By Jerry Proc VE3FAB

As autumn leaves fall and the weather starts to hint at the onset of winter, HMCS HAIDA is transformed into a state of hibernation in order that she may endure the rigours of the cold, snowy months. The visitors are gone and the atmosphere is tranquil. For the volunteers aboard the ship, it is a time to reflect on the achievements of 1994. This year, much success was enjoyed in several facets of the on-going radio restoration project. Once again, members of the amateur radio community played a pivotal role in helping to attain some of these milestones.

The leading project of the year was the refurbishment of Radio 2, a task which occupied nearly three months worth of Saturdays. When Haida was commissioned in 1943, she was fitted with only two radio rooms which where then known as the First and Second Wireless offices. Initially, Radio 2 provided HF/DF (Huff-Duff) capability using the Marconi FH4 direction finding receiver. By 1957, Radio 2 was refitted and became the main transmitting room for radioteletype and CW traffic. If Radio 1, was put out of action, emergency HF communications could be provided from this location but at a great reduction in capacity. Radio 2 also provided additional capacity in the event that Radio 1 became overloaded with traffic.

There were two Marconi CM11 transmitter/receivers and one Marconi PV500 HM transmitter installed in this room. The PV500 was a 500 watt unit whose frequency range spanned from 3 to 19 Mhz while the CM11 covered 515 khz to 13.8 mhz running power levels of 100 watts on CW or 30 watts on phone. A frequency shift keyer interfaced the paper tape reader in Radio 1 and the PV500. All equipment in this room was controlled by the remote control system located in Radio 1 but there still had to be two 'Sparkers' on duty in order to change frequencies and tune the equipment. The PV500 was connected to a 35 foot whip antenna mounted on the starboard side aft. One of the CM11's used a 35 foot whip antenna mounted on the port side aft while the other CM11 connected to a flattop antenna attached to the mainmast.

PV500's were notorious for ground loop problems and one made sure that you kept one hand in a pocket while tuning them. Placing a hand on the cabinet to brace yourself against the ship's roll could result in a real fine attention grabber in the form of an AC buzz. Many Sparkers tuned the PV500's by watching the power amplifier tube through the glass inspection window. When the plate was cherry red but not white, the final stage was considered to be tuned. On some PV500's, the bottom power supply cover panel can be found dented. This was normal, caused by having to kick it in order to ensure that the power supply interlock engaged! The other major achievement was in Haida's Message Centre where radio teletype system was re-built thanks to the efforts of several amateurs. Hazen Marr, VE3HAZ of Pickering, Ontario contributed two very functional Model 15 teletype machines, Model 14 tape readers, reperforators and a supply of blank tape for the punches. This, together with a donation of surplus Teletype paper from the University of Toronto, will ensure an ample supply of Teletype consumables for many years to come.

The most difficult item to locate for the Message Centre was the TT23 Teletype Distribution Panel. Darcy Bens, VE7GCK of Duncan, B.C. made the impossible seem easy. Darcy is a communicator in the Royal Canadian Navy and assisted in the procurement of the panel. David Morgan, W04S, a surplus dealer in Norfolk Virginia, generously discounted the cost of an AN/SGC-1A Teletype Terminal Set and threw in two extras at no charge. The SGC-1A was a 200 Hz AFSK converter/keyer used for radioteletype communications in the 225 to 400 Mhz UHF bands, however this mode of operation is now obsolete. Using a borrowed transceiver and an old terminal unit, the RTTY broadcast from W1AW on 40 metres was copied on one of the vintage Model 15 Teletypes for the first time on May 14, 1994. This was the first such message printed on the ship in thirty one years. In 1995, there are plans to experiment with two way RTTY using as much of the ship's original equipment as possible.

Another amateur, Bob Wilson K1GVA of Portland Maine (now deceased) advised me that he had a TDQ transmitter for sale. Designed in 1944, this was a 45 watt AM/CW VHF transmitter operating in the 115 to 156 Mhz band. Since the unit weighs 285 pounds, the shipping costs to get the TDQ to Toronto would have broken the meagre financial resources of the ship. Help was on the way. As a result of two generous donations by the York Region Amateur Radio Club (ARC) and South Pickering ARC, we were able to cover the major cost of cartage. Other financial assistance was provided by the Skywide and Thornhill ARC's. My gratitude goes to the members of these clubs and to the individuals who made personal donations.

In June of 1994, I was contacted by Mark Gibson, VE3MWH of Hamilton, Ontario. He informed me that he would like to donate a vintage Marconi MSL5 low frequency receiver made in 1944. As a result of his generosity, he provided me with inspiration to open an exhibit area which will focus on equipment that was used on Haida in the 1940's. Tom Brent, of Dewdney B.C. is an aficionado of military equipment and an 'invisible' member of the restoration effort. Distance does not permit him to physically participate, but his 'behind the scenes' support is invaluable towards the overall effort. Recently he contributed a BC221 frequency meter and equipment manuals for TDQ and TBS equipment. In 1993, Tom donated a Hammarlund SP600JX receiver to the ship.

In the last article that I wrote on Haida, I mentioned that straight keys were missing. Now, we have a full compliment of keys through donations made by Keith Kennedy VE7KWK of Surrey B.C., Robert Dick VE3BD of Willowdale, Ontario and Don Bujas of Grimsby, Ontario. These vintage keys have been mounted on plexiglass plates, just like the originals. Now, the means of how CW was sent is self- explanatory for our visitors.

Early in 1994, Haida lost the use of a loaner Heathkit HW101 transceiver for our amateur station VE3CGJ. Doug Card VE3CKX of Milton, Ontario loaned us his personal Yaesu FT200 for the season and was then instrumental in procuring a Heathkit SB104 transceiver which will be made available to the ship on perpetual basis. To commemorate D-Day, Haida used the special call sign of CI3CGJ. Appalling band conditions on 40 metres in the two week period preceding D-Day only permitted 39 contacts to be made. I guess one can't expect much at the bottom of a sunspot cycle.

Commander R.A. Willson (Ret'd), Haida's full time Captain, participated in the action as well. He managed to procure an Instructograph morse code trainer, a unit which was originally manufactured in the mid 1930's and was in continuous production for at least 25 years. Many a radio operator received code training on a unit such as this. Another applaud goes to Jim Fleming VE3PBJ of Douro Ontario. He provided Haida with an SCR522 transmitter/receiver which was used on the ship during the 1940's and provides another addition to the family of equipment from the war years. Many hams got their start in VHF with this gear. In addition, he donated a URR504 UHF receiver and an XFK frequency shift keyer which will act as a 'stand-in' until the authentic model can be located.

In July of this year, Haida received six Channel Switching Units (CSU's) from HMCS Nipigon while that ship was being refitted in Port Weller Ontario. The CSU's are a type of matrix switch which allow receiver/transmitter combinations to be connected to different radio Remote Control Units. Our thanks are extended to those unidentified individuals at DND who made this possible. As this article is being written, Jim Brewer and myself are wiring up these CSU's to the ship's radio remote control system. By 1995, the task should be completed and will provide the basis for yet another restoration story. For those who could not visit the ship and see the restoration first hand, I developed a slide and video show which was presented to thirteen ARC's in Toronto and vicinity in late 1993 and early 1994. It was my pleasure to have done this and in the process, I met many interesting individuals.

For 1995, the planned restoration activity will be Radio 3, a unmanned radio room which was only fitted with UHF equipment and was operated by remote control. In closing, I trust that the amateur community will continue to express an on-going interest and assist with the radio restoration project. Once again, I sincerely thank everyone for their efforts. 73 until next year.

Return to Radio Reading Room