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Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station (BNJARS)

Status Current Year 2016

Status Archives

Aug 25, 2016 - Work on providing sound effects to the 50-cal machine guns mounted on the forecastle is nearing its end. The system uses a sound file played by an Akman brand solid state player that stores the file on a thumb drive. Each channel from the Akman provides up to 14-watts of audio to an outdoor speaker mounted below the machine gun. The Akman device plays the sound file 24/7 but the speaker is not connected to the audio lines until someone pulls the trigger on the gun.

Three weeks ago I was informed that the sound effects in CEC were OOS. It been a long road but as off last Monday two of the 7 speaker channels have been returned to service in a temporary fashion. After much testing and isolation efforts failed to find the cause of the system failures I transferred 4 very old (45 years old) wooden book shelf speakers from home to be used as test fixtures. There is a strong indication that at least two of the original speakers have, after 16-years, given up their lives. More testing and repair of the system is scheduled to find all the bad components and all repair actions to be taken.

Thanks to TV Dave we have a new 2-meter mobile style radio for use at the NJ2BB VHF operating position. He handed it to us already programmed according to the older Kenwood that has been in use since 2001. Last Saturday Too Tall Tom installed the new rig. Dave, the new rig operates great.

Rich R has been busy making repairs to the Teletype classification lights. Along the way he is learning about compartments he didn't know existed.

Alan has been busy both at the ship and at home fine tuning his software being used with the wind speed integrator. Converting this mini computer from mechanical to digital will free up Bill L. for other work at the ship. When completed and tested the new system will be made available, thru our Curator, to other museum ships that would like to activate their wine speed indication system (known in the Navy as circuit HE).

John has spent a major portion of the last few months bringing his Navy TCS transmitter back to life. He had enough of the system working that we could use the rig, running 2-watts output, to make a couple of CW contacts during Museum Ships Weekend. He is continuing with the task with a target of full 40-watt output.

July 23, 2016 - Update for April, May, June and July 2016 - Here's a non-sequencial long winded report!

This past Saturday we hoisted, for the first time this year, the white string lights that run from the Cage antenna on the fo'c's'le, up to the O11 level then from the Radar Platform down to the flag staff on the stern of the ship. We have performed this task so many times that it took less then an hour of actual work to complete. Once sunset had actuated the automatic controls for the lights we discovered that an upper section of lights on each string are in need of repairs. Because of the high temperature forecast for this Saturday we will NOT be lowering the strings, making repairs and once again hoisting the strings. Yes, the strings had been tested prior to hoisting so it appears the physical stress of the hoist caused some wire damage.

Museum Ships Weekend 2016 was a great success for BNJARS. Our final numbers are:

We did have a couple of speed-bumps during the weekend but I have a couple of changes in mind for next year to prevent a re-occurance.

One special operation was using a restored Navy TCS transmitter, a restored Navy RBB receiver and a 80' wire antenna hanging from the starboard yardarm to operate 40-meter CW from the Signal Bridge. Oh, by the way, the transmitter was producing 8 watts of output power. We made 2-contacts with this lash up. The first was with WA2TVS operating from FACCON 2. Later in the evening a very nice QSO was made with an op in New Hampshire. Thanks to John, with help from Jim and Rich E for bringing this special ops to life.

Along the way Steve posted on YouTube some video of Jim and Jerry in their CW mode. When Jack Willard heard about this special ops he asked if we could do it again on Aug 13 which is when the ship will be hosting an end of WWII day at the ship. John has been very busy, sometimes on weekdays, improving / correcting both the transmitter and a second receiver to be used so that we can operate 20-meter CW during the day time hours.

Because the ship has designated a "land side drop off area" for recycled electronic item (computers, tv, monitors, etc) we are finally able to do some clean out of a couple of our back rooms. This will be an ongoing action that does not involve historic items. As Ed and his son Vick found out this past Saturday, when you leave the ship for the day you might find yourself hauling an item with you. Thanks Vick for moving that monitor on Saturday.

After being off line for most of this year we were finally able to isolate the trouble with circuit HE, the Navy wind speed indicating system. The failed component turned out to be a mechanically seized indicator in CEC. Repairs have been made and the system is being brought back online, slowly.

Speaking of keeping circuit HE functional I must recognize the efforts of Dave Webb, Gene Holban and Bill Lewis who since day one have spent hundreds of hours of labor keeping the totally mechanical "wind speed integrator" working. Spare parts were obtained during shipyard raids or by going to outside friends who could manufacture the needed gear, shaft, etc for us. Recently this team of one (Bill) approached me about converting this integrator to all electronic so as to be able to perform other needed work about the ship. This is where Alan comes into the picture.

Alan has removed all the mechanical parts from a broken integrator, installed a stepper motor controlled by an Arduino computer chip. By using the signal from an optical encoder the Arduino directs the stepper to rotate the original synchro transmitter to rotate to a position that indicates wind speed. This rotation causes all the original indicator located in many spaces of the ship to display wind speed. The wind direction part of the system is not touched by this modification. Total cost for this mod is $27. Photos will be posted soon.

After much delay and even more trouble shooting activity all the "Valve Status Indicator Panels" on Broadway are now functional. What is a VSP? All valves on the ship whose position (open or closed) is of major importance in an emergency situation are controlled by a special network of compressed air or hand operated hydraulics. Although these valves will never be called into operation due to our status as a museum ship, the indicating lights add a whole bunch of flavor to the compartment for those visitors who will someday be walking through Broadway. Nothing like being prepared for a future tour.

The Big-Eye binoculars that Ski and I obtained during our trip to the display ship Barry in the DC Navy Yard last August have been transferred to Edmund Optical for repair and re-cementing of the eyepiece lens cartridges. In the very near future we will be drilling and tapping the portside mount for these really large binoculars. Shortly these glasses will be usable by visitors to more closly investigate the river traffic and Philly shoreline while standing on the Big J.

Restoration work in the Combat Information Center, CIC, is very slow these days due to the large amount of work requests being received from the ship. We still have two AN/SPA-25 radar repeaters to wire, two IFF displays to locate and modify for our use. Even the Target Designation System, though back online still needs many hours of work before it will be ready for its use as an interactive display that so far has been well recevied by any volunteer ( and a limited number of special visitors) who enters the compartment.

For the past two weekends I have spent some time going through the mass of junk I have accumulated in the NJ2BB shack. Some has actually found a new home in the trash can while other have gone to more proper storage locations or are about to make that journey. One thing that I have rediscovered is a stand alone digital audio filter that Ed C. donated years ago. He has since departed this world but the filter is soon to be married to the Harris RF-350 transceiver and given a trial run.

March 19, 2016 - We’ve learned that John spent most of his weekdays at the ship doing calibration work on the RBB and RBC receivers that will be part of the special ops station during Museum Ships Weekend 2016. Jim reports that the 20-meter crystals for the WWII TCS transmitter have arrived. One crystal is for 14.060 MHz (CW) while the other is for 14.286 MHz (AM).

Rich R completed the work on the multi-track audio recorder in CEC by returning the front panel detail lights to service. Lights on, reels turning, VU Meter bouncing; how do you spell success?

The future of the Big Eyes binoculars obtained from the former USS Barry last July is more secure (pun intended) now that the deck mount has been drilled and taped. Tapping ¾” holes is no easy task when you consider sitting on a steel deck in winter, surrounded by chips and tools. Our work did create some interaction with curious visitors, which is always a good thing. Thanks to Harold and Alan all three holes ended up in the proper positions, no filing of the flange mount needed. Why the need for new mounting holes? Good question. The Barry used a three hole mounting system designed for teak decks while the Big Eye location on the Jersey’s signal bridge was non-teak and therefore a four hole system. And now you know the rest of the story.

I know that Doug was onboard the ship Saturday because I did talk with him for a few moments before he headed down into the ship. I have further news on what he was up to.

Alan has visited the wind speed / direction equipment station in Forward IC as part of a proposed project to convert the mechanical speed integrator to an Arduino mini computer circuit. The time spent keeping this system of gears and rotating discs in service has become a major part of Bill’s time at the ship. The proposed work will only affect the small gear section of the integrator. Nothing outside the cabinet will be changed nor will the operation of the system be affected.

Besides her continuous work of sorting and cataloging parts in Avionics, among other things, Margaret, KB2BRR, reports that to date there are 54 ships registered for Museum Ships Weekend 2016.

March 12, 2016 - Yep, it’s been way too long since I last published an update about the work that BNJARS provides at the Battleship New Jersey. So, without further ado and in no particular order……….

In recent weeks John, WBDFB, has loaned us his World War II Navy TCS transmitter for use during Museum Ships Weekend 2016. John, with the help of Jim, N3GUY, have been busy upgrading the CW keying circuits, mic input circuits and the transmit/receive antenna relay design so as to operate with the WWII RBB and RBC receivers to be used with the TCS.

The plans call for using the port side Signal Bridge as a weekend shack. This location provides some shelter from the weather but is totally open on the normal visitor’s tour route. The antenna to be used will be a long wire hoisted via the signal flag halyards.

Rich, KD2DUX, has been kept in the lime light by repairing several video amplifiers, a TV channel processor and the multi-track audio tape recorder located in CEC. For the tape recorder he gained help from Alan, W2AVR, but more on this action later in this report.

“Harold” and Bill, KC2JEK, gave me help with the repairs to the ship’s TV head end. Over the years since 2008 when the system was upgraded to receive digital TV we have suffered “button pushing” by guests to the SITE Control. This was not a case of small fingers, but instead, it was a case of small bodies “butt dialing” the many controls on the front of the cabinet. The solution was to mount a equipment door on the front of the head end cabinet. The door was free thanks to a 2010 shipyard raid to the former Philly Shipyard. Along the way we needed to replace 3 of the small digital to analog converters used for each off air station seen on the ship. If any of our members or readers has any of these small set top boxes available for donation please contact me.

Our work in CIC is spotty at times but Doug, K2QWQ, keeps the project moving along. Back in January we moved, with permission from the ship staff, a large Steel Case brand desk from the most aft portion of 3rd deck to World War II Radio. This move freed up a smaller Navy desk that was needed at the entrance to CIC. The move of the large desk was easy but the move of the small desk involved removing about 30 pop rivets, building a missing anchor for the desk top and then reinstalling the pop rivets.

A second IFF control station has been tested and is awaiting power in CIC. This brings the IFF count to 50% of those needed for the compartment.

Ski, Jim, Harold and others have recently re-entered CIC to finish the reconstruction of the SPA-25 radar repeaters, including the installation of the video driver components needed to display sweep and targets on the repeaters.

If we go back in BNJARS history enough years you may remember us removing the Navy style 1982 plasma display mounted in CEC. Rich, KB3NRL, discovered the problem with the character display circuit and that the IC was so buried inside the multi-layer boards that we would not be very successful in a repair. So the decision was made to remove the guts, safety store them with a linage note attached, and integrate a modern mini PC and flat screen monitor. This new system would display proper text for the TEPEE network, as installed during the ship’s last re-commissioning. Yes, the new configuration uses an orange text on a black background, just like the original display did. One more piece of history has awakened in CEC.

Earlier this year the shop that was “John’s World” for more then a decade, until we moved John to a larger, air conditioned shop, has been renamed CDC (Computer Development Compartment). The CDC is used by several members but Alan, W2AVR, is the most often seen occupant. Since my last update Alan has designed and built a replacement “Stills” image storage and retrieval device for the ship’s SITE TV control room to replace the 1980’s system that gave up the ghost a few years ago.

Alan’s current major project is the design, programming and installation of animation for the TDS (Target Designation System) located in CIC. Because of the joysticks and video monitor I often refer to this network of radar, displays, joysticks, range and bearing syncros all combined in three equipment racks as the world’s first video game. Alan’s task is to provide the needed radar display, target on that display, response to joystick movement and interfaces to other ship system so that visitors will have the feeling that they are selecting targets, seeing feedback that the guns are tracking the selected target and then firing on the target. To date his bench top beta is meeting all expectations. But what will the final product feel like? As of this past Saturday Ski is working on modifying the TDS console in CIC to accept the display and other modern components used by this animation system. Once completed the BB-62 will be the only ship, museum or in service, to have a “working” TDC system.

As mentioned earlier in this report, Alan helped Rich with the CEC tape recorder. His part of the repairs was programming an Arduino mini processer to control the speed of the supply and take-up reels to operate at a realistic speed via stepper motors.

Speaking of CEC, Bill, KC2XE, has replaced the AN/USH-69 Navy computer monitor with one from Radio Central that had been modified to use a mini computer programmed by Alan to use GlassTTY to display canned Link-11 graphs and charts. Link-11 is a navy digital inter ship network that exchanges information about the seas and ships around other ships and stations. The dysfunctional CEC monitor now resides in Radio Central where it will receive a mini computer displaying canned Navy messages.

Since the last published update BNJARS has updated the rigging of the Port and Starboard Signal Bridges. The addition of, not the replacement of, 1500 feet of nylon line has brought the Signal Bridges up to Navy design. During the winter season we have discovered some damage to the as found lines. Although we do not know the age of these lines they may date back to 1991 when the ship was decommissioned. Yep, we need to spend some more time on the yard arms.

The CEC animation system started showing its age so the decision was made to replace all 7 rack mounted computers with more modern solid state programmable playback devices. Harry Carlson did most of the labor but BNJARS did supply weekend help.

The NJ2BB activity has been on the lean side mainly due to the cool weather but Jerry, WB2CAK, and Jim tend to keep the airwaves aware of our existence.

While performing some honey-do list items Joe, N3BAM, came across a person with a pile of electronics to clear out of his basement. Well, never been accused of being shy, Joe asked the person about donating one of those LCD computer projectors to BNJARS. The result is that our Boy Scout Merit Badge section now has its own projector for use during merit badge classes. This will save them the hassle of locating and returning the ship’s projector each time they are at the ship working with the Encampment Group.

At the request of the Overnight Encampment Group, BNJARS installed 14 1MC style speakers in the CPO and lower berthing areas used by the encampment visitors. These speakers were then connected to the Aft Mess Deck Sound Tower, not the 1MC, to enhance the sounds and announcements used during the overnight experience. The cost to the ship for this enhancement was about $70 thanks to the speakers coming from a shipyard raid, while the amp came from a 2001 raid on the former Garden State Race Track. Hum, some people wonder why we have so much “junk” in storage. The $70 was used to buy 500 feet of new cable for the speakers.

In closing this update I announce that for various reasons BNJARS will NOT be sponsoring a booth at the 2016 Dayton Hamvention. It has been a great 10-year run for our booth at the largest gathering on Ham Radio Operators in the world. Hopefully we will have a booth in 2017. Only time will tell.

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