Upgrades at K8GU

July 30th, 2007 by k8gu Leave a reply »

K9BF told me months ago that he had a pile of TA-33jr parts in his garage attic and that I would be welcome to dig through them. I finally had a chance to do just that a couple of weeks ago. He actually brought all of the parts over and dumped them in my garage (actually, our duplex neighbor, Ruth’s, half of the garage, since she was on vacation). It turns out that he had two essentially complete sets of elements and one boom. So, I sorted the best-looking antenna from the rest of the parts. It was time to do some refurbishing.

Mosley is somewhat (in)famous for charging an arm and a leg for replacement parts; so, I bought all of mine from McMaster.  That place has everything for the antenna-building ham!  I put the antenna up on two pieces of fence top-rail next to the garage.  As NO9Z says, “That bracket on the eves is doing all of the work.”  I have an old TR-2 “bell” rotor in the garage.  I think it might be a little too much antenna for it; but, when am I ever going to use this small of an antenna ever again?  It is fun to install an antenna by yourself, by hand.  Probably won’t be able to do that again, either.  Not like I’m complaining.

I played with the new antenna in the IARU…caught some Es on 10.  That was fun.  It’s about on-par with my groundplane on 20; although, F/B is better.  None of this is particularly surprising since it’s so low and surrounded by clutter.

After about two weeks, the landlady noticed the TA-33jr.  She seemed slightly annoyed that I hadn’t consulted her; but, didn’t seem to care that it was up there.  Note to renters:  this is a good example of shoot first and ask questions later.  Feel-out your landlord before you try this, though.

I’ve kinda had the itch to get on 160 since I got here.  I’ve been able to scratch the 160 itch once a year in the ARRL 160 with W9SZ, K9BF, and NO9Z, out at NO9Z’s.  The first year (W9SZ, 2005) that we did it, we did pretty well—it’s the first time I’ve ever had four straight 100+ hours—hard to complain about that!  Technical problems got the best of us last year (K8GU, 2006).  We’ll probably try again this year.

K9AN and I had a good discussion about wire antennas back in June that inspired me to buy a slingshot.  I was just playing around and easily launched a line over the spruce tree in our side yard.  When I realized that it was close to 60 feet up, I decided to put up an inverted-L for 160.  The DK9SQ mast was indispensible for maneuvering through tree branches.

I bought 1/4 mile of #16 aluminum for $17 at Farm and Fleet on Saturday.  I put four radials down (this is a lot of work when you’re trying to be somewhat stealthy) yesterday.  I’m going to wait until after the lawn guy comes again this week to see whether I’m doing a good job stapling it down.  Compared to the price of copper, I won’t feel too bad about leaving aluminum in the grass when we leave and it only has to last for one or two Topband “seasons.”  I figure I’ll just put a few radials in at a time until the feedpoint impedance stablizes or I get lazy, whichever happens first.

Inside, I re-routed some wiring and got rid of most of the crosstalk “hash” that I get between the TS-930’s.  NO9Z and I have most of the parts to build the KK1L antenna switches, thanks in no small part to the generosity of Ron in giving us the Gerber files for the board and K9BF for turning the Gerber files into a boards.  I still have parts for the N6BV SO2R box from ARRL Handbook sitting on my bench.  Sometime, K9SD is shipping me a dead ex-CB FT-757 to work on.  Plus, there’s some non-ham stuff there, too, like my iBook.

I also have a 160-meter SoftRock v6 kit to build.  I sold my 40/80 SoftRock v6 to KC9IKL—still not sure if that was a good idea or not. When I finally order the parts for the KK1L antenna switch from Mouser, I plan to buy some more FST3125’s to build a SoftRock interferometer (more on this at a future date).  I mentioned this idea some months back on the SMC reflector, to the great interest of at least one well-known Topbander.  It looks that VE3NEA has a version of Rocky that can do this now, too.  That man is amazing!

We acquired some “old” PC’s through surplus at work; they had SoundBlaster Live! cards in them, which, since work doesn’t require them, will form the A/D portion of the K8GU SoftRock interferometer.  The biggest problem with using these rather than an M-Audio card like the Delta-1010 is sample synchronization.  But, I’m a cheap ham…I’ll figure out how to calibrate them.

I think I’m destined to be an average contest operator with an above-average interest in the technology…