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Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station (BNJARS)
Current Year 2015
July 19, 2015 - Have you noticed that I haven’t published an update since March 21? Yep, I plead guilty to being lazy on this website item. So, without further ado, here is my first attempt to correct the errors of the past few months.
Saturday on the air activity in the NJ2BB shack continues to be good, thanks to Bob, N4XAT, Jerry, WB2CAK, Rich, KB3NRL and Jim, N3GUY.
Our operating side of Museum Ships Weekend was a roaring success thanks to some serious operators who manned the shack from Friday night until Sunday afternoon. As a group we made 1010 contacts in 48 states, 38 countries and with 25 ships. Thanks everyone.
Our attempt at an easy going field-day operation was nipped in the bud due to a hectic schedule of money making events at the ship that weekend. The ship’s staff was all for the Field-Day event, just not that particular weekend. Oh well, a little better planning next year.
Several of our Saturday mornings have been dedicated to Full Dressing the ship or changing over from the flags to string lights. Although we can do the transfer between flags and lights in a single morning we are looking at ways to reduce the needed number of workers. The results should be the ability of the weekday volunteers to perform these operations if needed should sever weather threaten the safety of the high flying flags.
Back in May we had something like 3-days notice of a pending visit to the Philly Shipyard for a ship strip trip. For the BB-62 this visit turned out to be a 4-hour raid but we did acquire a number of items needed for the CIC restoration project.
Speaking of CIC, work down of 4th deck, aka 1st platform continues at a comfortable pace. One of the next items on the schedule for this compartment is tracing the coax that supplied drone video to a monitor that hung from the CIC overhead. Work on creating a simulated TDS, Target Designation System, radar display with functional joystick control of the scope is underway. For those not familiar with the TDS I often refer to it as the world’s first video game due to the operator’s station having 4-large joysticks.
The view down Broadway changes almost weekly as more and more of the Valve Status Indications are returned to service (aka relamped). By the time this work is completed nearly 100 red, green, blue and white lights will once again indicate the status (open / closed) of many of the ship’s emergency response valves.
This past week there was a raid on the former USS Barry, a display ship since 1982 at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC. Our Monday visit was limited to a 3-hour raid but we still managed to snag two valuable and needed items. The most important was a pair of “Big-Eye” binoculars that after restoration will find a new home in the area of the Nav Bridge or Signal Bridge. Also acquired was a Telescopic Alidade which is a small telescope, similar to a surveyor’s transit, which was used by the Quarter Master to determine the ship’s position with respect to land or sea objects. It could also be used for target designation should the normal fire control system suffer damage. We gathered more then these two items but the two mentioned are the most important.
A few weeks back I received a Sunday morning phone call from the ship saying that portions of the 1MC system were Out Of Service. When I arrived at the ship I found that #1A audio amp was off line. The internal patch panel was utilized to place the spare amp, #6, into service. Since that time the cause of the failure of the output transistors has been located and repaired. Replacement transistor were in our stock pile thanks to a shipyard raid to the former USS America way back in 2002. Hum, some people wonder why we have so much “stuff” from the yard raids.
The various restoration shops have been hard at work doing their thing; making dead electronics come to life. Equipment like R-390A, AN/URT-23E and a Hallicrafters SX-99 are the more familiar names of a sampling of the work being performed.
Speaking of the AN/URT-23E, the broken one in the Transmitter Room has seen many hours of reverse engineering in an effort to find the cause and the total damage created in the low voltage power supply. Use the manual you say? What manual? Remember our history, manual becomes available to us only after the work is completed. While we’re down in the Transmitter Room I need to mention that the WRT-2 transmitter is a couple of steps closer to being powered up for testing.
Hopefully even though this has not been a very detailed update, readers of this section of the nj2bb.org site walk away with the idea the we are still busy at the ship and having fun doing it.
March 21 - As usual, let’s start this report with a visit to the NJ2BB shack where we find Bob, N4XAT, at the Ham-3 position keeping the WARC bands filled with the sounds of CW. In total Bob added 26 contacts to the logbook including some with friends of his in Europe.
The Message Handling Area was very busy as Jim and Ski used the bench to modify a AN/SPA-25B radar repeater to accept and display computer images. Ski had worked on rewiring the display section of the unit at home during the week. After a day at the ship the display is once again at his home receiving some final TLC. An initial test that involved radar images and panel lighting gave very exciting results. Hopefully next Saturday we’ll find this unit permanently installed in CIC. That would be one down, two to go.
Rich R spent time at the RD-390 tape deck in CEC adding some door lighting to this 6’ tall rack. Even though it is a tall equipment rack it has been sitting in a very dark section of CEC since 2001. But now thanks to some red LED lighting the guests can observe the rotation of the large tape reels. In use this unit would record a maximum of 18 simultaneous radio conversations for later review by the Navy.
Bill L did an inventory and inspection of the wind speed / direction system and gladly reports that the system is running fine. That means another month of not having to replace the gears in this mini analog mechanical computer.
John’s work on restoring an IFF indicator for use in CIC came to an end in the afternoon when we carried this chassis down to CIC and powered it up. CIC now has more equipment back online, or so the guests will think.
Margaret was kept busy finding parts for us in Avionics or parts data on the Internet.
January 3 - March 14- Yep, it's been 15-weeks since I last produced an update for the Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station. Why? Even though I could blame it on the weather, it's mainly because I've been lazy.
NJ2BB radio shack
Most weekends have found Rich, Jim or Jerry keeping air waves warm with the NJ2BB call sign. Jerry has been the most active operator by using the Ham-4 position to add CW contacts to our logbook. This activity is causing nearly weekly changes in the Top Op List. Where do you stand on this list? You'll need to visit the shack to find out.
After many weeks of work Alan has presented us with the Arduino interpreter that translates the Navy command structure of the Harris RF-350 / RT-1446 transceiver at the Ham-5 position and passes the frequency and mode data to our logging software, Win-EQF. This small metal box sits out of sight, does not have a power switch and is totally transparent to the operator. By using this translator we no longer have concerns with improper logging at the Ham-5 location. Thanks Alan.
After 14+ years of operation, the NJ2BB HF patch panel had become a little confusing to use therefore I have made some simple changes such as aligning, in a single row, the station patch cords and adding new legends. Nothing major has changed though.
Radio 2 has been fairly quiet except for the satellite project. After some design changes to provide for a cleaner 400 Hz output, the homebrew 400 Hz power supply has been tested with the OE-82 antennas, fore and aft. Rich, Jim and John have been able to determine the azimuth and elevation of each antenna while being driven from Radio 2. This is one more hurdle out of the way of using and controlling these antennas from the NJ2BB shack for communication via Ham Radio satellites.
Joe is developing a way to integrate a donated RFI filter into the WRT-2 he is restoring.
Message Handling Center
Some time ago we received the donation of a functional Model 28 ASR Teletype machine that needed some TLC. When not operating CW in the shack, Jerry has been disassembling, cleaning and lubricating this large unit. Eventually the assemblies will be transported down to the Transmitter Room and placed into service there. We still have the problem that these mechanical machines do not understand the "NL", new line, command used by software TTY operators to create a line feed / carriage on a computer screen. Most computerized RTTY operators do not understand the need to change the setup of their software to allow "Green Key" operators to enjoy this mode of operation. There are some ideas on the horizon to deal with this situation.
Combat Engagement Center (CEC)
This compartment has been the center of BNJARS activities since mid-December. Mainly because of its mode of operation (24/7/365/14) the system of computers, monitors, switches and lights needed more then a bucket load of TLC. Here is a partial list of things completed in CEC.
a) Replaced four CRT style monitors with new 17" flat screens in the Tomahawk Launch Consoles. This was due to the 14 years of continuous operation of this display.
b) Replaced two 15" flat screens in the AN/SPA-66 radar repeaters in the Air Traffic Control section of CEC. Again, age and length of continuous operation lead to this repair.
c) Replace over 200 miniature pilot lamps in the display consoles.
d) Installed a new 8-port KVM switch for the computer system that controls the CEC displays.
e) Repaired one of the VGA distribution amps in SSES.
f) Installed a UPS, obtained during a shipyard raid, to protect the multi-channel audio amp in SSES.
g) Installed a local video start switch in SSES to aid in trouble shooting this system of computers and monitors.
h) Many smaller items that if listed here would add pages to this report.
Combat Information Center (CIC)
Years ago Chief Carlson started the restoration of this compartment which is located next to Main Plot Forward in the hopes that CIC would become part of a tour route. Along the way he gained so many new responsibilities at the ship that his time in CIC was reduced to zero.
This is where Doug steps into the picture. He picked up where the Chief had left off and with the assistance from other BNJARS members has moved this project to a point where we can see it being visited by guests by the end of this year. Below is a list of things done.
a) All 4-status panels are once again illuminated and functional. This was no small feat when you realize that each panel is of a different design using different wiring schemes, bulb sizes and power supplies. The power supply for the largest board was totally missing, leaving some burnt wires hanging under the display. Thanks to Joe who remembered the large filament transformer that was removed from the AN/WRT transmitter he has been working on, CIC has a replacement power supply.
b) Each of the 4-Red Phones and their associated audio amps in CIC have been rebuilt and returned to service. The sounds of river traffic, air traffic control and 20-meter SSB now fill the room.
c) The noisy deck plates that cover the false deck of the compartment are once again secured by dozens of previously missing or stripped screws.
d) The classification lights for the 2-TTY machines once again produce light.
e) The SITE System is once again viewable in the compartment.
f) Two of the small overhead detail lights are back in service.
g) One of the AN/SPA-25 radar repeaters is ready to have simulated radar video applied to it for testing.
h) The other 2-AN/SPS-25 scopes are in the process of being rebuilt to receive this simulated radar image.
i) A "faked out" depth indicator is back in service.
j) And the list goes on and on.
Central Station (at the head of Broadway)
The animation of the Helm Station and the Engine Order Telegraph is nearing its completion. The Engine Order Telegraph should be acting as if the Engine Room is answering orders within the next 3 weeks. The helm is only a couple of weeks behind the telegraph.
Next to be worked on is the simulated ship's speed indicator which will respond to the Engine Order Telegraph.
After Central Station is fully animated we will find a way to have the remote indicators in CIC follow the actions of the Helmsman. This action will be part of the process to provide an interactive training session for the Sea Cadets and Overnight Encampment visitors.
Thanks to a donation by BNJARS the SITE Studio now has a fully functional overhead lighting system. The one that was installed back in 2001 was just costing too much to maintain so the decision was made to supplement it with newer components. The pictures produced by the cameras now look like they should, in color.
The 1MC system has worked flawlessly since its restoration back in 2001, but there has been an ongoing concern at the Aft Deck House. Because of the mandated lower sound levels due to the ship being inactive, aka a quieter ship, the microphone at the Aft Deck House has a lower gain then the Forward Deck House. This results in the Encampment Team members needing to scream into the mic, creating distortion. Also, the addition of branch circuits to the Aft Deck House has resulted in impedance miss-matches for the mic circuits and "hot mic" conditions that could result in poor communications to say the least.
To correct this situation a commercial Shure 4-channel mixer has been installed at the Aft Deck House to provide the need gain and isolation for the microphones. This has turned out to be a good correction for the situation. Next is the design and installation of current sensing relays that will isolate microphones not being used during periods of announcements.
It is totally impossible to list everything that this shop gets involved with so I will keep the list short.
a) The aforementioned VGA distribution amp.
b) Total rebuild of an IFF display unit that will be installed in CIC
c) The aforementioned 400 Hz power supply for the OE-82 project.
d) Modules for the 1MC upgrade as mentioned above.
Foreward IC Shop
This compartment has been cleaned up and with permission from the ship's staff the door has been left opened and roped off for the viewing by guests as they take the Turret 2 Experience.
Work has begun on the Emergency Valve Position indicating panels that are located in each section of Broadway. For the most part the bulbs are dark due to tarnish on their bases. But this is not a simple task of removing the bulb, wiping its base on your pant leg and installing the bulb. Why? Because the bulb covers are a mixed bag of fasteners ranging from Phillips head, slot head, socket head machine screws. Some of the lens even use sheet metal or wood screws. Yes, because they are historical we can not replace the screws with a more proper device, instead we will keep things as found, aka the sailor way.
When last I corresponded via an update we (Brass Team and BNJARS) were patting ourselves on the back for a job well done with the Christmas Friendship lights and Christmas Tree (aka Cage Antenna). Well, on the first Saturday after the New Year began we removed the lights from the Cage Antenna and began the process of building a new set of LED lights (all white) that would replace the mixed colors of the holiday strings. Of course the weather prevented us making swap out of light strings for a couple weeks but we finally finished the task.
As of this writing the flags, ropes and Christmas string lights are in proper storage awaiting their next appearance on the club job list.
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