during this episode with the WRT-2 the NJ2BB gang has obtained another RBA and RBB receiver with power supply. These will be at the ship this Saturday to begin their journey to the O2 level shops.
As for work at the ship we are in the process of slipping a donated Harris RF-350 into the Ham-4 operation position. The thought here is the often-asked question “are you guys operating Navy gear?” The RF-350 is about as close to civilian gear as the Navy gets in its design process.
July 26 - The day opened with a visit from one of our long lost members. Ruben was in town for a family gathering and managed to arrange to spend the day at the ship. An interesting note about his abode in Phoenix is that the president of his homeowners association is Admiral Tucker (retired), the last Captain of the USS New Jersey.
Work wise John fabricated a couple of 12-volt extension cables for the SITE System studio cameras. These cables were needed to address a safety concern with the existing location of the power supplies and visitors feet. Jerry reports his nearing completion of having all Transmitter Room receivers feeding audio into the audio switchboard in the compartment.
Gene has received the gear stock needed to machine the "weak link" in the wind speed integrator computer. He figures that this $30 expenditure will prove the replacement gears for at least the next twenty years. Once again Rich attacked the YUK-20 computers and defined the scope of the job. With the help of a former user on this style machine, he now knows what the panel lighting should be.
July 19 - Even though the first words that come to mind as a description of workday is HOT, the crew still performed their magic. Starting in the Message Handling Area of the Radio Room you would have found one of our "YUK-20" computers in a total state of disassembly. By disassembly I mean that Rich had this thing torn down to the bare nuts and bolts. In the process he located the power supplies and their former wiring, all being the beginning of his restoration of the maintenance panel of the machine. Prior to leaving for the day he did get everything back inside the cabinet for neatness sake.
Besides finding Jerry roaming around the Transmitter Room mumbling about bad connectors and cables, we found Too Tall Tom beginning the reinstallation of the inter-connect cable for the TCK-4 transmitter. At this point it appears that the original cable, from the USS Des Moines, will be usable so as to keep this as close to a historical restoration as possible. Having cleared his shop of the headache also known as the R-2368, John was last seen eyeing a "LM" frequency meter, from the USS Des Moines. After some cleaning and testing I suspect that this piece of test gear will find a new home in the BB-62 version of a WWII Radio Room. Also in this shop was Bill B. who was testing and aligning a Heathkit AM/FM tuner that lives in the SITE Control Room. After being returned to its rack it appears to perform perfectly.
Ski was able to wire the auto-iris section of the Super-Cam into the control section. Then, once again, the entire system was moved to the weather deck for testing and alignment. All functions of the system are now operational with results exceeding last weeks testing. The next phase of testing will be the integration of the controls into the existing security system.
In the SITE Control Room, testing the plans of using digital converters in an effort to keep the TV antenna portion of the system alive after February 2009 proved the idea will work. Even though the simple test showed the idea would work, the marrying of the components still has some speed bumps to cross.
With his wind speed integrator project of hold for parts, Gene spent the day keeping the ship on the air via PSK. It appears his theory of operator error during the use of Digi-pan may be valid. More detail will be provided to PSK operators as needed.
While investigating some equipment in CEC, a compartment I thought was otherwise empty; a voice announced, "The layout of the place sure has changed". Words like that can only mean one thing: - a former crewmember is present! Two hours later I had learned a number of things about CEC, CEC Admin and CIC. Because he does not live in the area, this crewmember visits the ship every time he is in the area, mostly for corporate training. He promises to contact "Radio Dave" on his next visit with more info on these spaces.
July 12 - Late word from the O2 level restoration shop is that the Harris R-2368 has been repaired. The internal computer control section has been driving John towards crazy for some time now. The cause of a missing bit has been isolated to a loose pin in a card edge connector. which after tightening of the associated socket allowed the rig to return to life.
During the past couple of months BNJARS has been constructing a telephoto remote controlled security camera. On Saturday this project was moved to the weather deck for testing and adjustments. The test revealed some minor work that needs to be completed before final installation on the Harbor Master tower. Yes, we can read a license plate at 400 feet.
Down in the Message Handling Center the lower UYK-20 computer carcass was removed from its equipment rack in preparation for re-activation of its maintenance panel. Located inside the front cover, the job will return some of the panel lights to operation, but NOT in a "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" fashion. The Ham-2 and 3 stations were on the air for most of the day utilizing SSB and PSK modes.
A work request for phone service to a Ward Room State Room was completed. Phone work than turned to restoration of one of the WWII style phones, obtained from the former USS Des Moines. This particular instrument will be mounted and placed into service at the WWII Radio Room. The exterior of this phone was rehabbed thanks to the gang better know as the Brass Team.
July 7 - What started out as a promised quiet day at the ship rapidly turned into an example of Murphy's Law.
Two weeks ago we tested the interface between the SITE system and the 1MC, in preparation for the Battleship Blast fireworks display and music simulcast. All was fine then, however, things were not proper when the system was energized Saturday morning. Things like a bad receiver, dead batteries, bad distribution amp, water on the deck, etc can drive one crazy. Ed did a fine job driving through each of the problems in order to provide the sounds of music to the weather deck during the fireworks.
The aft starboard side missile launch camera has been showing signs of power supply failure in the form of video bars on the CEC monitors. Once again Rich performed his magic then handed the unit over to the high wire actors for re-installation on the aft stack. John had his head buried in one of the R-2368 receivers, which has been failing its "power on self test". My last briefing by him on this item has him building a "bit catcher" to help narrow his search. I'll complete the tour of the O2 level shops by reporting that Ski ran a bench test of what has become known as the "super camera" job. This security camera has been fitted with a 200mm lens and remote control (pan, tilt, zoom and focus) via the video cable. Of course Murphy showed his head in the form of the zoom and focus functions operating in reverse. Oh well, another day at the ship.
Dave W. spent a couple of hours going through the piles of tech manuals looking for drawings and details concerning the guts of the UYK-20 computers. The job of relighting one of these machines will commence soon with the help of Dave's research.
I'm not sure of what was happening in the Transmitter Room. The last I saw of Jerry he was carrying a piece of electronics from Avionics, to the Transmitter Room, mumbling something about "COOL"! Beth and Margaret were seen scurrying about the aft end of the O1 level taking care of business at Avionics and the TTY Office. That leaves Gene at Ham-2, letting the world of Amateur Radio know that the ship was on the air.
What happened last weekend (June 28-29)? I'm glad you asked. Last weekend was the annual Ham Radio Field-Day for some of us. Well, it seems that Mike M. and Gene had an idea for the weekend; how about NJ2BB being part of the event. Between them they worked nearly 500 other Ham station across the country. Great job guys. This may become a new event for us. Our QSL manager just reported that the NJ2BB gang has ventured into new territory, passing the 25K QSO point. Log-EQF shows 25,976 as of June 30, 2008. This is a fine measure of all our operators skills and time. Thanks!
June 25 - Reports from our QSL manager show that certificate requests for working 15, or more, ship contacts during Museum Ships Weekend are showing up in the mailbox. To date the max number of ships worked is 36.
At the ship you'll find Rich continuing with security camera repairs. This past Saturday we removed the missile monitor camera from the starboard aft yardarm for repair. Repair and re-activation of ship service telephones along various tour routes continues. Ed has learned which phones are prone to damage by visitors, with the high seas locks being the most common item needing attention. After finding a bad "N" connector at the NJ2BB HF patch panel, an inspection of all the connectors at the panel found all others to be intact.
Word from the ship's staff is that after paying the ship a visit, her 1969 Comm Officer left his E-mail address and phone number in case he can be of any help with questions about the ship.
John has been buried in the O2 level tracking the source of trouble with one of the R-2368 receivers. It appears to be a digital problem instead of some more common RF bugs. Also on the O2 level, Ski has been converting the ideas associated with a new camera installation, into a physical object.
Gene has developed a plan for replacement of a troublesome gear in the wind speed integrator. This small mechanical computer converts the rotation of the "air plane propeller" located on the yardarm, into speed indication at repeaters throughout the ship.
May 25 - This year's venture to the Dayton Hamvention was a blast. The BNJARS booth was in-place for all three days of the event. Although there were quiet periods, most of the time found visitors in the booth asking questions about our work, sharing their experiences with the ship or just being curious. As with last year, the 16" projectile was a visual draw that was worth the effort to move it from the Wardroom to Dayton. A very special thanks to John and Loraine for giving some much needed break time to Margaret and me. I hear that a crew for next year's Hamvention booth is already forming.
Nineteen hours after leaving Dayton 2008, BNJARS was at the former Philly Shipyard for the spring version of the museum ship's raid on four former warships. The former Siapan, Connelly, Yorktown and O'Banon were a source of parts and equipment for our Radio Room as well as the Curatorial Dept, Brass Team and Maintenance Volunteers. I will not go into the long list of items transferred to the BB-62 this week, but it is impressive.
Saturday the 24th found a gaggle of BNJARS members hauling the stuff from its temporary storage in FACCON 1 to its final destination. Some items did make the trip to Avionics for short-term storage, but everything brought back from the shipyard has a near future purpose. Contrary to previous trips to Avionics, all parts have been properly stored, thanks to the on going work of Beth and Margaret. After the storage work party, some serious restoration work continued in both of the O2 Level workshops, the Transmitter Room and FACCON 1. While the crew got back into it's normal swing, all three NJ2BB HF stations were on the air making contacts.
May 13 - The 3rd deck compartment that once housed the Radio Room, until 1981, has been painted. The three available operating positions have been positioned, loaded with restored RBB, RBC and RBM receivers. Also sitting in temporary locations are audio, control and TTY patch panels. There will be continuing work in this compartment to make it a realistic presentation of what the WWII radio room looked like. Sometime in the future this will also become an operational part of the NJ2BB license.
Work on moving the ship's security video equipment rack to a new location is nearly complete now that all the coax cables have been installed into the new bulkhead penetrations. Some cable layout with the area and side panels will complete this project. Extending transmitter control to the RTTY position in this 3rd deck compartment continues with hopes that the mode will be functional by Museum Ships Weekend.
A special "encrypted message" transmitted by ship-to-shore station KSM was copied, but the QSB prevent solid copy. A 100% copy, including the key settings and the test, is needed to decode the message. Had we obtained the desired solid copy, Doug Mc would have used his M-209 machine to de-code the message. Oh well, it was worth the try.
Apr 20- This past Saturday the noise level on the lower bands jumped to 20db over S9. This was confirmed to be coming from the suspected chilled water tower forced draft fan. I've begun the investigation into the possibility of adding a vendor filter kit to the variable speed controller.
The O2 level shops were busy removing paint from a receiver case, repairing the third missile video monitor and construction of a security camera interface. This interface is a new project that is to be used for monitoring the Clinton Street gate. The long awaited #64 bulbs arrived last week and one has been installed in the CEC Dead Reckoning Tracer. After adding some impromptu navigator marks to the chart paper, we closed the lid on this project. Just another attempt to add to the flavor of the space.
The System 75 telephone switch received hours of TLC in the form of programming changes and on-the-job training for BNJARS members. This system has been operating flawlessly ever since its arrival in 2001, thanks to Frank and his team of volunteers.
I do have to re-enforce an earlier warning about Avionics. Anyone entering this space must do so at their own risk! The two ladies have been putting a lot of energy into cleaning and organizing this space and are on the look out for anyone thinking this is a junkyard.
Because the Transmitter Room promised to be the coolest place in the ship, several members headed there first thing upon boarding the ship. Word is that one of the RBC receivers has its audio wired to the patch panel, some N connectors were installed and a couple of control connectors were installed. Also, rumor has it that the RTTY operation planned for the compartment is making forward leaps and bounds.
Apr 12 - Saturday was one of those days when only a handful of members were present, yet numerous little jobs were undertaken. One things agreed by all those present - Saturday was one of those HOT days in the ship! In fact, the transmitter room was cooler than any of our other workspaces.
During last weeks MARS drill a comment was made about the amount of noise heard in the HF receivers. Electrical noise from the surrounding indrustrial complexs has always challanged our operations from the ship, but an investigation into the noise was started. One thing noticed was that with the Ham-3 rig NOT patched to an antenna there was still a noticable noise level at the rig. Even switching the rig to the outboard dummy load did not reduce the noise level as low as expected. Some cable swapping located a bad shield of the RG-8 patch cable running between the amp and the tuner. With a new cable installed, the Ham-3 noise level, without an antenna, is pretty much down to the rigs noise floor. However, the off-the-air noise is still an S-6. This agrees with the other 2 rigs, and pretty much matches what I have here at home. Oh well, one comment, one problem, one repair. We are not finished with the investigation of the noise level though.
In order to install some new phones on the ship, cable tracing was performed and documented.
The big surprise for the day was the amount of spring house cleaning performed in the TTY Office on the O2 level. The size and weight of the trash bag that went to the dumpster would make any member smile. Yes, some things went to Avionics, but not much, really. Next on the cleanup list is GCS!! Really!!!
During the afternoon, BNJARS supported the teacher's seminar by providing speakers and handouts to 33 educators.
Apr 05 - As was scheduled, the new decking was installed over the foundations along the aft bulkhead of the Transmitter Room. Next, the T-368, RCK and four RB series rigs were positioned on the plates. After some pushing and pulling we came up with what may well be their final mounting locations. Part of this rearrangement of the equipment involved storing a RBB and RBC receiver on an existing bulkhead bracket, similar to an arrangement viewed on the former USS Des Moines. All in all, this layout gives a better image of the gear and the compartment.
The trouble with phone extension 137 (NJ2BB) has been dealt with. The route, as traced is too long to write about, however it is an interesting one that covered more areas of the ship than expected. At several points the cable actually crossed over itself, heading in the opposite direction. Go figure!!!!
The missile monitoring camera, reported bad a few weeks ago, has been changed out with a repaired unit. This leaves one of the CEC monitors still in need of some TLC. Also completed was the "VU meter" for the SITE Control Room on the O2 level. This panel mounted meter will aid with setting the weather deck audio levels during those times when the TV station is tied to the 1MC system, such as during the annual Battleship Blast.
Work in Avionics, TTY Office and the NJ2BB shack filled out the rest of the work day.
Mar 30 - As proof that the BSA merit badge program is a success, Doug and his gang held the NJ2BB shack captive for the morning. A problem with the Ham-2 digital modes has been corrected. It appears that sometime during the last couple of weeks someone had turned on the logging programs request for the computers com port. This action overrode the need for DigiPan to use the same port. All is well now.
Part of the Saturday crew completed tasks requested by the ship's staff, such as adding an audio line on the aft mess deck, for use by the USO show during their encampment acts. Also, the chroma wall in the SITE studio needed to be removed so that Maintenance can gain access to the compartment fan and chilled water unit. The wall will be returned to service once the maintenance department has completed their task.
Reports are that one of the missile monitoring cameras has been removed from serviec for repairs, and should be back to work next weekend. Hum, bad camera? Sounds like another bad filter capacitor?
Some swapping of AN/URT-23 cabinets brings us one step closer to having all four of these rigs on line. Over the next few weeks more testing will be performed. Next week will most likey be devoted to installing the new foundation plates in the Transmitter Room, mounting the associated vintage gear and starting the interconnect wiring. Also to be completed are several "N" style connectors at the receiver antenna patch bay.
Mar 23 - Our restoration efforts onboard the ship are about to cross another frontier, namely that of the low frequency and medium frequencies (LF and MF). In its 1980's configuration, these frequency bands were covered by using a directional coupler (SWR meter) located in the feed-line for the Fan antenna. By using the reflected power tap of the coupler, the Navy was able to use this antenna for transmission while receiving. No form of transmit-receive relays were used, yet 8 of the 1500-watt transmitter could be using the antenna while FACCON had a max of 56 receivers patched to the antenna. Not your average Ham shack arrangement.
This past Saturday the final wiring for the CU-2007 LF/MF coupler was completed. As it stands now, we have continuity form the antenna directional coupler in the transmitter room, to the Cu-2007 in FACCON 1, to the SRA-49 filter/patch panel also in FACCON 1, and cables connected to the SRR-19 MF receiver. All that is left is the connection at the Fan antenna directional coupler, which will be performed this coming weekend. The BB-62 did not have transmit capacity for these frequencies during the 80's and as such WE CAN NOT transmit LF/MF, for now.
Other work on Saturday resulted in the elimination of poor TV reception in the forward/starboard section of the main deck. The cause of this long term problem was a couple of bad "pressure taps" left over from the 1967 installation. More work in other parts of the ship have yet to be attacked.
Thanks to some help from the ship's maintenance department, the scrounged aluminum plates are ready to be installed over the welded deck foundations in the Transmitter Room. After these plates are installed next Saturday, the various pieces of WWII gear will be bolted in place.
On your next visit to the NJ2BB shack you will notice a major change to the setup of the compartment. The two computers that sat above Ham-4 are gone, forever. Their function of packet control has been transferred to the new machine jammed between the QSL cabinet and the refrigerator. This machine now operates APRS, DX-cluster and Nova at the same time.
The removal of the two computers cleans-up the view from the scuttle, allows for a better equipment layout and simplifies the operation of Ham-4 HF and VHF gear.
The O2 level shop continues with the repair of the Harris R-2368 while the Transmitter Room gains more sounds (receive audio and mechanical clanking) of live TTY.
Mar 16 - The first thing noticed about the NJ2BB shack on Saturday was the abundance of Scouts. Doug and his merit badge gang had 19 students in their morning class. While some work party members hovered in the radio room area, should their help be needed, other scattered about the ship with projects in mind.
A little spoken of area is the E-works, a.k.a. motor rebuild shop, just aft of the 2nd deck machine shop. With this compartment becoming part of a tour route, a dial phone was reinstalled and programed into the telephone switch.
One downfall of our many visits to the shipyard for parts is the cable tags that return with the many equipment cables and patch cords. These tags have unique numbers that identify the cable and it's function at its original ship. These tags have no purpose or business at the BB-62. Dave C spent his day moving through Avionics, removing all such tags and insuring their disposal.
The O2 level shop has returned to the Harris R-2368 and its bad power supply. Reports are that a replacement part has been located and may be in hand within a couple of weeks.
Work continued on a very pesky teleco line whose route and exact problem still evades the crew. More time and work needed here.
From down in the transmitter room comes some really great news. After some voltage readings on the URA-38 auto coupler did not indicate the troublesome 80 volts that damaged some gear awhile back, it was decided to give the system a try. It works, again. The AN/URT-23E and the ‘38 performed as designed, tuning the port 35' vertical, as requested by frequency changes at the transmitter. More operational testing is needed to return the gear to a confidence level of 100%. Although this is one of those updates where I'm not mentioning names, I have to let Too Tall Tom know that his break-out board worked flawlessly. This was his first ship's project and by now he has probably decided that it was never going to be used. Thanks Tom.
Mar 11 - Prepare for a bunch of compartment names and initials. The upgrade of the Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) readouts located in the Combat Engagement Center (CEC) are nearing completion. The last set of numerical displays are slightly different than the original design, in that the new one has a slowly changing numbers sequence, where as the first three or four units have a fixed readout. This number movement adds a little bit of life to the compartment.
Down in the Transmitter Room things are a change'n. Aluminum plates have been acquired and stored for the purpose of leveling the equipment deck foundations along the aft side of the compartment. This leveling is needed because the 1940/50 vintage gear does not have a foot print that is compatible with the equipment of the 80's. Once the decking is in place we will be able to finalize the positions of the TCK, T-368 and the stack of RBA/B/C receivers. Speaking of the "R" series radios in the Transmitter Room; two weeks ago one of the RBC receivers was powered up, connected to the antenna patch bay and tuned around the bands. They still sound good after all these decades; the radios, not the bands.
At the request of Maintenance, a type G phone has been installed in the Machine Shop on 2nd deck. A phone is also scheduled for the Power Shop (a.k.a. motor rebuild shop) just aft of the machine shop. Though not requested by anyone, this phone mount is on the soon to open City at Sea route.
The TS-440 located at Ham-3 has been modified to accept audio via its rear panel 13-pin DIN connector. The rig was tested on RTTY and PSK with expected good results. This Saturday will see the "mute" mode installed in the external interface box. This last modification will mute the front panel mic whenever the rear panel audio source is used, as in RTTY, SSTV and PSK. As it stands now, the front panel mic must be removed when using any digital modes.
While tracing one of the customer lines for the dial telephone system, the ship has once again proven that she likes an occasional fight. What should be an easy trace has taken so many turns and twists that the phone team gave up for the day, with plans to continue during the next workday.
The return to service of the Drake L-4B amp has been delayed for a day or two while a simple problem is resolved. Now, please, please, remember that I like to joke around a bit during these updates!! The repair team converted the amps HV transformer to match the ship's 120 volt service. When they powered up the amp on the test bench, they were missing a couple of voltages. The cause of the voltage errors? Hint, if there is one transformer that needs re-wiring for 120 volts, there may be a second. Remember, I'm just having fun here.
No word yet of when the WWII radio room will be painted.
Up on the O2 level a couple of the guys started the tracing of all the security video coax cables in preparation for relocating the equipment rack to the main deck. There will be a call to arms when the day arrives due to all the cable moves, connector changes as well as equipment moves to be made prior to calling it a day.
Feb 25 - The turnout for Saturday's work party was small or so I thought for a while. It seemed small because I acted as control op for a group from the Raritan NJ area , about 4 hours worth escort duty. The visitors had all three stations on the air, moving between 40, 20, 17 and 15 meter SSB. Their total of 84 QSO's included some DX but more importantly one BB-62 vet who now knows about the Sept reunion at the ship. Also there was the contact with the son of a BB-62 Vet (now a SK). Most all of the contacts for the day were long, non-contesting style even though 20 meters provided the expected pileup. The visitors seemed to have fun and promised to talk-up the shack to others from their home area.
In the meantime most of the regulars arrived at the ship, without me knowing, and continued with their ongoing projects. The stealth gang included Gene (wind speed gadget), CAP Rich (cameras) and Bill L (patch panels).
Ski finished the Drake power supply modification that is now waiting testing in the workshop. Bill B spent time in the O2 level shop removing parts from some gear, than handling some minor work for the ship. Lou pulled QSL cards for our venture towards DXCC as well as supplying several empty cigar boxes for the Smoke Stop display area. While Margaret and Beth spent their time working in the TTY Office, Jerry could be found in the Transmitter Room working on the TTY circuits and Model 19 teleprinter.
Feb 16 - Saturday found Vince N2WXF and his son Vince N2WXE onboard the Big-J for a visit to NJ2BB. If his name sounds familiar to you it's because he is the person who donated the T-368 transmitter located in our Transmitter Room. During their time onboard, the ship's staff extended permission for the visitors to travel to the Transmitter Room to view our work there. The senior Vince has indicated that he will be joining our group and hopes to continue with the restoration of the T-368.
Brian spent a very, very long day in his area constructing an intercom test fixture. Modeled after a circuit mentioned in the system tech manual, this box of switches and connectors will allow for bench top testing of units better known as the 21 MC and 22 MC (a.k.a. bitch box). Keeping Brian company in the shop was "Cap" Rich, who extended his run of camera repairs to eight. Each of these cameras has exhibited the same problem, bad filter capacitors. These cameras came to us via a dumpster diving trip at my former employer, who, as a matter of fact, found the repair effort to be too costly. Please do not tell Rich these facts; he might get a swollen head.
Ski spent a quiet day in the Message Handling Area building the replacement power supply board for the Drake L-4. This is a commercial kit, ala Heathkit, that replaces all the filter caps, resistors and diodes in the high voltage supply. Once completed and tested, the supply will be mated to the amplifier for final testing and tweaking. When John deems the rig ready for use it will be installed at the Ham-3 position of NJ2BB. Of course the description of quiet means that Ski spent some parts of his work day educating visitors as to the function and manning of the Message Handling Area.
John built a piece of test equipment used for testing the dozens of oscillator crystals that have migrated into Avionics. This gear is also being used as a frequency standard for testing and aligning the many receivers that pass through the O2 Level shop.
Reports from the TTY Office indicate that Beth is a master with respect to the vaccum tube tester. She and Margaret are purging Avionics of dead tubes in order to make room for those that have yet to be cataloged and stored.
After completing his tour guide duties for Vince, Gene headed back to his wind speed integrator project. He reports that prototype testing is looking good and that installation of a gear train will begin soon. Gene's design will allow for a complete bench top inspection, testing and alignment of this miniature analog computer.
Feb 5 - Since my last report we have had guest operators who learned that not even the power of the Battleship could overcome the poor radio propagation during this portion of the sun spot cycle. Oh well, good times are ahead of us, somewhere.
The ongoing problems with the TNC/PC/APRS system have been mostly corrected. We may never know why the system crashed, but as of this past Sunday most of the system and displays are back on-line, live.
Rich has had success with repairs of security cameras. So far 3 of 3 units have suffered failure of the same internal power supply capacitors. These repaired units will find their way to the missile decks to replace in-service units that are exhibiting the same symptoms; 60 Hz hum bars. Rich is also happy that his repaired missile monitors in CEC are still on-line; thanks to some new capacitors. Hey, is there a new nickname for Rich here? Cap Rich?
Tom traced and terminated the UHF feed line for the AMS cabinet. Also located and confirmed were the pairs of TTY lines that connect the QMS rack with the "black" TTY patch panel.
Thanks to a new Friend of the ship, all of the circuit packs for the System 75 telephone switch are now properly stored in static discharge bags and foam lined boxes. Thanks Martin.
Our work with the encampment group plans to open the SITE system to overnight visitors continues. To date 4 training sessions covering the startup, operation and shutdown of the system have been held. Extra time has been proved to those who will be charged with the operation of the control room and the video switcher. Recent reports of visitors to the studio and control room (not turned on) have indicated deep interest in the SITE system and its effects on the crew.
Since his acceptance of the Wind Speed Integrator job, Gene H is seldom in the shack on Saturdays, preferring his "laboratory" instead. He reports a normal "2 steps forward, 1 step backward" progress with the project.
John has been busy building a calibrator for the many RB series receivers. To tell the truth, so much is happening in the O2 Level shop that it can be hard to track the news from there.
Bill L has been tracing and repairing troubles with the SB-2727 audio switchboard. I admit to writing a few weeks ago that the restoration of the board was complete, however, digging inside, Bill located more work to perform. Chalk one up for Bill.
Terry has announced that his Transmitter Room antenna patch panel interlock project is complete now that he has installed a Plexiglas cover over the terminal strips. Thanks Terry.
Jerry has returned to the trouble shooting of the SRR-59 receiver's LSB module. Indications have pointed to the mixer module but Jerry wants to be sure before removing and attempting repairs on this sealed unit. During his next visit to the room he plans on a swap with a known good module to verify his suspicions.
The project to replace the Dead Reckoning Tracer lamp with a LED assembly has pretty much failed. It appears that the request, design and construction of the LED assembly failed to take into account the "incident angle" of the light beams; the results being no projected image or a totally fuzzy one. We now understand why the Navy used a #64 lamp and not a more generic style. Oh well, Old Technology 1, Dave 0.
Jan 12 - The new year started off great! Another major event has happened onboard the Big-J. Rob Flory, K2WI, scheduled a visit to the ship in an effort to “kick start” the restoration of the TCK transmitter obtained during our raid on the former USS Des Moines. Rob and John spent several hours in the transmitter room cleaning, gluing, wire checking and destroying fuses. But by days end they had identified and repaired a wire error in the 12-volt supply, powered up both low voltage supplies and created a list of things to do prior to Rob’s next visit. It was a very warm fuzzy feeling when the main power light illuminated for the first time in almost 40 years. Thanks Rob, your kick-start effort worked.
While the gang worked on the black crackle painted old gear, Terry kept behind the transmitter room antenna patch panel repairing the 24-volt supply used with the interlock system. By the end of his workday Terry had restored all functions to this system of lights and alarm windows.
Rich attacked the channel 5 weather station video system in an effort to remove some 60 Hz bars that had made the system their new home. He located the two cameras that had internal power supply problems and replaced them with bench spares. Once again the BB-62 weather channel has clean video. One modification Rich performed was a lens change for the “outside air temperature” camera. The mechanical dial gauge now fills the video screen with much easier to read numbers.
Gene H located a long forgotten spare base plate for the wind speed integrator. He plans on building a test fixture for use in the repairs of this mechanical computer.
Ski found himself alone in the O2 level shop for most of the day due to the work in the transmitter room. He has been building an LED replacement for the #64 light bulb that is used in the Dead Reckoning Tracer (DRT) located in CEC. Months ago when we found that primary power was still available to this navigation aid we replaced the burnt out light bulb then patted ourselves on the back for returning to service this piece of gear. Two weeks later the lamp was out. A check for a new bulb revealed that the lamp has an operating life of 500 hours, roughly 2 weeks. The short life, cost and hard to find status of the lamp dictated that a better way be found; hence a home built LED replacement.
I opened this update with one milestone and now I have another one to mention. During the past three months Tom Jaskel and I have been discussing his idea of opening the S.I.T.E. system as part of the encampment tour route. His plans called for a short time behind the desk, behind the camera and at the producer’s chair for each person spending the night at the ship. Well, this Saturday afternoon we held the first training session for the limited handful of encampment volunteers who will man the system during the envisioned tours. To tell the truth I was taken aback a bit by the enthusiasm displayed by these guys. More training will be held to ensure the safety of the system and to provide a comfortable level of presentation to the encampment visitors. As a note, this is not the same as Ebe’s “Captain’s Call” of recent history since there will not be any production work or air time involved.
Ok now, some of you guys are to groan at this one but…. Details are in the works for the relocation of the Security Video Rack to a new secure location on the main deck. This move is necessary due to the near future increase in the number of cameras and the video wall that is planned for the Sounding and Security Office. Several days of cable tracing and tagging are ahead of us, followed by one very long day of relocating gear and cables. As of this writing we do not have a time frame established but I will pass the word as more is known.