24 January 2004

First Draft: South Shields. Course Work

The syllabus was split into 3 main areas:

1. The Basic Principles of Electricity and Magnetism. Theory and Practise.

We were taught the Atomic theory... electrons, nuclei, protons, ions etc.
Basic electricity... volts, ohms current, watts, joules, calories, etc. and all formulae.
Principles of magnetism and its applications. Formulae again, hysteresis loops, rules of operation, etc.

We were taught these principles all in depth up to motors, alternators including batteries, even the changing chemical action formulae from discharge though to full charge of a lead acid battery was taught.

The reason for going into everything in depth even apparently simple things was if you had a full knowledge and understanding of the basic principles you would be able to carry out equipment repairs at sea or rig alternative means if humanly possible. At sea there was no one to ask, " What do we do now" if something broke down. You were the Guru, the fountain of knowledge.

Batteries were of prime importance in the fact if the ships electricity supply failed large banks of batteries took over to power the radios and high power transmitters.

2. Radio Theory and Practise

Again we were taught in depth from A.C. theory through to radio and transmitting circuits, even taught the construction and operation of individual components. We learnt words like impedance, reactance, resonance, phase and their complex formulae. Even today in 2004 as I pen this I can still repeat these formulae at will. Draw the circuits and the graphs, the waveforms and add phase angles. These are just a few of the things we were required to commit to memory. They are all imprinted on my memory even now.

3. Operating Practise and Procedures including Morse.

Morse was just plain practise, practise and more practises. Initially we committed to memory the dot and dash combination of each single letter and digit. Then the instructor would send each letter slowly and pause and you wrote the letter down on paper. At first there would be gaps of missed letters but over the days and weeks missed letters would diminish and the speed of the instructors Morse speed would slowly increase.

Practise was usually sending and receiving text out of a book or magazine. As your speed reading of Morse increased the combined dots and dashes had an individual sound that you remembered. Then as your reading speed increased further the sound of the combined letters of small words had their own individual sound.

As well as sending and receiving text we were required to send and read code. These were 5 figure groups of letters or numbers. With groups of random letters or digits we had to be able to send and receive perfectly? every time. With plain text any errors could usually be deduced. Random letters or numbers couldn?t.

Note: I have emphasised how we were taught the theory basics in depth for a reason. Not only because we needed it at sea but how it served me in later life. As I progressed in my electronic career down through the years I found this depth of basic principles very useful in solving and understanding various aspects of my work. It gave me an edge over others in the electronic field and I often thanked this in-depth teaching for it.

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