More boat anchors

Every now and then, as president of the local amateur radio club, I’ll get an email from someone looking to donate radio gear to the club so that it can be put to use by someone. I usually arrange for myself or one of the other club members to go pick up the gear, and we’ll check it out. We’re always appreciative of donations like this and usually the equipment ends up with new hams starting out in the hobby.

The most recent email I received a few days ago didn’t say what kind of equipment it was and when I arrived to pick up the gear, I was quite surprised. The equipment donated by the family turned out to be not amateur radio gear, but two sets of old surplus US Navy communications equipment dating back to 1944 and 1945. Pretty cool museum pieces.

There were also a couple of old CB radios and some mag mount antennas but compared to the main haul, they seemed somewhat incidental.

Surplus US Navy communications equipment
Some unexpected equipment

On the outside they’re not in the greatest shape, and appear to have been sitting around in storage for at least a few decades. Most of the pieces had lots of built up dirt and dust, and a lot of flaking paint. And they were heavy.

Each set has a transmitter, receiver, power unit, antenna loading coil, and remote control unit. All of them look like they might have been cannibalized for parts at some point.

An instruction manual even came with the collection, luckily enough. Should be helpful with the restoration.

Model TCS-13 instruction book
Model TCS-13 instruction book

The power rectifier units were the heaviest of all the units, and each of them appeared to have had a few parts repurposed from them.

They’ve definitely seen better days.

I kind of doubt they can be restored to operating condition, but I think at least one set can be cleaned up enough to use as a display piece, maybe for the club room. I’ll have to see if there are any club members interested in restoring boat anchor gear who might want to make a club project out of this. Should be a fun project to work on.

Field Day 2019

Didn’t get to spend as much time doing Field Day this year as I have in the past. Made it out to the Yorktown around 1PM and setup was still going on. Got the generator fueled up, plugged in the extension cord and we were ready to go.

Listening for call signs

It looks like I’m logging a contact here, but I’m just trying to pick out the call sign of a station amid all the noise and other nearby stations.

Spent a few hours operating at the station. Started with phone, but got tired of listening to the noise after a while and switched over to RTTY. A lot less RTTY activity on 20 m and 40 m than I expected (that the radio could hear anyway) but managed a few contacts over an hour or so.

Wasn’t able to make it out on Sunday because of injuring my foot trying to navigate my way around the ship. Missed a step and when I landed on my foot, it bent in a way that it shouldn’t have. Nothing broken, fortunately, but really sore and made walking around difficult.

Turn out for this year’s Field Day was pretty light. Not sure how many people came out for the evening/night shift, but there were only a handful of people during the time I was there.

With club members getting up there in age, maybe it’s time to find an easier to access Field Day location.

Museum Ships Weekend 2019

This year’s Museum Ships Weekend was a lot of fun.

Started with the USS Yorktown (WA4USN) on Saturday. By the time I got to the ship, Tom/AJ4UQ had already racked up about 100 QSOs. Then he had to leave, so I had the radio all to myself for the next few hours. Spent a couple hours hunting ships on 20m and 40m to make sure we’d have enough to earn the certificate from NJ2BB (need 15 ships in the log). Then I found a clear frequency on 20m, parked and started calling. Didn’t take long for the pileup to happen, and added another 60 or so contacts to the log before I had to call it a day. Band conditions were decent with contacts from the northeast and across to Texas and Alabama. Some propagation up to the midwest as well.

Sunday we activated the USS Laffey (NT4HI) and the USS Clamagore (NJ4DU). Tom had the idea to alternate activating the Laffey and Clamagore about every hour or so, with him activating NT4HI while I activated NJ4DU. Seemed to work out pretty well. Working pileups can get tiring so being able to switch up periodically was helpful. We definitely had pileups going for both ships. Lots of fun. Lots of contacts from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas today. Also had some propagation up to the northeast and midwest again too. Had a few Wisconsin and Michigan stations in the log for both ships.

Ended up with close to 200 contacts for each ship today. Pretty good weekend on the air.

Winter Field Day 2019

Participated in my first Winter Field Day this weekend with WA4USN (also the first one for the club), 1O SC. The event made for a good excuse to check out the HF capabilities of the CARS communications trailer (which I suppose is the whole point of Field Day). It’s a much more casual and far less involved day than Summer Field Day (no food, fewer operators, no overnight shift).

Started off Saturday (January 26) getting the trailer set up. By the time I got to the site, the trailer had already been pulled out of the building and the radios were getting set up. Apparently there was supposed to be an HF dipole in the trailer, but it couldn’t be found so we went with the Tarheel antenna that had been mounted to the roof of the trailer.

The Tarheel is an OK mobile antenna but for long distance HF, we found our signal just wasn’t getting out very well. We managed about a dozen contacts over the three hours or so that we were out.

The next day (January 27), I brought out my ZS6BKW antenna. By the time I got there, the others had already set up the trailer with a 20 m dipole hanging on the trailer’s pneumatic mast. We switched out the 20m dipole for my antenna and got back on the air.

The dipoles worked much better than the Tarheel, and with the ZS6BKW, we were able to operate on 40 m and 20 m.

Weather was fairly decent (especially compared to other sites further north). Sunday was a good bit colder than Saturday was though, and I was starting to get a bit on the stiff side by the time we wrapped things up.

Ended up the event with 69 contacts on 40 m and 20 m, mostly phone but a few digital (PSK) in there as well. It was a good exercise for myself and everybody else who came out on getting the trailer set up and operating from it.

I also think I want a pneumatic mast for the house like the one on the trailer.

Quadruple QSO party weekend

There hasn’t been a whole lot of radio activity going on here lately since Field Day.

There were four state QSO parties going on this weekend (AZ, NV, PA, SD).  After getting a SD station (W0SD), I decided to try to get at least one contact in the other three.  I wasn’t able to find any more SD stations, but I did manage three contacts in AZ, three in NV, and eight in PA.

While tuning around the other bands (there wasn’t a whole lot), I scored contacts with hams in the Dominican Republic and Slovenia.  There was also someone in Spain, but he had a bit of a pileup going that I wasn’t able to get through.

Also came across the AMSAT International net that I listened to for a little bit.

Good weekend to be on the air.