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N1PGA USA flag USA

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Thanks for visiting my page here on QRZ.com.

I'm located in the Northeast of the US about 45 miles west of Boston, Massachusetts and the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean.  I'm also about 40 miles north of Providence, Rhode Island to my south and the salt water of Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Caribbean and South America.  I'm on the top of a hill at 525' with a clear line of site for over 2 miles in all directions. 

I am a member of the YCCC Contest Club.  

I have been fortunate to have Top-10 results in many CQWW-SSB and ARRL-DX-SSB contests, always in the SOAB-Low Power category.

Contest Results:

ARRL-DX SSB - SOAB Low Power

  • Top 5:    7 of my last 10 entries.  
  • Top 10:  9 of my last 10 entries.
    • #2 US (2009)
    • #2 US (2011)
    • #2 US (2013)
      • These 3 times I finished #2 US it was behind my friend Ed N1UR, but I was way behind  his scores.  Ed showed us all what can be accomplished by a top operator and a very well engineered station while running Low Power. 
    • #5 US (2015)
    • #3 US (2016)

CQWW-SSB - SOAB Low Power

  • Top 5:    3 of my last 8 entries.
  • Top 10:  8 of my last 8 entries.
    • #3 US (2005)
    • #8 US (2007)
    • #4 US (2008)
    • #6 US (2009)
    • #7 US (2010)
    • #8 US (2012)
    • #8 US (2016)
    • #1 US (2017) <-- claimed as of 11/12/2017

 My station currently consists of the following: (as of March 2016)

  •  Radio #1: Yaesu FT-1000MP MkV
  • Radio #2: Yaesu FT-1000MP MkV
  • DXDoubler SO2R 2 radio controller from TopTen Devices
  • Array Solutions SixPak - 2x6 SO2R antenna switching
  • Homebrew auto band decoders - OK2ZI design
  • Homebrew 2:1, 4:1 & 6:1 antenna switching - OK2ZI design
  • Dunestar monobander bandpass filters
  • MFJ Voice Keyers
  • LogiKit CMOS keyer, Bencher paddle 

Antennas:

  • 160m Inv-L (~75' vertical) 8 raised radials at ~10'
  • 80m wire vertical with 8 raised radials at 8'
  • 40m 2-ele phased vertical array with ~90 radials each
  • 20m 2-ele homebrew quad, fixed NE at 45' tree mounted
  • 15m 2-ele homebrew quad, fixed NE at 40' tree mounted
  • 10m 2-ele home brew quad, fixed NE at 35' tree mounted (temporary for contests only)
  • Force-12 C3s (10/15/20m) fixed south at 40-45' tree mounted

I use only trees for antenna supports and mostly lightweight homebrew 2-element antennas.

Suspending the quad antennas (and also my 1 yagi) by rope & pulley allows them to move around a bit in the wind and allows them to shed the stresses of windload. The more the wind blows, the more the antennas move, just as a child's swing moves in the wind.

These lightweight antennas with controlled movement have required very little maintenance over the years. I'm pretty sure that these same quads would not have survived as well if they were clamped to a fixed mast and tower. 

Another big benefit of the rope & pulley method also allows me to lower antennas to ground level while standing on the ground, very quickly and easily, to inspect and make any adjustments.


20m - My favorite antenna is my homebrew 20m 2 element quad shown in the profile picture above.  It is suspended at about 45' +/- between two tall trees, pointing to Europe. The antenna is located along the edge of a ridge and just past the antenna and to the right the terrain slopes down towards EU (click on the thumbnail picture above for a larger view). 

Below is the 20m quad shown lowered down to ground level.  It is a typical DE/Refl configuration with 1/8wl spacing on a 2" x 24' boom. It has a reverse truss under the boom to help manage the mechanical aspects of being suspended w/rope & pulley from the boom ends.

I have added a second support line at each end of the boom which run off to separate trees. This improved 4 point support line arrangement makes the quad even more stable in the wind. It also allows me to now aim the antenna between approximately 45-deg to 70-deg simply by changing the tension on the opposing pairs of ropes. But with only 2 elements, the antenna's pattern is broad enough that I rarely change the aim and I get very good results leaving it pointed at about 50-degs+/- to Europe.


15m - 2-ele quad for 15m @ 35' and also suspended between 2 trees and fixed on Europe. It's a classic DE/Refl configuration with 1/8wl spacing.  It's located just out of sight on the left in the 20m quad picture, and it's even harder to photograph than the others.


10m - Below is my lightweight 10m quad that is put up only for contests. It's also DE/Refl configuration and 1/8wl spacing.  It's suspended using rope & pulley from a single tree branch @ about 30' and it is pointed to EU.   For contests it takes only 15-20 minutes to assemble the antenna, connect the coax feedline and to raise it up into position. During the rest of the year, that same rope and pulley is used to hold several bird feeders and that makes my XYL (and the birds) happier.

 


40m - Below is my original 2-ele array for 40m that was completed just in time for 2009 ARRL- SSB and it helped me finish #2 US SOAB-LP.  It used a Comtek controller and has about 85-radials under each element. The radials are insulated 22ga wire laid on top of the ground and now are well covered by leaves. 

The element tubing schedule is very lightweight, starting off at the bottom with just 1-1/4" sections at the bottom of each element. The elements are free-standing. Being installed in the woods as you see, the skinny elements are not subject to as much wind loading, and ice and snow have not been a problem yet.

The array controller and the switch were both damaged by a close in lighting strike during 2011 ARRL-CW. The helpful folks at DXEngineering / Comtek rushed the repair and returned it back to me just 1 day before 2011 ARRL-SSB, where it helped me again finish #2 US SOAB-LP. Thanks guys! 

 

In November 2016 I've upgraded to a DX Engineering DVA-40 array shown below.  With this new array controller installed I also have spent the time to re-do the feedpoints and radial ground rings. I've adjusted the element spacing and have fine tuned the elements. The new array is now tuned right on spec and I'm expecting a modest improvement in performance - as a Low Power contester I need all the help I can get on 40m SSB.

Here is the upgraded DXE DVA 40m relay controller and the improved feedpoints shown in progress as I was testing the new installation. The ground radial connections (~85 each) have been re-done on the NE element to be symetrical as they are on the SW element.   The braided ground connections to the radial rings have been doubled. 

I have since finished them up with 12 ferrite cores on each element phasing line as well as another 12 on the common feedline back to the shack.   The snap-it split ferrite cores will still need to be clamped together tightly in order to get the most value from each of them, and that work will be done with strong cable ties very soon.   The patterns on this array should now be very clean. 

Left = SW   Right = NE

These are the v1.5 feedpoints, improved but not quite the final version.

    

Here are the v1.5 PVC and the very latest v2.0 angle aluminum feedpoints.  These are close but not quite the final build.  I like the v2.0 mounts and they are bolted to the angle aluminum ground radial rings.

 

 


 

South 10-15-20m - Below you can see my Force-12 C3s triband yagi suspended @ 45' with a single rope & pulley. It points South where the terrain slopes down for almost 2 miles.

(To help see the antenna in this picture, just follow the coax feedline in the center as it goes straight up!)

 

 

Below you see the C3s yagi lowered down to about 20' so that the elements will intentionally foul into the branches of the saplings on the left.  I did this to keep the antenna safer during a very windy day. Raising and lowering this antenna takes less than 30-seconds, and once the winds died down, the antenna was easily pulled back up to it's ordinary height.

 

Below is the F12 C3S lowered down to about 4' above the ground prior for maintenance before the 2017 CQWW-SSB contest.  It uses just a single-point suspension where I attach the support rope to the short "mast" above the boom.  This short mast makes it easy to find the balance point to keep the antenna flat. It is surprizingly stable in the wind and I only use a single tag line off the back of the boom to keep the antenna pointed to SA / Carribbean. 

This year (2017) the antenna is suspended from a different stout branch on the south side of the tree.  The pictures above are from previous years and show the antenna on the other side of the trunk on the north side as it was originally installed.  Under this new branch I can raise it up to about 40' which is an effective height for the antenna especially pointed South where the terrain slopes away from the antenna for about 2-miles.  This new location makes it possible to lower the antenna all the way to the ground now that the "little pine tree" on the north side has grown much larger over the past 16 years!


80m - 1/4wl wire vertical.  The feedpoint is at 7' and uses 8 raised radials at about 8'. The vertical wire does not go straight up, it tilts about 30deg as it goes up to a tree branch near by.   For such a simple antenna I consistently do very well on this band.


160m - Inverted-L.  It is about 75' vertical and the rest slopes down to about 10'. It's feedpoint is at ~10' and it has 8 raised radials also at about 10' above ground.  Some nights I do well with it, other nights I need to go out into the woods to check to see if the antenna fell down.


Receiving antenna - 480' terminated Beverage using DXE feedpoint.  Average height of 7' - 8' and pointed 70-deg+/-.  For such a simple system it works very well especially on 80m.  I can always hear far more stations than can hear my Low Power signal... It's very easy to tell who also is using listening antennas on the far end of the path when low signal strength QSOs are made easily!


Here are some proto-types of my homebrew antenna switches, based on the fine PCB designs and assistance from Karel - OK2ZI

These switches were fun & easy to build and provide excellent port to port isolation and very low insertion loss.  Today these switches are in the shack. It's winter now, and all of my coax feedline runs are frozen into the ground, so today I'm switching antennas and radios in the shack.  Once winter finally ends I can upgrade my feedline design plan to also take advantage of remote switching.  There are also upgrades to these switches that are planned for the very near future, so you may see them here next time you check out my profile!

 


And to answer a frequent on-the-air question - yes, I'm a golfer, or at least I was.  At one time as a much younger man I had thought about trying to play professionally. 

This is my original FCC-issued call, and not a vanity callsign. Back in those days the wait for the FCC envelope to arrive in the mail was a very long couple of weeks.  I sure was delighted by the call I was issued when I opened the envelope and looked all around the form to find my first call sign!   I upgraded to 20-wpm Extra Class in the next couple of months, but I will not change my call.

It is always fun for me to listen to the far-end contact when they de-code "P-G-A" and make various comments such as "hey PGA... you must be a golfer!".

Thanks for the contacts.

I hope to work you in the next contest!

--->  Always listen for the Low Power guys...! <---

73s

John - N1PGA

8622617 Last modified: 2018-02-02 15:12:16, 52934 bytes

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