Author Topic: QE2's Radio Room  (Read 28102 times)

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Online Twynkle

QE2's Radio Room
« on: Feb 19, 2012, 10:48 PM »
The Radio Room

Please is anyone able to tell us more about it?
Was it the hub of all QE2 communications?
Before it was 'de-commissioned', how many people workerd in there
and were the Watch times the same as elsewhere?
It must have been a fascinating place!

QE2 Radio room topic on Shipsnostalgia forum

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The Queen Elizabeth 2, Qe2, Radio Room With Operator, Medium Shot
« Last Edit: Jun 26, 2020, 03:59 PM by Rob Lightbody »
QE2 had been waiting alongside in Dubai for nearly 12 years.  Please restore her Lifeboats and Tenders to where they truly belong - she looks naked without them - please spare her this ignominy.

Offline Louis De Sousa

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Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #1 on: Feb 20, 2012, 07:17 AM »

Offline Louis De Sousa

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Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #2 on: Feb 20, 2012, 07:30 AM »
When QE2 entered service the plan was that 9 staff would operate the Radio Room around the clock, this never happened.Until 1987 the room was only operated by 6 staff.After the big refit and with new equipment that numer was reduced to 3.

Offline Rod

Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #3 on: Apr 20, 2012, 12:01 AM »
Remember that at the out set of QE2, dont forget that I am older than our Lords donkey! The radio room had to do all the communication for both the ship and the pax. Satellite when QE2 was launched was for military use only and was horrendosly expensive.
Telegrams were still in use...remember them? The ship had to order spare parts, arrange repairs etc telephone calls were around 7 pounds/minute. Telegrams were still sent in morse at times.
Orders for food, technical stores and deck stores were put on punch tape and sent that way as it was faster. sometimes the tape would be over 200 feet long.
When satellite calls became available as general they were still expensive....so you had to wait for Portishead radio to have a circuit available...sometimes 3 hours...then find the person was not at home!
I remember when the first public cell phones were put up on A stair at the Boat deck...long lines at a million bucks/minute! When I left it was hang on let me call NY!

Online Twynkle

Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #4 on: Dec 17, 2012, 06:40 PM »
Calling both Engine Guys as well a Deck Guys - and just wondering...again!!
Did you use the radio 'stuff' between the bridge and ECR, because it would be interesting to know where the receivers were situated in the ECR?
Only asking because the noise downstairs must have been deafening without ear muffs, yet it must have been impossible to hear anything with them on.....
Many thanks - and hope it's not too stupid a question...
Rosie
QE2 had been waiting alongside in Dubai for nearly 12 years.  Please restore her Lifeboats and Tenders to where they truly belong - she looks naked without them - please spare her this ignominy.

Offline Rod

Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #5 on: Dec 17, 2012, 09:50 PM »
Rosie, your questions are never stupid.

Comms between Main control room and bridge were by phone and intercom...same as Turbine control room and bridge. Between the various engine spaces there was the intercom system. There was also a direct line phone between bridge and MCR and TCR. Post "big refit" of course the TCR went. But same comms between bridge and what became the ECR (MCR).
Deck Officers had very expensive walkie talkies for docking and emergencies. Engine Dept eventually got cheaper ones that were ok on deck but because of the steel they did not have enough power to penetrate and be much use below decks.
There was a pager system that was quite effective. During emergencies the "Tannoy" (PA) system was used to a great extent.
One of the cruise staff, at his own expense, bought a unit that allowed him to "Carry" his cabin phone with him...but again because of the metal...not very effective.
Regarding ear muffs......believe it or not...they were not used until the late 70's!!!!! What did you say? You will have to speak up Rosie!!!! But with them on you could still hear Tannoys as they only deafened certain frequencies.

Offline BlueSparky

Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #6 on: Mar 08, 2014, 08:35 AM »
Hi all, I suppose this is the best thread to carry on my QE2 memories, seeing as I spent the majority of my time on board in the radio room!!

I joined the old girl on 6th October 1988.  On being shown my cabin on the boat deck which I shared with my oppo, stowing my bags, I was taken down to the radio room to meet the boss Allan Holmes, a big gruff man from Blackburn.

He welcomed me and showed me the main stuff in the radio room.  As a bright eyed, fresh out of radio college lad, I was struck by the relative age of the equipment and the Heath Robinson approach to installation!  I later come to learn that was the way it was done by Radio and Electronic services!

My first introduction to the magnitude of notoriety that the old girl commanded was literally a few hours away. I was anxious for us to cast off for our trip to the Mediterreanean, which we did with the usual band of Royal Marines serenading us on our way.  After being underway for a short time there was an almighty shuddering from the ship.  Not knowing what it was I just thought it was normal, until the telephone rang.  I anwered it to be greeted by BBC Radio Solent asking why the QE2 had nearly ran in to the Isle of Wight.... I said that I didn't know what was happening but I would put them in touch with someone who may know and promptly put them in touch with the bridge.
I turned out that the ship was only about 150 yeards from the shore and the new diesel engines had worked beautifully.  First lesson - the QE2 was always in the news!

I have lots of other memories that I will recount over time.  I wonder if anyone else was on board at that time and can remember this?

Online cunardqueen

Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #7 on: Mar 08, 2014, 06:56 PM »
Welcome aboard BlueSparky

I was a passenger on this my third QE2 cruise. It was the start of a great cruise, but l wonder how many passengers were aware of just how close it was, under the command of Captain Bennell.

 The first l knew of it was reading the front page in my cabin the next day.Certainly it was very windy, l have a photo of a bird (the feathered kind) on the deck.
Such was my excitement l asked the radio room to fax the cover to my parents in Orkney, l had given the wrong number and it had to be resent, cant recall how much it cost, but to me sending a fax over the ocean was very hi tec. Along with making a phone call, which then was very expensive, but very clear

Then again after the refit the previous year with direct dial phones it must have made the workload easier?
The stars onboard if you remember were Vince Hill, Claire Reynor, Frankie Howerd, Lional Blair,Bobby Crush,Mr Saville  :-X
Were you ever allowed to attend the cocktail parties? was morse code still being used ? Im sure it would be interesting to hear more of your day to day routine for what for some of us was a service that we used but knew simply nothing about.
 
From the moment you first glimpsed the Queen,
 you just knew you were in for a very special time ahead.!

stevied

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Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #8 on: Mar 09, 2014, 07:52 AM »
Hi, thanks for the information.

I remember Mr Saville very clearly, used to chat to him on many occasions, both on the telephone when I was connecting his telephone calls to the many occasions he used to say hi to me as he did his daily jog around the decks to waving and calling my name when ashore, much to the bemusement of my crew mates!

I spoke to Claire Rayner on a few occasions, as I did with Lionel Blair, but the best was when I had my photo taken with Frankie Howerd when he visited the radio room... Always loved the tv show "up Pompeii" so it was a great thrill for me to meet him.

I never did attend the cocktail parties as I wasn't classed as an officer, even though I was fully qualified, a very sad part of my short time on the ship.  But that is another issue.

Morse was on Its way out as a means of communicating with Telex and satellite as well as radio telephone being much more prevalent. However it was still broadcast as identification and we still kept watch on 500 kilohertz for distress traffic.

I have one lasting memento of my time as Morse was a favourite means of communicating (I still practise morse as I am a radio ham) - I have one of the QE2 morse keys that the chief radio officer gave to me!

As for direct dial calls from the cabins, that wasn't the case. Passengers had to call the radio room staff to connect their calls either via RT or satellite phone. We used a Siemens Nixdorf exchange for this operation.

There were 2 separate satellite systems as well as the extensive radio fit out.

I have some pictures somewhere that I will try and find and I'll put them on when I get chance.

...-.- de GBTT


Offline June Ingram

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Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #9 on: Mar 10, 2014, 03:44 PM »
Thank you very much to all for your very interesting commentaries.  Can you please tell us more about the type of equipment in the radio room ?  Thanks !  June
QE2 - the ship for all of time, a ship of timeless beauty !

Online cunardqueen

Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #10 on: Apr 11, 2014, 10:45 PM »
Bluesparky..
Remember this, the insert from the onboard QE2 newspaper..

and a stowaway....poor thing.
From the moment you first glimpsed the Queen,
 you just knew you were in for a very special time ahead.!

Offline Roger Latham

Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #11 on: Jun 07, 2014, 06:28 AM »
Hi I am Roger Latham who was 2nd RO 1968/1969.  I am moving a query to Willum here as I think more appropriate place than the introduction page.

Willum
Radio Room Photos
Have you any more photos of the radio room in the earlier days.  Rather strangely despite the huge number of photos of the ship, there are very few of the radio room.  I found a couple in the IMR Sponsor brochure - but I am not sure if they were mock up photos and may have been changed in the final fitout.  There does not seem to be a website for the old IMR.  From memory IMR were not that happy with the final radio installation in 1968 - I think there was too much interference as to equipment fitout.
Not related to IMR but an example was the installation of Lincompex on the radphone circuits. It did not work well due to interference on the control channel at times.  Was it still in use during your time ?
I have a few photographs from around early 80s when QE2 was in Hobart but equipment had changed then.

Main Transmitter
I have a query re the ITT 1kw main transmitter - not the ST1430 self tuning transmitters.  Was the main transmitter an  ST1400 or was it the later ST1600 which was a self tuning transmitter with remote control.  I was at IMR in Croydon 4 to 8 November 1968 doing a course on what I put in my diary as ST1400.  I have a publicity photo of the 3 QE2 ROs ( not Don Butterworth) looking into the main transmitter. From memory I think this was actually an ST1200 but the ST1400 was to be installed on the QE2 - as the ST1400 is not remote controlled or self tuning, IMR installed servo motors on the controls.  That was my memory of it and years ago I put this on another forum.  This memory was disputed and said that only the reserve transmitter had been modified with servos for remote control.

The question is who is correct - you would probably know the answer.  I am sure there was 4 off 1kW transmitters available that means the IMR ST1400 had remote control servos fitted or that IMR installed the ST1600 with its remote control self tuning.

The IMR ST1400 (or ST1600) was  the only type approved main transmitter on the QE2 at that time as the ST1430s were Swedish Army transmitters. To comply with regulations the ST1400 ( or ST1600) would have to be controllable from the radio receiver room.

HF Notch Antenna
I have another query in relation to the HF "notch" antennas mounted on the funnel. ( For the non technical readers, these are the white large boxes low on the funnel casing in early photos)  We were told they worked on the "notch" principle - like a bolt-on slot antenna.  I did not understand this at the time  - there was too much else to think about then.  QE2 was not supposed to have wire transmit antennas and was to rely on the "notch" antennas. However wire transmit antennas were installed even before the trials.  The "notch" antennas had a very narrow bandwidth and were hard to tune - manually of course !

I have recently been looking into how these "notch" antennas worked.  Rather strangely I can find almost no information on the web. They must have a patent for them but I cannot find it.  I now believe they are not "notch" antennas but rather "coupled loop antennas" .  Coupled loop antennas started to be of interest around 1965 judging by the patents - therefore that would fit. There seems to a revival of interest in this technology - using a funnel or mast as a radiator on warships.

Query - Did you ever look into how these "notch" antennas work ?

VHF Notch Antenna on Bridge
Another oddity.  Why was a VHF "notch" aerial mounted in the centre top of the wheelhouse ?  It spoilt  the lines of the ship.  I think it was Alan Holmes who said it looked like a tram destination board and he was right ! Yet, unlike the HF "notch" antennas it seemed to stay on the ship for the whole of its sea life !   Was it really a VHF Marine antenna or was there something more to this than meets the eye ? I find it hard to understand why this was left when in its place could be a normal almost invisible VHF whip antenna with no loss of performance !

Query - did you ever find to which equipment it was connected ?

I will attach a few tiny bits of photos showing the "notch" antennas on the QE2 for the benefit or those not familiar.
I am having trouble attaching multiple photos so not sure how many are attached !


All the best

Roger







 

Offline Roger Latham

Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #12 on: Jun 07, 2014, 06:53 AM »
Willum
I was right I was not able to attach multiple images.  I will try again. This time I will post without doing a preview first

Roger

Offline Willum

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Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #13 on: Jun 07, 2014, 11:12 AM »
Hello Roger, 
The Lincompex was confined to the bin where it belonged by the time I joined in 1977 as was piccolo. The 3 x ST1430's were for HF only they weren't actually type-approved for marine use.

The main Tx (Tx4) was an Ericsson EB1500 MF and HF permanently connected to the Main Aerial (Long wire) the Emergency TX was an EB400 with a remote control unit made by Jim Neary.
A second EB1500 was installed (TX2) and the control unit can be seen behind Brian in that photo.

So we had 5 1kW+ transmitters, No1, 3 and 5 were ST1430 with No5 dedicated to Sitor, and 2 x EB1500's.
The EB1500's were remote controlled and type approved. Only the MF CW EB400 was on battery back-up.

The Notch aerial above the bridge front was actually an HF receiving notch not VHF. There were 2 VHF notches further up the signal mast by the whistle, one for the Bridge VHF and the other for the Radio Room VHF, these worked ok as they didn't need tuning.
HF Notches are still used on aircraft but these were hopeless on QE2 as the internal tuning mechanism soon jammed and they were impossible to service, so HF Wires were soon installed around the funnel and the Main aerial going aft to the back of the helicopter deck on the port side. 

At the same time a number of receiving wires and whips were installed around the signal mast, each operating position had the facility to select any of 6 receiving aerials, one of which was the notch but it was useless.

I too do talks for Radio Clubs (G3YPQ N.Cornwall)  and have a few pic of the R/Room and bridge, but they are all slides, so good luck with your events.

Willum (and there's more where that came from, Jim!)

Photo information from Willum :

Quote
Willum seated and Standing L-R Brian Martin, Ian Hamilton, Allan Holmes and Peter Hughes.
« Last Edit: Jun 29, 2020, 09:17 AM by Lynda Bradford »
Willum

Online Rob Lightbody

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Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #14 on: Jun 07, 2014, 01:05 PM »
Willum
I was right I was not able to attach multiple images.  I will try again. This time I will post without doing a preview first

Roger

Roger,

I am loving your contributions, so I am keen to make it as easy as possible for you!  You can attach up to 8 images to one posting.  It "should" be easy, and you should also be able to preview.  You can modify the original post and add more images to it too. 

Instructions here (method 1) -

Information & Welcome » Welcome, Guidance, Forum News » Instructions » How to include Pictures with your forum message
 
Passionate about QE2's service life for 37 years and creator of this website.  Worked in IT for 27 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Roger Latham

Radio Room
« Reply #15 on: Jun 07, 2014, 03:48 PM »
Willum

Many thanks for your explanation. It does clarify much confusion.

I looked up the Ericsson EB1500 transmitter on the website ul http://www.seefunknetz.de/eb1500.htm.  It implies that the transmitter was not on the market until 1970 - obviously after the QE2 came into service. It was built by the Norwegian company
Elektrisk  but sold by German company Ericsson.

I am now sure my memory was correct that the ST1400 was installed with remote controlled servos - which were awful to use and clearly the reason for the change to the Ericcson EB1500 prior to your arrival in 1977.

The HF notches were also awful to use and as I said wire aerials had been erected prior to the trials. There were four - two each side from a point each side of the funnel.  We found problems with interaction between transmitters.  The problem with the St1430 is that once tuned it would not perform a retune if there was interaction with another transmitter tuning.  It would just lower the power.

Did you ever look up how the notch antennas were supposed to work ?

I cannot remember what was the reserve transmitter during my time - it was probably IMR but IMR re-badged many equipments.
I wonder if Jim Neary used the redundant servos from the main transmitter after it was changed ? 

My memory totally failed me as regards the notch above the bridge.  I thought it was VHF so I was obviously confusing it with the VHF notches up the mast.  Why did they leave the receive notch there if it did not work very well ? It was very unsightly.I  Presume it could have been moved further aft and would still work. Probably moving it would upset the compensation of the standard magnetic compass.

As I recall the Lincompex units as originally used  had the compression/expander sub channel control outside the audio passband.  Due to ITU regulations, as installed for QE2 it had to be put inside the marine audio passband with restriction of audio range. Any other station transmitting on the same frequency would mess up the control channel with their audio ! Result was it rarely got the improvement it was supposed despite a huge publicity hype at the time. Also I do not think we could use privacy/ speech inversion at the same time.

Interesting that the Piccolo was gone before you arrived.  In general the Piccolo worked better than the Plessey ARQ. The problem was if there was interference then Plessey would not even get of the ground asking for repeats !  Whilst the Piccolo would continue even if there was a few errors.  I do not remember much about the Plessey ARQ - I presume it was an early form of Sitor.  Was  Plessey still working after 1977 or had you changed to Sitor ?  Piccolo and Plessey made a punched tape for the Addresograph-Multigraph Printer.  From memory it punched up on a Siemens M100 looking teleprinter - at least the Piccolo did.  How many unit code tape did the machine use ?  It would have to be at least 7 unit but I suspect more because it had to handle different fonts and font sizes. The adverts and photos were of course put on board  before sailing.
I have in front of me now the actual Daily Telegraphs printed on April 3 1969 - one of the first successful. Headline was "LEFT REVOLT AS WILSON TELLS OF FAILED MISSION "Also for May 10 and May 27 1969.

In 1969 we used Creed 444 teleprinters and it looks as if they were still in use around your time.  Once again my memory fails me as to what was the the modulator and demodulator used for the RTTY signal ?  Since then I have used different types in Antarctica such as Frederick.  Were they US Northern Radio 152/153 units ?

Out of interest were you on QE2 in February 1985 ? I visited QE2 on 17 February 1985 in Hobart and was very impressed with the ITT STR910 frequency agile transmitter/receiver which had just been installed.

In August I will have held an amateur licence for 50 years continually.  I started as G3SHG in 1964 when still at Bristol College getting my Certificate of Proficiency.  Then VK6RY ( a good RTTY callsign) and have been VK7ER for 37 years !

I presume you are from Cornwall.  My wife is born in Plymouth but family originally came  from Newlyn. I normally go to England each year for 2 month around this time always starting in Cornwall !  In fact I should have been there now but had to cancel my flight at the last minute !

Strangely I took very few photos of QE2.  Like you many of my other ship photos are on slides. For this talk I have converted some by the crude way of using a plastic diffuser/ light assembly from an old scanner and a cardboard tube around the lens of the camera against the slide.  Result not perfect but acceptable. Some slides do seem to lose colour after 40 years and often appear washed out.

Anyhow, once again many thanks for the information - I am trying to get the story straight for my talk ! Its a pity there is not a website with detailed information about the radio equipment on QE2 over the years.
All the best

Roger

Offline Roger Latham

Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #16 on: Jun 07, 2014, 04:22 PM »
Hi Rob

I am pleased you like my posts.

Thanks for the instructions about attaching multiple photos.  I read them and it seemed to be the way I was trying to send them.

I have now found the problem.  It was due to the setting on my firewall.  I use Outpost Pro 9.1 with web control set pretty tight to block Active X, Visual basic etc.  I did previously try running the firewall in "Allow Most" but there was no change.  I had to put in an exclude for www.theque2story.com and that fixed the problem.  You can sometimes be too secure with a firewall ! I should have thought of that sooner.
http://theqe2story.com/forum/Smileys/default/embarrassed.gif

Once again many thanks for your help Rob.

Roger

Offline Willum

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Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #17 on: Jun 07, 2014, 07:53 PM »
Hello Roger,

You're right about pretty much everything, Sitor became the mainstay, 5-unit code (ITA2?) and there was punched tape everywhere! we used miles of it, and it was easy to get mixed up, Ciaran once sent the OBS to the Dorchester Hotel. The telex machines were Creed 444 with an ASR33 on the Std-A Satcom. The newspaper came in by Sitor, and you could direct dial remote telex machines without GKE intervening. The mod - demod was the Marconi Spector, one of the best things ever to come out of Chelmsford apart from the roads.

 Yes Jim used the servos from that TX for his EB400 remote variometer tuner and you could also change crystals and power level. I rebuilt the Radio Room side as it eventually started becoming unreliable.
No I never investigated the notches, we always said the Bridge top RX Notch would be removed for us one day by an enthusiastic N.Atlantic but it hung on!

Yes I was in Hobart in Feb 85, Tech R/O, my now-wife Sarah was on board and took photos. I was a Plympton lad myself! Did 1st class, Radar, and MED at Plymouth Poly. There's quite a bit about QE2 Radio room on www.shipsnostalgia.com especially about the joys of passing the Radio Survey, - usually my responsibility for my sins. Those Marconi Salvare lifeboat radio installations in the crash boats were, to be polite, challenging, but amusing to think we couldn't get a Passenger Cert without 6 x 807's working.!

Perhaps this is getting a bit too nerdy for the forum, feel free to PM me for more geekdom.

Willum

Willum

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Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #18 on: Jun 07, 2014, 08:08 PM »
Perhaps this is getting a bit too nerdy for the forum, feel free to PM me for more geekdom.

Not a bit, Willum, quite the opposite! Although there is no way I can join in this learned debate, I am looking on with fascination and once again enjoying all the knowledge that comes to this Forum.

Keep going, both of you, and anyone else, do join in!

Online Rob Lightbody

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Re: The Radio Room
« Reply #19 on: Jun 07, 2014, 08:19 PM »
Please continue the nerdy talk in public! Even though i don't understand most of it, it's all googleable for future people researching this stuff... Bring it on!
Passionate about QE2's service life for 37 years and creator of this website.  Worked in IT for 27 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

 

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