Anecdotes of the MPN-14 Radar at Meridian Naval Air Station
Many thanks to Ray Gressett for these notes regarding the MPN-14 radar unit in service at the Meridian Naval Air Station. Some non-relevant content related to my responses to Ray has been removed.|
Addendum to last:
Just thought I'd let you know. As of 2000 we were still using the OD-56 ASR indicators and I know they had a ton of 12AT7s in those, but the old GPA-131 mappers were phased out for some new computerized simple system.
I was the only computer literate guy in the squadron at the time, so I got to program the new maps after the controllers drew them out. There was also an additional rack added with GPS location equipment so the RAPCON knew exactly where they were in the universe at all times, thereby ensuring very accurate approaches.
The old clunk and click telephone system was not phased out to the best of my knowledge when I left in 2000. I did however help ITT-Gilfillan guys do a depot level rebuild of the set, and they welcomed the help while we welcomed their training. We tore that MPN, both trailers excluding the mobile generator all to pieces, and tested and refitted everything.
They still use the same TPX-42??? IFF SIF system, sorry that I don't remember the nomenclature at this time, still works and has the same power supply issues it always had. The TR tubes are still employed and the PFNs are the same. Same good ole reliable maggie and rotary joint too. We actually had to replace a leaky rotary once, which depot helped us with. When we got the new one in though, it was worse than the old one. So there we had to wait another three months for another rotary, got it replaced and finally no more leaks. The PAR antennas still use the rotating switch inside the little door to make the EL AZ work right, mechanical all the way. Same old green screen triangles, I used to LOVE to watch that thing work. They still employ the solar bracketing reflectors and the pigeons still love to go potty on the solar collectors, a source of never ending fun for us radar guys.
Add away, that suits me fine. As for building the guitar amps, it is a labor of love and so far I have built about 15 amps. I generally charge about 2k apiece for them, since I only build guitar heads. As for getting good 12AT7s, that's generally no problem. Svetlana, Groove Tubes, Shungang, ValveArts, JJTesla, and even NOS types such as RCA and Mullard are plentiful. The 12AX7 workhorses are generally much more in abundance however.
The MPN-14K was probably exactly the same as you remember it. I still have one of the training TOs, that was given to me by one of the supervisors and he never would take it back since he had too much clutter in the runway shop already.
So add me to the list, and this unit is still being used although I think they are about to phase it out. I did the receiver sensitivity checks every morning (on guard man days active duty guard bum) from 1996 to 1999, Monday through Friday. The local NAS did their PAR training there since they still have a flight school at Meridian NAS. Very symbiotic. We land them and they give us a meal ticket. Everyone wins and the pilots get to fly real honest-to-God PAR approaches.
I had a Navy pilot tell me once, while out with the controllers at a local diner that if he had to choose an ILS low vis approach between a PAR no vis approach, he'd pick the PAR every time, since its a real live human.
Thanks for writing back, and stay in touch.
I read a post after searching for "radar mile" on Google and found your cool site. I also worked on the MPN14K radar system from 1996 until about 2000 or so in the Air National Guard. I was with the 248th ATCS when they became a new unit, formerly they were the 238th ATCS, but they spun off into their own unit. These units are located at KMEI, or Meridian MS Key Field. That is where I am from, the surrounding area.
I went through tech school at Keesler of course and found the radar course to be very fascinating indeed. I now use that info to build handmade tube amps, the way they did it in the old days, point to point with NO printed circuits. I play guitar and all the stuff that is on the shelf these days is overpriced toneless junk. So, going back to the old Western Electric 1938 circuits, and picking a good few schematics here and there and cobbling my own designs together for guitar audio with exotic tubes has now become a source of great enjoyment for me.
I thought I'd write and tell you Merry Christmas and I love the website. Its nice to see a fellow MPN14'er on here too.