Dedicated to True Believers World Wide 
1 January 2013 



  • Maintenance Department Report - RS Keying System
  • Famous Key Returning to KPH
  • QTC - Messages to the MRHS
  • Operations Report - Cat Stepping Observed on 500kc!

Maintenance Department Report - RS Keying System
Faithful readers of these pages will recall the four part series written by Bill Ruck (RK) on the tone keying system used to remotely key the transmitters in Bolinas (known as BL) from the receive station at Point Reyes (known as RS).  For those who would like to review that series, it began in Newsletter No. 17.


Now comes Mr. Ruck once again with a report on the work being done at RS to sort out and completely understand the keying system there.  This would be worthwhile in any case but we are now faced with the need to control more transmitters than there are switches for on the KPH transmitter control console.


In the last years of operation, KPH controlled the SITOR and Morse operations of sister station WCC on Cape Cod.  The idea is to use the WCC transmitter control panel for the additional transmitters and perhaps separate the KSM and K6KPH to two different panels.


The blue panel originally controlled only the KPH transmitters.  Now there are switches on that panel for both K6KPH and KSM which can lead to amateur transmissions on a commercial frequency and vice versa if switch are not carefully monitored.  The black panel originally controlled the WCC transmitters.  The beige audio control panel allows different receivers (or a side tone) to be assigned to the operator's left and right earphones.  

Here's Bill's report on our first efforts in that direction:


 Spent all of today at RS.  


I have learned that the documentation that we have left from the past is some times correct. The tricky part is learning which part is correct. It can be very misleading. The goal today was to fully understand the existing KPH and WCC keying systems so that they could be revised to provide more transmitter keying channels to BL.  


The Department of Reverse Engineering went to work.  


The KPH keying system was found to be straightforward although the patch jacks shown in much of the documentation has been bypassed. The KPH keying panels connect directly to the xmas tree terminals for the tone set keying lead. I then determined that all 20 of the tone set positions are wired to the xmas tree, except for the two "Order Wire TTY" circuits (one a 901 and another a 902). There was one green wire from the xmas tree that had been unsoldered at the rack (D3) but that can be fixed.  


Carefully recorded all of the information that I found. Tonight I transcribed them and attached them FYI. By that time Kris showed up to help. We started on the WCC keying system. Because we have thorough documentation on this relatively new system and it wasn't made obsolete by improvements or upgrades I thought it would be straightforward to reverse engineer. It wasn't.  


Part of the problem is that the WCC toggle switches are intermittent and sticky. Using the TRANSMIT DATA LEd on the front of the WCC tone sets we tried to key one line at a time. Did not work. Worked backwards through the wiring and was able to key the TRANSMIT DATA LED from the rack connector and then to the CD Position 1 switch panel with clip leads on terminals. There I found that extra SPST miniature toggle switches had been added to the top of the WCC panel that completely disconnected a keying line. These are not shown in the WCC documents. "Welcome to KPH" (or should I say "Welcome to WCC"?)  


We still had problems getting all of the 10 keying lines to work. Again, the sticky toggle switches were part of the problem. But the major problem appeared to be a relay panel inside of the CW Position 1 panel that was used to isolate the Traffic and Weather keying lines. Some of the time I could make a channel work, some of the time the channel would not work at all, some of the time the channel was paralleled with other keying lines.  


My thought at this time is to replace those relays with a string of diodes to isolate the keying lines. The next step is to add some form of reasonable and accessible cross-connect system so that the 10 KPH panel keying lines, the 10 KSM panel keying lines, and the 16 potential tone set keying inputs can be easily set up and when necessary changed.  


From the RCA 901 [Transmit tone set - ed.] manual there are 19 useable tones. One of them may be too low to be used on a dialed up telephone line (225 CPS). We are now using 14: 10 for HF transmitter keying, 1 for MF transmitter keying, 1 for MF QSY, and 2 for the order wire tty. We need one more for the new K6KPH 18 Mc transmitter. Potentially we have 3 more beyond that.


901 and 902 tone sets in the CW rack at the receiving station. 


If all of the tone set rack positions were brought out to terminals and all of the keying lines were brought out to terminals jumpers could select which rack position is connected to which keying line. Then the appropriate tone frequency 901 tone set slid into that position. Yes, we do have more keying lines than potential tones but we could have a few extra for both KSM and K6KPH. If/when we need more than 18 we'll have to find a second communications channel from RS to BL.   


Diagram of tone sets in the CW rack at RS showing their position, function and frequency. 

I took some dimensions and will fabricate a panel with barrier strips to fit next to the xmas trees at the back of the tone set rack. We will have to work with the Operations Department to cut over the panel from the direct wiring that now exists. With some care we can keep traffic interruption to a minimum. From my broadcast engineering background I've learned how to change tires while driving down the freeway. 

Then make a new cable from the WCC rack to those barrier strips. To solve the weirdness in the WCC CW Position 1 will take some time on the bench. I believe that it can be sorted out. With both keying panels we can use the blue KPH panels for KSM and the black WCC panels for K6KPH.  


Stay tuned for further developments.  




Make a Donation    

Like the rest of us, Bill volunteers his time to keep our stations on the air and improve our operations.  

Are you in a position to help The Cause with a donation?  Even the smallest amount helps.  And it lets us know that the project means a lot to other folks, not just to ourselves. 





Famous Key Returning to KPH


When we first began our project to restore KPH pretty much the first thing we did was pore over all the black and white photos of the station that are in the archives of the Point Reyes National Seashore.  One in particular is memorable.  It shows KPH op Les Berger (LR) at his operating position, Collins and RCA receivers at the ready, plying his trade with his personal Vibroplex.


Les is keying with his right hand and writing with his left hand - a skill most professional ops tried to teach themselves.  You wanted to be able to take notes without interrupting your contact with the ship.  The funny thing is that this caused the PRNS to print the photo reversed, thinking that Les must be writing with his right hand!


The other notable thing in the photo is the weight on Les' key.  It's a cable clamp!  upon seeing the photo Chief Op RD immediately scrounged a cable clamp for his bug exclaiming, "If it's good enough for Les it's good enough for me!"


Les plying his Vibroplex at KPH. 


Luckily, Les' key passed into the caring hands of Ron D'Eau Claire.  With wonderful generosity, Ron has offered the key to the MRHS for preservation.  Ron writes:




LR had club feet which made him ineligible for the military in WWII, so he went to sea as an R.O. in the Merchant Marine. After the war he came ashore and became a teacher in southern California. He lived in Upland, California, east of Los Angeles.


In 1953, I was a sophomore in Redlands High School, about 30 miles east of Upland. Having gotten my Ham license a year before and eagerly learning all I could about radio, I naturally signed up for the "Radio Shop" class the school offered as an elective course. LR was the teacher. That was the beginning of a friendship that lasted 34 years. In addition to holding a first class radiotelegraph license, LR was also a Ham, K6ETY.


The following year LR moved on to another school and I lost track of him for a time.


But while I was his Radio Shop student he nurtured in me the interest with radio as a career. Thanks to his encouragement I worked with a buddy who was two years older than I and who went into Broadcast Engineering studies at a junior college the following year. I "shadowed" his studies and by the time he finished the two-year college program and I graduated High School in 1956 we both had earned our First Class Radio Telephone licenses with ship radar endorsements. On that basis Lockheed Aircraft hired me as a Radio and Repair Technician at  their aircraft service facility in nearby Ontario, California starting the Monday after I graduated from High School. And there  I bumped into L.R. again who had chucked up teaching and was working as a Radio/Radar tech himself.


In time I added a Second Class Radio Telegraph license since aircraft still used CW capabilities in those days so having it brought more interesting and higher paying work assignments.  


Eventually, with the "revolving door " employment practices of the aerospace industry in those days, L.R. and I parted ways again.


Several years later - 1962 -  I got a call from Les saying that Lockheed was looking for technical writers. I checked and was immediately hired, so once again Les and I found ourselves working together at Lockheed Missiles and Space in Sunnyvale CA. When that job ended a year later I decided to stay in the San Francisco area and went to work as an engineering writer for Sylvania's Reconnaissance Systems Laboratories in  Mountain View and there, and shortly afterward, Les joined me working as a writer there.


After a while he said he had enough of office life and went back to sea. He must have purchased this key about that time. The serial number indicates that it was manufactured in the very early 1960's.


I still regret that I didn't follow him because I also chafed sitting behind a desk in an office all day.


But, after a number of years at sea, LR came ashore and went to work for KPH. By now he married (for the first time in his life) his childhood girlfriend Lou, who had become a widow years before, and was living in Point Reyes Station. He brought me out to see KPH in full operation, which I have never forgotten.


By then I had quit sitting at a desk and  was a technician for Mackay Communications in Berkeley repairing electronics on ships visiting the San Francisco bay, making use of the telegraph license to service radio consoles. Les and I were frequently in touch during those years and I had the pleasure of working KPH on occasion from vessels running along the coast on sea trials. I think I had more fun than he did since I got to literally enter a new country every time I walked up a gangplank to a ship. I have fond memories of officers and crews from all over the world that I worked with, in addition to USN personnel on ships like the Hospital Ship USNS Mercy whose civilian radio equipment I took care of. Les and I spoke by telephone from time to time and I'd visit him on rare occasions when I was free and not on call for Mackay.


And then I got word that LR had passed on quite suddenly while dressing one morning - a few days before Christmas 1987. When he didn't answer her call, Lou discovered him sitting with one sock on and one sock still in his hand.  


Lou passed his key onto me. 


LR's key - with cable clamp weight. 


Although I've used a bug since the 50's I found LR's very difficult to use. The pendulum would not slow the dits down below about 30 wpm! Then I saw the picture on the KPH web site with the cable-clamp weight. That was an "aha" moment for me. So the clamp on the key is not the same one LR used, but it's the same size and it works great. It's a heavy feel, but not really unpleasant.


I have not used the key much. Shortly after I got my Ham license in 1952 I acquired an E.F. Johnson version of the famous Les Logan Speed-X bug and it is still my favorite key today. LR's key has languished in the box except when I felt guilty about not giving such a nice instrument a workout from time to time.


I thought it would be a perfect tribute to an old friend to see it back where LR spent so many enjoyable hours at work, if you have a home for it. KPH was the one job that I never heard him grumble about. Indeed, I envied how happy he was with his home and work there. I was still working on ships when commercial CW came to an end or I would probably have been knocking on the door of KPH looking for a seat and a place to plug in my key. 



LR's bug with the Dymo label showing his sine.  


I'd love to come visit KPH again and bring the key to you, but I have no idea when I can make the trek from the central Oregon coast near Newport to the Bay Area again. So I'll be happy to package and ship it down to you if you want it


The only original thing it did not have with it when I got it was the lead with the special connector that attached to a straight key.


Merry Christmas and thank you for your work on preserving the RadioTelegraph heritage.


Ron D'Eau Claire - AC7AC, ex AC6Y, W6QAS


We mentioned Ron's wonderful offer to Jack Martini, last station manager of KPH.  Jack writes:


Thanks for passing this on RD.  


It brought back many fond memories of my relationship with Les. He and I had many long conversations about his feet deformity and how his parents would not treat him any differently than his siblings. One incident especially moved me when LR told me about a family hiking outing.  


He was the tail end Charlie on a narrow path in the mountains. They came upon a washed out area in the path which had a 3 foot break  in the path and required everyone to jump to the other side  in order to continue. When LR's time came to jump, he hesitated at the edge, afraid to fall a 10 foot drop if he failed. His parents encouraged him from the other side of the path, but  LR said they would  would not help me across it. They said if the other kids could make it, so could he, and they went on their way. Les stood there for a few minutes, and then made the try. He was successful as he was for the rest of his life's endeavors. He never forgot that jump on the path and its meaning.

There were many other personal conversations I had with LR  that helped shape my life for the better by listening to his philosophies and adapting them to my learning processes.

Like RF (Dick Flint), LR was a dear friend and colleague who helped a young punk Marine Corp telegrapher become a better man and professional.

Wishing you and all of the MRHS members a merry Xmas and HNY.



We know we don't have to explain to the True Believers who are our readers how much the donation of this key means to us.  It will be well cared for and fully documented so in the future folks will know its true importance.




QTC - Messages to the MRHS


We occasionally post email communications from True Believers.  Here are some recent ones we'd like to share.


Hello I am N2KPS Ted here in Hazlet NJ. My friend N3PDT Doug was on SKCC web chat and I thought I was telling him about this fantastic mega station I came across doing some cw research. So he tels me yeah they are on right now, I say no way.

Heard you on 80m faint but I knew 40m is the magic band for me and my equipment. The station as it was is on QRZ, but is in the process of relocation in the house. The Yaesu 767GX is on the coffee table for the holidays, one hundred watts power and an end fed vertical up about 35ft. So no kilowatt available this time.

The odds of this contact occurring like it did is incredible. I was not hooked to the antenna because of a massive storm and wind just before I hooked up, then the storm came back with a vengeance and I was afraid my antenna would snap in half again or the thunder and lightning might get me and the rig.

Despite this sudden change, I was not going to let this contact go, I really felt like an operator who had to get the signal through under extreme conditions. A very realistic experience considering the prestige of contacting a historic site and the privilege of working a first class cw operator. My cw skills are still under development, I wish I had better copy that I do, but I am satisfied with what I got down considering the rough band conditions.

I want to personally thank you Mike for staying with me and providing the excellent fist and speed to accommodate my little station here in NJ. I can't wait to tell everybody at my club about the site out there and plan to encourage some I know including myself to see if we can help support the site.

I don't even want to think of the possibility that the facilities could end up off the air and another valuable piece of American heritage and history forgotten and destroyed. I will be thinking of ways more operators and the general public can come to know of the site. We as ham operators can not grasp the full magnitude of what it was like to be a real cw operator in a professional sense and what it was like to work in a super station.

Many thanks and my Best 73
N2KPS  Ted      


Thanks to you Ted.  We look forward to more contacts with N2KPS in 2013.



Dear MRHS,

May the holiday season bring you joy and happiness. You know you are all my
heroes. As a young boy I would sit in my room at night with an old Hallicrafters
receiver tuned to 500kc and copy c.w..

There was always something special then about listening to ships and imagining what the radio rooms were like, wondering what the position of the ship was on the high seas. I can still see the glow of radio valves,shining through the cabinet of the receiver and lighting the wall in my room.

I am 64 now and have been a ham since I was 13 years old. I will get an xmas card off to Denice Stoops in MI and wish her well. I really enjoyed the photo of all you guys at the table with the pastries. You are the finest men in the world of radio and there are damn few left. God bless you all and thank you for bringing much joy to an old ham.

Every once in a while one of these new young radio kids will ask me, "Mr. Gross is it hard to learn morse code"? I will say come over here in front of this Yaseu FT950 and sit down. Lets put the roofing filter at 6khz,the mode c.w., lets try to find a c.w. station around 7.050 .00 mhz and see if I can help you copy morse code. By golly I start to feel like an "elmer" again leading someone in to the fraternity of radio operators.


Greg Gross/WB3AMB

It's letters like these from Ted and Greg that let us know that our project means a lot to a lot of people besides us.  Thanks to you all for all your comments, suggestions and support in 2012. 



Operations Report


Cat Stepping Observed on 500kc!


Okay, we realize this might require a little in the way of explanation.  Here's the story:


Early in our project folks were also working on the restoration of historic WWII ships, including the original radio consoles, usually Radiomarine units.  SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN/KXCH, home ported in San Francisco, was one of these.  When they first brought their main transmitter up on 500kc needless to say we heard it loud and clear.  But as they tuned it up it made the sounds characteristic of transmitters of that vintage, something along the line of YYYeeeOOOwwww!  One of us said, "Hell, that sounds like someone is stepping on a cat!"  So forever after our log entries, when we hear a station tuning up on 500kc state: "CAT STEPPING OBSERVED".


Well, the metaphoric cat was once again squeezed on Saturday 29 December.  After that we heard KXCH calling KSM.  Of course we answered.  But we got no reply from the ship.  This went on for most of the day.  It was only later that we found out that the op aboard the ship was listening to us on 4Mc, not 500kc!  True, we have said that when answering a ship we wil key all channels so all listeners can hear at least one side of the contact.  But the weather was going out on HF at the time KXCH called so Mike elected to answer on 500kc only. 


Next time we hope to have a full exchange with KXCH on MF.  And of course the full story will be posted here.


Preliminary SKN Report


K6KPH was on the air for Straight Key Night and KSM was on the air as well.  On the amateur side we worked a total of 42 stations.  KSM worked SS RED OAK VICTORY/KYVM (MRHS Transmitter Supervisor Steve Hawes at the key) on 500kc and 426kc and copied this radiogram:












The operators at KSM/K6KPH included Larry Laitinen, True Believer First Grade, who traveled in his camper from Eugene, OR to be with us, Mike Payne who tended mainly to KSM duties but managed a few K6KPH contacts as well, and Richard Dillman.      


Brad Clark of Littleton, CO kindly posted the following on the UDXF list:   


Hi all!  


My New Years Eve was made tonight by a great CW QSO with Dick at K6KPH. Yes, the ham station at KPH is up and working CW on 40m at this very minute, on 7050. Was a great contact with you guys, great fists tonight! Thanks again!!  


73 & best for 2013  

Brad - NP4AI


It was a pleasure to work you OM.  


Operating Hours -  

Here are the current operating hours for both KSM and K6KPH two way operations.  KSM press and weather broadcasts begin at 1000pst (1800gmt).

Saturday - 1200 - 1600pst, 2000 - 0000gmt

Sunday - 1200 - 1600, 2000 - 0000gmt (No KSM RTTY)

Wednesday - 1900 - 2300, 0300 - 0700gmt (No KSM RTTY)

Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea... let's go to press with Mike Payne's operations report for KSM and K6KPH...

Please follow the link below for recent scanned KSM and K6KPH logs.

As always, Mike says:


Please advise any c/s or data errors in this weeks report and I will attempt to correct same.


For the list of stations worked, go >>==> HERE <==<<


73 fm ZUT central, MP

MRHS Operating Department 

MRHS Merchandise!

T shirts, hoodies, mugs, belt buckles, bumper stickers - we've got them all for you at the MRHS on line store - each with the MRHS logo.

These are high quality items you'll use and enjoy for a long time.  And every purchase you make helps to support the MRHS.

Click on the image below or on the link below that to go to the MRHS True Believers on line store.



Until next time we wish you fair winds and following seas.                      

VY 73,

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