Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station (BNJARS)
Dec 19 - When we began testing of the WWII vintage TCK transmitter we found that the high voltage fuse was open. We had no idea if this was the result of trouble with the rig, dating back to its last usage in 1960 or did the mechanical agitation of moving the rig from the USS Des Moines to the BB-62 cause damage to the fuse. One thing for certain was the need to find and order replacement fuses. Well, on Saturday the new fuse was installed, the transmitter powered up, switches turned on and 1600 volts of direct current applied to the final stage of the transmitter without the new fuse opening! Happy Birthday TCK! On our next workday, remember the opening note, we will move on to testing the rig in the "make lots of RF" mode. Depending on test results we may actually see this classic black painted transmitter on the Ham bands for the first time in its 64-year life! Of course I'm assuming that at no time during her shortened career did any of the Des Moines' Radioman/Ham operators use this rig for a late night 40-meter QSO.
Other good news comes from the O2 level restoration shop from which we hear that the FACCON 1 R-390A receiver is nearly complete with its latest TLC. The Transmitter Room R-390A is just a day or so behind with its adventures in John's World.
Thanks to new guy Vinnie the security video rack now has a battery backup for the matrix generator. Of all the electronics in this rack, only the matrix generator was subject to power line disturbances and required rebooting too often. Hopefully these adventures in rebooting are a thing of the past.
Vinnie has also replaced the broken speaker in our vintage HRO HF receiver. The next stop for this rig, and Vinnie, is the O2 level shop.
Ed spent time inspecting the RF connectors associated with the Ham-5 operating position. Two weeks ago a very poorly installed PL-259 made its presence known. Along the way Ed managed to reduce the number of connectors and adapters needed at this position.
A long time ago someone much smarter than myself was quoted as saying, "put off till tomorrow what you should do today". In line with this thought, for years we have been removing and reinstalling the very, very large box cover at the entrance to FACON 1. Each move of the cover is a back breaking 2-man adventure in muscle strain. Thanks to the expert placement of two U-bolts by Rich E. we now have proper handles to save our backs. Sorry Ski, your adventures with Great Lakes effect snow caused you to miss this event.
After giving new member George, no license, the nickel tour of our spaces we put him to work doing some mechanical repairs to storage drawers in FACCON 1. He was also given time to help Ed with some on the air time. George is working on his Tech Class license, so the air time should be helpful in his quest.
Down in the Transmitter Room Jerry has returned to work on the Transmitter Room Receiver Antenna Patch Panel. Now that is a mouthful of capital letters!
Over the past couple of weeks Gene and Bill L have made major headway with their wind system test rig.
Up in the SITE Control Room one more piece of video equipment has been returned to service. The A-52 video effects generator has been dormant since Ebe disappeared into the evening mist. The encampment video experience team now has one more tool to use in their efforts to educate the young minds that take advantage of this tour segment.
Realizing that the installation of the R-2368 receiver stack has been dormant for almost 12 weeks I had Ed and Rich E pickup the job by running new antenna coax from the receiver antenna multicoupler in FACCON 1 to the new equipment stack. Still to be touched are the audio lines that feed the receiver audio patch panel. The last part of this job is installing headphone jacks, in the NJ2BB shack, using former crypto lines so that the R-2368 receivers are readily available to operators as a "diversity receiver" function.
Besides working on the restoration of a 4-channel alarm panel in CEC, Rich R has been investigating the repairs needed by a 21 inch dust covered video monitor that was recently rediscovered onboard the ship. If it is repairable, this monitor will be added to the SITE system as a display for the Power Script computer and the A-52 unit mentioned above.
Dave C has been busy doing sheet metal fabrication work for the R-390A radios mentioned earlier in this update.
Nov 27 - I have been slightly delinquent in keeping all of you abreast of our work at the ship. Here is a list of the high points for the two weeks prior to Thanksgiving.
1) Ray and Ski removed the 60-seconds motorized timer from the TCK transmitter. Its erratic operation was driving us crazy each time we powered up the rig for testing. Ray has since cleaned and oiled the motor drive assembly. The following weekend found Ski putting the timer back into service.
2) The donated Icom IC-471H 70cm all mode rig has found its way to the O2 Level shop for repair. Hopefully this will not be a repeat of the 6-meter rig episode.
3) Rich made quick repairs to one of the CEC “movie monitors”.
4) A simple change to the cables of the SITE Control Room now allows for the quick insertion of titles to video produced during Encampment tours.
5) Ski, Bill and Jim installed a replacement wind speed indicator, including the complete housing, on the O8 level. Though tourist may never see this indicator, why leave troubles in an otherwise restored system?
6) Ed did telephone repairs, as requested by the ship’s staff.
Rich reports that he is nearly complete with the restoration of the CEC indicators and is looking for another project. Gene and Bill L continued with the construction of a multiuse test fixture for the wind speed / direction analog computer.
John, Tom and Ray enjoyed a morning in the Transmitter Room. Their attempt to wake up the 1500-volt power supply for the TCK transmitter was a failure. Some quick troubleshooting lead them to a relay contact in the primary circuit for HV transformer. While Ray did the contact cleaning, John and Tom worked on reviving the R-390A receiver. The latest word is the failure of a diode in the 150-volt power supply.
Lou and Jean were found sorting and storing a large pile of QSL cards sent due to operation with Hams from around the world.
Dave W completed the modifications to the bulkhead mounted 1MC test speaker. The new test posts and 4-position slide switch provides for:
a) The 1MC signal to drive the speaker in a standard
b) The 1MC signal to be connected to the test points only.
c) The test points to be connected to the speaker transformer primary (70-volt)
d) The test points to be connected directly to the speaker voice coil (8-ohms)
A seasonal health condition kept me in the NJ2BB shack holding court on other’s work. I also spent some time doing “volume reduction work” in the form of removing light bulbs from pilot lamp jewels. By noon we had increased our inventory of pilot lamps by about 100 units.
Nov 6 - The day started off on a different beat as the gang gathered to lend a hand to Chief Harry’s efforts to catalog and distribute items collected during recent shipyard raids. By the end of the hour we had recovered some tech manuals, including one for the URR-74 receiver located in the Transmitter Room and a manual for the Chirp Sounder receiver that once sat in the area now used by the NJ2BB antenna patch panel. Chirp Sounder? See me at the ship for the answer!
Saturday was the first day at the ship for new guy Vinnie, N4NYY, of the GCARC. After being part of the Chief Harry work party, Vinnie joined Dave W in the Forward I/ C shop for a small project. Also new to the Saturday gang is Jim, KB3PZN, who car-pooled to the ship with Bill L. Jim has been to the ship as a guest operator but has decided to join our efforts. He and Bill spent most of the day in the shack making NJ2BB known on 20-meter SSB with some PSK operations at the end of the day. Gene split his day between his normal work list and giving Bill and Jim a lesson in PSK operation.
John is very happy now that the SB-110 has been relocated to the shack. The rig still has two minor problems that will be taken care of in the future, but for now NJ2BB is on 6-meter SSB and CW.
Once we met the 2-man rule, Ray was able to enter the Transmitter Room, remove his home made LED replacement lamps from the TCK transmitter, then journey to John’s World to rebuild the assemblies. The LED pack had been wired for a positive supply rail but the TCK has a negative supply line. Hopefully next week one more minor speed bump will be removed from getting the TCK back online.
While he was onboard the ship for a rare Saturday, Chief Harry and I spent some time discussing some minor troubles with the add-ons to the 1MC system and possible solutions to items like “hot microphones” while using these add-on audio sources.
Oct 30 - Terry and Rich R were able to backlight the last of the ships information displays mounted to the overhead of CEC (Combat Engagement Center). These repeaters provide rudder (port and starboard) position, engine speed (port/starboard ordered and acknowledged) and compass heading. Sitting in the TAO chair (Tactical Affairs Officer) in the center of the compartment I found it was easy to imagine how active this place was during ship's operations. Scanning the compartment my eyes viewed missile status, 16" gun directions, ships position, targets both near and over the horizon, the status of approaching aircraft, flight operations at the Fantail and the view of the remote battlefield as seen by the Pioneer (remote piloted aircraft). I give a personal Bravo Zulu to the Curatorial Dept, Curatorial Support, namely Chief Carlson and everyone else involved with this space.
Ray had a visitor with him that limited his access to work in the Transmitter Room. Before his guest arrived Ray did do some volume reduction work by removing more switches and fuse holders from the cabinet mentioned last week. After Lenny finished his visit Ray was found back at work.
In Ray's absence I spent much of my day in the Transmitter Room so as to meet the 2-man rule requirements with Rich. Rich E spent more quiet time with his friend the T-368 transmitter. Currently he is working on the replacement of the T/R (transmit / receive) antenna relay.
I worked on the TCK transmitter cleaning the door interlock switch on the rectifier cabinet. The pits and splatter of copper and silver showed that this switch had interrupted current flow too many times during its life onboard the former USS Des Moines. After cleaning the contacts I was able to bring back to life the 500-volt power supply. The front panel meters indicated that the Master Oscillator and Intermediate Power Amplifier were happy so………………while Rich powered up the Racal receiver, I connected a length of hook-up wire for use as an antenna by the Racal and we crossed our fingers. Sure enough, we found the Master Oscillator signal right where it should be. Next we found the "doubled frequency" aka the final signal at a low power level. A quick series of "V" in CW proved we were listening to a rig that has not been on the air since 1960. Ask Rich if I was happy. At this point this rig is about 90% of the way back to general service.
When last visited in the restoration shop John was still deciding if throwing the SB-110 overboard would be the best solution to the troubles with this 6-meter transceiver. Notice that I say, "when last seen in the shop". Later in the afternoon John appeared in FACCON 1 with a big smile and life in his steps. He proudly announced that the SB-110 now has 90 watts output on CW. After a number of bad parts, original-wiring errors, removal of "non manufacture modifications" and two printing errors in the manual the light at the end of the tunnel is not an approaching train. Good job John. I have to add a thank you to Too Tall Tom who has been acting as John's gofer, sounding board and general "what can I do next guy".
Gene and Bill L are making progress with the design and construction of test equipment for use with the "wind direction mechanical amplifier" and the associated remote indicators. On their horizon is the rebuild of the wind speed/direction indicator mounted on the O8 Level. As found years ago the internal lighting transformer had melted its winding insulation, which was gumming up the works. Even though this indicator may never be used again there is no sense in leaving it in this deteriorated condition, just in case it might be placed back in service. This might be considered as part of the theory of "keep the future generation of volunteers in mind".
Ski kept busy with a power source problem. One of the power cables to be used by the R-2368 HF receivers has a tag that gives us its power source, yet the AC does not come from that panel. Adding to the problem was the failure of our cable tracing equipment; the Pasor, not the Fox and Hound probe. As I write these words of wit from home the Pasor has been repaired and ready for use next weekend.
Finishing off the day was the transport of the television camera pedestal from the Wardroom to the Aft Mess Deck. This was the first step in setting up the SITE System for use with the Breakfast with Santa event being held in December. The plan is to have 2 full size cameras on the Mess Deck, sending video to the Control Room for processing, then sending the images out to all the TV sets onboard the ship, including those on the Mess Decks. The children and adults will have supervised access to the cameras and their operation. Who knows, maybe we will generate the future career of one of our visitors. No taping of the event or participants is planned.
In review; two rigs back in operation, indicators glowing, jobs progressing, good conversations and a great social time during lunch. By all accounts I would say the gang had another great day at the ship!
Oct 23 - The day started with the somewhat usual gab session in John's World. There I found Rich E. who, because of a failure to meet the 2-man rule for the Transmitter Room, was looking for something else to work on. I forget what the subject of the moment was but he interrupted the flow of words by asking "What's that up there?" Seeing what Rich was pointing to John replied "It's a power supply for a R-390A receiver". Looking in the direction of Rich's finger I could see what his thoughts were, that the module looked exactly like the missing audio subassembly for the T-368 transmitter. Oh well, too bad.
At this point Rich and Ed headed to the Starboard 35' vertical antenna to finish the repairs to the coax connector at the base of this receive only antenna. Upon their return to the shack the three of us headed to the Transmitter Room so Rich could give the T-368 some TLC and I could do some wire termination checks on the TCK transmitter. Ed had not been to the space for some time and was just plain curious.
My simple job of terminating a ground wire required me to obtain a horizontal position on the deck, reach up and into the lower section of the RF cabinet in order to install a rather small pan head screw into the "ceiling" of this section of the transmitter. Anyone want to figure out the odds of dropping a small screw while reaching into a very tight area while working upside down? Not having the perfect screwdriver in hand I asked Rich and Ed if they could find me something else. Moments later I hear, coming through the mass of cabinets, cable and electronic equipment "THANKS DAVE!" Oh $&^# I think to myself, what have I done now?
What do I find as I twist to look up to see what had Rich in such a state of excitement? He is holding the missing audio assembly for the T-368!! It was found in the shallow shelf unit that is mounted on the left side of the compartment workbench. The construction of this shelf unit does hide its function, until you slide between the bench and the adjacent large air handler (cooling fan unit). Rich continued his day searching for the few remaining parts needed for the restoration of the T-368. I believe the only missing item is a Transmit Receive Relay (T/R), one of which I have since located in my home junk box.
Rich's success seemed to make a suggestion to the screw I was working with because it then jumped into place, without falling into the maze of wires below nor with the help of the screwdriver that was never found.
Our luck continued when we powered up the TCK transmitter and found that both the 120 VDC and 12 VDC supplies were functional and the correct polarity. The polarity was of concern because the original Navy schematics are drawn incorrectly and show these supplies as positive voltage, not the actual negative output requirments. Perry of the LST-325 fell into this valley of wrong info while working on their TCK and was generous enough to warn us ahead of time. Thanks Perry.
Dave C. continued his de-construction of equipment that in its present form is of no use to us but does contain items of future value. Things like pilot light sockets, bulbs, fuse holders, fuses, switches, terminal strips, handles, ground straps, connectors, etc.
John and Tom continued their adventure with the SB-110 6-meter rig. Enough said about this subject.
Gene and Bill L have moved the focus of their labor from the wind speed integrators to the wind direction amplifiers. These amplifiers are much simpler than their cousins the integrators and have been in operation for the last 9 years without a single burp. Gene felt it was time to learn about the design of these mechanical amplifiers before any major failures happen.
Rich Rauth spent his hours at the ship working the restoration of the 5 ship's "Information Repeaters" that hang in the forward port corner of CEC. He and Terry have been working on the backlighting of these units for the last couple of weeks. When he left for the day Rich had four of the units illuminated and looking fine. The job is not completed but was at the point that he could safely leave the lights on. The only problem with the install is the height of the units. Their high position near the overhead in the compartment actually hides their existence from many of our visitors. But on the light side, pun intended, our guest do get a changing view as they walk around the compartment, not just a different view of the same equipment.
Ed, Bill and I filled in the day by doing some operating on the HF bands.
Oct 2 - The day's work schedule started to fall apart the evening before when my home phone rang during dinner. The ship's staff called to advise me that they suspected that the high winds had damaged the ship's UHF repeater antenna. Oh, and by the way, the Callbox at the Clinton St gate is dead in the water. Add to these two items the notice from earlier in the week that SITE System studio camera 1 was non-responsive and it was the demise of an uneventful day at the ship. Before stepping foot on the ship Saturday morning I had already collected the call box from the fence, talked with the repeater tech about the antenna and discussed the camera troubles with the Overnight Encampment staff.
Repeater problem; From the ground it appeared that the Ensign, Navy speak for the American Flag, had been damaged enough during the overnight storm so as to be able to reach the repeater antenna and do physical damage to the antenna. Ski and Ken Kersch (Repeater Tech and Volunteer) made the climb to the radar platform for further inspection of the antenna. They found that the Ensign had removed the entire radiating section of this upside down ground plane antenna. The team then returned to the Main Deck for fabrication of a replacement element. After lunch Ski and Rich Thrash, of the Brass Team, installed the temporary element for the repeater antenna. They took advantage of the trip to make repairs to the Digi-peater antenna as well as realign the ATV antenna towards the QTH of Ron, K3ZKO. This later job is an attempt to return ATV (Amateur Television) to the NJ2BB shack.
While aloft the guys also had a bird's eye view of the firing of Mount 52. This 4-round volley was to honor the Boy Scout Camporee held on the ship. Each of the four rounds was remote electrically fired by the Guests of Honor, one being a new Eagle Scout. The gun firing was the reason why Ken could not make the second trip to the Radar Platform; he was inside Mount 52 loading the shells.
Call Box problem: Taking advantage of the dead battery situation with the Call Box, Ed installed the external battery box he had built earlier in the season. This modification allows the Maintenance Dept to make future battery changes without the need to disassemble the entire fence mounted enclosure and it's internal electronics. As he and Ski drove out Clinton St at the end of the day they remounted the call box and installed the battery box in the nearby guard hut. Post maintenance testing proved the unit was back in service.
SITE Camera 1 problem: The SITE cameras are not the simple video devices that most people have had in their hands. It is an arrangement of electronic Base Units, Digital Control Units, Remote Control Units all working to power and control the physical camera. All of these units work hand-in-hand with the video switcher, sync generator and other video process assemblies to produce the final program. The trouble was narrowed to the rack mounted Digital Control Unit that is normally associated with studio camera 1. Taking into account the other events of the day it was decided to forego repair of the DCU but instead patch camera 1 into the control scheme of camera 4 (cables that run to the Forecastle), which is not currently in use. After the video patch panel was re-configured, camera 1 (acting as camera 4) was back online for the evening's encampment.
Other work for the day; Taking advantage of not being able to work on the TCK transmitter (2-man rule requirements not being met) Ray started the process of removing the memory batteries from Harris R2368 receivers. We know the batteries are beyond useful life and fear that they may start leaking their corrosive contents all over the circuit boards. No replacement of the batteries is planned due to the nature of the radio's operations at the ship.
Bill L and Gene continued with their exploration and documentation of the ship's wind speed and direction indicators. Of special interest to them was the recently discovered "isometric drawing" of the 1982 system installation. Yep, it happened again. Do the work then find the drawings. Only this time the drawings came from off the ship.
Sept 11 - After the general membership meeting was adjourned several workers moved to the O2 level area to give an assortment of 1MC speakers, intercoms and switches a final going over before the items leave the ship. These items are part of a partnership between the BB-62 and the Lakehurst Navel Air Engineering Station Sea Cadets who are converting a section of the famous Hanger 1 into a functional shipboard communication area. Bravo Zulu to Bill B, Doug G, Wayne, Bill L and Too Tall Tom.
Ray is continuing with the solution to the bad current limiting resistors discovered last week while working on the TCK transmitter. Dave C finished yet another section of his Avionics volume reduction projects. The fifty or so illuminated push button switches removed from a front panel have been placed in smaller boxes and now live in their proper drawer in the compartment.
Doug P has taken on the rehabilitation of the two A&J equipment racks located in FACCON 1, just before you enter the NJ2BB shack. Without boring you to death with details, he is moving the Harris R-2368 HF receivers to the rack near the Coke Machine. When finished there will be five of these rigs in operation, feeding audio to several points about the ship as well as acting as diversity receivers for the NJ2BB operations. For a number of years we have had one R-2368 mounted above the R-390A to the left of the Ham Shack. This receiver prevented us from claiming total restoration of the rack. Once this radio is relocated to the opposite side of the aisle, one more rack will be historically correct. Doug had family plans for the afternoon, so Bill L and Rich E continued with the mounting of hardware needed to install the 5 receivers. Still to be worked on is the numerous audio, power and antenna cords to be constructed, installed and tested.
Also sticking their heads out of the woodwork were Jerry and Beth. Beth headed to the TTY Office and Avionics to insure that I had not made too much of a mess since her last day of labor in those compartments. I almost passed. Oh well! Jerry headed down to the Transmitter Room to perform an inspection of that compartment and to get a first hand look at the TCK and T-368 work. As with Avionics, I did not pass the inspection portion of his day at the ship.
Sept 4 - Saturday began and ended as a perfect day. Dave C. continued with his inventory reduction program. He is removing coax relays, switches, indicator lights, etc from mounting plates or chassis. We do have a use for the mounting methods but the items mentioned will come in handy for ship projects. So far he has reduced at least one Avionics drawer to a group of smaller containers that are then placed with similar items. This is another step towards the final organizing of our storage area.
Dave W. spent time in Forward IC testing 1MC speakers that had been gathered during one of the shipyard visits. As speakers are proven to be operational they transferred to Avionics for long-term storage.
Gene was found where else but in the area of Forward IC working on Wind Speed Integrators. The homemade felt thrust washers are holding up very well.
Rich E spent his time at the ship with his new friend the T-368. By the end of the day he had finished the installation of a set of homemade power resistor mounts. Ray had tons of fun removing the light socket and resistor, mounted on the light socket, for the Master Oscillator Heater indicator. At first we thought that the 1200 ohm 20 watt resistor was bad but further testing revealed that the problem might be simpler.
Rich R spent time working on the gradient lighting circuit in the spare TV signal waveform monitor used with the SITE system.
John was found pulling out more of his hair while continuing the troubleshooting of the 6-meter rig. His day might be best described as one-step forward, three steps backward. Too Tall Tom did some more gofer work for me before settling down in the O2 level shop searching parts catalogues for needed capacitors.
Aug 28 - Back on July 11th the gang spotted a previously unseen wind speed / direction repeater located along the starboard bulkhead of CEC. It's signal source was unknown but was most likely the same as all other wind indicators; Central Station. This past Saturday a group of four members acting as spotter, phone talker, phone talker and IC switchboard operator confirmed that the new repeater is fed from Central Station. The switch was marked Flag Plot which accurate except that the Flag Plot area was "struck from the ship's drawings" in 1984. I guess someone just couldn't erase a part of the ship from history.
The TCK transmitter received a two-hour long warm up during the workday. This was more than long enough for the Master Oscillator to reach the temperature stability spec of 60 degrees C. At this point the heater was observed to cycle on and off while the repaired blower continued to operate, quietly. What is success without a hiccup? The MO Heater pilot light was not indicating as it should but will be addressed this weekend. YES the bulb was checked!
John found a bad capacitor in the voltage regulator section of the Transmitter Room R-390A receiver. I believe he has a replacement in hand, which will find a new home inside the metal casing of the old capacitor, just to keep that original appearance. Rich E was providing some TLC to the T-368 Transmitter.
A couple of workdays ago I was informed that the "bug light" on the CEC Dead Reckoning Tracer was dark. Rich R and Dave W went to the compartment with the intent to replace this bulb that has been working since before Christmas. They discovered that the bulb was good but that the sliding contact on the x-y drive mechanism was dirty. Now for part two of the DRT bulb story. Earlier this year Rich had located a high intensity LED, with lens, that he mounted into the base of a dual contact lamp, similar to the lamp used in the DRT. While he had the DRT open on Saturday he installed the homemade lamp module to see how it works. I leave it up to you, the readers of these words of whit, to visit CEC and view the results.
I have to acknowledge the jobs done by Too Tall Tom, but at the moment I forget what he did. My fault because I know he did a couple of things. Also along the lines of doing what they do, Bill L and Gene spent time working on test fixtures for the wind speed integrator and repeaters.
Aug 23 - Previous restoration work on the WWII TCK transmitter had revealed that the Master Oscillator cooling fan motor was suffering from a case of old bearings. It took a considerable amount of work to get the M. O. assembly out of the transmitter and the motor removed. During the past week Ray found some replacement motor bearings On Saturday Ray, with help from Bill B. reinstalled the motor, fan and M.O. assembly to the TCK main cabinet. After lunch we ensured that the high voltage section of the power supply was still disconnected then the TCK once plugged in and allowed to warm up. It appears that we are ready for the next step of the restoration procedure; namely reconnecting the high voltage supply and watching for smoke.
Last week noticed that the blinking lights associated with the Coke Machine, WSC-3 control stations and a couple of other lights in the Message Handling Room were not cycling. A check of the Basic Stamp controller found the chip non-operational. Further troubleshooting revealed that the output of the 9-volt wall wart that powers the Basic Stamp also contained 2.5 volts of AC ripple. A replacement wall wart has returned the system to operation.
The numerous modifications found in the Heathkit SB-110 6-meter transceiver has made John slightly gun shy of the rig. Actually a little more like $#&*^%%$. Enough said.
Terry and Rich R. have started exploring the restoration of 5 ship's information indicators located in CEC. Their work will be concentrated on returning the back lighting of the dial indicators to service. This action will increase that "lived in look" of the compartment. The indicators provided the CEC crew with ship's speed, heading, port and starboard engine orders, port and starboard engine order acknowledgement as well as port and starboard rudder angles.
Rich E continues with the restoration of the T-368 transmitter. Currently missing in action is the audio processor subassembly. The rig could be operated in CW without the module but will need to be located for AM operation.
July 17 - Most of the day's activities happened in the Transmitter Room. A second attempt at powering the TCK transmitter for the first time in fifty years had mixed results. We managed to get power into the RF decks but stopped the procedure when the "Master Oscillator" temperature control blower motor started to produce a very abnormal sound. Ray spent the rest of the day figuring out a way to remove the small but hard to get to motor. Rich E continued with the restoration of the T-368 HF transmitter. A search of Avionics produced a bulkhead mounted 4-pin power connector that matches the ship's 120v circular style connectors. He also completed repairs to the cabinet mounted blower motor and reinstalled the unit in the transmitter cabinet. Some more visual and continuity checks are scheduled to ensure that Rich is in sync with the work previously performed by Stan and Bob. The rig may actually be powered in one or two weeks.
After doing some work in the SITE Control Room, Ski and Terry reported to the Transmitter Room where they began "dressing" cables into the overhead cable ladders. Although more work remains, the area forward of the transmitter racks is now neater and more accessible to the workforce. After moving through the room picking up some general clutter, I sat down with the WRT-2 transmitter and continued the task of reconnecting the drawers with the internal wiring harness.
Not to be left out of the fun of working in a very warm space, John joined the rest of us by working on the R-390A receiver that is mounted next to the Model 15 teleprinter. Earlier this year John had noticed some damage to the upper deck of this radio, thus his visit to the compartment today.
Elsewhere about the ship Gene H continued with his documentation of the wind speed system. Too Tall Tom was spotted in John's World working on something but I have no idea what. Rick R was spotted in his shop area making repairs to a TV signal analyzer (SITE System). Late in the day we had a family of three Hams stop by the shack for a visit.
July 11 - The attempt to restart the WWII TCK-4 series transmitter began with a blown line fuse. Ray and Terry were able to isolate the problem to a pair of improperly terminated wires on one of the rectifier cabinet's sub assemblies. After checking, double-checking then making the correction they were able to power up the variable transformer, voltmeter and pilot light on the rectifier cabinet. Next week we will perform more of the transmitters startup sequence, in small steps, looking for problems and their solutions.
Several of the work party members gathered in GCS (Ground Control Station) for a Navy style Field Day of the compartment. By days end this space was 90% clear of stored items, dust bunnies and other items that kept getting in the way.
Gene H, helped by Lou and Dave W performed some more cable / switch function testing and tracing of the wind speed / direction repeater system. Along the way they discovered a previously unknown repeater. Just another example of 1 step forward and 2 steps backwards. The day was rounded out by some operating time on 20-meters SSB.
July 4 - Once again there was a need to trouble shoot and repair the call box mounted at the Clinton St gate. Too Tall Tom and Dave C determined that the cause was once again living in the sheet metal battery holder. The final determination was that after a decade of battery changes, the sheet metal holder had become distorted and was not providing enough pressure to keep the batteries in electrical contact with each other. The temporary solution was to remove the metal holder from the unit. Power is now provided by a string of 6 "D" cell batteries that are soldered together. A properly engineered and constructed replacement battery holder will be installed at a later date.
During the workday the water front section of Camden suffered a loss of electrical power. This loss of power did an excellent job of testing the ship's emergency lighting system for about 15 minutes. After the power was restored some of our members traveled about the ship helping with returning displays and system to service. I still get a moment of humor when, after a power outage, the 1MC system produces the Windows theme music, thanks to the computer used for the automated Navy announcement system.
June 26 - First thing this past Saturday I connected the 6-meter rig to the HF Truss antenna. Yep, a HF vertical antenna driving a 6-meter receiver. At first the band was quiet but about an hour later I copied a CW signal from a W3. Not much of a performance test but at least the circuits are working. Later we found the 6-meter band loaded with good signals from stations getting ready for the start of Field Day 2010. SSB signals from stations in Maine, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama were copied.
Ski and I spent most of the day installing and activating more of the ship's dial telephones. One location had a phone on the bulkhead but it had never been cross-connected nor programmed into the System 75. The other location started out as a cable on a desk but ended the day as a phone on a desk, a cross connect at Broadway, programmed into the System 75 and a bad port card found in the System 75. The card will be changed on our next visit.
June 19 - Three weeks ago I received an urgent request from the ship's staff concerning the failure of the "call box" located at the Clinton St gate. Even after changing the internal batteries this UHF hand-held in a box failed to function. During the next workday, two days later, Ray located a corroded battery terminal in the battery box. With help from Rich E. a temporary repair utilizing a brass nut and screw was installed followed by testing and reinstallation of the call box.
Also received from the ship's staff was the request for a new security camera location. In the early days of the ship's restoration there was a camera, located in a Starboard-berthing compartment, that provided a view of the pier leading to the ship. When the compartment was converted to a museum display area the camera was removed. The new request was to find a new location for, and install a pier camera. Note: this is not the camera located on the Harbor Master's tower. Rich and Bill L managed to install the new run of coax, install one of the BNC connectors and perform a bench test of the camera to be used. Also completed was the change in configuration of the security video rack so as to be ready to accept the new location.
On this same weekend we had two guest operators from the western side of Philadelphia. The two Hams had visited the Hamvention booth in May, learned of the ship and NJ2BB. Using the new HAM-5 position Andy and his dad made 15 contacts before heading out to take their paid tour of the ship.
After our guest left the shack, Bill L took advantage of the warm chair at HAM-5 and made another 20 contacts. While working on the Heathkit SB-110 6-meter rig John decided that an owner installed AM modification was the source of the rigs low output. Ski, with no knowledge of Heathkits, was volunteered to "back out" of this AM mod. By the end of the day the CW/SSB rig was once again in it's original Heathkit design.
May 29 - Ski spent his time making repairs to the Pilot House loud speaker that we will be using next weekend during Museum Ships Weekend. This location is our favorite operating position while operating "All Navy, All Battleship" because it provides us with the most real life version of Navy communications while at the same time giving the visitors a first hand view of Navel and Ham radio operations.
Ed was held to a short leash that confined him to the NJ2BB shack, so he held operator-training sessions on the new Ham-5 equipment, namely the Harris RF-350. During time on the air Ed checked into a special weekend event station. There was some confusion as to his call sign, NJ2BB, until all realized that former crewmember Gary, NJ8BB, was also trying to QSO the special event station. Even though the propagation gods prevented Ed from hearing Gary's signal, here is another example of how Amateur Radio can shrink the size of the world.
Gene reports that he has shifted his self-training from the wind speed integrator over to the wind direction indicator network. Although a great deal of time and effort has been spent on the speed network, the direction items have been left on the wayside. But, after 9 years of operations, there has not been a single failure of this section of the system.
Rich E. continued with the recovery of the Ross video switcher that failed nearly two weeks ago. Last weeks circuit board bath did restore the push button circuit operation but the indication lamps did not follow the buttons. Further troubleshooting, including some temporary replacement of 50-conductor ribbon cable, proved that the soda residue had found it's way into the cable connector. After giving the connectors a bath the switcher returned to nearly perfect operation. All that remains "out of service" are 4 indicating lamps, and yes we changed the bulbs but without success. As far as I know, the Encampment Advisors used the SITE System that evening.
Work on the Heathkit SB-110 6-meter all mode rig hit some sort of snag during the day but John still has hopes that the rig will be available for the weekend event. It should also be available for the following weekend, June 12-14, which is the annual VHF contest weekend.
May 22 - Rich R finished the "back focus" adjustment, on the Harbor Master tower camera, and now reports a nice image of the Clinton St gate area.
Everyone who has read these updates for any length of time is well aware of the fact that manuals and drawings will most likely appear out of nowhere, but only after a job is complete. Well, it happened again! After 9 years of reverse engineering the wind speed integrator, with all its gears and friction discs, a proper Navy manual appeared. Not only is it the proper manual, it is the real BB-62 manual, as proven by a sheet of paper stapled to the rear inside cover. The paper is a parts order form requesting a new wind speed detector (the airplane looking thingy up on the yard arms). Per the section marked "reason for request", Michael R. Clark (IC1) comments that "16" gunfire exercise destroyed the detector"! Think about that for a moment or two.
Now, keep in mind the thought that manuals show up only after the job is complete. While doing some Navy style field-day cleanup the other week, I found the Technical Manuals for the SITE system Ross RVS-424 video switcher. Having already studied the Installation and User Manuals for this complex of switches and cables I began to study the logic diagrams and schematics. Why? Cause I'm nosey when it comes to anything BB-62. Well, while at the ship last Wednesday I was informed that the Ross switcher had failed and would not respond to any commands. Loss of this piece of gear will end the Overnight Encampment TV studio experience and render the system forever useless.
Combining my new knowledge of the system and Rich E's digital skills it was only an hour or so when the base problem was located; three of the 8 digital switch scan lines were being held "low" instead of jumping between "high" and "low", indicating which switch had been pressed. We came up with two possible causes for this data error-creating situation. First would be the failure of one of three IC chips. Luckily these are very common chips, but are soldered in place, no sockets. Second could be foreign material stuck to the upper side of the push button circuit board that was as yet not viewable to us.
We decided on the easier road and removed the circuit board only to find years worth of spilt soda residue covering the circuit board traces. Rich used the time proven method of cleaning electronics; wash the thing with water, dry the board with compressed air then let it air dry for a day. By the end of the workday the board was replaced into the Ross cabinet but not connected. This board will be tested next weekend. Hopefully we will not need to pursue the road not taken and change the chips. Thank goodness the manuals appeared before the trouble appeared because without the books we could never have done the troubleshooting.
The RF deck for the SP-600 has been completely "re-capped" and is now back in place in the radio. Testing of this donated radio will continue next week. Take a break Tom.
John and Ray think they have found a typo in the manual for the Heathkit SB-110 6-meter rig. The book calls for a bias of -60 volts but they can only create - 5 volts yet the rig appears to operate fine. Any one have any info about field changes to this manual?
While most of the days work took place on the O3 Level, Bill B could be found in the area of the former movie projector booth on the Fantail working on the 5MC speakers. Two of them have stopped working but test OK so cable tracing was commenced but he ran out of daylight.
May 8 - After the completion of the scheduled quarterly membership meeting it was time to get to jobs for the day. Included was the relocation of a certain R-390a HF receiver from the O2 level shop to the back of my truck. By this Wednesday afternoon this radio should be back home onboard the former USS Requin (SS-481). It has been at the BB-62 for the past year receiving some much-needed TLC, repairs and modifications.
Rich E, substituting for Too Tall Tom, continued with the replacement of bad capacitors in the RF section of the donated Hammarlund SP-600 receiver.
Rich R, Terry and Too Tall Dave reinstalled the large, cumbersome security camera atop the Harbor Master's tower, only to find out that the "back focus" of the camera internals needed a tweak. The very high winds of Saturday afternoon caused this tweaking to be postponed until next weekend.
A request from the ship's staff directed our attention to the cash register security camera on the Mess Decks. Ski discovered that one of the monitors for the network was DOA and needed replacement. The system was fully functional by lunchtime.
The sequence of monitor moves in the Message Handling Area was completed when the industrial strength monitor in the NJ2BB shack was relocated to the DVD display in the Message Handling Area. The donated portable set that had been in the Message Area for the last few weeks was moved into the Shack. The reason for this move was to allow the NJ2BB operators to be able to monitor all the SITE channels, including those that the previous unit could not receive. Thanks Harry, Wayne, and Ron.
Gene, Bill L and Ski spent a couple of hours verifying the "Action Cut Out" switches used by the wind speed/direction system. All these switches, located in Central Station and a number of other compartments, have been documented and verified as to their function. All except for the one located in the Combat Engagement Center. This "mystery switch" has markings that do not line up with the dial pointer nor do their indicated functions agree with the pointer. This is the switch mentioned in my last update as a possible victim of label swapping or handle misalignment: More details to follow.
John reports that all is going well with the alignment of the donated 6-Meter all mode transceiver. He did have to make a major adjustment to the 4th-band oscillator (53-54 MHz) but otherwise all is well with this vintage Heathkit item.
Two of the U-Matic video tape decks in the SITE Control had their heads cleaned. The #3 and #4 machines are waiting their turn for cleaning. We also spent some time adjusting the gain of various components of the audio stream that is part of the SITE System. These adjustments are the result of finding a bad distribution amplifier last weekend. Although another hour or two is needed to bring everything back into specs the system is still usable by the Overnight Encampment Advisors.
May 2 - Saturday was one of those workdays that started off with confusion, mellowed by lunchtime and ended as a successful workday. Everyone covered more than one job, working as teams to accomplish the task at hand, then moved on to the next item on the work list.
1) Eight Boy Scouts got credit for the on-the-air activity requirement for their Merit Badge.
2) The bad video monitor was moved from the Message Handling Area to the camera repair shop.
3) The camera body section of the tower mounted security system was found to be bad. The replacement body corrected the trouble and will find final installation next week.
4) About half of the replacement capacitors for the RF section of the donated SP-600 HF receiver have been replaced. This job will continue after Dayton weekend.
5) The donated Heathkit 6-meter transceiver has endured about half of its alignment procedure. Again, work to continue after the Dayton weekend.
6) The FM Booth section of the SITE Control Room finally received its long overdue Navy style field day.
7) The audio connection between the SITE audio mixer and the ships TV distribution system has been repaired.
8) A loose/dirty BNC connector within the security equipment rack was located and repaired. This connector was causing an intermittent freezing of Radio Central security video.
9) The fabrication of the "RF output enclosure" for the TCK transmitter was completed by installing an N style connector on the cover. This box still needs mounting over the beehive insulator on the transmitter.
10) A couple of members of a ship reunion group (non BB-62) stopped by the shack for a short tour of our station and operations.
11) Tracing and documenting the Action Cut Out (ACO) switches for the wind speed/direction repeaters continues. At this point there is talk that some of the switch nametags may have been swapped some time in the life of the ship. More details as they become available.
12) Some 2-meter contacts were made using distant repeaters.
13) Some 20-meter contacts were logged during the "7 Land QSO Party".
14) The 3" floppy drive in the SITE bulletin board computer was replaced, but to no avail. The electronic bulletin on TV channel 8 is still out of service.
April 28 - This past weekend's journey to the Trenton Computer Fest had its good and bad points. The bad point was the rain on Sunday and the almost complete absence of that day's flea market. The weather did drive people to the indoor vendor area, including the BNJARS booth. During this two-day event we met a number of our members who had never seen the "Dayton setup". More important were the members of the general public who stopped by to ask and learn about the ship and NJ2BB. Thanks to the efforts of the gang, consisting of Harry, Margaret, Ski and myself, a large number of people now know of the existence of the Battleship New Jersey Museum and the various programs and tours she has to offer. Thanks guys!!!!
Meanwhile back at the ship, PIC Clark reports a small turnout for the work party. The failing TV/DVD monitor in the Message Handling Area has been replaced with a properly operating set. Thanks Ed & Tom.
Down in the Transmitter Room the cleanup efforts continued.
I received word that while working in the O2 Level shop a father/son visitor team stopped by at the open door. Before getting the two visitors back on the proper track John offered to show the youngster some of the work that happens in the compartment. Part of the "showing off" was the gear train alignment procedure for the gear train of a R-390a receiver. Well now, what youngster could resist, are you ready for this, turning the big knob? Yep, John is now back to step one of the alignment procedure!
Ed did manage to complete a long scheduled contact with a Ham in England. Geoff had E-mailed us a few weeks ago asking for a scheduled contact. Running low power, feeding a simple vertical antenna in combination with the poor propagation of recent times Geoff decided to ask for a minor amount of help with making the QSO. Thanks Ed.
April 23 - Anyone entering the NJ2BB shack will notice that the area between Ham-4 and the escape scuttle is bounded by yellow crime tape and is not available for walking on. Why? Well, late last Saturday while I was returning a power saw to my tool bag there was an accident. It looks as if the saw took it upon itself to head directly into a pressurized spray can of paint. You guessed it! The can emptied itself onto my brand new work jeans, the deck, some boxes and Gene's document bag. Although some cleanup of the event was performed, still more remains to be completed, by me, next weekend.
I have a report from the O2 level restoration shop that the Heathkit 6-meter all mode rig is back in operation and ready to be returned to the NJ2BB shack. A visiting Ham who noticed the absence of 6-meters from the shack donated this rig. John needed to replace the six filter capacitors in the power supply as well as redo a cold solder joint in the finals section. After performing an alignment procedure the rig is producing just over the specified 100 watts. This weekend or next should find this equipment on the "VHF poles" above the Ham-4 HF equipment ready for us to make our appearance on the 6-meter band; a band that has never experienced the NJ2BB call sign or operation.
Mar 27 - The security camera at the Harbor Master’s Tower was electrically rotated to center the field of view on the design target. This was no small feat when you consider that the control box is in the shop for troubleshooting and repair.
Replacement of the internal cable harness for the Transmitter Room R-390a has begun. Also started was the fabrication of a metal enclosure for the RF Output beehive insulator on top of the TCK transmitter.
The rebuilding of Wind Speed integrators continues. An investigation into the possibility of relocating the MC microphone station from the former Engineer Office to the Encampment Audio Cage shows that the thought is possible. This relocation would increase the flexibility in 1MC operation during encampment periods.
The final dial phone on the Overnight Encampment Director repair list was activated.
The Harris RF-350 and its 500-watt amplifier were given a full power test via a 18 MHz QSO with a station in Arizona. This rig may well become our primary pile-up creating operating position, due not only to the power level but also because of the auto tune feature. One member has even mentioned that “at last we can answer yes” when asked if we are using military equipment from the shack.
We received word that Bill L, KC2JEK, has upgraded to General Class. BZ Bill!!
Mar 20 - Sometime during the work party of Saturday March 13, one of our members committed an action that cannot be reversed. The exact time or location of the event will never be known, but during the workday BNJARS exceeded 40,000 volunteer hours at the ship. So to Ed, Ski, Terry or Gene (those present on that day), whoever it was, thank you. I extend a giant thank you to each and every member for contributing to our efforts at the ship.
John has decided that some of the wiring in the Transmitter Room R-390a receiver needs replacing due to very dry sections of insulation. Ray has announced that the TCK transmitter will be ready for “smoke testing” during his next trip to the ship; possible 2 or 3 weeks from now.
Ed completed the installation of the 500 watt power amplifier that is part of the RF-350 (RT-1446) HF transceiver located at Ham-5. We are still lacking the 20-amp 120-volt circuit needed to operate this amplifier, but we did use a local 10-amp circuit so as to perform pre-operational checks of the amplifier. We are in talks with the ship about the installation of the needed circuit and breakers.
Ed also extended his work order on the System 75 phone network by installing a dial phone in a staff member’s office, which had not had a phone installed during the 2001 restoration work. Too Tall Tom enjoyed the fine weather of the morning by making repairs to a cable splice located in the flower garden at the foot of the pier. This bad splice was the cause of frequent failure of the ships S-75 phone inside the White Gate guard hut.
Dave C. continued his ongoing operations as BNJARS metal fabricator by measuring, cutting and drilling the cover for the TCK transmitter beehive insulator antenna connection. Rich, Rich and Terry ventured out to the Harbor Master’s tower to learn about the installation of the remote controlled security camera. They then retired to one of the O2 shops to begin troubleshooting the digital “ up the coax” control receiver. Next week, weather permitting, we will perform some slight of hand actions in order to return this camera to temporary operation, but minus the remote control functions.
Mar 14 - The update for this workweek will be slightly expanded, not in content, but in a geographic nature.
First we have the snail mail input device here in Barnegat. After an extended wait I can now announce that NJ2BB has, in hand, both of the DXCC certificates our operators have spent so much time on the air working towards. Soon to be posted on the shack bulkhead are the DXCC Mixed and the DXCC Phone awards from the ARRL. For our non-Ham members and readers the DX portion of the award name is short for "distant" while the first "C" is for century, aka 100. The final "C" is short for club; therefore DXCC refers to having provided proof of NJ2BB making radio contact with 100 of the world's countries.
Moving even further away from the Jersey, the museum ship USS Cassion Young moored in Boston had contacted us about our making some RTTY test tapes for them. They explained that their TTY restoration work has not yet reached their perf machine yet and would appreciate it if we could punch some tapes for them. Our Ed C made 4 tapes during the workday and says that the tapes will be in the mail on Monday.
Traveling further towards the horizon we find that on Saturday the USS Midway in San Diego held a special event station to honor the birthday of the Naval Medical Corp and the anniversary of the Gemini 8 flight of 1963. E-mails flew between some of the other museum ships and by days end the Midway was joined by the LST-325, USS Indianapolis, USS Wisconsin, USS Missouri and USS New Jersey. From home I listened in as NJ2BB made contact with NI6IW onboard the Midway.
Now back to our museum ship and the work performed by those that dared the rain and wind of the day.
Ed's day also included completing all but one of the phones on the Encampment Director's repair list. The one remaining phone has never been activated during the 9 years of the existence of the museum but will be during our next workday. Gene H was seen in his shop working on rebuilding wind speed repeaters and other associated items. Terry, Ski and Ed did some equipment re-arrangement in the shack, namely making room for and mounting the donated 500-watt amplifier that is part of the Harris RT-1446 (RF-350) transceiver that resides between Ham-2 and Ham-3.
Ski and Terry than moved out into the Message Handling Area and performed a partial field day, Navy style that is, on the small desk located next to the bookcase. The remaining items need their future decided before they are transferred to the proper location. The guys also did some relocating of spare part drawers obtained during a shipyard raid. The Transmitter Room now sports a larger cabinet while the Fwd IC shop has additional storage capacity. I have word from Pete that he has received the OEM manual for the CEC plasma display and will drop it off at the ship during the week. Hopefully the manual contains enough information to allow Bill L to reconstruct the internal wiring of the display's keyboard.
Mar 9 - Everyone that was onboard the ship this past Saturday can now attest to how dark she can get when shore power is lost. The outage lasted only 3 or 4 minutes and all of our systems recovered when power was restored. Yes, those flashlights that we are required to carry with us came in handy.
Most of the work for the day centered around repair of ship's dial telephones. The encampment staff supplied a list of phones, within their areas, that had problems ranging from noisy to broken. The list was not completed, so work will continue next Saturday.
The crystal calibrator has been re-installed into the TCK transmitter. Ray has now moved on to a broken wire he spotted resting deep inside the chassis of the rig.
The Transmitter Room R-390a has had modifications installed in its power supply and RF deck. Next the IF rack will be given some TLC.
Earlier I mentioned that after the power outage all system returned to service without problem. Well, that's not exactly true. I was nearly complete with adding new message macros into the MTTY teletype program when the power died. After restarting the computer and program I realized that I had failed to save the changes as I was doing them, OOPS!!! Let this be a lesson to all, when making changes to software or even when writing a long group of words; Save often!!!
Feb 28 - Bill L sent an update on his search for information about the internal connections for the keyboard used with the CEC plasma style dumb terminal. He managed to trace some of the circuit board design and believes he knows where a couple of the 35 wires involved with the umbilical cable were terminated. My input on this subject is that we are still waiting for word from the OEM (original equipment manufacture).
John reports that he spent most of the day down in the Transmitter Room working with Ray, followed by some work of his own. He and Ray removed the crystal calibrator from the WWII TCK transmitter for inspection, cleaning, testing and any needed repairs. This procedures moves us one step closer to the smoke test for this transmitter.
As Ray dove into the calibrator unit, John moved over to the R-390a HF receiver that is mounted just outboard of the TCK transmitter. He had noticed a couple of things about the receiver he did not like, so he made some minor changes as needed. Along the line he decided to remove the radio's internal power supply in order to make some standard restoration modification to the unit. During his earlier work on the Pittsburgh R-390a he decided to make these mods to our two rigs and therefore took advantage of his day in the Transmitter Room to begin this task.
Up in the O2 level restoration shop "New-Rich" and Tom spent their day looking for the cause of the "mushy sounding" signals emanating from the donated SP-600 receiver. Two weeks ago this rig was returned to life after nearly 50 years of sitting in a garage. As reported in previous reports this radio has gone through major surgery to get to its current state of operation. By days end Tom and Rich had located a couple of bad bypass capacitors in the RF Amplifier stage. I do not know if we have these parts in BNJARS stock or if these items will need to be purchased.
Feb 20 - There has been a slight re-alignment of radio gear in the NJ2BB shack. The Harris RF-350 transceiver that has graced the Ham-4 position since its donation to us now occupies the open area between Ham-2 and Ham-3. This relocation reduces the congestion of Ham-4 yet allows for better access to the RF-350. The RF-350 still has an antenna connection at the patch panel but is now marked "RF-350" instead of using the "VHF Special Ops" connector. At this time all logging for the Harris rig will be via a paper logbook.
Gene reports, with a very large smile, that inspection of the wind speed integrator reveals no signs of wear or tear on the gears. This integrator is the one that first received Gene's rebuilt felt thrust washers over 4 months ago. Even the small brass pinion gears that were failing on a near monthly basis are clean, smooth and absent of any wear marks. Gene is refraining from declaring a victory for this subject, but I will tempt fate and make that statement. Good job Gene!!
I heard from John that the donated SP-600 is alive and producing the sounds of HF CW signals. As with the R-390A, this rig needed more than its share of TLC. From connectors, capacitors, resistors, switches and more than one case of wire re-alignment it is no wonder that this radio sat in the donators garage since 1965. John feels that he has located the original problem that led to some "trouble shooting induced problems" that further masked the bad bias supply. More details to follow. Another good job by John and gang!
It is with saddened heart that I pass along the news that Rich has called it quits for one of the Curatorial Dept TV sets. That pesky switching power supply has won. Good try Rich.
The Transmitter Room has been quiet the last couple of weeks, most likely due to the bad weather and roads. The last work performed there was Bill and Tom removing the last of the WRT-2 transmitter's drawers for inspection, installation of cable clamps and testing of the safety interlock switches.
Jan 23 - Despite the early morning cold temperatures there was a nice turn out of members for our weekly work party.
Ski was busy handling several small tasks that just plain needed being performed. First he checked the status of the recently modified Dead Reckoning Tracer (DRT) bug light. Yep, it's still awake. Next, with the help of Rich, a Model 35 Teletype machine that once adorned the top of the Univac navigation computer in Fwd IC is now back in its home port. This machine had been removed, in 2001, to make room for restoration of the ship's 1MC announcing system.
Rich and Ski then took on the task of providing a new antenna feed line to the O2 level restoration shop (aka John's World). The MARS antenna that feeds RF signals to the shop is in need of some TCL, which is prevented by the current weather conditions. We have known for years of a pair of coax cables that ran from the multicoupler in FACCON 1 and ended in the former FM radio booth. One of these cables has been redirected into the O2 level shop and provides access to all the ship's HF receive antennas.
Rich continued with his battle against another of the curatorial display monitors. As he mentioned to me, " I just can't close the case on a broken monitor".
John reports that the R-390A receiver, owned by the USS Requin moored in Pittsburgh, has been restored. He has been working most Saturdays since June 2009 and a number of weekdays getting this piece of equipment back on line for that museum ship. Next is the timing needed to return the radio to the Three Rivers area.
Also on the O2 level we discovered that Bill L had taken over the Battery Charging Room for the workday. He has taken on the job of rewiring the keyboard cable used with the CEC plasma display. Using what little technical info is in the users manual he is tracing wire colors and functions of a de-milled 41 pin connector/cable in hopes of bringing the plasma display system back into service.
Ray continued his methodical inspection, cleaning and repair of the WWII TCK-4 transmitter. He reports that all of the rectifier cabinet (power supplies) and the upper portion of the RF cabinet are completed. He is now pulling each of the modules in the lower portion of the transmitter looking for any conditions that might cause the gear to fail a smoke test.
The NJ2BB shack was busy thanks to 2 guest operators who had contacted me a couple of weeks ago, wanting some airtime from the ship. Chris and Doug made 36 contacts on 20-meter SSB using the HAM-3 section of the station. During some of the deep fades in the incoming signal we found that using one of the ship's Harris R-2368 receivers to power headphones worn by the logger helped with the QSO. Known as "space diversity", this setup used a second receiver (the Harris) connected to a second antenna (the starboard 35' vertical) to capture signals that were being missed by the primary receiver (TS-430s) using the Truss vertical. This separation of antenna, almost 600' in this case, is often the answer to these deep fades in signal strength. Doug, who had been to the ship last December, along with his buddy John from Peoria IL, also brought along a Heathkit SB-110 6-meter CW/SSB rig as a donation to the Ham Shack. The rig did pass the smoke test but a broken antenna connector center pin prevented me from giving the rig an on the air test. The addition of this radio completes the band coverage of NJ2BB for 160 meters through 70 centimeters. Thanks Doug, this rig will get a work out now that 6-meters has been waking up in the early evenings.
Jan 21 - One of the Transmitter Room gang members mentioned that the Racal HF receiver was not working and that he hoped it wasn’t the rig that was dead. Later in the day when the scheduled work was completed a troop of two ventured down to 3rd deck to investigate the loss of signal comment. After doing a couple of cable and patch panel checks it was decided the problem was closer to the antenna. Next stop, FACCON 1.
In FACCON 1, more cable and patching checks were completed with the results still indicating that the troops should look closer to the antenna. So, next stop was the Starboard 35’ vertical.
Located adjacent to the O5 level Open Bridge, this antenna and connection looked fine from a distance. However, when the coax connector was touched it basically expanded on its own. It appears that the very wet and very cold weather of recent times had pushed the internal nylon insulator of the “N” connector in a lateral direction, hard enough to cause the connection to separate. Yes, the connector disconnected it self despite all the mechanical items used to maintain it in place. Removing the errant insulator allowed for the connector to be re-inserted into the antenna base. Aka temp fix.
Now for a 7-deck trip back to the Transmitter Room for a successful test of three of the HF receivers residing there proved that all is well again. A complete replacement of the antenna base connector is scheduled for the next fair weather day.
Jan 18 - Much like the postal service motto "neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night.......", BNJARS volunteers have continued their work at the Battleship New Jersey. I admit that I have been amiss with the weekly updates and therefore can not include details of each project in this single attempt at informing you as to what has happened onboard the BB-62 so please do not feel slighted or ignored if I fail to include a job or two. Please!!!!
Phase 2 of the attack on the DRT (dead reckoning tracer) "bug light" has been completed. This involved replacing the 8-volt lighting transformer with a 6-volt 3-amp filament transformer. The reduced voltage still supplies a viewable compass rose on the Quarter Master's chart table but should increase the life of the bulb. Phase 3 will involve adding an infrared motion detector to the lighting circuit so that the lamp is energized only when visitors are in the area. This should have a major effect on the life of the lamp.
Also located in CEC was the 1984 version of a computer plasma display. I say "was" because it is now in one of the O2 level shops getting acquainted with the BNJARS team. After giving the unit a careful visual inspection with no signs of de-mill attempts the guys moved on to checking the electrolytic capacitors for signs of deterioration. Not finding any areas of concern, the display was powered up and to everyone's surprise it passed the smoke test. Now the restoration effort moves over to being able to supply information for display. The big problem is that this is not a modern, standard style of computer display which may need some creative thoughts before the display is back in CEC doing its thing.
The SITE system (TV system) has been successfully interfaced to a donated computer via a dual output video card. This card provides the standard VGA signal for the monitor while also suppling a NTSC video signal used by the SITE equipment. Al and his gang of encampment advisors can now use photos of the ship, events, visitors, etc as part of their demonstrations on video production. We still have hopes of rebuilding the Abakus A-42 storage unit, but not in the near future.
The restoration of a R-390A HF receiver for another museum ship has been a very rough adventure for the team. This particular rig has apparently been the subject of abuse, repair attempts and a lot of Murphy. It is now 99% completed as evidenced by the sounds of HF signals coming from the attached speaker. Another work day or two should find this rig ready for transfer back to Pittsburgh. Also in the shop is the donated SP-600 HF receiver which had not been operational since the early ‘60s. This rig has, as with the R-390A, had seen better days but has a bright future thanks to the work from the O2 level.
One ongoing job that is one day away from completion is the addition of an oversize VU (volume unit) meter to the 1MC equipment in Forward IC. The large meter is dictated by the age of the workers although the associated new rotary switch adds more test points to the system.
While doing the wiring for the switch two previously un-noticed coax cables, with N connectors, were discovered. This past Saturday a team traced both cables to their other ends which turn out to be very advantageous to NJ2BB. The smaller coax ends in the upper area of the Brass Team workshop. This line could well be used as a future antenna feed line. The second cable, RG-8 size, actually runs all the way to SSES, next to CEC. This cable is of very particular interest because in SSES it hangs next to the feed line for the Starboard 35 foot vertical antenna (receive only). By adding a navy zero loss splitter at this point we end up with a second antenna feed line being available to the WWII Radio Room project.
Before someone jumps up crying about all the work that it took last year to install a coax from the Transmitter Room to WWII for the receivers, consider this; we now have direct access to a receive antenna without the need for patching (or signal loss) at the Transmitter Room and we still maintain the use of the T/R switching function of the transmitters when used by WWII equipment operators. In short, we have a nearly optimum antenna situation, thanks to one person asking a question, "why is there an N connector hanging near an analog machine". Enough words on this subject.
This week marks the third month of operation of the new felt-thrust washers in the wind speed integrators. I would be tempted to call this a successful repair but am worried about tempting fate.
The VHF antenna patch panel in the NJ2BB shack has been completed and used at least twice to reconfigure our VHF equipment / antenna arrangement to optimize our signal for a particular event, after which the equipment arrangement was easily returned to its normal use. No more climbing over or reaching around the gear to change antennas.
The inspection of each and every wind speed repeater onboard the ship is nearly complete. Replacement bulbs for the back lighting of the indicators have been ordered but are still somewhere in the shipping process. Darkened areas such as CEC and CIC are the major recipients of this red back lighting of the indicators.
Down in the Transmitter Room the installation of the RBB and RBC receivers is complete as are the external speakers for these radios. The gang fabricated a frame for mounting two radio room style speakers to the overhead, above the radios. The area almost looks original to the ship.
This leads me to the results of an E-mail I sent out about the need for some Amphenol series 91 connectors. Thanks to 2 of our readers we have some connectors in the mail. But the story does not end here, it continues with one of our members re-posting the request to one of his other web sites. Two of his tech associates/friends have also offered this style connectors. As it now stands, we have enough series 91 connectors to finish up the Transmitter Room and WWII Radio. With humor in my mind I say "Now that we have connectors we can start with the install of cables and speaker for WWII radio. Just what we need, more work for the schedule". Please remember I said that with tongue in cheek. But we do now enter a whole new phase of restoration work at the ship.
Since my last update we have gained two new members / workers who have proven their worth. Everyone, say hello to Jeff and Rich!!
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