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B52's Planet Claire CW message decoded

sunbulls

Sr. Member
Apr 25, 2017
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Every newcomer to CW will naturally be drawn towards copying the code that’s often dubbed into movies or songs. Proud of your new accomplishment, you may find yourself announcing the content of that code to others that are also watching. You will also be surprised how often a producer will simply dub in fake code or gibberish. While my daughter was listening to her favorite bands on Youtube, I was immediately taken back by the code at the beginning of this song. After playing the beginning back several times, it sounded to me like one of those repetitive beacons that you run across on the short wave bands, but I decided more research was needed. Maybe there’s some hidden message. Is Paul McCartney dead? Is Elvis alive? The following is what I found about this particular code. Of course I can’t vouch for the total accuracy of this guys post, but in breaking it down, I found a fair portion of it to be correct from my own understanding of the terms.

The morse code you hear at the beginning of the song is what's called a "call tape" or "ZKR tape". The station transmitting it, at the time, would have been Canadian Forces Station Mill Cove in Hubbards, Nova Scotia, which was the Naval Radio Station supporting the east coast fleet. The tape would be transmitted on several different frequencies advising ships which frequencies were available for them to call/transmit their messages. The ship would listen to the call tape, select the best frequency from the list based upon the time of day, and transmit a call to Mill Cove. Mill Cove would then interrupt the tape, and an operator would respond by hand in morse code, advising the ship to transmit their message(s), or to advise them the frequency was no good and to select another. The tape would then be resumed. When a ship started working a frequency, that frequency would be temporarily removed from the list of frequencies in the call tape. The morse code sent is "NAWS DE CFH - ZKR F1 3394.....", where NAWS is a callsign meaning "Any or all Allied warships", DE is a prosign meaning "this is", CFH is the callsign of CFS Mill Cove, II which is a short break or dash, ZKR means "I am guarding frequency ... " (guarding means listening on), F1 means "radioteletype mode", and then the list of frequencies begins, listed in kilohertz. I was a Naval Radio Operator for 5 years (1985-1990) before progressing to become a Naval Electronics Technician (Communications) in the Canadian Navy. As Radio Operators, we spent a lot of time with a headset on, listening to this call tape over and over and over.

 

Actually CFH is a split facility. The receiver located in Mill Cove Nova Scotia while the associated transmitter site is presently located in Newport Corner Nova Scotia about 25 miles to the north. The split facility eliminates desensitizing of the rx while the tx is operating and makes two bombing targets to eliminate a single station. I used to live 12 miles line of sight from the CFH tx site and let me tell you a 600 foot wire antenna dumps VOLTS of signal into a receiver from the 250 KW longwave transmitter. In fact the driver stage ran continuously and the finals were keyed. I could copy the driver feed thru power at S-9. Signals were considerably stronger when the finals were keyed. LOL
 
Actually CFH is a split facility. The receiver located in Mill Cove Nova Scotia while the associated transmitter site is presently located in Newport Corner Nova Scotia about 25 miles to the north. The split facility eliminates desensitizing of the rx while the tx is operating and makes two bombing targets to eliminate a single station. I used to live 12 miles line of sight from the CFH tx site and let me tell you a 600 foot wire antenna dumps VOLTS of signal into a receiver from the 250 KW longwave transmitter. In fact the driver stage ran continuously and the finals were keyed. I could copy the driver feed thru power at S-9. Signals were considerably stronger when the finals were keyed. LOL
It always amazed me how some of these high power brute force transmitters like Radio Free Europe would saturate the airwaves regardless of any unfavorable skip conditions.
 
I could copy the driver feed thru power at S-9.

ARRL Handbook called that a "backwave".

Seems to me I discovered this trying to find a way to cure the CW "chirp" on my 15-meter signal in 1969. Back when a novice-license station had to use crystal control. The cure was to put a 150-Volt gas regulator tube on the screen grid of the oscillator and final, both. The Heathkit HX-11 had only two tubes. Until I added the third one.

Cured the chirp, and no backwave.

73
 
Back in 1964, my novice rig was a DX-20, basically the same as the HX-11. By mistake I called CQ in the tune position one time and was surprised that a station returned my call. That’s when I realized I could work stations merely by running the oscillator stage. No more playing around in the tune position after that, as I was using that switch as a code practice feature. LOL
 
ARRL Handbook called that a "backwave".

Seems to me I discovered this trying to find a way to cure the CW "chirp" on my 15-meter signal in 1969. Back when a novice-license station had to use crystal control. The cure was to put a 150-Volt gas regulator tube on the screen grid of the oscillator and final, both. The Heathkit HX-11 had only two tubes. Until I added the third one.

Cured the chirp, and no backwave.

73

No chirp or "backwave"but a definite raspy hummmmmm to the signal. It was the grid to plate capacitance causing the driver feed thru to leak to the antenna. Then again the driver stage was around 10 KW and I could literally see the antennas. LOL
 
I need to post some pics from the Voice of America museum at the former Bethany relay station. Transmitters there topped out at 250 kW IIRC.

Seems to me the finals for those required a 10 or 20 kW driver.

Gotta track down those pics.

73
 

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