o Transmitter 298 Dedication
o Transmitter Department Report
o At the Receive Site
o K6KPH Operations - (NOTE: K6KPH will be unavailable Saturday 27 July)
o Reception Reports
|Point Reyes National Seashore Superintendent Cicely Muldoon gets ready to press the primary power button on restored H set transmitter 298 as Bob Dildine of the H Set Team looks on (R)|
> Transmitter 298 Dedication
Every Night of Nights is special. But N of N 2013 was special and
unique! Several things took place that have never happened before. Here are some highlights:
- The H Set Team labored mightily to have transmitter 298 ready for N of N
- Point Reyes National Seashore Superintendent Cicely Muldoon placed the transmitter on the air
- Francis Strohmeyer, Bolinas transmitter engineer 1964-1968 was present to see 298 return to the air.
- USCG stations NMC and NMQ returned to the air using Morse
- Shipcom LLC stations WLO and KLB returned to the air
As usual we sent out a press release to the local papers. All of them carried stories about Night of Nights 2013 including a great piece in the Marin Independent Journal. This resulted in a wonderful phone call from Francis Strohmeyer who had been a transmitter engineer at Bolinas from 1964 to 1968. Those were golden years. The Point to Point operation was still in full swing and KPH was pounding away with high power.
|Francis Strohmeyer tells the MRHS crew tales of Bolinas in the 1960s. His obvious pleasure at seeing "his baby" back on the air was lavish payment for all the effort leading up this moment. |
Transmitter 298 was one of the H sets Mr. Strohmeyer worked on when it was in point to point service as an independent sideband transmitter, before it was converted to Morse service for KPH. Even better, he agreed to be with us for the official ceremony as 298 was returned to the air. Thus the circle would be completed as transmitter went from point to point service to Morse service to neglected derelict to a beautiful, operating example of the best in industrial design.
Meanwhile the H Set Team was doing last minute work to get their work of art ready for the ceremonial button pushing and the unveiling of the plaque placed on the transmitter to acknowledge and honor the men who put in 3000+ hours over the three years leading up to this moment.
The official unveiling and inaugural transmission was scheduled for 1300. Cicely and many of the senior management of the Point Reyes National Seashore arrived. That meant a lot to us as we would not have been able to take the first step toward this day back in 1999 if the Park Service staff had not supported the idea and defended the project in the years since.
|Cicely Muldoon presses the "money button" and watches for the big red light to come on as high voltage is applied to transmitter 298, officially returning it to service |
We have videos!
|Greg Farrell of the H Set Team and Cicely Muldoon begin the ceremony and dedicate the plaque |
|H set 298 signs on the air under the call KPH for the first time in decades |
Here's the ceremonial message transmitted by KPH on 22477.5kc using transmitter 298:
CQ CQ CQ DE KPH KPH KPH CQ CQ CQ DE KPH KPH KPH CQ CQ CQ DE KPH KPH KPH
PLEASE STAND BY FOR A SPECIAL MESSAGE =
THIS IS THE FIRST OFFICIAL TRANSMISSION FROM RCA T3 TRANSMITTER NUMBER 298 SINCE IT WAS ABANDONED AND LEFT FOR DEAD YEARS AGO. NOW ITS VOICE IS HEARD ONCE AGAIN FROM THE RCA TRANSMITTER SITE IN BOLINAS, CA.
WE BELIEVE THIS IS THE ONLY WORKING TRANSMITTER OF ITS TYPE IN THE WORLD. THE RESTORATION OF THIS TRANSMITTER WAS CARRIED OUT OVER THREE YEARS BY A DEDICATED TEAM OF MARITIME RADIO HISTORICAL SOCIETY VOLUNTEERS, ALL CURRENT AND FORMER HEWLETT PACKARD ENGINEERS.
TRANSMITTER 298, ONCE A CORRODED HULK, IS NOW A SLEEK AND POWERFUL EXAMPLE OF THE BEST IN INDUSTRIAL DESIGN.
LIKE ALL TRANSMITTERS AT THE BOLINAS SITE, TRANSMITTER 298 IS THE PROPERTY OF THE POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE, PART OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE. THUS IN A SENSE IT BELONGS TO ALL AMERICANS.
POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE SUPERINTENDENT CICELY MULDOON DID US THE HONOR OF PRESSING THE BUTTON TO BRING TRANSMITTER 298 BACK TO LIFE TODAY. NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE WITHOUT THE VISION AND TRUST OF THE MEN AND WOMEN AT THE POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE.
LISTEN FOR TRANSMITTER 298 ON THIS FREQUENCY LATER TODAY AT 1701PDT/0001Z WHEN NIGHT OF NIGHTS 2013 OFFICIALLY BEGINS. WE WISH YOU FAIR WINDS, FOLLOWING SEAS AND GOOD LISTENING.
DE KPH SK
Now we list the men of the H Set Team who gave unsparingly of their time and talent to bring Transmitter 298 back to life, thereby reflecting great credit upon themselves and bringing honor to the Maritime Radio Historical Society.
Greg Farrell (K6SRO)
Steve Pazar (W6SSP)
Bob Dildine (W6SFH)
Larry Nutting (K7KSW)
Kurt Radford (K6RAD)
John Felton (KE5RI)
Stan Jaffe (W6DHM)
> Transmitter Department Report or "It Was Working When We Turned it Off"
There are three classic expressions one hears frequently used by members of the MRHS Transmitter and Maintenance Department: "Welcome to KPH!", used when one encounters a particularly inexplicable bit of wiring, "It worked when we turned it off", usually referring to a piece of equipment that has not been used for a decade or more, and "It's always something" typically muttered when there's yet another problem that needs fixing.
Now comes Mr. Steve Hawes, MRHS Transmitter Supervisor, to tell us about the work of the Transmitter Department leading up to Night of Nights 2013.
"It was working when we turned it off" - that was a phrase we've heard from the KPH techs.
|Transmitter Supervisor Hawes displays his abilities in areas beyond the mere repair of vintage transmitters |
In the week(s) prior to NofN, we worked out the antenna assignments and transmitter keying assignments. This year, due to repairs we could afford to have made, more antennas were useable than had been for a while. (One antenna had been down for 5 years.) However, we still had two antennas that had come down recently.
One was a 22Mc H/2 which entered the building in a convenient location for open wire line connection to the newly-restored RCA SSB T-3 (H-set, Tx 298). The last time we checked that antenna we observed the two bottom bay, collinear elements were hanging down because of broken cables where they attached to the poles. Even so, the match was pretty good. When Tx 298 was finally ready to be put on the air, it was connected to that antenna and the match was terrible! A trip to the antenna field revealed that even more parts of the antenna were down and in a tangled mess, with broken insulators. (We also came back covered with ticks.) There was one other useable 22Mc H/2 which had been repaired a while ago, but it entered the gallery on the opposite side from where the transmitter was located. The H-set restoration crew relocated an unused cross-gallery open-wire line section and with a couple of open-wire jumpers, connected to that antenna. The transmitter output network was able to adequately match to that load.
The other antenna that was down was the H/2 used for K6KPH 14050. It was strung approximately at right angles to the other antennas, so gave beams approx East-West rather than the NW-SE of the other antennas. The 13002 antenna was connected to the K6KPH 14MHz tx. This was OK for normal use, but for NofN that antenna was needed to connect the open-wire output from Tx 304 for KPH 12808.5, so K6KPH 14 had to be bumped to another antenna. The KSM 12 - K6KPH 14 RTTY transmitter was not going to be on the air for NofN, so we could use its antenna for K6KPH 14 CW, by running a temporary coax from the tuned balun on the wall to the transmitter.
Several of the RCA transmitters for KPH also had to be connected to particular antennas (or else face running open-wire jumpers here and there). This resulted in "bumping" some KSM transmitters to other than the usual antennas, which meant moving some coax lines around.
Once we had decided on what had to be done, we started to reconfigure things on Thursday (the day before NofN). All the RCA transmitters had been on with HV only (no RF) on the previous Saturday, and there were no major flames. I started retuning the PW-15 transmitter to 12695.5 for KFS use. (I usually do this into a dummy load and use a spectrum analyzer to tune to adjustable second-harmonic trap added to the output of the PW-15 by ITT to meet the new 1979 spurious specs. We can get about -85dBC, but it takes moving the dummy load and test equipment around.)
Paul Shinn arrived in the early afternoon and proceeded to do his "human fly" routine (using a climbing harness tied-off to the building interior frame) to retune the baluns as required and to connect open-wire feeds from several of the RCA transmitters to the antenna lines. I reconfigured the keying assignments to make it easier on Chief Operator Dillman at RS. Changes such as having all 6 KPH HF transmitters be selected by just one switch at RS.
Similar changes were made for the KFS and KSM transmitter groups.
|Paul "The Human Fly" Shinn |
At the end of Thursday all the transmitters were turned on, tested and adjusted. So far, so good. There weren't enough antennas to support KSM operation on all frequencies, so KSM 4MHz was not on, and The KSM 22 transmitter, which still had a crystal for KPH 22447.5, was held in reserve for problems with the H-set, and since there weren't enough transmitter keying drivers to permit keying the KSM 22 transmitter on KSM (only KPH), that's why KSM 22445.8 wasn't on the air. As RD was at RS, we could check that the key selectors at RS controlled the correct transmitters at BL. All was well, except that the KFS transmitters were not being keyed. A wiring problem at RS was discovered on one of the selector switches, so we moved the KFS keying function to another selector switch and changed out the tone sets at BL for the KFS transmitters to match the tone frequency controlled by that new selector switch. All seemed to be well.
We came back on Friday and spent part of the morning and afternoon preparing for the H-set dedication by Point Reyes National Seashore Superintendent Muldoon. This included running a special message on 22447.5. We then turned on all the transmitters and I started checking frequencies and tuning and backwave levels. TX304 the KPH 12808.5 "L" set had a problem with one of the driver stages - an RF choke in the bias line had opened and the plate current on that 6146 stage "ran away" when HV was applied. Paul Shinn undertook the task of repair. We located suitable parts, and Paul cleaned up messy wiring from previous KPH repairs. Since that transmitter was not ready in time for the start of NofN, we switched the KSM 12993 Henry transmitter to its 12808.5 crystal and used that until the RCA transmitter was ready.
|Paul dives in to repair L set 304 |
In the meantime, I discovered that the PW-15 would not key. There was no change whether the coax line from the frequency source in the control room was connected or not. The problem was with one of the ITT 1200A modules, which includes a plug-in proportional control oven, and solid-state amplifiers to produce about 1 watt in the 2-4 MHz range. This signal is fed to the PW-15 transmitter and multiplied (in this case X4) to the proper frequency. This is the arrangement that KFS used with their 12 PW-15 sets at the "MX" transmitter site in Palo Alto. Re-seating the module, and an impact adjustment, produced output, but at reduced level. I moved the 12695.5 oven to the 12993 (used when the PW-15 is operated on KSM frequencies) module, trimmed the frequency, and moved the coax to the new module. Operation of the PW-15 was restored to full power.
Things went pretty well after that, with no equipment failures. I was kept busy editing press and commemorative messages to fill time from 0430GMT when operations at RS ended, until 0700 when the closing "Benediction" would be send from BL. Paul was busy preparing a great dinner for us at the transmitter site, and for the crew who came down from RS after its close.
|Traditional N of N cake (supplied by Steve's wife Iris) consumed at the Bolinas site after the benediction was sent |
As Chief Operator Dillman had decreed there would be no KSM/K6KPH operations on the following day, Saturday, Paul and I came in mid-morning and restored all the antenna connections and balun tunings back to the usual configuration. Paul left mid-afternoon to go back home and I check out all the Henry transmitters, and restored the keying assignments. All was well except the KSM 22445.8 Henry transmitters produced a "burning rubber" smell when Hv was turned on. I observed an arc (which we call the "Eternal Flame") on one of the 3KV bleeder resistors (caused by a break in the resistor wire in the 100W resistor which results in melting of the coating and a visible arc as long as HV is applied). When I turned off HV, I observed that the 6KV was slow to go to zero, indicating that one of the resistors in that bleeder string was open as well. Many rusted screws were found and many words were said, but finally both bleeder strings were repaired and that transmitter was ready for use.
Before leaving, I retuned the H-set from KPH 22447.5 to KSM 22445.8kHz. The Output tuning, coupling and PA plate tune controls operated as expected. That transmitter is a real sweetheart to tune up, the H-set restoration crew did a great job.
Everything but the PW-15 was reset; it was getting too late for that.
MRHS Transmitter Department
> Meanwhile, at the Receive Site
by Richard Dillman
After the inaugural transmission from Transmitter 298 the Operations Department skedaddled to the the receive site to prepare for visitors. Doors were scheduled to open at 1500 but on arrival some early attendees were already in the parking area.
Bill Ruck of the MRHS Maintenance Department is usually on duty at Bolinas but kindly volunteered to help at the receive site. It's essential to have a dedicated host at the receive site since it's impossible for the operator to attend to technical tasks and greet folks too. So many thanks to Bill for breaking tradition and joining the Operations Department for 2013. Quoth Bill:
"Seeing 298H making RF was cool, but watching Superintendent Cicely turn it on and watching the gleam in her face was something that I will never forget. Then at RS the crowd started to show up around 5PM. I did my best to get them all in, but there were people standing outside on the stairs because of the crowd. Never expected that on a week day. Dave [Wolfe] was doing his best to entertain with his sea stories around Position 4. Later spotted him in the lunch room with his dissertation on American vs. International vs. Continental Morse Code. It was good to see Ray [Smith, Sr. KPH Morse operator] and Jack [Martini, last KPH manager]. They held their own audience in the SITOR room and in the lunch room."
Indeed, cars overflowed the parking lot and lined the approach road to the receiving station.
The first order of business was to test the keying circuits to Bolinas. Remember, unlike a normal Saturday for N of N we're keying three stations (KPH, KFS and KSM) with multiple transmitters for each station, plus amateur station K6KPH.
|Chief Operator Dillman, sporting a tie for the occasion, tests the keying circuits at Position 1. KPH Sr. Morse operator Ray Smith in background |
As 0001Z approaches I always get a little stage fright. By that time the operating room has filled with folks, some of whom are the best Morse operators in the world. Plus I know that hundreds of other unseen listeners are sitting before their receivers around the world waiting for the first signals from KPH, KFS and KSM to arc over the dome of the earth so their antennas can snatch them from the air as they pass overhead.
|As0001Z approaches Chief Operator Dillman explains what's about to take place to the crowd in the operating room. Dave Wolfe in the background. |
As the sweep second hand passes straight up IE (stand by for high power transmission) is sent followed by the opening message on all HF and NF channels of all three stations. Dave Wolfe (ex-RO, ex-WCC) began a tradition a couple of years ago by providing a simultaneous translation of the Morse transmission for the non-radio types in the audience. He did that again this year. Here's the opening message:
IE CQ CQ CQ DE KPH/KFS/KSM NIGHT OF NIGHTS OPENING MESSAGE FOLLOWS QSW 500/HF -
TO ALL SHIPS AND STATIONS
ON THIS FOURTEENTH ANNUAL NIGHT OF NIGHTS THE MARITIME RADIO HISTORICAL SOCIETY EXTENDS WARM GREETINGS TO ALL LISTENERS ASHORE AND AFLOAT.
THE GREAT COAST STATIONS OF THE WORLD ONCE STOOD SHOULDER TO SHOULDER ACROSS THE RADIO BANDS, EACH WITH ITS OWN PERSONALITY. MANY OF US THOUGHT IT WOULD NEVER END. FIFTEEN YEARS AGO TODAY THE DEATH OF COMMERCIAL MORSE WAS ANNOUNCED. BUT MORSE STILL LIVES AND THE FAITHFUL CARRY THE TRADITION FORWARD.
NOW THE SIGNALS OF KPH, KFS, WLO AND KLB CAN ONCE AGAIN BE HEARD, JUST AS THEY WERE BY SO MANY RADIO OFFICERS ON ALL THE OCEANS OF THE WORLD. WE INVITE YOU TO ENJOY THIS EVENING WITH US AND RELIVE THOSE DAYS WHEN MORSE RULED THE OCEANS.
VY 73 ES GL DE KPH/KFS/KSM
After that the wheel was engaged on all three stations as the first of the commemorative messages was prepared. These included our salute to now silent coast station and, most moving, special messages sent in by those who wanted to memorialize departed radiomen including beloved grandfathers, fathers uncles and sons.
While these transmissions were taking place Bill Ruck played host in his usual excellent fashion and gave guided tours for the facility. The catered sandwiches were a big hit judging from the fact that there was hardly a crumb left when I went looking for a snack!
At about 2130 LT we decamped for the Bolinas site where I sucked up some of Pauls outstanding pasta and we cut the cake. Then at 0000Z the benediction was sent on all frequencies. Traditionally this has been sent by our beloved Denice who composed it. But for the last two years I have sent it as DA is still recovering from her stroke.
> K6KPH Operations
by Richard Dillman
Once things settled down on the KPH/KFS/KSM side I turned my attention to K6KPH. After I worked a few stations on 14Mc it became a land slide, a real pile up. It was clear that I would not be able to do justice to the stations calling and tend to commercial operations too. That's when I spied Gerry.
From experience on the NTS traffic nets I knew that Gerry Foster (WA6BXV) was an ace Morse op. So I sat him down at Position 6, explained how the switches operated and turned K6KPH operations over to him.
|Gerry Foster takes care of business for K6KPH at Position 6 |
Every once in a while I'd look over and see that he was working station after station. This was confirmed when he called for another log sheet. All thanks to Gerry for stepping up when needed in the finest tradition of the service.
Here are some selected comments received about N of N 2013:
"While the christening (of sorts) of BL 298 was a high point, this N-o-N was special because of the people. Those that restored BL 298, the dedicated few that make all of the preparations and run ops, and the visitors. The latter is always interesting because you never know who will show up. Lots of great conversations with first time visitors this year." - Steve Pazar
"What a joy it was to hear all those grand old Marine stations back on Morse. I was using remote receivers in Colorado and Arizona to copy them. How many of you caught the American Morse they sent on 426 KC Longwave as a tribute to the 150th anniv. of Gettysburg? At first I wondered if I was hearing a Cuban operator LOL. Copied KFS, KSM, KLB, KPH, WLO and NMC with fine signals. The 426 KC signal was weak but readable in the Grand Junction, CO. receiver. Thanks to everyone who worked on this great event. Attached is a file of your American Morse transmission on 426 KC received in Grand Junction, Colorado at 2035 Pacific Time. 73 DE Dave AB5S"
"It was the experience of a lifetime like no other I have ever had.....and to see our NPS sponsors as excited as they were at BL with the dedication of 298H, maybe even more than we were, was truly FB+." - Greg Farrell
"At this QTH as of 2055 PDT:
KSM 8438.3 S9
Your neighbor NMC on 8574 S30
Always interesting how different antennas and power levels
affect signals from same locations.
No propagation for 22mc here tonight...I wish I could have heard the H set.
Thanks for all the good work.
"I didn't stay , BUT just looking at Greg's slide show reminded me of how much work went into that H set. I don't think many crews would complete that mission. I also was duly impressed by the turnout at Pt. Reyes.
" - Tom Harris
"GM RD No reception of KPH/KFS/KSM here in Canterbury as of yet. Am copying WLO on 8658 kc QRK 4 WSA 3 and on 12992 kc QRK 5 QSA 4. Hope you all are having a fantastic night! Will listen for KPH/KFS/KSM again later. Peace & 73, Steve M0KKB/W3SMK"
"My comment to my teammates that it may have been the best trip ever out to BL was met by some odd looks, but I had a thoroughly great time. Even though we were out there for many hours, the time really flew by. Having the PRNS/NPS folks present was a special treat. When you're in the middle of a project like the H Set, you don't fully appreciate the significance of it until something like NoN occurs. It really hit home that this was quite an accomplishment to get that old beast making RF again. Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to a piece of radio history." - Stan Jaffee
"Reception of frequencies for the annual night of nights between 0040 and 0105 UTC. All CW signals. 22447.00. S3. fluttery noisy but clearly audible.KPH. 17016.80. S1. Poor, hardly discernable. KPH. 16914.00. S1. Weak but better quality signal then 17016.80.KSM. 17026.00. S2. Fair clear signal.KFS. Eddy Waters. South Australia."
And many more. Thanks to all who took the time to write.
> Reception Reports
Reception reports for KPH/KFS/KSM and K6KPH QSL cards are flowing in. Paul Shinn is our master of QSLs and it is he who designed and printed our beautiful confirmation cards.
The drill is to amass a bunch of cards and letters, then ship them over to Paul for processing. He pays the postage too, by the way. All this is to say that your report and QSL will be answered but it may take a little time.
Well, that's 30 for this edition. You've probably gotten a bit of an idea of what it takes to keep a project like this rolling. Just remember, the H Set Team dug deep into their own pockets for the parts and supplies needed to make Transmitter 298 sing again. And they did it with pleasure. But there are some things we just can't afford as individuals. That's when we turn to the funds we have laid away - funds that have come from you, our fellow True Believers. It's your donations that allow us to hire special crews and cranes to make antenna repairs and to purchase items like final tubes. Thanks to you all. If you can continue your support, please click on the button below. Every click is deeply appreciated.
> MRHS Merchandise
Support the MRHS and look cool at the same time. Such a deal! We've got hats, mugs, T shirts, belt buckles and bumper stickers, all with variations of the MRHS logo. Get a hat and mug for yourself and a put yourself in solid with the XYL by getting her a MRHS hoodie.
Just click on the images above to go to the MRHS True Believers store and browse our offerings. Thanks!