N4PN, SK – 11/05/2019

Contester Paul Newbury, N4PN of Macon GA, SK. Paul passed of a heart attack on 11/5/2019. He’d been active in the Nov SS CW contest this past weekend.
I met Paul on the air several years before meeting him in person at Dayton Hamvention 2007. Me and K5ER were doing the Louisiana QSO Party as a rover. About 15 minutes before the contest started, I had called CQ and Paul answered. He asked what parishes we planned to activate in the 12 hours, and how much driving versus operating we were going to do. We exchange that info, and when the contest started, N4PN was the first call in the log for each parish as we drove our route. On the occassions we’d stop and set up a better antenna, Paul held the frequency for us and took lists for us; then he’d be first in the log and pass the list to us. It was a great day.
I wrote about that experience in 2005: www.qsl.net/w5wz/laqp05.htm
And here’s a great photo of me, K5ER and N4PN at Dayton 2009: hamgallery.com/dayton2009/d09016.htm
Another fine gentleman, and a friend now gone to the eternities.
73 Paul
from W5WZ

2019-CQ WW SSB @ K8AZ

I made my 7th trip to Chesterland, Ohio to the fantastic station of Tom, K8AZ for the 2019-CQ WW SSB contest. Yes, it is a long drive – 16 hours or so. But the camaraderie with the gang makes it all the better!

As usual, I spend some time on Friday helping Tom with various maintenance, repairs, or installations of new items. This trip was no exception. Many hands do indeed make light work!

Tom takes a pre-contest walk around the antenna farm. This time, we found the rope supporting the SW element of the 80-meter transmit 4-square had broken, and the result was a rope tangled up in the elements of several yagis on a rotating tower.

In waning day light, we worked to free the rope from the tower such that the 80-m antenna would be usable. The rotating tower is 15 and 20 meters, so we parked it toward Africa for the night. Once the rope was free, we managed to get it positioned such that the 80-m antenna functioned for the overnight operating period.

The next morning, it was raining. The forecast called for increasing winds throughout the day and into the night. K8AZ and I ventured with bow and arrow to get a string over the appropriate tree. First challenge was using a sling blade to clear walking paths and work areas in the raspberry thicket, then cross a creek to find the loose end of the rope. Second challenge was to place the string. First shot success! Then pulled a larger string, and at last the final rope. With the antenna repaired, back to the house for shower and then operating time again.

Near sunset on Sunday night, suddenly 80-meter 4-square SWR went really high. Upon inspection, we found the NE element had broken loose from the feed point. Hauled a ladder out and worked beyond sunset to complete the repair with 20 minutes left in the contest.

Highlights of this contest: seeing my friends K8AZ, K8NZ, W8CAR, WT8C, AA8OY, K8RR, W8WWV, K8BL; riding in and driving a dual motor Tesla Model 3; meeting KE3X and talking contest strategy; and working CN3A on 160m with my own call!

Station Maintenance Oct 11 & 12, 2019

Over time, things up in the air change! I’d put together an ambitious to-do list!

Towable 55-foot reach aerial lift. Electric, runs on self-contained batteries. Cost $375 for the weekend.

Bobby WM5H and I rented a 55-foot aerial lift, because the 40-meter feed point is 12 feet away from the tower. With Bobby as ground crew and Scott in the bucket, we were able to complete:

  • Repair 40-meter Yagi at 52-feet above ground. Problem was a fried balun connector.
  • Repair 15-meter Yagi at 52-feet above ground. Problem was loose hardware connecting hairpin to driven element.
  • Use lift to rework 17-meter tower
    -Add back stay.
    -Secure new hard line and control cable to tower, leaving loop for tilt-over.
    -Replace rotator loop feed line.
  • Use lift to cut down storm-damaged ash tree in sections. This was more of a chore than expected.
  • Trim a large pine tree behind shop, strategically leaving limbs for easy wire antenna support. Installed a pulley at 55 feet above ground on a limb.
  • Install new 580-foot beverage wire for SW direction
  • Install new 580-foot beverage wire for SE direction
W5WZ accessing 40-meter feed point. The 15-meter feed point is first element on the left side of the tower along the same boom
Fried female UHF connector for the input of the 40-meter 1:1 balun at the feedpoint. The balun was a CAL-AV LABS high power bead balun.
Post-repair sweep of the antenna from the main run radio. This is how it is supposed to be!

At the end of the second day, some items remain to be completed:

  • Move 80-meter Inverted-Vee from 77-feet to 105-feet. Extend feed line as required. Tie out ends as required. Modeling by KA5M shows 1-dB gain increase at 20 degrees elevation; should be a worthwhile change.
  • Build new 160-meter ground plane vertical with elevated radials in new location. Tie top support rope off near top of tower. Run hard line as feed line to new feed point.
  • Re-arrange several wire antennas supported by trees. Replace string with new antenna rope.
  • For the two new beverage antennas, run feed line on the ground. Drive 2 ground rods, install transformer and feed point termination.

Modify AL-1200 HV power supply

WARNING – LETHAL VOLTAGES!!! DO NOT ATTEMPT WITHOUT PROPER SAFETY PRECAUTIONS!!! I’m not responsible for what you do with this information!

The Ameritron AL-1200 has a 3,600v power supply. Its filter capacitor bank of eight, 270mF 450vDC runs right at the limit of its design (8 x 450 = 3600). A common modification is to add two additional capacitors, along with the needed bleeder resistors, to increase the filter bank capacity to 4,500v. Keep in mind that the transformer still puts out 3,600v, so this modification essentially allows the components in the filter bank to have some overhead capacity.

W8JI and W7RY both offer a replacement PCB designed for 10 capacitors. W1QJ described the way he modified an AL-1200 for W2RE. I choose to adopt the W1QJ method, and will show how I did it here.

The modification involves adding two capacitors in series with the existing capacitor chain, with a bleeder resistor across the terminals of each capacitor. I’ve done this by constructing a small PCB that I’ve added to the amplifier. Then, move two HV wires, cut a HV trace and add a jumper for the metering, and add a jumper to complete the HV series circuit.

Conceptually, this is the modification. I’ve omitted the additional bleeder resistors on the drawing, but they are required! The existing bleeders are desoldered on one end to allow me to test them. The one on the far left had failed completely open, thus causing the capacitor to “tick”. That’s what has led to this modification. I had replaced all the caps and bleeders only five years ago.
Here’s my first test fit of the additional PCB. Note the markings on the board indicating the bleeder resistors, capacitor polarity, jumper to complete the series circuit, and destination for the 2 HV wires to be moved, and the new HV metering jumper.
The completed modification and reassembled amplifier.

Beverage Termination Resistors

I use Mouser part # 660-SPR2CT521R471J or 660-SPR2CT52R471J or 588-ON4715E-R58
Carbon Film Resistors – Through Hole 2W 470 ohm 5%TR
$0.10 to $0.46 each, vs the big retailer selling them at $2.49 each

2019 August NAQP SSB M/2

Call: W5WZ
Operator(s): K5ER KA5M W5LA W5WZ WM5H
Station: W5WZ

Class: M/2 LP
QTH: LA
Operating Time (hrs): 10:53
Location: USA

Summary: Compare Scores
Band QSOs Mults
160: 2 2
80: 57 24
40: 434 48
20: 627 52
15: 0 0
10: 0 0
Total: 1120 131 Total Score 146,720

Five members of the Louisiana Contest Club gathered at W5WZ for a M/2 effort.
Having operated the past three NAQP SSB as a M/2 team, Bobby WM5H and Scott W5WZ, were the anchors, joined by periodic station guests Mark K5ER, Marsh KA5M and Jim W5LA.

For this contest, the SO2R station was split between Run 1 and Run2. Additionally,
for the first time at W5WZ we added an in-band S&P station interlocked with Run 2. This S&P 2 was furnished with its own set of independent antenna: KT-34, 40m dipole and 80m dipole. Bandpass filters and front-end protection was employed on all three tranceivers.

We opened with a 262 QSO first hour; hopes were high! The rate decayed to a second
hour of 159, followed by 140 in the 3rd hour.
W5WZ Max Rates:
2019-08-17 1821Z – 8.0 per minute (1 minute(s)), 480 per hour by W5WZ
2019-08-17 1829Z – 5.1 per minute (10 minute(s)), 306 per hour by KA5M W5WZ
2019-08-17 1904Z – 4.5 per minute (60 minute(s)), 272 per hour by KA5M W5WZ

At 2240z, we heard what every contester dreads on a summer day – booming thunder.
Looking at a real-time lightning strike website, we quickly made the decision to
disconnect and safe the station until the slow-moving storm passed. No rain ever
fell at W5WZ, and the strongest part of the storm passed a few miles to our west.
W5WZ – Off Times >= 30 Minutes
2019-08-17 2253Z – 2019-08-17 2359Z 01:07 (67 mins)

No signals ever heard on 10 or 15. Even though 20m was the QSO total king, the mult
count was low. 40m QSO total was lower than our expectations, but the big
disappointment was 80m. Even with the beverage receive antennas, because of the nearby storms and static crashes, we were sorely disappointed in our 80 meter QSO totals.

Carribean stations were not heard; logged 2 Puerto Rico, 2 British VI, and 1 Barbados.

Beginning around 2130z, QSB on 20m was fast and deep, and it wasn’t much better on 40m.

But, with all that, the station performed flawlessly. Operators new to interlocked
transceivers gained valuable experience that will be most helpful for November SS SSB. We employed N1MM+’s “partner mode” on Run 2 and S&P2, with the partner having a separate computer while listening to the same receiver audio stream as the rig operator.

My elmer, Jim W5LA, is a CW guy. He says he doesn’t like SSB contesting. However,
he remarked during the contest that operating a SSB multi-op contest was one of his
bucket list items. Don’t be going anywhere Jim! We’ll make an SSB op out of you yet!

Without the help and contributions of the team, this couldn’t have happened and been
such a success

My wife, Sharon KW5MOM, tolerating all of us!

Bobby, WM5H, for 2 days of assistance in the sweltering heat to get the outdoor antenna work and other preparations completed. And as always, for ensuring that the team is well-fed (to find out how well-fed, you’ll have to be on the W5WZ team for a contest)!

Jim, W5LA for bringing a few pieces of needed equipment to make the partner mode a
success, and for crossing over to the dark side of SSB contesting! It was great to
operate with my elmer at my side (BTW, it is his fault I’m a ham!).

Mark K5ER, for giving up a valuable Saturday away from his wife and other of life’s
necessary responsibilites and priceless opportunities with family.

Marsh KA5M, for making the longest drive to join us- last time he joined the W5WZ team was 2010 CQ WW SSB- he should come back more often!

Thanks for all the QSOs!

73 from Scott W5WZ

Hams love aluminum!

Hams love aluminum! This arrived for me on Valentines Day!

Force 12 mono-band yagi for 17 meters
5 elements on a 30 foot boom

Super excited to get it assembled and up on a tower!

Jan 2019 NAQP SSB – 10 minute audio clip

Here’s a 10-minute audio clip of W5WZ running 20 meters during the Jan 2019 NAQP SSB. The rate was 264 QSOs per hour, or 4.4 QSOs per minute.  Keep in mind this is a 100-watt maximum power contest.

Here is the audio clip

View the 10 minute period, which pretty much coincides with the audio file.

Recording made using QSORDER by K3IT
https://qsorder.hamradiomap.com/

I use SH5 to generate analytical reports about each contest. Link to reports on yesterday’s NAQP SSB contest:
https://www.w5wz.com/sh5/w5wz/2019/2019-01_naqp-ssb_w5wz/

Pondering other 160m transmit antenna

I have a 160m Inv-L, feed against 40 buried radials 125 long. The vertical component is parallel to my existing tower, tapering from a wide (~15 ft) space at ground level to a narrow (~4 ft) space at 77 feet above ground, then heading away from the tower for another 40 feet.

I have a very tall (~100 ft) pine tree at the edge of my property, north by northeast from the tower at a distance of 175 feet. I’m thinking of using the pine tree to support the vertical component, and going to an elevated radial system.

This is an interesting read about elevated radials:

https://rudys.typepad.com/files/elevated-ground-systems-article-final-version.pdf

What are your thoughts?