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Finding your way to the ham shack

24 Dec

Finding my way to my ham shack isn’t very hard. It involves sliding into slippers at “Oh Dark Thirty” when I wake up and padding to the office at the other end of the house. Once, a long time ago, I had my shack in the bedroom. Now that was convenient!

I was listening to 40 CW again this morning and thankfully my intermittent noise source was inactive this morning, however not much exciting doing on the low end today. H6VA working from down south and a few others but nothing that stirs my imagination.

There was a day in the far distant past where finding my way to the shack wasn’t so easy. During my Navy days we didn’t have private rooms. We were likely sleeping with 130 other unlucky people and Walkmans had not been invented yet. Once the white lights switched out and became red lights things got pretty quiet. During off hours I would try to find my way to the ham radio shack if we were not in Emcom. Emcom meant we are loading ordinance (bombs) with some sort of nasty triggers that are sensitive to radio or radar emissions. So no radio during Emcom or generally during flight operations.

I lived aboard 4 aircraft carriers during my 10 years of service. I also spent 2 or more years in schools and 2 years at a Naval Communications Station (San Diego) but what I remember most were the carriers. First there was the Saratoga CVA-60 in 1963.

saratoga-'64Then came the Kitty Hawk CVA-63

kitty-hawk-68From here I went to B School and returned to the fleet after a years hiatus to the USS Ticondeoga CVA-14.

tico-in-yelloow-sea-unrep-68Lastly, following a stint at NavComSta San Diego I went to America in about 1969 or so. America was CVA-66. All of these ships are now decommissioned. Kitty Hawk was last in service based in Yokuska Japan as recently as this year.

uss-america-70You can get some sense of how big these things are by looking at some released Russian intelligence drawings I found of Kitty Hawk on the web.

kitty-hawk-fm-russian-pubGetting to the Ham Shack was work in those days. For direction finding purposes imagine you are standing on the flight deck looking forward toward the pointy end of the ship. Using the (plan view) drawing of Kitty Hawk, imagine you work on the left side of the deck just under the flight deck at the front or pointy end of the ship. Our shop was at frame 18 port side 03 level. Invariably, Ham Shacks were in Auxiliary Radio Room Number 3. Most often, these Aux Radio Rooms were located on the aft end of the ship starboard side (right side looking down from above) on the non pointy end of the ship. Now 1100 feet or so does not seem like a long way to walk to go and play radio except there was a hazard along the way. The flight deck had to handle so much weight in the form of aircraft, ordinance and vehicles that the Navy designed a ubiquitous way of strengthening its flight deck supporting structure. A structure I had to walk through to get to the Ham Shack. They were called Knee Knockers. Only they were equal opportunity injury tools. They would not only destroy your knees if you were not careful, but if you were at the wrong place and the “General Quarters” klaxon sounded you had to run to your station and in all likelihood, if not cautious, could easily bash your head while running. Picture the fetal position as you passed through one of these death traps. And they were everywhere!

kneeknockerThey look innocent enough but baby these things were deadly.

In any event, getting to do radio in off hours was a chore and I am glad I only have to walk a few feet to do my hobby these days.

Thanks for reading. Best, Chas W7MAP/5.

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Posted by on December 24, 2008 in Radio

 

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