Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station (BNJARS)
Reports for 2012
Dec 29 - As is usual with holiday weekends, Saturday hosted a small but energetic crew of six members.
Our priority job for the day was repairing the Director’s intercom system from the SITE system as mentioned in last weeks update. Once the rack-mounted chassis was removed to the shop it didn’t take long for Rich E to discover a tarnished 4-pin circuit card connector. After giving the offending connector a vigorous cleaning it was decided to do the same on all the connectors. After being returned to the equipment rack the system received a test, which it passed. As usual my portion of the work was doing all I could to get in Rich’s way. Next Saturday I plan on performing a total system test, including lines that extend to the ends of the ship. Some of these lines have not been used in over a decade, which should prove interesting.
Too Tall Tom is making progress on the SRR-13 receiver by changing out even more capacitors. This amount of capacitor replacement is very common when working on electronic equipment that is decades old and has been out of service for almost that long of time.
Rich R was back in the O2 Level starboard shop making the “Minor Alarm” light on the radar control panel flash.
After lunch Jerry, Rich E and I headed down to the still comfortable Transmitter Room to continue with the attack on the many small jobs that have been laying around for way too long. After I installed freshly made legends on the receiver audio switch board (SB-2727) Rich dove into the wiring of the internals to make corrections mandated by equipment that will be soon added to the compartment. This new gear includes the four R-390 HF receivers that were donated by the MARS station at the former Ft. Monmouth. There is also a donated and restored SP-600 in the O2 Level shop awaiting transport down to Radio II.
Jerry performed a quick trick on me by starting a cleanup of the outboard void area. This inspired me to jump in a give a hand. I’m not sure if I chased Jerry out of the void or if he performed a Huckleberry Finn “paint the fence” trick on me, but I did notice that he shifted his flag to cleaning and straightening up the workbench area. Good move Jerry. What did come out of this void cleaning were three or four more of those small jobs that have been waiting for their 15-minutes of fame. For example, I rediscovered a couple of small Navy transmitter antenna coupler remote control units that we gathered during a shipyard raid. The plan is to mount these units on the bulkhead as eye candy. It may be possible to tie them into the operation of the Transmitter Room.
Dec 22 - The holiday season resulted in a small crew but did not reduce the amount of work performed. We even had time for some good ole fashion conversation (aka BS).
Too Tall Tom spent his morning in GCS working on a donated military receiver. Last I saw of him he was busy installing replacement capacitors in what looked like an IF can.
Rich R continued with the re-restoration of the radar control panel from CEC. So far he has improved the general condition of previous work. On Saturday he continued working on a 555 timer IC circuit that will make 1 or 2 of the panel lamps fast. After lunch he traveled down the street to his afternoon volunteer job, at the Ronald McDonald House near Cooper Hospital.
While Jerry and Joe headed down to the Transmitter Room I headed out to the Visitor's Center to investigate the wall mounted info system. Never having seen this system before it took a few minutes to figure out its arrangement and operation. In the end I found that the controller computer needed booting after a power outage. This is strange since the system has an auto start macro installed. It is also having trouble finding a needed system file. Hum, I wonder if too many power failures have claimed a victim? An E-mail to the responsible staff member will be generated on Monday morning.
Returning to the shack I tied up Bill L and Al to do some cable tracing within the SITE Control Room. By crawling around inside the equipment racks Bill was able to give us the information needed to increase our knowledge of the Control Room / Studio / remote camera intercom system to figure out how it is suppose to work, what is not working and a good idea of the cause. The next time we have 2-weekends without an encampment we will remove the affected rack mounted modules for troubleshooting and repair.
After lunch Bill joined Joe in the Radio 2 to finish the installation of the final retention screw on the spiral umbilical harness in the AN/WRT-2 transmitter. While this upper drawing (power amp) was sitting on the deck Joe took advantage of the opportunity to install the missing 3rd and 4th final tubes. The tubes had been removed by a previous owner as dictated by his lack of a proper 3-phase power source. Joe is also returning the main power supply drawer to accept 120 volts 3 phase power it was designed for and that the BB-62 has available.
Jerry replaced the "N connector" used to tie the Disc Antenna to the NJ2BB shack in an effort to resolve a feed line problem with the antenna. Testing from the shack revealed no improvement. A continuity check of the antenna from the Transmitter Room showed zero ohms. This is not a good thing considering the matching network that is part of the antenna. More work is scheduled when the weather allows access to the antenna.
Other work in the compartment included moving the AM-3729 #3 audio amp from its hiding place under the rear area of AN/URT-23 #5, to the forward lip of the shelf that supports AN/URT-23 #4. This was a move of only 3-feet but gives us total access to the amp. Next was the installation of more sections of the CA-1100 transmitter antenna patch panel (aka Frankenstein). This action was done only to close up the gaps in the front panel since this set of connectors will never be used.
Dec 1 - About 5 weeks ago, while working in the shack, I heard someone calling CQ on 146.52 simplex. Suspecting that calling CQ on the FM sub-bands was a good indicator of a new Ham I reached for the microphone at Ham-4 but the calling station had already been answered. I kept an ear on the QSO then announced my existence when the QSO ended. The new Ham was Rudy, KD2CXG, who had just made his first ever radio contact. NJ2BB was his second contact. Of course during the 5-minute talk I invited him to make time to visit the NJ2BB shack some day.
Last week I received an E-mail from Rudy announcing that he had just passed his General Class test, found his update at the FCC site and was asking if he could visit the shack and try for his first HF contact. That first HF contact happened this past Saturday with K0UPR, the Union Pacific Railroad special event station in Des Moines, IA. Bill was kind enough to break with the pile up he was working and give Rudy a nice greeting to the world of HF radio. Needless to say Rudy left the ship with smile as large as the ship.
Spending the time in the shack kept me out of contact with the work crews but I have gathered the following info;
Gene and Rich R installed the repaired speed regulator in the Forward Mark 8 Rangekeeper. A successful smoke test was performed.
Bill L and Joe continued with the details of completing the final installation of the WRT-2 transmitter in the Transmitter Room. Currently they are removing each of the 4 upper drawers so as to install a cable mounting screw that was missed when we first transported the large transmitter to Broadway.
Jerry spend his day in the Transmitter Room prepping the new black equipment rack for the installation of the 4 R-390 receivers we received from the former Ft. Monmouth Ham station.
Nov 25 - Saturday was a very busy day in the Transmitter Room for the work party members.
Those two heavy welded steel equipment racks that once graced the current NJ2BB shack were modified, moved and mounted in new locations within the Transmitter Room. The first rack, which for years has been driving Jerry crazy, now sits to the left (forward) as you enter the compartment. Instead of supporting a collection of parts and junk this structure now functions as the base for one of the TDZ UHF transmitters. The second welded rack now sits to the right (Aft) as you enter the compartment and is the base for the second of the TDZ transmitters. For those of you readers who were involved in the transport of these transmitters back in 2001 you remember that the TDZ weights about 400 lbs and needed to be disassembled for relocation. Even the short move of only about 6 feet required the disassembly and re-assembly of these units.
Also performed in the Transmitter Room was a complete inventory of receiver antenna cables. This was not an easy task since the cables weave their way through various cable runs, supports and equipment racks. Some loose connectors were found, as was a couple of miss marked cables. We did test three of the cables by turning on the associated receivers and tuning around the bands. Yes Virginia there is life in Radio 2.
Nov 17 - The last two weekends have seen most of the BNJARS sweat being produced in the Transmitter Room. With the outside temperatures on the decrease the environment off Broadway is entering the comfort zone.
During the late summer we were able to reclaim an A&J style equipment rack that has now been installed to the left of the teletype machine in the Transmitter Room. The black "Ebe" rack that had occupied that location for many years has been moved to the opposite side of the walkway next to the other black racks. This move of racks was for the sake of history, not function. The A&J rack now houses the R-390 receiver, Trash Can antenna controller, TTY terminal unit, power strip and other equipment. The black rack, in its new location, will provide a more convenient mounting for some of the receivers mounted low in the existing black racks.
By the end of last Saturday portions of the two TDZ transmitters had been moved to the outboard area of the compartment. We are now set up to modify the two welded racks that have been floating around the Transmitter Room since their removal from FACCON II way back in the spring of 2001. These racks will become the new supports for the TDZ transmitters, giving them a higher mounting position for the sake of work and operation. The new use of these large racks will also give us more storage shelves for equipment and parts.
Up in the Chart House John has repaired the high voltage power supply in the depth recorder. Yes his first in place smoke test of the restored equipment was not a roaring success, but there is a good chance of better results this weekend.
John and Rich E have been spending their spare ship time restoring the HP tracking signal generator that belongs in the QMS (Quality Monitoring System) rack in the center of FACCON I. When used with the spectrum analyzer mounted above it the gear will add to our system testing for our NJ2BB operations.
Several weeks ago I received a note from Jason informing me that the Time Line motor in the Mark 8 Rangekeeper was not motoring. At first thought we cleaned the regulator contacts and returned the computer to service. But, by days end the Mark 8 was back on the disabled list. Further inspection revealed that the motor regulator internals were at fault. Plan A was to use the regulator from Aft Plot as a replacement while we worked on the Forward regulator. Oh well, so much for the best laid plans of men and mice. The Aft Plot regulator displayed the same trouble. This is where Gene H enters the picture, heading home with the original unit, books and a large magnifying glass. Last week he returned this unit with it's internal "clock work" mechanism cleaned and lubricated. Reinstallation into the Mark 8 may take place this Saturday.
Other work performed since my last update include Steve installing a new telephone jack and wiring in the CPO Mess for use with table top speaker phone used during HPA meetings. Included in the job was wiring all the way back to the System 75 switch room.
As part of our continuing work in Forward Plot Ron R produced a looping DVD of video transmitted from the Pioneer Remote Piloted Vehicle during Operation Desert Storm. This video signal also makes it way up to CEC for display. As often said, this ads to the flavor of the compartments.
Rich R has been rewiring the upper control panel for the SLQ-32 position in CEC. Back in 2001 this large panel was jury rigged to have many of its panel lights produce photons. Now it is time to improve the wiring and maybe add a feature or two.
Sept 01 - Rich R placed the restored remote digital readout for the ship’s Fathometer back in it’s housing and did the final smoke test of the unit. Results; NO smoke, nixie tubes show numbers, while the pilot and other indicator lamps produce photons. What else can a person ask for? The Chart House is starting to show signs of life. While I was in the Chart House doing a follow up smoke check I discovered something that will add some of that famous flavor I often mention in these updates. In one of the otherwise empty chart drawers I found a short section of Fathometer chart paper. After a little bit of trimming this used section of chart recorder paper, with a depth trace on it, was installed in the proper position of the Fathometer, giving the appearance that the machine was actually recording water depth. The really cool thing about this piece of scrap paper is that the previously recorded depth varies around 60 feet, the same as the indication of the Nixie tubes just placed back in service by Rich. It may be pure luck but I will gladly accept the results.
Joe and Bill L did some voltage tests on the power supply for the DR-810 muzzle velocity radar that was removed from Turret #1 a couple of weeks ago. They then connected the supply to the radar control box and were greeted by the numeric display doing its job. Operating front panel switches resulted in a changing display. Eventually this unit will be placed into service (minus RF generation) in Turret #2 as part of the Turret 2 experience tour. The other two turrets will also have DR-810 controllers reenergized.
Rich E and Steve (former new guy) spent their entire day in Main Plot Forward making the needed wiring changes / additions to add more effects to the Turret 2 Experience Tour. First they made a cable pull and wire connections needed to allow Rich’s mini-processor board to sound the “Time of Flight” buzzer (inside the Mark 8) 25 seconds after the Manual Fire trigger is pulled by the lucky visitor. This tie in was made possible by the recent acquisition of internal drawings for the Mark 8 Rangekeeper. The second cable pulled will connect the mini-processor to the audio / video system so that 2 or three seconds after the Time of Flight buzzer sounds, the video of three projectiles hitting their ground target will appear of the big screen video monitor. Yes, this is where I mention adding flavor to the compartment.
Rich noticed something amiss about the mini-processor assembly that he built so he decided to take it home for some TLC. The A/V system still works but with the board removed the Teletype machine does not print initial velocity reports nor does the new buzzer feature operate. Hopefully all systems will be back in service next week.
There was some time available about midday for me to continue with the cleanup of the TTY Office. One new feature to the office is a very nice swivel / rolling office chair for Margaret. A neighbor of ours who was redecorating their home office donated this fairly new chair.
Gene spent most of the morning operating 15-meters PSK but did find time to join in on the unscheduled meeting of the Battleship New Jersey Genealogy Society. Bill L also found time to join in the discussions that were moderated by Margaret. Yes, we are a full service group.
Just before leaving at the end of the day I happened to notice a visitor in the Message Handling Area that appeared to be explaining the compartment, in some detail, to his wife. Thinking he may be a former crewmember I introduced myself. It turns out he is a retire Senior Chief Gunners Mate who was TAD (temporary assigned duty) on the Big J back in early 1984 for the purpose of updating the Gun Fire procedures for the 16” guns.
Aug 25 - As everyone should have heard, this past Saturday was the BNJARS day with the Sea Cadets. A total of 48 Sea Cadets from as far west as Pittsburgh, as far south as Washington DC and a few from upstate New York spent the week at the ship learning all they could absorb about the Battleship and her systems.
On Saturday BNJARS members manned the NJ2BB shack, Message Handling Center, Ships Information Training Education System (SITE) and Main Plot Forward. Ken Kirsch of the encampment program manned the Machine Shop.
Ed, Bob and new guy Ron, did a great job of introducing the Cadets to radio communications in general and Ham Radio in particular. The reports are that the bands were not very cooperative with too many contesters, but Bob did venture into a net he knows of which welcomed the Sea Cadets to Ham Radio.
Ski manned the Message Handling Center. Knowing that 45 minutes talking about message handling was a little extreme he also escorted his groups down to WWII Radio for a comparison of old and new equipment. By the end of the training session each Cadet was offered the time to type their names onto a Teletype perf tape, which will be placed into the demo loop this Saturday. Each time a visitor breaks the light beam the list of Cadets will be printed.
Al did a great job in explaining the use, function and equipment in the TV (SITE) compartments. Most of the Cadets had time on the cameras and video switcher, learning how TV programming was done in the “old days”.
As for me, I spent the day in Main Plot Forward introducing the Cadets to the problems associated with Navy gun fire control. Along the way they saw a demonstration of how a gyroscope works and it’s reaction to external forces. This part of their training day was concluded in Central Station where they all had a close up view of the internals of one of the ship’s Gyrocompass, thanks to Rich and Steve who removed the dome covers last week.
Last but not least we have Margaret who guided some of the groups between the class sessions, helped man the NJ2BB shack during the early portion of the first class. In general she was the duty gopher for the day.
Aug 20 - First item for this update is the reminder that this coming Saturday is our turn with the Sea Cadets in the NJ2BB shack. During each of 4 sessions (90 minutes each) 12 Sea Cadets will visit the shack and Radio Central as part of their annual summer training week. During the day, between 9 AM and 4PM, 48 Sea Cadets from other parts of the country will have their turn at learning more about Navy radio operations, message handling and even making some on-the-air contacts via NJ2BB.
All other work on or about the ship can still continue, but the shack, FACCON 1 and the Message Handling Center are reserved for the Sea Cadets.
As you may remember, ten days ago was the Battleship New Jersey Veterans Organization's day at the ship. Thanks to Ski, Rick E, Harry B, John S, Joe A, and Margaret we were not only able to help other ship personnel with providing a safe time during the Vets moving about the ship, but we were also able to gain several good pieces of information about their duty time on the ship. Some of it has even confirmed or improved our knowledge of the communication system on the ship. Thanks everyone!!!!
The Mark 8 Rangefinder has been returned to full service, but only after three workdays of fumbling our way around the insides of this 2500-pound machine. The good news is that as a follow up to Jason's request for document help we have the needed drawings on the way to the ship.
The trouble with the HP 141T spectrum analyzer has been narrowed to the component level. John was able to obtain the needed resistors but is on the look out for a Z82R7 tube. Well, it is called a tube but is actually a neon light bulb filled with a gas mixture to give us an 82-volt DC reference signal. The thing actually looks like a NE-2 lamp with 2-wire leads. I have located a source on the Internet but am wondering if anyone has one of these things in their junk box.
While troubleshooting the spectrum analyzer, the guys noticed the demilled HP tracking signal generator mounted below the analyzer. Within minutes this piece of test equipment, which was removed from the shipyard during a raid several years ago, was moved to John's shop on the O2 level. Before I knew what was happening a new front panel had been fabricated, controls relocated, cut wiring harnesses repaired and a work around for the gutted power supply had been designed. Once placed back into service at the Quality Monitoring System panel in FACCON 1 this equipment will make things like antenna testing easier and more professional. Oh, and more Navy like. Thanks John, Tom and Rich.
Three Fridays ago I received E-mail from the ship that the dial telephone system was not working properly. I requested that the staff make a trip to the switch compartment and check the room temperature and if the air conditioner was functional. Their reply was simple; hot and not running.
The following day we made an emergency dive to the switch room and found that the A/C unit had blown one of its fuses. After replacing the fuse the unit ran but it was obvious to us that the unit was having a "high head pressure" problem. Ski and new guy Steve removed the unit from the wall and found, as expected, that the condenser fan was broken. A check of local vendors and supply houses revealed that a replacement is not available any longer. So, we left the unit on the deck, mounted a couple of floor fans so as to move air in and out of the compartment via the hatch and the now open A/C wall mount. Temperature was decreasing and the telephone system was back online without any damage.
The following Monday I visited my local A/C supply house and obtained the best, close fit fan they hand in stock. On Tuesday I made the journey back to the ship to install the fan. Of course a 16" diameter metal fan is not the same size as a 16" plastic fan (go figure). The following Saturday Steve and I ventured back to the compartment and by using a combination of a metal file and ball-peen hammer managed to make the fan fit the unit. When we left for the day the unit was functional but having a hard time working against the outside air temperature (in the passageway that accepts the condenser air) of over 110 degrees. This past Saturday we found that the repaired unit had won the battle of temperature and was keeping the telephone computer in the mid 70's. This unit will need to be replaced by next summer.
Back to the Mark 8 Rangekeeper, last week Joe and new guy Ron did a reversible modification to the "Time of Flight" mechanical timer so that it buzzes 15-seconds after the guns are fired. The original system was designed to alert the ship's spotters 2-seconds prior to a projectile hitting the target. This way the spotter was able to determine which explosion a BB-62 projectile created. This signal circuit will soon be tied into the micro controller built by Rich E. As I have said many times, all this stuff adds to the flavor of the compartment.
Jul 19 - Finally, an update from the NJ2BB shack!! YES it has been many weeks since my last report of work performed by BNJARS members, but believe me the lack of updates is not an indicator of any work performed.
In no particular order;
The ship's Fathometer (deep indicator) has been re-powered with a total lack of smoke. That is a good thing. Because of the extreme temperatures of recent times John has stayed away from the Chart House.
The Hewlett Packard spectrum analyzer located in FACCON 1 has suffered a minor stroke. The equipment now rest in John's shop for troubleshooting and repair.
The micro-controller that Rich built for the Main Plot Forward Teletype machine has journeyed back to Rich's QTH for a small update and a few more parts. It should be back in service within the next week or two. The updates are not due to Rich's design or workmanship, just my usual "can it also do this" request late in a project.
Ski has been working on a hoist control to be used during the upcoming Turret 2 Experience Tour. When completed this control box will allow the original brass handle to raise and lower the mock-up 16" projectiles. This is another case of adding flavor to a tour route.
The really bad news is that the Mark 8 Rangekeeper in Forward Plot has ceased to work. Some quick troubleshooting narrowed the cause to the failure of the Time Motor to run. We spent an entire workday searching the internals of the machine, not only for the troublemaker, but also for the Time Motor itself. For those of you readers, who have not seen the inside of this 2500-pound computer, think tight spaces. As part of the repair process for the MK 8 we are the search for any electrical documents for the machine. To that end a group of us spent last Saturday morning in the Tech Manual Magazine searching dozens of cardboard boxes for any manuals or drawings related to the trouble. Some "off topic" items were found and add to the clues as to what is happening inside the MK 8. After lunch I reentered the magazine with a different crew and continued the search. More "off topic" items were found.
During this past week Jason has placed a call for help from other museum ships and has already received a possible lead. More words on this lead as news develops.
Another piece of bad news happened two weeks ago while we were waking up URT-23 #5. After its usual time delay, waiting for the final tube to come up to temperature, we heard a loud snap. We discovered that the low voltage power supply had a blown fuse. More troubleshooting and repairs are needed here.
John and Rich E performed a TDR (Time Distance Reflectometer) test on 2 of our VHF feed lines, which are located in the Transmitter Room. One cable showed good results while the second one is suspicious.
Rich R has been rebuilding the digital remote readout for the Fathometer mentioned above. Once this Nixie tube based device is returned to it's overhead mount the Chart House will look a little more lived it.
Apr 28 - Saturday was a very busy day at the ship for BNJARS members. Bob and Lenny started a new display project in the Message Handling Area; relighting the Aft Data Tape Storage Unit. This is one of the few items in the compartment we never touched until now. So far they have gutted the back half of the chassis to provide room for a functional power supply and wiring. Remember, this unit had been de-milled prior to the ship arriving at her new home. Over the next couple of workdays they will install a brick style 5-volt power supply, wire in the front panel indicator lamps, maybe add a flasher circuit on one of the indicators and then reinstall the equipment in the rack. Their work area is in the public eye resulting in some guests stopping to chat for a minute or two, which is a good thing.
Rich E and Ed spent all day in Main Plot Forward testing, investigating, more testing and repairing the Teletype machine and loop circuit that was installed last week. This was an example of finding out that though there was a problem with the system, the major cause of bad test results was a problem with the test equipment. I’m happy to report that the guys did live through this hair pulling experience. Next Saturday we will finish the installation of the controller and then schedule a visit from the programmer of the controller for final tuning of the software.
Rich R has taken on the task of giving life to the remote, digital, depth indicator that is a modern day addition to the UNQ-4 depth finder being worked on by John. Even though the digital display was de-milled by the Navy, enough of the high voltage power supply was left behind so that Rich can hardwire the Nixie tubes to fake the depth displayed on the UNQ-4 scope.
John was found preparing to install the two circuit boards he designed and built to give a depth indication on the UNQ-4 mentioned above. These boards make it possible to operate the depth finder without inserting 500 watts of audio into the river. Tom and Ray made more progress on the SRR-13 HF receiver that Tom brought back to life a week or two ago. As I understand their progress, all the problems have been traced back to dirty switch contacts, module connectors, switch shafts, etc.
Al, Rich E, Ski, Margaret and I shared time in the S.I.T.E. Control Room exchanging the failed “Stills” computer for a donated replacement. Why so many people for one computer? Well, the first two-replacement units, after failing to operate inside the S.I.T.E. racks, were discovered to be minus any memory sticks. A trip down to the pile of donated computers revealed several were minus their memory. Once a complete machine was in hand the S.I.T.E. system was back to operation. Other wiring changes were made to the Control Room video system, with a couple more to be done next Saturday. It is really nice to see all of the S.I.T.E. video system equipment doing their thing again
Vinnie has donated a flat screen computer monitor for use in the NJ2BB shack. Bill L delivered the monitor on Saturday then got to work, with help from Joe A, on how to use the included pole mounting system with the design of the NJ2BB shack.
Ski has taken on the new project of adding some realism to the Turret 2 Experience. In this case he is adding switches to the large brass handle that at one time operated the hydraulic Projectile Hoist. The original hydraulic system is not usable so Maintenance installed a small electric hoist that moves a fiberglass replica projectile up and down the hoist tube. Ski will be converting the out of place looking push button with new out of sight magnetic units. Having the Tour Guide operate the handle, instead of pushing a button, to raise the projectile is a major example of adding flavor to a display.
Apr 21 - The first item on the day's work list was those NAVMACS displays found not working a week ago. When he retrieved the otherwise out of sight keyboards (hidden to keep little finger from leaving us messages) Ski noticed that the displays returned to life. Our first thought was that the units had some form of sleep mode turned on. After considerable menu review we could not find any setting that affected a sleep mode.
This is when Margaret noticed that none of the three displays were indicating new data, so she headed into the NJ2BB shack and found the same old data on the master monitor in the shack. She did notice that the 2-meter rig tuned to the APRS frequency was showing activity in the form of S-meter changes. This is when Ed went into action, resetting the pair of TNCs (terminal node controllers) that send data to the displays. Reset is the wrong term though; he had to turn the units on. Yep, some time during our last workday both TNCs had been turned off. Why I do not know. But, a quick return to the displays revealed that the NAVMACS were once again online showing real time information to the visiting public. Apparently the forward and aft displays have a "no activity screen shutdown" mode, which is not present on the center unit. Oh well, all is well that ends well.
Dave D (aka Princeton) was able to locate the much needed tape cassette for the HP-85 (circa 1984) computer in Main Plot Forward. His next step was to find out the condition of the tape drive mechanisms. Yep, it's in need of lots of TLC. Once repaired and programmed this small all-in-one computer will add some flavor to the Turret 2 Experience.
Also in Main Plot Forward we found Ed hard at work doing some installation wiring on the Model 28 receive only teleprinter, in preparation for next week's test of the controller being built and programmed by Rich E and others from the David Sarnoff Radio Club. While the HP-85 mentioned above represents the 1980s version of Fire Control, the Model 28 is straight out of the Viet Nam Cruise and stories told to me by Dusty FC2 of Texas. Dusty was stationed in Main Plot Forward during the cruise, including the sinking of an island, and was the source of much information about the compartment. Do I dare say that this printer will add some "Dusty flavor" to the tour?
Throughout the day we did prove that it is possible to have 5 crewmembers in the SITE (Ship's Information-Training-Entertainment) television control room doing maintenance work. Al was very successful at correcting some control and color problems with two of the cameras, thus removing the need for several patch cords that were used to reroute camera signals to operating controllers. Ski manufactured a hinged swing arm mount for the computer monitor that sat on the Digital Effects control board. Moving the monitor not only allows for the Digital Effects equipment to be used, but also allows for the monitor, which provides still images to the TV system, to be positioned according to the number of people operating the panels at the moments.
Also changed in the equipment racks was the addition of a video, TV not computer, for use with the Graphic and Titles generator. Till now one of the main monitors had been switched from AIR usage to GRFT to make changes in titles or text about to be displayed during AIR time with the overnight encampments.
I hope to schedule a short training session with the Encampment personnel that operate the system, concentrating on the new monitor and the Digital Effects generator, which they have not had any experience with. Anyone want to fly the Battleship across the TV screen?
After performing some inspections of the Wind Speed / Direction displays Gene H was found busy keeping the NJ2BB call sign in the atmosphere via PSK.
Bob and Lenny helped in the SITE work, and then moved on to relamping the TTY Classification Indicators in Radio Central. Next they investigated some equipment lighting concerns in the compartment before heading to the shack to place NJ2BB on the air via CW. Bob reports that a very active contest kept him from making any casual contacts.
Oh, yes, the auto start feature for the Radio Central display worked flawlessly all day. And yes, my fingers are still crossed.
A few years ago the Chroma-Blue wall in the TV studio was damaged during maintenance work and was replaced by a Chroma-Blue curtain. This color curtain is used to super impose video images over non-existing background; something like the weather maps of old. The installation of the curtain was never completed since the length was left as purchased, which was about 2-feet too long.
On Saturday Bob and Lenny removed and folded the curtain, which Al than took home to the wife. She cut, hemmed, washed, ironed and folded the curtain as fast as she could. The two of them then traveled back to the ship and installed the curtain in time for the Overnight Encampment Group to use the TV Studio that night.
Apr 15 - I do not have a list of names or calls, but Prez Harry acted as AO (Authorized Operator) for a group of Hams from the Gloucester County Amateur Radio Club on Sunday April 15. In total there were 8 visitors who added nearly 50 contacts to our logbook. Our QSL manager is already receiving QSL cards and requests from some of those stations worked.
Apr 14 - The big-ticket item on Saturday was the prearranged visit to the ship and the NJ2BB shack by Boy Scout Troop 112. The 8 Scouts and their 4 Leaders each had time on the air and a tour of Radio Central.
"Too Tall Tom" has finished the replacement of the chassis mounted power connector for the donated SRR-13A HR receiver. Having been told that the unit is in working order he took the leap of faith and plugged the unit into the wall outlet. Yep, you guessed right, the unit did not work! Nothing but silence! Yes, he had an antenna connected! But it did not take Tom more than a few minutes to determine that the major cause of the silence was a dirty band switch. Once he had temporarily cleaned the switch contacts we heard sounds of Ham activity on 40 and 20-meters. Good report Tom.
"Princeton", aka Dave D, has moved the second HP-85B computer to SSES to do some experimental programming. Of course, along the way he found that unlike the HP-85 in Forward Plot, this second unit has some mechanical problems with the keyboard.
Ed finished the CW portion of the new interface panel located at the HAM-4 operating position. The remote receiver jack still needs to be connected to the SB-2727 Receiver Audio Switchboard.
Joe continued with the installion of a Wind Speed / Direction repeater unit at the Main Plot Forward Fire Control Switchboard, for use as a Gun Train and Elevation Order indicator. This slight modification to the compartment will provide our guests with indications that the Mark 8 Rangekeeper is actually doing something besides spinning her gears.
I think that the Auto Start feature of the Radio Central TTY display has been repaired, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. One of the photocell detectors was found inoperative and it appears there was a dirty electrical contact on the 5-minute timer that limits the cycling of the display. Along the way we updated our drawing of the system, for use by future generations of volunteers.
As we were leaving Radio Central for the drive home we noticed that both the forward and aft MAVMACS displays were off-line. Considering the time of day I decided to leave the units as found till next weekend.
Apr 4 - We have received a Bravo Zulu from the ship's Curator for the BNJARS turnout during the BB-62 Rally on Tuesday. After the conclusion of the forecastle event all twenty members retired to the NJ2BB shack for some on-the-air time, social interaction and manning Radio Central greeting guests and talking about the ship.
A number of local students attended the event and were later spotted in the NJ2BB shack receiving a short course in Morse code. One group of three actually returned a few minutes later for some more of Bob's training of use of this age-old communications technique. Good job Bob.
During the afternoon the Ham-2, 3 and 4 positions were observed in operation keeping the ship's voice on the Ham bands. Modes used were PSK, CW and SSB. Thanks guys.
Mar 31 - During last weekends work party Bob, Lenny and Ed were successful in returning the projectile hoist-operating lever to a "false operation" mode; In other words, the handle now moves but without operating anything. In the very near future a series of limit switches and relays will be added so that the lever actually operates the electric hoist that is used to simulate the hydraulics that originally raised those 2700 pound projectile to the guns.
Bill L and a helper managed to revitalized a couple of the status lights in the Turret 2 Officers Compartment. It may take one light at a time, but we will get most of the indicator lamps working before the Turret Experience Tour begins operation. By working I mean providing information as designed, not just emitting photons.
Both the 2-meter FM rig that is usually set to 146.82 Camden and the 2-meter all mode rig have had their memories synchronized, making their operation easier. One memory chart now serves both rigs.
While there were multiple HF rigs on the air we used the HP 141T spectrum analyzer in the QMS rack to check the purity of our output signals. All is well, but we did notice that the 100 watt output from the HAM-3 station gave a lower level signal than the 30-watt output of the HAM-2 station. Is this due to different antennas, line loss, equipment problems? Hum….more investigation needed here.
Work on the ship's Fathometer continues but it may be a couple more workdays before the display is once again alive. Work on the SRR-13A receiver continues but I do not have an update on this project.
At the end of the day we noticed that the auto start feature of the Radio Central RTTY display was no longer an auto start feature. This will be the priority repair job for next Saturday.
Mar 24 - The lastest word from Rich R and Rich E is that they are narrowing in on the cause of the weird display problem with that pesky 1984 plasma display that belongs in CEC. The display shows some of the typed characters in the correct locations, others in the wrong location, some not at all while moving others around as if by magic. The guys have narrowed the source to either a "hex decoder" or one of the vertical (column) driver transistors.
I hear that the sub-assemblies for the UNQ-4 Fathometer have completed their journey back to the Chart House for reinstallation in the cabinet.
A couple of our operators placed NJ2BB on the airwaves during the weekend long WPX contest.
A problem with the SITE video switcher was isolated to an internal component. Temporary changes in the cable connection on the back of the switcher moved the Camera #2 signal to Input #10. This way the system was available for the Overnight Encampment Group. Final isolation of the trouble and repairs should happen this coming workday.
Tom has been spending time in GCS doing restoration of the donated SRR-13A HF receiver. When last seen he was in the process of converting the power input connector to a more standare ship board style.
Mar 03 - John reports that he found the last of the bad parts in the UNQ-4 Depth Indicator and now has a clean circular display with both the main and echo pulses behaving as if the ship was in 65 feet of water. Before the unit is returned to the Chart House he needs to do a final calibration of the unit.
Tom and Ski investigated 4 nonfunctional indicator lamps on the video switcher in the SITE Control Room. Two of the bulbs were found to be burned out. Solution; replace the bulbs. The remaining two are a different matter. Each of the sockets has a cold solder joint, mostly likely in existence since the manufacture date of 1989. It took about an hour to isolate the troubles, but when you consider that this control board has over 200 push buttons, dozens of integrated circuits, resistors and copper traces, it could have taken longer. Because of the location of the board, the cold joints and the fact that the Overnight Encampment Program uses the SITE System in the evenings, we decided to hold off on the repairs until first thing next Saturday.
Rich R reported that the plasma display is suffering from an overall low voltage condition that is causing the erratic display on the unit. More research and repair is in the future for this very early plasma display design.
Feb 18 - As great of a design that the Mark 8 Range Keeper is, it was not designed with curious visitors in mind. One point of concern is the hand crank that is used should the computers internal electric drive motor fails. By depressing and turning the hand wheel at a constant rate the computer is back online, as long as the crewmembers muscles last. The problem is that should a visitor depresses the hand wheel while the motor is running there would be a grinding of gears; something we really want to avoid. So, Ski and Tom investigated the situation and implemented a solution, namely removing the internal gear from the end of the hand crankshaft, marking and storing the gear inside the computer. An hour's work and the concern is gone. Good work guys.
Joe R finished his restoration of the manual range input mechanism, which he started last week. Returning the internal slip clutch to service helps prevent a person from causing damage to the Mark 8 gears by spinning the Range Knob too fast. Thanks Joe.
Rich R and Dave D continued with their restoration of the CEC plasma display (1984 vintage).
Gene and Bill L did some routine inspections of the operating Wind Speed Integrator located in Forward IC shop, finding that their felt thrust washers are holding up to the wear of this mini mechanical computer. They also did some rebuild work on spare units.
The NJ2BB shack was the scene of some upgrading of the HAM-2, 3 and 5 operating positions. In his spare time at the ship Ski has been modifying, per my design, some Navy style 4-postion headphone stations for use as CW operator interfaces. With help from Ed these interfaces were installed and tested. HAM-4 will receive an interface next weekend. These interfaces have the most impact on our CW operators by freeing them from having to move the electronic keyer while switching from one CW key to another. Details will be provided when we next meet at the ship.
Each of these interfaces, one per HF position,
A) One ¼ inch jack for paddles which are wired in a "normal fashion".
B) One ¼ inch jack for paddles wired in a "reverse fashion".
C) One ¼ inch jack for straight keys, bugs, etc that do not use a keyer.
D) One ¼ inch jack for headphones fed from the Navy receivers in FACCON 1.
We have received word that an article on the ARRL website makes mention of the Battleship New Jersey and NJ2BB. You can read this article, "Boys, Rain and Radio" at League's homepage news section: http://www.arrl.org/boys-rain-and-radio One good deed is now in the eyes of the League's 160,000 members as well as all those non-members, from around the world, who visit this site. A big thank you to Tom, N0VPR of Des Moines, Iowa for including the Battleship in his write up about Buy Scouts, the National Weather Service and solar power.
Feb 11 - Besides having the quarterly membership meeting in the CPO Lounge, members of the NJ2BB gang were found in various compartments doing what we do each Saturday; restoration and repairs to ship systems along with putting the voice of the Battleship New Jersey, NJ2BB, on the Ham bands.
Bob, Lenny and Sheldon headed down to Forward Main Plot to investigate and improve the operation of the “Plot Ready” foot switch mentioned in last weeks update. This switch, when stepped on by the Plot Computer Officer, indicates to various locations about the ship that the Mark 8 Range Keeper has a solution for aiming and firing the 16” guns. The team found that the operating mechanism only needed some minor cleaning and lubrication; most likely the first such maintenance in decades. Although the switch had been operational, it now has a better feel and movement to it.
Lenny and Bob then moved their efforts to the Motor Repair Shop where they have been happily gutting the SPA-25A radar repeaters obtained during our last visit to the Philly Shipyard.
Joe and Dave S investigated the manual range input handle and gear train for the Mark 8 Range Keeper. As with the footswitch mentioned above, this control has been operating properly ever since the computer was reactivated last spring, but needed some TLC. What they found was a fouled wooden, yes wooden, slip clutch. A spare replacement has been located for use in the worker’s education of the design of this weird arrangement before final repairs are attempted.
Terry had a successful day when the third NAVMACS display in Radio Central accepted its repairs without complaint. The left hand NAVMACS display still needs its turn at the repair bench.
Ed and Sheldon responded to a trouble call with the dial telephone in the CPO Lounge. During the process they had to return to Avionics for a couple of parts. Upon their return to the CPO Lounge they discovered that the sheet metal screws they left on an adjacent table were gone. Yep, in an out of the way, non-public compartment, their parts grew legs. Oh well, who said life is easy on a Battleship?
Jerry spent the day operating HAM-3, increasing our CW log entries.
The circular, “type J”, display of the repaired UNQ-4 Fathometer looks good. It even has a blip at the 35-foot depth position. This is not an actual depth measurement though because John and I decided early in the program that using the equipment in a full function, audio pinging mode was not the end goal. A collection of resistors, diodes and integrated circuits are providing the depth echo. When returned to its housing in the Chart House, this display will add to the education of the youth groups that have this compartment on their scheduled tour route.
Feb 4 - Tom W spent the day removing the memory batteries from the Harris R-2368 HF receivers located just outside the NJ2BB shack gate. None of the batteries were holding a charge and were, as all of us have enjoyed, threatening to leak chemicals onto the internal circuit boards. As Tom discovered removal of the batteries was not a simple “open the battery cover and remove the battery” routine. Since we do not use the memory feature of these receivers there is not plan to replace the batteries. After all the radios had been installed back in their rack, Tom gave one a test on 40-meters, expecting to listen to a weekly net he enjoys when not at the ship; but not a sound was heard. He then tried 20-meters but with the same sounds of silence. Some quick trouble shooting found that the problem is not with the receiver, but inside the Receiver Multi-coupler. In technical terms we jiggled a couple of internal coax jumpers and reception was restored, until we replaced the cover. I guess we have a job scheduled for this upcoming Saturday.
Terry and Rich E tackled the repairs to the NAVMACS communication terminals in the Message Handling Center. As a review of the history of these videotext displays, they were de-milled by the time we boarded the ship in 2001. Bill B pulled the remaining guts and installed civilian style “dumb terminals”. These displays were then fed text information gathered from local 2-meter Ham Radio networks. Well, after 11 years of usage these terminals have failed beyond repair so the decision was made to replace the guts. The guys managed to replace one unit with a spare stored in Avionics but were not able to bring it online by day’s end.
John spent the day in the O2 Level shop with the ongoing restoration of the ship’s Fathometer. He is currently designing a small time delay unit to “fake out” the system, making it think it is driving and listening to the transducer located on the bottom of the ship’s hull. We decided early in this project that we could not generate 500 watts of pings into the river therefore the need for the internal time delay unit.
Rich R and Dave D have the 1984 CEC plasma display responding to an external text source but find that some of the vertical traces on the display are not working. The though is that one or two of the drive transistors are bad. More work is scheduled on this item.
Ski spent time in Turret 2 doing restoration work on the Turret Captain’s and the Turret Officer’s status display system. I was in Main Plot Forward doing similar work when, working together, we were able to bring the “Plot Ready” indicators back to life. Basically, this is a deck mounted foot switch adjacent to the Mark 8 Range Keeper, that when pressed by the computer operator illuminates lights in Plot and the Turret, informing the gun crew that the Range Keeper has a solution that will result in the firing of the 16” guns. Hey, more things come alive for the future visitors on the Turret 2 Experience Tour.
Ed spent part of the day manning the 2-meter rigs, providing communications for a Boy Scout Expo being held in the Atlantic City area. Afterwards he responded to some dead telephone reports, making repairs as needed. Later he helped with the trouble shooting of the Multi-coupler, as mentioned in the opening paragraph of this report.
I’m not exactly sure of what work Gene H was doing down in the Wind Shop but after completed the tasks he returned to the NJ2BB shack for some on-the-air time. I do know that while down in the shop he discovered the replacement anemometer devices (little airplane looking thingies) that mount on the yard arms and measure wind speed / wind direction. We had found these units during a visit to the shipyard but had only recently moved them to the Wind Shop for safe keeping.
January 2012 - To date the first four workdays of the year 2012 have found NJ2BB members working on projects, large and small.
Rich R and Dave D have been able to get the CEC plasma display (1984 version) to talk with an external computer. This is a very important milestone towards returning this long silent and dark item back to CEC, in an operating status. The keyboard's metal cover has been handed over to the Brass Team for reconditioning. The larger plasma enclosure will visit the Brass Team once we are sure that there is no need to reopen the covers.
Too Tall Tom decided to spend a day "gone fishing" which means he missed the rebirth of the ship's fathometer. John had the circular video sweep running and displaying depth pings via a bench pulse generator. As John mentioned to me, "There are still a number of sailor fixes to repair before this thing is done".
Chief Carlson made one of his rare Saturday visits to us, but with a mission in mind. He had noticed a problem with the gun fire video/audio system in Forward Main Plot and needed our help to isolate the gremlin to either the 16" gun fire interface or to the digital playback system. Don't worry Ski, the trouble is with the Ackman, not the relays. Thanks Ed for working with the Chief on this one.
Since Christmas our storage compartment, Avionics, has been the target of a major cleanup. Not only were items returned to their proper storage locations, but a large number of items made their way to the scrap metal dumpster. No, none of this dumpster stuff was BB-62 parts. Also seeing the working end of my cleanup surge was the GCS (Ground Control Station) on the O2 level. Most of this stuff also needed proper storage but a couple of boxes of junk have left the ship.
While at the dumpster I noticed a nice 6' folding leg banquet table, minus safe legs. Yep, the table has been returned to the ship and repairs made before the table was pressed into service as a desk in the System 75 telephone room. Using this repaired table in a public venue would be out of the question due to liability issues, but the compartment off Broadway is not a public access area. As a cascade effect, the much smaller Navy desk that was in the switch room is now in WWII Radio to become part of that display.
The three SPA-25 radar repeaters that we captured during the last visit to the shipyard have been stripped of all un-needed parts in preparation for the Brass Team's sanding and painting of the cabinets. Along the way we saved any usable parts such as cable looms, clamps, terminal blocks, power transistors, relays, small syncros, as well as handfuls of small hardware. All these items are headed to proper storage in Avionics for our future use.
On the operating side of our days at the ship Gene, Ed and Bob have made numerous contacts using SSB, CW and PSK. Just as we were getting ready to leave yesterday Ed competed a CW QSO with the Dxpedition on Malpelo Island off the Pacific coast of Columbia.
Jan 4 - Although there have not been any scheduled work parties for the past three weeks, there have been sightings of BNJARS members at the ship.
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