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Old 2nd Oct 2017, 2:25 pm   #1
See_Mos
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Default Bletchley Park

A week ago today myself and a friend visited Bletchley Park. The huts and main house were very interesting. There were quite a few items of old equipment and displays and an awful lot of story boards to read so try not to go when it might be busy.

The computer museum is outside the main perimeter, housed in some of the old huts just up the hill from the main car park.

Unfortunately the computer museum was closed but the Colossus display, my main reason for the visit was open. A small donation is requested on entry but before we even got to that I spotted the workshop just to the left of the entry. The door was open so I stuck my head inside on the bench was an AR88 with the covers removed and load of other old equipment lying around.

I forget the name of the older guide. Once he got over his nervousness at having to request a donation he gave a very long and interesting guide to the equipment on show.

After the tour we stayed back a little to take photographs. As we were leaving another guide was starting a tour with a new group of people. The door to the workshop was still open and I could not resist sticking my head inside. I noticed the new guide keeping an eye on me, but in my case he need not have worried. As an engineer my rule is not to touch anything that does not belong to me unless prompted by the owner. To anyone who has worked on old military and valve radios the aroma was heavenly and brought back loads of memories, I could have stood there for ages but we had to go.
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Old 2nd Oct 2017, 3:02 pm   #2
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

It is a brilliant place to visit, you never have enough time in one go but the ticket is valid for a year. I met Tony Sale ages ago, probably in the same workshop you did, two hours gone...

Luckily I am only an hour away by motorcycle and if it is a nice day will pop up for another look.
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Old 2nd Oct 2017, 3:14 pm   #3
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

I have enjoyed the two or three times I've visited. As has been said, there is never enough time to see everything.

Don't forget that the computer museum is a separate entity and requires the purchase of an additional ticket.

Unfortunately, I live too far away just to "pop in".
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Old 2nd Oct 2017, 4:39 pm   #4
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

I've been Bletchley Park twice now and on the second vist tried out the computer museum. I wasn't really that excited, but thought I'd give it a try as it was next door. It proved most interesting and I'm glad I made the visit......you won't believe the amount of valves assembled in one place!
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Old 2nd Oct 2017, 10:40 pm   #5
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

I went there on a coach trip back at the end of March, been wanting to go there for ages, and found it very interesting, although some exhibits were difficult to study closely because of the amount of people gathered around them. Didn't have time to visit Colossus, so another visit is definetly on the cards.
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Old 3rd Oct 2017, 8:12 am   #6
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

The slightly ironic thing about finding AR-88s - and I am told lots of HROs - at Bletchley, is that during the war there probably wasn't any of either set on the site.

Bletchley Park was purely involved in decoding the traffic, and the actual receiving of the messages was done elsewhere, with their content being sent to BP by various means, including motorcylce courier I believe. One such receiving station was Beaumanor Hall in Leicestershire - that being one of many Y-stations around the country tasked with picking up enemy radio traffic.

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Old 3rd Oct 2017, 10:00 am   #7
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

Here's one in Cornwall...As it was:

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/43181149

And in more modern times:

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/43181143

Lawrence.
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Old 3rd Oct 2017, 10:30 am   #8
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

I was fortunate enough to have a poke around there many years back in the company of the sadly late Tony Sale. Colossus had just become operational. One thing I did enjoy was a collection of various bits of radio & radar stuff which included an AI Mk8 radar which I had only seen pictures of up until then.
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Old 4th Oct 2017, 4:02 pm   #9
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

The guide book indicates that Block B was used as a listening station so there would probably have been AR88's or HRO's there.

This is the rebuild of a listening station at BP.
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Old 4th Oct 2017, 4:34 pm   #10
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

There used to be an old lady who lived here in the village. The first time I met her and she heard I was from Cambridge she told me that she had known Alan Turing. It turned out she was a WREN who used to work with the bombes in Bletchley Park. If anyone asked her what she did in the war, the official answer was that she painted the plimsoll lines on ships. Eventually she was allowed to talk about BP and got a certificate signed by Gordon Brown thanking her for doing work of national importance but not saying what she actually did.
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Old 5th Oct 2017, 12:03 am   #11
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

From a visit to Bletchley in early 2017.
Some photos of circuits used in the Colossus Rebuild projects, with hundreds of valves, and using 807's as thyratron switchers in the pulse read cicuitry after the tape readers.
Note the reference to the PO Research Station at Dollis Hill.
I met an old techo in this room who had helped with this rebuild.
And yes, there still are AR88s in the next room.
Just a bit heavy to pinch one out of the racks and take home.
Nostalgia galore; you feel like pitching a tent outside and staying just a bit longer.
But Duxford was calling, and ....
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Old 5th Oct 2017, 8:34 am   #12
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

Quote:
Originally Posted by See_Mos View Post
The guide book indicates that Block B was used as a listening station so there would probably have been AR88's or HRO's there.

This is the rebuild of a listening station at BP.
True - but if you investigate a bit further you will find that it was quickly moved off site to avoid drawing attention to all the other activities on the site. So its time as a listening station was limited.


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Old 5th Oct 2017, 12:30 pm   #13
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio1950 View Post
....and using 807's as thyratron switchers in the pulse read cicuitry after the tape readers....




807 is a hard vacuum beam tetrode, thyratrons are gasfilled triodes. How would you use an 807 as a thyratron?


Or are they just used as grid controlled switches?
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Old 6th Oct 2017, 12:23 am   #14
Radio1950
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

Using 807s as switchers.

I think the techo on site said that they used them to turn the thyratrons "off".
I also think he said that the thyratrons weren't used as fast low Z switch devices, but rather as memory elements.
All a bit hazy now for me.
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Old 11th Oct 2017, 2:37 pm   #15
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

Quote:
Originally Posted by trh01uk View Post
True - but if you investigate a bit further you will find that it was quickly moved off site to avoid drawing attention to all the other activities on the site. So its time as a listening station was limited.
Richard is correct.

But I think the original listening station was in Hut 1, in 1939/40. B Block was built after the intercept station had moved off site.

The diversity racks of AR88's are a reconstruction of the intercept station at Knockholt, which monitored Lorenz-encrypted teleprinter traffic and provided raw material for the Tunny and Colossus machines.

The Computer Museum is open on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons plus some other days as publicised on their website - the reason it can't keep the same opening hours as the adjacent Bletchley Park Museum is due to the limitations of being staffed by volunteers and funded by donations.

See
http://www.tnmoc.org/
for full details.
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Old 11th Oct 2017, 4:07 pm   #16
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Default Re: Bletchley Park

Forum member Sean Williams told me that he had been involved with constructing the AR88 racks at Bletchley. This was after I posted about my set marked "Slave 31" and asked if it could have been part of a war time a Diversity Set Up. I'd no idea that it hadn't been original to the site however and in fact, I assumed the opposite. There's always more to discover!

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