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Dave, in the Four Corners
Bloomfield, New Mexico, USA - San Juan County - Grid: DM66
How it all started - with Antennas
I was always an avid AM DX/SWL listener and home brew wire antenna experimenter as a youngster, from my first AM crystal radio kit and the days and many nights spent listening in to all the distant signals on the bands with a "long wire" antenna stretching across the room and then alligator clipped onto my window screen as a kid (first capacitance hat). I soon learned I could build my own working antennas and then learned that I could always improve them, usually by trial and error back then. More was usually better!
I caught the DX bug listening to all the far away signals and thought of some day transmitting HF signals to other stations in far away places.
Below is the count since getting active and starting all over again in March 2011.
My First BIG Antennas - 1985
Later in life, I became involved in commercial tower construction and antenna rigging in the mid 1980's working for an engineering firm in Fort Worth, TX. I soon met several hams while working on projects around the Southwestern US who always encouraged me to learn the Morse Code and get a ham license. Although not a Amateur operator yet, I started installing and testing lots of antennas. Bigger was always better!
Below is the 50KW AM SW broadcast antenna that really got me interested in Amateur radio... I put this tower and antenna up in 1985 for short wave station KJES in S. NM. The two Broadcast Engineers that were in charge of this job were hams and tested this antenna one afternoon with an Icom HF transceiver. You should of heard the pile up this one caused during testing on the ham bands on 40M with signal reports from the West Coast of S9+ 40 to 60 dB and questions about how much power they were running. When asked, and they reported 100W, everyone wanted to know about this antenna. How many elements? You're pegging my S-meter with 100W !!!
This was my first HF antenna installation
It looks big, but wait...
NOTICE: That BIG antenna below is NOT MINE, ... but I did install it,
and it is what interested me in really big HF antennas and Amateur radio!!!
(as viewed from 1/4 mile away)
Here is the custom designed Adelphon Landmark tower going up, that big pipe in the center is the 18" O.D. x 1" wall mast
A 82' (25M) boom, 19 elem. 50KW 6-30 MHz Log Periodic
was factory modified to 100' boom and 20 elements at 100' (30M)
Yes, that's me, hanging off the end of that boom in 1985
The 100' boom 19 element rotating 3-30 MHz LP antenna at 100'. That's N5SDO out on the end tightening up the rudder I just installed that helps the antenna to turn into the wind in case of high winds. This monster is designed to withstand 100 MPH sustained winds although it automatically shuts down transmission and turns into the wind should the winds reach 75 MPH. That's my helper Sterling on the left acting as a human counterweight (He wouldn't go any farther out than there, hi hi).
Quite a bids eye view from out on the end of that boom.
I did get licensed a few years later and became a 5 wpm novice, and was granted my original Novice callsign KB5ONI, effective 12-31-1990. I upgraded to Technician a couple of months later receiving my current call sign N5SDO on 2-12-91. Finally, I was on HF myself enjoying SSB and CW contacts on 10M.
My first HF transceivers were all tube and hybrid rigs, a Heathkit HW-101, a Swan 500 and a then a Kenwood TS-520SE, and I started out on the digital modes with a Commodore 64 and then my first 286 DOS 3.1 machine soon after, and used them both on VHF packet with an Icom O2AT HT and 5W.
I wanted to work the lower bands and earned my 13 wpm General class ticket on 8-24-93 and Advanced class on 7-9-94. I enjoyed working around the world with wires on 80 and 40M and on the 10, 15 and 20M bands with a KT-34XA at 50' using a Kenwood TS-140S and a Henry 2K-4.
I became inactive somewhere around 1998 and traveled around the SW U.S. working as a construction manager on tower projects and cell build-outs, moving several times and ended up selling off the Henry 2K-4 and a lot of unused ham gear along the way. Eventually I decided it had been too long since I had been on HF and started pulling some remaining equipment out of storage in the winter of 2010-2011 and started rebuilding my HF station.
HAM SHACK - SPRING 2011- TO PRESENT
Started up again after being inactive for a dozen years in March, 2011.
Upgrades to the shack continue with the addition of QRO capabilities provided by a Henry 2K-3 and Big Bertha, a homebrew 2X 3-500Z originally built by Tom KA7W (W5QI) and friends. Thank you Tom, for all your expert advice, in the modifications and the rewiring of the power supply and mods to the RF deck.
The rigs here in the shack are a FLEX 5000A and a Kenwood TS-2000 with a TS-B2000 is in the mobile.
I'm also using HRD 6.3.x as my main rig control software and for logging and many digital modes after discovering and trying out the original program in 2011.
The ham shack is always a "work in progress" so never mind all those loose wires running everywhere, like my antennas they are only "temporary", hi hi.
Here is how it looked on 11-15-15.
Below is the home brew amp affectionately known as "Big Bertha", used on 160/80/40M, at home under my workbench. She runs a pair of grounded grid air sockets and 4-400A tetrodes or 3-500Z triode tubes.
This is the homebrew with the RF deck slid out the rear for easy access. Below that is the heavy duty 4KV power supply with the RF deck removed.
The single filter capacitor (upper left) is a huge Russian K75-40, a 60uF, 5KV continuous duty that weighs in at a hefty 5.0 kg (11 lbs.). PS transformer (upper right) is a 240V single phase out of a commercial Harris transmitter and is good for for 4000V at 2A+ continuous.
Henry Radio Model 2K-3
For the upper bands I use a vintage Henry 2K-3 which I personally rebuilt and maintain. It runs a pair of 3-500Z's for all bands 80 -10M.
This is the original RF deck. Note the original tank coil(s).
UPDATE - Here is the Henry 2K-3 after the rebuild, back on the air again with new sockets and a rebuilt RF deck sporting a new edge wound tank coil.
New tank coil, band switches and NOS sockets and it's working great !
Antennas here at the home QTH.
It is good to have some tower in the air again... well, at least a start. Here is the Rohn 25G with 5 el. on 10M, 3 el. 12/17 and a rotatable dipole for 15 and 20M. The guys are Phillystran and don't interact with the antennas.
Also using a 50' tilt-over flag pole supporting a 40-80-160M loaded dipole. The top 10' section of the flagpole is a reinforced fiberglass tube. The tilt bracket was made from microwave dish mount brackets attached to one of the extra heavy duty elevated guy anchors. This setup is simple, effective, and works great!
My HF mobile setup is my Chevy K2500 4x4 with a BB3 screwdriver built by TJ Antennas (T. J. Wilson - KA7W (aka W5QI) shown here with a flat disk cap hat and a fiberglass whip on top.
The TS-B2000 is in the mobile and tucks in behind the seat and gets plenty of air. The remote head is mounted to swivel 120 degrees for operation from the driver or the passengers position. The tuner is bypassed and only used for the back-lit meters for tuning the screwdriver antenna (TNX Tom). Also there is a 700W inverter for powering the laptop and running chargers, etc., with the BB3 control box sitting on top. The solid state amp does 300W+ for those times when you need just a few more dB. This setup is working very well and I can also connect up the laptop and have full logging and CAT control if needed. I can also remote into the TS-2000 back in the shack while mobile nearby with the Kenwood Sky Command feature which I will be testing.
My other "mobile" is my vintage Harley-Davidson Shovelhead, a 80" 1980 - FXWG Wide Glide. (UHF/VHF)
RECENT AMATEUR RADIO CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
After over 30 years of commercial tower and antenna installations I still enjoy amateur radio projects.
W5IP - PRO-96-3 Antenna Upgrade
C.D., W5IP in Albuquerque decided it was time for some serious upgrades to his already impressive station located in the foothills of the Sandia Mtns. that typically see 90- 100 MPH winds. C.D. had run two additional runs of hard line from the shack to the tower for a total of three and ordered all the necessary materials for the project including a new Mosley PRO-96-3 antenna. First order of business for me was the tower maintenance including installation of new PhillyStran HPTG6700i guys, a side mounted VHF-UHF vertical was then added with LMR 400 feedline, as well as replacing any other weathered guy hardware and touching up things with cold galvanizing paint as needed in preparation for the new HF antenna installation.
Next the new Mosley PRO-96-3 arrived and was assembled with the volunteer help of some very experienced antenna builders and DXers from the area, AA5B Bruce and AF5AI Hans. This most excellent crew completed the element and boom assembly and moved it all to the second story rooftop for final assembly that day. This was the only flat clear area large enough for this big antenna available and it worked out well. Minor last minute details were attended to the next day with Hans's help in preparation for the crane the following morning.
W5IP C.D. (left) and AF5AI Hans
Bright and early Monday morning the crane arrived and we stripped the tower of the existing stack of three mono and tri-band yagis and the old mast in one pick and set them aside for later disassembly.
The new mast was dropped into the tower with a 6M and 2M mounted on a single boom (fab’d. by W5IP) mounted at the top and fed with two runs of LMR400. Then the Mosley was raised from the rooftop and set in place, also fed with another run of LMR 400. All coax and hardline runs terminated in a new weatherproof box mounted at the tower base equipped with Polyphasers for all lines and rotor controls, also built and installed by W5IP.
Properly rigged, the big antenna was level and stable making final bolt up easy.
One man with (a bucket full of)... all the right stuff !
The antenna worked great from first contact on 17M busting a pileup into Swaziland on first call. The three elements for 40M on that 36' boom have a good tight pattern, too. I am looking forward to hearing it work other bands soon!
This project could not have worked out more smoothly thanks to all the planning, engineering and parts chasing done by W5IP. He really did an outstanding job and we had every single item that we needed. He did a great job of putting this crew together and was THE BEST HOST and all round greatest guy I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Thanks for all the things you did C.D. ! !
AF5AI 2M EME ARRAY - JUNE 6-9 2015
THERE IS NOW A BIG NEW ADDITION TO THE SKYLINE AT AF5AI - PHASED 2M JAY-BEAMS WITH 20' BOOMS ON AN ALPHA-SPID AZ-EL ROTOR.
STARTING ABOUT A YEAR AGO, MY GOOD FRIEND HANS, AF5AI (AKA PA3DPO) AND I HAVE BEEN WORKING ON HIS NEWEST PROJECT.
STEPS WERE FABRICATED AND WELDED ONTO THE TOP OF THE 32' 2 7/8" ID TUBING MAST WHICH WAS THEN BRACKETED INTO PLACE ON A HEAVY DUTY CONCRETE BASE AWAITING THE ANTENNA INSTALLATION.
UPON MY ARRIVAL, TWO 1/2" EYE BOLTS AND TURNBUCKLES WERE ADDED TO THE HEAVILY REINFORCED ROOF WITH A THIRD GUY TO A ROCK ANCHOR TO THE NORTH. A GIN POLE WAS THEN ATTACHED TO THE STAND-OFF BRACKET ATOP THE POLE AND WE WERE READY TO ASSEMBLE THE ANTENNAS, CROSS BOOM AND ROTATOR. NEXT THE PHASING HARNESS WAS BUILT AND INSTALLED ON THE ANTENNAS THEN THEY WERE CARFULLY RAISED UP TO THE ROOFTOP.
THE ROTATOR WAS RAISED UP ABOVE THE GUYS AND THE CROSS BOOM AND ANTENNAS WERE ATTACHED THEN THE WHOLE THING WAS GIN POLED UP AND SET ON TOP.
ALL THE CABLES WERE CUSTOM BUILT AND INSTALLED ONSITE.
LMR 600 MAIN FEEDLINE WITH LMR 400 PHASING LINES AND PRE-AMP JUMPER WITH TYPE "N" CONNECTORS THROUGHOUT.
ALL COAX CONNECTIONS WEATHERPROOFED WITH 3M TEMFLEX 2155 AND SUPER 88.
AZ-EL ROTOR, 14' CROSS BOOM AND 20' BOOM JAY BEAM ANTENNAS INSTALLED.
PRE-AMP AND POWER DIVIDER MOUNTED. FINAL SLACK LOOP ROTATIONAL TEST IS A-OK.
Hans tested the array over the following weekend with very good results making many QSO's into CO, AZ, and OK with 450W and soon he will be running the Henry with a killowatt + for 2M EME contacts.
2015 - March
Spring of '15 finds Paul WA5PL preping to move from his great location in between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM up to Washington state. The antennas and tower are now down. Too bad another ham didn't snap this beautiful off grid solar home on six acres up sooner. It has some of the best views I've seen and is still on the market. See Pauls QRZ page for more photos and contact info.
WA5PL and I planning and staging to tram down the Mosely and stack.
The coax all runs to a very nice custom feed through into the shack with plenty of protection and wide copper strap bonding. Paul did a good job designing this bulkhead system.
The gin pole goes up and antennas and coax runs and rotator are removed. Then the supported antennas and mast are lowered down bit by bit the inside the tower as the antennas are each removed . Then the mast is lowered to the ground inside the tower and easily removed with the last section.
Next top guyes are slacked and lowered. Soon the top section is on its way down and we are removing the next two. We're working fast now. The last section was down just as we were losing last light.
Now I get to turn on the HF rig and hit the road back home for 2 1/2 hours.
June - July 2014
A Colorado project in Cedaredge, CO.
Always up for a challenge, Larry N0SRF and I teamed up for the design, fabrication and installation of four self supporting 40' tilt up masts, loop antenna and balanced feed line.
First a few challenges had to be met. 5' deep excavations and foundations for four self supporting poles were needed.
Tubular sockets were fabbed and run the full 5' length of the 32" concrete piers.
The four poles were then custom fabricated, primed and painted at Larry's QTH near Durango.
Pre-fab completed and loaded, the rest from here on is field fabrication.
First the 10' x 3 1/2" legs are set up and welded into the 5' of 4" sq. tube. Hinge pin is at 8'.
There's Larry - N0SRF hard at work in the heat wave.
Poles are then laid out on horses and welded, cleaned, primed and painted.
Then the base is raised up and pinned to the legs, rigged and tilted up to vertical with my PU truck's front winch and two McKissick block pulleys. One at the base of the legs and one on the end of the pole and running back to the base again for a two part pull.
Here it is standing at full height of 40' with the Grand Mesa in the background.
Next 700'+ of UV resistant jacketed, copper clad steel weld wire is pulled up with both ends then transitioning directly into a balanced line feeders.
Strain relief at the feed point is a 3' length of 0.44" Phillystran allowing for a super strong feed insulator and also easy adjustment of feeder spacing.
No solder joints at all in this antenna and feed.
Ladder line spreaders were made from 1/4" fiberglass rod and spaced the wire at 11" every 5' for 60 feet running into a plexiglass panel mounted in the shack.
All four poles were also grounded with big #2 tinned solid and a ground rod.
UV resistant 900 lb. rated 1/4" Black Dacron braided antenna ropes and 2" nylon pulleys are used to support the wire at 40 feet.
KA5JNJ Bruce in Farmington, NM had a 50' crankup tower he didn't need and it had to be removed so we met up one Saturday afternoon in June and here's how it's done without using a trailer.
KE0PX - Darrel in Durango, CO had an old tilt over tower to replace and a 50' 25G to replace it on its new base.
The antennas and old coax came down as did the old tower and the new tower was 3/5ths up at the end of the first day. The next day the tower was completed and antennas hauled back up, as were two new runs of LMR400 feeding them. You can be sure to hear Darrel on the digital modes again.
2013 started out with an invitation to join Hans, AF5AI (aka PA3DPO) and friends in a tower and antenna party high in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains in Tejerras, NM.
The tower is up and next a Mosley TA-33
After the antenna party the new skyline at AF5AI in 2013.
Next, I headed back to Norman, OK and W5IFN (aka KD5IFN), to help with some tower and antenna maintenance and rotor swap out. Replaced the old HAM IV with a T2X in the Tri-Ex LM470 to better handle the Pro67B. After attempting it himself with a bucket lift he decided to call a pro. (It's a little more involved than it seems!)
It was a tight fit but it worked with a little massaging... the T2X barely fits.
Six 5/16" x 1" bolts secure this rotor instead of the four 1/4" bolts. More is better!
The tower was raised just enough and then securely blocked with timbers to prevent it from accidently dropping. The thrust bearing was loosened up then the mast was raised up to clear the old rotor.
The new rotor is in place and pinned through the mast with a 1/4" S.S. shear pin bolt as requested. Back up and turning in the air again.
K5DJ Tower and antenna
Ron - K5DJ Now living in Farmington, NM has his 70' Rohn 45G tower and antenna back up in the air again at his new QTH. Special thanks to Don KJ5GQ who assisted in the tower build and antenna work and John KF5YKH who helped us assemble and tram the antenna up on 10-26-2013.
K5DJ's rebuilt TH7DX is back up and at work at 70' just in time for testing during the CQ WW SSB contest. It's working great!
RTTY Ron is back!
Recent custom tower/antenna installations in 2011-13. Helping some of my ham friends...
W5QI (aka KA7W) - Tom, in Hamlin, TX. I removed an existing 120' guyed tower Tom had found in the next town and installed it back at his place with Phillystran guys, replacing a 30' push-up mast with a 50' tower for his wires. Special thanks to Dennis W5SE for being the ground crew! (All in a 110 deg. F. Texas heatwave)
KD5IFN (now W5IFN) - Next, the one man tower crew rolled on short notice to help out a friend in real need. Harold in Norman, OK who was still in a wheelchair recovering from riding his old 30' tower to the ground came across a once in a life time deal. One too good to let slip by. But it had to happen right away. Busted up and in a wheelchair or not, that tough old US Navy Senior Chief was determined to get this job done and had me remove, transport, excavate and install the foundation steel, pour the concrete and put back up this fine motorized crank-up tower and antenna at his home QTH. It's a motorized Tri-Ex LM-470 with a Mosely Pro 67B. We did it all without the use of a crane or concrete pump truck and without disturbing that nice white fence and arbor his wife and sister in law built to the right of the house! Everything including the miniature track hoe used for the foundation excavation went through it!
N0SRF - Larry, near Durango, CO. Some tower and antenna maintenance. New segmented guys, new coax and a rebuilt A3S trammed back up atop the Rohn 25G tower.
K5SOK - Robert in the Natchez, Mississippi area had me over to his place for a visit after I left Harold's and I helped him change out the top section of his 80' tower, add a third set of guys, trench and run conduit, coax and control lines and install his new three element SteppIR (plus sampling some of the finest food I ever put a fork in). Here's the assembled antenna on the tram line for testing. (It worked Tierra del Fuego one call with 100W on 10M!)
And atop the tower at 82'. That's Robert standing by the base of the tower hauling up the end of his Windom as viewed from his center support tower.
K7ART - STUDIO "B" And some counter weighted stealthy wires for 40 and 80M and a VHF omni high in the pines of the Rim Country in Northern Arizona at Art's studio "B" station.
(No that's not a bear going up that tree)
Six trees were selectively and carefully trimmed of dead limb stubs and lower growth for clearance and to allow the antennas to be easily raised and lowered without hanging up.
Tree trimming work completed, we finish up with a bit of humor...
The antennas in this installation are virtually invisible, shielded from view by the numerous pine trees, keeping a nice low profile in the neighborhood (They can't complain about what they don't notice and can't see!) and they put out a great signal.
(to be continued...)
N5SDO - Working on a mountaintop cell tower in Colorado repairing a lightning damaged strobe beacon in 2011.
Thanks for the lookup, CUL, 73, de Dave/N5SDO
--- QRZ logbook and other stuff below ---
Vistors to my page (and virtual globe).. I thank you! 73
And Yes, I Am Good On QRZ !
Uploaded often for the Amateurs that only use QRZ Logbook!!!
7420369 Last modified: 2016-07-02 22:54:58, 44176 bytes
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