Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station (BNJARS)
Nov 5 - The Holben /Cunningham team ventured into the ship to perform the inspections of the wind speed/direction repeaters that were discussed in the last update. They did find a couple of more repeaters that have signs of bad bearings or the beginning of the end for the bearings. These units have been exchanged, in place, with known good units; that way those indicators seen by the public will remain in service while repairs are ongoing. Bill L assisted Gene and Dave with the last inspection of the day. But wait you say! Bill is always stuck inside the SITE equipment racks gathering data. Listen up everyone! Bill has finished the cable tracing and turned the data over to me for conversion into engineering drawings. All told, Bill traced 150 cables through 6 racks. Due to his organization and very neat printing I have already converted the data into a computer file and am well on the way to having the drawings completed.
Once again there was action down in the Transmitter Room. There the RBB receiver was brought to life via the installed antenna cable. Time did not allow for the second coax to be installed. Oh well, there's always another workday. Terry did get the new aluminum base channels installed on the T-368 transmitter cabinet. The final mounting to the ship's deck foundation should be finished this coming weekend. Ray continued with the inspection of the TCK transmitter. He has removed the over current protection relays for further work at home. While helping Terry, "Too Tall Tom" made a drawing of the backer plates needed for the WRT-2 transmitter. I had to promised Tom that as soon as the plates are installed he could continue with the restoration of the transmitter. Well Tom, I finished fabricating the two plates moments before writing this update, so the ball is in your corner.
We did have a call about a failed security camera and found that it has suffered from a fatal cardiac arrest. This job is on the future work list.
John reports that the replacement capacitors for the SP-600 arrived during the week. Some have been installed but he has run across the need for a special extraction tool before he can continue with the caps that are part of the "band turret" assembly. Anybody out there know of this tool?
At the end of the workday, as I was beginning my usual walk through of all of our spaces I received word that Rich had repaired one of the dead Curatorial display monitors. Curatorial Support was informed and they will install the monitor in its home on Tuesday, their next workday. It was a long battle but Rich showed that monitor who is boss.
Note to Dave W: Chief Harry reports that upon reading of the new 1MC station in Fwd IC, he looked around for it but could not find it. Only when reaching to turn off the compartment lights did he see the station. This is a good example of making something new appear to belong with the old.
Oct 30 - The 1940 era RBB and RBC receivers have been properly mounted on the aft bulkhead of the Transmitter Room and are awaiting the final connection of power, antenna and audio cables. Enough cables are presently installed to bring one of the radios back to life first thing tomorrow morning. By lunch time the second radio should be in full operation. With the receivers safely out of the way we can now move on to mounting the T-368 transmitter, finish the upper mount for the WRT-2 transmitter then install the hold-downs for the TCK transmitter. With these three safety concerns out of the way the gang can get back to restoring the transmitters.
The bad wind speed indicator in the Helo Control Booth has been replaced and returned to operation. Because of this failure Gene has developed a plan to build a test rig for the repeaters. He will, over time, inspect and repair all the wind repeaters on the ship. I believe that he plans to spend tomorrow moving around the ship performing the "in-place" inspection portion of the procedure, looking for any repeaters that are in need of immediate work. Gene cautiously reports that the felt thrust washer replacement plan is working. The integrators are running smoother and quieter than they have for a long time. Keep your fingers crossed that this ongoing maintenance headache has finally been placed under control.
The donated Hamarlund SP-600 HF receiver is moving down the restoration line quite nicely. Cleaning, visual inspections and low voltage testing have been completed resulting in the need to rebuild some of the high voltage wiring harness and the replacement of approximately 40 small capacitors. The harness is completed but the cap exchange will take a number of weeks to perform.
The new VHF/UHF antenna patch panel got its first test during JOTA weekend when Ed setup a link between the ship and the gang at one of the Atlantic City area malls. Instead of climbing behind the VHF transceivers to move antenna connections, he simply moved the needed connectors at the overhead panel. NO climbing, falling or dropping hard to reach cables.
Oct 11 - We had two visiting Hams to the NJ2BB shack during the workday. The first was part of the Friday night overnight encampment gang who stopped by to make "one contact" from the ship. Well, why leave after one when you have a mini-pileup on 20-meters. After his fourth QSO he did need to head back to the scout troop. Later in the day a new upgrade, who had never been on HF, got his chance at 20-meter SSB. SUCCESS!!!!!!!
The word was passed early Saturday morning that Mount 52 would be speaking as part of the commissioning ceremony for the USS Wayne Meyer, to be held at Penn's Landing. For those not versed in Navy lingo, Mount 52 is the twin barrel 5" gun mount located forward and on the port side of the ship. Later, as the word was passed that the BB-62 was about to render honors to the new ship, volunteers and visitors manned the port side rails to see and hear our Heavy-Hitter speak. Three times she spoke with authority, including the expected sounds and pressure of a 5" gun. We do have video of the event to share at a future meeting. Also part of the commissioning ceremony was the firing of guns onboard the former USS Olympia located on the south end of Penn's Landing. These firings were not announced to the BB-62 crew but Margaret did manage to capture video of some of this event.
Back inside the BB-62, Dave W finished the wiring and testing of the new 1/2/5 MC station located in the Forward I/C Shop.
Ski finished the restoration of the animation lighting that has become known as "Brian's Lights". Brian's lights, located in CEC, Pilot House, FACCON 1 and the Helo Booth, add to that lived in feeling that is associated with a visit to the BB-62.
Gene was able to isolate the cause of a new failure on the ship's wind speed indicator system. The wind speed indicator located in the Helo Control Booth had become locked at the 15-knot position due to a bad shaft bearing. This position was reflected back into the rest of the system of indicators causing the entire system to show 15-knots wind speed. Thanks to Ski for submitting to being "remote controlled" for a short time as he removed the suspected indicator while Gene measured the drive torque generated by the integrator in the Forward I/C Shop. While working on the 1MC control station, Dave W also helped Gene by acting as the "phone talking" for the duration. When the suspected indicator was proven to be bad it was left out of service till next weekend when repairs will be affected. By the end of the day a newly rebuilt felt washer integrator was in service, all indicators except for the Helo Booth were indicating properly and Gene had a smile on his face.
Rich, however, still does not have a smile on his face. That broken display monitor is starting to get the best of him (joking!!!!!!). He has changed course though. Finding that one of the other broken monitors has a different set of problems; Rich has entered the module exchange mode. In his defense I have to add that these monitors are a perfect example of " a new design does not mean better way of doing things".
So there you have it; gunfire, bad bearings, missing raster and flashing lights combined with the friendly nature of a BNJARS Saturday work party.
Oct 3 - Because everyone quickly settled into their jobs, last Saturday seemed like a quiet day at the ship but there were five high profile jobs in progress.
First was Rich continuing his repairs on one of the public display video monitors. This hybrid (analog and digital circuits) monitor has started giving up some clues to its internal problems. By days end Rich had the set playing, in diagnostic mode, which in its self narrowed the problem down to only a couple of circuits.
Second was Gene's work on the ship's wind speed integrators and their associated indicators. Gene feels confident that the replacement of the felt spacers in the "differential drives thrust bearings" will solve the long-standing problem of broken pinion gears.
Third was Dave W installing a 1/2/5 MC microphone station in the Forward IC Shop. As mentioned in earlier updates, this station will allow for a more complete local testing of the system. On his next visit this microphone station will be placed into service. Due to where the new station is mounted it looks as if it actually belongs there.
The fourth job site was in the Transmitter Room where Terry, Dave C and Bill B continued with the installation of the mounting shelf for the RBB and RBC HF receivers and their power supply. Although this compartment did not contain these receivers in the past, their pedigree and function allow for this deviation from historical accuracy. Besides, as with the 1MC station mentioned above, this installation is looking as if it belongs there. One or two more work days and the radios will be on line with the sounds of real radio, even if it is SSB on a non-SSB radio.
The final job site involved Ski threatening to charge a toll for anyone making him stand back from the Coke Machine so as to pass by. He finished with bringing back to life the "Chief Harry" lights on the TTY transmit control stations. He also nearly finished the "Brian Lights" on the WSC-3 remote control stations before calling it the end of the day. The latter lights and wiring were tested but still need an hour or so for final wiring.
I have received weekday reports from John that the power supply section of the donated SP-600 has several new capacitors installed and that the oscillator crystals have tested good. I believe he is close to performing the all-important smoke test. So standby for news of this event.
Sept 26 - Because of my failure to produce an update for the last several weeks, some members do not have the knowledge that we had a visit by Al Lynch. His visit proved to us that he is doing well and looking toward ending his long absence.
On Friday the 25th we opened the NJ2BB shack to six visiting Hams from the Fort Monmouth area. Margaret and I had presented a BB-62 program to their club earlier this year at which time they indicated the desire to visit the ship. Everyone got the chance to operate NJ2BB, for a total of 16 contacts despite the poor bad conditions, before taking a tour of the ship. They also provided us with a large supply of TTY paper and perf-tape. Thanks guys and gal.
The coke machine is once again winking its "plain" and "cipher" mode lights and those located on many of the red phones about the ship. Ski is now hard at work returning some of the early animation flashing lights that have failed over the last couple of years. These include the status lamps on the WSC-3 remote control stations (aka Brian's lights) and those on the transmitter remote control stations (Chief's light). The newly installed "Basic Stamp 1" micro controller located inside coke machine controls all of these lamps.
John has begun the process of returning a donated SP-600 HF receiver to service. During the donation process the previous owner mentioned that he never was able to get the radio to operate even though he had the radio for decades. Anybody taking bets on John's success? How about a time frame?
Gene has discovered what may just be the ultimate cause of the ongoing repeating failure of the ship's wind speed integrators. Mainly a small felt washer that is designed to be a thrust bearing but due to wear is now nothing more than an oil reservoir. When last seen, Gene was headed to Philly to obtain a handful of the proper material to be used for replacement/testing purposes.
Meanwhile, down in the Forward IC (interior communications) shop, Dave W has begun the first of several changes to the 1MC system installation. For now he is installing a 1/2/5 MC microphone station in the compartment. Contrary to Navy tradition we will have the ability to test the system without disturbing the operation of the Quarterdeck. Also on his list is the addition of more metering and a couple of extra test speakers for the 2 and 5 MC portions of the equipment racks.
Rich has been able to make some head way with the repair of video monitor used in the "Jersey Men of the New Jersey" display. The main speed bump to repair of these units is that although they are off the shelf portable TV set, they are more computer than generic analog sets. Currently he is tracing the serial "standby control" logic that is turning off the power supplies after 10 seconds of no operator actions (i.e., changing channels).
We also had 2 visitors from the state of Washington. After the usual 25-cent tour the Ham half of the group made a RTTY contact using Ham-2. They plan to be back in the area later in the year and hope to get more on-air time from the ship.
We also met with a Korean War Radio man who was escorted down to his previous Radio Central. Lou gave the crew a big Bravo Zulu for the work performed in what we call WWII Radio. We exchanged E-mail info so we can continue the gathering of memories from this former crewmember. Already I have heard mention of the Radio Room cat, yes cat, that was very successful at stealing hot dogs from the local pot of boiling water. Lou was also able to provide the name of one of the fellows seen in the photograph that hangs outside of WWII radio. This info will be forwarded to Curator Jason.
Terry has taken on the restoration of the "bug light" section of the Dead Reckoning Tracer in CEC. He already has several ideas on how to extend the 100-hour operating life of the bulb that is used to project a "compass rose" onto the underside of the Quarter Masters chart.
Aug 31 - Ed completed the connector installation for the new VHF/UHF patch panel in the NJ2BB shack. Work remaining to be completed includes cable verification, labels and securing the cables. Ski continued with his install of a "Basic Stamp" based light controller in the Coke Machine. As mentioned in earlier updates, this upgrade will not only return the Red Phone status lamps to service, but also return the WSC-3 control station lamps to life.
Too Tall Tom and Ray spent the day in the Transmitter Room splitting their time between the TCK and WRT-2 restoration. Yep, the Transmitter Room is still warm. Bill L attempted to continue with his wire tracing inside the SITE equipment racks but was interrupted when I left to meet with a visitor from the USS North Carolina.
I had a great conversation with Bill, whose call sign I forget at this moment, about the work they are doing with the ship's original radio gear. During our talk I gave Bill the nickel tour of SITE, John's World, RTTY, NJ2BB and WWII Radio. Visit their web site at http://www.ac4rc.org/ for more info and pictures.
The weather and tides appear to be of a mind to support the transfer of a large, bulky and somewhat heavy equipment cabinet from the back of my truck into the ship. The minimum move should not take more than an hour while the total move could take another hour or two. I know that this is the last holiday weekend of the season but the delivery date was mostly out of my control. If you can spare the time your presence at the ship with be appreciated.
Aug 24 - Let's start our update journey in the NJ2BB shack where we find that the fabrication of coax cables for the future VHF/UHF antenna patch panel has commenced. Next we stop by the SITE Control Room to check if the fresh coat of paint on a small section of deck has dried. Yep, it has. We also see that the update to the "tally light" circuit has been completed and is working. As we leave the space we notice that one of the digital to analog converters has failed so we take a minute to replace it with our last spare unit. Anybody have any of those $40 converters laying around unused?
Walking aft past the restoration shop we inspect the test fixtures that have been designed and built for testing of 1MC modules. Back in the corner of the shop is the R-390a receiver awaiting 3 parts before final alignment is completed. After that the radio will find its way back to Pittsburgh. Further aft and down one deck we find the TTY Office staff busy assembling a BB-62 specific instruction manual for the 1MC test fixtures and procedures being used in the restoration shop.
After the long trip down to the Transmitter Room we notice that some sheet metal fabrication has been performed. The first piece will be used to support the RBB and RBC receivers located on the aft bulkhead above the T-368 transmitter. The second and third items will form the rear panel for the AN/WRT-3 transmitter. All items still need holes drilled and a coat of paint. A sneak peek into one of our storage areas reveals the latest addition to our restoration projects. A local Ham who found the time and need to do some late spring-cleaning has donated a SP-600 HF receiver that is in rather rough condition.
As we return to the NJ2BB shack we notice that work has commenced on the Coke Machine. Earlier this year the last of the electro-mechanical time delay relays used for the flashing lights, failed. A "Basic Stamp" module is being installed in their place along with some relay drivers and associated components. Soon all 45 TA-970 red phones will once again be flashing the visitors to the ship.
Aug 3 - It appears that most members took advantage of Saturday's break from bad weather to work on their family's "to do" list instead heading toward the ship. Their decision is reasonable and acceptable because the small attendance for the day was almost like a 7th inning stretch for those of us at the ship.
Gene and Ski were able to finish up the installation of two new security cameras, including a change in cable routing, final camera adjustments and tweaking of the dual video monitors attached to the cameras.
The three of us then headed to the landside Guard Hut to investigate the failure of the "J- circuit" located there. "J-circuit"???? That is Navy for the dial telephone system aboard the ship. We found that the initial wiring that had been installed years ago and ran thru the landscape area had rotted out, thus impeding the flow of electrons. We transferred the phone service to a more properly installed conduit feed that we first pulled wire into last fall in expectations that the overland express was a temporary way of doing business.
Rich was aboard most of the day doing the prefabrication of the SITE system Tally light circuits. Al A. gave us a surprise daytime visit in order to spend a few hours in the SITE Control Room increasing his knowledge of the TV studio and control room. First, he investigated how to transfer some home-generated graphics (BNJARS and BB-62) into the graphics effects equipment on the SITE system. Next he practiced setting up a remote camera as part of his overnight encampment duties. Let me say that he had a very big smile on his face after successfully completing his "educational chore" of the day. I'm not sure how he plans to add this third camera into the program but I'm sure that he and Paul will do a great job for the kids and the adults who stay overnight on the ship.
July 25 - A big thank you to Ed for filling in for me the past two weekends. I hear that he managed to hold everything together in spite of special requests from the ship's staff and other unscheduled events. Thanks Ed!
Saturday's work group was large by some measures and the gang completed an equal number of jobs. After resolving a mechanical concern with the antenna tuner at Ham-3, Dave C and Gene continued with the fabrication of the new VHF Antenna Patch Panel. They needed to enlarge the opening on the backside of the enclosure so as to provide a more direct line of access for the antenna cables.
Bill L disappeared inside the SITE equipment racks to continue with the cable ID and label program. Bill reports that he is fast approaching the point of needing outside help while he is inside these tight cabinets.
After giving Dave and Gene a hand with the re-hanging of the VHF patch panel, Jean and Lou soldered together an adapter for the R-390A receiver, from Pittsburgh, that is in John's shop. One of the first problems that was discovered with the radio was that somewhere in it's past, someone had tried to push the wrong series connector into the antenna jack; hence the need for an adapter to the more common UHF series. Then Lou moved to the Aft Mess Deck to assist me with a problem with the "sound tower" located there. This is the first time we have worked on this small public address system but were able to correct the complaint of low "TV audio".
About five weeks ago, the CEO requested the installation of 2 more security cameras. Since that time, Ed and Ski fabricated and tested the equipment but could not do the install. The past Saturday Ed and I spent the afternoon pulling cables, mounting and aligning the cameras before calling it a day. We still need to drag a service monitor to the area to perform a final focus of the cameras.
During the time frame that I was AWOL in Utah, the Pittsburgh R-390A mentioned above was powered up for the first time in years. The weeks of work by John, Tom and Ray proved worthwhile when the sounds of radio poured from the speaker. A final alignment of the rig is on hold until some specialty parts are located and installed.
Ray and Bill B were spotted down in the Transmitter Room doing Hot Chassis checks on one of the power supply decks for the WWII TCK transmitters. I'm not sure of the results of the testing but I was very happy to see the "2-man rule" being followed without the need for coaching. Safety first!!!!!!!!!
July 17 - During one of his weekdays at the ship, John S was asked by a staff member to look at the low volume on the 1MC system. He discovered that one of the 50 VDC power supplies had decided to go on vacation. A swap with a standing spare returned the amp to service but there was still a problem with the volume. Apparently there was more than one problem. The following day Ed, Gene and I developed a trouble shooting plan and with the help of the Quarter Deck watch standers located a second failure in the system. By days end the system was back in service although some might say to loud. John has continued to work on the system to bring it back to total health.
Ski and Ed have been working on the install of two new security cameras and monitors, as requested by the ship's staff. Of course the usual Saturday road block reared it face, locked doors.
Tom was located in Forward IC working with John S. Ray was spotted working on the TCK transmitter. Bill B was sent to trouble shoot the audio system in CEC after the system failed to recover from a power spike.
June 23 - Saturday the 20th was a small turnout type of day for the workparty but the activity in the shack was abnormally high thanks to three visitors.First there was Wally, WB5ILK, who was part of the general tour groups. He noticed the sign above the shack scuttle and stuck his head inside to say hello. We did convince him to get on the air for at least one contact. His efforts landed a QSO with a group in Texas operating as a demo station for some local emergency management officers. Oh, by the way, Wally is from Texas.
Next came Dave, K3FT, and Mark, N3GNW, from Bucks County. Dave had stopped by the Dayton booth looking for info in general and operating the station in particular. While in the NJ2BB shack these two Hams did a Bravo Zulu job of getting the ship on the air and representing the ship in the highest manner. Mark and Dave added 39 contacts to our logbook.
The story of the Pittsburgh R-390A deepens with the finding of two blown crystals, a shorted AC power switch and an open in the audio transformer secondary circuit. On the good news side John was able to "reform" the bad high voltage filter capacitors.
Tom found the answer to where some cable mounts are attached inside the WRT-2 transmitter but this means that the two drawers that have been wired need to be de-terminated in order to install the mounts. This is a perfect example of two steps forward and three steps backward. Keeping a safe eye on Tom, in the Transmitter Room, Ray installed silicon repalcements for some selenium diodes in the power supply for the TCK transmitter. For historical visual effects the selenium diodes were left in place and the repalcements hidden out of sight.
Some more good news is that the SITE Studio was found very dry. The system has also received the donation of another digital to analog converter for use with the TV headend.
The first job of the day was the repair of the A/B switch for the First Class lounge TV. It was found that two of the four "F" connectors had been pulled apart. Tom made the needed repairs before heading to the Transmitter Room.
Margaret and Ed spent most of the day recovering from a hard drive crash of the TTY Office computer. The machine is back online but some file recovery remains to be accomplished. In the way of near future work for the group, we have been asked to add two cameras to the security video system and the installation of another, special, viewing station.
June 18 - Over the last couple of weeks the SITE Control Room has again been experiencing water pooling on the deck. This has been an on again / off again condition for years even though we had found at least one source of leakage; namely one of the portholes in the compartment. Well, last weekend while Brian was working on the CCTV head end and Bill L was inside the video racks, Bill noticed water running on the deck. Brian did a quick look at the thru-wall air conditioner he had turned on about an hour before and found water exiting the condensate pan. Now in our own defense, we have looked at this unit in the past and found nothing. This time Brian found the water flowing down the backside of the power cord, into a gap behind the bulkhead insulation and down to the deck. A trip to the weather deck showed that the unit was installed with an outward slop, but apparently the ship had shifted its list slightly, due to a westerly wind, causing the drainage into the Control Room. We increased the slope slightly, well maybe a little more than slightly, and watched the water flow where it should.
Also from the SITE Control Room, Al reports that the system has been waking up for the overnight encampment groups, without hassle. It appears that he has managed to work through each of the dozen or so items that were begging for some TLC (tender loving care). Good work Al.
Bill L was inside the video racks working on the cable tracing of the SITE System. Brian was "re-scanning" the digital converters as needed after the national change to digital TV on Friday. He spent the rest of the day straightening out the insides of the head end cabinet and installing the channel 14 converter and processor. The Ship's TV channel 14 now carries the "ThiS" network movies and older TV shows.
Down in the Transmitter Room "Too Tall" Tom and Doug reconnected the internal wiring harness for the AN/WRT-2 transmitter. They have a couple of questions as to wire locations which will be answered this coming weekend, thanks to the photos taken as the unit was dismantled while it was sitting in Tuckerton NJ.
Ed was kept busy in the shack acting as AO for his group of visitors from Atlantic City area clubs. Once again the Museum Area speaker was used to let general visitors hear both sides of the NJ2BB contacts.
The next time you see Ski, do not mention the hair loss he is suffering due to some troubles with the digital remote control for one of the security cameras.
John and Ray have been working overtime on the R-390 receiver that belongs to the USS Requin. Not only are they fixing some "sailor repairs" they are also installing some standard upgrades and modifications to the rig. Rumor has it they may energize the radio, for the first time in years, this Saturday.
Jason Hall, BB-62 Curator, stopped by to introduce the Manager from the USS Texas. After some positive comments about the recent Museum Ships Weekend Event the two of them headed off for other places in the ship.
Speaking of Museum Ships Weekend, NJ2BB worked 42 states, 17 countries and 26 ships. This is the first time we have been eligible for our own weekend certificate.
May 31 - This past Saturday was a very, very busy workday for all persons present.
First, we had a group of visiting Hams from the Cape May ARC. With Ed acting as their Authorized Operator (AO), this group of four managed to snag 120 contacts during their time in the shack. Operations were mostly 20 meter SSB, but CW activity was logged. They even took a break from HAM-2 when a Ham on a paid tour popped his head into the shack. This particular Ham did not know of the existence of the NJ2BB station but went away with a big smile on his face after making a dozen or so contacts.
Out in the Message Handling Area Dave C. continued his project of stripping ship yard bounty of usable parts.
The SITE Control Room was crowded with Dave W and Brian who were converting the TV head end equipment from the old analog TV reception to the new digital TV signals. Most of the "Off Air" channels are now converted to the new technology with only 2 channels left to be finished next time. Also in the SITE Control Room was Bill L who was finishing up with his long-standing job of documenting the wiring of the 6 equipment racks that comprise the video production area. Once he has traced and marked every wire and cable, drawings will be produced in an effort to increase our understanding of the operation of the system.
Walking aft from the SITE area we find John and Ray working on the restoration and repair of the R-390 receiver that belongs to the USS Requin, berthed in Pittsburgh. As mentioned many times, this repair work is part of the "horse trading" of last year that landed a WRT-2 in our Transmitter Room. Once it is completed, some of the Pittsburgh gang plans on a visit to our ship and shack then heading back home with the R-390.
Also on the O2 level, Too Tall Tom dug into a donated Heathkit SB-230 1KW amp hunting for the cause of some non-acceptable noise inside the cabinet. He was able to locate the source of the rattles (several large flat washers) but not their origin. He also converted the AC wiring to 120 volts. Remember, Naval ships do not have 220 volts available.
Further back on the O2 Level Rich was fabricating the new Tally Light terminal plate for the SITE video switcher. This job is an extension of the new 20-switch panel that allows the security cameras to be used by the encampment TV station visitors.
Just to make sure everybody felt needed we had piles of donated equipment to move from the pier to storage inside the ship. Not just one move, but twice, once in the morning and a second donation after lunch. The first pile included the aforementioned SB-230 along with miscellaneous Ham shack items from the estate of an area Ham.
The second adventure was Dan's donation of a 500 watt linear that is part of the Harris RF-350 transceiver that resides at the HAM-4 station. The lack of proper AC power prevents this amp from being used for this weekends Museum Ships Weekend event, but the near future will hopefully find this amp in service by NJ2BB
April 11 - Jean added some contacts to the NJ2BB logbook, including one with a member of our counterpart group from the Light Ship Huron, berthed near the Mackinaw Bridge. During last year's Dayton Hamvention these guys stopped by the booth for a long visit and, according to Saturday's QSO, will do the same this coming May. While Jean was on the air, Lou helped Terry fasten the sheet aluminum plating located under the Ham-2 and 3 operating stations. This plate was installed in an attempt to make this "foot space" a more comfortable place for the feet of our operators.
In the Transmitter Room Dave W and Tom exchanged the chassis for the "Transmitter Room Receiver Antenna Patch Bay". The new chassis, minus the back plate, is another step toward increasing the number of available receiver antenna patch points. Currently we have a number of receivers that do not have access to an antenna. By days end the number of patch points had been doubled. The back plate is awaiting punching by the ship's machinist, after which it too will be installed.
During the week Tom repaired the power supply for one of the TV channel processors we had obtained for the conversion of the ship's TV system to be compatible with the new digital format. That leaves one, possibly two, that still need repair. Also during the week Al A started a new project that is designed to enhance the "SITE Experience" for the overnight encampments. The idea is to mount two security style cameras, one in the control room and the other in the studio, so that Al has more live video sources for the switcher. These cameras will provide the sort of scene tacked onto the end of newscast; views of the camerapersons and control room personnel. By days end Ski had the studio camera online and the control room camera mounted.
Now that the SITE System is being used more, we are discovering items that need correction. For example, the source of a pesky video noise was discovered in one of the camera remote control units. Card replacement solved the problem. Many of the troubles may be due to the fact the multitude of connectors in the SITE System have not been "cycled" for years.
Ed was a form of "gopher" on Saturday. First he was spotted at the Simulator hut working on the dial phone. Next he was in the SITE Control Room working with Al and the troubleshooting mentioned above. Sometime during the day he was also seen in the TTY Office helping Margaret gut some electronics prior to the sheet metal being sent to the recycle bin.
I do know that John finished something on one of the radios because I heard about his call for help to deliver the rig to WWII radio. I understand the rig has been delivered.
April 4 - In the NJ2BB shack, Ed and Gene fabricated the mounting system for the new VHF patch panel. Once installed in the overhead the work moved on to deciding the best path for all the RG-213 coax that needs to be re-routed into and out of the new panel. Next Saturday may well fine the panel being wired into service. As mentioned before, this panel will be "invisible" during normal VHF operations and should not be of concern with our operators.
Dave W fabricated and installed three mending plates needed by a 19" rack chassis. This chassis will eventually replace the existing "Transmitter Room Receiver Antenna" patch bay. Once the rear section of this chassis is finished, it will contain twice as many coax connectors as the existing chassis, therefore making electrical room for all the receivers in the Transmitter Room. Currently a number of the rigs in the compartment can not be used due to the lack of antenna patching connectors.
Rich returned one of the CEC missile launch video monitors to service while commenting that it is time to climb the Aft Stack to work on one of the cameras. This will have to wait for the fine weather day.
Up in the SITE Control Room, Doug P and family friend John (a new Tech class teenager) were busy giving the gear a bit of TLC. The main news from the space is that the hard drive that was reported as "crashed" last week has been found to have life in it. The problem has been traced to the rubber bumper that acts as the home position for the head drive system. Wear and tear on the material has shifted the start position for the head; therefore they do not find data where they expect to find images. Tweaking the bumper position brought images to the monitor, but not in a reliable fashion. Some more thought and tweaking is needed on this project. Also in the SITE area, the cable tracing and marking project has been revived. Even the interim drawings resulting from hand over hand cable tracing has improved our knowledge of the operation of the SITE video system, much to the delight of encampment groups who visit the system.
March 29 - Once again the Saturday gang was located throughout the ship doing what they do best - anything for the ship! Beth and Margaret spent the day selecting pictures and designing the layout of the "photo wall" to be used during the upcoming Dayton Hamvention. This wall is one of a couple of changes to the booth layout for this year. The new setup will get a try out at the May Open House meeting of the Old Barney ARC.
Bill B fabricated and mounted an adapter plate for the AN/URT-24 terminal box, then mounted the assembly behind #3 URT-23. In the future cables will run between the new box and the CA-1100 transmitter antenna patch panel.
Jerry is chasing a pesky gremlin that has taken up residence within the #2 URT-23 exciter. Warning to the gremlin: Jerry will find you!! Tom and Ray mounted and tested the rotary transformer inside the TCK transmitter. This marks yet another step towards returning this WWII vintage gear to service.
Mike spent the day chasing contacts from Ham-4 in his effort to increase our DXCC count and our presence on the air, although the weekend SSB contest did lead him away from his main project of earning NJ2BB the DXCC-CW award. Gene H used Ham-2 on PSK to extend his quest for WAS-PSK and DXCC-PSK.
Dave C continued with the fabrication of the new VHF patch panel, and then with help from Gene H and Mike formed a plan of how to mount the new panel above the shack's 12-volt power supplies. The purpose of this VHF panel is not for daily patching of VHF antennas, but instead the occasional switching of VHF antennas. This occasional usage allows for the panel to be positioned in a slightly awkward, but usable location.
Ed tackled some reported troubles with the 1MC system speakers in the area of the Mess Decks and found a problem with an Action Cut Out switch. A correction to the ACO was performed and a recheck of the affected area found the speakers working again. John, after assisting with the 1MC ACO item, located an open filter capacitor in his version of a gremlin home, a RBC receiver. His report indicates that more eradication efforts are required.
Terry and Ski worked through lunch to continue their efforts at restoring TV signals to the forward port section of the Main Deck. Numerous defunct items and poor installation practices were discovered and corrected. The typical Saturday speed bumps, locked doors, prevent them from completing their tasks, again.
Now that the UYK-20 computers are back on display, Rich has turned his attention to the four missile launch video monitors in CEC; one of which is demanding some TLC. Doug P burned calories while trouble shooting and repairing concerns in the SITE Control Room. First, the hard drive in the "video still storage unit" has crashed making the Abakus A42 system useless. It appears that the OEM no longer provides support for the gear, at least not for the last 15 years. Therefore this system is retired to looking pretty in the rack. Next, a lingering problem with the #1 studio camera circuit was corrected by replacing the DCU (digital control unit). Ed gets a thank you here for his help with the DCU event. Doug still has a couple of items on his hit list before changing into the preventive maintenance mode for the TV equipment. While on the subject of the SITE System, it appears that Al A is becoming the new wizard on the video board, thanks to his time on the board during overnight encampment demonstrations.
March 22 - The first stop for this issue of updates is in the Message Handling Area where we find that both of the UYK-20 computers appear to be alive and functioning, thanks to Rich. The lower of the units has the appropriate front door lights operating. Now it's time for Radioman Jones to take his position as if to be performing maintenance on the upper computer.
Except for the sounds of Bill figuring out how to mount the junction box for the URT-24 transmitter, the Transmitter Room was very quiet Saturday.
Upon arriving at the ship Ed was greeted by three priority work requests for dial phone repairs. The phone in the FM booth needed some contact cleaning; the unit in the Battery Charging Station had a bad earpiece while the phone in the Forward Mess Deck only needed an educated kick in the proper place.
The job of tracing TV cables along the starboard side of the forward main deck was completed and documented. Now that we have a proper drawing for this portion of the ship system we can better maintain the TV service to these staterooms and the quarterdeck. The port side area documentation is nearing completion, at which time the search for a bad connector or tap will begin.
Most of the day's action was up on the O2 level in the SITE Control Room and John's World. 1) Doug P has isolated the trouble with the SITE digital slide storage system to a non- functioning hard drive. At present he is searching for more info and parts sources for an ancient Maxtor MFM style 135 meg drive .
2) Ray completed the re-assembly and bench testing of the rotary transformer from the TCK transmitter. The next workday may see this item returned to the transmitter.
3) John spent time repairing two "agile channel processors" used by the ship cable TV system. These repairs will be completed when the needed filter capacitors are in hand. John was also able to make advances with finding the trouble with the RBC receiver sitting on the bench. Something about the thing-a-ma-bob being catty-wopitz.
To date, those portions of the SITE head-end that have been modified for the new digital off-air signals are operating to spec. Next Saturday two more channels will be converted to the new format for testing.
March 15 - So, you ask, what has been happening at the ship during the last couple of weeks? On Main Deck, Rich's lighting project on the upper UYK-20 computer is mostly complete. The restored maintenance panel lights continue to flash in a seemingly random fashion as might have been observed during system maintenance activities. The lower computer will regain it's front panel door as soon as Rich is finished testing the rewire on it. This door, when remounted, will have only the Power and Run lights on.
Also in the area, Dave C fabricated what will soon become the VHF antenna patch panel for NJ2BB. Although not intended to be handled as often as the HF patch panel, we will be able to swap any of our VHF antennas as needed. A recent trip behind the Ham-4 2-meter rigs convinced us of the need for an easier way to realign these rigs and antennas
Main Deck forward still has its grip on Ski and his tracing of the ship's TV distribution cables. His task is hindered by several cases of wrong, missing or misaligned cable tags, not to mention that everything is in the overhead.
Down in the Transmitter Room, Bill B and Too Tall Tom installed a set of cables for the URT-24 HF transmitter. Next for this install is the mounting of the "J box" and extending the circuits into the Transmitter Room antenna patch panel (CA-1100). Jerry has been kept busy tracking down a gremlin that lives amongst the URT-23 transmitters.
Up on the 02 Level, John's shop was cluttered with the likes of Ray who was working on the variable transformer for the TCK transmitter. I did not hear of any smoke in the compartment or of any final success with the unit. John was knee deep into a RBC receiver in an attempt to find and correct what he believes is a "sailor fix", aka cold solder joint.
In the SITE Control Room, TV Dave and new guy Doug P began the conversion of the TV head end to be compatible with the upcoming changeover to digital off-air signals. They needed to strip the entire cabinet of equipment so as to make an otherwise simple mechanical change. They then reloaded most of the electronics back into the rack, but where needed, they substituted "agile processors" for the older "fixed" processors. These agile units, obtained via a long trail that started at the Dayton Hamvention last year, will allow for the use of simple digital to analog converters. As each converter is installed, a flip of a switch will shift the current analog reception to the newer digital (off air) signal. By the end of the day all equipment was back on line and one channel was actually doing the digital conversion.
In the shack, upon hearing that NJ2BB now qualifies for mixed mode/band DXCC, Mike decided to narrow his operating time to getting us DXCC on CW. As of today he only needs 33 more countries; then on to DXCC via RTTY.
Feb 23 - Rich let his UYK-20 front panel project operate, in the shop, for a week long burn-in period. The panel is now back in the Message Handling Area awaiting the final wiring to it's cabinet. By the end of his next work day the computer should appear as if on-line maintenance is being performed on it.
John has transferred his work station to WWII Radio and was seen performing some TLC on the RBB and RBC receivers located there. It is still a little strange to hear the sounds of live HF radio in the compartment.
Ski has been "reverse engineering" the TV cable system on Main Deck. After hours of hand over hand tracing of coax we hope to have an accurate drawing of this mess of cable. With a proper drawing we should have an easier time when troubleshooting problems with the system. Ed, "TV" Dave and myself helped Ski with the cable project.
Last week Ray tackled the bad "solder sealed can" module from the FRR-59 receiver. This week he re-installed the repaired module and was greeted by the sounds of lower sideband from the rig. Ray even put his auto body skills to work as evident by the absence of any marks on the repaired metal can module. Jerry had a 20-meter RTTY contact with a Canadian station, the first ever for this mode from the Transmitter Room. He used the repaired FRR-59 mentioned above along with the Model 15 teleprinter, a Navy URA-17 terminal unit and the #3 AN/URT-23 transmitter driving the Port 35' vertical. A very nice example of "All Navy, All Battleship" operation.
Gene H reports that the rebuilt wind speed integrator has been performing flawlessly since the ship machined pinon gear was installed a number of months ago. This gear was not available through any civilian channels so Gene ordered gear stock which, once machined by the ship's own Ken K, produced 18 of the needed pinon gears. All for a cost of less then $1 each. Not bad for a bunch of Amateurs. Yes, Ken is a Ham.
Jan 31 - Contrary to the work location of the past couple weeks, the Transmitter Room was not the center of activities this past Saturday. Most of the workers were located within the storage spaces that are outboard of Broadway compartments. The gang managed to pull the 300 feet of coax from the Transmitter Room, through 17 compartments ending with what has become known as "World War 2 Radio". In the near future we hope to be hearing the sounds of the RBB, RBC and other vintage gear that once again populate this compartment.
Next on the schedule for the cable pulling crew is the multi conductor control cable that will allow for the operation of Transmitter Room equipment from the WWII Radio Room.
The sounds of "RYRYRYRY TEST NJ2BB" could be heard in the Transmitter Room at day's end. The only trouble now is that the outgoing signal is inverted, But the cause has been identified and should be resolved during next Saturday's work party.
Back in WWII Radio the ship staff have agreed to get the welded floor mounted foundation that once supported the 400Hz generators removed. Removal of this item frees the deck area for a more historically correct placement of the Comm Officer's desk and other pieces of equipment.
We were also given support for the needed equipment for the upcoming conversion to off air digital television for the BB-62 TV studio.
Jan 27 - Let it be known from this date, that the battleship does make a good wind break. With the wind speed indicators showing upwards to 25 knots the inside weather was warm and the air still.
As with last weekend the majority of the day's work happened in the Transmitter Room and also like last week the space was filled with volunteers. Ed completed a couple of small jobs that due to their incomplete status were getting in the way of more important items. He finished installing "N" connectors on the cables that run from the receive side of the T/R relays to the receiver antenna parch bay. He also finished the install of the cable that supplies receive audio to #3 AN/URT-23 transmitter. Tom and Ray disassembled the vari-coupler style transformer that was removed from the TCK transmitter last weekend. True to Perry's findings, on the LST-325, the flexible rotor leads are suffering from dry rot and need repairs. Jerry located the trouble with the RTTY local loop and should be closer to real Teletype from the compartment by the next update.
Dave W tackled the stuffing tubes that need to be opened before we run the cables from the Transmitter Room to the WWII Radio Room near Sick Bay. He was able to open 50% of the 36 pipes needed for the project. He would have moved further into the job but ran across what is a standard Saturday work party speed bump; locked doors. Arrangements are being made for access next weekend.
Probably the biggest news from the compartment is that all the drawers for the AN/WRT-2 transmitter have been returned to their cabinet positions. The top most drawer, the RF amp, required that "Too Tall Ed" from the Brass Team lend us a hand, or two. Thanks Ed! There is still a lot of wires to be reconnected before live testing of this Viet Nam era transmitter can commence.
Meanwhile, four decks up, Rich was finishing the AN/UYK-20 panel and planning a mod for the lower AN/UYK-20 in the Message Handling Center.
I never really made it into John's World but I hear that he now has a proper hasp on his compartment's new gate as well as three radio room style speakers mounted for use with the stack of "RB" series receivers.
Jan 19 - Knowing that the weather on Saturday was the lowest temperature in 5 years, we were not very surprised as we entered an empty Clinton Street parking area. As we passed departing members of the overnight encampment gang we got the feeling that this would be one of those rare "have the ship to ourselves" days. Nothing could have been further from the truth. First John sticks his head into the shack, followed by Bill, Ray, Jerry, Beth, Gene and Tom. Well, so much for a quiet day at the ship.
Almost all of the day's activities took place in the Transmitter Room, which, thanks to the banks of 480/120-volt transformers, was very comfortable to work in, for a change. "Too Tall Tom" finished the installation of the HV bleeder resistors used in the TCK transmitter power supply. He than moved to the removal and inspection of the variable voltage transformer for the TCK. This transformer is different from a standard tapped winding unit in that it uses a movable primary winding to adjust the output voltage, by varying the physical position of the coils and therefore the output voltage. This inspection was in response to E-mail from Perry, of the LST325, giving us a heads-up about trouble he had with his TCK, the sister rig from the USS Des Moines, and the actions taken.
Jerry, John and Ray tackled the intermittent RF drive problem with the #3 AN/URT-23 transmitter. Again the source of the trouble turned out to be a loose internal connector. I say again because a few weeks ago a different internal connector was found hanging. After further testing into the dummy load, Jerry made contact with a Ham in Louisiana just to make sure the rig works. Please standby for more stories of loose connectors. JOKING!!!!
Just to make sure that the Transmitter Room was stuffed with workers, Bill and I fabricated and installed the bulkhead mount for the WRT-2 transmitter. Since the time that this style was last used on the Big-J a lot of structural changes have happened, therefore we needed to special mount to hold the rig upright and stable. Some final adjustments of the support remain to be finished but as of the end of the workday, "Drunky the Clown" stands proud and tall.
Once each year Gene H likes to verify his inventories of BNJARS gear that is onboard the ship, so on a cold day where is a good place to start, in the Transmitter Room of course. Yes folk, there were 7 of us in that compartment, working as four groups, but gabbing, joking and squeezing past each other and laughing the whole time.
But, you ask, what of the ladies? They continued their attack on Avionics and the TTY Office. The mass of stuff in these 2 compartments hides the progress that is being accomplished, but believe me they are doing a very good job with a task that no others would want to tackle. But be warned that if you found a part in a certain drawer last week, it may not be housed in that location this week. The location of things is changing as their number and size dictates.
As a side note I have to mention that I heard Mike, W2OF, operating NJ2BB on 20-meter SSB on Thursday afternoon. Hearing him work the resulting pileup made me smile from ear to ear. A big thank you to all who have worked on the NJ2BB station.
Jan 12 - Well now, we did not get the entire NJ2BB deck all bright and shiny but what did get treated looks good.
John continued with his redesign of a voltage regulator for one of the receivers. Jerry was found cleaning up the interface junction box for the AN/URT-24 transmitter. This box is interesting in that it eliminated the need for the shipyard or ship board person to build several multi-pin connectors. This also makes the job of tieing the rig into the ship's system easier.
Rich continued with converting his prototype YUK-20 display into the final product.
Jan 09 - Sometime last year the decision was made to try to relight the maintenance lights located inside the front door of the UYK-20 computers. After a short discussion on ideas, Rich took hold of the job and ran with it. My only demand was that the displays not have the “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” flashing light look. Last week I was presented with his prototype display. Using the existing panel of 30 lamps Rich added the guts from a $2 digital desk clock. The results are a nearly random, 1-second pulse rate, movement of lights representing register contents of a non-functional UYK-20 computer. After showing the new light display to Harry Carlson of Curatorial Support, he forwarded a request for a mannequin to be poised as if performing work of the UYK-20 once it is returned to the Message Handling Area.
Not long after the “super-cam” security addition was installed and turned over to the ships forces, it suffered a total loss of function. Ski ventured out to the Harbor Master tower and narrowed the source of the problem to the digital control board that allows the guards to operate the camera from their hut. He has bypassed the remote control features and transported the card to his shop for investigation and repair. Although functional without movement control the camera still has limited use because the loss of the control card also affected the environmental controls located inside the camera. In other words, during cold weather the camera housing suffers a case of condensation on its lens.
Jerry is still moving forward towards his goal of operating Green Keys, real mechanical Teletype, from the Transmitter Room using only Navy gear. I have not heard of any particularly serious problems in his way, just the normal tiny speed bumps that would be expected in a project of this size. Also in the Transmitter Room, “Too Tall Tom” has completed the installation of the interconnect cable for the TCK transmitter and its power supply cabinet. He is now working on installing the replacement high voltage bleeder resistors. There are three or four other items in this WWII transmitter that need some TLC before we try the first turn on in more than 40 years.
Upon arriving at the ship one Saturday it was noticed that a couple of the NJ2BB shack computers were in the middle of a nervous breakdown. Bill B. was able to recover the first 2 machines by a simple power down and reboot. But the Ham-3 computer was in a more severe condition and needed an operation, which Bill performed without complications. Having received its new power supply the Ham-3 computer was back on the job with little recovery time needed.
That stack of special receivers (RBA, RBB and a RCA) in John’s shop has been given an antenna system and speakers. Some minor power supply work remains before the rigs can be used without the need to move cables around. The stack looks impressive, sounds great and does draw the attention of members of the “City at Sea” tour as they pass the restoration shop, which thanks to the new gate is always viewable to the visitors.
Probably the most visible change to the NJ2BB shack is the latest cleaning of this compartment. All items, except for the chairs and wastebasket, have been permanently removed from the deck and all non-used items have been removed from the gray storage racks to be stored elsewhere. The deck was then stripped of old wax, dirt and grime then given a very light coat of new wax. After the Scouts are finished with the shack this Saturday the deck will be cleaned again then given a proper coat of wax. Hopefully by the time we lock up for the day the shack will have a true Navy looking deck. Keep your fingers crossed.