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David Robbins, K1TTT

K1TTT@arrl.net



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2017 Maintenance and Upgrade Blog



Schematics Index


1/1 HNY.

1/3 Ice... .1-.2" at ground level, maybe 3/4" at top antennas.

1/4 Most of the ice melts by lunch time, though there are still big chunks on the top 40m rotor and tower it looks like its all off the antennas.

1/5 The day of the Wellers... Received new Weller Thermal Tweezers along with replacement surface mount chips to try to fix one of the ArraySolutions BandPasser's control circuits. The tweezers are a bit disappointing as the tips wouldn't get close enough together to do the whole chip at once, so I had to do one side at a time. Got it off and replaced using my older Weller pencil iron with the skinny tips I bought but have never used. Then I had to get out the big old gun to solder on some kickback suppression diodes to prevent further damage to the BandPasser from kickback from the new RX switching RCS-8V relays.... more on that shortly.

GreenHeron also sent me a couple plug in screw terminal headers for the wireless remote relay card that was missing, thanks for getting them out quickly and free... not sure if I lost a header or one of the boards got shipped without it but they came through with the part, and a spare. This is where the header ends up... to finish testing and configuring software on the SO2R/Remote station I had clip leaded from the wireless card plug to the wires going to the switch board.

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The way this works is the custom made switch boxes have 8 buttons, each one latches one of 8 relays which lights the light and supplies 12v to a diode matrix. The diodes pass the current to traces on the bottom of the board which goes to the green 8 terminal strip on the left(with MOV's). Those outputs go to the appropriate remote relay boxes to select the antennas. The extra relays handle unlatching the old selected antenna when a new button is pushed and also a lockout from a PTT input on TX antenna boxes. This one is just for RX so that isn't used. In this box the diode matrix just does a binary count from 0 to 7 for the RCS-10 boxes.

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This is the relay board hooked up to the bottom traces on the diode matrix so the wireless control card can power the 8 possible output lines directly. The functions of the diode matrix are programmed into the GreenHeron server software so they can be controlled by the clients on any computer on the network. The power switch is rewired so that when the box is 'on' the wireless board is off and the manual buttons work, when the switch is 'off' it turns on the wireless board and shuts off the local buttons. That way there can't be conflicts between the selections.

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Now, back to the ArraySolutions stuff... After I replaced the obvious bad chip I tried the BandPasser 2W again. The manual controls work and it seemed that the remote control from the BandMaster 3 worked, until I tried selecting other bands, then the BandPasser seemed to lock up. After trying several sequences and getting it to lockup then unlock I decided it was something I couldn't troubleshoot without a logic analyzer or debugging control of their firmware as the inputs and outputs seemed to function properly, and indeed at times it worked fine. So I started composing the following email to ArraySolutions:

I have… or had… a problem with my BandPasser 2-W… I normally fed it PBM data from a BandMaster 3 which also runs the 6-PAK and RCS-8V for WARC antennas and now some other switching for RX antennas. After wiring in the RX antenna switching I found the BandPasser 2-W kept getting stuck on 30m. I traced it out and found that the 30m gate on U7 was obviously bad, it was feeding about 5v back out the input connector, so I replaced that. That fixed getting stuck on 30m but now it does something else strange. Replacing U7 fixed it so it works in manual mode ok, but now when switching from the BandMaster it kind of randomly locks up. When it locks the main board heartbeat led stops and the bypass led is about half brightness. Cycling power clears it and it gets the right filter without doing anything to the radio or BandMaster. But it can also be cleared by cycling through several band changes… at some point the heartbeat starts and it does its power on blinking routine and then gets the right band. Interestingly I tried the sequence 30m-20m-17m-15m-12m-10m-12m-15m-17m-20m-30m several times and it was perfect, but add on a 40m transition and it would lock up every time… 40m should remove all inputs to it just like 10m, 15m, and 20m do which really is odd.

Hmmmmm, the RX antenna switching I just added in put another relay on the end of a 20’ or so cable on to 30m, 40m, 80m, and 160m outputs from the BandMaster. Grab a 1n4002 and a couple alligator clips, put it on the 30m output from the BandMaster to ground and viola, problem gone! And I bet the new U7 will last longer also. You might want to consider adding diode protection on the BandPasser inputs to clamp kickbacks, maybe replace the capacitors on the input lines with diodes and you wouldn’t have to change the board. I’ll be adding 1n4002’s at least on 30/40/80/160m for now, I’ll probably clamp all of them later when I figure out a good way to cleanup the rats nest of all those connections.

Sometimes it helps to write down and try to explain to someone else what you are seeing is wrong. When I got to the 'which really is odd' point before the 'Hmmmmm' I had a suspicion about why the U7 chip had blown and what the kind of random lockups were about... clipping on the diode just proved it to me. Instead of abandoning the email I sent it with my further comments anyway so they can learn from it also. They did suggest that I use their ShackLan connections instead of feeding the decoded outputs from the BandMaster to the BandPasser boxes, but as I pointed out in subsequent emails when I bought those and started hooking them up I was short on time and they didn't supply the cables or adapter to go from the BandMaster, which has a 4 wire screw terminal for their lan, to the BandPassers which had an RJ network type plug. But I did have DB-25's and DB-9's that would do the same function for me, its uglier but it works.

1/6 Ok, been doing more drawing of how the station is currently connected for my own reference and to answer questions from others. I'll be drawing more schematics and adding them to my new Schematics index page.

1/8 Cold morning so spent some time collecting schematics from other places on my web site and adding them to the Schematics index page. Found things like the K2TR Stubs, and W3LPL RX Bandpass filters, and several more. Not all of them are currently in use here but may be good reference anyway. 40m K0XG rotor power supply blew it's fuse again, had to replace bridge... maybe because its really cold, will have to watch it again I guess.

1/10 Changed BandPassers on the SO2R station to use the ArraySolutions ShackLAN instead of the decoded band data lines. This should eliminate the relay kickback problem getting into their inputs and eliminates 3 cables and 3 power cables from the rats nest of band switching lines. Revised Schematic

Here is another letter to ArraySolutions that may save someone else trying to use their ShackLAN some time and fuses...

Argh! Found enough cables in my phone/dsl spare parts bags to connect up the ShackLAN stuff. Figured out the wiring on the right radio which only has one Bandpasser then went to do the left radio that has both Bandpassers. Wired it up with the same color code as the right one and pow, it blows a fuse… argh, the color code on the RJ-11 I used to make the pigtail from the bandmaster is backwards! Fix that, plug it all back in… pow, it blows the fuse again. Unplug everything and check all the connections… Find that the 6” jumper between the Bandpassers reverses the color code from one end to the other… Go find another longer one since the 6” one was hard to plug in anyway, and check it just in case… It reverses the color code also! Enough of that, cut the longer one in half and splice it back together in the right order since it was my last one with enough wires.

1/11 Cleaned up some joints on the 40m 4-Square that were causing intermittent high SWR in two direction. Seems better now.

1/14 A couple warm rainy days got rid of the skiing snow, so break out the chainsaw and do some more cleanup around the 40m RX array.

Did some testing of band to band interference with the new RX antenna filtering. The only combination that seemed to be really bad was 80m to 40m. The worst combination was the low 80m Inverted-V to the 180' 40m Yagi... but it was also bad going to the Beverages and RX array. More testing needed to figure it out more specifically.

1/15 Did some more hunting for 80m to 40m interference. I am pretty sure that much of it is coming from the big UPS in the crawl space. It seems to be operating properly but when I open the breaker powering it the noise drops a lot. I'll probably shut everything down some day this week and bypass it to see if it is generating the noise or just getting conducted onto the power wiring through it.

1/16 LET THE WITCH HUNT BEGIN!!!! First, before the PC Police come after me, no witches, Satanists, or other related people were harmed in this hunt. And I apologize to anyone one crazy or bored enough to be around 3522khz during full daylight, though I tried to keep power to a minimum some testing at 1500w was necessary... and since my manual cw sending is horrible and as part of the testing required the computer to be shutdown IDing was probably pushing the limits of 'short' for unidentified transmissions. Now with all that said, I started out to find the 80m to 40m interference noted in the last couple posts. I start by figuring out all the stuff on the big UPS in the crawl space... Lots of stuff to eliminate, so away we go! Setup to TX on 3522 with 50w on the 60' high Inverted-V, and listen on about 7021 on the stacked Yagis. Noise is broadband with some 60hz modulation about S-7.

  • Verify that shutting off power from the breaker powering the UPS still reduces the noise level. Yep, drops from about S-7 to S-1.
  • Unplug all 5 webcams since those are easy. No Change.
  • Shutdown VHF station and my laptop. No Change.
  • Unplug VHF station and my laptop. No Change.
  • Shutdown both Skimmer PC's. No Change.
  • Turn off 12v in server rack. No Change.
  • Shutdown server. No Change.
  • Unplug server rack at UPS. Drops from S-7 to S-1. Ok, probably in the rack! This is good if true.
  • Shutoff power to UPS. No Change. But there is still some there.
  • Sidetracked, check some other stuff just in case... Shutoff power to 240v UPS. No Change.
  • Shutdown SO2R station, move the 120v power controller to shack outlet from UPS. No Change.
  • Power off UPS. No Change. This is interesting, there is still some noise but way down from the worst case.
  • Sidetracked, more other stuff... Unplug K0XG rotor power supply. No Change.
  • Noise is way down at this point, but still there, and still bad on high power. I tuned around a bit on 40m to see how strong the actual harmonic is, about S-9, which isn't bad. It is raspy and there are lots of sidebands on it, and other spurs.
  • Probably should have done this sooner, turn on 160m station and hook SDR-IQ to small whip in the shack to watch a wide swath of 40m band... Very interesting.
  • In the server rack there are 2 cords from the UPS with 3 outlets each. Unplug the 6 plugs and put the server rack cords on a different house outlet. Plug in one at a time. One plug causes the noise to come back to S-7... AH HA! GOTCHA! That one has a power strip on it with 3 wall warts, 2 for the wireless access points and one for the VOIP phone box, unplug all 3 of them and this is what a clean 40m band looks like from the SDR-IQ. Note that the exact harmonic is nice and clean at 7044. Ignore the other light traces, they are probably from the computer or monitor on 160m, they are not related to the noise being hunted.

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  • And this is on high power. A bit wider as would be expected, but not enough to wipe out the band. This is good.

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  • Now lets plug things back in one at a time... add one WIFI access point. Not too bad. The second WIFI one didn't change it much.

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  • But add in the VOIP wall wart!

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  • Now this is odd... Turn off the power strip feeding the 3 wall warts and it gets different! Now there are broadband noise areas separate from the harmonic from 7024 to 7032 or so and 7055 to 7065 or so and some narrow spurs around 7078 and 7107 roughly. This is just with the warts plugged into a dead outlet. Of course the VOIP box is also connected to the whole house POTS wiring to supply service to the 3 old phones so there is some antenna connected to it... maybe I should have disconnected that also, but I'm getting tired of hunting now and the noise is gone with the wart unplugged. Also note that the two WIFI access point boxes are mounted on the wall near the ceiling with about 6' of power and Ethernet cable exposed outside the rack.

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  • Replace the 3 wall warts with 12v from the RS-35M Astron linear supply in the rack... and start plugging stuff back in where it started. Get everything back in its original outlets with no change to the noise on low or high power.

So, in summary... 3 Chinese switching mode wall warts were picking up the 80m signal and rectifying it and modulating it with their own switching frequency which of course varies with the 60hz voltage resulting in a bunch of CRAP! And not the good Mike Rowe kind.

1/17 Stacked up a bunch of brush and other junk down in the 40m RX array area. Put away tools, test equipment, and a bunch of stuff that has accumulated in the shack from recent projects.

1/27 ARGH! I hate intermittent stuff! There has been an intermittent arcing on 20m, not related to any single antenna. Well today when setting up for BARTG RTTY it finally failed. Fortunately it was on the hardline connector right outside the shack so it didn't take long to find. This is all the stuff it took to find the problem, take off the connector, replace both the center conductor of the hardline side and the PL259 on the jumper from the lightning arrester box. The outer shell of the hardline connector just needed some cleaning up.

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And this is the connector after the magic smoke escaped. The left piece is the center conductor out of the hardline connector, the insulator is melted and stuck to the center pin. The center pin of the PL259 from the jumper on the right is unsoldered.

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This is one of the oldest of my home made hardline connectors and the worst of only a handful of failures I have had.

2/2 Exact replacement part for HF-2500 Operate/Standby switch came in from DigiKey, replaced in S/N 765 which had been intermittent for a year or more.

Updated GreenHeron server and client software on my GreenHeron server and the 40m/SO2R station.

2/7 Perfectly yucky day outside, snow, sleet, freezing rain... Re-re-wired the band decoder wiring to the 6-Pak and other band controlled switches. This is how it started:

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The terminal strips all mounted with kickback diodes installed. Yeah, I know the feedthrough holes aren't very pretty, I did them by hand because the drill press is out in the cold shed!

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All connected and back up under the table. Not a lot of extra wire on the 6-Pak cables but everything fit just fine.

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2/21 Removed 2 RigRunner 12v distribution boxes and associated wiring from the 20m/40m/SO2R tables. After all the other changes with band decoders and GreenHeron controllers I don't need as many 12v outlets there. Now there are 2 boxes and there are still several open outlets.

2/22 George came up to spot me while I went up to the south 20m Yagi to level it out and retighten the boom-mast clamp on the tower leg. It wasn't moving much but was obviously tilted.

Replaced one of the flood lights on the driveway side of the house with an LED one, need more parts to do the other one, then will also do the back side of the house. These are Lithonia Lighting from Home Depot and tested ok on my un-repeatable RFI test.

2/23 Cut down and dismembered two more trees between the 40m RX array and the 10m tower.

2/26 FT-1000mp came back from WA4GEG repair yesterday afternoon. Put it on 80m this morning to test out and take that one out for the keyclick mod and repair of the small headphone jack.

A half inch of rain last night followed by a dusting of snow and dropping down to 25f has everything frozen solid again. Its easy to walk on top of even the deeper snow back in the woods, so I took the dogs for a tour around the back side of the 150' tower looking for stuff that has to be cut down. They enjoyed it, I found more work to do in the form of dead or leaning trees that should be removed.

Got some more data on a new intermod problem last night. It appears that the second harmonic of 15m is mixing with the 20m fundamental and ending up on 10m (and maybe other places also)... but it is VERY strong so its likely a good diode has formed somewhere, so on with the next witch hunt! At least now I have specific frequencies that do it... one example running LSB AFSK is 20m on 14088kHz and 15m on 21089.5kHz shows up on 28090.4kHz.

Preliminary observations. Used SO2R station, 21100kHz on left radio 14100kHz on right radio. SDR-IQ with 12" vertical in shack detects it easily 40-50db above noise down to <5w on each radio. Confirm mixing products are 2*15m-20m. So 21100kHz*2-14100kHz=28100kHz. Seems worst with South 20m, which points at 15m tower, and with 15m Ring pointed at 20m tower. There is a null when the 15m ring is sideways to the 20m tower. There is a definite intermittent factor when turning antennas or when the wind gusts which it is doing a lot of today. Also tuned in second harmonic of 15m on the 6m antennas and it is S8 and scratchy on the 6m antenna on the 15m tower, only S2 and scratchy on the 20m tower 6m antenna.

Maybe non sequitur data...

  • Weak 33khz and 66khz sidebands in the mixing products that move when tuning either radio... maybe power supply in FT-1000MP on harmonics?? Maybe SDR artifact as I can't hear them on 10m radio.
  • With no antenna on 15m the mixing seems to go away, with no antenna on 20m it is still there but 30-40db weaker. Something leaking on 20m tower or in the shack on 20m? or mixing inside the shack? No antenna means here that remote switch was powered off, OR that the manual SO2R transfer switch was grounded.

I went looking for other combinations. Could not see 14100kHz*2-21100kHz=7100kHz product but did have a strong 14100kHz*2+21100kHz=49300kHz on the 6m radio. Also could only see a weak 21100kHz-14100kHz=7000kHz line on the SDR-IQ but a strong 21100kHz+14100kHz=35200kHz on the 6m radio. And to get 15m out of it I could see both 14100kHz*2+10100kHz=38300kHz and 14100kHz*2-10100kHz=18100kHz So this leaves the question... is the 15m harmonic new?? Or, is the mixing of the 15m and 20m harmonics and/or fundamentals new??? Or has this always been here we just never noticed it because of other bigger noises that I have cleaned up already???

2/27 Cut down more trees west of the 150' tower. Walked the Beverages, everything looks fine.

Found water in the 15m hardline connector and the T used for the matching network outside. Replaced all cables from lightning arrester to hardline and tried to dry out the hardline with heat gun... will have to make inspection of hardline for damage when its a bit warmer.

2/28 Found abraded spot with split in the jacket on the 15m hardline a couple feet above the connector where all the lines are tied up. Plugged that, hopefully that will stop more immediate damage. Will need to continue working to clean up that spot as other pieces are also wearing.

3/3 K0XG rotor to replace the bottom 40m TIC ring arrives:

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3/4 Saturday morning contest RFI crisis averted! 8am or so a loud power line noise started on 20m and 15m (the only bands kind of open at the time). Tracked it down with Grundig radio to a pole just up the road near the 20m tower. Tightening the guy wires with a rope tied around them stopped it for now. Power company notified. Not the most fun thing to be doing in the morning when temperature is 3f and windchill about -15f.

Eversource actually called back Saturday night acknowledging the problem and promising to have a crew here Sunday or Monday.

3/5 The 20m stack matching has been doing funny things. Friday the multiple antenna selections were working but the individual selections were all showing high SWR. Today when it warmed up a bit the individual ones came back. I 'think' the problem with them was ice on the matching transformer relay keeping it from shorting the 1/4 wave section when selecting the individual antennas, this would create a virtual short at the T connector. But now a bit later in the afternoon the multiple antenna combinations are both bad but the individual antennas are all working. I'm not sure how that could happen.

3/6 Sure enough, about 11am an Eversource truck comes rolling up the road. I take my rope off and the noise is not there as bad as it was, but it still happens when we shake the rather loose guy wires. He replaces the top hardware and adds about a 3' insulator to the top guy then retightens it. He also removed and cleaned both clamps on the jumper from the pole neutral wire to the guy wire. No more noise when shaking it, hopefully that one won't come back.

After lunch I took down a half dozen or so trees west of the 150' tower. Some were standing dead white birch, others were pine, some alive some very dead.

Did some more testing on 20m stack match. I think the T connector where the two 1/4 wave lines come off the hardline is damaged so that the matching section is open. That would cause it to short circuit the stacks in the box when it was switched into the circuit. Match without using it is adequate on all the antennas and stacks now, which still doesn't seem right, but will have to go up there to do some more testing.

3/8 Yesterday and this morning were drippy and foggy. Turned nice around lunch so finally got out to stack up the wood and branches I cut down Monday.

Prepped a new RCS-8v for replacing the 20m stack box.

3/9 Decided I only want to go up to fix the 20m stack match once, so I made up a replacement for the whole thing:

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It was too windy to take down bit trees so cut a bunch of little junk east of the 150' tower and along the road.

Due to two recent failures I bought another FT-1000MP, this one full of INRAD filters. Installed and tested all basic modes on the right SO2R position. The right SO2R FT-1000MP had failed a few days ago, no TX, weak RX, off scale Ic when transmitting with no drive.

3/10 Snowy morning... Fixed the FT-1000mp from the right SO2R position. The +9v regulator on the Regulator Board was only putting out about 6v. Replaced it with the one out of W1TO's donated parts radio. Put it on 160m for testing for a while, the one off that band needs the key click mod done anyway.

3/11 Almost mid March and wind chill is -20f or colder. Modified one of the last two FT-1000mp's that didn't have a key click mod with the INRAD mod from VA3CR Notes. The longest time was figuring out the RF board as VA3CR's pictures seem to be a MK-V not an original MP.

3/12 Second morning in a row with windchill below -20f. Installed the INRAD key click mod in the last of the FT-1000mp's that didn't have it. Also that one had a noisy small headphone jack, a common failure on mp's... the solder joints on the connector are the only thing holding the jack to the board so eventually they fatigue. The last couple I have done required removing all the knobs and the front plastic panel. This time I had some new tips for my Weller solder station and the longest, thinnest one was long enough to reach all the signal pins from the back of the panel without removing everything. Reflow a couple joints and it is as good as new.

3/19 Skied around the Beverages. Had to replace 3 insulators on the NW/SE due to a tree coming down on it, fortunately it was only the very top of a tree on the wires so I could get them all the way back up on the poles.

3/22 Another day of windchill around 0f. Got 3 nuts that K0XG said were needed to space the ring rollers properly and put them in. Wired up the GreenHeron RT-21r to the K0XG power supply and spliced that on to the cable going up to the 70' ring. Can't power up the K0XG supply yet because the lightning arresters have to be rewired for the new higher motor voltage.

3/24 Another fun morning, updated the RT-21r firmware for the K0XG ring for the top 40m beam so I could disable the pot on the box. It was getting noisy and would occasionally turn the beam for you to whatever it happened to be set to. The 40m ones are always controlled from the touchscreen anyway. The new box for the bottom one already had that option so I disabled that one also.



This is what the K0XG ring rotor looks like in the garage as I prepare it for installation. The motor cover is removed so I could test the wiring when I add my extension to it for the rotor loop. On top of the motor is a revolving magnet and magnetic switch to sense motor speed for the controller. The top of the boom bracket is behind the ring along with bags of hardware for assembly and installation. The wrench on the top cover is a 12" adjustable for size comparison.

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Closer view of the motor with Hank doing a thorough inspection. The motor cover is the galvanized cylinder behind the motor on the floor.

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The motor mounting hole and bolts showing the ring gear underneath.

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The top shell flipped over showing the 3 horizontal rollers and 2 vertical ones that allow the ring to turn and keep it centered. The two flanges will have to be disassembled to put this around the existing tower.

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The mounting brackets, ring, and guide assembly. There are 3 layers to this all held together by the Allen head countersunk bolts. The bottom is in 2 parts and has the 3 leg mounting brackets that take 3 U-bolts each. The gold colored ring gear is in the middle, it is in 3 pieces. Then the top guide collar provides a flat surface for the horizontal rollers to support the top shell and the vertical collar for the vertical rollers to keep the top shell centered. This will have to be disassembled into 2 or 3 parts to take up the tower and install around the existing tower.

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3/28 Well, over the weekend the bottom 40m Yagi started making arcing noises... Now it is completely gone with infinite SWR. Guess it doesn't matter when I start work on that new rotor now.

3/30 To climb, or not to climb, that is the question... well today the answer was, climb! 41f, light but variable breeze, generally a nice afternoon. George came up to push buttons and read meters and I went up and replaced the 20m stack match box. I had 1/4 wave transformer cables ready also but the problem was a badly burnt relay in RCS-8v. I had new 1/4 wave transformer cables ready but didn't have to use them.

Ooops, when resetting the GreenHeron switch to use the stack match I messed with the wrong one and had to reset 40m, then found that the 40m 4-Square is broke. It appears to be one of the 1/4 wave RG-11 cables has gone bad. Will have to test more later.

4/2 Disconnected all 4 cables on the 40m 4-Square and brought them up to the shack for testing. All 4 were reasonably good so I just cleaned up two of them that had bad pigtails and put them back in place. There are still differences in the verticals but the box compensates ok for it. I think the verticals themselves need to be cleaned up, the joints must not be making good contact.

4/5 Disassembled the K0XG ring into parts for lifting up the tower for installation. Bagged all the nuts and bolts and marked with wrench sizes needed. That ring uses much larger hardware than the TIC ring.

4/6 Alpha-Delta manual switch on 80m needed cleaning and adjusting, it was becoming intermittent sending the TX antennas over to the SO2R station.

4/8 Took down rotten pine that fell on the NNW Beverage a couple weeks ago.

4/9 Modified the first 2 (of 8) Daiwa CN-801 Power/SWR meters to prevent sub harmonic generation due to their 12v power input polarity protecting bridge rectifier. This involves adding three .01uf capacitors, one across the inputs, and one from each input line to ground. For more information on the subharmonic problem see 2008 Maintenance and Upgrade Blog - Daiwa Meter

Took the lifting rope and pulley up the 180' tower to get ready to remove the 40m Yagi from the failed TIC ring at 70'. Pulled up and fastened on the tram wire. Removed the coax connection. Removed the lock nuts from the boom cradle and sprayed well with liquid wrench as those bolts are in rough shape. Turned the ring more South so it is properly aligned for taking down. Now just need a decent day and a crew to handle the ropes.

4/10 Added a 20' RG-213 cable from the shack into the lightning arrester panel outside so I can bypass the arresters to use the TDR or other test equipment without the arresters being in line. Checked the 40m stack wiring with the TDR, I can see the 75 ohm load I put on the jumper cable to the 70' Yagi, it looks just fine. Inspected the barrel connector I took out of the splice from the tower coax to the new choke, it shows definite arcing inside the center conductor.

Modified 2 more of the Daiwa CN-801 Power/SWR meters.

Finally cut down the first couple of trees I was worried about west of the 150' tower. All the cutting up to this point was getting little junk out of the way.

4/11 Dragged away and piled up branches and wood from the trees I cut down yesterday.

4/12 Organized tools and ropes to get ready for antenna party to take down the bottom 40m Yagi.

4/13 Modified the last 3 Daiwa meters. Now I need to find a couple more power plugs that fit those meters... it seems to be an odd size coaxial plug.

4/14 What a great day for tramming. Nice clear blue sky day, light breezes, and no bugs! Got antenna and rotor down in about 2 hours. Thanks to George, w1eqo, w1to, kj1k, n1ta, wa1zam, kb1w, (did I miss anyone?)... hopefully some pictures to follow.

4/15 Moved the parts of the new K0XG ring rotor to the base of the tower and shed to get ready to put it up. Assembled the boom truss strut to the boom clamp and mounted on the boom.

4/17 Prepping K0XG parts for installation tomorrow afternoon. Tying ropes on the pieces that have to be assembled, and on the motor. Also prepping motor and pulse counter cables for easier connection up the tower.

The parts for the gear and top housing all roped up and ready to lift. These should go up in 2 lifts.

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The motor and tool buckets ready to go up. There are lots more wrenches for this assembly than I usually need because of the bigger bolts used on this ring.

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4/18 Had kb1w, n1ta, and George here to help put up the new rotor. About 2.5 hours on tower to get it all assembled and rotating. Still needs calibration and to finalize the drip loop.

4/20 Cleaned up tools, empty parts bags, and stuff in shed, prepped tools and parts buckets for raising the antenna.

4/23 Cut down a couple more of the bigger trees on the west side of the 150' tower.

Finished hooking up the boom brace to the new strut and started rigging antenna to put it on the new rotor tomorrow.

4/24 Thanks to kb1w, n1ta, wa1zam, n1aw, w1to, the bottom 40m Yagi is on the new rotor. Took another 2 hours up there today, for probably 8 hours up the tower in total to get it down, install the rotor, and get it back up.

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4/28 Cleaned up all the tools and left over bags of extra parts for the K0XG ring and 40m Yagi work.

4/29 Moved lawn equipment around to get ready for garden planting and grass cutting.

4/30 Cut down a couple more trees east of the 10m tower.

5/4 Cut down a bunch of trees west of the 150' tower.

5/7 20m stack match broke again. Combinations of antennas work but not the individual ones.

5/9 Cut down yet more trees west of the 150' tower.

5/11 W1TO came over and I replaced the 20m RCS-8v and the two quarter wave coaxes and connectors this time. The relay in the removed box didn't look bad but the relay that should ground the second quarter wave line was not making contact on the deenergized side.

For those interested in how well this simple matching works these are the SWR and R/X curves for the 8 selections I have set up for that stack.

150' single Yagi

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120'/90' European stacked Yagis (2 Yagis)

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60' Yagi on ring rotor

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45' South Yagi

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150' + Europe stack + 60' ring rotor Yagis (4 Yagis)

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150' + 60' ring rotor + South Yagis (3 Yagis)

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150' + 60' ring rotor Yagis (2 Yagis)

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All 5 Yagis

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5/16 Cut down a couple more trees west of the 150' tower.

5/21 Been busy tilling and starting to plant the garden. Cut down 3 more trees west of the 150' tower, that is probably all that need to come down at this point.

5/22 A perfectly yucky spring day. 45f, cloudy, and showers, but that means no black flies! So I sharpened up the chain saw and went in to take a big branch off the NW/SE Beverage wires. Then patrolled the rest of the Beverages, didn't find any other damage. I did find 4 or 5 insulators that were lost in the snow over the winter though so it wasn't a total loss. For those of you who haven't seen them the Beverages I was checking are the 2 wire version. The wires are 10ga insulated copperweld which has never broken on me. I support it with electric fence insulators on electric fence fiberglass rods mostly in 2x4" pressure treated posts. There are still a couple that are on the fiberglass rods stuck in holes in trees from the original construction.

6/12 Lots of rain and wind in the last month or so. Working hard just keeping up with the grass mowing and getting the garden planted. Finally mowed the hay field around the 80m 4-Square yesterday and today.

6/20 Well, the old shack fridge is gone to that big recycling warehouse.

Here it is out in the hall waiting for pickup.

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And the empty spot in the shack waiting for delivery of a new more efficient fridge.

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The pegboard is getting rearranged also. George gave me a piece he took down, it is now on the front wall.

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Yesterday there was a big thunderstorm that came through, rain rate was up around 8"/hr with winds gusting over 50mph for quite a while. AFTER it was all over I heard some rapid fire gunshots down in the woods not far away so today I put on actual socks and boots, sprayed lots of DEET on myself and went for a look-see. Sure enough there were two good size trees broken off.

This is one of them... the horizontal trunk on the left broke off and then broke the pine and a few smaller trees on its way down.

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Then this one broke off about 15' up.

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When it came down it broke up a bunch of other stuff. But it was mostly hollow and broke apart on its way down.

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6/25 Cut apart the tree that broke off that was holding the ends of 2 of the 40m 4-Square radials.

6/27 New fridge finally arrived. Looks nice and has actual shelves so the boxes don't have to be stacked on each other so they collapse.

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7/4 The last couple days I have been trying to see if I could make the SDR-IQ more useful on the SO2R station. I started by putting a new feedline on my bedroom RX antenna and running that through the lightning arrester box. I put a receiver protector on it attached directly to the output of the lightning arrester. Then I ran a new RG-6 feedline over to the SO2R station and hooked that to the SDR-IQ. It is not as sensitive as the regular antennas but it gives you an idea of what is on a band. Using the N1MM+ Waterfall Bandmap you can see a waterfall spectrum that is labeled with spots from packet. The Waterfall Bandmap also feeds the new N1MM+ Spectrum Display window. Personally I prefer the Waterfall Bandmap at this point, but they are still working on the Spectrum Display window. You can click on any of the bandmaps and the radio tunes to where you click, and the spectrum and waterfall both track the radio frequency (only the left radio right now). This is what the two new windows look like side by side:

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7/11 The SDR-IQ being used for the spectrum display and waterfall on the SO2R/40m/Remote station sensitivity was not very good when used either on my bedroom RX wire or on the low 80m V that I let K1MK try it with during IARU-HF. I asked about mods on the Yaesu reflector and got pointed to a buffer amp board to tap off the 70MHz IF (which the SDR-IQ can't use) so I broke out the schematics for the FT-1000mp and started looking for something better.

Hmmm, found simple option, no board modifications, easy access, no measurable change to RX sensitivity I can see... In the MP after going through the RF board bandpass filters the RX RF is split to go to the first mixer to get it to 70MHz for the main RX, and to be sent to the sub RX board. It is very convenient to unplug the red input coax at the top back of the sub RX, put in a Y cable, and send that to the SDR-IQ. On the RX2 schematic that is J8002. This has a big advantage for me in that it is already bandpass filtered by the radio's RF board which will remove most of the signals from the other stations in multi-multi contests. it also will let the operator see exactly what is on either his TX or separate RX antenna. And it is muted by the T/R relay when the radio transmits. And requires no external relay to switch the RX antenna.

The impedance of that line appears to be relatively low, after the transformer on the RF board there is an attenuator using 220 ohm resistors to ground. I put in a 1uv signal on 40m and could see no change in the sub RX signal level with or without the Y and with or without the SDR-IQ connected to it so I am confident the loss of sensitivity will be negligible... and it is only on the sub RX which is not the best RX to listen on anyway.

As far as the physical aspects of the mod... it has no permanent change to any board, can be installed and removed in about 5 minutes(mostly time taking out and putting in the top case screws), and requires no case modification if you just route the cable out the top access panel.

I am now testing it on one radio of my SO2R/40m/Remote station and it seems to be working well.

7/22 A routine check of antenna SWR led to finding a double failure in the 160m Inverted L's. First I found the hardline from the North inverted L had come disconnected from the switchbox. Must have been lots of vibration or something to work it all the way off like that. On reconnecting the SWR got worse. I took apart the hardline connector and it was dry but a bit corroded so I cleaned that up, but SWR was still bad. So off to the feedpoint and found that had broken also, so I put that back together. Now everything is well again.

7/27 The RCS-8V on 20m has developed another problem. The relay for the 60' Yagi is intermittent. I had already purchased a DXEngineering RR8B-HP which is an 8 port switch with sealed relays and easy jumpering for grounding unused ports. I added all the grounding jumpers to it so I could use any port for the stack transformer/stub. I started preparing the control cable yesterday by ungrounding the black wire in the lightning arrester box and connecting it and the unused white and red wires to arrester terminals. Today I reconfigured the manual control box to allow use of the red, white, and black, which means now the return path for relay currents is on the coax shield and tower ground. I also reconfigured the diode matrix and GreenHeron software to separately control the two fixed European Yagis, the manual box won't be able to do that for now but the GreenHeron software will be able to be configured to split them after the box is up the tower.

7/28 Well, instead of the predicted rain its partly cloudy, light breeze, and 65f, perfect tower climbing weather. George came over on short notice and I installed the RR8B-HP on the 20m stack. Now I can select each antenna separately and make other different combinations. For now on the SO2R/Remote GreenHeron settings I added separate selection of the two European fixed antennas and renamed things so they fit on the buttons better.

Well, after that was done I noticed the 60' ring calibration was way off again so got George back after lunch and put it back where it belongs.

7/29 Put a UPS battery on the DR Mower because theirs died again, it starts it just as fast as their bigger battery. Then went and mowed the NNW and SW/NE Beverage trails and along the road edges.

7/31 Replaced the SW/NE Beverage transformer box at the shack end. The resistance between the wires was infinite so something was also wrong at the other end. Loaded up my belt with some heavy armament and chemical weapons against the possibility of running into a bear. Then took a hike back the SW/NE Beverage trail. Replaced the reflection transformer at the far end. Both the transformer box and reflection transformer seem to be ok, so must have been a bad connection on one or both of them. It all seems to be working now anyway.

Started adding wire color codes to the Schematics Index page.

8/4 Packed boxes with junk from store room and shed to take to NoBarc flea market in a couple weeks. Needed to move empty boxes and other stuff out of the guest bedroom for this weekend.

8/17 Haven't been doing much station work the last couple weeks. Spending more time on garden and yard. Today George and I finished moving or cutting up the logs from around the 40m RX array and some others from the other side of the field and near the new shed... got to get ready to start cutting brush in the 40m RX array area.

8/26 K1MK complained that the 40m RX array wasn't hearing anything. Traced it down to a bad coax connector in the lightning arrester box. Temporarily replaced it with the test cable I put in there a while back... I knew that cable would come in handy sometime!

8/30 Ran new RG-6uf cable from the 40m RX switchbox out to the lightning arrester, bypassing the 3 way splitter since it is only useful on 40m. Then ran extra RG-6uf cable from the now 2 way splitter out to the box in case I come up with a special rx antenna for one or both of them.

9/1 Last week I shipped off the right radio from the SO2R station for repair because it was hearing poorly and had a couple other odd problems. Yesterday I swapped out the left radio because it was also hearing poorly and had a bad RIT encoder.

Started the fall brush and weed mowing today. There is a new vine that has been spreading around the property that is making it hard to mow the tall weeds. I first saw this stuff out along the road, but now it is around the 150' tower and the edge of the field west of the 180' tower. It is a wild clematis called Virgin's Bower. It gets into the weeds and brush and kind of ties it all together so to mow it down you have to pull it all apart which makes the mower try to keep pulling into the weeds.

9/2 Did more mowing of weeds and brush, some behind the old shed, lots around the 40m 4-square.

9/3 Replaced the RIT encoder on the radio I took off the left SO2R position. It seems to be hearing ok so will put a warning on it and test it some more, maybe there is an intermittent T/R relay or RX antenna relay condition.

Notes on RIT encoder replacement on the FT-1000mp. The encoder is a standard part that is still available, I bought a bunch of them a couple years ago because they seem to fail so often. Replacing it can be hard because the nut on the shaft is behind the front cover so to get to it you have to remove all the knobs and the plastic front panel, a real pain. That can be avoided by using a pencil soldering iron to carefully enlarge the hole around the shaft. Since the RIT knob is much bigger than the nut you can make enough room to reach in there with a couple small screw drivers to remove the nut. The small board the encoder is on can then be removed by using the built in hinge screws to lay the whole front panel down 90 degrees. Remove the old encoder, solder in the new one, and put the board back in place. Be sure to test not only the RIT buttons but also the EDSP button that is also on that board before closing everything up. You can put the nut back on the encoder the same way you took it off, or maybe just leave it off since there is not a lot of force needed to turn that encoder and there is no push button like on the Mem/VFO CH encoder.

9/8 Been brush mowing around edges of 4-Squares and towers every nice day we have had. Some people have asked why I mow so much area around the towers, especially the non-grass areas. Well, mostly because its easier to mow lots of little seedings and saplings than to cut full size trees that are too close to towers. This is an example of an area I haven't mowed for 2 years. Note that the blackberries and small trees are already 6-8' tall.

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And this is after running the DR Field and Brush mower through it. Note that it is not nearly as easy to mow this as they show on TV! Here I have to bounce over rocks and stumps, go up and down steep little humps, and sometimes get stuck in mud. Overall a good workout.

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9/9 More mowing, and some chain sawing of some stuff that I couldn't reach with the mower.

9/10 Even more mowing.

9/11 Yep, you got it, more mowing.

9/17 Nope, no mowing today, too warm. N2KW stuck around after his contest in the morning to watch me climb and to push buttons. I went up and wired the turnbuckles on the 70' 40m Yagi boom brace and to check that everything was tight on the new rotor. Checked other stuff on the way down and tightened up one of the connections on the 40' 40m inverted-V.

9/18 Replaced a tree with a 2x4 post for the NE/SW Beverage wires.

9/28 The FT-1000MP I sent off for repair is coming back. The partial deafness was due to the INRAD roofing filter failing. This is apparently a known problem as INRAD offers a discounted replacement: INRAD Roofing Filter Replacement

This is more about why I do all this mowing and why it is related to radios. This is a before picture of the area where the 40m RX Array is.

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All was going well, I only missed pulling up one radial and cut a couple feet off the end, then I found a new way to break the mower deck.

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This required some creative rigging to pull back into shape, as well as the application of a big hammer, to get ready for welding. George also helped by supplying a larger C clamp than the ones I have to close up the gap for some of the welds.

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All better again.

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And then the after shot for today. I haven't removed the feedline or the radial that goes almost parallel to it so I can't do the area inside the rectangle yet.

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10/14 Been mowing around the pond and building a new compost pile for next year. Today I took the DR Mower around the 80m 4-Square, got about 3/4's of the way done and ran out of gas. It needs some work with loppers to get some beech branches off one of the radials also.

10/18 Ugh, long slow walk around the Beverages with the DR Mower this afternoon. At least this time I made it with nothing breaking! Everything looks ok, but the beaver pond on the stream under the SW/NE trail is full again so I haven't gone to the very end of that one yet. Also pretty well finished mowing around the 80m 4-Square.

10/22 Horrible WX for working in the woods this time of year, not even noon and its 69f! Had to take off heavy work shirt to keep from sweating! Walked back to the end of the NW/SE Beverage path and replaced the last tree on that path that had a fiberglass rod in it with a 2x4 post. I think that was the last one using a tree.

10/25 It wouldn't be CQWW SSB coming up without some kind of Beverage antenna problem. This time the NE direction sounds noisier than the other 'back' directions. Go out to the pole, disconnect the wires, and measure resistance of transformers, they are ok. Then measure through the reflection transformer, that is ok. But from the wires to ground appears open... ah well, that was the one end I haven't visited in a while because the beaver pond is full again. So get out the anti-bear defenses, fill up a bucket with tools and stuff, grab a pair of XC ski poles, and go for a hike. Fortunately there is a tree down across the beaver pond, that is what the ski poles are for. This is the bridge that needs crossing from the shack side.

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And from the far side after I removed a couple of branches on my way over it... standing on log, using Leatherman saw to get branches out of the way, now that is a fun way to spend a morning.

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The reflection transformer checked out ok, but the ground connection was badly corroded. So I pull everything off the ground rod, file off some crud with the Leatherman file. Find out that all but one of the radials I had connected to it were corroded through, the remaining pieces are the little bits of wire behind the ground rod below. Connect it back up and check resistance, now less than an ohm when it had been many megohms in the beginning. So now hike back to the shack. I get back and am dripping with sweat. Its only 58f outside but 100% humidity. Now the NE direction is even noisier... so now the conundrum is, is the NE/SW one working properly now and the others aren't???

The reflection transformer at the SW end.

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Oh, and I was wrong again... the first support on the far side of the pond is in a tree, so that is another one to replace.

Oh yeah, don't forget, moose tracks, I'm pretty sure there were moose tracks along at least part of the trail.

Hmmm, thought I was done as rain was coming in on radar, but it must not be hitting the ground... so after a while of waiting for it I went out and cut 9 radials about 30' long and got the proper tools to clean up the ground rods. I installed 3 radials on the N/S and NW/SE Beverages reflection transformer ends and cleaned up the connections then gooped them up good. Now the NE direction is slightly quieter than N and SE. Hopefully tomorrow or Friday I can get back out to the SW end point and properly clean that up and add new radials.

10/26 Rain stopped early enough to go back across the beaver pond again and properly clean and goop up the SW end termination.

10/30 Had to break out the jeweler's loop, head light, and small soldering iron to fix a bad solder joint in the 40m/SO2R YCCC SO2R box on the mic input jack. Had wedged wadded up electrical tape between the plugs to keep them from moving as much to get through the weekend.

11/1 Borrowed George's Stihl gas powered circular saw on a stick to clean out the center of the 40m RX Vertical Array. It does surprisingly good on bigger stuff, but not so good on smaller first year choke cherry shoots, it kind of gnaws on them but doesn't cut clean.

Fixed broken shack chair.

11/2 Did more saw on a stick cutting in 40m RX array area.

11/3 Did even more saw on a stick cutting.

11/4 Fired up the chainsaw and started taking out some bigger stuff in the 40m RX array area, lots of stuff from 1" to 3" or so, limbs and whole small trees. Most cleanup done around brush pile at the pond end of the trail from the shack to the 40m 4-Square that had become way overgrown.

11/5 Arc Fault on 30m antenna is back again, really weird readings on SWR, very erratic. Jumpered lightning arrester, tested cable from shack to lightning arrester, tested from lightning arrester to tower including stressing hardline connector, tightened up some loose connections on SO2R switching and 30m matching line. Sometimes it seemed to be sensitive to moving stuff at the SO2R station, other times not. Found really old jumper from Left SWR meter to 6-Pak/WARC switch, replaced it with new one. Seems better now, but will have to watch for a while. How had that old jumper ended up there, it had old phenolic PL-259's, poorly soldered, maybe intermittent, and how many times had I looked at that or put the VNA or TDR on there and not noticed it?? And could it selectively affect 30m or is something else also wrong?

Finished 24 hour gettering process on 3 NOS GU74b tubes.

11/6 Did some more cutting in the 40m RX array area.

11/7 Spent a few hours picking up all the stuff I'd cut in the 40m RX array area. Moved a couple of old brush piles and consolidated some into bigger piles.

11/8 Decided the left SO2R radio wasn't hearing as well as it should, swapped it for the spare that had just come back from a tuneup.

11/12 Took a nice stroll around the Beverages. Nothing down on the wires. One real tree down on the connecting path, but it was so dead and light I was able to just roll it off the path, only a 40' pine that had been standing dead for so long it was like balsa wood in weight.

Had to replace the termination resistor on the single wire NNW Beverage. It must have taken a lightning hit.

11/15 Took the RigExpert AA-230 Zoom and a milk crate for a walk around the verticals... First the 40m RX array, then the 40m 4-Square, then the 80m 4-Square, all verticals seem to be connected and tuned right where they should be. But found a frayed guy rope on the 80m 4-Square. I took another rope down and tied it about 10' below the frayed one and went to the base of another vertical instead of the stake just to keep it away from everything else. Then also tied the frayed one and the one below it together about 5' off the ground to increase the gap between the two sets of ropes.

11/24 Received 4 more NOS GU74b tubes. Started gettering process on those in the older amp.

11/27 Now have 7 NOS GU74b tubes that have been gettered and am starting the process to match up a pair to replace the soft ones in the older ACOM 2000. I also noticed on Sunday afternoon the newer ACOM gain seemed down, checked it after letting it sit over night after the contest and the gain was down to 11.2db so it was taking almost 100w drive to get 1500w out so those tubes may not be so good either. Gain should be more like 15db.

The process for matching tubes is fairly simple. Put in a pair, warm up the amp, apply drive, watch exhaust air temperature on both tubes, find a pair that warms up pretty equally which shows they are sharing the load properly. When a well matched pair is found do an adjustment of the screen voltage to set the proper idle current using a procedure from the manual supplement that you have to get from ACOM.

This is the top of the amp with the lid off...

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You also have to take off the front panel which hides a control board where the screen voltage is adjusted, among other things.

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Then the kind of related quiz question is... What is this thing, and why would I use it for replacing tubes in the amp??

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I did end up replacing the tubes in both ACOM amps.

11/30 Cut a bunch of dead pine trees North of the 150' tower that could have reached the guy wires or the NNW Beverage wire. There is one big live pine and a couple other trees in there that should probably also go but for now they are leaning away from the tower.

Made systematic measurement of band to band noise. Couldn't find anything near the levels we had on Sunday of CQWW CW.

12/3 No hunting on Sundays still in Massachusetts so its a good day for checking the Beverages and other stuff in the woods. Started with finding a dead pine broke off that took down a radial on the 80m 4-Square. Used a whole tank of gas and took down a half dozen other dead ones and a bunch of little stuff. There are still another dozen or so that should come down soon. Then I decided to take the dogs for a walk around the Beverage loop trail. Found a 4-5" pine down on the end of the NW/SE Beverages, I was able to lift and walk that around so it was off the wires, and I found all the missing insulators to put it back up. At the SW/NE crossing I could see another 4-5" pine across the wires on the other side of the Beaver pond. And at the S/N trail junction there was a good size piece of maple leaning on the wires. After lunch I took a bow saw and walking sticks, crossed the log over the beaver pond again. I cut up the pine that was on the SW/NE wires and put them back up. I actually found one more insulator than had come down but one of the downed ones was broken and hanging in the middle of the span over the beaver pond so I came home with as many insulators as I carried with me. The big maple I'll leave till later because that one will need the chain saw to slice it up.

12/4 Cut down the big branches that were leaning on the N/S Beverage wires. Cut another half dozen or so trees down by the 80m 4-Square.

12/5 OK, now the long story. I have done testing before the find interference between stations but have never documented it like this. It started with CQWW CW where things were OK when we started Friday night but by Sunday afternoon interference between stations was back to horrible. Most of the problems seemed to be from 40m, 80m, and 160m putting broadband hash across 10m, 15m, and 20m... way beyond what we even had at the start of the contest. So, to document how it should be I decided to create tables showing the measured noise and type of noise for each combination of bands... and just to quadruple the fun I came up with 4 different conditions to measure it under, I should probably do one more, but I think this much has convinced me that the problem was not in the station, but more on that later.

So, I set up the SO2R station with one radio set to transmit CW on each of the 6 contest bands and the other radio set to receive at one or two frequencies in those bands. In the tables below the columns are the transmit frequencies and antenna where appropriate, and the rows are the receive frequencies. There are 4 tables, one for each set of conditions... it took me a while to get it done because I had to wait for everything to dry out and then get wet again. The 4 sets of measurements were done for:

  • DRY = No rain for days and relatively low humidity.
  • WET = At least an hour or so of fog, drizzle, and rain which continued through the next two sets of measurements
  • LEDs = I had replaced most of the incandescent lamps with LEDs over the summer, for this one I turned them ALL on, just in case there was a bad supply picking up RF and reradiating similar to the bad wall warts I found in the server rack.
  • SHACK = LEDs turned off but all the shack hardware used for M/M turned on... so all the logging computers and radios were turned on but not used during the test.

For all 4 of the tests my laptop, the VHF station, and the server rack were always on.

I transmitted CW dashes at about 20wpm with power at least 1200w on each band, there was some variation due to amp tuning that I didn't try to compensate for. Some bands were about 1500w, others a bit lower. On the other radio I listened and recorded what type of noise I heard.

  • KEY:
    • X=SAME BAND, NOT TESTED
    • H=HUM OR HISS
    • C=CONTINUOUS CRACKLES
    • I=INTERMITTANT CRACKLES (Maybe just on first keydown or randomly during test)
    • #=MAX S-METER READING (rough estimate for crackles)

  • ANTENNAS:
    • 10M used 180'+120', so this included the 10m Yagi directly above the top 40m Yagi
    • 15M TX&RX Used the European stack(4 Yagis), pointing random directions but not moved during test
    • 20M TX&RX Used the European stack(4 Yagis), pointing random directions but not moved during test
    • 40M TX&RX Used both Yagis
    • 80M RX used whichever was worse, TX used both the inverted V and 4-Square pointing North
    • 160M RX used whichever was worse, TX used both the inverted V and L's

So the types of things you will see on the 4 tables are:

  • H0 = hum or hiss not moving the S-meter
  • H4 = loud hum or hiss about S4
  • I5 = loud intermittent crackles up to about S5
  • C5 = continuous loud crackles up to about S5
  • empty cells mean I couldn't hear anything from the transmitter

Notice that the frequencies are not exact harmonics as I don't consider it necessary or practical to get rid of the exact harmonics, but I would like to be able to operate withing 5-10khz of the harmonics. So I am basically looking for the types of noise that we were hearing during CQWW that blanketed large parts of the CW bands.

DRY
1805 V1805 L's3505 V3505 4SQ7005140052100528005
1810XX
3505XX
3600H0 I5H0 I5XX
7005H0H0X
7210H0X
14005C5X
14350X
21005C5X
21450X
28005H0X
28600H0X
WET
1805 V1805 L's3505 V3505 4SQ7005140052100528005
1810XXI5I5
3505XX
3600I5H0 I5XX
7005H0 I5H0 I5X
7210I5H0X
14005H0X
14350X
21005C7X
21450X
28005H0H0X
28600H0X
WET+LEDs
1805 V1805 L's3505 V3505 4SQ7005140052100528005
1810XX
3505XX
3600H0 C5H0XX
7005H0 I5C5X
7210H0H0 C5I5X
14005H0X
14350X
21005H0 C5I5X
21450X
28005H0X
28600X
WET+SHACK
1805 V1805 L's3505 V3505 4SQ7005140052100528005
1810XX
3505XX
3600H4H1 C5XX
7005I5H0 I5H0 I5X
7210H1H0 C5X
14005I5H0 C5X
14350I5X
21005H0 C5I5X
21450X
28005H0H2X
28600H0X

So, what does all that stuff mean??? Well, it pretty much confirms what I had observed in previous tests. There are some minor problems but nothing near as bad as was seen during CQWW CW. In general the most annoying interference was due to some cracklies from the lower bands, but even those were not as bad as I was afraid of. I will be checking some things like the manual switches that have lightning protection cartridges and the lightning protectors outside, but some of it may be from the feedpoints or outdoor switching that will take investigation in the spring.

So, where did the noise come from??? My suspicion is that one or more of the guest operator computer or phone chargers was acting similar to the RFI Hunt noise found from some wall warts in the server rack earlier this year. Of course on Friday night most ops probably didn't have to charge stuff, maybe more did Saturday, but by Sunday I know there were more computers and phones hanging around charging. Next major contest if this happens I'll start with the little Grundig radio and see if I can't find some that are making noise.

12/6 Too windy today to cut more trees so went and started cleaning up the few dead pines that fell into the mowed area around the 80m 4-Square.

12/7 Went out to look at what appeared to be a broken tree top, sure enough, good size top broken off a maple behind the 15m tower. It isn't going to hit anything when it breaks off so I'm not going to worry about it. But there is a bigger pine tree between it and the 15m tower that has developed a bit of a lean in the general direction of the tower. I stood for a while looking at it, measured the lean, measured the height (65-70'), figured where it was most likely to fall by itself, and where i could easily drop it... I decided it had probably been leaning for a while and the prevailing wind and lean would most likely miss the nearest guy wires... then went off and butchered the stupid little tree/bush that fell on the 40m 4-Square radials a week or two back. Will have to keep an eye on that one for a while, but it's going to have to go before too long.

12/8 Expecting first real snow tomorrow so started out to take the DR Mower down to hit the edges of the 40m and 80m 4-Squares, but it was playing hard to start so fired up the chainsaw instead and cut more small trees and standing dead pines at the shack end of the 40m RX Array. Put the DR Mower on charge again. After lunch the DR Mower started right up and I ran it around the edges of the 4-Squares and some trails to clean them up a bit before snow.

12/28 Thanks to NJ1F for the donation of the FT-2000 to the station. He dropped it off last night and today I decided to put it in place on the left position of the SO2R/40m/Remote station. This is how the radio and SO2R box had been arranged, and the pile of extra wire and stuff in the way of getting to the back of the radio.

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While I was at it I decided I should clean up some of the wires and mount the SO2R box so its not just sitting on the radio. This should make maintenance a bit easier. So after removing the old radio, sorting out a lot of wires, going out to the shed in -25f windchill to cut a piece of plywood, this is what I ended up with. As part of sorting out wires I found the source of an old problem... I had noise in the audio from the SO2R box and had 'temporarily' fixed it with a jumper from the ground on the box to the ground of the left radio. Well, in pulling and rearranging cables I pulled on the ground wire for the SO2R box and it just pulled right out. Whatever it had been attached to it wasn't any more so I reattached it to the main ground lead up from the shack perimeter ground bus.

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And with the FT-2000 and monitor back in place.

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I was hoping that the FT-2000 had a better arrangement for the RX Ant Out so that it could be used with the SDR for the waterfall without modification, but alas it doesn't. The waterfall bandmap stuff uses way too much bandwidth on the DSL going out so can't be used with the remote anyway, so I switched it to the right radio.

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