[time-nuts] Vintage Frequency Measurement

Wes wes at triconet.org
Mon Feb 13 00:10:09 EST 2017

This reminds me.

Many years ago the Titan Missile sites around here in Tucson were being 
decommissioned.  The people at Davis Monthan AFB who maintained them were going 
to be out of work but had an opportunity to bump into something else on base if 
they got some more training.  I and a coworker, who had quit a tenured position 
at the U of A, were both teaching part time at the local Jr college.  The AF 
approached the college to request a class be developed to help their people 
prepare for the new work.  The college in turn approached my PhD friend.  He was 
happy to do the lecture part of a course but wanted nothing to do with teaching 
lab work.  He asked me to share the job with him.

I don't remember all of the particulars but I do remember that after each lab 
session the AF folks removed all of the lab gear from the work benches and 
locked it away in storage cabinets before wiping down the benches and mopping 
the floors.  This included unplugging an HP-5245L and tucking it away.  I 
admonished them about this practice and actually taught them about crystal 
aging, etc and the need for time for stabilization. This was years before GPS.

I had one woman Sgt confess to me that when she went to a silo to check some 
frequency or the other, she was supposed to use a piece of equipment that took 
hours to stabilize.  From the sound of it it was some WWVB phase comparison 
equipment.  Instead of this process, she grabbed the frequency counter from the 
lab, threw it in the PU and hauled it 50 miles to the missile site, plugged it 
in and tweaked the widget using the counter.  I had visions of a Titan Missile 
targeted to hit Vladivostok landing on Tokyo instead.

Wes Stewart

2/12/2017 7:31 PM, Bob Camp wrote:
> Hi
> If you look at a typical BC-221 in use, it goes from “calibrated” in a nice warm hut to the back
> of a jeep. It heads out to an ice cold flight line and the switch turns the batteries back on again.
> It bumps in and out of a batch of B-17’s setting each one up for the day’s net frequencies. You
> would be doing very well to hold 50 ppm under those circumstances. That was indeed adequate
> for the purpose.
> Bob

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