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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Admiralty Pattern 7681 Morse Key - Refurbishment

My "posh" morse key is made up from parts of an Admiralty Pattern 7681 morse key, that I had when I was in the Royal Navy....Recently, I have hankered after getting another one, and refurbishing it, so that I had an "original" to show people what it looked like before my friend made the superb wooden mounting.  A few days ago, I spotted a rather shabby looking example on Ebay... so I put in a bid, and won!... when it arrived, it did not disappoint me.... it was in a horrible state.... so I began to clean it up a bit, and then took all the bits off it, and gave them a polish up with my wire brush on the electric drill... Now I have it back together again, I have given it some testing and it works just like it should do... you can see this on the video at the end of this page.... Pics are in no particular order, and the whole job took me about 6 hours work... but not all at once... I am very pleased with the finished article, and it now has pride of place with my other keys on my desk.... I use CWCOM ( a free internet chat program, that allows the use of any kind of morse key to communicate with other like minded persons in CW or morse code...Great fun)... to make use of my keys, and can connect them all together or just use one at a time... If you are interested in Morse and would like to chat.... look out for callsign GEMS on CWCOM... 73.... VA. AR dit dit..


Please Note.... To see a larger version of each pic... just double click on them !.... 

 
How the key was advertised on Ebay...
The pic above really does do it justice !.. it was horrible, when I got it out of the box...

First of all I gave it a spray over with WD40.... and left it to soak in for about an hour... Not only did it free off most of the nuts and bolts.... but it helped to clean up the bakelite base and knob.... I did not make a big effort on the bakelite, as I wanted it to show some "age" despite my refurb efforts making it look like new.!..

So I took the rocker out first, and noticed that the holes for the pivot screws were well worn.. I decided to give them a drill out using the next size drill, just to make them "round" again... As the pivots on this key are "pointed" screw threads, they need to be able to hold the rocker steady, but at the same time, by making sure the pointed screws are not screwed in too tight, to give enough "play" in the pivot so that the rocker will move freely in the up and down rocking motion.  Too slack, and the key is likely to stay "on" .... too tight, and the key will need a lot of spring pressure to bring the key "off".... the ideal is to use as little spring pressure as possible, whilst maintaining the steady stable rocker arm...

After doing the drill work.... I decided to remove the knob and all the other screw fitments, and rubbed the rocker arm on some very fine wet and dry paper.... this has brought up the brass base to a nice "antique" look "glow"... Next the big rusty screws that are the pivot points... made of steel, these had a good coat of rust on them, so I put them into the electric drill and with the wet and dry, made the points shine.... also cleaned up the heads and threads....

The Rocker arm after cleaning, and drilling the pivot holes.  
The springy bit underneath the rocker arm is the electrical connector from the rocker to one of the contacts on the base.... Remember, when these keys were made ( about 1940 ) transmitters used very high voltages at the key, hence the "skirt" on the knob, as a spark deflector..

Whilst all the bits were removed, I started to give the base a good clean up with just using a clean cloth, and a prod to get into the corners... no polish was used, as I did not want it to look "brand new" when I had finished...

The Bakelite Base.... with all the dirt and stuff removed !


Once the base was cleaned up, I noted that there is no serial number on it.... however, that does not mean it is unused.. it certainly had been well used, judging by the wear on the pivot points... just as I was about to continue with the other metalwork, I noticed the letter WG painted on the serial number corner.... (unfortunately, the WD40 removed the paint !... but the mark can still be seen)...  These letters refer to the company that made the key... Ward and Goldstone... Which is quite interesting, because I recently purchased and antique morse key, and that was made by the same company in 1905... see further down the blog for this key...

Showing the mark of W.G. in the serial number box for Ward & Goldstone manufacturer

Once all the base had been cleaned, it remained for me to spend some time cleaning all the individual bits and bobs, that make up the key... to do this, I bought a £1 rotary wire brush head, put it in the electric drill, and each piece, held in a vice, ws given a quick brush up... Amazingly, they all cleaned up to look like GOLD !... that took about an hour and a half... then, all that was left was to remember where they all fitted back on the base,... and .... Just look at the difference !....








Here is a short video of me testing the key after it had been connected to CWCOM.... Put on your speakers, and click on the little square , bottom right hand corner for a full screen version !....  .


Saturday, 10 August 2013

DIY Wedding Photography !

Anyone who takes pictures can do weddings..... true? or false?   Well, in my humble opinion... both are correct.... it just depends on how "good" you are at organising your shots and the people in them, and the backgrounds, and the lighting, and the tea and coffee, and the sandwiches.!... etc..,.. Yes, I have been asked to be the Photographer at a couple of weddings, by family and friends.... I am still part of the family, and I still have my friends... Why? because I refused to do it.... Wedding photography is an area that needs a lot of preparation, and prior knowledge, mainly with your equipment, and your own confidence to be able to pull it off well.... the biggest problem with Wedding Photography is.... you only get one chance to get it right... and if you don`t ..... you are likely to ruin somebody`s "Best day of my life"... event... Having said all that, I was the Mate, on the M.V. Richmond, a trip boat, on the Chichester Canal, for the Wedding Reception... The people who hired the boat, did all the decoration and provided the food and drink, as a normal landlubbers reception would be... the Bride and Groom turned up, with the small guest list, and came on board.... at that moment, their photographer, left the scene.  We sailed as scheduled, and about halfway through the journey, we stopped at a jetty at Hunston, for the guests to stretch their legs, and view Chichester Cathedral from the same vantage point as JWM Turner, for his painting.... I took the opportunity of asking the bride if I could take some pics of them, and the guests, to which she agreed... I wanted to do this for my own "entertainment" as much as anything, so I took myself off and we made some pics.... I suppose I must have taken about 40 in a period of 20 minutes.!.. however, when I got home after the trip, I then started processing them, to get some "good ones". and dump the ones I thought were not worth keeping.... One or two looked as though they might deserve more treatment than a crop or contrast operation.  Anyway, the results are below, and I don`t claim to be anything other than an amateur photographer who enjoys taking pics...



M.V. Richmond - ready to receive Bride & Groom 
Interior of Richmond waiting for the guests
The Bride & Groom, at the helm.
Bride & Groom, ( taken from the roof of the Richmond)


Top... Original    Middle... Cropped    Bottom.... Given the B&W treatment

Again... the same pic with B&W treatment for "vintage" effect


Now for some "magic!".... the original , below, had too many "onlookers"  in the background, when the happy couple should be the centre of attention, and should be made to appear that way... It took me about an hour to remove the background and replace it with "grass"... using a free program called PhotoFiltre.  First I used the "lassoo" tool to draw from the bottom edge of the pic around the happy couple leaving about 10 or 15 pixels from the actual edges of them and finishing at the bottom of the pic on the other side.... .... then I used the "paste as new image"... which did just that... it left the outside around them white... I used the cut and paste order to bring in some "grass" from the original background, and then by carefully adjusting the brush size I used the "clone" ( stamp ) tool to infill the space,,.. reducing the brush size, and at the same time over magnifying the pic ( 400x in some cases) to be able to touch up to the edges ... I think the result for a "quick job" is not too bad... so I may well be a bit more careful on the next job !...

Original Pic.....


Original Pic ( too many "onlookers" ! ! )

"Onlookers" removed !
"Vintage" Black & White !

Even More "Vintage"  Sepia

And of course, at any wedding, there is the obligatory "group photo".. so I managed to gather everyone together with the Bride & Groom on a convenient bench, climbed onto the roof of the boat again. and took the "group photo"....


After that, there was just one more pic to take, as the Bride & Groom, prepared for their voyage into the future......


                               Good Luck to them, and may they have a long and happy time together.

Monday, 24 June 2013

CWCOM "mobile" operation !

Here is a short video of me, sitting in the car, outside the Chichester Ship Canal Shop, using my mini laptop, a local free wifi connection, and my Hi-Mound HK-705 straight key on CWCom.... a bit difficult as I had the camera in my left hand....!...

(the break in the sound was caused by the web page "phoning home" and updating ! ! )...


Monday, 20 May 2013

Ward & Goldstone Digital Text Sender in action

Here is a video of my 100 year old Digital Text Sender in action.....

The key was made by Ward and; Goldstone, Pendleton, Manchester, probably for the Marconi Company, as they made keys and radio equipment for them to install on the ships of the period, including the Titanic.


          Click on the little square, bottom right corner for full screen.... have phones or speakers on !

The key has been modified, by changing the shape of the knob, giving it a "spark gap" shield underneath the knob, similar to my Admiralty Pattern 7681 key.... see video below for that in action.....




Click on the little square, bottom right corner for full screen.... have phones or speakers on !


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Chichester Canal. ..... Volunteers urgently needed

Chichester Ship Canal, is an historic place, but is very much up to date in terms of usage. There is angling, , row-boat hire, two trip boats, and a brand new purpose built shop and cafeteria at the end of the Canal Basin.... and that is only about 200 yards (metres) from the Chichester Railway or Bus Stations.

To keep the canal open, and to realise a dream, to open the canal again, to the sea, needs plenty of volunteers.... There is no age limit, perhaps you need to be over 16 at the lower end, but we do have several "older" people , well into their 70`s working in all aspects of the canal operation.

Boat Crews are needed on a very busy schedule throughout the summer months,... there is a small narrowboat, EGREMONT,  that seats 12 people, and runs on a daily timetable 4 trips per day... ( each trip is about 1.5 hours).. and two crew are needed to man this boat... usually for a couple of trips in the morning and a couple in the afternoon....

Narrowboat "Egremont"





The larger boat, RICHMOND,  needs a Skipper, a Mate, and two Cabin Crew, and can take up to 42 passengers... Usually the trips on this boat are booked in advance by groups, either social, or private, birthday party, or works outings....  there are also some special bookings for evening cruises, such as the "Sundowner" cruise, with a two piece combo and some wine to  help the journey mellow along.


Wide Beam Boat "Richmond"


Volunteers are needed, urgently, for boat crew, and cabin crew.... no experience is necessary, but a certain amount of commitment is required... Deck Crew, are trained on board, with experienced crew and the training is up to a level approved by the Maritime Coastguard Agency, which oversees passenger ship operations to ensure safety to the general public.  The training is a relaxed, but thorough affair, and again, to qualify for a Mate`s Ticket, you will be expected to commit to your training time... usually Monday morning 9am to 2pm and other times as and when available, depending on boat bookings...  Cabin Crew, also have a training to make sure they know what to do in an emergency, and also how to serve the passengers with food and drink, table layouts, and general customer/passenger goodwill. Again, no experience is necessary, but a willingness to learn something new is all that is really needed.


Typical Cabin Layout on "Richmond"


If you fancy yourself in the role of Mate, or Cabin Crew, then please get in touch with Mike Bushell on 07749 212 475 who is the Training Manager.

After obtaining your Mate`s Ticket, you can take additional training, and examination for the job of Skipper... ... ...

Shop staff.....Volunteers are needed here, too.......  Here is an opportunity to work in an extremely modern and active service role, as a shop assistant. serving customers at the counter, and being the "Front of House" for the Chichester Ship Canal.... The shop is brand new, being purpose built, after 21 years in an old Portakabin "container".... it took 21 minutes to destroy it !! !.. when the new shop opened in January 2013....  Shop staff serve teas, coffee sandwiches, cold fizzy drinks, and some canal related gift items.... there is an upstairs seating area, with a balcony overlooking the Canal Basin, and seating is also available outside.... Shop staff work on a voluntary rota basis, and this is organised by a newly appointed Manageress, Sarah,... who will be pleased to meet you and give you all the information you need to be a volunteer and work with an interesting group of people from a variety of lifestyles. Making new friends along the way !....



You can find out more about volunteering, either for boat crew, or shop staff, by visiting the shop, at the Canal Basin, ask any staff member for a leaflet, or ask for Sarah..... You can also visit the Chichester Ship Canal website....   http://chichestercanal.org.uk/  The shop telephone number is .... 01243 771 363.


Thursday, 28 February 2013

Thirty Minute Morse Key ** Updated** to show the improved Key

My trusty straight key is in the workshop being re-vamped with a new brass rocker bar..... see further down for the "improved" version, and also a photo of my "Operations Desk"....

                 (CLICK ON THE PIC .... TO ENLARGE THEM )




 and I needed to get a morse key up and working quick, so I made this one...

Piece of offcut pine.... 1 selftapping screw ,.... a strip of brass, one drilled hole... a piece of used twincore flex ..... a drawing pin...two telephone cable clips.

Cut the wood to size... cut the brass strip to size... drill a hole in one end, big enough for the screw....screw down to the baseboard... twist out to one side, use a small thin screwdriver to lever underneath a short distance from the screw...... return the brass bar to centre.... press down on it.... to put a slight bend in  the bar.... remove the screw....invert the bar, Prepare the wire as shown in the pic..... make a loop in one wire.... place under the screw end and screw back down tight...... make a loop in the other wire, and place a brass drawing pin in position under the brass bar at the other end to the screw... should be a small gap betwen the brass bar and the drawing pin.... secure the cables with the two telephone cable clips... and then wire up to your transmitter ( DB9 Plug)  to connect to your DB9 to USB converter cable... ready to use on CWCom.

EDIT... Just thought of a Modification that can be done in the construction phase.... In its present form, there is no way to adjust the gap ... so instead of using a Brass Drawing Pin as the contact point... us a small screw, preferably brass,. you can move the bar across (right or left), and then screw the screw in or out of the wood, to adjust the gap.... Of course, the wire loop will need to be reasonably tight to make a good contact.

EDIT EDIT EDIT.... and an update.... here is a couple of pics of the "improved" version of my trusty straight key... Still getting used to it, after taking it to bits, it needs a lot of testing to get the spring, the tension, the gap, and the pressure on the pivot points, to work together again...!... anyway. I am pleased with the result so far... getting lots of practice on CWCOM... a way of transmitting and receiving morse code over the internet....In three weeks of being on CWCOM, I have made a couple of friends in the USA... and a couple of contacts in Holland, and also Poland... The world is my oyster, and I don`t need to pass the Radio Amateur exam !...

The Improved Key........  ( CLICK ON THE PICS TO ENLARGE THEM )




 Here are some pics of a morse key I bought at a radio rally today... I think it is about 1905 and was made by Ward and Goldstone, Pendleton, Manchester.  (UK)....







this is a web pic I found looking for info on my key. http://www.cntr.salford.ac.uk/comms/beforethephone.php

I can see the holes on my key where the original Ward and Goldstone lable would have been fixed.



Below is the "Operations Desk"... with pull out draw, and extra desk space for my morse key.

                                CLICK ON THE PIC............... TO ENLARGE IT.......