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 that I could always improve them, usually by trial and error back then. More was usually better!
Fast Forward To 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 realy 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 transciever. 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
A 82' (25M) boom, 19 elem. 50KW 6-30 MHz Log Periodic antenna at 100' (43M) AGL
Structure Weight - 6490 lbs. (2950 kg)
It looks big, but wait...
(viewed from 1/4 mile away)
That BIG antenna and tower below is NOT MINE, ... but I did install it, and it is what interested me in HF antennas and Amateur radio!!!
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
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 105'. 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 counterweigh (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 always wondered what a bird felt like sitting on a TV antenna).
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 transcievers 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. Worked the world with wires on 80 and 40M and 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 US 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 NOW - 2011- 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, a Kenwood TL-922A and Big Bertha, a homebrew 2X 3-500Z originally built by Tom 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 rig here in the shack now is a Kenwood TS-2000 with a TS-B2000 is in the mobile.
I'm using HRD 6.2 now as my main rig control software and for logging and digital modes. It was very much worth the price and is much better than the last free version I had run since 2011.
Antennas here at present are a home made fan dipole on 40/80M at 30', a 5 elem. 10M Hy-Gain LJ-105 at 34 ft. and a rotatable dipole for 10/15/20M at 37'. The KLM KT-34XA long heavy will go back up again on a new tower at 50' or 60' sooner or later too.
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 8-7-14.
Below is the amp affectionately known as "Big Bertha", a home brew amp, used on 80 and 40M, at home under my workbench. For the upper bands I use a vintage Henry 2K-3 which also runs a pair of 3-500Z's for 80 -10M. A Kenwood TL-922A is in the rack (above) as a backup amp.
( Life's too short for QRP ! ).
A peek inside at the RF decks.
Here is the homebrew with the RF deck slid out the rear for easy access. Below that is the heavy duty 4400V power supply with the RF deck removed. The single filter capacitor (upper left) is a huge Russian K75-40, a 60uF 5kV. PS transformer is out of a Harris transmitter.
This is the original Henry 2K-3 RF deck with the light duty tank coil.
UPDATE - My Henry 2K-3 rebuild is complete and it is back on the air again with a rebuilt RF deck. new tube sockets, and a HD edge wound tank coil..
New tank coil, band switches and a NOS multi-meter 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 first 30 ft. of Rohn 25G with 5 el. on 10M and a rotatable dipole for 10, 15 , 20M. Wire dipoles for 40 and 80M are held off the tower with a fiberglass rod and fed from a common feed point with a healthy choke and RG-8. The guys are Phillystran and don't interact with the antennas.
Sept. 3, 2013 and a high desert thunderstorm. Big rain drops coming down... (seen as streaks in the digital photo)
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 B2000 tucks in behind the seat and gets plenty of air. The remote head is mounted to swivel 120 degrees for opperation from the driver or passenger 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 run chargers, with the BB3 control box on top. The solid state amp does 400W for those times when you need just a few more dB. This setup is working very well and I can connect up the laptop and have full logging and CAT control if needed.
My other mobile is my vintage Harley-Davidson Shovelhead, a 80" 1980 - FXWG Wide Glide. (UHF/VHF)
AMATEUR RADIO CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
After over 30 years of commercial tower and antenna installations I still enjoy amateur radio projects.
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 crankup 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 in 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 carfully 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 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.
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.
It was a tight fit but it worked with a little massaging...
Six 5/16" x 1" bolts secure this rotor instead of the four 1/4" bolts. More is better!
The new rotor in place and pinned to the mast with a 1/4" S.S. shear pin bolt as requested.
Back up and turning in the air again. Time to try it out
(Yes, I caught that dipole support rope!)
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!
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.
KA5JNJ Bruce in Farmington, NM had a 50' crankup he didn't need and it had to be moved so we met up one Saturday afternoon in June and here's how it's done... SDO style.
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.
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.
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 heatwave.
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.
Next 700'+ of UV resistant jacked copperweld wire is pulled up with both ends then transitioning directly into a balanced line feeding.
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.
A #6 solid ground was also run to this panel from a ground rod just outside and 1 floor below the shack for grounding the loop during stormy weather.
All four poles were also grounded with big #2 tinned solid and a ground rod.
Here is one corner with the Grand Mesa in the background.
900 lb. rated 1/4" Black Dacron braided antenna ropes and UV proof 2" nylon pulleys are used to support the wire at 40 feet.
Just another day at the office. Atop a mountaintop cell tower in Colorado repairing a lightning damaged strobe beacon in 2011.
Thanks for the lookup, CUL, 73, de Dave/N5SDO
Vistors to my page (and virtual globe).. I thank you! 73
And Yes, I Am Good On QRZ !
1289870 Last modified: 2014-09-23 21:51:20, 32411 bytes
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