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.

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 ...