Category Archives: WI-001L

Thirteen Colonies 2018 in Vintage Style

For no really good reason other than it seemed like a good idea, I decided to put a very modest effort into working the Thirteen Colonies special event stations using a Collins KWM-2A transceiver and paper logging.

Just for fun.

Collins Station on the Island yes 

 
And yes, I didn’t make a clean sweep. But perhaps starting the effort in the last hours and limited actual radio time made that hopeless? Checking spots some of the stations were already QRT or were doing digital, so such is life.

It was a blast to run a while on the Collins, and if you look at the picture I had the manuals out to remind me of procedures.

Picked up some FIFA station contacts and a couple other special stations.

The Transmit/Receive relays and switching are a leisurely compared to the Flex-6700 on the bench with the KWM-2A. But it works and was really fun.

In the end I grabbed 10 of the 13+2 stations in quick order. As I worked the 4th and had no radio time all week I didn’t deserve better results. A noble effort in style will have to be the reward!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Feeling out Antennas for K9ZW Island QTH – Part 2

A lot has been happening at the Island QTH in addition to the ongoing Garage Building project.

For quite a while I’ve been using a CrankIR Vertical or a DX Engineering Hexbeam at the Island QTH.

As it will be a couple months until a tower is up, I moved the Hexbeam from its 55-gallon barrel “tower” to an old satellite dish stand on the “utility side” of the property:

DX Engineering Hexbeam at Washington Island QTH

DX Engineering Hexbeam at Washington Island QTH

Not best location at maybe 6 ft elevation and still dependent on an “Armstrong Rotor” (Manual rotation) for directional control, but is the very quick time I was on the air it works just fine.

Report received were excellent, and even at this low height the receive sensitivity is noteworthy.

I was only on the air about an hour and made under two dozen contacts, as the weather was far too fine to be on the radio.

Wonder how I could add a mobile HF setup to my recumbent bike without adding 30 pounds of weight?  Hmm… that way I could do radio while being outside and active!

Back to reality, I had many chores I wanted to knock out this weekend, and Alison KC9MPL joined friends for some boating while I did weed & ant duty chores, snapping this photo of the Islands Bluffs (these are in the North East part of the island, we live on the North West coast which is different):

Washington Island Bluffs

Washington Island Bluffs

The tower on the bluff is used by one of the broadband providers (they offer their flavor of Motorola’s Canopy System).

73

Steve
K9ZW

Feeling out Antennas for K9ZW Island QTH – Part 1

A lot has been happening at the Island QTH – the biggest is the ongoing Garage Building project.

Garage 16 June 2018

And just as importantly the first non-temporary antenna will be going in – a Zero-Five custom extra-heavy-duty Flagpole Multi-Band Vertical antenna.

The concrete base should go in at the same time the garage apron slab is poured.

Zero-Five made two extra-heavy-duty custom antennas to meet my wind/weather special needs. The have tilt-over-bases and a loading-balun for 80m.

Zero-Five Extra-Heavy-Duty Flagpole Multiband Antenna Tilt Base with Balun

One of the two Zero-Five made is reserved for my home QTH to be installed later this year or next spring. These antennas truly are also functioning flagpoles, though I wonder what might happen to a flag when running an amp?

The trenching contractor in the island is running a 4-inch buried conduit to the antenna, so I can both bury a feed-line, and run power to lights for the flag.  I may eventually experiment with a remote antenna tuner at the base of the antenna as well, and the conduit makes adding internet easier later.   Ideally it would be nice to separate the different cables, but as most trenching involved breaking out bedrock I will have to settle for a single conduit and go with the best shielded cables available.

To work well this model requires buried radials, and eventually lots of them.

Because of the bedrock the usual base has been redesigned to make best use of the “rock solid” situation.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Island Building, a new Shack and Workshop, Equipment, Tower and Antenna Decisions

More significant construction is happening on my Washington Island (Wisconsin – Island #WI-001L) building.

Garage Build - Framing

Garage Build – Framing

Presently my physical operating position is in the basement of the house, though with the shack technology I’m using I can operate really anywhere on the property or where there is good internet.

This 1200+ square foot building is of course multipurpose – Garage, Workshop, Storage and Shack space.  Initially my focus is on the first three in the list, as this had QTH lacked garaging, a place to work inside on a car or boat, and was lite on storage.

Provisions were designed in to use the building as a Ham Shack when my “on-Island time” increases enough to warrant heating the new building over the winters.

Initially I’m anticipating keeping all the gear in the present shack location, while setting up a dedicated operating position in this new building.  With the FlexRadio System Flex-6700 Radio, their PowerGenius XL Amp, and then 4o3a’s “Flex-Aware” AntennaGenius, RotorGenius and control modules, remoting basically involves bringing fiber out to this new building to connect the operating position gear.

Initial operating position gear concept is a Maestro, a Desktop Win10 PC, and an iMac.  When time allows I’m aiming to do a custom switch-control with slave control heads in both the new building operating position and in the main physical shack.  That’s down the road, as antenna building is the next red hot priority.

First permanent antenna going in is a custom Extra-Heavy-Duty Five-Zero multiband vertical.  Hoping to get the base in when the new building’s approach is poured to save concrete mobilization costs.

I am deciding what follows next, as I may be reserving the 70 Foot Skyneedle and may put up a much simpler “intermediate tower” on the island.

My intent is to operate from the Island with a Hexbeam.   Both noting that Hexbeams perform best somewhat lower than Yagi’s and LPDA’s, and that Hexbeams are questionable in stacked-antenna situations, it seems a waste to put up the 70 foot Skyneedle while only needing to get the Hexbeam up 40 feet.

Presently I have three different Hexbeams – the DX Engineering Multiband I bought while waiting for the others to arrive, the Custom RadioWavz Barrett Sentinel which adds more bands, but is quite large, and an SP7IDX Expedition Grade Hexbeam that was delayed in transit seemly forever while in customs clearance.

Lots to decide.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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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Dodging the Bullet at the K9ZW Island QTH

Water on the Floor Basement at the K9ZW Island HomeFlooded Yard at K9ZW Island HomeAt our Island home several massive storms dropped over 3 inches of rain in a short period first flooding our yard, and then overwhelming our sump pump.

Photos:

  • First the yard 10 hours after the rain stopped (it is usually bone dry, and is 8-10 inches of soil over the rock) with over an inch of standing water.

Flooded Yard at K9ZW Island Home

  • Second is the basement with 2-1/2 inches of water on the floor.

 

Water on the Floor Basement at the K9ZW Island Home

What tipped us off was one of the Home Monitor systems we have – the simple one that calls on POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) with alerts – started calling with a Water Alarm.

The device is a “Control Products FreezeAlarm Homesitter Temperature, Water, Power Alarm HS-700” – link https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002MUAIP8/

This $90 device saved the day by calling us repeatedly with alerts.  Estimates are that water could rise to about 18-24 inches in the basement before enough systems would get knocked out to set off our other monitors.  (We also have Canary devices for security and backup, but they cannot sense the water issue directly.)

With this much water that was a possibility of intervention didn’t happen right away – which is why the alarm worked so well!

The shack is on a rolling radio bench with power supplies and some gear 7 inches off the floor, so the important stuff would begin to be damaged, as would the boiler and everything on the lowest storage shelves.

Plumber and Painter we are working with have the water issue resolved (both short term and also a long term solution figured out) and only my boxes of Hardline/Coax which you see got wet because we caught it this early.

I’ve just ordered another of the “Control Products FreezeAlarm Homesitter Temperature, Water, Power Alarm HS-700” to install at our main house.

Well worth it!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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