Monday, May 4, 2015

K7QYP - A Bit of History

 A Bit of History, and a Blast from the Past
(the way I remember it)

About 48 years ago, I graduated from the US Navy's "A", "B" and "C" Electronic Training Schools. Due to the Training received in "C" School, also known as "PMEL" (Precision Measurement Electronic Lab), I was assigned to the Electronics Calibration Lab aboard the USS Howard W. Gilmore AS-16 in Charleston SC. Where I met Don Sehulster - K7QYP, who was my Shop's Lead.

Don was a Amateur (Ham) Radio Operator. On our first trip to sea together, Don brought his Ham Gear and portable antenna on board. The antenna was mounted on the hand rail outside the shop door. Don worked many Phone Patches back to the States for crew, including the XO which enjoyed getting updates and weather from his wife. The FCC, the Captain, and the Shipboard Radio Operations Officer were all aware of and supported Don's Ham Radio activities. To be able to talk with folks at home was a BIG morale boost for the Crew!

I was not a Ham at the time, this activity convinced me to get a Ham Ticket.

One of our planned Port-of-call was San Juan Puerto Rico, which just happen to have a FCC Field Office. Bob Stothfang and I studied together in preparation for the Ham test, we were both just out of Naval Electronic School and therefore hopefully, it would be easy, we just needed to brush up on the Regulations and some radio details.

At the FCC Office we both took the Amateur Radio; Technician, and General Tests. We also took the FCC; Third, Second, and First Class Radio Telephone License Tests. And while we were there, we took the Ship Board Radar Endorsement Test. A few weeks later, Bob and I, both received notice that we had passed ALL tests  :-)

I became; Eldon - WA0UWH, and Bob - WB8BEQ.

Later while on board, we were in the Ship Yard for some Refit and Repairs. Don received a new piece of Lab Equipment, a HP-117A VLF WWVB Receiver. We were the Shipboard Calibration Lab and this was to support the Time Standard for all calibrations. Of course, the VLF Receiver needed an outside antenna mount, and with the best coax money could buy, all plumbed directly to our LAB.

The Ship Yard did a great job on the installation, all of the through bulkhead water tight fitting were first class. The VLF Loop Antenna mount was up on the HeliDeck, but within arms reach while standing on the deck hand rails, this was so that the loop antenna could be rotated as necessary at each Port-of-Call (or at least that is what Don told me).

On our next trip to Sea, Don again brought his Ham Gear, and a new AVQ Antenna, which we mounted on the HeliPort VLF Antenna mounting stub (removed VLF antenna), with direct coax cable access to our LAB. With this configuration, we had much better signal into the States,  which produced many more and better Phone Patches for the Captain, XO and the Crew.

So, why relate all of this history?

Well because, a piece of that History has come full circle.

One of the QSL cards that Don sent 47 years ago, while on board the USS Howard W. Gilmore AS-16 running Phone Patches for the crew, was just recently seen on ebay for sale. And yes, Don has purchased it.

K7QYP - QSL on Ebay

Note, the 4 cent Stamp
Don sent the card for 4 cents, and received it back 48 years latter for $12.00 plus shipping - now that IS inflation !

When Don left the Navy, I became the Calibration Lab Lead, and continued the tridition of providing Phone Patches for the Crew with my Ham Gear and a 4BTV mounted on the same VLF antenna mounting stub.

Don is no longer K7QYP, he is now W4LSC, I am still WA0UWH, and I think, Bob is still WB8BEQ?

Somewhere, I still have the Radio Logs of those calls.

All Good Memories :-)

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1 comment:

  1. Eldon,
    I just spotted this memories posting of yours. WOW! A QSL card that has come full circle, neat stuff.

    I have been away from Amateur Radio for quite a while but I recently got back involved. Yes I still have the same WB8BEQ call sign.

    I added the Extra Class to my ticket earlier this year to help me get up to speed with all of the new digital stuff. After all when we took those tests that you mentioned years ago the state of the art was "Transistors Under Glass" with grids and plates and filaments etc. I definitely had some catching up to do.

    I have been following your blog for a while. It looks like you are doing some interesting stuff.

    Bob Stothfang