Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Loud Music, A Laser Light Show, and Fireworks Going Off

At 2245 local time, that's the extent of New Year's Eve madness in La-La Land.

I suppose things night get a little more nuts, but I'm going to bed.

Hope you all had a safe and sane New Year's Eve, and wishing you all the best for 2015!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wonderful "Christmas Present" for Us Radio Guys on the Iowa

God bless the guys at PCS Associates!

During the process of troubleshooting the URR-74(v)2 receivers in the radio room, we've been terribly hampered by a lack of usable documentation.

The WJ 8718 receiver is very close to the URR-74, and we were able to find manuals for that receiver, BUT all the freely downloadable manuals were poor copies made into pdf's.

The worst part was that the schematics were copied with the copier magnification improperly set, resulting in a 1"~2" "gap" in the schematic between the two pages it was spread over!

You couldn't get them to overlap so you could tape them together and get a complete schematic, and in some cases it was cut so badly that complete components and/or circuit blocks were missing.

This makes it rather difficult to follow signals on the schematic, as you're never really sure where they're going between the two pages.

I finally found a place that still supports the Watkins Johnson receivers we have aboard the Iowa, and sent an email asking how much it would cost us to BUY a real, correct copy, stating that we weren't looking for a freebie, and would gladly PAY to get the manuals.

Well, this morning I received an email from a very nice gentleman containing the details of the ftp account he set up for me so I could download the manuals they have available!

I grabbed the manuals, and have been looking at them part of the day.

They manuals are crystal clear, and all the schematics are complete, and not butchered up.

I notified our Grey Radio Gang, and we're going to be working up a nice, official "Certificate of Appreciation" for this gentleman and his company.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas, and God Bless Us, Every One!

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

And here's one of my favorite stories from years ago.

"The Star" by Arthur C. Clarke

Forgot to add that we had a Christmas card signing project aboard the Battleship Iowa this year.

We signed and delivered 3051 personalized cards to our troops serving overseas.

"Old School" RTTY Equipment on the Battleship Iowa

Sorry I didn't take more pix of the gear, but I snapped these few after I finished photographing the six HF antennas on the ship.

I took the pix of the antennas so I could document them by their nameplates, and we could compare the what and where of them to the scanty drawings we have.

ANYWHOO....this is a representative of one of the four or five AN/UGC-48A machines abord the Iowa.

This particular one is working perfectly, and has an almost full roll of paper in it.

I am NOT an expert on these by any means, so I can't tell you much about it. In one of my older posts about the equipment in the Comm Center I have a ton of pictures of the RTTY gear, the printers and reperferators, and the CRT-based Data Terminals, which I found out the other day are in working condition. We're trying to find some of the magnetic tape cartridges for them, and supposedly there is a box or two of them stored somewhere on the ship, but this equipment is not on my "TO-DO" list, as I'm more concerned with getting our last non-functioning Watkins-Jenkins AN/URR-74(V)2 receiver working, and learning to replace the chain drives in the 1051 receivers, and the ART-23 exciters.


Top covers opened:

Close-up of Print Head:

Paper Tape Mechanism:

2nd Tape Mechanism:

2nd Tape Mechanism:

It's definitely neat stuff, but not really in my "knowledge base"!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Day at the Workbench

Spent the day catching up on some stuff.

*Cleaned my Kimber 1911

*Cleaned my wife's TRR-8 revolver

And started building the little "Digital Modes Sound Card Interface" for the Kenwood TS-940 we use on the Iowa for CW. The guy who donated it used to be a RTTY operator "Back In The Day", and was blown away when I told him you no longer need a "HAL Interface"

and a lumbering Model 19 Teletype machine to operate Radio Teletype ("RTTY") any longer.

These days, a PC is used to generate and decode audio frequencies corresponding to "Mark" and "Space", and the audio signals are sent to/received from the audio circuits of the radio.

The "nice" thing about doing it this way is that you're no longer limited by the hardware you have to just RTTY. You can also transmit and receive Slow Scan TV, PSK-31, WEFAX, and many other "Digital Modes" on the ham bands.

After I finish and test the little interface, I'll post a few pictures of it.

Friday, December 19, 2014

5 Years here?

Just looked at my settings page, and it indicates I started this blog in January 2009.

Gee.....where'd the time go?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Damn Blogger and Google!!!

*Something* changed the other day, and now all the comments I make on other blogs are going to my gmail account, which I NEVER look at.

And I can't figure out how to switch it back to my real email address.

Freaking IDIOTS......


Figured out HOW to do it.

Just go here and follow the instructions.

Too bad it nuked all the post replies, but now I'm rid of the ##@@!! gmail address.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Finished My RF Safety Report

Had a really nice one about 90% finished that I'd been working on for three days.

Then I was editing a section of it this morning (no coffee!), and I NUKED the whole damn document..............RATS!

Just finished a frantic 6 hour push to get at least something presentable printed out.

The question of RF Safety on the Iowa is something that's a bit overblown, as getting to the Disc/Cage antenna on the bow means going through a locked gate that only authorized people have the key for. The public can't get within 50 feet of it.

The Trussed Monopole antenna at the stern is located on top of the Helo Ops shack, and is a good 10' above the deck.

Assuming ZERO feedline loss (we don't have a clue what the line loss is, but I'll bet it's at least 2~3dB), the fact that we run *maybe* 100 Watts out of the transmitter, and the fact that the Duty Factor for SSB is 20%, and CW is 40%, the minimum safe distance for the "Uncontrolled Area" (where the public is allowed) is FIVE feet.

There's just no way we're pumping out enough RF to do anything to anybody.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Got Those "Term Paper" Blues......

Well, not exactly a "Term Paper", but it makes me glad I wrote all of them in high-school and College.

I've been asked to do a short report on RF Safety, and how it pertains to the Amateur Radio operations aboard the Iowa.

Actually, I was asked to do a full report, and oh, by the way, can you have a short one available for our meeting this Wednesday?

Now, all the Hams I know are quite conversant on RF Safety, and we've all performed our FCC mandated RF Evaluations of our stations.

I don't know a single Ham who has not done this, and nobody I know has a station that doesn't meet the requirements.

The "problem" arises when you say "RADIATION" around most lay people, who don't know the difference between an X-ray, cosmic ray, a sun ray, or even a "Ray of Hope". All you have to do is mention "RADIATION", and people start thinking of giant ants, giant grasshoppers, or Big Things We Accidentally Created/Let Loose/Got Pissed Off.

Since Radio Frequency radiation is NON-Ionizing, it's extremely unlikely to cause gigantic tomatoes and bugs to start appearing under your antenna. It just doesn't work that way.

The primary harm the high levels of RF can cause, are thermal hazards, similar to sticking something into your microwave oven and cranking it up.

And even that has requirements to be met before the object will heat up.

It's true that in the "Olde Days" Diathermy used a frequency in the vicinity of 30 MHz, but the patient was positioned in almost direct contact with the antenna, and the antenna was designed to concentrate the RF field into a very small area.

They weren't having people stand under a half-wave dipole and applying 100 Watts to it.

So, I'm writing this with the LCD principle, trying to make it simple so non-technical people can understand it, while keeping it technically accurate, and not boring the people that actually understand it.

I just hope it doesn't get picked apart by the people who are "just too busy" to take this task on themselves, but yet not so busy that can find the time to read it, and nit-pick it to death.....

Thursday, December 11, 2014

More Rain on the Way

We probably won't get as much as Wirecutter will, but still, they're predicting at least an inch, and probably more.

The bad thing is that this time we're going to get it all in about 24~36 hours.

Hopefully the backyard won't flood too bad, as all the dirt is still wet from the last rain that came through.

And for an AAR on Saturday's "NRA First Steps" class, it was another winner.

We had 22 students, the max the classroom can hold, and 4 assistant instructors.

The lead instructor handled the three people who had prior experience with firearms, but wanted to get some training, and the rest of us handled the 'balanceof the students.

Everybody listened, was safe, and we saw some students go from Can't hit the paper", to scoring 80% or better on the last 10 rounds on target session.

Another great day ay the range!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

December 7th, 2014 on the Battleship Iowa

Spent all day on the Battleship Iowa today, mostly in the radio room working HUGE pile-ups calling us.

Everybody we talked to thanked us for getting and keeping the Iowa on the Ham Bands, and manning it so often.

We operate NI6BB every holiday, except Thanksgiving and Christmas day when the ship is closed, and almost every Wednesday, during the hours the ship is open.

We talked to the Missouri, the Lexington, the Hornet, the Midway, several of the museum submarines, and heard the Wisconsin, but couldn’t get through to them.

We had an elderly man at the morning ceremony who is a Pearl Harbor Survivor, and a wonderful gentleman.

Later in the day I was honored to meet and talk to a 93 year old woman who was a nurse on a hospital ship stationed at Pearl during the raid.
And they both told everybody they met to never forget what can happen to Our Nation when it gets complacent.

Quite a somber day.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Busy Weekend Coming Up

Well, let's see....

Saturday morning I have the "First Saturday Of The Month" breakfast with the radio club I'll be bailing out on (long rant, check the older posts), and then I'll be helping with another "NRA First Steps" pistol class, then a reunion party for a bunch of my former work mates from the satellite launch place I retired/got laid-off from, and then I'll be on the Iowa all day Sunday for the Pearl Harbor Memorial.

I'll be wearing one of my "NRA Certified Instructor" shirts to the breakfast, which will probably pop the fuses in the one Ultra-Liberal, Politically Correct member we have.

Oh, use trying to please everyone.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Rainy Day on the Iowa

Spent today aboard doing Grey Radio stuff, mostly reading the manuals, as yours truly has been "appointed" as the Lead Technician to get the original transmitters fired back up.

So, after helping the 70 and 80 year old guys go down to Broadway in search of some replacement parts for one of the "Red Phones", I spent some reading the manuals on the exciter, power amplifier, and the auto-couplers.

I learned that the exciter only puts out around 100 mW (+20dBm), and the high voltage in the power amp is 2250 Volts.

The amps are capable of running up to 1500 Watts output, but the manual cautions to not go over 1250 Watts, which is a kick because EACH of the power tubes is rated for about 5kW plate dissipation!

Man, talk about OVER designed!

And then I helped the Old Guys (I'm a youngster there!) work on the "Coke Machine", which is this beautifully built rack of equipment (Hughes Aircraft in Irvine, CA built it) that basically a switching matrix to route secure and non-secure communications around the ship.

I ponied up for a big 24VDC power supply so they could get parts of it working, but ALL of the circuit cards were pulled from it while it was in the Mothball Fleet, as it's a system still in use.

None of it's classified, and we're having a hard time finding stuff for it.

Anybody have any "1149570 TIM Manual Patch Cards", or "1149565 LIM Manual Patch Card" spares just sitting around?

Sure would make it easier to set up the manual patches we need to make so we can route audio from the "Red Phones" to and from the Radio Room and Transmitter Room.......

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Little Rainy Day Music

By Bachman Turner Overdrive.

This is one of their lesser know songs.

Has some really nice guitar work.



And boy, we need it!

It started raining about 0500 this morning, and is supposed to keep up through Wednesday morning.

So far it's been a nice, steady rain, with the rain gauge showing .39" since this storm began, but it's starting to pool in all the low spots in the backyard, and the scanner has a lot of traffic about road closures due to flooding.

No word on any mud slides, though.

And the dog, who doesn't like to go out in the rain, is in "Max Bladder Hold Mode" right now. She'll go scratch at the door, I'll open it, and she sticks her head out the door, looks up at me, and heads back in the house.

As soon as it beaks a bit, I'll grab her and get her to go out, whether she likes it or not.

AND, we're up to .93" since midnight, which is quite a bit for us to get all at once.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Visio 2010 Is A MAJOR PITA!!

God, I can't believe how freaking AWFUL this software is.

I've been using Visio for over 10 years, I've mad over 100 drawings with it, and it seems like every single time I stop using it for a few weeks, I have to learn it all over again.

Even doing something simple like changing the default line weight is cumbersome, and the changes you make don't carry over to the individual stencils/shapes stored in your library.

The earlier versions at least had the menus laid out in a logical manner, but nooooo, that wasn't good enough for Micro$oft, and they changed everything around, and I can't find sh1t in their newer structure.

IfI have to bang my head against the keyboard until Its bloody learning this POS software again, I'll just take the time to learn one of the Linux vector drawing programs I have, as they don't change things around on a whim.

Either that or I'll just make the damn drawings by hand, scan them, and convert them to a pdf for distribution.

Gawd.......what a pain this little project has become!


Did the entire project in about 35 minutes using "gschem" on my Linux box, and I'd never used the program before.

It reminds me a lot of the free software (Windoze only) that PCBExpress gives you to do your boards.

Since this will be hand-wired, and I don't need boards produced, I just wanted a nice looking schematic to go into the operating manual.

The project is an interface board from a sound card on a PC to a Kenwood HF radio so we can do "Digital Modes" on the Iowa.

Here's a copy of the schematic, but it didn't render very cleanly when I did a quickie rendering from PostScript to PNG format.

Rain On The Way....YAY!

Heavy overcast this morning, and I can smell rain on the wind.

NOAA forecast is for scattered showers today and tonight, haevy rain starting Monday night through Wednesday morning.

We sure need the rain, and hopefully we'll have a wet winter.

It's been extremely dry out here the last 5 years or so, and the reservoirs are down to their lowest levels in 20 years.

This afternoon's satellite view:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fairly Quiet Out Here In La-La Land

Been listening to scanner most of the night.

Well, actually THREE scanners.

One is set up to scan most everything out here.

One is set up to scan the "Media" frequency assignment, which are those channels the news crews and news choppers use.

And one to scan just the stuff for Long Beach and Signal Hill.

Why three?

Well, the "main" scanner has so many channels to scan that it might stop on something trivial, like a call about a burglar alarm, and miss something big, like a "peaceful protest" that turns ugly.

The "Media" scanner is interesting, as these guys talk to each other the way you and I would, and don't pull any punches about what's going on.

And the "Local" scanner, since it has fewer channels to scan, can rip through the entire channel list in nothing flat, and not miss anything close by.

So far the only signs of Bad Shit going on is the chatter on the LAPD and LASD channels about groups of people throwing stuff on to cars from freeway overpasses.

There are several "large crowds" marching around, but other than the people tossing stuff from overpasses, I'd say it's relatively quiet.

There has been an unusual amount of radio traffic down in the port area, though. Mostly vehicle stops, and most of the people stopped are from out of the area, so not sure if that means anything.....

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Beem Busy Again.....

Had a ton of yard work to do this last week, along with doing some "deep cleaning" of various parts of the house, as we're having guests over for Thanksgiving.

And I dug out, scrubbed up, and tested some older radio gear that I'm giving to a friend who's just about ready to take his General Class Amateur Radio exam.

The gear is a complete Yaesu FT-310 with power supply/speaker, microphone, and an external VFO that was entrusted to me by my buddy The Wandering Minstrel, with the promise to him that's find it a good home.

This isn't the radio, but it's representative of the model type.

And the soon-to-be General Class ham was thrilled to get it, and thanked me profusely.

I mowed the back yard with my little electric mower, edged the driveway and walkways, and used the weed whacker to get all the stuff along the side of the house that the mower can't get.

I went to Home Depot and got six BIG bags of black dirt (next time I think I just have a half truckload delivered!), and filled in a bunch of low spots, and seeded/watered the areas. And I put out stakes with string between them and strips of yellow caution tape hanging on the string to keep Pebbles The Wonder Dog from "exploring" these new areas.

A couple of shouts of "NO!" has convinced her (so far) to keep away from them.

I really let the back yard "go to seed" this last year, hardly watering it, and it died out in big sections. When we had Swisher, he and Pebbles would chase each other around the yard, chewing up the dead grass, leaving bare spots that turned into mini-dust-bowls, so hopefully with some fresh dirt and grass seed, it will come back this winter.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sad Puppy!

Well, Little Miss Pebbles had a vet visit on Monday.

She's had a mild case of conjunctivitis, which we thought cleared up from the eye drops given to us at the previous vet visit, but it came back, this time in both her eyes.

And she has these "bumps" on her back that look like insect bites, very unusual for this time of year here. I spray the back yard twice a year for fleas, ticks, and other critters, and we use Advantage flea treatment on her, so we weren't sure what was going on.

And the day before I took her back in, she started licking her left front paw, and would pull it back from me when I went to look at it.

Time to go see Dr. Grain over at the Evening Pet Clinic again!

I can't say enough good things about the pet clinic. They really care about their little furry (and feathered!) patients there, and treat you like family when you show up.

After I checked in and was waiting, I noticed on of the nails on her left paw seemed to be red, maybe bleeding a bit, and then I remembered what had happened several days before.

I was bringing in a bunch of stuff from the car, and couldn't see where my big feet were going, and stepped on one of her front paws! Normally this hasn't been a problem, as she's quicker on her feet than I am on mine, and the carpet cushions it some.

Well, this time I stepped on her when she was right at the door, on the hardwood entry area. She didn't yelp or cry or anything, and I dropped what I was doing and called her back, She wasn't limping, and didn't seem to be in any pain, so I apologized to her (apologize to a dog?) and didn't think much of it.

When I hoisted her up to the exam table. though, the Doctor and I immediately noticed one of her nails was broken right where the fur stops and the nail begins.

SO, he removed the broken nail, swabbed the area with Providone Iodine, and wrapped it up, saying to leave it covered for 5 days so it would "seal up" and not get infected.

And then we put "The Cone" on her, to (TRY and) keep her from licking/chewing/tearing off the bandage on the paw.

And the good Doctor says the bumps are most likely allergies to some type of insect bite, and to give a Benadryl twice a day.

So, here she is looking a bit upset over having a bandaged foot, AND a cone her.

Poor puppy.....

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Belated Happy Veteran's Day

To all who have served, and are currently serving....

You my have deepest gratitude and respect for your service to our country.

I had a post scheduled, but must have messed something up, as it didn't post.

I would have posted this morning, but I spent the entire day on the Iowa helping with tours, and assisting a film crew, but mostly operating NI6BB.

We had a very nice memorial service and wreath ceremony this morning at 0900, before the ship opened to the public.

And since there's a film crew aboard, some of the tour route was changed, resulting in a few people getting "lost" a bit, and having to be shepherded back onto the tour route, and out of the areas not normally open to the public.

When I got to the starboard side hatch for the Communications Center this morning, the hatch was closed, but not dogged.

I didn't realize how heavy the hatch was, having never opened it before. It swings easily on the hinges, but has a lot of mass, so getting it moving, and stopping it again, took a bit of muscle.

Hope y'all had a great day!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Saturday Relaxation

Did all the yard work yesterday, except for trimming the tree in the backyard. The damn thing grows like a weed, and I'm going to have to rent a chipper to grind up what I'm going to lop off it.

Wife has a friend staying with us, so I also cleaned house Thursday and Friday. Had to put the dog outside while I ran "Mr. Kirby", or she goes nutso chasing it around.

So today I'm just kicking back tinkering on some radio gear that's been waiting to get on the bench so I can clean it up, check it out, and sell it on eBay. Over the last 5 years or so I've been grabbing radios at good prices, and stashing them in the garage, bagged up so they don't get all critterfied. I've got about 35 out there, with a total investment (so far) of bout $1800. Add another couple of hundred bucks for parts they might need (tubes and electrolytic/paper capacitor replacements) and I've got about $2k in them.  Considering their total worth once I'm done with them is about $10k, it's a nice way to pick up some additional cash to support my hobbies.

Project for the next few weeks is to get the garage cleaned up and sorted out so I have enough room to get the Supra in there for the winter.

I really don't want to leave a rust-free 1980's Toyota outside for the rainy season. They have a tendency to want to return to Mother Earth if they start getting soaking wet for long periods of time!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

We Made Them An Offer They Couldn't Refuse

Well, way too early to tell if the election yesterday will have much effect on restoring our Constitutional Republic, but I found this cartoon a bit amusing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I Voted

And so did my sweet wife.

I'm not sure how much good it does to vote conservative out here in Kommifornia, but hopefully our two votes canceled out two from the moochers and looters.....

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pardon Me While I "Take Five".......

Spent all day Wednesday on the Iowa troubleshooting a receiver/coupler/antenna issue, and then all day Thursday and Friday down at the Maritime Museum repairing the Amateur Radio station located on the second floor.

A week or so ago we had an Icom PS-30 power supply that went casters up, so one of my friends and I replaced it with an Astron RS-35. The original power supply had been installed almost 30 years ago when the station was built, so we definitely got our money's worth!

After we pulled the operating bench away from the wall, we were horrified at the state of the wiring. Cables had been run without any regard to wire management, and were crisscrossed every which way, and many were tangled knots of AC power, DC power, Coax, and control cables.

We also had FIVE plug strips that were daisy-chained all along the floor.

First order of business was to remove everything, trace it back, and label both ends of the cables. Then we mounted a Rig Runner DC distribution block, installed Power Pole connectors on all the DC leads, and remove all the plug strips.

There were already four plug strips mounted under the bench, and connected to master switches on one end of the operating bench, but I guess it was just easier to run new ones than use the existing ones.

All the AC distribution wiring was cleaned up, all the AC plugs were labeled, the existing (old) plug strips were labeled, and many feet of jumbled up coax and control cables were shortened, coiled up, and labeled.

And we also removed the original barrier strip that was used to distribute the DC power from the defunct power supply.

The original installation, modified (poorly!) over the last 30 years, would definitely be on my top five "World's Worst Wiring Kluges".

So it's finished, and I made up a nice 11"x17" Visio drawing to go into the station operating manual, and the archives we keep detailing (usually!) the modifications made over the years.

So pardon me while I kick back and "Take Five".......

Friday, October 31, 2014

Haloween Weirdness

While passing out the candy tonight, I had my Home Patrol scanner on so I could keep up with police activity.

While I didn't catch the area where this was going on, it definitely falls into the "YGTBSM" category.....

A guy wearing a hockey mask, and wielding a chainsaw, was chasing Trick-or-Treaters around!

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't heard the frantic scramble by the cops to find the guy......

Thursday, October 30, 2014

BOOOOOO! Happy Halloween!

For your scary viewing pleasure I present THRILLER!

Say whatever you will about Michael Jackson, he sure was talented.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Antares Launch Failure

This was the first flight of the Anatres Launch Vehicle using a new Russian built engine.

The vehicle and the Cygnus CRS automated cargo spacecraft were carrying just under 5000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station, along with a whole bunch of "cubesats" for deployment

The engines are shipped to the US, and modified by Aerojet for the launch vehicle.

I've watched the video several times (and watched "other" videos of it), and it appears to be either a nozzle or perhaps a turbopump failure. If you watch the exhaust plume, you cab see a significant brightening and change of shape right before the vehicle explodes.

This is a major setback for Orbital Sciences, and the loss of almost 5000 pounds of supplies and experiments for the ISS.

And here's a very interesting aerial view:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Make Him Own It.......

As usual, Mr. Whittle makes perfect sense.

Get out there on November 4th and VOTE!

But then I doubt if any of the people who stop by here need to be told that.....

Friday, October 24, 2014

70th Anniversary of the Battle Off Samar

"In no engagement of its entire history has the United States Navy shown more gallantry, guts and gumption than in those two morning hours between 0730 and 0930 off Samar"

Samuel Eliot Morison, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume XII, Leyte

Undoubtedly one of the most lopsided Naval battles in history.

6 escort carriers, 4 destroyer escorts, and 3 destroyers held off twenty-three ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, some outweighing them by over thirty times!

The incredible story of Taffy 3 was published in "The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" by James D. Hornfisher, and it's a gripping read.

The Battle Off Samar was part of the Leyte Gulf Campaign, and was the end of an operational Japanese Navy.

The story of Taffy 3 has also been covered on The History Channel, and The Military Channel.

For a detailed review of this Naval action, please go read the entire Wikipedia entry. It's just an amazing story of bravery and courage.

One of the Iowa volunteer crew was on the USS Hoel, the first American ship to be sunk, and I'm looking forward to meeting him.

New Phone

Well, my trusty AndroidX has been slooowly dying these last few months, and last night it finally got so bad I decided ti junk it.

The trade-in allowance was only $5, and it's worth more than that to me as a sledgehammer target after all the aggravation it's caused the last few months.

The touch screen was getting very hard to use and unresponsive, making it very hard to dial out or return a call. Last night it started ringing, and I was busy, so I ignored it. Looking at the incoming calls, I saw it was a friend of mine, so I spent about 10 minutes ( ! ) trying to call him back before I gave up. He called me back about 10 minutes later! I thought the call never connected, but it did, and when he asked what I needed, and I told him I was returning his call of 20 minutes earlier, he said he hadn't called me all day.

So, I went down to the Verizon store last night, signed in, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After about 45 minutes, I threw in the towel, and came home. The new Galaxy Note 4 went on sale last night, and the place was a zoo. I spent my waiting time looking at all the phones, and decided on a Galaxy S5, which I went back and got this morning.

Took about 20 minutes in-and-out, so that's one of the bennies from being "unemployed", and being able to do my shopping during the day.

I haven't played with it much as I want it to fully charge, and I'm busy reading how to root it so I can uninstall all the crapware it come with, and have FULL control over the GPS and camera/microphone functions.

When this one wears out, I'm going to seriously look into just getting a TracFone!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Inert 16"/50 Caliber Shells on the Battleship Iowa

Had a good day (as usual!) on the Iowa today. We gave the commercial radio test for the Marine Radio Operators Permit to two people, who both passed with 100%.

Then I took some pictures of the Inert 16"/50 caliber rounds, and went "back to work" on the AN/URR-74(V)2 radio receivers.

One of them appears to have a problem on the -15 Volt buss, as the regulator mounted on the back panel of the radio is getting too hot to touch after being powered on for 10~15 minutes. The encoder for the main tuning also has a problem, as no matter which way you turn the knob, the frequency increases. One of the other guys in the Gray Radio Group knows what the problem is, so it's on the punch list for that particular radio, along with troubleshooting what's making the regulator get so hot.

Here's a better view of the stacks of pallets with the shells:

And here's how they're packed, two per pallet:

Here's the label on the end of the pallet stating the weight. Since each shell weighs 1,900 lbs, the weight of a High Explosive shell, this would indicate that the pallet alone weighs 450 lbs:

Off to the end of the stacked pallets is this Shell Carrier. I'm sure there's a more correct name for it, but I don't know what it might be. I don't know if we already had this, or if it came with the shells:

The Rotating Band, which engages the rifling in the barrel, has sure seen better days:

And there's some damage to where the band is attached to the shell. It almost looks like it was deliberately cut away:

Some stenciling on one of the shells:

The pallet stack as seen from the other side. We sure did get a bunch of these:

I have no idea what this equipment is for:

Nameplate on the above equipment:

Looks like this one was NOT "Handled With Care":

Here's another one that tried to escape:

Here's some close-ups of the Rotating Band:

The tip of the shell:

Some markings on the strapping. 1947, maybe?:

Markings on the pallet itself:

And since I was outside, and it was a beautiful day, here's one of the whaleboats, and our BIG forklift:

The whaleboat's helm:

Not sure what these numbers mean, but they're not stenciled on; they're cut into the hull:

Always good to spend a day on the Iowa. I found out the other day one of the volunteers was on the USS Hoel during The Battle Off Samar.

I'm going to have to meet him!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Already?

Well, I was out-of-it on Monday. Had some kind of stomach bug, and spent most of the day either in bed, or in the bathroom.

Feel a bunch better today.

I'll be taking my camera with me tomorrow and get some pix of the dummy shells at the Iowa.

Also have two commercial radio exams to help with, and we'll be doing some performance testing on the receivers in Radio Central.

Always good to spend a day on the Iowa, almost as good as spending a day at the range!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What a Drone Can See From 17,500 Feet

Pretty damn impressive.

And "they" say they have no idea what was going on at Benghazi.....

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Present for the Battleship Iowa

While I was there today running one of the HF stations for JOTA, I happened to notice numerous pallets of "dummy" shells down by the outdoor crew break area.

I'd read in out crew newsletter that these were being delivered, but hadn't seen them yet.

Each pallet had a tag stating that it weighed 4250 lbs, and we have STACKS of them:

These were freebies from the Navy, we just had to pay the freight.

And I don't even think about how much it cost to ship them from Indiana to SoCal!

Next time I'm there I'll have my Nikon with me, so I'll get some close ups of the individual shells.

And as soon as I get some pix of the JOTA event, I'll post them here.

Suffice to say we ran 130 Scouts, in four groups, through the 4 stations we had running, and got them all signed off for the "On-The-Air" portion of their Radio Merit Badge class.

We even worked W7BSA, and K2BSA, which made some of our Scouts really happy.

And they ALL had a great time exploring the Iowa!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

250,000 Page Views!

Which aint bad for a little blog that's not updated regularly, doesn't run pr0n, and really doesn't have much to say.

Spent all day on the Iowa finishing up the three W-J 8718A receivers we have.

Next week we'll run some tests on them to determine if they all meet the sensitivity specs, and if they do, we'll call it a wrap.

*Most* of the 1051 receivers are working, but about half of them need the belts that connect the tuning mechanisms to the front panel knobs replaced.

We were able to contact the company that makes the drive belts, and they graciously provided us with enough spares to replace all the belts in all the receivers (we have something like 20 of them), along with some extra spares for the parts cabinet.

Now that we have the W-J 8718A's back on-line, my focus is going to shift to getting the original HF transmitters running again.

The first step will be to physically inspect each one to see if any parts or assemblies have been pulled, and "red tag" any we find that have had parts removed.

Then we'll pick a likely one that's easy to get at, and start running the "New Installation" guide in the back of the manual we have.

These are rated at 1000 Watts continuous (100% Duty Cycle) use, and could put out quite a bit more with a different power supply.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Between the Honey Dew list, my time on the Iowa, and doing some "emergency" repairs on PC's for friends, I've been keeping pretty busy these days.

The last of the suspension parts came in for my Supra (new springs! I'm dropping the front 1.5" and the rear .75"), so I'm planning on getting started on her Real Soon Now.

Finished up rebuilding a PC I'll be taking down to the Iowa so we can do computer-based logging on, and that should help keep the records straight.

We're making several hundred contacts per week, and it was getting to be a chore filling out all the cards an envelopes for QSL cards.

AND........Friday was kind of a bummer for my wife and I. I gave one of her best friends a ride to and from the hospital for her colonoscopy, and she's got a major problem. She has an ulcer "the size of a nickle", and the Doctor who did the procedure is already talking chemo and radiation, so she and my wife are rather distraught.

She won't know for sure until the biopsy results come back, so we've got our fingers and toes crossed.

Monday, October 6, 2014

"Failure To Fire" Is Going Offline

One of the more, uh...."interesting" webcomics has published it's final episode today.

Yep, "Failure To Fire" is going dark.

The author might do a few "afterword" comics, but for the most part he's decided to close up shop and get on with his other projects, and life in general.

I don't remember when I first started reading "Failure To Fire", but it sure was a fun ride while it lasted.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

NRA Basic Pistol Class AAR

Well, we taught another 14 people the NRA Basic Pistol class yesterday.

We started with 15, but one young lady vanished after about an hour. She's an LPN, so we figured maybe she was called in to work or something.

As usual, we had quite a wide variety of people, from Patent Attorneys to web designers, to a retired Navy Officer who brought her son with her.

 Some of the students had prior shooting experience and were taking the class to improve their skills, while others had never handled a gun before.

They were all very interested, followed directions well, and we had no safety or firearms handling issues at all.

After the classroom session was over, we headed out to the range to let the students get some hands-on practice.

The basic format of this is to fire 20 rounds at a blank sheet of 8-1/2x10 paper, then 20 rounds at a target, and then 10 rounds at a fresh target for scoring.

The blank paper is used so we can get a feel for the students handle the gun, and correct any errors they might have with stance, grip, and sighting in. I always tell them to try and hit the center of the paper, and then use you first hole as a target and try to get the rest of the rounds "in the same hole", or if you're really off, then try and get your next shot closer to the center.

We had one little Ruger Mark-II malfunction (magazine wouldn't go in), and some ammo problems, mostly failure-to-feeds. The lead instructor told me the Mark-II's are a bit finicky about what ammo works in them, and with 22LR still being a bit scarce, we just try and live with it.

We also saw a bunch of stove-pipes which I assumed was from limp wristing, but after instructing the student who was having the problem to grip the pistol tighter, the problem lessened.

The 20 rounds on a target went well, with ALL of the students shooting 100% in the black target area, and a several getting 100% in the orange bull's eye!

Te retired Navy Officer had some problems with her stance (she was shooting her own pistol, a Taurus clone of a Beretta 92), and once I corrected her, she came right on target.

The 10 rounds on target was a bit different, as the students felt some "pressure" for being in competition.

Two scored 100%, so we had a 3 round shoot-off, with one young lady getting 100%, and the guy she was up against getting two in the orange, and one on the edge.

All-in-all, it was a great day, and we trained 14 more people in the proper handling and the basics of shooting.

Friday, October 3, 2014

"An OBLIGATION To Defend Ourselves"

Latest from Bill Whittle.

He says the title of this post at 3:03 into the video.

I'm going to assist with another "NRA Basic Pistol" class tomorrow.

Hopefully it goes as well as the last one I helped with.

Coming Soon To A City Near YOU!

Enough said.......

When I got my flu shot yesterday I asked if it also protected against Ebola.

Half the staff busted up, and the other half didn't know what to make of it.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

James May at the Edge of Space

"Top Gear" (the English one, not that poseur American version) is one of my favorite TV programs.

One of the presenters, James May, is an avid Space enthusiast.

He did a spectacular show a few years ago on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landings.

He's also one of the few civilians to get a ride on the trainer version of the U2 aircraft, and did a film about it.

It's quite entertaining in a low-key sort of way, and I found it quite enjoyable to watch.

These days, 70,000 feet isn't considered the "Edge of Space", but he also explains that.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I've almost always carried some kind of knife. I'm not a knife aficionado or anything, but in all the jobs I've worked at, having a decent knife, in your pocket, has come in handy more times than I can count.

I really like my Benchmade knives, but sadly they need to be sent back to sharpen, as I just can't seem to put a decent edge on them.

Something else I need to learn!

My second most recent purchase was a Gerber. A nice, sharp knife with a "Tanto" blade, but I just HATE that damn stupid mechanism they have on it to fold the blade back in. It takes both hands for a clumsy doofus like me to fold the blade back, and that's just unacceptable for me.

So, I recently purchased a nice little SOG knife. It has assisted opening, and a release button like my Benchmade knives, so I can easily fold it back when I finished using it.

It's one of the "Rescue" knives, with a blunt tip, perfect for sawing through seat belts and such without putting a 22 stitch wound in the person you're trying to save!

And I've also got some serious "Survival" knives that I keep "just in case", and a sweet little Cold Steel tomahawk, just in case the Zombies show up.

So what brings me to talk about knives?

This hilarious post over at Tam's place.

Genius that woman is!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Shit You See At The Range

Found this over at "Every Day No Days Off", and it's absolutely hilarious.

I'm sure some of you have seen the video, and if you hang out at a range long enough, you'll see it in person.

During last week's training class, I was joking with the Range Master about how he'd always said if you worked at a range long enough, you'd see a wide cross-section of weirdness.

He laughed and said "Yeah, about two weeks".

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Busy Wednesday Again

Spent most of the day on the Iowa again, reading documents, and tracing down wire markers.

We're beginning to get a handle on how some of the cabling is done, and thanks to our good friends on the Missouri, the New Jersey, and the Midway, we're slowly getting our own set of manuals for the transmitters, receivers, antenna couplers, and most of the other equipment we have.

Long day, lots of running around, and I'm beat.

G'Night, all!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

"NRA Basic Pistol Class" AAR

Well, the lead instructor and three assistants brought another 8 people into the realm of pistol shooters today.

Why FOUR instructors?

Well, 16 people signed up (and paid!), but only 8 showed up, so as a bonus, each instructor only had two people to help, and we got extra range and classroom time.

The two young people I worked with were a brother and sister, 17 and 15 years old, respectively.

The girl was kinda bummed at first because "My parents own firearms, and they INSISTED we both take this course!".

She considered it more of a waste of a beautiful Saturday morning and afternoon than anything else, but she was attentive, asked excellent questions, took direction extremely well, and wonder-of-wonders, wound up WINNING the "10 Shot Showdown" with a score of 98!

Her older brother was seen muttering something about "I'll never live this down....", but he was a good sport about it, and proud of his sister.

As I was coaching these two young people, I kept noticing an older couple outside the range, watching through the glass with huge smiles, but didn't think much of it as I was busy.

Turns out it was Mom and Dad watching their kids have a great time, and thanked us all profusely after the class was over.

Always good to introduce some new people to shooting, and this was one of the better classes I assisted with.

Four of the students stayed to take their California "Handgun Safety Certificate" test, and were issued their HSC on the spot.

And they ALL want to come back and take the NRA "Personal Protection in the Home" class!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Groan....Finally Recovered From Wednesday's Trip To "Broadway" On The Iowa

I spent most of Wednesday on the Iowa, getting my feet wet with the "Grey Radio Gang", the group of us that are slooooowly restoring the original receivers, and attempting to get the transmitters back on line.

So, the first thing I did was to get a tour of "Broadway", the passageway that runs from one end of the armored box to the other.

To get down to Broadway, we went down one deck, to the armored hatch that leads down to the third deck:

The beveled edges of the hatch fit in to a matching bevel on the deck:

The door to your left leads into one of the Machine Shops, and is where the table with all the people present on V-J Day in Tokyo Bay stamped their names into the metal table top.

Down through the hatch, on a very steep ladder (the steepest one I've seen so far), and we're "On Broadway".

This is looking forward, with the steep ladder to your left:

And my escort leads the way:

The valves on the left have to do with some of the tanks on the ship, but since my friend is a "Radio Guy" like myself, he wasn't sure exactly what they were for. The red box to the right held a Halon bottle, one of MANY along the sides of the passageway.

This is looking aft of where we were:

The transmitter room is located off Broadway, across from the #2 Engine Room:

I thought I took a picture of the #2 Engine Room, but guess not. Engine Room access is NOT allowed unless you have a very good reason to go there, but sticking my head through the hatch showed another ladder leading WAY down, with lots of steel grating about 8' down, and the reduction gears (so I was told) were visible beneath the grating.

We unlocked the hatch, reached in and turned on the lights, and there it was.....the Transmitter Room:

Each complete transmitter consists of an exciter (puts out about 10 Watts), with a power amplifier beneath it (runs 1000 Watts output forever), and a power supply for the exciter on the bottom. These are nominally used for 2~30 MHz operation, the exciters are manually tuned, and generally get their audio/data input from "Radio Central", which is where we operate the Amateur radio station from. The exciters also have a jack for a push-to-talk handset, and a CW (Morse Code) key on the front panel, although my escort, who served on the USS Wisconsin, says he doesn't remember them ever using CW.

Across from each transmitter is the Antenna Coupler. From the writing and Dymo label (remember Dymo labels?) this coupler is for the 2~6MHz range, and connected to the "Twin Fan" antenna. The Twin Fan antenna disappeared at sometime during the Iowa's stay at Suisun Bay, and we're working on getting it replaced. Strangely enough, all of the parts to rebuild it are readily available, but he cost is something like $25,000, which is money we just don't have. The guys on the New Jersey, BB-62, have been most generous with sending us spares for just the cost of shipping, and while they have some spares for the Twin Fan antenna, wed still be out-of-pocket quite a bit of money to replace the antenna with a exact duplicate. We might just scratch our heads a bit to see if we can come up with something that looks the same, and functions the same, but for a lot less cost.

These are what you see in the picture looking in to the Transmitter Room, all located to your right:

To connect one of the transmitter/coupler pairs to a particular antenna, or a dummy load, these patch bays are used:

There's a special "Break Out" or Patch cable used that has a large, rectangular box on one end that slips into the rectangular black sockets, and then connects to the Type-N RF connector, and "Amphenol" connector in the center of the panel:

Here's one of the dry Dummy Loads sitting by the hatch leading in to the Transmitter Room:

Off to one side, is this "stand alone" transmitter unit. The additional box on the top with the two round meters is an antenna auto-coupler. We still have to trace out the cabling for this unit to see where it goes. I found one whip antenna with the remote coupling unit mounted at its base the other day, and it's possible that this transmitter is connected to it. Until we look at the wire number tags on this unit, and the coupler at the base of the antenna, it's a mystery where this one is connected to, and what it's use was:

Further down the row, on the side where the Antenna Couplers are, are these WSC-3, "Whiskey-3", UHF radios, used for SatCom:

And between the racks of WSC-3 radios is this rack containing what appears to be an Antenna Coupler for them:

I know next to nothing about these radios, and as it's highly unlikely we'd ever get a license to use them, they're probably just going to quietly sit there for a long, long time.

Back on the other side of the room are some radios and amplifiers I've actually owned in the distant, dusty past, the famous AN/ART-21 and AN/GRR-23(V), along with the AM-6153 RF Power Amplifier.

The AM-6154 amp was quite popular 'back in the day' to convert to 2 Meter Amateur radio operation. Fair Radio Sales used to have truckloads of them, but these days they command a very high price.

These radios were used to communicate with aircraft in the VHF Aircraft Band.

This is the entire rack, from top to bottom:

One very interesting radio set I found was a"Green Radio" like the ground forces use(d), the RT-524A.

I'm guessing this radio was used to communicate with our ground forces who requested Naval Gunfire Support:

Power Supply:

And a complete set, the second one in this rack:

These appear to be some type of coupler/tuning unit/SWR bridge, and since they're green, and located next to the RT-524's, I'm guessing they're part of that system:

And since we'll be working on the HF transmitters, here's a shot of where the circuit breakers for all the HF Transmitters are located:

One of my tasks as "Lead Technician" for getting the HF transmitters going again (don't ask me how I was chosen as 'lead tech', as I'm clueless!) is to photo document where things are, and the process used to get these big guys going again, so this is just a start of the many pictures I'll be taking as I spend more time down there. The guys on the New Jersey and Missouri loaned us the Technical Manuals, which we had photocopied and then returned, so we have fairly complete documentation. HOWEVER....I'm told each one of the Iowa class ships wound up a bit different, so just because we have the TM's for the equipment doesn't mean we're out of the woods!

On our way back out, I took a few more pictures of the 1930's technology that made the ship operate.

Looking down Broadway:

I think the grey hose is left from when she was in storage, as I know there are many others like this in some of the "off limits" areas, and look just like it.

Some valves used to control "Flooding The Wing Tanks":

A close-up for any Steampunkers out there:

More valves:


I spent about three hours down in the Transmitter Room, and we went through all of the filing and storage cabinets. We found lots of patch cables, boxes full of spare modules, a lot of miscellaneous JUNQUE, and a bunch of spare 8122 ceramic power tubes, condition unknown.

After spending the time down below, I went up to where I normally hangout, and helped a retired PhD from MIT troubleshoot one of the URR-74(V)2 Watkins-Johnson LF/MF/HF receivers.
We have three of these receivers, and only one operates correctly. The other two seem "deaf", so we're starting at the antenna using KNX 1070 for a test signal, and tracing the signal out.

Looks like there's a problem in the "A3 Module", which is the front-end of the receiver with the 1st and 2nd mixer and IF stages in it.

.....Sigh......So much for being "retired"!

Supras and Stereos.....

 The repairs on the Fisher RS-2010 are proceeding, but a bit slower than I expected. The failed transistor is an obsolete part number, so I ...