VP8STI and VK0EK

May 26, 2015

NOAA_predict

Just for fun – and after running several propagation prediction tools for South Sandwich in January 2016 and VK0EK in March 2016, I found that both will enjoy decent propagation to all parts of the world.

While looking at a recent update on the solar cycle progression, it led me to scan my logbook for QSO’s made in 2011 – which was during the upswing of Cycle 24. The upswing usually is pretty “herky-jerky” – a steep uptick, with some short dips. On the “backside” or “downslope” of Cycle 24, we can expect a smoother ride – with more consistent conditions. You can see this long sloping down trend in just about every cycle ever tracked.

My logbook had some real surprises – 12 meters offered way more good DX than I expected, and I do remember at the end of 2011 that 6 weeks of awesome 12 and 10M openings between November and December. Every day it seemed you could work anywhere in the world, and it was consistent day after day.

I personally had written off 12 and 10M for VP8STI and VK0EK, but now I don’t feel nearly as pessimistic. I still think the highest probability will be 40 – 15M for the West Coast, but my log – which includes several VK0/M and VK9/C QSO’s and many VP8ORK and ZD9/G QSO’s – and these were NOT during the high point (spike) of 2011.

In fact, 2011 found QSO’s from all over the world in my log – many African, Middle East and EU QSO’s – Africa and the Middle East always being a favorite of mine.

Finally, I still remember FT5XO running 100 watts and pounding into the West Coast at the EXACT same time as when VK0EK will be within 200 km of where FT5XO was, and, guess what? In March 2005 – the SSN was:

ft5xo

Which is EXACTLY what is predicted for VK0EK now that we will be there during the Vernal Equinox. I also worked my only Crozet at exactly the same time of year and during the same SSN – FT5WJ on 20M, and he had a vertical and 100 watts as well. I actually remember that QSO clearly – it was a Saturday morning and there was virtually no competition – it seemed to be a very localized opening – spotlight propagation perhaps.

I think this shows that looking at your logbook and combining that with propagation prediction tools might be a great way to get a handle on where the highest probabilities will be to work the DX.

OH – and don’t forget HFTA – that is critical.

 

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Here is the 36′ push up steel mast attached to the redwood posts using the winch cable.

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Here is the winch – its a $20 winch I purchased from Amazon and it will handle 600 pounds – more than enough for what I want to do.

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The cable goes up and over via two eye bolts. This works great!

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The Moxon hub as it will be attached to the pushup mast.

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Adding the Crappie Pole spreaders to the hub.

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The spreaders attached to the hub.

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Aerial view from my deck of the mast, Moxon (both below the “FCP”). I will add the wires to the Moxon and the 1:1 Current Choke this week. I’m waiting for 100′ of coax to run from the remote switch under ground to the 17M Moxon “tower”. The trick in raising it will be to attach the Moxon while the mast is extended “enough” so that when I crank it up – it will be just above the apple tree branches. Some trimming might be in order.

So – by next weekend, this 17M Moxon will be on the air!

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DX Engineering sells an 8″ by 10″ boom to mast plate and this is perfect for a Moxon center hub for all bands from 20 – 10M. If you go to any hardware store, you can buy a floor flange and piece of threaded pipe. As you can see I have drilled holes and bolted the floor flange and threaded pipe onto the boom to mast plate.

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On the other side of the plate, I have 4 fourteen inch 3/4 aluminum sleeves bolted to the floor flange below. I used a protractor to make sure the “spread” between the aluminum sleeves is 40 degrees. U bolts will hold the spreaders.
The spreaders will be 16′ Cabelas Crappie Fishing Poles, but with 2 sections removed at the tip. They will fit right under the U bolts. This means each spreader will be 10′ which works perfectly well for a 17M Moxon whose “wingspan” is 18.5 feet. With the 40 degree angle, the “boom length” of 7 foot should be perfect.

Tomorrow I will add the wire and balun.

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My 30M antenna is both a ladder line fed Extended Double Zepp and a true 30M Bobtail Curtain. This means I can switch between a broadsided pattern of a Bobtail Curtain – which means I’m beaming more or less East and West, OR, when switched in as an EDZ, I get this great cloverleaf pattern:

30m_bobpole_az

Which means its PERFECT for South Sandwich and Heard Island! This is a total “happy accident”. I put it up in the only place possible, and it just happens to be perfect for my needs.

30M_bobpole

The low takeoff angle is great for DXing and there is even some gain – a Bobtail has vertical polarized gain – up to 5 dBi, and the EDZ has 3 dB gain (11 dBi). Since I can switch it from being a vertical to a horizontal antenna with this switch:

lowband_switch

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BINGO! My 30M antenna is more than “good enough”. I hadn’t really done a full analysis until now – and had been assuming it would be an antenna oriented E – W and would have been “off” for both VP8STI and VK0EK, but LUCK is riding with me here. YAY!

So that clinches it – this weekend I will finish building the 17M Moxon and it will no doubt go up during the week or next weekend. Again – there’s no hurry and I can have a nice “lazy hazy” summer just playing around the humble abode.

But for now – its off to a mountain biking ride at the new Crockett Single Track trails near Crockett and Port Costa.

vp8sti

The prediction for South Sandwich to Orinda looks great for VP8STI – glad I donated (hi hi). Looks like 40 – 10M might be possible, but I am betting 40 – 15M just as a gut feeling – but 12 and 10 have surprisingly good predictions. 30, 20, 17 look pretty good too. Here is what the 17M HFTA plot looks like for my new Moxon – at two different heights – 27′ and 36′:

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Virtually no difference – so the mast extended at almost any height in this range is FB. Now lets look at Heard Island:

vk0ek-mar

Also very good – very solid possibility to work them. 40 – 12M are predicted, but me thinks 30 – 15M are the sure bets. Here, 20 and 17M sure look GREAT for Orinda. Everyone on the West Coast better have good 20 and 17M antennas!

17m-vk0ek-1

My N6BT DXU-32 on 40 and 20M already kick butt, and my 30M EDZ is a little “off” direction wise but has 3 dB of gain – so I think I will leave that as is and take the luck of the draw. Adding a 17M Moxon is quite important – so that’s what I will build – a 17M Moxon and leave 30M off since the EDZ will be “good enough”.

The height of 27 – 36′ feet is also negligible.

OK then – I will be more than set for these next two ATNO’s and will have a blast. I’m oddly relishing having a summer and Fall with no ATNO’s to worry about – and will be totally ready to roll for 2016 – which will be a great year DX wise.

Unfortunately, I think Bouvet was a total pipe dream – but hope a big surprise pops up – hi hi.

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Spraying the Cabela’s Crappie Poles with Plastidip – this protects them from UV damage. When I had a SteppIR yagi and did not coat the fiberglass tubes – in 2 years the fiberglass were so bad they started cracking and were covered with white “powder”.

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Building the hub. I’m trying to decide on making just a 17M Moxon or 30 / 17M nested Moxon. I need to go out back tomorrow and really measure whether the much larger size of the nested Moxon will avoid banging into the nearby trees. The 17M will work no sweat. Here’s the 30M figures:

mox-30

Heres the 17M dimensions:

17m_mox

Finally, I have the home brewed “tower” started:

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I will add the hand winch so I can tilt the mast to work on the antenna and then telescope it up once in place on the mast. Here is the winch:

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Having great fun in the backyard. This antenna might be so cool that I won’t wait until VP8STI to put it up – heh heh.

 

 

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These are easily the top 10 albums that hit me right at the right moment of my life. Its impossible to list any kind of “best of”, but as I have been riding my bike to work every morning every day – I think of how these albums were with me and influenced me and just plain gave me so much happiness at whatever time I was in.

So there – you know a little more about me – heh heh . . .

 

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