Navigation Links

Upcoming Events

Current Events

Social Junk



Quick Search
Advanced Search »

Contact Info

David Robbins, K1TTT



2009 Maintenance and Upgrade Blog

Below are running notes of what I have done for repairs and improvements on the station during this year. Most of the pictures are half size versions, click on them to open a full size view.

Quick Index:

1/1/2009 Starting the year in a deep freeze. Good time to work on publishing the 25th anniversary book edition and cleaning up for the RTTY RU this weekend.

1/2 Up the 150' tower early to turn the 60' 20m antenna west for the RTTY RU. Finally get south rope for the 160m inverted V untangled from a couple tree tops. Trying to get DVD for book uploaded, 7 hour uploads are a real bummer, I need a faster internet connection!

1/3 Temperature 21f, winds 25-35mph, blowing snow... too windy to climb, so went and added 8 more radials to the 40m 4-square. Finished setup for RTTY RU.

1/6 I should have come home from work earlier. Got home about 3:30pm, it was 26f and almost calm. Grabbed tools and lots of rope and went up 150' tower. I dissassembled the broke half of the 120' 20m4dx to bring it down. Then I used the boom brace to lift up on the driven element/reflector end of the boom while sliding it in toward the tower through the boom-mast clamp. Got it in so I could reach the driven element and take the coax off, but it was getting too dark to dissassemble and bring it down.

1/9 KC1XX said last night that his 2 guys would be here at 10am... I hope not, still 1/2-3/4" of ice at tops of towers, winds 25-30mph and gusting higher. The wind did do one job, it broke off the other half of the 150' 20m reflector, so that doesn't have to be removed now and should make that one easier to handle to replace elements.

Well, the XX Towers guys showed up. They said there was no wind until they came up the hill into Peru. With the ice and wind they decided to come back another day. But at least they got to see what they were up against.

Went through last year's bent pile and the box of left over parts from a 20m4dx I bought last year to replace elements from. Found enough parts to assemble a full set of 'relatively' straight elements, and one brand new boom for the 20m4dx. Straightened out a few pieces to make replacement parts of elements for the 15m4dx's that have broken elements. Now if the ice would just melt and the wind would stop.

1/10 Found another broken insulator on the 80m 4-square. Scraped off the ice and doubled up the strong backs on that one. Set up for NAQP CW for K1MK.

1/12 Set station back up for multi-op for NAQP-SSB and VHF contest.

1/13 Nice (relatively) day. Took off work early and finished reinforcing the last 2 80m verticals. I guessed about right on the stainless V bolts, I figured about half of them would be galled and need replacing, and sure enough all 4 bolts on the last leg of the last tower galled and used my last 4 spares.

1/16 Set up for NAQP M/2 and Jan VHF. Installed a new printer, an HP Deskjet 6980, that old 970c was just refusing to feed paper most of the time. Unfortunately this one doesn't have drivers for Server 2003, so it is just on the wireless network. Drivers are on 40m, k1ttt-ibm(xp-shared), my laptop, and k1ttt-compaq(vista-shared). I also picked up some cute little optical mice for all the computers, but when I opened the first one I found the USB cable was only about 2' long. It barely reached from the front jack of the computer down to the operating table with the cable in front of the monitor... kind of worthless. They will go back to Staples the next time I am past there. How are you supposed to open those hot melted plastic cases those things come in so the are in re-saleable condition to return them??

1/22 Set up for CQ 160m CW with 2 stations and BARTG Sprint as SO2R for small multi-op. Found that 160m radio seemed a bit hard of hearing, swapped with spare.

1/23 Nice calm day, 25f, went up the 150' tower and replaced the reflector and D1 on the top 20m antenna. Broke the fiberglass on the 2m vertical and bent one 70cm element in the process though. Ordered Elecraft XG2 receiver tester.

1/24 Somethink arcing on 160m intermittantly. Go out in 0f wind chill and trim some branches, tie off some of the inverted L radials so they don't blow into trees, and then find a loose connector at the switchbox that was definately arcing.

1/27 Nice day, KC1XX and Andrew come to take down the 40m antennas. The broken aluminum pile grows quite a bit. But both come down without a hitch. After they leave I take the elements off the bottom one and the boom from the top one and start assembling a replacement. Not many pictures as the battery on the old Mavica is virtually dead, ordered a replacement finally. The XG2 receiver tester arrived, I was busy when the UPS guy showed up while the lower 40m was coming down, he seemed to be in the driveway for a long time, maybe watching the show?

KC1XX bundled up as ground crew

KC1XX bundled up as ground crew.

Andrew removing an element on the top 40m.

Andrew removing an element on the top 40m.

Andrew rigged up the lifting line and tram wire to one end of the top 40m. Then he took off the first element on the other end. Then he took it out of the ring cradle and slid it down on the other side. When the end of the boom got down to him he took off the end element and we slid it down the tram.

For the lower one Andrew had rope everywhere. Matt and I pulled up enough to level out the boom, then Andrew undid the last bolt from the ring cradle. It stayed together as he swung it around the tower. He then hooked it on the tram line and Matt and I pulled it out from the tower with the come-a-long on the tram and lowered it to a perfect landing. It tried to fold back up, but pulling on the end of the first element I could grab straightened it back out.

1/30 Set up for FOC Marathon in wires/qrp class. This means disconnecting stubs on 40/80/160, turn off bandpass filters, bypass tuners, and disable automatic band decoding... so operator can pick any of the 40/80/160 antennas to use on any band.

Broke the rebuilt 40m4lldd out of the ice. Found good use for the extra piece of plastic culvert pipe, cut it in half and cut notches in one end, now it supports the boom of the 40m4lldd very nicely. I think I'll get a bigger piece and make a couple taller ones like that.

Built the XG2 receiver tester... It worked at first then the 80m position stopped working. Figured out it had to be a bad crystal. Contacted Elecraft and they sent a new one.

1/31 Since I had the 40m stubs/jumper combo out for N2KW to use the wires on other bands I decided to rebuild it into something prettier than the spliced together mess that it was. It was tuned a bit off the bands also, so trimmed it down to size and put on all new connectors.

2/1 Looked at cleaning up 10m stubs... too ugly, will need 2 hardline connectors, 2 75 ohm short jumpers, 2 T connectors, and one or two 50 ohm jumpers to do it right, then retune them. Tuning seems ok on them so leave them alone for now, the big ugly taped up splice ie hidden behind the table anyway.

2/2 Sick... New crystal showed up for XG2, replaced it and its working fine again.

2/6 Been sick all week so haven't done much. Tested a couple MP's with the XG2, the one I thought was bad seems to be ok. Set up for RSGB 160m and WPX RTTY for next weekend.

Double checked 160m cables and switching after all the arcing in the CQ contest. Found a couple connectors blackened, particularly the one on the switch box end of the cable from the shack. Replaced that connector. Used TDR to check cables, they were all ok, but it did show a high resistance connection at the switch box. Ordered a new RCS-8v to replace the existing one that has lots of burnt contacts now. Checked and cleaned up other connectors in the shack and at the switch box.

Broke the pipes for the tripods out of the snow bank to thaw.

Found u-bolts for the 120' 10m beam since I expect they will need replacing when I go to level it out.

Ah yes, spring is coming, and the days are getting longer. There was even enough sun after dinner to assemble two tripods and get the 40m4lldd-125+ up on them.

Ordered replacement aluminum from M2.

Insurance company finally got repair quote back from adjuster... Of course he found a company that would do the labor much cheaper than XX Towers. As before, they do dishes and business band radios... my size antennas are 'a bit beyond our expertise'. Sent that quote back to the insurance company.

2/7 Almost perfect execution... 19f and dead calm, left the ground just after 7am to watch the sunrise on my way up the 15m tower. Replaced the broken half of the driven element on the top as the wind started to increase. Replaced the broken half of the D1 on the 90' one, but decided against straightening the reflector as the wind was getting annoying. And leveled the D1 on the 60' one. So only 1 element badly out of alignment now on 15m, the reflector at 90'. Many are still a bit bent but they should work until replacements arrive. Got back in the shack about 8:10am... plenty of time for a shower and to take Lucky for a walk before leaving for the YCCC meeting.

Got XX Towers scheduled for 2/17 if wx permits to put the 70' 40m4lldd-125+ back up.

2/8 Put tools away from 15m and 20m element jobs. Aligned and tightened elements on the 40m4lldd-125+, its ready to lift now. Played for a couple hours in the XE RTTY contest to test out latest N1MM Logger updates.

2/9 New RCS-8v boxes here. Wired in fresh one for the 160m remote switch.

2/10 Nice evening. Went up the 10m tower and leveled out the 120' 10m Yagi. Had to replace both U-bolts that broke when trying to loosen them.

2/11 Great day, 51f, light winds... Spent about 2 hours at 180'. Installed slave drive motor on ring. Had to gnaw my way through the big sealed heat shrink on the original one to do the splice. Only burned myself once with a solder blob when doing the splice. When I tried turning the ring with a drill battery it wouldn't turn. The original motor output was jammed, the motor was running but not moving the output gear. So had to bring down the original motor and package it up to go back to TIC. Also ordered a set up updated corner bearings for the top ring to get it to fit better. And ordered a new truss assembly to replace the bent one from the bottom ring. Checked the 70' ring on that tower, looks to be undamaged from the broken boom besides the bent truss pieces.

2/13 Set up for WPX RTTY and RSGB 160m.

2/15 Did some more testing on the 160m radio I had removed because I thought it was half deaf. Seems to be ok. Must have been how the rx signal was getting divided between them with the T connections and protection relay for the 2 radio setup. Swapped it back onto 160m because it has the key click mod where the spare that was there didn't.

Did final check of 40m4lldd-125+. Found the balun was intermittant, replaced with one of the spares. Interior inspection showed corrosion on so-239 and obvious over heating of the coax and inside of the pipe it was built into.

2/17 Andrew and Bill from XX Towers were here and put up the 70' 40m4lldd-125+. They also took down the last half of the 120' 20m4dx thats been hanging around up there since December.

Photos by N2KW:

Andrew taking the lifting rope up the tower

Andrew taking the lifting rope up the tower.

Me manning the come-a-longs on the tram

Me manning the come-a-longs on the tram.

Almost lift-off

Almost lift-off. The tram is the left wire going up, the rope is on the right, and there is a sling from the lifting rope down to the first driven element to help tip it up.


Lift-off, just a bit too much lift on the tipping sling made for a tough start.


The sling was too tight and tipped the antenna all the way up sideways, I'm not the only one that can do that I guess.

Me working the tram come-a-longs

Me working the tram come-a-longs. The tree it is tied to is one that was brought down in the ice storm and is still frozen into the ground. The snow under the top ice layer was still about knee deep down there.

It took a bit of tipping and turning to get to the troublesome sling to take it off

It took a bit of tipping and turning to get to the troublesome sling to take it off.

Finally leveled out

Finally leveled out.

Almost in the cradle

Almost in the cradle.

Level it out and bolt it down

Level it out and bolt it down. Andrew could reach the 2nd driven element that got out of alignment on the lift-off to put it back in line with the other elements.

After Andrew got it bolted down I went up and connected it and ran a quick test on the rotor. It seems to rotate ok, but could probably use some small adjustments. Before they left they also took down the other half of the 120' 20m4dx to get it off the tower.

2/19 Started setup for ARRL DX CW.

2/20 Finished setup for ARRL DX CW. Turned 60' 20m to Europe. Took tuner off low 80m V to use on 20m, the SWR with the bent up elements is a bit higher than usual on there.

2/25 Rebuilt motor for the 20m ring rotor is in, along with replacement bearing corners for the 180' 40m ring, and replacement boom truss struts for the 180' 40m ring.

2/26 Prepare the 20m ring motor for installation. Had to clean up threads on bolts and nuts and chase the threads on the welded on nut. Tested rotation and indication with spare controller. Tip... write color code on rotor case with permanent marker. It won't last long outside but saves carrying a piece of paper up that could get lost.

2/27 Installed replacement motor for 20m ring. Set up for CQ 160m SSB. Ordered aluminum to modify the new 40m4lldd that is in the mail now.

2/28 Set up for NAQP RTTY. Cleaned up the shed a bit. Cleaned rx side of relay in the 80m amp.

3/6 Set up for ARRL DX SSB. Relay on 80m amp intermittant again, swap it with the spare.

3/7 Aluminum from M2 arrives. Check relay on 80m amp, find thread from cleaning pad stuck in contacts, put it back on the station.

3/8 Start unwrapping M2 aluminum. Took apart more of the broken antennas.

3/12 Ordered forged eye bolts for 40m4lldd-125+ mod at Fastenal. Cleaned up more leftover stuff from winter work in the shed to make room for building this spring's projects.

3/13 Marmon-Keystone's timing is perfect. I was just about to call them to see when the aluminum would be delivered when the trucker called asking for directions. Now I really have a garage full of aluminum!

Started building new elements for 20m.

Buiding elements for 20m

These are the stock 20m element center pieces. The outer 3 pieces aren't shown since I am not planning on modifying them. The reflector on the left consists of a 1.25" tube swaged down to accept the 1" tube. The next one to the right is the driven element where the 1" tubes go on a 7/8" fiberglass insulator. The two directors have a 7/8" center splice tube that the 2 1" tubes slip over.

Buiding elements for 20m This shows the additional and changed aluminum. The center of the reflector will have a 30" piece of 1.375" tube over it, then the 1" tubes will have 30" of 7/8" tube inside them. The driven element will have 30" of 7/8" tube butted against the fiberglass insulator. The two directors will have the 30" of 7/8" splice increased to 48" and it will have 3/4" tubing inside it.

Buiding elements for 20m

Drilling rig. The V notched 2x4 is clamped down and centered under the drill.

Buiding elements for 20m

For the director inserts and the reflector sleave I drilled one hole based on a measurement from the center.

Buiding elements for 20m

The second hole was lined up by putting a bolt in the first one and using an old boom-element clamp as a guide.

Buiding elements for 20m

12 partially assembled elements with reinforcing in about 4 hours, including salvaging tubing from the scrap pile, cutting, fitting, and drilling.

3/14 Assembled 20m element sections, the outer 3 pieces, in the shack while waiting for it to warm up a bit. After lunch I assembled 3 full sets of elements and set the replacement boom up to get ready to populate it.

3/15 Salvaged some parts from the broke element of the top 40m4lldd-125 that will make building the new -125+ a bit easier. This includes the element to boom clamps, though the truss supports will probably have to be replaced. The first insert into the first element tube. The shorting bars and some of the truss rods that weren't bent, and the first section past the element insulator that has an insert piece reinforcing it that I can't easily reproduce.

Salvaged parts

Salvaged parts.

What is it?

What is it??? Or should I say, what WAS it??? Answer in a day or two probably...

Bad tubing pile

Pile of mostly bent bigger pieces, broken booms, and lots of element tips that may be at least partially salvagable.

Good tubing pile

Pile of what I think is mostly good aluminum. Lots of pieces from the broke 40m4lldd-125 inner element tubes, 2-5' long from 1.5" to .875"... probably enough for a few more sets of verticals or light duty elements... or some really heavy duty elements. One of the two sets of verticals made from last year's pile is on the cable reels on the right. On the left is most of a boom from an old 40m Telrex beam and a spare 10-4cd.

3/16 Tied 2 sets of 20m elements up to the deck posts to get them off the ground and out of the way for now. Set the 20m boom and it's elements up on culvert pipe supports to line it up.

3/21 With help from NT2Y we put together the 15m and 10m elements and the 40m boom. The 40m boom is set up on the tripods at the bottom of the field where it will get lifted from. We aligned elements on the replacement 120' 20m antenna and moved it over near the 150' tower where it will probably get lifted from.

3/27 Last of the needed aluminum for the 40m4lldd-125+ project arrived today. Set up the station for WPX SSB contest.

3/28 With help from a couple of the NE1C operators I got the tubing assembled for the 40m4lldd-125+ elements out to the section past the insulator. Lots of drilling for these of course because of all the new tubing.

3/29 Assembled new Philly element truss pieces. Too wet to do much outside.

3/31 Put element trusses on. Put partial elements on the boom. Had to replace one of the boom-element plates that had a bunged up screw hole in the bottom, then it of course had a galled bolt that had to be replaced... each of which required a walk from the bottom of the field up to the shed.

Oh yeah, the answer to the latest whatsit... Maybe this will help identify it.

What is it?

Those were the 3/8" eye bolts that held held the boom truss for the lower 40m4lldd... The one with the broken boom.

4/2 Nice night, 55-60f, light breeze, NO BUGS, and light enough to work outside till after 7pm. Added Loctite to all the clamps on the 10m, 15m, 20m, and 40m replacement elements. Tightened up all the nylocked screws to their final set on the 10m, 15m, and 20m elements. Added the element tips to the 40m4lldd-125+ and did round 2 of the 'line up the elements' game. All the tubing is now attached on the 40m4lldd-125+, just adjustments to the element and boom trusses, add the phasing line and balun, and it should be ready to go up.

4/4 Snowy and windy Saturday. Set up station for SO2R for upcoming contests. Cleaned up some stuff in the shack. Did a little cleanup around the yard from winter ice damage. Had short visit from S56A.

4/5 Walked the Beverages on this side of the stream, picked up a pocket full of insulators and moved some of the smaller brush out of the way. Almost every post needs to have the fiberglass rod replaced.

4/8 Kind of cool and breezy, but at least not snowing too heavy, so I went and installed the balun and phasing line on the 40m4lldd-125+.

4/9 Nice evening. Went up to 120' on the 20m tower and brought down the RG-213 jumper for that antenna. This will let me test it since those are one of the older outside pieces of coax, and also let me attach it to the antenna before it goes back up. This will make that reinstallation easier since those feedpoints can't be reached from the tower. I also brought down the piece of boom brace rope that has been up there flapping in the breeze.

4/10 Did the final element alignment, final bolt tightening, assembled the boom truss, and checked measurements on the 40m4lldd-125+, so it should be ready to go up the tower now.

4/11 Cold, windy, drippy Saturday. Did some cleanup of downed trees and branches around the 40m 4-Square. Did some work on the web site.

4/12 Cold, windy, and snow flurries. Did some more work on the web site. Transfered all the station information pages to the Wiki. Fired up the chainsaw and started to clean up a bit around the 40m 4-square and around the pond. Boy this new saw runs a long time on a tank of gas.

4/13 More cleanup of down branches around pond.

4/14 And yet more cleanup around pond... this could get repetitious, so just assume that any nice day I'm dragging branches or cutting up downed junk.

4/15 Moved tram wire to go over the 40m4lldd-125+. Layed out the backstay wire. Put the rope in place so N2KW can lay it out while I'm at work tomorrow. Got tools and stuff ready to replace bearings on 180' ring rotor.

4/16 Went up 180' tower and moved tram wire to leg closer to 40m4lldd-125+, installed back stay, and lifting rope and pulley. Replaced bearings on ring at 180' also.

4/17 Andrew and Bill from XX Towers were here from about 9:30am to 2:30pm, the 180' 10m is fixed, the 40m4lldd-125+ is up at 180' and connected up, and the 120' 20m4dx is up and connected. Now at least the right number of elements are in the air. A few of them are still a bit bent, but hopefully the wx will cooperate either Monday or Tuesday so they can replace the bent up ones.

Andrew with new 10m elements getting ready to repair the 180' 10m4dx.

The 10m boom is now vertical and he is replacing elements.

A nice straight 10m antenna again!

A bend up pile of aluminum coming down.

The 40m4lldd-125+ almost up, with a UFO or two in the picture.

The 20m4dx ready to go up using the top guy wire as a tram.

Bill is left holding the rope.

120' 20m4dx just about in place.

No more pics today, I was busy rolling up tram cables and putting away tools.

4/19 Ran another tank of gas through the chain saw.. thats about enough.

4/20 Bill and Andrew here again today, now almost all of the elements are straight again! It was a cool and breezy day, cooler and breezier than I would have like for climbing, but Andrew was dressed for it and knew how to handle the antennas in the wind. Fortunately the forecast rain held off till after they left at 4pm.

Andrew getting started at 150'. Note the extra boom truss rope on the right side, that is to stop the boom from fluttering in light winds.

D1 is off and the antenna rotated. D1 is just in the way of tipping and twisting since it is so close to the balance point. So it is taken off first and put back on last.

Finishing up the 90' 20m4dx. The 120' one just above it is the one that was put up last Friday.

Starting on the 120' 15m4dx.

Bill is still holding the rope.

Working on the 90' 15m4dx.

Almost done.

More aluminum for the scrap pile. I will check for good pieces in these, I need a couple tips for the 60' 20m4dx and one section for the 60' 15m4dx. The rest of the scrap pile is in the background.

4/24 More cleanup around the 40m 4-square, 80m 4-square, and 150' tower. Disassembled the bent elements removed on Monday. Salvaged a few pieces for future use. Set the station up for FQP.

4/25 W1TO came over to help out. We fixed up the N-S Beverage posts, and the NE-SW one on the station side of the stream. We did a couple posts on the NW-SE one, but that still needs some chainsaw work back in the woods. We also piled up some brush around the 80m 4-square and the back side of the 150' tower. We also started cleanup and assembly of the Telrex 2m antenna that N2KW donated.

4/26 Fired up the chainsaw again and cut up the last of the stuff around the NW-SE Beverage path. Also cut up lots of stuff that was blocking the path between the ends of the Beverages. Still haven't gone across the stream to check the far end of the NE-SW one, that probably needs a bit of cleanup still also.

5/2 Took advantage of a cool, breezy, morning with no bugs and went back across the beaver pond to finish up repairs to the SW-NE Beverage antenna. Set up SO2R station for NEQP. Also finished repairs to NW-SE Beverage. So now, except for one slightly bent element on the 60' 15m4dx I think all the ice storm damage is repaired... so now on with the improvements for this year!

5/3 Did more cutting and dragging of brush. Put one of the hardline connectors on the piece thats going to go up to 150'.

5/5 The lawn mowing season has officially started now.

5/6 Planted a 2x4 support for the end of the 2 new radials for the 40m 4-square that go towards the pond. They had been laying on the ground because there was nothing in the right direction to tie them to.

5/9 A perfectly dreary Saturday. No one here for CQ-M so I went and cut up the 3 big pine trees that came down by the pond. I moved the trunks out of the way of grass cutting and pulled the big parts of the tops out of the pond. After the tops dry off a bit I'll cut them up and get them out of the way.

5/10 Big thunderstorm line and high winds over night. The 120' 20m4dx is now tipped almost vertical, the boom bolts must not have been quite tight enough. I'm going to be feeling this weekend all week... Today I rolled up the 80m 4-square ground screen to get ready for summer grass cutting. Since it was so nice and cool and windy I also went around the Beverage connector trail and cleaned out the stuff I cut up a couple weeks ago. On the way back I cleaned up the NW-SE Beverage trail, so now they should all be realatively easy to walk/ski. Spent a couple hours taking apart bent elements and booms. Salvaged lots of good aluminum out of the scrap pile.

5/11 Took down the damaged 2m packet antenna. Made the 120' 20m4dx level again and added the spacer to hold it on the right beam heading. The packet station is now temporarily on the 2m beam at 180', that is the feedline that will get the new/repaired packet antenna.

5/12 Took apart and dried out the F23A packet antenna. The feedline stub was soaked and water was down inside the antenna of course. Painted the fiberglass shell and left to bake in the garage for a day.

5/13 Cleaned up the innards of the F23A, there are 7 set screw joints in that thing! Reassembled with the nice clean painted fiberglass. Tested tuning and it is perfect, the SWR is < 2:1 across the band and about 1.1:1 at 146MHz when its on the 3' sidearm. Made a new top stabilizer for it out of a piece of that fiberglass angle stuff from the 80m 4-square... its much lighter than the big aluminum angle plate and bulletproof plastic that was on the 150' tower. Cut 25' pieces of RG-213 for the F23A and for the Telrex 2m beam. The F23A will have a PL-259 on the antenna end and an N on the hardline end. The Telrex 2m one will need an N on the hardline end and a split end to attach to the T-match. Also cut a piece to make the 1/2 wave balun for the Telrex 2m.

5/15 Spent a couple hours up the 180' tower today, while W1EQO loaded wood and pushed buttons in the shack... more to do up there, but not much. Took down the bent 2m beam. Repaired the hardline connector that used to feed the 2m beam, the center conductor had pulled the pin back out of the connector like the 10m one did last year. Installed the F23A at about 170' on the South side of the tower and hooked it up to the hardline that used to feed the 2m beam. Installed the 2nd drive motor on the ring at 180', adjusted the side bearings a bit tighter, it seems to run much smoother now. Added lock nuts to the ring cradle bolts. Note, the ring itself is actually bent, one side seems to be bent up on the bottom 1/4-3/8" or so. It doesn't seem to affect rotation though as there is enough vertical room in the rollers to let it turn. Also inspected the 120' 10-4cd when I was up level with it, its boom is bent a bit also, so something will have to be done with that one. I do have a spare one of those sitting next to the shed, but that isn't really a high priority now as it still works and there isn't much on 10m anyway. Still to do at 180', the boom truss on the 40m beam needs to be adjusted a bit, one end is pulling the boom up a bit... it will take readjusting the aircraft cable because the turnbuckle is all the way out already. And I'll want to take another look at the ring before next winter anyway so I'll adjust it then.

5/16 Rebuilt the 2m beam taken down from 180'. I'm not sure what model that is, but the boom aluminum is identical to the 40m element aluminum except that the center piece is swaged on both ends. I used some salvaged 40m elements and reinforced the 2 sections that had bent. The elements are the same rod as the 40m element loading rod also so the same keepers fit. This was a case where a drill press is a necessity, there just isn't a better way to drill the through-boom holes for the insulated elements. Tested tuning and it is best at the bottom of the band where it should be. Cleaned up the shed a bit while looking for a better boom-mast plate and u-bolts for the rebuilt 2m beam, the one that it had was kind of small and it was hard to get to one of the mast bolt nuts because the boom was in the way. I have a whole shelf of M2 parts and hardware in there now from both 20m and 40m repairs and replacements.

Found half of a 15m4dx D1 element in the salvage pile so ran up to 60' and put that one on so the 15m stack is all straight now.

Unpacked the new TIC 1122E Ring Rotor.

Now, what should I do this afternoon?

Took it easy in the afternoon... just did pre-assembly on the TIC Ring, tested out the motor and controller, and brought the reel of rotor cable into the shack to wire up the tower end of the cable.

5/17 Sorted out mess of color code notes for ring rotor cables. Now there is a single card for each ring rotor cable in the folder with the manuals. Wired up the TIC motor disconnect to the new Belden 9405 cable to pull up the 150' tower. Put N connectors on jumper for repaired 2m beam to go at 150'.

5/18 Attached feedline stub to 2m beam. Rigged ring rotor parts for lifting. Unrolled heliax and rotor cable to go up 150' tower. Staged rope and pulleys at the bottom of the 150' tower. Now if the wx just cooperates tomorrow night...

5/19 George(neighbor) came over to help after dinner... Pulled heliax and rotor cable up the 150' tower. Left lifting rope in place to pull up ring rotor parts. Taped cables up to cable run back to shack.

5/20 Stuck new rotor cable into the shack. Put connector on heliax.

5/21 Staged rope and tools to put up ring rotor.

5/22 Ran control line for ring rotor over to 20m station and wired it in to the controller. Moved 150' 80m inverted V down about 3' to get it below the new ring rotor. With N2KW, NT2X, and RZ6AU helping I put up the ring rotor at 150'. But it was too windy to move the 20m antenna on to it. Stored ropes and stuff back in the shed.

5/23 Added jumper for new heliax into the VHF station. Replaced old 9913 jumper from 1/2" hardline that used to be the packet vertical with new one and routed it to the VHF station also. Added ground lead to the heliax at the shack end. Will have to reground all the VHF/UHF hardline connectors up the 150' tower when I switch them around since I had to disconnect most of that to move them out of the way of the ring rotor. Took the spare 10-4cd out of storage to see what work it would need to replace the one at 120'... the gamma match needs to be rebuilt, but otherwise it looks pretty good.

Something is wrong with the top 20m Yagi. It was arcing and now has high SWR across the band. Most likely the balun or the hairpin is open. Fortunately I have to dismount it to put it on the ring anyway so I can replace the balun then and check the stub.

5/24 Replaced the relay box on the 20m tower. The old one looks good, the contacts only have a small burn spot and measure ok now. But while it was up the tower I could make it give a high swr on the MFJ meter by pushing a bit on the one set of relay contacts. I'll clean it up and keep it as a spare for now.

5/25 Nice morning. 50f and 0mph wind at 6:30am when I started up the 150' tower. I moved the 20m4dx down to the ring rotor and installed the repaired 2m beam where the 20m one was. The wind started picking up just after I got the 20m beam in the ring cradle, good timing! I moved all the VHF/UHF hardline connectors around so they were out of the way of the ring so they would be easier to work on. When I was connecting up the VHF stuff I switched the 6m antenna to the new heliax and put the 2m on the bigger stuff that was there from the old packet backbone project. Both of them seem to be working better than before. 20m didn't work at all though... Had to recruit the neighbor and train him how to read the TDR while I went back up to 100' to replace the T connector. I must have kicked it on the way down because it was open, this had been temporarily fixed years ago, but that must have finally killed it. I bent the hardline around to get it in a safer location this time also.

So after all that now the 20m4dx at 150' has its own rotor, and all the VHF/UHF Yagis are on one rotor (well except for the 6m one on the 60' tower). So the VHF/UHF station can have the 150' rotor full time and doesn't have to share with 10m or 20m any more.

This is what the top of the 150' tower looks like now:

And this is a cactus that N2KW gave me that decided to flower a couple weeks ago:

5/27 Yucky, foggy, drizzly, cold evening. Cleaned up a bit in the shed and worked on web page updates from latest changes.

5/29 Set up for WPX CW SO2R with skimmer and packet for K1MK/WK1Q.

5/30 Replaced 2 of the 4 radial support poles along the pond for the 80m 4-square. The original ones were single pressure treated 2x4's and one had broken in the ice storm and another bent quite a bit. The replacements are two 2x4's screwed together in a T arrangement. Much stronger than the single ones. Added another support post to the 40m 4-square feedline at a low spot.

Made up the 1/2 wave phasing line and feedline stub for the Telrex 2m Yagi.

6/2 Replaced the last broken 2x4 radial post on the 80m 4-square. Went around and tightened up some of the ones that stretched from the branch and ice load to get them off the Beverage wire again. Received new batteries for the logging computer UPS's.

6/3 Replaced batteries in 5 of the logging station UPS's. The one on 20m is dead. Swapped the 40m one to 20m and put the Belkin that I also put new batteries in on 40m. 3 or the Tripplite batteries from the logging stations are definately dead, and one of the two in the Belkin was dead.

6/5 Who still sends "Brown paper packages tied up with strings"?? Box 88...

But it is inside that is one of my favorite things:

Setup for Alabama QSO Party. Test some N1MM Logger digital mode changes.

Pulled jumper for the 150' Yaesu rotor out of ceiling and rerouted the cable for it directly to the VHF station.

6/6 Reguyed the 60' tower. Put one of the spare screw anchors as a backup at each anchor point. Replaced the one that pulled part way out in the ice storm. Took out all the temporary stakes. Put everything back in order after testing RTTY stuff.

Then after lunch... Took down the 60' 10-3cd and the RCS-8V switch box. Put up the Telrex 2m Yagi at 60'. Pushed the 6m one up another foot or so on the mast.

6/7 Started on setting up games for picnic. Mystery switchbox should be interesting. Given a TDR and MFJ 269 and an ohm meter the objective is to figure out what is on all 5 ports of an RCS-8V coax switch that is hidden at the end of a cable. Now to go count nuts and bolts for the jar of hardware guessing game.

6/9 Did some shopping on the way home, a couple turnbuckles, some 1/4" cable clamps, 10 more rolls of tape, and ordered a snatch block pulley. Too wet to work outside so cleaned up some more of the M2 spare parts pile.

6/10 Filled up jar with left over nuts and bolts from winter repairs. This will be used at the picnic to award a copy of my book dvd to whomever guesses the closest to the number of items in it.

6/13 Major cleaning of tool shed... you can actually see lots of the floor now and walk around in there. Set up for VHF Contest. W1EQO came up and started clearing trees hanging over bridge to 80m 4-square.

6/14 While playing in VHF Contest... Clean up web pages for towers, antennas, and station equipment so towers and antennas are only listed in one place each.

6/16 Nice night to work outside. Installed new 2m/70cm antenna on the Jeep and added a mount for the Hustler HF antenna also. Pictures to come soon, its too late tonight to compose the whole story.

6/17 Two nights in a row... got the power run from the battery for both a TS-2000 and the TM-V71A. Now I have a new installation from battery to antenna for VHF/UHF in the new Jeep. Maybe I'll get the pics up tomorrow.

6/18 Ok, now we are back to normal, rainy and cool all day today. So here is the story on the mobile installation.

My problem was that the 2009 Jeep Wrangler X I bought has an aluminum/plastic removable roof. So I couldn't use the trusty mag mounts on it. I also didn't feel like punching holes in the side, and I couldn't really use the rear bumper because the back door swings out over top of most of it and it was wrapped in plastic trim also. The obvious place to mount antennas was the spare tire bracket on the back door, but there wasn't much room to work around the big spare that mounts on it. This is what I am starting with when the spare tire is removed:

Note that the rubber bumpers on the top of the door are squished under the tire when you tighten it on the 3 bolts on the mount, so you can get an idea of the space available. Fortunately someone else has solved this problem. Arizona Rocky Road produces a mount for Wranglers that fits nicely in that gap. They are nice and solid and set up to take advantage of the existing bolts that hold the spare tire mount to the back door. This is a pair of them ready to be installed:

The white rings around the bolt holes are where the paint is removed to make good ground contact. Note there are different ones for the left and right sides of the mount. The one on the left has the VHF/UHF dual band antenna. Most of them come with PO or NMO mounts these days instead of studs, but NCG makes an adapter that works like this:

The female UHF connectors and insulator for it is supplied by Arizona Rocky Road. It has a standard 3/8" stud that sticks up and they supply a 1" long threaded nut/socket for it so you could screw into it, or just remove their nut and mount anything that goes on the stud directly.(They also supply mounts drilled for PO and NMO) In this case I took off their nut and screwed on the NCG AD-35M adapter, added a UHF barrel connectors to it and screwed on the Comet SBB-5 antenna. I then had to add a ground strap because the Comet needs the ground for its matching network. All metal-metal joints are treated with anti-corrosion goop. Later I added duct seal and tape over the exposed barrel connector joint and on the PL-259 connection.

When removing the bolts from the spare tire mount a minor problem showed up. There was a plastic washer under the metal one. This would be in the way of making the expected ground contact:

The washer was removed and installed under the 3 washers that ARR supplied to put between their mount and the spare tire mount. Before installing the right one I took advantage of a spare body hole and ran the 2 pieces of coax into the rear door cavity.

These were easily fished down and out the corner by the hinge with an old bent coat hanger.

The RG-8x is a tight fit through the vent slots, a slight bend in the horizontal piece above the cable makes it slide through easily and easily is undone. Here are the two of them in place with the cables run.

This is the side view with the tire back in place:

You can see above there isn't really a lot of room in there to avoid the tire and stay out of the way of the rear wiper. The view from the back with the Comet on the left and a Hustler with 75m loading coil on the right:

The radio radio is a TM-V71A which mounts nicely using one of the center console mounting bolts. There is plenty of room to hide power cables under the center console and passenger side dash. And there is a large firewall wire hole just under the battery so the run to the battery is short and easy. The power cable for the TS-2000 is tucked up out of the way until I want to go HF mobile.

6/19 Set up for AA CW for W1UE to do SO2R.

6/20 Started building a rack to get spare aluminum and other stuff off the ground next to the shed.

6/22 Darn you L.P. Adams... you aren't supposed to deliver the wood the same day I order it! It wasn't raining after dinner so I just had to continue building the aluminum rack. I got up 2 more layers of racks and the top 2 side rails before it finally started to rain.

6/23 Darn you wx! Rain stopped after dinner so I ended up spending a couple more hours on the aluminum rack.

6/24 Wx did it again! Added carriage bolts to cross member joints and trimmed up the side rails. Moved BIG aluminum to the top rack so it is out of the way. Started stacking more of the other pipes and things on it.

6/25 Double darn you wx! Rain held off too long again so ended up finishing the rack. Used some deck stain on the bottom shelves. Put landscape cloth around end posts, cleaned off the rest under the rack. Cut up the broke 6x6 post from the Beverages and put that in as a support for wood to keep it off the ground. Broke up one wire reel and put it in the compost pile. Put all the bent and other aluminum in the rack to get it out of the grass. Put the culvert pipe supports out of the way under the rack. Cut the grass around the shed for the first time this year... whew... It looks nice anyway.


Bad tubing pile

Good tubing pile


Now I just need to sort out and dissasemble the bent stuff and... there is always something else.

6/26 Now the wx gets bad! Everyone out setting up for FD and there are severe thunder storm warnings and even some tornado warnings all over New England. Well, in my nice dry FD station the display rack material arrived to fix up the contest plaque display. I am using the Gridwall system from Allen Display. The only thing that has to be modified are the hooks. I took the 4" hooks and chopped them off to about 1/2" with bolt cutters then ground a notch in the top to fit the grooves in the back of the plaques. The result looks like:

Boy its hard to get a good picture of a bunch of shiney things in a confined space. In any event it looks a lot better than the other wall that was full of nails and didn't have room for expansion. Now I have more racks I can put on that wall to expand in the future. I also have on order some acrylic sign holders that will replace the spring clip to hold recent certificates.

6/27 Installed a set of the Gridwalls on the old wall where the plaques used to be. Split the plaques between the two walls to give them more room. Set up for Field Day.

6/28 Took apart most of the remaining bent elements so I can better sort out the bent stuff that might be salvageable. Ordered a QS1R to try out the new multi-band CW Skimmer Server.

7/2 Added some track lights to the plaque racks to help brighten them up a bit.

7/3 More cleanup in the shed. Took rolls of guy wire off the outside and put hooks inside on the back wall for them. QS1R arrived and downloaded Skimmer Server Alpha test software to give it a workout. This combo can do 96khz (maybe 192khz on some computers) of up to 7 different bands at the same time. I ran out of cpu when 40m opened so had to cut it back to 48khz. It also does 6m which the SDR-IQ wouldn't do.

7/4 Did some more testing on the rx 4-square. Fixed a broken element connection on one of the vertical feed points, and replaced an F connector on one of the vertical cables where the center conductor pulled out. It really doesn't seem to have much directivity on any band even after those fixes. Well, a snip snip here, and a yank yank there, and a receive 4-square becomes an omni directional skimmer antenna. I removed the phasing line, 3 verticals, and the 4 separate feedlines. Then put a short end on the main feedline and connected it to the one remaining vertical, then pulled all the radials from the other 3 over to the one so it now has about triple the ground radials. It works reasonably well and I don't have to think about switching directions.

7/5 Set up SDR-IQ and CW-Skimmer on the laptop computer to play with it some more. When it seems I'm not making many entries on here its probably because I'm doing yard work. Today I cut down a couple big broken branches and cut lots of grass since we finally had a couple nice dry days in a row. Still very cool and breezy, but at least it isn't raining.

7/11 Set up for IARU HF Contest. 70' 40m beam is sticking a bit. It didn't want to turn from west to east. Went up the tower and took a look at it and it seemed ok, maybe a bit tight. Will have to test it some more when its not so windy. SO2R HF-2500 amp has an oscillating regulator. Will have to do mod on it like I did on another one last year.

7/12 Started cutting brush around 80m 4-square since it is so nice and cool and breezy.

7/14 Set up 2nd TS-2000 for CQ VHF M/2. Had to make up Yaesu-Kenwood mic jumper and looped back RS-232 adapter.

7/17 Setting up for CQWW VHF multi-op. Removed spotting FT-1000mp, will use TS-2000 for that in the future. Removed unused control cables from spotting position. Moved V7 that had been on the spotting position to the server rack and moved 2m/70cm vertical from spot to server ceiling drops.

7/24 Setting up for RSGB IOTA and the Picnic.

7/25 See special page for the Picnic Pictures.

7/30 They finally came and took the tent away today. Interesting thing, shackcam #2 has been acting up recently. It appears to be a hardware problem. I figured that since it was 2 years or so old it would be out of warranty, but believe it or not their warranty is 3 years... so back it goes.

7/31 Put station back in SO2R for NAQP and the next couple of weeks worth of contests.

8/1 The second nice Saturday in a row, how did we deserve this? Too nice to stay on the ground so went up the 60' VHF tower to straighten out the crooked 6m element and do some extra taping of the feedlines and control cables.

8/6 Set up for WAE CW. Decided to put voltage regulator mod in the SO2R HF-2500, checked for oscillation but couldn't duplicate what we have heard before... but started to take it apart anyway. One of the hex heads is stuck so hard I'll probably have to cut it or use an easy-out on it. Replace the SO2R right radio amp with the spare HF-2500.

8/14 Set up for SARTG Contest SO2R. Not much else going one. Have ordered a 2nd drive motor for the bottom 40m ring rotor, and more heavy aluminum wire for radials to replace the 160m and some of the 40m ones. Other than that I have a new pile of insulators and hardware for BIG! that I am cleaning up and organizing.

8/22 Out of town for a few days... Webcam returned from repair, but was broke in shipment, guess it goes back again now.

8/23 At least for a while I am running two Skimmers off the same antenna to allow comparison of decoding. Both of them are feeding spots to the reverse beacon network now. I will keep them running as much as I can, but won't guarantee availability of both. The equipment/software is:

K1TTT: QS1R and skimmer server v0.94 (available at k1ttt.net port 7300) monitoring 48khz starting at 1800, 3500, 7000, 14000, 21000, 28000, 50091khz.

K1TTT-1: SDR-IQ and cw skimmer 1.4 (maybe available at k1ttt.net port 7301 please let me know if this works) set for 96khz sample rate, using wd5eae scheduler to rotate between 1825, 3525, 7025, 14025, 21025, 28025khz depending on time of day.

Both are on a 25-30' vertical. Both are set to minimal validation.

On my first quick look it seems that the SDR-IQ is more sensitive and generates more spots. Though sometimes the QS1R gives better SNR values.

8/28 Cut down some damaged trees around the far side of the 80m 4-square area to get them out of the way before winter. Set up for SCC RTTY. Ordered new computer to try the Skimmer Server on to see if it can do full bandwidth on all the bands.

9/3 Finally got QS1R and Skimmer Server running on a new 64 bit 4 core box. Had some problem with installer for QS1R USB drivers not finding some file it needed, poked around in it until I got it to install. Skimmer Server seems much happier with 4 cores to process in.

9/4 Got new wide screen monitor for SO2R station. Makes it much nicer, especially for RTTY with all the extra windows on the screen. Set up for Russian RTTY contest.

9/5 I have a new 64 bit Vista quad core running the Skimmer Server beta software now. It took a bit of playing to get the QS1R USB drivers to install, but now it seems to be working quite nicely. CPU load is only 10-15% with 500 decoders running generating 80 spots in 30 minutes right now. For comparison purposes I have a CW Skimmer on an SDR-IQ running in parallel.

They are both just T'ed off a single vertical right now, no buffer or preamps. They are both feeding spots to the http://www.reversebeacon.net/ web site.

K1TTT-1 = SDR-IQ using W3OA's SkimScan to rotate bands every 3 minutes. Set to 96khz sampling rate and frequencies 25khz up from the bottom of the bands on 160/80/40/20/15/10m. Band schedule depends on time of day. You can telnet to it directly at k1ttt.net port 7301

K1TTT = QS1R set for 48khz decoding on 7 bands at once. I'll change bands as I play around and think about it. You can telnet to it directly at k1ttt.net port 7300.

Has anyone got the CW Skimmer running on a 64 bit Vista machine?? It seems to have trouble here, probably with the USB interface.

9/6 Nice early Fall day. Its been dry for a week now so the streams and swamps are down to their late Spring levels. I took the pole saw and went for a walk around the Beverages. Lots more branches down. Had to clear the trail between them in a few spots. The SW-NE path was the worst, several branches on it and insulators pulled off. I was able to reach the branches over the middle of the beaver pond to get them off the wires at least. Still lots of broken branches up in the trees to come down, it could be a long winter of putting Beverages back up on their posts.

9/7 Lashed a 3/4" fiberglass rod about 5' long to the slightly bent boom of the 120' 10m Yagi. That should keep it through the winter. The 10m stack is in the plans for replacement next year anyway, assuming we start seeing some sunspots!

9/11 Received two USB-RS232 adapters to try out with TU's for RTTY.

9/12 Set up for VHF contest and played in it for a few hours. One of the TS-2000's is deaf on at least 6m, so took that out of service and ran with one radio.

9/13 Played more in VHF contest. Ran brush mower around 20m and 15m towers, the big field, and the path next to the 80m 4-square. Found N/S Beverage had a big branch on it, replaced insulators to put it back up.

9/15 Shipped TS-2000 off to Beltronics for repair. Bought a new coffee pot and Bagel guillotine.

9/16 Gave away about 10 years worth of CQ and QST back issues to a good home.

9/17 Started cleaning up and setting up for CQWW RTTY. Put new wide monitor on 20m to make more room for RTTY decoders. N2WQ sent two HAL DXP38's up to try. They will run in parallel using one of N1MM's new rtty decoder windows.

9/18 Spent a couple hours with both sledgehammers, big pipes for bending things, and the arc welder fixing up the brush mower deck. Now it runs straight and level again so I can finish up the mowing around the 80m 40square before winter.

9/19 Change station from SO2R back to M/M for CQWW RTTY. Dragged W1EQO's big cherry logs out from under the South Beverage so I could cut the weeds and brush. Finally finished cutting brush and weeds around the 80m 4-square, still working on other areas of the yard.

9/20 Cut down a couple more trees that were damaged last December. One was drooping over the 80m and 40m low inverted V's. Did some more cleaning up around the shack. I will remove the 'spot' station from the network this year, it wasn't used much except by me to watch the network and is now running the cw skimmer pretty much full time.

9/23 Start setting up computers and radios for CQWW RTTY. Clean house.

9/24 Do shopping for weekend.

9/25 Finish setup for CQWW RTTY. Take walk around Beverages, leave with 2 insulators, replace one missing one along the way, and come back with 3.

10/2 Setup for CQP SO2R for W1UE. Poor Lucky Dog had minor surgery yesterday and is now a cone head... He is trying to help with cleanup of BIG!, but mostly is just getting in the way.

Received the YCCC SO2R box kits, minus circuit boards and one IC.

10/6 Cut more brush around 15m and 20m towers.

10/9 Removed the Lucky Dog cone head, it was getting on both of our nerves. He doesn't seem inclined to bother his incision anyway. Surgery removed a benign tumor of some unpronounceable doggy gland that was bothering him when he sat down.

It only took 3 trips to the left coast, but Shackcam 2 is back on line.

10/10 A perfectly dreary day. Good day to clean out the garage and make room to park the Jeep in there. Took off and cleaned up the mower deck, put on the snow blower. First snow is forecast for Monday. Did more weed and brush cutting around the 15m tower.

10/11 Now this is better. Heavy frost and a nice clear morning. Walked the Beverages to clean up branches downed in wind this last week. Rolled out 80m 4-square supplimental ground screens for the winter.

10/14 Cleaned some more dead branches off the Beverages.

10/16 Cut more brush and weeds around 15m tower. TS-2000 returned from Beltronics after getting it's front end repaired. Swapped it for the other one and packaged the other one up to go to get its lamps and channel switch fixed.

10/17 Cut small trees and stumps around 15m tower that the mower couldn't handle. Cut down some damaged trees that were leaning toward the back anchor of the 15m tower. Set up for WAG Contest.

10/18 Nice light snow this morning. Took walk around Beverages, no more damage found this time.

10/21 Start cleaning and stocking fridges for CQWW SSB.

10/22 Finish cleanup for CQWW SSB.

10/23 Check Beverages again, do inside setup for CQWW SSB. Found 40m 4-square needed some attention so had to go down and tighten up the feed points. None of them looked bad, but there must have been some corrsion in one of them. Also found the 10m switch that routes the antennas to the SO2R station wasn't working in the normal position. Took it apart and found the inside of the one SO-239 connector was rotating in the shell which misaligns the contacts. Tightened it up and it is working ok again.

10/27 New drive motors for ring showed up.

10/30 Unpacked and checked motors for ring. I did get 2 of them instead of 1 so will put them both on the bottom 40m ring and save the one that is on there now as a spare. WX was foggy all morning then got windy so didn't get any climbing done. But did have PLT guy here to service the tractor, brush mower, and generator. Did another hour of brush cutting until the belt broke.

10/31 Another drippy dreary morning. After taking trash to the dump I though I would put a new mower belt on to be ready to do another few hours of cutting before winter... but found the tension spring was lost. Parked the mower in the shed and called it quits for brush mowing for thise year.

Well, that was a mistake. I took 'one last' walk through the area I had been cutting to see if I could find the spring, and did. So of course I had to put it on, drag the mower back to the garage to jump start it, and then spend an hour or so mowing around the 20m tower.

11/1 Walked the Beverages again after windy day yesterday. Plumbed the verticals and tightened up guy ropes on the 80m 4-square.

11/6 Started setup for SS CW. W1UE wants to use his K3 on the SO2R setup so spent a while putting good labels on all the MP and SO2R cables so I can put them back easier.

11/7 Cut more brush around 20m and 15m towers. Parked the DR Mower for the winter. Finished setup for SS CW with W1UE's K3. It won't control the antenna band selection but it keys the amp ok and the interface to N1MM works fine.

11/13 Got Clifton Labs Norton preamp for the QS1R. Tested against the SDR-IQ and it makes the QS1R slightly more sensitive than the SDR-IQ.

11/14 Reconfigured the QS1R and Norton amp to be powered off the pc power supply, that makes it nice since no outside power is needed. Moved the whole thing to the server rack. Took the SDR-IQ off the VHF logging machine and put it temporarily on the laptop with a rubber duck antenna to use for monitoring local noise and TX signals.

11/15 More getting ready for winter. Took another walk around the Beverages with the loppers and cut off more branches and new undergrowth. Cut a bunch branches and undergrowth around the 80m 4-square and along the feedline for it through the trees up toward the 10m tower. Late morning it got too nice to stay on the ground. Went up to the bottom 40m beam and replaced the old drive motor with two new drive motors. The ring was definately bent from the ice storm last December, about 1/4" down on the cradle side. It still clears everything, but is a bit tight which is why it was probably binding occasionally before.

11/21 Set up for RSGB 160m and SS SSB. 160m computer won't boot all the way. Gets the wallpaper and mouse but never gives the task bar or desktop icons. Some things can run from task manager, but others crash it. Safe mode kind of works, but some stuff still screwy. Reinstall windows, and when it gets to the point where I have to install the wireless card it won't load. Give up for today, set up N2KW's laptop to key through rigblaster for 160m contest. Had 2 of the 2 port MFJ manual switches fail open when switching back to m/m arrangement, pulled them out of line for now. One of them wouldn't let go of the coax so had to swap the short jumper out on 15m also.

11/22 Replace wireless card in 160m box with one from the vhf station and then it finishes loading and comes up ok. It may have been that card all along, but were very strange symptoms. Reloading didn't install the hardware drivers for some reason so had to do those manually.

11/25 TS-2000 returned from Beltronics after repair. Set it back up on VHF station.

11/27 Set up for CQWW CW.

11/29 Big winds the last couple nights. Gusts clocked here at 50mph at 50' above ground, sustained winds up higher were strong. Lots of dead branches came down, had to put back up one of the Beverages that had a good size tree top come down on it. Branches removed from other Beverages and access trails also.

12/3 Replaced wireless network card in VHF station that was taken to fix the 160m station computer.

12/4 Had annual heater service done. Had project engineer here to survey for Solar-Electric installation. Set up for ARRL 160m for N2KW s/o.

12/5 Did a bit of cleanup in the shed, putting away tools and bringing battery powered stuff into the house for the winter. Tried to get new webcam working in my webcam pages but it won't work because of browser security restrictions on scripting. May just have to frame their server page in my headers and footers or something like that.

12/6 Sunday is a safe day to walk in the woods in Mass... no hunting still on Sundays. Went back and reattached the reflection transformer on the NW/SE Beverage. Not quite enough snow to ski and not bad to walk in yet. 12/11 Got in some misc parts for new computers that will replace the hub and upstairs boxes that are getting a bit overloaded in contests. The CPU's are backordered but will hopefully be in next week.

12/15 Started setup for OK-DX RTTY for K1SFA & K1MK.

12/16 New computers showed up. Did basic installation and setup.

12/17 Finished setup of new computers. Did computer setup for OK-DX RTTY.

12/18 Finished setup for OK-DX RTTY. Installed new computers upstairs and in the old hub location.

12/24 Assembled the 2 radio version of the K1XM SO2R Box.

12/25 Built first radio cable for SO2R box. Found error in SO2R Box documentation, the mic pins in the DIN plug are backwards. This causes a bad ground loop because it hooks the ground from the computer up to the mic input on the radio. Still had some problems with switching not working.

12/26 Switching problems on SO2R box were software setup errors. Built second radio cable for SO2R box and finished testing with 10m and 80m radios. N2KW setup for Stew Perry 160m contest on SO2R station so will install box later. Replaced long cables and multiple adapters between the QS1R and preamp, and between the preamp and RX protector with short AAA RF BNC-BNC cables. Cleaned up from construction of SO2R box. Yucky WX, snow and freezing fog, only 29f at lunch time and about 1/4" of ice on top of towers.

12/27 Power went off about 0130z and was off till some time before 0600z when the generator ran out of gas. Fun part was that about 0200z the electrician I have engaged to install a new auto start whole house generator called in reply to a voice mail from a couple days ago. He was surprised when I asked if he could bring it up right then since the power was off!

41f in the morning, still rain and fog, but at least everything is melting.

Installed second monitors on 10m and 160m stations using StarTech USB to VGA adapters to see how they work. They make use of the spare monitors that had accumulated after upgrading to bigger ones on 20m and 40m. I tried to put one on the new Win-7 Hub machine but it didn't seem to like it... It probably needs updated drivers for Win-7.

Created contest score summary page for the year. Doing it in the Wiki now, will probably merge it with this blog next year to make one big one for the whole year's activities.

12/28 Installed K1XM SO2R Box. First a step back and look at the radio cable construction. All the cables going to a radio from the SO2R box come from one 8 pin DIN connector. I hate DIN connectors, but they are a decent way to cram lots of wires in a small connector... something like this:

Oops, sorry, thats a Lucky Dog in a snuggie that doesn't fit. This is what is inside the DIN connectors:

From left to right... a shielded 2 conductor cable with the 2 conductors tied together for the mic audio. The two white ones are single conductor shielded cables with their grounds tied together, one for PTT the other for CW keying. Then on the right is another 2 conductor shielded cable for the headset audio(the shield is behind the 2 conductors). The shields of the mic audio, PTT/CW, and headphone audio are separate. The shields are covered with heatshrink to keep them apart inside the shell. Why picture this separately instead of all the rest of the construction?? The rest of the construction went too quick for me to think about taking a picture. The only thing that slowed me down was an error in the documentation for wiring the mic audio that sent me off chasing a ground loop for a while.

The Before picture:

What got removed from the table:

In this arrangement there were cables for the following... RS232 from computer to each Rigblaster, then from there to the radios. All sorts of audio to and from the radios through the rigblasters and SO2R box. CW and PTT cables to and from the SO2R box. CW and paddle cables between the keyer and SO2R box. Cables from the SO2R relay box to the control head that sat on the desk taking up space. A parallel cable from the computer to the SO2R box for CW and radio selection. 4 power cables for each of the separately powered boxes.

What replaces that rat's nest:

One DIN plug going to each radio. Mic audio to and from computer. USB to computer. RS232 directly from computer to each radio. Not shown in either one was RX Line level audio from the back of the FT-1000mp's to the computer Line-In for RTTY RX. Missing in the picture is a power cable for the SO2R Box.

The After picture:

Note there is no SO2R control box on the desktop and all those other boxes that had been stacked up are gone. The white box on top of the SO2R box is the Beverage selector, since the left radio is used for 40m in M/M contests is makes more sense to have it on top of that radio now that there is room.

12/29 Installed updated Wiki software and did some more cleanup of server.

12/31 Set up for SCC HNY RTTY and ARRL RTTY RU contests for K1SFA M/S. Built the 4 radio version of the SO2R box as a spare and for use on the VHF station in the future. This one took about 3 hours from start to finish in one sitting.