Category Archives: Amateur Radio

Replacing an old T-8 with a new Tennadyne T-8 at the K9ZW home QTH

[December 10th, 2017 – releasing this post that somehow never was added back in September]

 

What does a log-periodic (LPDA) antenna look like when a combination of wind-fatigue, corrosion, and some issues from a nearby lightning strike all come together?

 

The old T-8 after 20+ years of abuse missing elements and with broken boom-element interfaces.

 

The Old T-8 Being Abuse by Winter

My old second hand T-8 had seen better days.  Coronal arcing was from a nearby tree lightning strike.  Corrosion was caused by the previous owner having injected elements with some sort of spray foam sealant.  And the wind was the 20+ years of exposure, including some recorded high speed prolonged winds.  Sort of like driving the antenna at freeway speeds from here to Chicago and Back.

Vern K9EME was instrumental in changing out the antenna, as I had some very restrictive health limitations at the time.

 

The new improved T-8’as it was being assembled on the tower

 

We had a snorkle-lift to use and the replacement went very well.  The reason we assembled the elements after the booms were installed was how easy the lift made the work.

Also replaced was the choke-coil and feed line.

Again with many thanks to Vern K9EME, the K9ZW station returned to the air very quickly.

The corrosion that had set into the old antenna along with the effects of the lightning strike to a nearby tree made the old antenna a candidate for recycling.  No amount of effort could separate parts of the antenna, and other parts were powder.

Despite the abuse it had really earned its keep.  I really didn’t want to change it for anything else.

Since he took over the company,  Roger at Tennadyne builds his new antennas with MUCH thicker boom material, better clamps and hardware – all resulting in a new T-8 being a significant upgrade.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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FlexRadio Systems 4o3a Power Genius XL Amplifier – in transit and anticipation….

Good News:  FlexRadio Systems has let me know that my amp is among those shipped by 4o3a.

Not So Good News:  International Shipping Gremlins have slowed down the transit.

Having personally had my international shipments “lost” I have sympathy.  Life isn’t fun when the container with one’s entire household belongings took Eight-Months to make a transit promised at less than 20-Days!  That case a longshoreman’s strike left it on the dock, missing its boat, the replacement boat was refused a St Lawrence Seaway permit (drought) so hovered offshore for an additional month until a berth was secured, and then unexpected cross continent land transport had to arranged.  Of did I mention the stress of having everything held in limbo for a half-year put the shipping broker out of business, and an additional broker had to be found for inbound clearance… and on finding much damage it was found that the now defunct original shipper had not bought the all-perils insurance we contracted for, leaving all the damage uninsured.

Or another car I was importing being held up in bond at the port of entry because the German seller had put in the trunk a 10-liter jug of the special oil recommended for the car.  The oil was not on the manifest and the seller had used about a 1/2 liter topping the car’s crankcase before shipping.  At $65/day for two months of bonded storage at the dock, paying for testing of the oil in the jug and all the extra broker fees to to plead my case, this gesture the seller made cost me roughly $5,700.00 in unexpected and unavoidable fees.  And yes, the option of shipping the oil back would have been nearly as costly on its own, and the car would have still racked up bonded storage fees until everyone was happy…..

Or how about the unexpected two-month delay on another car I’d contacted to be brought from Toronto – while it didn’t cost me extra, it was annoying when I could fry & drive it back in a weekend, but circumstances didn’t let me go.  Nothing more than the gears of “the system” turning slowly, with a bit of “work to rule” officialdom in the mix.

Yes, FRS has my sympathy on international shipment delays.

If the starts aline the Power Genius XL should be here before Christmas.  Fingers crossed.

More when the Amp shows.

73

Steve K9ZW

Steve

 

FlexRadio Systems 4o3a Power Genius XL Amplifier – on the way

FlexRadio Systems extended an opportunity to acquire the first of the Power Genius XL amps I’d ordered as a “Beta Team” participant.

I’d done a similar program when the Flex-6700 launched.  I believe in that Beta Program I was in the first handful of non-company/non-alpha-team to get a radio (that radio is serial number 11 and runs my main QTH station, usually powered on for months at a time.)

Quick disclaimer FRS is still working on parts of the product package for the new Amp, so while I will receive production hardware, the configuration and software parts are not in the final general release form. This again parallels the Flex-6700 program.

In my case the new PG XL Amp will displace an Alpha-9500, which I’m planning to retain for the moment.  Eventually I’ll need to thin the reserve gear as I won’t retain all the now spare amps – expecting the Expert 1KW will be the first to go.

I took a pass on taking my second PG XL Amp early, as my Washington Island QTH’s station is hardly used during the winter months due to logistics and weather.  That way I freed up another spot for another early adopter (Beta Team participant) rather than storing the second amp until spring.

Both QTHs have 4o3a Antenna Genius antenna switches ready to implement and I’ve been fiddling around with a 4o3a Station Genius as well, though updates to the Antenna Genius seem to make it redundant.

More when the Amp shows.

73

Steve K9ZW

Steve

 

Adding a DX Engineering HEXXbeam Mk II

Had an opportunity to buy a DX Engineering HEXXbeam MkII from K0PJ, adding to my Hexbeam collection.

My thoughts were to carefully collapse the antenna and transport it collapsed to my Washington Island QTH.  Later I’ll run a bit of a shoot out between the SP7IDX and Radiowavz antennas.

I’ve included some of the wildlife at the QTH and a picture of the trenching (one is a future ham radio wire conduit):

One of the Gray Foxes

The HEXXbeam on a barrel.

Yard camera caught one of the five bucks that have been visiting.

A Sanhill Crane checks out one of the yard cameras

 

Trenching. Hitting bedrock eliminated my temporary antenna pole.

Notice the animals digging up the yard – raccoons are doing the most damage, the foxes dig for burrowing critters, and the Sandhills make tent-stake like holes everywhere.

The deer are opportunists grazing on wild apples and other deer treats.

In putting in the undergrounds the plumber hit bedrock only a few inches down.   One pipe is a sanitary drain for the sump pump and rainwater that really should have always have been there, and the second is a conduit for feedlines, control cables and the like for part of my ham station.

I think the near the house yard will drain much better as there was a bedrock ridge that restricted sub surface drainage that he excavated through.

The bedrock is why he couldn’t put in the 6×6 treated post at the end of the conduit run.  I had intended to mount a rotor and a short mast as an interim location for this HEXXbeam.

Looks like I will either end up with a concrete filled barrel as a base, or have a heavy steel tripod type base made up.

Even on the barrel, rotated by hand the HEXXbeam is doing really well.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Remoting via SmartSDR and SmartLink v2.0 – in Daily Use

 

Travels so often put a person in a hotel somewhere with idle time to fill.  My last appointment of the day in Milwaukee finished at 5:30pm and after taking my youngest two university students out for dinner, Winston KC9FVR and Vic KC9NWB, I’d decided to stay in town.  A morning appointment at 7 am made running home and then hitting the road by 5 am seem a waste.

A Speedtest showed that this Art Deco hotel, The Ambassador, has a guest internet that can support remoting my Flex-6700, so it was a no-brainer to run QSOs from the hotel room.

K9ZW portable SmartSDR setup

My setup is super simple   An older 2013 era iPad Air with and even older AblePlanet noise-canceling headset with a boom microphone adapter.

I think the AblePlanet setup is almost ten years old and had made many overseas flights over the years.  I’d bought the boom microphone  to do some of the earlier voip programs.  I’d bought five of the headsets so everyone had one for a U.K. Trip, but I was the only one with a microphone as the option was a silly price back then.

Some folk didn’t like the headsets or found then fragile, and when they were being sold off cheap I should have bought more.

On the iPad I’m using “SmartSDR for iOS” which is truly an elegant implementation.

Logging is handled with the in-App purchase Logger add-in for SmartSDR for iOS.  Simple but elegant.

Now I have to admit I played radio only for an hour or so, but it sure was a blast.

I’ll talk more about putting this all together in a further installment.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Remoting via SmartSDR and SmartLink v2.0 – Both my Stations are UP!!

One of my “Dreams” I contemplated when the Flex-6000 (Deep Impact, right?) was announced was the idea that I could control more than one of my own stations remotely.

I forgot to shoot a screen shot, as I was able to sit in the W9EVT Mega-Shack receiving the stations I worked, while alternatingly working them from my North and South Stations!

When I got back to the North Station I did shoot this screen shot the next morning:

SmartLink doing both of my Stations

Let’s walk through the four entries:

  1. K9ZW Home (South) QTH via SmartLink – this is in Manitowoc, Wisconsin running a Flex-6700 Limited Edition (#11) barefoot to a Tennadyne T-8 at 60ft.
  2. K9ZW Island (North) QTH via SmartLink – this is on Washington Island, Wisconsin (hence the WI-001L) running a later Flex-6700 barefoot to a SteppIR CrankIR portable antenna.
  3. K9ZW Island (North) QTH via Local Area Network is the same station and shows because I within the wireless router’s coverage.
  4. Demo Flex-6700 is built into SmartSDR for iOS, and I keep it enabled to do quick show-and-tell sessions where I don’t have good internet set up.

So what I was doing was using George W9EVT’s Maestro and Flex-6300 to listen as I switch back-and forth from the North and South stations.  I was also monitoring via those stations as well.

The North and South stations are roughly 190 km/118 miles apart in a largely north(NNE)-south(SSW) displacement.  The roads are slow and a ferry ride make this a 3+ hour trip each way.

K9ZW South to K9ZW North – 24 degrees

Very interesting experiment which I hope to repeat!

Next step may come in the future, as I would love to combine the two stations in one virtual-station!

73

Steve
K9ZW