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Author Topic: CW, Speedkey operators from the US Navy  (Read 3804 times)
CORALMAN
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Posts: 11




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« on: October 26, 2009, 02:46:02 PM »

I was a zbm1 in the Navy 1960 thru 1964. Served in Morocco (Sidi Yahia) and onboard the USS Intrepid CVS-11. Still have my chrome plated Vibroplex, name engraved etc.. and was wondering if any of my old Navy CW buddys were on this site?

I held two licenses in the Navy.
USCINCUSNAVERUROPE
and
COMNAVLANT

Was known as Andy with speeds up to over 35 wpm.
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K7KBN
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Posts: 2766




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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2009, 03:59:36 PM »

I was on the Kitty Hawk from 63-66.  Went aboard as RMSN right out of A school in San Diego.  Following day I had an appointment at AIRPAC to get my Speed Key Certificate.  As I was getting my Presentation set up and adjusted, a Master Chief came in, introduced himself, looked longingly at my bug and asked if he could try it out.  We sent some stuff back and forth at between 30 and 50 WPM, with solid copy both ways.

He signed my certificate, congratulated me, and I was off!

I have a QSL from CN8IK in Sidi Yahia from back in about 1961.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
CORALMAN
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2009, 05:48:59 PM »

I was an RM3 in Sidi Yahia, and had a friend who was a hamm, K5DIY from Texas. Was an RM2 on the Intrepid. To get a bug license in Morocco, one had to copy 30 wpm for five minutes not errors. Then send the same, no errors. When I went to take the speedkey test in Norfolk Va, the chief said I should be giving the test. Thought that was funny. I went to radio school in Bainbridge MD in 1960. Most of my Navy communications was with the Second and Sixth Fleets in the Atlantic. Also communicated with Balboa, canal zone sometimes too. Our side of the world had some really good bug operators back in the 60's. The Intrepid usually carried the flag, so we stayed busy in the radio shack. I probably should have gone HAMM so I could continue to enjoy talking in code. But I didn't, just send to myself, and copy weather broadcast for sport.
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CORALMAN
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2009, 05:56:33 PM »

I still have my vibroplex original, chrome plated, name engraved with the original carrying case. Would post a picture but don't know if pictures are allowed here.
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K7KBN
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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2009, 12:46:50 PM »

We would save all the MILSTRIPS and other low-precedence stuff for the midwatch folks to keep them occupied.  On a typical mid, I'd call NQO and send the stuff to the most distant station replying.  Many times we sent traffic to Thurso, Scotland.  One time I had to look up a call, and it was the Naval Attache Office in Punta Arenas, Chile!

I was an RM2 when I left active duty and went back to the USNR.  Made RM1, then climbed the Warrant ladder and finally retired as an LDO Lieutenant (with W4 pay).
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
W4YA
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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2009, 03:31:37 PM »

In 1950 as a young teenager, I lived in Baltimore, and I could pick up NSS on several broadcast radios since it was so close by. I finally could copy the daily 4PM hour-long broadcast solid. Got my General Class ticket in 1951 thanks to NSS.

I got to see the Annapolis antenna farm before it was taken down. Impressive!!
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CORALMAN
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2009, 05:03:34 PM »

Worked NSS the most when aboard ship. I was NHY when in Sidi Yahia. Banana boat swing was famous back then, hanging onto the dah's. Funny thing about swinging fast code is. If you record it, slow it down, it doesn't mean anything anymore. In Morocco I used to copy W1AW for HAMM friends so they could have a 35 wpm certificate for their shack when they went home. I never sent one in, but one of the guys sent one in for me at 25 wpm. I ask him why he didn't send one of the 35's. He thought it was funny..Lots of things have changed in communications since I was in it. Nothing beats two operators using code cause they both have a brain and will keeep trying until they get the message through.
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W0NHH
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« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2009, 06:27:21 PM »

The wind blew and the.... etc, etc, etc.  I got out of the Coast Guard "A" school in 1950.  We weren't allowed to touch a speed key until we could pound out at least 85 wpm on a broken down worn out Navy pump handle.  I wore out 9 vibroplexes during the three years I was in.  
Next sea story please.
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W4YA
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Posts: 317




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« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2009, 07:38:07 PM »

I always thought the perfect 20+ wpm code from NSS was made with some sort of mechanical device. But an ex-NSS operator told me that it was all done with straight keys. Those guys were good!!!
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W5VFO
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« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2009, 03:09:11 AM »

I was a RM2 on the USS Altair AKS32 1959-61 with Speed Key Certificate #61 from COMSIXTHFLEET while home ported in Barcelona, Spain.  I was K2JMX at the time.  The Altair's call was NBEQ and I have NB5EQ as a club call for which I am trustee.  Please visit http://www.ussaltair-aks32.org for further info.
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CORALMAN
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« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2009, 10:56:52 AM »

When at NHY (1961-62, I worked NBEQ many times, good operators were aboard that vessel. I remember the test ya'll sent on teletype also, leaving out characters. The blanks spelled NBEQ, I have a couple copys of it in my files.
We had a fellow who had one of those electronic keys, I didn't like em.
ZBM1 6-62 was my first speedkey ticket. Although I had been using one for almost a year before taking the test. We had to pass 200 wpm...lol
In GITMO, they ask me to get off the speedkey during one of the cw drills. The observer told the guy, he's on a handkey.  Just had a good fist. Anyway, they ask me to slow down. Painful...slow code.
I've reconnected with one of my old speedkey buddies from Morocco recently, he's living in Michigan.

Could send a test with v's some called the star spangled banner.  If you ever heard it, you havn't forgotten.
 Was known as Andy, the same when aboard the Intrepid, NBQK. I have a twenty year book about the Intrepid, everybody aboard in 63 got a copy.
Anybody wanting pictures of what Ive talked about can reach me at fla@windstream.net
I also have a website at sonandersonartifacts.com
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CORALMAN
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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2009, 02:48:01 PM »

Would like to see more old Navy Radiomen comment. Guess they havn't found this site yet.
Glad to see some of ya tell the truth, and some just tell old sea stories...lol
At anyrate, we've been there, an experience we'll cherish til the end. Those who havn't been there will never understand. QRK5 if ya ask me.
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W5HTW
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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2009, 04:20:41 PM »

by W4YA on October 29, 2009       Mail this to a friend!
I always thought the perfect 20+ wpm code from NSS was made with some sort of mechanical device. But an ex-NSS operator told me that it was all done with straight keys. Those guys were good!!!>>>


Depends upon the time frame.  By the early 1960s most code was indeed machine sent, except for brief exchanges asking about RTTY setups and the like.  By the mid 60s we were using punched 5 level Baudot tape into a Baudot-to-Morse converter, capable of sending from 5 wpm to 40 wpm or more.  For our purpose we used it mostly at 18-20 wpm.  

But before about 1963, yeah it was probably hand sent.  Mechanical "wheels" were used for the guard QRA though.  But these wheels were limited in length of content.  Mostly to just a standard QRA or CQ call up.  In the early 60s such mechanical wheels were also used in automatic ID for VHF business band radio.  I had some of the keyers.  They didn't sound too bad.  You had to bend prongs on the wheels to create Morse characters.

In the mid 60s we sent very long messages via the Baudot-to-Morse converters.  I think ours were made by Frederick Electronics, but I am not sure now.  Been too long for this old memory.  

We did have some fairly good hand key operators, but at speeds above 22 wpm it wasn not always as smooth as it should be!  

Ed
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W5HTW
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« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2009, 04:27:58 PM »

... and by the way, inked tape was pretty much a standard for code practice back in the 50s.  But it could be used for real traffic, too, though it was not erasible and could not be re-used.  For code practice it was ideal, as it could be rewound and repeated. (It was also used for FCC exams.)  But it was possible, at least.  I never heard of it being used for traffic, though.  Still, it was 'perfect' machine sent!

Keyers were becoming popular in the early 60s, too.  I managed to get permission to use mine at work, but that meant I had to carry it in each day, as I was not permitted to leave it for others to play with.  We used the venerable J38.  I stopped using my keyer at work as it was just too much trouble to lug it to and from the job.

Ah, back in the day

Ed
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W4YA
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Posts: 317




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« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2009, 04:21:31 AM »

W5HTW - Thanks for the info.

I got my code practice from NSS in 1950 and '51. So, I guess that was all hand key sending. As I recall, I listened daily M-F from 4 to 5PM EST. Most of it was 5-letter and 5-number groups. The frequency was in the 4mc band. But I was so close to Annapolis that I could hear them on my broadcast band receiver.

73, Jim W4YA
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