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David Robbins, K1TTT

K1TTT@arrl.net



Admin

2015 Maintenance and Upgrade Blog




1/1 HNY... quietly please.

After lunch I took a chainsaw for a stroll around the pond and 80m 4-Square area and cut up a bunch of broken, hanging, and otherwise in the way junk that is just easier to take care of without leafs on the trees and bugs or other critters to worry about.

I also concluded my testing of N1MM+ I have been doing the last couple days. I think I have an update batch file to load all the different machines off the server now so we can do something similar to what I had for the N1MM Legacy program. It was a bit more complex than the old N1MM because the setup files have to go under My Documents which has a different location based on the operating system and user names. Also I had to create different named ini files for the 4 different hardware configurations: the 5 single band stations, the 40m/SO2R station, the hub and upstairs machines(which are also slightly different because the hub is the 'Master' station for DX spots and time), and the VHF SO2R station. Each of the logging stations can also either be a stand along single band station or networked for multi-op use.

The WC2L Mirror of my data dump download site has been updated with the 2014 logs, raw station pictures, and W1AW/1 raw pictures. Please use the mirror site if possible as he has a much bigger pipe to get you the files faster.

1/9 With temperatures down to -12f and wind chills at -35f this week not much has been done outside... but I have done some testing with the new RTTY Skimmer Server, it is a CPU HOG! Also K1MK could not get N1MM+ to run SO2R with extra 2Tone decoders on both radios reliably, probably also because of the single core CPUs in the old logging machines. So, today I ordered a second QS1R and two I7 based computers to run separate Skimmer Servers on for CW and RTTY. Then I ordered five I5 based refurbished computers to replace the logging computers. The 6th logging computer will be the Core-2 Quad that is currently running the Skimmers and internal cluster, that one will go to the SO2R station.

1/16 Well, I now have a pile of 5 I5 computers sitting here and 2 I7 ones ready to install. All I am missing is the second QS1R which should be here early next week I expect. I'll probably start with the installation of the I5's on the single band stations on Sunday after NAQP SSB is done and the blizzard has started. I may just put one of the I7's on the 40m/SO2R station, as that would save one installation... and the old quad core was running the CW Skimmer and AR-Cluster ok, so I would just install the new QS1R on the new I7 just for the RTTY Skimmer and leave the older Core-2 Quad computer in place.

1/17 While NAQP SSB was going on I did the operating system installations on all the new computers. The refurbished I5s were nicer as there was no bloatware so they are pretty clean Win7 installations. The I7s with Win8.1 had to have a bunch of junk removed.

1/18 Spent most of the day installing new I5 machines, that went pretty easy as these were fairly clean Win7 installations. The sound cards are quieter than the old computers but the level adjustments were a bit touchy, that may take a bit more tweaking. The I7 for 40m/SO2R went in place ok but the Win8.1 installation was uglier and took more tweaking of settings. It also required a new version of com0com for the SO2R box, but that has a bug that prevents CW sending from working properly from the computer. There is a different tool from K5FR that is supposed to replace that for Win8.1x64, will see about that tomorrow probably. On the I5 boxes I started them up in RTTY and let them run with 2xMMTTY and 2x2Tone for a while and they seemed stable.

1/19 Got com0com replacement from k5fr that works on the Win8.1x64 box just fine with the SO2R software. The only thing that doesn't work is I can't run the N1MM Legacy logger on the SO2R station because the USB-Serial ports for the radios don't work with it. I could possibly steal the two com port card out of the old computer, but I'm not sure about getting x64 drivers for it since it is as old as the XP box its in and that would disable the old box as a backup for now.

1/24 Got power supply for QS1R and FTDI USB-Serial cables. Put FTDI cables on SO2R station so now the legacy N1MM logger will talk to the radios. Installed new QS1R with software for Skimmers and SDRs on the new I7 box. RTTY Skimmer Server uses about 50% of the 8 virtual cores when doing 7 bands of 96khz with expanded contest size RTTY segments. The new hardware is sitting on the big toolbox now, will have to make some room for it in the server cabinet shortly.

1/25 Finally figured out that the new Win8.1 boxes don't like the older NetGear WAP for some reason. So am going to upgrade both of them to something newer as they have both had random lockup problems in the past.

1/31 Ugh... had a cold most of this last week, its finally giving up now. But this morning the wind chill is -30f or so in the morning so its time to do the server rack reorganization. First pull everything out.

First, I found this on the camera when I went to do today's blog... this was from 12/31 when I was doing a regular test of the Beverages with the TDR. One direction wasn't quite right, it was working but had a strange hump near the shack end box... this is what I found in the box:

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Ok, this is the V7A (under power panel), the old 12v distribution, the QS1R, Preamp, and CW Skimmer computer.

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This table has the power supply fan and thermostat, the server, PacketRadio TNC, Radio, and monitor.

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And this nice shiny computer is the new RTTY Skimmer computer with its QS1R.

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This is the finished installation. On the top shelf there are the RTTY Skimmer and CW Skimmer. On the lower shelf is the server in the back and Packet stuff and the monitor for the server.

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This stuff, plus the V7A didn't make it back into the cabinet. I put in a RigRunner for the 12v stuff, which now is just the PacketRadio setup and the preamp. The 5v I used to suck out of the CW Skimmer computer has been replaced by two separate 4a supplies.

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2/1 Installed new Wireless Access Points. The loggers are now on LoggerNet and the guest one is called GuestNet.

2/7 Added two more DX Engineering preamps to the wall for the 80m and 160m stations to use. These will be powered from the SO2R RX antenna switch but should be switchable from a GreenHeron client app on the individual stations.

The RX antennas come in from the bottom to three way plumbers nightmare T's just at the level with the server rack. All 8 incoming antennas go to each of the 3 RCS-10 switchboxes, 160m on left, 80m middle, 40m/SO2R on right. The output from the box goes to the W3LPL style RX filter on top of the box, then down to the preamp and off to the station. On the right there is also a receiver protector before the preamp because when using the SO2R station the bandpass filter is bypassed as it is in the picture. Also the SO2R station gets 2 switchable preamps, just because.

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Added new preamps to the GreenHeron Server on the remote control PC. Added GreenHeron clients to 80m and 160m stations so they can each control their own preamp from a button on the screen. After N2KW finishes his contest I'll try putting the RX antennas on a different GreenHeron wireless base that doesn't lockout when 40m/SO2R PTT is asserted, this should prevent blocking of RX antenna switching when 40m/SO2R transmits.

3/1 Not much to blog about recently. Been tweaking new computer settings a bit to get the security stuff right as 2tone and mmtty both save stuff to their own directory... and I had to share the plus data folders to mail logs and error reports from them. Went out skiing around the Beverages today. About 2' of snow in the woods. This is a view looking back towards the house from near the end of the North/South Beverage... and then Pablo trying to stay on the trail.

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3/13 Mud season had a short preview this week... one day of mud then frozen ruts:

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3/20 Big goings on this week... Shipped 80m radio off for repairs, needs RIT encoder, amp relay, and general cleanup and tuning, put spare in place of it. Also packaged up one of the TS-2000's to ship out next week, the 6m preamp is dead and maybe other stuff in front end bad, probably too much HF getting in to it, will be looking for some filters to put in front of it I guess. Still a foot or more of snow on the ground, so not much to do outside yet.

3/21 Snow, snow, more snow... decided that the TS-2000's need some front end protection, maybe against each other, maybe against 20m that is just under them. So break out the MiniVNAPRO and start cutting some cable. The first set is for 6m to protect it from HF and 2m. Since 6m and 2m are 3rd harmonics I am converting the 40m K2TR design to 6m. See the original at: K2TR Stubs. I thought about doing these with hardline, but that is just too hard to work with and for the short lengths needed won't improve the filtering much, so I'm just going with RG-213.

The miniVNAPRO test setup. Just a UHF-T in the middle of two short jumpers. It could be done with one jumper by putting the T right on one of the SMA connectors but I like to keep the strain off those small things as they would be hard to repair.

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First, a single 1/4 wave shorted stub for 6m. These are all Transmission Loss measurements, I did use some Reflection graphs while tuning because the non-linear SWR plot gives a better dip at the resonant point. Some of them show the phase, but that's not really important. The blue line is the Transmission Loss read on the left side scale with 0db loss at the top and greater attenuation as the line goes down the graph. If there are vertical lines those are markers and can be read in the boxes at the bottom. In this case the brownish line is at about 14MHz and shows a loss of about 3db. The greenish one is at 50MHz and shows a loss of .1db.

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Now two 1/4 wave shorted stubs for 6m connected to the same point. Note that at 14MHz this is about 4db better than the single stub.

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Finally two 1/4 wave shorted stubs for 6m separated by 18". I'll make a 1/4 wave line later to go between them as that should be the best spacing. This improves the attenuation by 2db more to get it up to about 9db.

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Now the harder one. This is a pair of stubs, the shorted one is a 1/2 wave on 2m so it provides a notch, the open one compensates for the reactance that the shorted one presents on 6m. Essentially it is just a 1/4 wave shorted stub like the others but is tapped 1/3 of the way from the open end. Note that it provides a nice notch at 2m while passing 6m. The notch depth in this case is almost 40db.

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Combine them all together and this is what it looks like electrically. There is still about 39db attenuation of 2m and now almost 14db at 14MHz.

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And this is what it looks like physically. The two 1/4 wave shorted stubs are the ones that curl upwards like a C. The pair that makes the notch come from the mess of T's and goes out sideways. The T at the top would connect to the radio and the coax would connect to the female side of the T at the bottom.

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This is just a pair of 2m 1/4 wave shorted stubs.

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It was too nice outside to do more after lunch so went skiing. This is a long view of the towers from the far end of the big beaver pond. If you go to this map of where the picture was taken from and zoom out a couple times my station will show up in the bottom right corner. The towers are straight up from Pablo's back just over the trees.

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3/22 Back in the deep freeze this morning, 0f wind chill. So put on my last 2 new UHF connectors to make a 1/4 wave 6m phasing line. It does improve the combination of stubs a bit, it gets the 14MHz rejection over 15db and doesn't change the 2m notch. It is interesting, but not important, that the big 2nd harmonic notch gets smaller... maybe if you had FM broadcast overload that might matter.

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Just for info, I have found a new supplier of adapters. ShowMe Cables has the biggest assortment of odd adapters I have found anywhere. They have single adapters for just about any combination of connectors you might want, and in all gender versions. For instance they have all 4 combinations of F and UHF adapters, and things like UHF T connectors with all 3 females. They also have cables, lots of cables. Just a warning, create a login ID first, then go shopping... their shopping cart gets confused if you don't login then they find you in their system when you go to pay... the first time you buy its ok, but the second time it gets stuck if you don't login first.

There were two casualties found this weekend... the bottom 10m ring finally died, and the 60' 10m Europe antenna turned about 30 degrees from the wind this last week.

4/10 April showers bring April ICE!

120' and 150' 20m and the VHF/UHF stack at 7am. Been freezing fog or rain all night. About 1/4" of ice at ground level now, looks like an inch or so on one side of everything at 180'.

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Long view of 150' tower. If the wind comes up before this melts there will be lots of tree damage. Fortunately??? its just below freezing, 31.6f at 7am.

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Top 40m antenna at 180'. Hard to see how much its really bent from this angle.

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Bottom 40m antenna at 70'.

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After noon most of the ice has come off. Here is a piece that was probably on an element at 180'. It is sitting on a glove on the Rohn 555 braces.

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This is a piece that was probably on a boom at 180'.

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4/19 Nice day finally. Went up the 10m tower and re-aimed the 60' European side mounted Yagi. Then checked out the problem with the 30' TIC Ring. The motor was actually working but the gears weren't engaged:

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Took it off and tried to put in the new motor, but it didn't fit. So brought the old one down, moved the single gear up and put a spacer under it and put it back on the tower.

4/25 Did some chainsawing in the 40m Rx antenna area to clean up some stuff from last fall. Set up the so2r station for remote control for testing. The ACOM amp is using free remote control software from M0YOM, using Skype for audio, GreenHeron software for the antennas and rotors, and TeamViewer for remote control of the logger and other stuff.

5/1 Put repaired TS-2000 back at the 6m position and added the stubs to hopefully protect the front end. The other TS-2000 that has the 2m and 70cm antennas also has a blow preamp on 6m, but seems ok on the higher bands.

5/2 Tied up the new NNW Beverage a bit better from the start to where it goes into the woods. Got rid of PVC pipe supports. Straightened up the pipe rack and added some diagonal braces to keep it from racking again.

5/3 30' 10m TIC Ring not turning again... Decided to go up and look at it and put the new TIC plug on the cable. The motor is still working but now the small gear that had slipped down on the shaft wasn't turning even though the shaft was. Got the plug spliced onto the old cable and tied the ring down pointing at Europe.

5/15 Installed remote power controller and power cords so all the SO2R stuff can be started from one box. Found RF problem that locked up the SO2R box if you used full power on the low 80m Inverted-V, it was the USB cable on the SO2R box. Used up a bunch of ferrites on it and the lockup went away.

5/26 Finally, new motor is in place on 30' 10m Ring Rotor. Had to do a minor modification to remove some interference but it went ok and is much quieter than the older motors.

The interfering corner before modification... sorry, didn't take camera up at first to show the problem but the last picture should make it clear enough.

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After modification:

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In place. Imagine the corner sticking out just enough to catch the bottom of the ring, that was the problem.

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5/29 Finally got a nice day to climb a bit. Lowered the 160m Inverted L rope and went up the 150' tower with pulley and rope to lower that end down. It was definitely time for this, the section that hits the upper guys on the 180' tower was probably over half way worn through, that section had been doubled up the last time it came down or it would probably have broken by now. I tied the old line between the bases of the two towers and used that to measure the new one. I also replaced the wire for the south end L as it was pretty chewed up from the guy wires. Got it pulled back up to test fit and see if the hose I'm putting on the section that hits the guy wires is in the right spot.

5/30 Windy today, enough that it is keeping most of the bugs from flying. So did some packing of dirt around the base of various cable run posts and radial end posts around the 80m 4-Square. Also started pulling cables and stuff in preparation for lightning arrester installation... more later.

6/3 George came up and we finished the 160m Inverted L's. Also found the 15m bottom rotor was hitting the bearing bolts and retainer bolts. Took off the retainers on the adjustable bearing as those stuck up further than the others.

6/6 Pulled more control cables back out of the shack from 10m. And pulled the extra rotor cable back to the shack from the bottom of the 15m tower, that meant re-taping the whole run from that tower to the shack... but it really needed it anyway. The goal of this is to get enough slack in all the control cables outside the shack to allow for installation of lightning arresters. The slack is needed because the arresters will be in a big box on the outside wall with an entrance panel on the bottom, so all the cables will have to go down to the bottom of the box, up to the arresters then on into the shack.

This is near the start of the job. I already pulled out a couple that are hanging down to the ground in this picture but most of the control cables are pretty tight up at the top of the bundle going in to the shack.

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Where the slack is coming from is the extra cable I have had stuffed under the tables or was using for the old SO2R arrangement where the rotors were moved to the 40m table. For example this is what was under the 20m table.

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This was the 15m cable used to move the rotors and also some spare length that was under the table. The 160m spare cable is that one little loop hanging from the desk.

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And this was the 10m cable. This was all twisted up so I had to spend some time sorting it out and getting the twists out.

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Behind the scenes shots of the panel under construction by KF7P. The bridge to hold the control cable arresters and let the coax go below showing 2 of the 12 wire MMI arresters.

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Overview of the panel showing the bridge and the layout for the other 3 rows of coax arresters. There will be 4 coax arresters on the bridge also on the right where 2 of them are now.

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And after many trips in and out and much climbing of the walls I now have enough slack in all the control cables outside the shack.

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6/14 Continued moving hardline and getting cables ready for lightning arrester installation. Yesterday I moved all the VHF hardlines out of the way. I only remade one connector which was on the biggest stuff going up the 180' tower, all the others got pulled back and coiled up on feedline run for now. I forgot how many of them had N connectors instead of UHF so had to order some adapters to use with the new jumpers. Today I remade one homemade hardline connector on that same big hardline, below are some pictures of it.

This is after stripping off the tape and duct seal that was on it. Note that it is nice and shiny still after many years of exposure outside.

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The inside after removing the shell, no sign of any water or corrosion.

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The new end prepped for installation. Note the two slots cut with a hand held hacksaw blade. They don't have to be straight, its easier to angle the blade a bit so it misses the center conductor. This hardline is so big that the UHF pin won't fit over the center conductor so to make that connection I tin the copper clad center conductor then use a piece of RG-213 braid tied to the center conductor with a single strand of RG-213 center conductor soldered to the tinned hardline. This stuff has to get pretty hot to tin the center conductor, I think it has some kind of coating because the solder won't stick immediately. After soldering on the braid the end is compressed down to take the inner part of a barrel connector.

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The center pin from the barrel connector soldered on.

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The outer shell slipped into the hardline and clamped down. I put some Penetrox type gunk on the outside of the copper fitting before putting it inside then clamp with the hose clamp until it won't move by hand. The copper fitting was a 3/4" (or was it bigger?) to 1/2" copper plumbing fitting. I get the hardware store guys all confused when I go shopping, they can't figure out why the pipe I'm trying to get fittings for is aluminum and full of foam. After removing the center from the barrel connector I solder it into the 1/2" end of the fitting. This can be done for a variety of sizes of hardline by using different size reducers, sometimes they fit inside the hardline like this one, sometimes on the outside. On 1/2" CATV hardline you can use a PL-259 with a 1/2" compression coupling and just solder the center conductor into the pin to make a male connector.

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Liberally apply duct seal... yes, the cheap stuff from plumbing supply store. It works just fine and is easier to remove than the coax seal in the little rolls. And its CHEAP so you don't mind using a lot of it.

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And finally tape it over to protect the duct seal and squeeze it into the little crevices.

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Its getting a little less congested out there. I got a couple of the big stiff hardlines trimmed back and several more moved and coiled up. Have to wait now for adapters for N connectors to show up.

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6/21 Started assembling the box for the arresters.

This is the back and start of the sides of the box... its hard to take pictures of big mirrors like that.

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Close up of the bridge and Swiss cheese cable entrance panel.

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6/27 Extended more of the jumpers to the hardline outside the shack so now it is all pretty well out of the way of installing the box.

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7/3 Good day for a holiday... sunny and not too breezy. George came up and we replaced the ropes on the 160m Inverted-V. Now I know exactly how much rope the two 160m antennas need, 1400'. by the time I got the second rope tied on the V there were only about 4 turns left on the 1400' roll I started with. I also went up (3 times) to the bottom 15m TIC ring and replaced the plastic rollers. One of them was frozen to the shaft, and one of them the cotter pin broke off and had to be drilled out, they were all well worn. Now the boom cradle doesn't hit the bearings any more and it rotates much more quietly.

George and I also tried to fit the arrester panel on the wall... that thing is already heavy and still needs to have all the arresters mounted on it.

7/9 Good stuff in mail. Arresters arrived from MMI so spent most of the evening screwing them down to the copper panel. Also got capacitors from DIGIKey to fix the 40m section of one of the bandpass filters.

7/10 Replaced one of the capacitors in the 40m section of one of the SO2R bandpass filters and checked it out. Finished getting the lightning arrester panel ready to mount on the wall. Put an eyescrew in the top of the bottom 2x4 and added a couple side braces to keep it square. This is what it looks like with all of the coax arresters mounted. I didn't put the control line arresters on it as they would be in the way of the hoisting ropes.

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George came over and I rigged 3 pulleys between the screw eye on the panel to one that was already in place above where it was going. Then I attached a come-a-long to the rope and used that to lift the panel into place. Drove 4 screws through the panel into the wall and then bolted the two top brackets to the main beam above where it was mounted. This is after removing the rigging, screwing on the control line arresters, and getting ready to start connecting cables.

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I connected the first half dozen or so arresters with the jumpers I put in place last week to get the hardlines out of the way then called it quits for the day.

7/11 All of the VHF antennas and the rotor are now connected, as are the Beverages.

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7/12 All the coax is now connected to the arresters.

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I also spent some time to work out a matching network for the 15m stack. 15m had a high SWR because I must have been lucky on the length of the hardline and when I cut it back after breaking the shield trying to move it out of the way it must have been at exactly the wrong length.

This is the sweep at the end of the hardline:

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The matching network design:

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After the matching network:

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7/18 Worked on control cables yesterday and this morning, finished up the last one for the WX station just as the rain started. This is what it looks like now:

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7/19 Framed out the box for the arresters:

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Then put the roof on permanently, and tacked on the front and sides to get it closed up before thunder showers started.

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7/26 With the help of George yesterday and N1RR today the box is pretty well finished except for the hinge and weather stripping. Neither Home Depot nor Amazon could make delivery of a hinge on time last week. I also fixed up the matching on the 180' 10m Yagi as shown below.

Before... it was good at the bottom of the band but was a bit high by 28500:

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The matching network, 4'2" RG-213 transformer section and 1'11" RG-213 open stub:

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After... better behaved until about 28700 now.

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7/27 Both hinges showed up today. The Amazon one was supposed to be delivered Saturday didn't actually make it to UPS until 4:49pm Saturday in NV. The HomeDepot one took a full week to make it from GA to here and didn't show on any tracking from last Monday until Friday after I called them to see where it was. I am guessing from the shape the box was in that it was stuck in a sorting machine for a couple days... The hinge did not survive.

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7/28 Added weather stripping and two hooks to hold it shut today. This is what it looks like now.

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I need more weather stripping, the package I bought was labeled wrong so it wasn't enough to go around. I also want to add a hinged prop stick or two. And of course there are still cables to be trimmed back and cleaned up a bit.

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7/31 Finished WX strip in arrested box and added two props for the door. Ripped out old VHF station computer, SO2R box, and all the related wiring... Installed new computer, Rigblaster, and Winkey to replace them. Also replaced the monitor on the SO2R station with a 32" HD monitor.

8/1 Cut back or rearranged the last of the hardline for now. This is one of the more complicated hardline connectors, there are just too many moving parts in these. Though it is relatively easy to make the first time it is hard to take off and reuse. All that it takes is a 1/2" compression fitting and a PL-259 to fit on 1/2" CATV hardline. The center conductor fits perfectly into the center pin of the connector and is soldered there.

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This is what it is looking like on the outside now.

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8/28 Been busy with other stuff... W2XL donated two commercial radios to replace the broke packet rigs. Put on a Midland radio today at 40w to get VHF Packet back on 145.69MHz.

9/8 Had another monitor fail when I tried starting up M/M configuration. Bought 6 new Acer 23" 1920x1080 resolution LED/LCD monitors. They showed up today, I almost thought they had shorted me as the boxes were so light, but these things weigh almost nothing. Put one on the VHF station to try them out, except for the mount that only tilts they are pretty nice. Anyone need some old monitors now??

9/20 Used TDR to check Beverages, all seem ok. Went around to the 40m and 80m 4-Squares with the MFJ-269. The 80m 4-Square is perfect. On the 40m one the NE corner vertical seems to be tuned about 200khz higher than the others. Changed terminating resistor on the NNW Beverage and added a couple more radials to the end ground rod. And, oh yeah, N1RR was here to help.

9/26-27 Fixed up the DR Field and Brush mower again(minor error in last repair last year, I left off the grease cap/spacer from the deck mounting pivot) and started mowing down brush and small trees from around the towers and along paths.

10/4 Dressed Pablo up in his Sunday best and made the first inspection of the Beverages for the fall season (I don't go back there much in the summer). The NW/SE line was the worst as usual, 2 big trees down on it with 6 insulators pulled off 3 posts (the insulators are sacrificial electric fence insulators). Took second walk up the NW/SE line along with a chainsaw to clean them up and took out a bunch of other little stuff on the way back. I only found 2 of the 6 insulators because the ferns were still pretty thick, a few more weeks maybe I'll find a couple more of them.

10/9 Yucky rainy day and not feeling that great after getting a flu shot this week... Bought two mt-3000a tuners this week. So now the stack and 180’ antennas are consistent across CW and SSB… using that VNA makes tuning the tuners easy because you can see the whole band at once. I could analyze the tuner settings and rebuild the match with coax but that’s not really necessary as the tuners are just fine for this application. Just one more step needed, to make the 180’+120’ combo work properly I need to build two 1/4wave 50 ohm cables to do my series transformer matching with the rcs-8v box. I replaced and rewired the rcs-8v from the 10m table to get it ready, but I have run out of pl-259’s to build the cables. I used my last 4 PL-259s to build the cables to connect the tuners! Will order more and do that next week. I also added that position to the 10m station control box as it had one open button. it can be used now, but the SWR is high because the 25 ohm combination of them isn’t compensated for. To help out I also rewired the WARC band switch, the way that was connected to the SixPak was adding a short open stub which was enough to bump up the SWR on the SO2R station on 10m for all the antennas.

10/24 Typical start to CQWW... before 8am walk for Pablo I fixed a broken hand ptt switch (design flaw, wire twists freely in strain relief and breaks off), fixed a bad solder joint on an FT-1000mp RX Antenna jack, downloaded software update for IPAD AR-Drone flight software, and maybe fixed some RF problem with the WinKeyer on 80m that was doing odd things (hopefully just loose connector on SWR meter leaking RF).

11/8 Spent plenty of time with chainsaw this weekend cutting small stuff along edges of fields around 150' tower, and below the 180' tower, and around the 40m RX Array. Carried some other already cut stuff out from around the 40m RX Array for George to cut up for firewood.

11/14 Tracked down some of the noises on 160m. First was a series of 3khz spaced harmonics being generated from the GreenHeron rotor controller's speed ramp up/down process. They use a pulse width modulation scheme to ramp up and down the motor speeds and it was causing some noise. A pair of .1uf capacitors across the motor terminals dropped it about 20db on most of the boxes. I may change settings on some of them to reduce the ramp time or just turn it off if it continues to be a problem.

There was also a broad unstable band of noise that centered around 1900khz. This is coming from the Enphase Energy solar array data collection box. It is plugged into a special outlet that is tapped into the solar array meter box so that it has the best PLC signal it can get. Plugging it in other places was either too far from the Ethernet router or didn't get a good signal from the inverters. The cable was unfortunately routed up to the top of the server rack then back down to the data box so it went within a foot of the 160m Beverage switchbox. Rerouting the cable and coiling up some of the excess got rid of most all of it I can see on the SDR.

And there is still the generator battery charger, that makes a 15khz wide slowly wandering noise that can be shutoff with the breaker in the transfer box for weekends where it is a problem. It is just a trickle charger in the generator case outside to keep the battery topped off so it doesn't have to run all the time.

11/15 Took tour of Beverages after the big winds this week. Had one branch down on the N/S one and there is a big pine tree leaning over the NE/SW one on the other side of the stream. Water still a bit high so I didn't bother dragging the chain saw all the way back there. Its still well over the Beverage anyway, but it will come down probably over the winter.

11/22 Toured the Beverages again, only a couple small branches down this time.

11/24 Taking week off from work, mostly working around the house. Filling in hole from where chimney was removed, dragging some brush I cut a couple weeks ago away from the 150' tower's NW anchor, put snow blower on tractor, cleaning up for CQWW CW next weekend, etc, etc...

12/6 Nice day, 50f, light winds, decided to go up the 180' tower to see if I could find the noise we were getting from 40m last weekend. It doesn't seem as bad today as it was after the rain last weekend so I am really looking for somewhere that water was getting in. I think I found it on the bottom beam. One of the leads from the balun was touching the driven element boom clamp and has worn through the insulation, this could likely have been arcing or rectifying when wet. I replaced the M2 'balun' (really a binocular core choke) with a coax coil like I put on the top one the last time it was down for repair. I also added a ground jumper made out of a piece of rg-213 between the tower and the ring to see if that would help.

Oh, and the inside of the removed choke wasn't all that great either:

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12/10 Oops... realized yesterday that I hadn't checked the way the top 40m choke was connected... Sure enough I had connected the new one at 70' backwards so the antennas were out of phase. It was a nice afternoon and I had taken off early from work to get some shopping and car service done so I got George to watch and went back up to reverse it.

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12/20 Lots of wind this last week. Took stroll around Beverages and everything looked fine. There is a broken pine tree on the edge of the clearing of the far guy wire on the 150' tower. It is leaning away from the guy wire against another tree, I'll probably take it down anyway just to get it out of the way. There is also a birch tree leaning over the 150' 80m inverted-v guy rope that should probably come out before it breaks in a storm.

12/21 Took down the broken pine. Then I lowered the 80m inv-v and took down the bent birch. After spending an hour or so modifying a new chainsaw bar that was the wrong size to fit my saw I finished cutting them up. While I was at it I moved the WARC inverted-v's to a new tree about 20' farther back. The little maple they were tied to had just about grown over the ropes so I cut it down also to get it out of the way.

12/23 Got a bit of brush mowing down before the rain started. That will probably be the end of it for this fall as the only things left standing are tree seedlings/saplings and black berries, all the grass and weeds have folded over now so they are clogging up the mower chute.

Also note, the phone service for my voice number is supposed to change at midnight tonight. Same number but dumping the analog Verizon line and going to BroadVoice VOIP service. I will likely enable their anonymous caller filter and start blocking other junk, so if your caller id is hidden it may not ring here.



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