Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station (BNJARS)
Reports for 2011
Dec 3 - IT”S ALIVE, IT”S ALIVE! Or so the saying goes.
Thinking back a couple of years you may remember mention of the 1980’s Navy style computer plasma display that sat near the center of the Combat Engagement Center (CEC) and how we removed it to one of the restoration shops for repairs. You may remember the search for a certain type of card edge connector or the search for tech manuals. Bill L spent many hours wire tracing the guts of this thing, working on a way to return this thing to service. Eventually the connector and tech manuals were located, studied and a plan of attach devised.
Well, this past Saturday Rich R put the finishing touches on the burdensome connector, crossed his fingers and plugged the display into a power receptacle. The results were a nice dark background with orange text. As Rich ran his fingers across the keyboard he was rewarded with characters on the display. The next phase of this project will be feeding serial information to the display in the hope of adding some of our famous flavor to CEC.
Ted spent the morning going through each of the NJ2BB operating computers, cleaning out some garbage programs, changing a couple of configuration parameters and some other general housekeeping chores. It wasn’t long before he had completed his intended task of setting up a message system for the computers. With this new system, stations of interest to us can be spotted to HAM-2, 3, 4 or 5. This will come in handy for such events as Museum Ships Weekend when we are in a pile up but still looking for other ships. As ships spots are received in the TTY office they can be relayed down to the shack. NOTE; this message system does not affect the logging program or process in any way. More details will be available at the membership meeting next Saturday.
Ski and new guy Dave D. worked on the renewal of the Harris R-2368 HF receiver improvement job that was started about this time last year. They are converting Navy style headphone jack stations into interface ports for each of the operating positions in the NJ2BB shack. This way we can use the Navy receivers as a form of antenna space diversity operation. As an added feature, each box will have three ¼ inch jacks for plugging CW keys into the keyers used at the position. This will eliminate the need to move the K-4 keyers when changing to your favorite key, be it paddles, bug or straight.
The report from John’s World is that he and Tom now have the proper high voltage for the display of the ships depth finer, but there are some problems with the phase shift network used to present the circular display of the UNQ-4 equipment.
Bob and Lenny burned some daylight by reducing some equipment chassis to a pile of spare parts. Along the way they provided some much needed help with changing out the “preview monitor” in the SITE Control Room.
Nov 12 - Late in the morning Senior Chief Carlson stopped by to talk shop, or should I say ship? But before any discussions could take place he jumped into the middle of our scrap metal transfer project. Along with Jerry, Rich R, Tom and Bill L about 90 per cent of our stock of scrap metal found a new home in the metal dumpster on Clinton St. Bill than transferred his flag to the TTY Office where he helped Margaret disassemble several old computers so that the metal shells could go to the dumpsters while the electronics will find their way to a county computer recycle center.
John and Tom continued their wire and bench checks of the UNQ-4 depth indicator system. Bill work on a regulated power supply is finished except for the replacement of a 24-volt AC cooling fan. He is now looking for a replacement unit.
Ed handled a priority work request to install a ship’s phone in an office that though occupied for many years, has never had phone service.
Rich R, who has been working on a video monitor for the SITE system, found what appears to be a broken standoff solder point, but may actually be a HV capacitor. The damage to the unit is such that any markings of a capacitor were destroyed. The tech manual is nearly useless on this item. He may need to inspect a similar unit to find the answer this design question.
On Monday’s trip to the former Philly Navy Shipyard we were able to remove three more AN/SPA-25A radar repeaters (scopes). After cleaning and painting these units will find new homes in CIC and Aft Main Plot.
Nov 5 - Last week’s report mentioned that the deck in FACCON-1 had received some much needed TLC in the form of scrubbing and waxing. Well, the decks in NJ2BB (aka FACCON-2) have seen the business end of the brushes, mops, scouring pads and a large quantity of elbow grease. By lunch time the shack was back on the air with Ed testing out the new CW filter in the IC-736. Guest operator Mark made a return visit for more time with the RF-350 at HAM-5. Gene and his favorite mode, 20-meter PSK, manned the HAM-2 station.
I extend a Bravo Zulu to Ed who, upon using the recently donated IC-736 noticed the lack of any CW filters. So, off to the Internet he went, found a filter, purchased, shipped and donated it to BNJARS. Thanks Ed.
During the down time of the shack Ed and Rich E travel to the ship's telephone switch room (System 75 on Broadway) to do some compartment maintenance. After lunch, with the shack back on the air, Rich and I traveled to Forward Main Plot to investigate a reported failure of the Mark 8 Range Keeper computer. Calm down Joe, it ain't bad! What we found was that one of the many manual data input knobs was locked in the "manual position" instead of in the "auto position". This particular knob contains an internal switch that turns off the Time Line Drive motor during manual data entry. No motor results in no visible gear motion therefore the thoughts that the machine has failed. Further operating training is planned for those that will be demonstrating the machine to visitors.
After doing his normal Saturday inspection of the wind speed / direction indicating system, Bill L headed to the O2 level shop to learn the ins and outs of regulated power supplies. Also in the shop John and Too Tall Tom have been bench testing the AN/UNQ-4 depth finder obtained during our last visit to the former Philly shipyard. This unit will replace the demiled unit located in our Chart House. The functional display will add some of our famous "flavor" to the compartment.
The last item for the day was performed as I walked out of the shack and FACCON 1, backwards, applying a second coat of wax to all the decks.
Oct 29 - Because of the light turnout, Ski, Rich E and myself were able to sweep, vacumm, scrub, strip and wax the deck in FACCON-1. This is the first complete bulkhead to bulkhead deck work we have been able to do since boarding the ship way back in 2001.
Along the way we were able to accomodate a guest operator, Mark, WB2IGM, who did a great job during the weekend long DX SSB contest. I have yet to check the logs but I believe he snagged us a couple of new countries for NJ2BB during his first visit to the ship.
The light turnout even allowed me some time in the Transmitter Room discussing future work schedules with Jerry. Yep, long missing Jerry made his way to the ship for the day.
And now a short warning about next Saturday's workparty. The shack will be closed for the first hour or so of the morning, allowing the NJ2BB decks to get their turn at cleaning and waxing.
Oct 22 - To continue where I left off at the end of last weeks update, Rich R. has completed the restoration of the 40-channel alarm panel that is mounted to the overhead of Combat Engagement Center (CEC). This task was very difficult when we consider that this large panel, which is usually bulkhead mounted, was bolted to the overhead and also has other large equipment directly under the alarm panel. Heck, some access doors on the alarm panel can not be opened because of the mechanical interference. The result of Rich's effort is more indicator lights that add to the flavor of the compartment.
Giving one last effort, Ski was able to bring back to life the final AM-2739 audio amplifier located in Forward Plot. The added background sounds adds to the flavor of the compartment. Sound familiar? Sorry about that.
This past Saturday found me sitting on the deck of FACCON 1 sorting through all the stuff I have allowed to accumulate over the months. Once I was organized, other members of the Saturday gang lined up, accepted their pile of stuff and transported it to its new home. Before you ask, yes, some of it went to the dumpster. Some even went to the scrap metal collection point on Clinton St.
Back in the early days of the BB-62 being in Camden, Ebe set up a series of bowtie antennas, cable and amps to be used with his helmet mounted camera. Using this setup he was able to move about Turret #2 pointing out things of interest to guests sitting in the Wardroom Lounge. Usually these guests were not able to move about the ship easily, so this helmet camera arrangement was an added treat. Because of the recent work in Turret #2 the cables are no longer usable so Ski spent part of the day tracing the cable routes, connections and power sources for the amps. All this with the intent of reusing the coax as part of a security camera system for the turret and Forward Plot. More work to follow.
Too Tall Tom, under direction and guidance from John, has started the restoration of the UNQ-4 sonar (depth finding to the boaters among us). Being a former Sonarman John has wanted to rebuild this unit since his first day at the ship. An earlier visit to the former USS Forrest Sherman provided the needed parts and assemblies. When completed the operating scope pattern with add some, are you ready for this, flavor to the Chart House.
Oct 15 - Yes it has been many weeks, maybe even a couple of months since my last report of work and operations at the Battleship.
About 3 weeks ago we received news that the family of a Delaware Valley Ham (SK) was interested in donating his entire shack to NJ2BB. Arrangements were made and the transfer of equipment was completed 2 weeks ago. The first thing to happen as the gear was being unpacked was to remove all the existing gear from HAM-3 and begin the installation of an Icom IC-736 HF transceiver and an Ameritron AL-80B linear in the space. The transceiver received a good workout that morning by a group of visiting hams from the New Providence, NJ club and is a welcome addition to NJ2BB. For those that enjoyed the ease of operation of the TS-440s, have no fears because the new rig is just as easy to use. The internal automatic antenna tuner is a nice feature too.
Work on rewiring the SPA-25A radar scope in Forward Plot is nearing its conclusion. Bob and Lenny have done a great job of installing a power supply, wiring in the front panel lamps, switches and potentiometers so as to make it look operational. It is now up to Chief Harry to mount the internal flat screen monitor that will display some "canned" radar images.
It was fun the other day to hear signals coming from the donated SP-600 receiver that has been pushing John towards the edge of insanity. But, there is more work and alignment to do.
We received a call from the Quarter Deck about their TV reception, especially the security stuff on channel 2. Ski and Bill not only replaced the very very poor "F" connector on the back of the set, they also added a 90 degree adapter to keep the cable out of a pinch point. For more time than I wish to admit we have been fighting some poor reception problems with the TV sets on the Forward and Aft Mess Decks. Recently I threw in the towel, changed course and had the team install a direct, express coax cable that runs from the SITE head-end equipment on the O2 level to the First Class Lounge on 2nd deck. Reception is now 99.999% perfect. This improvement is most important because of our internal history channel (TV-4) being shown on the Mess Decks during visitor hours. After working on the Mess Decks we turned our attention to the CPO Mess where we found a large mass of unused or excess TV coax and telephone wiring. The tops of the compartment air ducts are now free of this junk and clutter.
During the late part of summer I received a request to repair the power switch on the SITE System "Air" monitor. Loss of this video monitor was hampering the use of the system by the encampment members and visitors. After pulling this large monitor out of the equipment rack Rich discovered that the switch is fine, it is the high voltage protection circuit that is shutting down the monitor. As of yesterday the problem may reside in a loose connection within the circuit boards. As any tech knows, an intermittent problem is a very hard thing to locate. More news to follow.
July 9 - After publishing my last update I received an offer from Dave W to use his fairly new all in one VHS to DVD converter with the recently obtained Pioneer videos. So, on Saturday he set up shop in the SITE Control Room and made several full and partial DVD copies of the tape. We are now is the process of editing the Pioneer action into a file format used by the ship's equipment to display this video in Main Plot Forward, Main Plot Aft and CEC.
Ed, Lenny and Robert finalized the installation and programming of the new dial telephone in Powder Flat of #2 Turret. While performing the final connections in the Forward Emergency Diesel Room, the gang found out just how loud the "cow bell" that is connected to that phone is.
John has been able to restore the AVC circuit and functions for donated SP-600 HF receiver. Now it is on to the next problem with this otherwise fine radio. Ray installed a replacement plastic window on the telephone dial style remote control unit we obtained from the former USS Forrest Sherman during our last shipyard raid. The unit now awaits mounting, most likely in CIC.
Tom spent the day working on the 12MC system in Main Battery 2. This system has yet to give up the cause of its malfunction but ongoing troubleshooting will prevail.
Bill L-1, Ray and Gene completed some Navy style field day operations in Secondary Plot Forward in preparation of opening day for the new Main Battery Tour Route.
Late in the afternoon a 9" flat panel dumb terminal, from the shipyard raid, was connected to the APRS monitoring system located in the NJ2BB shack. This action eliminates the need for the Ham-4 computer to be left on line 24/7/365, acting as the TNC control point.
July 2 - Though it was the start of a holiday weekend the NJ2BB gang added to the number of volunteer hours at the ship. Contrary to the usual method of bringing shipyard items onto the ship, ie put everything into FACCON 1 for later distribution, the latest truck load of goodies found new homes in places like CEC, CIC, Plot, WWII Radio, SITE, etc. Other then some fuses caps, light bulbs and lenses nothing was placed in Avionics either.
The 19” rack mountable “high accuracy clock” found in the CIC of the former USS Forrest Sherman was cleaned and inspected by Rich R. After replacing the hard-wired power cord he mounted the clock in a similar spot on the BB-62, above the Dead Reckoning Table in our CEC. The orange glow of those 9-Nixie tube readouts really adds to the flavor of the compartment.
The AN/SPA-25A radar repeater (scope) from the Forrest Sherman spent a week in Barnegat where it was disassembled, sanded, painted and re-assembled before traveling to its new home in Main Plot Forward. Thanks to Bill L-2 installing the mounting hardware this scope now fills a void created when the Navy removed an AN/SPA-25 during de-mill operations over a decade ago.
Ray spent his time at the ship restoring a transmitter remote control unit. Being about 6” square, this unit utilizes a telephone dial to select 1 of 10 memories of a VHF transceiver. Though smaller in size, this unit is very similar in operation to the TDZ system that the ship had during her early years. Waiting their time with the sand paper and paint are 5 vacuum tube audio amplifiers that are the predecessors of the modern solid-state radio room amps. The 3 Teletype patch panels are in great condition, so they are only waiting for their final mounting in WWII Radio.
One item needed for the safety of visitors and staff, as part of the new Turret 2 tour route, is a newly installed telephone at the Powder Flat. Normally the existence of explosive powder would have prevented the telephone from the area. Yep, a simple spark from the dial or ringer of a telephone would have been catastrophic to the crew and the ship. The new phone was installed while the area was a mess during restoration, which has now been turned into a clean, shipshape compartment. But the wiring is a very complex issue that has taken a couple of workdays to resolve. Remember, the bulkheads are thick with minimum penetrations. Bill L-1 and Rich E spent most of the morning finding a path for the phone cable; down from the Powder Flat into the Electric Booth, cross ship into the “Ballroom”, aft through 3 box beam/bulkheads, and finally into Forward Emergency Diesel Generator Room. Here it will find a connection box into the ships phone cables. OH, did I mention that Bill and Rich had to put up with a number of hatches no larger then the escape scuttle in the NJ2BB shack?
John has made great headway in the restoration of the SP-600 receiver that was donated to us about three years ago. This rig has been a challenge thanks to wrong components being installed in the past, wrong wire termination and at least one missing wire. The rig now shows life but is a long way from being the great receiver that the SP-600 was known as.
Gene and Ed manned the shack for a day of operation. Ed hosted a visiting 14-year-old new Ham, fresh off his first Field Day weekend. Nick made about 20 contacts on 20-meter SSB, all the time performing like a seasoned operator. Come back soon Nick.
As for me I need to explain why I was found in SITE Control watching videos. A promised VHS tape showing some great views of the firing of the 16-inch guns, launching of missiles and even 2 or 3 crew produced Battleship Rock music videos. But of most importance to me was the 20-minutes of Pioneer RPV video from Operation Dessert Storm. The Pioneer aircraft acted as a Forward Observer for the gunfire actions and proved the worth of these lawn mower powered aircraft. The 20-minute section will be converted to digital format, edited for content before becoming a looping video viewed on the Pioneer RPV monitors located in CEC and both Forward and Aft Main Plot. The Forward Main Plot monitor is extremely timely when you consider the new tour route that is about to open. The “fall of shot” images captured by the RPV will add a major flavor to the Plot experience.
June 27 - Yes, it has been more than a couple of weeks since the last update. But that does not mean that all has been quiet at the ship. First, we had another great three days at the Dayton Hamvention 2011. We still do not have a accurate method of measuring the number of people who cruise past the booth, enter the booth for a quick glance or the number of guests who spend some time asking questions about NJ2BB and the BB-62.
Once back at the ship our work in Main Plot Forward continued. As of last Saturday we have added some bells, indicators and programming experience with the Mark 8 Rangekeeper (computer). A telephone has been added to the Powder Flat of Turret #2, for the safety of guests and staff.
Work outside the Forward Plot has been taking place but I must admit that my full attention has been down near the lowest levels of #2 Turett.
I must extend a job well done to the members who spent time in the Philly Shipyard last week. Thanks to Pete, George, Ski, John, Tom and Rich we now have some more equipment, in my truck, for our WWII compartment, CEC, CIC, Forward Plot and the Chart House. Most of these items were off the former USS Forrest Sherman but the ex-USS Hayes, Gates and Yorktown also provided inventory. Included in the thanks is Staffers Bill Stroup and Bill Vets for their assistance on Wednesday. And a very extra thank you to Perry, W8AU of the LST-325, for once again using some of his time to help the BB-62.
This Saturday, July 2nd, will find my truck parked near the south elevator giving up the stuff found in the shipyard. For once there isn’t anything of major bulk or weight but there is enough that a few extra hands would really be appreciated. As of now nothing goes into FACCON 1 or Avionics. But there will be travels to WWII, Plot, CEC, CIC and the Transmitter.
May 21 - No actual work update but there was a three day long event known as the Dayton Hamvention. Celebrating 60 years in Dayton, Ohio and having grown to be the largest gathering of Amateur Radio operators in the world, the Hamvention has been very good to the Battleship New Jersey for the past 5 years.
Our tasks at the show range from presenting the ship to the public, bragging about our restoration work at the ship and networking with other museum ships. Thousands of visitors pass by the display and learn that the ship exists. Hundreds stop in for more details and leave knowing about its location, tours and overnight encampments. Every Ham who stops in also leaves with a colorful flyer containing info about the upcoming Museum Ships on the Air Weekend event.
Networking amongst the museum ships is an important part of our being at Dayton. This year we had long talks with ships like the Midway, Missouri, the LST-325, Mackinaw, and Boyer. We now owe a couple of these ships some technical information we may have hidden away. There was even a extended, roaming talk with the MARS coordinator about New Jersey being granted a military call sign for use in events such as the Military Weekend held two weeks ago. The ship’s original call sign, NEPP, is not available but a suitable replacement maybe. Standby for more news from this front.
It is often said that if you do not work an “eyeball DXCC” while at the Hamvention then you do not have your eyes open. Well, this year I stopped keeping track of countries after seeing Qatar, China, Japan, Indonesia, India, England, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany and a whole host of others. One non-English speaking Ham, upon being informed who we were by his translator, insisted on having a photo taken of the two of us. One of us an American Navy Veteran Ham, the other a Japanese Navy Veteran Ham. Only 360 days till we do it again!
May 7 - To steal a line from a famous black and white movie; "It's alive, It's alive!"
Since the BB-62 was decommissioned back in 1991, and especially since 2000 when she came under the control of the HPA, each and every visitor, volunteer and staff member who passed by one of the mechanical fire control computers would turn a knob, rotate a crank or touch anything reachable to them. Of course they should not have been doing this, but the machine was turned off so no harm was done.
This past Saturday, after carefully inspecting the internals of the machine for signs of any "de-mil" that may have been performed by the shipyards, the "Time Line Motor" in the 800 pound mechanical computer was energized for the first time since 1990. For the next 10 or 15 seconds it quietly purred as gears, cams, lobs, resolvers, etc attempted to solve the fire control problem that all those fingers had presented to the machine while she slept for the past 22 years. Then it went silent, waiting for the inputs to change, as if the BB-62 was moving and tracking a real target. At least one remote data indicator responded to the fire control solution.
I say again, "It's alive, It's alive!" The BB-62 may be the only museum ship with an operating Mark 8 Rangekeeper. Just one more adventure to be added to the soon to be opened "Turret 2 Tour Route".
Other work of the day ranges from re-activating the 12MC announcing system that serves all areas of Turret 2, entering a temporary program into the ancient HP-85 computer that was part of the 1984 Main Plot Forward.
In the NJ2BB shack twenty Boy Scouts received merit badge credit for an on-the-air contact toward their Radio Merit badges. Also performed was attaching an antenna analyzer to each of the VHF antennas, looking for any damage that may have happened during the past winter. Yep, a couple of the antennas need some TLC.
One other item completed was the loading, into my truck, of the material needed for our Dayton Hamvention booth. For the sixth year in a row the Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station will display our ship at the world's largest gathering of Ham Radio. Operators from around the world will stop in to say hello, ask questions about the ship or talk about the up coming Museum Ships On the Air Weekend event.
April 30 - Work continues with the restoration of Main Plot Forward, in conjunction with the new tour route of Main Battery #2. To this date all 9 gun fire triggers (3 in Main Plot and 6 in Secondary Plot) have been returned to their positions on the Stable Verticals. The "Salvo Alarm" trigger operates the proper horns in the turret, to warn the turret crew that the guns are about to be fired. The gunfire indicator lamp in Forward Plot also operates.
The "Manual Fire" trigger energizes the firing circuit including the indicator lamps in Forward Plot. The "Cease Fire" contact maker (switch) in Forward Plot cause the buzzers in Plot and the turret to sound, telling the gun crews to stop firing the guns.
The "Turret Transfer" indicator lamps in the Turret Officers section function to indicate which plot is controlling the gun. In the case of turret 2, there are two indicators, one for turret 2 and a second one for the status of turret 1. Here you need to remember that the two turrets are in close proximity to each other and can interfere with each other. The Multi-Turret Train Indicator in Forward Plot is now back illuminated whenever a signal is being sent to the indicator.
Since 2001 we have stored 2 Hewlett Packard Model 85 mini computers, not knowing where they belonged. A chance discovery of an Internet discussion which mentioned that this series computers were installed in 1983 to help with tracking the muzzle velocity of the 16" guns answered the question above. Need I say more? One of these computers is now reinstalled on the bulkhead-mounted bracket that was once home to this modern (at the time) digital computer.
The ships service telephone located on the Electric Deck of Turret #2 has been returned to service. This particular phone will play a big part in returning other systems to life.
Not part of the Forward Plot restoration project, yet still important to the ship's staff, was the installation of an analog speakerphone in the Captain's Admin Office. Let's see now; install an analog device on an otherwise all digital phone system. After running cables, installing a wall plate and cross-connecting (bridging) circuits it has been reported the speakerphone is working fine.
April 9 - Now that the word is out about a new tour route I can add some details as to how the route affects BNJARS. The new tour route will be an intense tour of #2 Main Battery; inside outside, top to bottom with a number of hands-on stops along the way.
To date we have finished a few things directly affecting the safety of our guests, as well as returning to life a couple of the gun control circuits. NO, the guns will not be fired! When the tour route opens on Memorial Day weekend there will several items or features of the tour that will add that "lived in look" to the compartments, thanks to NJ2BB.
Dave C and Ray have made such good progress with their volume reduction program that we will soon be out of supplies for them. No worries though as there is still a long list of jobs needing attention.
Ed made repairs to the dial phone in Forward Plot then moved on to the instrument in Secondary Plot Forward. Next on his list are the phones inside Turret 2.
Rich R made great time in repairing 2 more video distribution amplifiers from the CEC display system. He then continued with the reconstruction of the pesky plasma display in CEC. He has not set a date for any smoke testing.
Rich E worked on the Forward Plot project, ending the day with the return to service of the "1R" turret ready indicator circuit. No jumpers, cheater cords or such. It is back in service as designed in 1940. And as usual for us, no drawings. Ski was in Secondary Plot Forward rebuilding a TA-970 (red) phone located along the tour route. Note to Ruben: This is where you and Ski stole a phone from in the early days.
Bill B assisted in the Forward Plot by removing a name board that was blocking access to a Multi-turret display unit. Bill then removed the 200 bolts needed to remove the cover to the display.
Gene and Bill L did some kind of work on the wind network, but I have to apologize for not stopping by to say hello. But the guys should be happy that the first displays brought back to service in Forward Plot were the 2 wind speed / direction repeaters. Now we know why, several years ago, Gene insisted on repairing the whole system, not just the ones on current tour routes.
Mar 26 - This past Saturday was one of those less hectic days, but everyone kept busy. Dave C acted as escort for member Tom, KC2THO, for his first visit to the ship. Tom had hoped to do some operating, especially with a daily net he is a member of, but the weekend long prefix contest ended any thoughts of a quiet QSO for him. Dave and Tom then transferred their flag to the volume reduction center, ending the day with yet another bag of parts needed for other jobs.
Rich E and Terry finished the cleanup of the System 75 phone room. Gone are old parts, pieces of metal and general trash. Terry had to head home at lunchtime so Rich continued his day installing the modified VU meter for the CEC RD-390 tape recorder. The meter is now in service, fluctuating in time with the recorded message "This is NJ2BB the Battleship New Jersey". The message is not heard, it provides the drive for the meter. Arrangements have been made for the purchase of the drive belts needed to make the tape hubs rotate.
Located just to the right of the R-390A receiver is a wall mounted Navy audio amplifier marked as HAM-200. During the installation of the Harris R-2368 rack I noticed that this amp was not operational. At the time I was able to spend a few minutes troubleshooting this amp but not enough to finish the job. This past Saturday Rich, aided by Bill "The Elder", saw this amp returned to service. The original cause of the problem turned out to be…..wait a minute………the switch on the temporary power strip feeding the amp was…….wait a minute…….OFF. Sure enough, I fell for the ole ON/OFF problem. They did spend the time needed to make this a permanent installation. No more power strip! Yes, I have placed my error and myself on public display.
Rich R was found busy testing, trimming and soldering the wiring harness for the CEC plasma display. I suspect that next weekend may be a "smoke test" day. Margaret normally prefers to stay out of these updates, but credit must be given to her work at developing a telephone listing for use by the Quarter Deck, in conjunction with the newly installed caller ID unit.
Mar 19 - The upgrade of the false (computer room style) decking in the telephone switch compartment has been completed thanks to Rich E, Tom, Dave C and George who installed the last of the hold down screws needed to make the decking safer. They also manufactured the 3 plates needed to cover the deck openings left behind when the 1982 Dimension telephone system was removed in 2001. Work in this compartment will now shift to the rearrangement of tables, monitors and printers used by the network.
After lunch Rich moved back to CEC to continue with the restoration of the 20-channel tape deck. George spent his afternoon in the O2 Level restoration shop having his head filled with electronic information, courtesy of John.
Rich R, using the new card edge connector, has started work on the internal harness of that pesky plasma display keyboard. Ray had success with his ongoing "volume reduction program" as proven by the three large plastic bags of switches, jacks, connectors and terminal strips he handed me at the end of the workday.
Down in the transmitter room a "short cable" concern has been corrected by installing four extension plates (arms) onto the rear connector plate of the "Transmitter Room Receiver Antenna Patch Panel". These plates, which were fabricated during the week, moved the rear connector plate 3" closer to the front plate, thus allowing all internal cables to reach their desired connectors.
Bob and Lenny spent most of their day on the ship operating the HAM-5 station in both CW and SSB modes. Along the way Bob spent some time with 3 young visitors, teaching them their names in CW. Dad was very thankful for the attention and education given the boys. There was also a visit by a couple that received their very first exposure to the hobby of Amateur Radio with a Q/A session that lasted about 15 minutes.
Mar 12 - Thank you to all who replied to our request for help with finding a card edge connector needed at the ship. Ron, K3ZKO, actually found one in his junk box. During his Saturday morning drive to the ship Rich E stopped by Ron's house to collect the item for delivery to the ship. Within minutes of its arrival, it was slipped onto the circuit board and fit.
Ed completed the second phase of the new phone line into the Forward Deckhouse. Soon he will transfer the 7203 number listed for the Quarterdeck to this new instrument, thus giving the watch standers Caller ID for the ship's dial system. Terry and "New Guy Bill" worked on the cleanup of the telephone switch room located on 3rd deck. Once stuff had found proper storage and the floor mats lifted for cleaning it was discovered that none of the "false floor" deck plates had been bolted down after the compartment was demilled in 1991. By days end most of the plates were once again tight, less noisy and safer to walk on. The remainder of the plates will be bolted down next Saturday.
Rich E spent his day tweaking the voice recorder assembly that will be mounted in the RD-390 tape recorder unit in CEC. This tweaking included mounting a LED to provide some amount of backlighting for the VU meter.
Tom, per a request from the Encampment SITE Crew, exchanged a push button switch that is part of the director's intercom system with a maintained bat-handle switch. The maintained position switch makes life easier for the director; no need for him to continuously hold the "speaker" push button. The encampment crew had discovered that by using the director's intercom in the "speaker mode", instead of headphones only mode resulted in the visitors having a more complete understanding of the operation of the studio. Rich R investigated the darkened condition of the SRBOC launch panels. Located on the Bridge, these two panels control the mortars the released aluminum foil chaff in an effort to confuse incoming missiles. Rich found a small source of the miniature lamps used to awaken to panels. More bulbs are needed before this job can be checked off the work list.
Toward the end of the workday Rich E helped me isolate a grounded audio line that was causing some weird operation of the receiver audio switchboard (SB-2727). When the shipyard-installed ground was found and removed, the headphone jack at the receiver antenna multi coupler was returned to service. We can now peak the band pass filters without having to use long headphone extensions or have someone give hand signals across FACCON-1.
John is nearing the completion of TLC for the second R-390A receiver but has found a number of capacitors that need replacing. Hopefully this rig will quietly exit the shop this Saturday. Ray spent his day disassembling, de-wiring and cleaning the Navy style headphone plug units that will eventually be installed at each of our Ham operating position, thus giving the positions access to the audio from any of the ship's HF receivers. This will be the final phase of the Spatial Diversity Reception System mentioned during the past several issues of updates.
Mar 05 - The report from the O2 level restoration shop is that the second R-390A receiver is almost finished with it’s rebuild. Next on the schedule is the completion of the SP-600 that was donated to NJ2BB about 2-years ago. This rig has seen many hours of TLC but was set aside when the R-390A receivers screamed for their share of bench time.
Rich R was able to provide me with a physical sample of a card edge connector needed to continue with the restoration of the 1982 plasma display located in CEC. The sample fits but is a single circuit style while we need the double circuit type.
Rich E showed off the solid-state audio playback unit he assembled for use with the VU Meter on the front panel of the multi channel audio tape recorder in CEC. When installed in the cabinet this device will provide a moving needle effect, as if the unit was actually in service. Rich is currently investigating the chance of back lighting the meter for better visibility by our visitors.
Using parts from tape decks obtained during one of our shipyard visits, Ray has put together a good plan to rotate the large tape reels on the tape recorder mentioned above. Anyone with knowledge of these mechanical devices should have an idea of the problems with making the reels rotate slowly (4 RPM) without using any recording tape.
Ed and Bill “The New” Lewis spent most of the day setting up our first 4-wire digital phone to be used with the System 75 phone network. The job would have been easier and faster except that the connection information found in the manual is wrong. But, after hitting his head against the bulkhead a few times, Ed reports the phone is now working and ready for transplant to the Fwd Quarter-Deck.
Bill “The Original” Lewis, along with Gene, worked in the Wind Shop doing I have no idea what. I never did make it to that part of the ship on this workday.
Fresh back from a cruise, Dave C continued with his inventory reduction program. This week involved the reclaiming of terminal strips, toggle switches and hardware from chassis that were obtained for this reason.
Jerry and Dave W made some serious headway with the re-installation of the “Transmitter Room Receiver Antenna Patch Panel”. Two or three more days are needed to complete this work. When finished, all receivers will have an appearance on the panel. Also available for patching will be the “receive” side of the Transmit / Receive relays located in each one of the transmitters. The Navy did not use this method of antenna control, but is something that reduces the number of persons and locations needed to operate from the Transmitter Room.
Ski, with the assistance of a number of members during the past few weeks, has completed the installation of the new Harris R-2369 receiver rack. This week found Rich E in the helper seat, pulling audio cables, installing switchboard legends and lifting those heavy radios. I have been provided with all the field wiring notes, which I will turn into a tech manual that explains all that was changed or added; for use by future generations of BNJARS members.
Some where along the way Ed and Bill “New” did some HF operating. I do not have any info on contacts or band conditions at the time.
Feb 26 - Harry and Ski spent the workday at the new R-2368 receiver rack. They accomplished many tasks and ended the day by testing the audio circuits that feed into the “Receiver Audio Switchboards” - all 12 of them. All that is left of this project is some wire tweaking and labeling.
Just to make sure the deck space in front of the NJ2BB shack door was blocked, John sent his favorite R-390A receiver back to FACCON 1 for re-installation in its rack. His efforts with the rig appear to be paying off, as evidenced as I tuned across the Ham bands listening to numerous signals, both SSB and CW. And to add to the traffic jam in front of the NJ2BB shack door, I spent a couple of hours working on the feed to the HAM-200 audio amp that is mounted adjacent to both of the above mentioned equipment racks.
Ed and Dave W traced some telephone cables searching for a path from the Broadway telephone switch room and ending at the Forward Deckhouse. As I understand it, they have part of a path and the cable needed to extend the circuit to the Q-Deck. This time was spent in preparation for installing a better phone instrument at the Q-Deck.
Jerry spent his entire day in the Transmitter Room, rebuilding the “Transmitter Room Receiver Antenna Patch Panel”. When completed this section of a 19” equipment rack will provide a better mounting method and usage of the 48 point patch panel needed to allow the operation of all the receivers located in the Transmitter Room and WWII Radio.
Accompanying Jerry, in his return to the Transmitter Room, was Ray, who spent some time collecting parts needed for the final assembly of the TCK transmitter.
Rich R has completed the restoration of a 4-channel alarm panel in CEC and has started the design and parts collection phase of work on the adjacent 30-channel unit. After lunch he joined forces with Jerry in the Transmitter Room.
Operation wise, Ed put NJ2BB into the logbooks of several stations during the Saturday portion of the weekend long 160-meter SSB contest. Gene was seen operating at the Ham-2 station doing his part to keep the ship active on PSK.
Later in the day I received a report from John and Tom that they had tested some coils that may be useful in Rich E’s adventures with the T-368 transmitter.
Feb 19 - This will be a summary of reports for the past 4 workparties, one of which I could not be present for.
I understand that for a while the relatively small NJ2BB shack was active on 4-bands / modes, all at the same time. Great news! Also of note is that the Harris R-2368 receivers were once again used in the Spacial Deversity Reception Mode, thus overcoming some fading on the incoming radio signals. This mode of reception currently requires the use of headphone extension cables running along the shack deck. This past weekend Ski and Too Tall Tom made progress on installing the permanet wiring that will eliminate the need for those tripping hazards.
Rich R tackled a broken video distribution amplifier, used in CEC, that Chief Carlson had dropped off for servicing. After an open filter capacitor was located in the internal power supply, a replacement was located in our junk box (Avionics), installed and tested the repaired unit was returned to the Chief. It is reported to me that this repair has saved the ship a nice chuck of change. As a reward for his technical expertise, Rich has a second malfunctioning distribution amp waiting for his next day at the ship. (aka....No good deed goes un-punished) HI HI
John S has been making slow, but steady, progress with the R-390A receiver that normally lives in FACCON-1, just outside the NJ2BB shack. The rig is suffering from a number of problems, some created years ago while others are more recent. I know for a fact that John will be very happy when he can shift his attention to other items.
I took the time to visit with Gene and Bill in the Wind Shop to inspect their test fixture. The engineering and construction of the device is worthy of their time and efforts. This unit allows for an easy, safe and consistant testing of all sections of the ships wind speed and direction detection and indication network. It is also comforting to see that Gene's idea of the felt cloth thrust bearings being cause of the original (2001) failure of the wind speed indicators is correct. The 30 cents that he spent for a square of new felt material needed to build new washers has payed off, as evident by the many months of operation between inspections and no failures detected.
Vinnie has spent many an hour on the 1940's HRO receiver, indentifing previous modifications, replacing suspect componets, replacing a bad speaker and missing grille cloth. Currently the receiver sounds great, has good gain and looks great. I do have to mention that Vinnie has learned that the direction of the grain of the grille cloth does make a difference in the operation of the receiver.
A number of year ago the group was handed a 1920's vintage Atwater Kent AM broadcast receiver. Looking like a metal bread box with a large speaker sitting near it, this rig has been sitting in the shack waiting for its turn on the work bench. Well, after repairing a coil, replacing a resistor, a capacitor and using some finger nail polish to halt the spread of a tear in the speaker cone Ray reports that the radio sounds and operates great. More than once he has mentioned how good the fidelity of the received signal is.
Rich E has finished with the replacement Transmit / Receiver antenna relay in the T-368 transmitter located in the Transmitter Room. He then started on the only modification planned for the rig prior to putting it back on the airwaves; the electrical relocation of the plate current meter. During his investigation of the cathode circuit he discovered that the cathode bypass components are missing from the chassis. He is now on the search for the missing coil and capacitor which hopefully will be found somewhere in the compartment. If not, replacements will need to be purchased.
Work continues of the restoration of the 20-channel audio tape recorder located in CEC. We will not be bringing this 6-foot tall cabinet back to service, only making the reels turn slowly and the VU meter move at an audio rate. Currently the pully and belt drive is being reassembled to produce the needed speed reduction so the tape reels can operate at about 5 RPM, without the need to have tape loaded throught the pinch rollers. If tape is used to control reel speed we would need to rewind the tape every 24 hours; something that ain't goin to happen.
Rich R has completed the restoration of a 4-channel IC Alarm panel that hangs from the overhead of CEC, near the TAO chair. The status lights provide more of that "lived in look" that I often mention.
Since restoration work began in CEC we have wanted to reenergize the small plasma display and computer located on the centeline, aft of the TAO chair. Knowing that this odd looking device had seen the demill operations prior to our obtaining the ship, there wasn't much we could do without a tech manual. Efforts to obtain information from the manufacture resulted in an operators book but nothing about the internals. During the time frame of this report, Rich R was browsing through the piles of tech manuls stored on the ship when he noticed one marked PD-3500R. Could this be of any use? Sure enought, he had found the complete tech manual for the unit, right down to fabricating the missing internal connections. Bill L has also reviewed the information and has regained an interest in bringing this display back to life. Hey, more "lived in look"!
Jan 22 - This past Saturday (22nd) found the NJ2BB shack and the SITE FM Booth receiving the same treatment that FACCON 1 did. The following weeks will see the team in Avionics, TTY Office and a second cruise through the Transmitter Room.
The 12 volt DC power supply for Ham-3 was found to have failed in the 17 VDC output mode. The supply has been replaced so that Ham-3 can continue to be used. When I departed the ship on Saturday afternoon Ed, Bob, Lenny and Bill-2 were making contacts using the Ham-5 station.
Jan 15 - If you haven't seen FACCON 1 since Saturday (the 15th), you haven't seen FACCON 1. Thanks to the efforts of everyone this compartment has not been this clean since the Navy mothballed the ship. Gone is everything that was hiding under, over, on, between or inside the cabinets and equipment racks. Gone is every loose nut, bolt, wire clipping, solder splatter and darkened lamps. Even the faces of the equipment received a proper cleaning. WOW!! Now all we have to do is keep it this way.
After the cleanup was accomplished work continued on the R-2368 stack. All five receivers now have appearances on the receive antenna multicoupler. A quick check of each radio proved they work although each needs a replacement memory battery.
In keeping with the idea of maintaining each of the HF operation positions as similar as possible, Ham 3, 4 and 5 now have their own K-3 CW keyer installed. Thanks to Ed for the donation of 2 of these units, with the third coming via E-bay. An operation cheat sheet has been produced and installed on the top of each of these keyers.
Gene and Bill L report that the wiring is complete for their wind system test fixture.
Jan 8 - Our first hint that Saturday was going to be a special day at the ship was the number of cars in the parking lot. FIVE, one each for Harry, Rich E, John, Tom, Ski and ourselves. By noon the ship's population had increased due to a scheduled group tour and by a second group that would be using the Wardroom for a birthday party.
Prez Harry was there to handle 2-meter communications with the David Sarnoff group who was holding a class. Assisted by Rich E, each student received some on airtime, asking questions about the ship, answering questions about themselves. During their rare minutes of down time our operators gave assistance to the others in completing jobs of the day.
Jobs of the day included;
1) Move the four donated R-390 receivers
to the O2 level restoration shop.
2) Locate a couple of ship's receiver audio cables that will be used to extend the SB-2727 switchboard to each of the HF operating positions.
3) Move the RAL HF receiver that was sitting on the FACON 1 deck to WWII Radio.
4) Move the RAL power supply from the Transmitter Room to WWII Radio.
5) Move the HRO receiver's 4 ft tall cabinet from the Transmitter Room to WWII Radio.
6) Install a rebuilt main tuning clutch into the FACCON 1 R-390A
7) Located and began repair on an internal wiring harness connector that was causing troubles with the FACCON 1 R-390A.
8) Relocated the TV channel-4 video source, from the Wardroom Lounge to the FM radio booth, which is located inside the SITE Control Room.
9) Have lunch in the Wardroom.
10) Do some HF operating.
When I returned home after the workday there was an E-mail informing me that the Ham-4 computer monitor was acting up. Until repairs are made, anyone using Ham-4 will need to use paper logging. The QSL manager will update the computer logs as needed.
Jan 4 - Although there have not been any scheduled work parties for the past three weeks, there have been sightings of BNJARS members at the ship.
First, I have a report from Bill Lewis about his Sunday at the ship, working on the wind speed integrator/wind direction amplifier test fixture. He reports that the wiring is complete and awaiting a second pair of eyes to check his wiring and theory.
Second, Ski reported about his weekday visit during which he did a Navy style field day of the Message Handling Area and FACCON 1. He also reports doing some connector repairs on equipment and that he finished his visit by having lunch with Chief Harry.
Third, there are rumors of a sighting of Margaret and Dave having a Thursday on the ship. We accomplished a number of small items such as performing cable tracing from the SB-2727 audio switchboard to the NJ2BB shack, testing the donated R-390/R-390A receivers, playing around in the SITE control room, etc.
Thanks to two donations and one purchase, we now have a LogiKey K-3 keyer for each of the CW operating positions (Ham-3, 4 and 5). This provides a common platform for CW operation no matter which of the three positions is involved. No longer do we have the confusion caused by three different sets of keyer commands and instructions.
Also performed during the holiday break was the ordering of a new T/R relay for the T-368 transmitter. The proper 1 amp 2500-volt fuse needed for full operation of the TCK transmitter has also been ordered. To close out this part ordering update section, a piece of grill cloth for the WWII vintage HRO receiver speaker enclosure has been ordered.
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