Tag Archives: K9ZW Shack

Start of limited Island Operations

In the last few trips to Washington Island I’ve had the chance to starting making QSOs from the new QTH on a limited basis.

I’ve also operated a bit from George W9EVT’s shack, with both my gear and his.

Put the trustworthy SteppIR CrankIR into the antenna slot while a new base for my tower is fabricated.  Running from Indian Point has been a Swan 350 and now my Flex-6300.  From Greegate Farm, Goerge W9EVT’s QTH I’ve used my Collins KWM-2A and George’s Icom IC-7800.

Contacts have been SSB and PSK

The strong winds had the CrankIR tipped over twice, and I caught a third push over, so something has to be sorted out there.  I’d used the speaker stand base, and need to sort out a better situation.  At Indian Point there is an old dish from satellite internet (these folk wanted $100/month to do basically dialup with buffer burst!) which has a suitable pole concreted in.  Next visit I will clear the old dish and set the CrankIR on the bare pole.  Unfortunately the buried coax is actually Twinax 72 Ohm stuff, and while the install was first rate and attractive, a protective sleeve was used rather than a conduit, so no pulling new in the same sleeve.

i will  bring up the TDR and Megaohmer to see if perhaps I can still use the cables, though I doubt they are QRO rated.  Even if they can be used for control wiring that is better than throwing them away.

Doing a lot of thinking about how I want to set up this QTH.  Should the operating station be in the main house or a separate workshop?  What does the LAN Remote of Maestro mean to the design for those operations?  Am I better to put the station gear in the house now, rather than wait for an unbuilt workshop?  Or should I buy a trailer to use as the workshop until it is built?

I am leaning towards putting whole station in the house, and consider the eventual outside workshop a more rough and ready workshop rather than a ham shack sort of place.  The cost savings of keeping everything in the house are significant, that is if I want water and heat, not to mention a toilet near the work station, as these services would need to be brought to a new workshop.  That is a lot of rock to hammer out to put in services Is I go the second building with heat and plumbing route.

Rather I am thinking to keep the house shack area and the former woodworking workshop clean enough to do electronics, the ham shack and some musical instrument repair, relegating the heavy/dirty workshop tasks to the outside building.

Lots to think about!


Steve K9ZW

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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



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.



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A Northern Station for K9ZW

Having secured a long term QTH on Washington Island, Wisconsin (US Island WI-001L), I’ve started putting together a station.

Here is what is planned:

• Transceiver – Main – FlexRadio Systems Flex-6300 w/ATU
• Transceiver – Back-Up Unit – TenTec Paragon II
• Transceiver – Vintage Net – Collins KWM-2A
• Amplifier – Expert 1Kw Solid State
• Tuner – Palstar AT-Auto fully upgraded by Kessler Engineering
• Radio Computer – Custom Built Win7 “blade” (or possibly a Neal Campbell PC)
• Audio Gear – full set W2IHY gear
• Frequency Reference – Homebrew Rb-Source
• Tower – Tasjian TM370HD SkyNeedle
• Main Antenna – 20m through 6m – SP7IDX Hexbeam II HD
• Main Antenna – 160m through 20m – W9INN Half-Sloper
• Vertical Antenna – 80m through 10m – Gap Titan DX
• Rotor & Control – Alfa-SPID RAK with Prog1 Controller
• Antenna Switch – 4O3A Signature/Sky Sat 1A2R Switcher with PTT Router (TBD – under review)

I’ll use my usual BuryFlex Coax as supplied by DavisRF with N-Connectors as usual where possible.

The only items to acquire are the Antenna Switch, a Watt/SWR Meter, possibly a station microphone for the Flex-6300 and possibly a Neal Campbell FlexReady PC if I decide not to use the customer server style one I have.

The SkyNeedle, the HexBeam, the Collins Transceiver (with all the extra bits) and a second Palstar AT-Auto tuner were acquired for the new station; everything else came from my back up unit collection. The Expert Amp is coming out of my main shack as I will finally put in the Alpha-9500 that has been sitting in the box for a while.

I have power supplies and lightening arrestors to match my home QTH gear.

Down the road I will most likely add a 4O3A Signature Station Genius SSC-XL and replace the Flex-6300 with another Flex-6700 GPSDO/ATU transceiver to make the Northern QTH and Home QTH closer in design.

Eventually I would hope to share SmartSDR Radio “Slices” between the two QTH’s, with a long term goal of being able to remote one or both stations.

Now to get the Island QTH on the air while everything is put together, my SteppIR CrankIR Antenna with Flex-6300 setup, as used at Rocky Ridge Farm last year, will be pressed into action.



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Rack Mount – Preparing for the FlexRadio Systems Flex-6700

Search for a rack found either very rough gear, very dated gear (one which I will hopefully acquire for vintage gear later) or hugely expensive racks.

Bought an unused surplus odd comm’s rack – double-ended doghouse thing.  Wrong shape, but built like a tank.

Got my buddy Ray to cut in basically in half, moved wheels to the lower section, and reassemble with stiffeners.  Ray did this with a purposeful 2 inch set back on upper cube to make it more pleasing.

It is reinforced and now ready for gear

Lower will get shelves for amps, power supplies, and tuner.

Upper will get the Flex-6700, a rackable customer i7 Win7 computer, full W2IHY set up, Greenheron Rotor Control  and Array solutions PowerMaster SWR/Watts meter, Rb Frequency Reference, and Flex-5000 (possibly on top of the whole rack if I run out of room).

Looking at another rack I found for vintage/boatanchor gear (SP-600 and similar).

BTW the Collins S-Line Station will go on a desk – show-n-tell sort of thing.

Here is a sketch (click on it for a larger version):

K9ZW Main Rack

K9ZW Main Rack

Should work pretty good!



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Installing SlippNott Upgrades at K9ZW

The Tennadyne T-8 used two stainless u-bolts for attachment. In the highest of winds the large double booms of the Log Periodic antenna caught enough wind to slightly rotate on the mast.

To counteract this I decided to upgrade the T-8-to-Mast and Mast-to-Rotor connections with Tennadyne’s improved attachment method, the Tennadyne SlippNott.  (The much smaller T-28 Log Periodic doesn’t have enough surface area to need this upgrade.  U-bolts work perfectly fine for the smaller antenna.)

T-8 Original U-Bolt Clamp

T-8 Original U-Bolt Clamp

Another view of the original attachment. It had taken six years to pivot perhaps 10 degrees, though no matter how you look at it, it was moving even if very slowly.

T-8 Original U-Bolt Clamp

Original U-Bolt Clamp – Another View

The SlippNott retrofit upgrade uses two machined clamps with roughly one hundred time the surface contact area of the two u-bolts.

T-8 with SlippNott Retrofit

SlippNott Retrofit – another view

Another look at the retrofit in place.

T-8 with SlippNott Retrofit

T-8 with SlippNott Retrofit

I did the install from scaffold after lowering nd tipping over the whole tower.

Tower Access

Lower, Tilt and Scaffold

Also installed was a second SlippNott providing additional grip of the mast at the antenna rotator rotor unit.

SlippNott rotor installation

SlippNott rotor installation

This one was a fiddle to install given the restriction of the three nested tower sections.

Inside Nested Sections

Tight Quarters

Again it provides a huge increase in clamping action and limits the risk of the newly enhanced situation at the antenna twisting the whole mast in the rotor clamp.

Rotor SlippNott Installed

Rotor SlippNott Installed

A worthwhile project – wish the SlippNott was available when I put the tower and antennas up.

You can read more about them at the Tennadyne website – http://www.tennadyne.com


Direct link to the SlippNott page is http://www.tennadyne.com/slipp_nott.htm



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K9ZW 2013 Tower Repair Service List

When a complex project is undertaken, I find it a huge benefit to do a sort of checklist.

This way I get my thoughts down on paper and can mark off tasks as they are accomplished.

Linked as a pdf is my Summer 2013 Tower & Antenna Repair-Service List: K9ZW 2013 Tower Repair Service List

Once complete this part of my station should be in good shape for a few years.



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