How I got started in Electronics and Ham Radio. Reading Popular Electronics magazines and
paying princely sum of thirty-five cents per issue for crying out loud Mad magazine was only 25 cents at that time.
Getting a Toshiba 7 band short wave receiver for my birthday and listening to marine mobile operator and later the Watts Riot
of 1965. Assembling a multiband radio and the smell of solder. Helping neighbors repair their TV sets and the long walks to
local Thrifty drug store with a shoe box full of T.V. tubes wrapped up in an old hand towel and very carefully testing them.
Making a solar cell in junior high school. Later I enjoyed reading numerous magazines from Wayne Green and I still remember
his standing offer to let anybody be the editor-in-charge of one of his magazine if they could just meet a few conditions,
sometimes the editorials were just as entertain as the articles. Does anybody remember reading a monthly column about amateur
radio thief's in 73 or QST called Ham Burglars? Bill, WA6AAY (SK) was a local Ham and a member of Military Auxiliary
Radio System (MARS), He had a seemingly never ending cornucopia of surplus electronic equipment, transceivers, generators
sets and teletypes. The artwork and calendars coming off ASR 28 (1) Teletype writers (TTY) was also very nice! The warm glow
of magic eye tuning tube on his Gonset Communicator II transceiver, no idea if this rig was 2 or 6 meter rig and numerous
shoe boxes full of crystals, one for transmitting and one for receiving. I still have very vivid memories about playing with
the EE-8 field phones and shocking each other with the hand crank generators. As I write this, I'm kind of wonder about
my chosen vocation or did I have a genetic predisposition for it? Who knows maybe there might be an electron gene in our DNA
or not. Two of favorite uncles were into electronics. One was a crew chief on a Honest John or Corporal E mobile missile system
in Germany during the cold war. Prior to being drafted into the military he work for an aircraft company in the engineering
dept. My other uncle was a self taught electronic guru. This man worked in most every facet of electronics from radio to radar
and sonar to x-ray. I think he enjoyed working in research and developed the most. Then I was nine or ten this uncle of gave
me three old car radios to play which required 6 volt dc. These radios had a metal can which helped step up the voltage to
power the tubes with the additionally instruction if the radio does not power up, lightly tap on top of can metal can with
the handle of screwdriver and that should fix it, if not carefully remove the crimp at the button of the can and then clean
the vibrating contacts then re-crimp the can and reinstall it. I now wonder if that is why people tend to beat on electrical
items if they don't work right! Also if the radio was missing the power leads just use a pair of jumper cables and touch
one here and the other to the front metal buttons.
MY LIFE IS A BLUE SUIT
Radio Relay Equipment Repair / Wideband Maintenance AFSC 30450. TRC 24 / TRC 97 and MRT 2 Testing. What I
did in Radio Relay, basically I worked on a very special type a radio which could handle up to 24, 48, or 96 voice channels
at a time. Think of 96 phone calls mixed together into one and then transmitted over the air 17 to 95 miles per link. The
next radio relay site could break down the signal and route them to phones, radios, or teletype machines or crosspatch the
incoming signal to another radio and retransmit it to a distant location for increase range. During times of national
emergence, war games, or training, groups of special trained people would drive in or fly in to an unimproved location
and building a Tactical Air Base (TAB), communication relay site (RELAY), or a distant communication site /Operating Local
(OL) The time frame for these tasks to be completed varies from two and a half hours to seven days. The Trc-97 was billed
as the world's largest transistor radio which is not technically correct because it did have a Traveling Wave Tube (TWT)
and a Klystron tube, both of these tubes do not look like anything that would even fit inside of an old T.V. set. The
TWT was twelve inches long and fully encased in sheet metal. The Klystron weighted about 35 pounds and was made mostly for
cast iron with some porcelain in addition to having two very large magnets bolted to it for beam stabilizing. Confessions
of a Mobsters or Why I left the Mob! (2) The basic answer is most mountains are made of rock! Have you ever try to hammer
in an eight foot long grounding rod into solid rock, what about driving elephant/sand stakes into a rock mesa, or maybe you
like your weather a little bit cooler, so what about putting in a death-man anchor system into Alaska permafrost. Would you
like try installing and anchoring a pair of twenty foot parabolic antennas on a sandy beach in FL even when it easy, it's
hard! How hard is it to dig a five foot depth hole in the sand, if the water level is at two foot high? And for a little local
color in the morning armies of crabs invaded the antenna footing, your boots and anything at ground level. The Fine Dinning,
real green eggs and gray ham, beans and weenies, beef patties or some other type of mystery meat! C-Rations made prior 1972
had cigarettes and worlds worst pound or marble cake. This stuff was so dry that you could take it out of the can set it on
a flat surface, fill the can that it came with full of water pour it on the cake, refill the can a second time, pour it again
and still not a drop of water would escape from cake! The crackers plus peanut butter, jelly, or cheese were okay, but a caned
fruit was a highly guard prize. The Housing, sometimes we used twelve or twenty man tents and hot racking it. The morning
showers were in eight man test set up in a dirt field, utilizing old wooden pallets as flooring with exposed nails ensuring
no one linger in the showers too long. Be there, done that, got the blisters and splinters, tore it down, pack it up, cleaned
it up, realignment it, and did the whole job over and over, again and again, couldn't afford the Tee shirt, so I keep
the ball cap and left!
1976 was the Bicentennial anniversary of our
country, it was also the year Jimmy Carter was elected into office, and the start of my third year in the military. At this
time I was debating whether or not to make the military a career. I loved my job but I hated the job location, in the middle
of Georgia. Eighty-five percent of the people I worked with had just came from Turkey or had orders going to Turkey, at that
time Turkey had a reputation as being one of the worst assignment for military personally. After being in Georgia for thirteen
months I was desperate to get off that base! I went to personnel and volunteer for world wide duty, I should be gone in four
or five months max! While I was waiting for personnel action to kick in, I started researching other career fields. The career
field I was in was critical undermanned and the only way to get out of this career field was to get into one more critical
undermanned. The only two career fields which appealed to me were Precision Approach Radar and something called Digital Subscriber
Terminal Equipment or DSTE for short, and maintain by Electronic-Mechanical Communications and Cryptographic Equipment Systems
Looking for a new job. I talked
to my roommate, Mike Estes about maybe switching career fields, the next day I got the deluxe nickel tour of AN/MPN 13 Radar
van. The impression I was left with was, this is a very complex piece of equipment that needs allot of fine tuning or daily
massaging. I had heard war stories that this beast had a reputation for being a hanger queen (3), and did not liked to travel
up and down the freeway or go four wheeling to our deployment sites, sometime this puppy just rolled over and played died.
I still have lasting memories about walking thought MPN-13 with its' solder in peanut tubes, IC chips, and watching
a radar alignment being made by sticking a mirror on a stick and turning it 90 degrees when walking fifteen to twenty feet
away and making an adjust while looking at a reflecting in the mirror of an O-scope. Another thing about this radar witch
seamed a little odd to me is that the whole radar unit sits on top of a turntable, if the prevailing winds change and aircraft
started approaching and landing from the oppose end of the flight line the radar unit need to be
rotated a hundred and eighty degrees, why the military didn't opt for a second set of antennas
is beyond me. Maybe a disagreement with the bean counters or some sadist s.o.b. who thought might be funny to watch the radar
troops get there daily P.T. by pushing the Radar van around in inclement weather.
My trip to visit the Blue Whale. Two or three days after my tour of the Radar vans, I talked
to Senior Airmen (almost a Sergeant) Dicus about arranging a walk thought of the DSTE Vans. SRA Dicus lived across the hall
in from me in the barracks and was an avid off road motorcycle rider. The following Monday at O'dark thirty in morning
we left our quarters and headed to Wideband maintenance area. In the very back of our marshaling area sat two DSTE vans.
The vans were heavily secured with Sargent & Greenleaf padlocks after Dicus removed the padlocks, He walked inside by
himself and sanitized the area by checking for unsecured classified paperwork, looking for classified zeros in the chad
bucket, and ensuring that all Playboy magazines (4) were turn upside down with the appropriate cover sheets place on top
of them. Only after Dicus had completed all these checks I was able to enter the vans. The first van was called The off
line van it held five ASR 28 teletype writers, an 029 IBM punch card machine, a couple of typewriters on desks, a photocopier
machine, and another closed off section for the distributing of messages. The other van was packed with the Blue Whale, The
AN/FYA-71 Digital Subscriber Terminal Equipment. What all this goobly goop means, it was a main frame computer with numerous
heavy duty peripheral devices, such as, page printers, IBM card punches, paper tape readers, card readers. The size of these
components varies from a page printer the size of clothes washers to a Low Speed Card Punch, one and half times the size of
a horizontal food freezer. The Central Processing Unit (CPU) or Common Control Unit (CCU) was the size of a very large side
by side refrigerator and populated with sixty plus printed circuit cards.
After eighteen months of seriously
trying to leave the Peach tree state things were starting to happen in Aces! Behind Door number One, I had an all expense
paid vacations John Hay R&R center in the Philippine Islands for the next two years with an option for a third year available!
Door number Two, Crossing training was approved for Radar. Door number Three, My cross training had be approved DSTE.
Now for the hard part, The Decision. Radio Relay was great job with a lot of outstanding
people, with a great deal of job satisfaction and above average promotions. Downside, In the states you're very limited
to the place that you can be assign to. Stateside forty percent work outside there career fields doing electronic installation,
another forty percent work are assigned to Mobility groups providing communication for national emergency and war games
both of these assignment requires thirty to seventy-five percent of the time in the field the only difference was one group
is housed in a tents and the other group has an expanse account and stays in a motel. Both divisions have to meet very tight
deadline's. The only time you truly work in your career field is overseas this can but very stressful. Half of all assignment
are overseas in unaccompanied countries, you go it alone with no families allowed. Some of my coworkers on they second or
third enlistment express concerned over European assignments, a great place to visit but expense as all hell or basically
I can be poor in the United States or totally broke in Germany and can't afford to go anyway. Spain, Italy, and the Mediterranean
these assignments are high prized! A lot of people assigned to these place try to homestead it, this makes it even harder
to land an assignment they.
Hay, The R and R center in the mountains. This is a hard one if I took this assignment I would be living in clouds for two
to three years and at the end I would be back in the same situation, I now face. I guess this is not an answer just a big
delay in making a decision. Regrettably, I will have to pass on this assignment.
Precision Approach Radar. The
upside is working with hardcore electronics on a daily. Downside limited civilian application, Eight or nine month long radar
school at the University of Biloxi Ms. on the gulf coast. If the radar is turned on you're at work, 24 hours a day,
7 day a week, 365 days a years. This could really put a dampener on your nights, week-ends and Holidays! First runner-up.
And the winner is BLUE WHALE. DSTE
seamed to have a lot going for it and meet both my short term and long term needs. The upside a very high security clearance,
adding a new skill set to my electronics resume, DSTE requires a environmental control environment, needs to air conditioning
and heated, which means you work in an air condition building. Forty percent of all DSTE operators are females. All large
military facility have a DSTE system, another words you would be station at a major base and not a mountain top. Limited chance
of being assigned to a mobility unit. This career field is the perfect jump off point for cross training into data automation
or strange cryptographic. A balance career field referring to overseas vs. stateside assignments. DSTE maintenance personnel
work a eight to five Monday thought Friday work schedule! Seven month long school for six hours a day in northern Texas. The
down side, leaving a whole lot of good friends I've made over the last three years.
LIFE IN THE DSTE FIELD
This monstrosity was sometimes a mechanical nightmare! Until you made a deal with devil, sold your youngest child,
or had been lucky or unlucky enough to work in a ready busy communication center which was undermanned and overworked. I
think anyway something could be done or might be done might was the philosophy that was used in the engineering of this
beast. Sometimes I wonder if Rube Goldberg (5) wasn't a consulting engineer for this system. For example the Low
speed card punch had six fan belt, eight or nine tooth driven belts, three lobed cams, knifes, bell cranks, interposers,
solenoids, pushrods, pinch rollers, micro switches, actuators, gates, a chad bucket, and ferrite-core memory. This
is real old school technology. A core memory uses a matrix of small metal rings sometimes called donuts, with numerous wires
interlace through these rings on the X and Y plane plus diagonally. How the hell can I remember this shit from basic electronics
at Kessler airplane patch in beautiful downtown Bio-Toxic (Biloxi) MS (6), but forget were my car keys are at is beyond
me! Should I say something about the all power supplies with crowbar protected circuits and all the with weak under rated
Silicon Controlled Rectifier, or as some of my electronics instructors would call them a Silicon Controlled rectum fryers
(7) probably not, and too make things more interesting for neophyte all mechanical adjustment are interrelated you could
not just made one adjustment, you had a make a series of adjustments and check many others adjustments to ensure that you
did not induce a new problem into the machine while clearing the initial problem. Add to this, that a machine problem could
be caused by a mechanical malfunctions, electronic anomaly, or just an operator error, sometime it could be very challenging
trying figure out which path to troubleshoot first.
Electronic-Mechanical Communications and Cryptographic Equipment Systems Specialist AFSC 30671 Digital
Subscriber Terminal Equipment FYA71, System nick name THE BLUE WHALE. The DSTE system was installed in most military communication
center. The system consisted of CCU or Central Control Unit, Page printer, Low speed card punch, High speed card punch,
Punch card reader, Paper tape readers, Low speed tape punch, High speed paper tape punch, Modem, Box, and Cryptographic equipment,
Crypto Control Unit, and a Cook patch panel. The Base Communications Center receives 98 percent of all messages for a given
location. All payroll, finance, personnel maters, assignments, promotions, logistic, press releases, classified and unclassified
flow thou the base comm center. I think being a DSTE technician was very interesting because you needed a very good
understanding of digital electronics plus a very solid command of mechanical principle. WORK IN PROGRESS
(1) ASR 28 Teletype Who would have thought that fifteen
years later I would be doing limited maintenance and quantity control checks on these TTY's, mostly checking holes per
inch and reset the thermal cutout switch or a circuit breaker on backside of the motor, a very hot motor. Or twenty-five years
later the model 28 would still in uses and I would be doing depot level maintenance on the model 40s for private company.
Two years later the company replaced all the model 40s with dumb computers and keep using the 28s.
What a MOB? MOB is short for Mobile Communication Group or Combat Communication Group. A group of highly trained and dedicated
people who installs, maintain, operate transportable Communication equipment such as, Radars, Navigation Aids, Computers,
Telephones systems, Generator sets, Communication centers, Portable air traffic control towers, Quick Reaction Packages (QRP),
Tech-Controls center, Satellite Comm., systems and so much more.
(3) Hanger Queen, Air Force slang for a airplane
or a piece of equipment which requires a very high level of constant on going maintenance because poor engineer, a victim
of ongoing misuses, abuse, modifications or substandard maintenance. An item which has out liven its usefulness, but
keep getting saved from the scrap pile by a series upgrades or modifications design for a short term fix but in reality end
up being a long term maintains headache. Something all ways in the shop being repair or fixed!
(4) The reason for all
the Playboy magazines beyond the obvious was because of Jimmy Carters titillating interview
in the November 1976 issue in which he states "I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery
in my heart many times" also because of his later announcement That if elected
he would cancel the B-1 bomber program, the ladder comment did not sit well with the military,
also by default being the closes military base to Plains, Georgia we would become one of his presidential support bases
and the home of world famous "The Peanut Convoy".
Goldberg's cartoons became well known for depicting complex devices that performed simple tasks in deliberately over-engineered
(6) Bio-Toxic or Biloxi what can I say about Biloxi Mississippi, my spell check
doesn't recognize it as a word, and when things get worst. Neil Simon used it as a setting for new recruits go through
basic training in Biloxi Blues. Garry Trudeau satirize it in the Doonesbury cartoon strip as being one of the least desirable
places to live. Four or five months after joining the military I visited my Grandparents. My Grandmother ask me what type
of plane I flew? and my Grandfather asked if the roads in Biloxi were still tore up? I informed my Grandmother I work in
electronics and did not fly aircraft, I think she was a little disappointed because I didn't say B-24s and that was
the aircraft's she uses to build during World War II in the Dallas / Fort Worth area. To my Grandfather I responded Yes
the roads are still tore up in Biloxi because of Hurricane Camille which that hit three years ago. My Grandfather started
laughing, after a few second he spoke " I was down there in 1907 at that time they were saying the roads
were tore up because of the Civil War" The locals say "The Gulf Coast is America's French Riviera" While
station at Biloxi we were informed that if we walked on any of the local beaches to wear substantial footwear at all times,
because of died decomposing fish washed up in the shoreline and were buried in the sand. This would cause a very nasty infection
if stepped on and being in the military we would be subject to very severe penalties for not wearing substantial footwear.
At this time my mind was busy digesting what I just heard and writing it into long term memory... Note to self do I really
want to walk on beaches that you need to wear combat boots on? A quick note about water pollution on the Gulf Coast. A Senior
Non-Commission Office tolled me that the Air Force used to send their newly promoted Generals to Biloxi and teacher them how
to walk on water in the back bay. In closing the thing that scares me the most about The Gulf Coast is what my Grandmother
told me a long long time ago "You known Mike you have kinfolk down there in Biloxi" Maybe I should have told her
I did fly B-24 and thank her for building mine and the crews airplane!
Electronic instruction tends to be dry very dry to help keep the class awake and ramp up the blood pressure jokes telling
at the start of a class was the norm and help energize the class or as Arnold would say, "It's it time to Pump you
(8) Hold in Reserve.
when you viewed my profile you stop at the picture of my friend, The Prionus Californicus, The Long horned beetle a.k.a. The
Winged Warrior and stared at the object to left of the lamp and deduced it was a bottle of Booze, Wrong! You flunked the Rorschach
inkblot test again! Its a Uniden cordless phone model number TWX977 If you have question, just click on the picture!
Now that this issue is resolved, why don’t you go into the kitchen and garb us a couple of Brewskis? and we'll continue
on with our magical mystery tour!