R65, I sailed with a SAIT station. Danish owned, Bahama flag. What I remember is that the SAIT accounts were a pain in the backside. Yet, I cannot remember the gear. I know I had a telex for all my traffic, but, for the life of me, I cannot remember the gear. It must have been OK, otherwise, I would remember it.
Worked for SAIT briefly after getting made redundant from Decca once I came ashore. Most of the SAIT gear was Skanti, generally decent equipment, never liked working for SAIT though, they seemed quite "Mickey Mouse" after the arrangements in place for stores replenishment etc. at Decca.
Just before the lockdown hit here in the UK, I brought home the synthesizer draw from the Challenger to do some mods for the higher Amateur bands. The only Amateur bands covered by the original maritime selection are 1.8 and 3.5MHz. I’ve made a minimally invasive mod using an Arduino driving a DDS synthesizer. It polls the bandswitch position and replaces the original Band Oscillator output with the correct base frequency (45.7 – 66.7MHz) to mix down to the selected Amateur Band.
The Arduino also outputs a BCD code via a Daughter board to create the correct MHz readout. Picture shows the synthesizer draw powered up on 14.5MHz and the Band Oscillator output at 55.7MHz. You can see that 14MHz come in at the old 12MHz position on the bandswitch. 2nd pisture shows the new PCB on the left cheek of the draw, amplifier and 2 line LCD display for diagnostics.
It remains to be seen how well it tunes up on these frequencies – should be OK.
The next job on Challenger ( and eventually for Kelvin Hughes) is to add LSB. I’ve prepared a PCB based on an article in January 2019 Practical Wireless that transposes the mic audio to create the correct audio frequencies for LSB, but relative to the USB carrier. It does the reverse process for the received audio. The beauty of it is that it is completely external to the original equipment and so requires no internal modifications.
Incidentally, if you get Practical Wireless over there the April and May 2020 issues contain the full story of the Challenger restoration. If you can't get it PM me and I'll email you photocopies.
G'day, Mr. Oceanspan, from the mystical land over the seven seas...
Got to say, first off, how amazed I am at the projects you're undertaking over there on the Welsh coast. Oh, and he casually adds, right down there at the bottom: 'Practical Wireless' did a feature on the Challenger restoration! Now that is a real wow factor for me. Yes, I will definitely attempt to get a copy of the issue, and thank you so much for offering to send me a p/copy.
I want to congratulate you. Your obvious skill, dedication and passion is wonderful to witness and very inspiring. Lovely, when we see so often how so many people appear to have either given up on life or are just marking time in some dreary way. I take my hat off to you for what you're doing and may you have a lot of fun and take real satisfaction away when you leave the workshop at night. I hope you don't lie awake, thrashing away at problems in your head, as I probably would.
You have an enviable amount of expertise, Young Michael, an enviable amount. I wish I had had half of it, but even at my peak of working in the field, both at sea and afterwards, I couldn't have hoped to hold a candle up. Well done. Some of your technical account has me weeping, gnashing my teeth that I have lost any slight skills I might once have had in that field. I can follow most of it, but I freely admit that I was never one for the design side, only a mediocre but dedicated fault finder in the day. I enjoyed the challenge (pun intended) of working through equipment and getting the thing working again, or even better than it may have been in some cases, but it was sometimes a bit of time-consumer, that, when you had to do watches as well.
I love the accompanying photos in your letters (I call them letters now, to give them their proper title). You have another skill, that of putting down technical procedures into prose and illustrations, without errors, spelling, grammatical or otherwise, as well as the accompanying skills in the additions of notes and diagrams. All very much appreciated.
Congratulations on your work, Michael, and hopefully when all these jobs are done, the equipment working away on your benches, you will find other ways of expressing your skillsets. I'm sure you will.
The spirit of the good Marchese Marconi lives on! I'm certain that the unsmiling, austere photograph of the man, which once hung in pride of place at the home of that marine radio company, in Chelmsford, right there in the dining hall (I won't derail it by calling it a 'canteen'), would now have changed to a smiling one.
I know what I'd do if I were you: write a book! You could call it something like: "From Poldhu to West Wales", and the next could be one about Kelvin Hughes, whoever that might have been...
Thank you again for enlivening the first part of my morning. Porridge never tasted so good! The so-called 'lockdown' has been really enjoyable for the two of us out here in the country. Such peace and quiet and the unlimited opportunity to just get on with all the things we do, without the distracton of having to go out, unless it's to the supermarket. Such joy. And the fact that we're enjoying the most wonderfully colourful and brightly blue-skied autumn days, with cold nights and a bright log fire at end of day is a real gift. I try not to let the prognostications, announcements and suchlike about this virus and its rampaging distress me too much. I find it gets really tiring, finding out on BBC News what all the world is doing in minute detail, as well as the half hour I stupidly sit through, watching the NZ News. Why I do it, I don't really know, as there's nothing I can do about any of it. Just let it be, and enjoy what you're doing, that's the way. Oh, and keep away from all those pesky party people...
Thanks once again for replying to my impudent prompting. But it worked!
(The sound of two hands clapping, Zen masters, trying to explain the 'one hand clapping' thing to saffron-robed acolytes, take note!)
Thanks or the eulogy! Always pleased to bring happiness to my antipodean Fans! Incidentally, I lived in Sydney for 13 years and was first licensed there as VK2KMU. (I know you're in NZ and it's not the same - better according to my wife who has visited a couple of times)
If you are looking at Practical Wireless archives, April 2017 and April 2018 carry the Oceanspan story - happy reading!
All best - Michael.
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