160M FCP

April 27, 2015

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The FCP stands for Folded Counter Poise, and is a single radial that is 66′ on the top and middle and 33′ on the bottom, as you can see in the photo.

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I could not get a good match with my 140 buried radials, so I decided to try K2AV’s idea. It seems to work great, but I have only tested with 100 watts so far. I need to test with 1500 watts soon.

Now I have resonant antennas on 160, 40, 30, 20 and 15M, and will have a 17M Moxon for VK0EK and VP8STI – where it will go up next October and stay up through January,  2016.

All of my testing and work is at full legal limit,  which is an interesting experience.

I picked up the Ten Tec 238 and will start converting it to become a wireless remote auto tuner from 160 – 10M soon.

With the Station Pro II just about done (I have all wires for the pods cut), and the FCP seems to be just what I needed,  soon – the 238 project will appear on my shacks work bench.

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The final build of the Station Pro II Main Unit happened today. This was just before I added the last two boards.

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Before the last board could go in, I had to program the stamp chip – using a Parallax “Basic Stamp” utility:

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The voltage test points were all perfect, and the programming worked beautifully. I have the ACOM 1500 programmed in as my only amplifier, and the rigs are in this switching order:

  1. K3
  2. Eagle
  3. Patriot

The first two rig positions are perfect as is the Amp position. The third rig position switch doesn’t seem to work – BUt – when I cycle through combinations of rig and amp – I can get every rig matched with the amp or with the amp off.

I’ve written Jim, W8ZR to see if he has any ideas – and sent him my config (stamp program) to see if I just did something silly.

I also put up three redwood posts – to get the FCP up 8′ off the ground:

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And I cut 11 spreaders for the FCP wires – and will have one every 6′.

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The FCP is 66′ wide – just perfect for my lot. I will end up with an inductor inside a PVC pipe with a pipe cap on top – and have it load the FCP right at the feed point. More photo’s and stories tomorrow!

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Luckily, Jim, K9YC says that you can feed this with a regular 1:1 current choke – but replace K2AV’s special FCP isolation transformer with a coil. This is the orientation that I will use:

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I am going to try this this weekend, because I am not happy with my buried radials. They are not tuning right – and Tom, N6BT and I suspect that they are really creating a lot of loss. This is because the antenna has a flat SWR from 1.8 – 1.9 mHz, which means there must be a ton of ground loss. I have the perfect place for this – out above the deer fence and running over to a back deck. I even have all of the wooden supports and PVC (grey) that has been sitting in my “corporation yard” rack that has the last few bits of aluminum. I might even have the wire.

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This is really big news. VK0EK has received permission to visit Kerguelin on the way back from Heard Island. We had been hoping for this – but it takes a lot more than hoping and wishing to make these sort of things happen.

Details here:

http://vk0ek.org/2015/04/22/vk0ek-will-visit-kerguelin-islands-ftx/

But it was a really significant bit of good news yesterday, and the Team is very keen to activate FT/X. Stay tuned at the VK0EK.ORG site for follow up news on this and other topics.

 

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Because the ACOM 1500 has a built in tuner that can tune an SWR of 3.0:1 or lower, I can get rid of the AT2K and go “tuner-less” on 160, 80, 40, 30, 20 and 15M. Before Heard Island, I will put up a temporary 17M Moxon. Maybe even make a 17 – 12M Moxon if 12M is even open then. I can build it in the morning and have it up with full power by the afternoon – so don’t have to even think about that until next October.

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For 160 and 80M, I will simply add a coil between the remote switched “Tee – EDZ / Doublet” and the radials (when switched in the Tee position), and voila! High power on all┬ábands and no tuner needed anywhere.

I’m still thinking that I will do that “Supercharged” Ten Tec 238 – just because an Arduino wireless remote controlled L Tuner is just a cool project no matter what!

The other thing I have come to realize is that I love using the Ten Tec Eagle as a “knock around rig”. It hears every bit as well as the Elecraft K3, but I am sure once VK0EK is on the air – I will switch to the K3. That’s my tried and true “DX Machine”. But these days – for daily casual use – the Eagle is always on. It has an internal antenna tuner – so it handles all of my antennas with ease. I am very, very pleased that I traded the KX3 for it – since now I have a good K3 backup should the K3 die in the heat of battle.

Onward!

 

Project Pipeline

April 21, 2015

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OK – now that Visalia is out of the way, I can get back to my projects (yay!). First up – wrap up the Station Pro II. I should be able to get the pods wired up this week and also go over all connections and solder joints with a fine tooth comb. Then the smoke test.

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Since I don’t have any DX I care to chase until VK0EK (which really is a GREAT thing – hi hi), I think I will make a huge leap of faith and just take the AT2K out of service and mount the Ten Tec 238 remotely. Since I have resonant antennas on 40, 30 and 20M, and since the Ten Tec Eagle has an internal antenna tuner, I simply no longer need the AT2K and will put it up for sale. And in the process, I will end up with a much more efficient way to tune – and have more room in the shack.

The Arduino and Patriot projects will happen after these – its so much fun to design and build antennas and now – electronic doo dads in the shack. The excitement of ham radio is now fully restored – frankly – just chasing DXCC was getting really stale, but I’m sure I’ll get “re-energized” for DX-ing in the Fall.

Until then – I look forward to every night and weekend sniffing solder.

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My first car was a ’66 Chevy Malibu, and my first new rig was a Kenwood TS-511s. Back then – cars that had muscle had an “SS” moniker. My new antenna tuner (Ten Tec 238 with Arduino retrofit) has that old feel from the 60’s and 70’s of someone pushing the limits – hence this card.

If you haven’t checked out Jeff – K1NSS’s work – you better!

Google him and read the accolades. This guy is a genius.

 

 

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