Category Archives: K9ZW Built

K9ZW Northern Station – The Tower and the Antennas

K9ZW Northern Station – The Tower and the Antennas

The Tri-EX/Tashjian TM-370HD Skyneedle is here at a friend’s trailer yard, where we will do some light refurbishment (scrape and paint some light tin parts that are showing surface rust) and fit the Alfa-SPID RAK Rotor, while we wait for the new base and a few added accessories to arrive.

Here are a few pictures of the tower being removed from storage and transported to my friend’s trucking yard:

Crane lift of the TM-370HD

Crane lift of the TM-370HD

TM370HD_Out_of_Storage_02

TM370HD_Out_of_Storage_03

A bit about the TM-370HD – this is a motorized 70 foot tubular tower that has some pretty impressive numbers.

I have a full set of engineering calculations and the wind loading they cite is roughly five times what my array will be, and perhaps 35 times the weight load is available.

Not certain if the numbers they provided are after application of the designer’s safety factor (would presume so, as they were done for code compliance rather than product engineering) so the ultimate wind loading and weight bearing is truly impressive.

Initially going up is a SP7IDX Hexbeam HD Mark II antenna currently in production, and a W9INN Half-Sloper which I had on the ready.

The Hexbeam will cover 6m to 20m and the Half-Sloper will carry onwards 20m to 160m.

I thought I had another Tennadyne T-8 antenna locally sourced, but the present owner decided he didn’t want to sell it even though he’d just advertised it. I’d been interested in having both the LPDA and Hexbeam up to do some A/B comparisons.

Karl and Norman at Tashjian Towers Corporation have been super as usual.

They have in production a new base for me, and I am adding the work platform (tower already has the ladder) which will allow me to do 98% of service work without a lift.

That the work platform will make an awesome birdwatching and other outdoor pursuit platform hasn’t escaped me either! It is quite likely that it will also open up a way for my getting very high speed internet to this QTH, as aDSL isn’t going to quite cut it for remoting a full Flex-6000 based station.

There are a lot of logistics to go – I have verbals from the professional help to get the base in and the tower up, and I have access to a DitchWitch to bury the conduits needed. ( want to run the power separately from the coax feeds and other control wiring.)

I even have some nice touches to add features, like a set of industrial/maritime intercom units so one will be at the tower and the other in the shack.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged , , , ,

Adding a 4o3a SSC XL Station Genius to the K9ZW Shack

Working with an evolving slightly complex station, AND wanting to using the LAN-Remote features of SmartSDR V1.4 with the Flex-6700 requires some planning – plus some electronics help!

Not point in reinventing the wheel when really sharp mins have created just the missing pieces to integrate my station.

Enter the 4o3a SSC XL Station Genius

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius - overview

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius – overview

The SSC XL allows control of Antennas, band-pass filters, 4-square antenna systems, beam stacks, beverages, Six Packs, rotators, RS-232 devices and more, per the website information.

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius - Front

4o3a SSC XL Station Genius – Front

Force12 expands further saying it is easier to say what you cannot control.

The main unit seems to have enough connectors to hook up to about anything:

403a SSC XL - Rear Panel

403a SSC XL – Rear Panel

An outboard Relay Board called the SCC-OM controls the various devices:

403a SSC XL - Remote Module

403a SSC XL – Remote Module

Mine just arrived and I am digesting the the manual as I get ready to implement.  As a plus the device is said to be FlexRadio System Maestro ready!

LINK:  http://www.4o3a.com/index.php/products/station-automation/ssc-xl

LINK – USA Distributor Force12: http://www.force12inc.com/products/station-genius-ssc-xl-by-4o3a.html

73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged , , ,

Building Things – QRP Gear: Dummy Load, Antenna Tuner and QRPometer

As part of my interest in QRP low power work & gear, I’ve been putting together a few kits as I assemble a viable QRP station.

First to dust off the soldering iron, a simple Dummy Load kit was tackled a couple weeks ago. Took me more than ten minutes, but then I had to find & set up my gear too!

Hendricks QRP Dummy Load

Hendricks QRP Dummy Load

Hendricks 10 Watt (DC-150MHz) 50 Ohm Dummy Load/Power Meter kit Link: http://www.qrpkits.com/dummyload.html

Next put together was a Summits On The Air (SOTA) style antenna tuner kit. Technically this one isn’t quite done, as I have the back-of-case label to sort out. I want to confirm the antenna lengths & setting for various frequencies myself before doing a label.

Hendricks SOTA Antenna Tuner

Hendricks SOTA Antenna Tuner

Hendricks 40m – 15m SOTA Halfwave Tuner Link: http://www.qrpkits.com/sota.html

This weekend I snuck a bit of time and put together what looked to be a harder kit, but turned out to be pretty straight forward. The QRPometer is a SWR Meter kits designed for QRP use. I want to reconfim my calibration one more time, then there a few final steps beofre it is fully mechanically assembled. Thinking of upgrading my kit to use BNC connectors rather than the supplied RCA ones before the final bolting together.

QRPometer

QRPometer

QRPometer Link: http://www.wa0itp.com/qrpom.html

Next up is a Small Wonder Labs Retro-75 and Retro-Helper VFO kit.

I gave away my QRPme setup (Two-Tun Tuna & Sudden Storm) but have another set unbuilt, so those may follow.  Already complete is a Small Wonder Labs Rockmite in a MityBox enclosure.  I’m not happy yet with the American Morse key I put together and I have to knock it down and get agressive on lapping the paddles for clearance.

Slowly coming together, and will eventually be a complete multi-ability QRP Station in a Cigarbox for grab-n-go QRP fun!

73

Steve K9ZW

Tagged , , , ,

Why did Dayton 2012 have so many Vaporware Phantom New Product Offerings?

Why did Dayton 2012 have so many Vaporware Phantom New Product Offerings?

  • Kenwood had a stage-prop mock-up of what their new FS-990S should look like, but no actual radio, specifications or even pricing. They do have Photoshop created adds in the radio magazines and have been hinting at new “executive class transceiver” for a couple years.
  • Alpha didn’t even had their mock-up of what their new Alpha-4040 Automatic Antenna Tuner would look like when Dayton 2012 opened its doors, though fairly complete hardware models did arrive later during the show. Software apparently isn’t ready, so an operating product wasn’t ready. Alpha had been avoiding pinning down delivery dates for this tuner, but has had a pre-order list taking system up since November 2011.
  • The third is more a pre-announcement and advanced showing, as the product was not announced until Dayton. Flex-Radio had hardware prototypes and panadapter software simulations running of the Alpha Stage hardware & software for their new Flex-6500, Flex-6700R and Flex-6700 series. In all fairness there was no expectation of anything more – just a preview from Flex-Radio on where their next product was going.

What is all this about?

In the case of Kenwood one can only guess. They have hinted for at least five years that they had this class of radio coming out. I listened to the salesman at Dayton who said this new model will be “almost as good” as the other top end rigs out there, but “for a better [lower] price!” Whoopee, I can take out a home equity loan to have a runner up in performance but shave a few bucks off the dollars needed. Can’t say this inspires me in any way.

Alpha seems to mean well and may end up with a great product. The early announcement of a not yet ready product seems to be to create a buzz and do some positioning in the marketplace. I know I didn’t buy a new tuner awaiting this new Alpha – though it is again supposed to be pricey it offered the potential of being the last tuner a ham might ever need to buy. Credit has to be given to not pushing product out before it is ready, though Alpha should have had a better handle on its development time.

Flex-Radio intended to “drop the big one” on amateur radio with a “game changer” and never promised more than a chance to preorder a new radio when production starts in six-eight months (or so). They needed to gauge the support for bringing this technology to the amateur market, and I would guess took away a lot of potential buyers for other premium rigs at Dayton with their deposit for a production slot strategy. They never promised anything but announcements and really delivered more with some prototypes and illustrations of what the software might look like.

So the phantom gear at Dayton 2012 would seem to be each a unique case – Kenwood struggling to find its market and simply not having a ready product – Alpha having good intentions buy not having development far enough along to match real product to marketing’s promise – and Flex-Radio who only promised they would have an announcement only to actually have much more to show.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged , , , , ,

PC to PCB in under 30 minutes – Quick ‘n Easy PCB Fabrication

After being shown some PCBs made with these methods, I did some quick research to find web references.

I’ll be running a few boards later this month – so let’s compare notes!

With the explosion of the hobbyist microcontroller scene the past few years, PCB fab houses have sprung up left right and centre. At these wonderous places, you can get professional quality PCBs fabricated for your every desires for reasonable costs. They can range from very low cost and looooong lead times, to acceptable prices (~$50-$100) for low volume runs (‘protoype’ services). At the larger end of the scale, you can panelise your design and get even better value per PCB…

via PC to PCB in under 30 minutes – Quick ‘n Easy PCB Fabrication | Make, Hack, Void.

Another great tutorial http://hackaday.com/2008/07/28/how-to-etch-a-single-sided-pcb/

73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged , , ,

High-Low Tech – Programming an ATtiny w/ Arduino

ATtiny Pinout

ATtiny Pinout

One of the issues with working with Arduinos is the $20-40 cost for a full board when included in your project.

Certain levels of code sketches can be run on a single chip replacement, the ATtiny45/85 chips.

I bought 10 of the larger memory version ATtiny85 chips for $16.00 from Newark with 50 electrolyte capacitors for another $3.00 or so.

MIT’s High-Low Technology has a tutorial:

Programming an ATtiny w/ Arduino

This tutorial shows you how to program an ATtiny45 or ATtiny85 microcontroller using the Arduino software and hardware. The ATtiny45 and ATtiny85 are small (8-leg), cheap ($2-3) microcontrollers that are convenient for running simple programs. They are almost identical, except that the ATtiny85 has twice the memory of the ATtiny45 and can therefore hold more complex programs. We like to use both of them with paper circuits and other craft electronics. To program them, we’ll use a port of the Arduino core libraries created by Alessandro Saporetti and slightly modified by HLT.

via High-Low Tech – Programming an ATtiny w/ Arduino.

More when I get a chance to try this all out!
73

Steve
K9ZW

Tagged , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 851 other followers