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For all you Radio Officers here's a picture of the radio Room of the Kuwait Oil Tanker Co. Ltd Tanker Arabiyah dating from early 70's managed at that time by Common Brothers Newcastle. Can anyone recognise the rig?
 

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Although not a Marconi Man, I don’t mind first crack at it.

Left Hand Panel. Main Transmitter – Not sure - Commandant?

Centre Panel, Antenna Selector, Pass-memory lapse, Main Receiver - Atalanta

Right Hand Panel, Reserve Transmitter-Salvor, Auto Alarm – Lifeguard, Reserve Receiver-Monitor, Auto Key – AKD, Emergency Battery Panel

DF Required Lamp to the left of the clock. I haven’t a clue about the box under the clock.

The thing on the right of the desk is what I call a real morse key, rather than one of those fancy side to side toys!

It must be very early 70’s though. I thought the Apollo main receiver came out about 71 with the modern magic of transistors

Rgds
 

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Suggest that the box under the clock may have been receiver aerial switching, they did have a number of ways of switching, some with controls on aux panels in the main consoles and others via separate boxes. If it is its not the greatest of locations!!. Also could the panel under the main aerial switching unit be a VHF?.
 

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I think the matching VHF would have been the Argonaut which was a very large beast on it's own. I seem to remember that on the Port Chalmers the main unit was an enclosure about 2 ft x 3 ft mounted on the after bulkhead. There was a separate control unit with two large knobs, one each for selecting the units and tens of the channel required. I have a vague feeling there was a Ledex link as well. I can't remember now. I think the Argonaut was part of my gear exam in 72, maybe I should have revised harder!

Rgds
 

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Although there is no sign of a teleprinter in the photo, could that box under the aerial switching unit be a 'Spectre' telex-over-radio unit?

John T.
 

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Thats a good thought, they were certainly around at that time but have no idea of what the actual Spectre equipment looked like. Dont think I ever worked or played with one!!.
 

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I can't help with that one, I never sailed with a teleprinter. It was just me and the Imperial 66 typewronger until Marisat came along.

Rgds
 

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Doug Rogers said:
Thats a good thought, they were certainly around at that time but have no idea of what the actual Spectre equipment looked like. Dont think I ever worked or played with one!!.
There were some console mounted and some in a separate unit. Tankers were big on the idea (because of all the cargo crap they sent out, I suppose). One thing with it was you had to keep a special clean 'rosie' under the teleprinter to catch the tape - especially if it was left unattended.

I've often wondered where they get the 'ticker-tape' for 'ticker-tape welcomes' these days. Shouldn't they be throwing computer monitors out of windows now?

John T.
 

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A seemingly silly question but why did you leave the tape on??, as a backup??, or to rerun for further copies if needed??. Hard to think back to those days having had the advantage of on screen editing and electronic storage and instant recall for so long now!!.
 

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Doug Rogers said:
A seemingly silly question but why did you leave the tape on??, as a backup??, or to rerun for further copies if needed??. Hard to think back to those days having had the advantage of on screen editing and electronic storage and instant recall for so long now!!.
The equipment could receive telexes unattended as long as good signals were being received. The transmitter and receiver were left tuned to the correct frequencies and the 'Spectre' switched the transmitter on when the ship was called by the coast station. As 'monitors' hadn't been invented then, the messages were recorded on the tape. The tape could be kept and run through the teleprinter as many times as you wanted to make more copies of the message. Sometimes the tapes were extremely long and ran all over the place so it was a good idea to let them pile up in the rosie. Some ROs were quite adept at reading the tapes, but not me (just a load of holes punched through the paper). You could also have a one to one conversation on telex, but it was all printed out on paper and needed an adept typist - especially as some of the girls in the office were so fast (at typing that is).

Just a thought - how did gash buckets get the name 'rosie"?

John T.
 

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OK that explains the tape being on...we do sometimes get spoilt by modern technology dont we!!....and I dont know how gash buckets got that name...apart from the fact they were round.....round and round the rosie??
 

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Hurts the head eh?[/QUOTE]


Only when you had to read them by hand...and it always amazed me how quickly they could be read when you got used to doing it on a regular basis..and particularly if you used a cueing or finishing sequence.
 

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No idea how gash-buckets got called "rosies"... but I still use it 40 odd years down the track.... seems to just roll off the tongue.
 

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The 3-Bay console was introduced to ease the installation problems, giving the shipowner a pre-wired and pre-tested radio station that could be fitted and only need to have the external supplies connected (AC mains, 24V DC batteries etc.). I'm sure it achieved that from an electrician's point of view, but from a radio engineer's approach it was a less than happy solution. Linking the cabinets of the transmitter and the receiving equipment was a very undesirable practice. The resulting circulation of conducted- (via the grounding paths) and induced-RF currents greatly reduced receiver performance and made everything "hot".

The transmitter in the left-hand bay was the 1,400-watt "Crusader" SSB transmitter. These ships did not have "Spector" error-correcting telex equipment at the time the photo was taken. The unit below the transmitting antenna selector switch unit was the "Pennant" SSB receiver. The frequency selection of this receiver was derived from, and controlled by, the tranmitter; select Channel 24 on the 16 MHz band of the transmitter and the "Pennant" was automatically tuned to the paired receiving frequency of Channel 24. The transmitter and receiver shared a high stabillity frequency source, giving a high performance SSB receiver which hardly required any skilled manual adjustment. Great in theory and would have worked out OK if coast stations and ships only worked on the paired frequencies. However it was quite common for the coast station to be able to hear the ship better on a different HF band than the coast station was able to offer at that time. Since that involved so-called cross-band working, it was a no-go on the "Pennant".

Later we found that it was far better to keep the transmitter physically separate from the receiving consoles. Moreover the grounding was increased from 25mm/1" copper strip connected to the steel deck via a single brasss earthing bolt to 300mm/12" strip connected by 3 bolts. That tamed down the RF on the cabinets and headphone leads, improved the receiver sensitivity several times over and got rid of all the pops and crackles that existed in the 1950s-1970s. We live and learn.

Ron Stringer
 

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Transmitters in Consoles

R651400 said:
Excepting Siemens, Marconi and IMR had a preference to stand-alone.
Consoles came into their own with the arrival of the wartime Liberties. RCA and Mackay.
The problems mentioned above could de down to Marconi design.
I never had any with either US or the superb 60's multi-national SAIT console.
Malcolm
Malcolm,
I don't think Marconi or anyone else had any such problems when ships installations used only Morse facilities, or when the transmitter powers were low. After all, Morse operation was simplex - i.e. send and receive in sequence, never at the same time. When duplex HF radiotelephony (with transmission taking place whilst the receiver tried to pick up the weakest of signals) became the norm, and when transmitter powers were increased to cope with the needs of that service, then problems started to arise. The 60 watts of the Oceanspan didn't bother anyone, but when you got on the wrong side of a kilowatt, especially with SSB receiver sensitivities, without careful attention to grounding things could quickly go pear-shaped.

Where transmitters and receivers shared a common grounding circuit to the ship's metal hull, then the receivers in effect were several centimetres (or inches) up the transmitting antenna from the ground. Not the ideal place to instal a receiver. The more powerful transmitters fed the antenna with more than 20 amps of RF, all of which circulated through the grounding circuits. If the receiver chassis formed part of those circuits, that didn't do a lot for the performance of the front end of the receiver.

Ron
 

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Transmitter/Receivers

Well the breakthrough to which you refer (more of a receiver front-end desensitisation or overload problem) was an installation problem, not an equipment problem - you had to have both transmitter and receiver present and operating, with their co-located antennas, before any problems became apparent. In theory everything should have been OK but the designers didn't believe that anyone would ever try to make duplex HF radiotelephone calls with transmitting and receiving antennas within a couple of feet of each other, or use inadequately-screened receiver antenna feeder cables, or bolt receiver cabinets onto transmitter cabinets and then ground them both through a common point, or any of the other, many, unprofessional, silly things that installers did on ships.

Similarly the frequency plans enshrined in the 1967 international radio regulations assigned HF radiotelephone and radio telex channels as pairs of frequencies, to be used only together, with the ship transmitting on one of the pair and the coast station on the other. The idea was to simplify operation and make optimum use of the small number of channels available for marine users. This opened prospects of cheaper equipment that could be operated by the casual user - navigators, fishermen, yachtsmen etc. in the same way that had been achieved by the introduction of VHF on preset channels.

Unfortunately many coast radio station operators paid little attention to the plan and were happy to allow the ship to use almost any frequency as long as the call went through. This could not be accommodated by the early paired-channel equipment of the 1970s, and the R/Os were not 'appy! To Hell with the fact that each such call was occupying two channels (with the coast station on half of one channel and the ship on half of another) when the users were only authorised to use one. Marconi's adoption of paired channel use was ahead of its time and the company was guilty only of being over-optimistic about the readiness of the marine radio community to accept the new ways of operating. The R/Os had a vested interest in keeping things complicated.

By the late 1970s/early '80s, people had seen the sense of using proper channels and transmitter/receiver equipments came along; people like Skanti produced simple-to-operate channelised equipment that was self-tuning and could easily be operated by an unskilled user. After a lot of internal resistance (the rejection, 10 years earlier, of the paired frequency Pennant SSB receiver remained in Management's memory) at the start of the 1980s even Marconi began to produce simple-to-use transceivers for HF telephony, telex and DSC. The end of the R/O was in sight, even before satcoms blew away the last resistance.

Ron
 

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You are right on both counts. Not only the USA and Canada had fixed channel arrangements in the MF radiotelephone bands, several other countries did the same, although with different frequencies. However these were purely national or regional arrangements. The problem was getting international agreement on the use of the frequencies so that the same equiment could be used anywhere in the world and it took until 1966 to get a start. The problem had been similar on VHF in the 10 or so years prior to the Hague agreement on VHF frequency use and VHF has only short-range, making it less of a potential interference problem than HF.

The problem was that at the ITU each member country has one vote, so that the UK, Netherlands, France and the USA, with their large fleets of merchant ships could easily be outvoted by Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Byelorussia with hardly a sea-going vessel between them. All the Eastern bloc countries voted together, supported by Cuba. Other countries such as China, India and Greece always voted to retain the status quo and opposed any changes. It is amazing that anything changed.

Whilst a case might have been made for retaining a shipboard electronics equipment maintainer, there really was no logic in only having one person on a ship that could communicate with the outside world. How many factories or other commercial enterprises would accept all communications being passed via one employee, who sent and received everything on behalf of the company and its employees via morse messages? So by sticking to the claim that only a morse operator could ensure the safety of the ship, the so-called supporters of the R/O lost all credibility and any opportunity to make a case for keeping a man on board, to maintain the burgeoning mountain of electronics on which the safety and efficient operation of the ship really does depend.

Many of those of us that had been R/Os and attended the international meetings (IMO and ITU) where the decisions were made, could see a genuine application for the R/O-ETO's skills. We were despondent to watch whilst the "representatives" of the R/Os slept (literally) through the discussions and ensured that the prospect of on-going jobs sank without trace.

Too late now.

Ron
 

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Hello
do any one you guys out there have any circuit diagrams/drawings of the "standard" marconi console interior wiring as in the above picture please??
Really could do with one at the moment. thank you. ftf
 

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Thanks for the interesting comments Ron and Malcom. I have have often wondered about the thinking behind some of the "International Treaties" our counties sign. I look at the "Sat Comms" we have now, which are all controlled by a few countries, and the major problems that would be caused if they decided to restrict or deny access or worst still mother nature play a trick or two. When I did my Ham ticket, morse was a requirement for the Grade 1 and Grade 2 tickets now it is not. Who knows maybe morse will make a come back?

As for the sleeping union reps - whats new!

Regards
Blair
NZ
 
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