March 9, 2014
I have a handful of some excellent high powered transmitting components – that I can use on my 160M vertical. I have two Jennings very high voltage vacuum variable capacitors – UCS 400 – which is 10 – 400 pf and rated at 10 kv, and a UCSL 1000 – which is 1000 pf rated at 3 kv.
I also have a really cool old variable inductor, so the big question is – what components whould I use to build a remotely tuned base mounted LC or T or other circuit.
My goal would be to take the 160M antenna and be able to tune it for any frequency from 160 – 10M.
That’s a tall order, but with some experimentation – I think do-able. The one mechanical thing to figure out is how to “drive” the remote control – I will look at a printer servo motor first – since I have one in a junker HP printer. Or maybe an electric screwdriver motor or RC airlplane servo motor. Stepper motors seem too expensive.
March 9, 2014
When I first met Kat, we went mountain biking quite a bit. Then that waned, but this year, we are back. Ive really been enjoying it – and look forward to it as much as DX-ing.
Yesterday, we rode from Panarama up to the top of Mt. Tam in Marin county. I wish I had my better camera, but the Smart Phone camera is very convenient as it slips in the little pouch under my seat.
This was our big ride last weekend – we rode from Inspiration Point to Wildcat, and could see Mt. Tam in the distance. Its amazing something this superb is practically in Orinda!
We also rode East Ridge in Redwood Park near our house. Mt. Diablo is in the background – and yet another fantastic ride, and again – in our own backyard.
March 7, 2014
The AB-577 is the “bigger brother” of my AB-952. I found one late last year and had to pass on it, but very luckily, I just found another. I had been kicking myself for months over letting that other one go, but will make sure I get this one.
I will keep the AB-952 as well – these buggers are the best. They are fantastic as fixed towers, and I love rotating them from the bottom. They are very strong and their wind load characteristics are excellent.
Hopefully I will have one of these baby’s here at the ranch within a couple of weeks – the fellow has to take it down – then he will call me to go pick it up.
March 7, 2014
I am very, very pleased with the new yagi. There is nothing greater than being able to communicate with parts of the world that used to be a real struggle, but now easy. Its taken me years of experimenting and learning to get to this level.
Back in Decemember 2011, it was obvious that my 20M Moxon up 30′ was not cutting it. HFTA illuminated the problem and gave me the answer – I needed height. As I always do – I went for as much height as I could – but this limited what I could put up. I started out with a Cushcraft A3S, and that antenna mostly got me to Honor Roll. But I had this funny feeling that its specs were highly overrated, and I did not like the traps. Between the compromise spacing and the traps I figured it was no better than a Moxon. At the time it was up 45′, and with a rotator at the top – I worried how that could crash through my roof.
My answer was the 20-15M Moxon – which I could raise easily up to 55′, and that was a wonderful antenna. It was every bit as good as the A3S on 20, 15 and 10 – and worked very well on 17 and 12M.
But I’ve always had this “gnawing” that I still had a real compromise – the wire and the multi-banding and the fact that the shape of the moxon – which is critical – meant that I had about 2.5 dB gain. I think the A3S probably had maybe 3.5 dB gain at most.
Now – with 5 dB gain up only 40 feet – it is “high enough” where I have broken through ME and African pileups and have even competed with East Coast stations on the short path.
But the fact that I have now had a lot experience desigining and building yagi’s – and that I took extra care to have really top notch hardware with a beefy boom and elements – is something I feel better than ever about.
When I break those pileups – it just feels like my extra work and effort over these years has paid off big time. I’m having a ton of fun with this new antenna.
March 7, 2014
The DXCC Challenge is something that I have had fun with – only because it allows you to “collect” bingo sheet squares. I have never thought that I would try to get to the top – because I simply am not at all interested in 6M – or higher for DXCC. I guess I also am starting to wane on even collecting band slots – because the whole “leaderboard” aspect of this is starting to smell like “DX Hoggery” to me.
Also – the cost of DXCC Challenge is quite rediculous, so – I will only use LOTW credits for it from now on. No more sending $3 for a band mode slot. I’m almost at 2000, and if that’s where it ends up, fine.
When I replaced my 20-15M Moxon with the new yagi, I was a little worried that I would “hamstring” myself on the higher bands. Luckily, that has not proven true at all. I am actually much more excited about the higher bands, because for the first time ever, I have a really, really great antenna on a high band. I truly am enjoying having great antennas on 40 and 20M rather than mediocre antennas cut for each band.
The 160M vertical is also a “great” antenna as far as getting me to DXCC on 160M.
I feel that Honor Roll, HR #1 and 9BDXCC – with 160M being the epitome of DXCC – a very close second to Honor Roll itself are the three “award activities” worth bothering with. I’m not sure I will do anything but just stay on top of the list once I get to HR#1.
But not to worry, I am sure it will take at least 10 more years to get to HR#1, if it happens at all.
March 4, 2014
I’ve been thinking a lot about something I mentioned in an eHam thread regarding raising money for rare entity activation. I had mentioned that rather than just try to figure out how to raise more money, maybe go a completely different route – and try to recruit scientists (or other support workers – especially the communications people) who travel to remote scientific bases.
Others seemed to like this idea, and I think it is very valid, and maybe wouldn’t even take as long as activating a place every 15 – 20 years or so. And as time goes on – it may be the ONLY way to activate a rare place – due to access, politics and cost. I personally think we have already hit “maximum capacity” as far as cost goes for very rare south seas entities. I think FT5ZM has been the “bell weather”.
So, how can this be done? It depends, and I am sure it will have to be done by hams in each country where they have remote bases. Some remote bases are permanent (i.e. Marion, Bouvet, Amsterdam, etc) and some have been temporary (Heard Island). Some used to exist (South Sandwich), and some may be built again in the future – such as South Sandwich.
The “driver” to build and maintain these bases:
- Scientific – climate change is a huge topic that garners funding
- Fishing – over fishing the planet is rapidly becoming a global concern
- As a “way station” on the path to Antarctica where territorial claims have been made by Australia, and where they use Macquarie both for scientific research as well as a way station on the way to their Antarctic claim
Think globally, but act locally. The only way this can be ultimately successful, IMHO is that the local hams in the country that supports a remote base get involved and contact the organization responsible for the remote base. And the local group might best be that countries national radio organization. For example, in Norway, it is the Norwegian Amateur Radio League.
Recruiting can be applied to non south seas entity activation – but with entities that are bound up in red tape.
I think that a national radio organization like the ARRL might help us with the US Fish and Wildlife, and maybe create a standard “MOU” of sorts. Something that can help each DX-pedition group cut through the red tape – and activate Navassa, or finally do something about Kingman.
I have to be honest – if the ARRL “Next Century” initiative doesn’t include strong initiatives for DX-ers and DX-ing, then I am not interested in donating – because to me, without a stronger commitment, better communication and direction for the DXCC program, I would rather give all of my donation money to each individual DX-pedition group struggling dearly to make these happen vs. a national organization that has left this up to the DX-ers to struggle.
In that eHam thread, someone mentioned having the ARRL set up a fund based on some portion of LOTW funds, and I think that’s a great idea. Even if they added $.25 per LOTW credit or whatever to create a DX-pedition fund and or grant – I would be more than happy to accept such a surcharge. The Colvin Award is great – but the NCDXF has become the number one “steward” of financing DX-peditions. Some days I ask why the ARRL doesn’t contribute more generously to DX-peditions (maybe via the NCDXF?) . . . .
For me – DX-ing IS the future of ham radio, and I hope DX-ing will be vibrant in 100 years.
March 3, 2014
The 3 element 20M monoband yagi – up 40′ does win over the nested 20-15M Moxon up 55′ . But that Moxon was a great antenna – and for its light weight, small size – its a real winner. However, besides an increase in gain (which is noticeable by 1 – 3 “S Units”), the S/N Ratio is _much_ better on the yagi. By 2 “S Units”. This means that weak (EU and AF) signals are ones that I heard on the yagi – and which were buried in the noise on the Moxon. I suspect that on TX, the extra gain has made a difference – I played with breaking big pileups during the ARRL SSB DX contest this weekend – and the yagi sure seemed to result in faster first time responses – and where I was breaking a fairly decent pileup.
I also made sure to use the NCDXF Beacons for a fair comparison, and made sure that I tested NE, SE, SW and NW. I also actively looked for Eu and AF – and especially ZS – since they would prove my theories about grey line LP and SP openings – useful for Tromelin – FT4TA this coming Fall.