In late October 2020, I realized that the paint in the shop, shack, kitchen and bathroom was now 10 years old, and had endured rearing 4 young children. It was time for fresh paint. But instead of exclusive flat white, I got courageous and asked for suggestions from my wife Sharon KW5MOM and my adult daughter Jordan KF5GDJ.
They both suggested adding some real color to the mix, which I gladly obliged. The results were far better than I could have anticipated, and I love the colors in the entire shack area. It’s actually hard to believe what a difference it made!
Finished the project with 4 coats of clear concrete sealer on the floor.
Added two new beverage receive antenna – southeast and southwest.
Southeast is 580 feet long.
Southwest is 480 feet long.
Installed them both 2 feet above the existing beverages for NE and NW using PVC pipe as a vertical standoff.
Built a home-brew EZ-Way Wonder Post to ground-mount the EZ-Way Tower that had been on my utility trailer as a portable tower. This 50 foot tower will be used for 6 meters, 2 meters and 70 centimeters. I rebuilt a Ham-II rotator for this project.
6-meter antenna is a Hygain VB-66DX – 6 elements on a 24-foot boom.
Don’t yet know what will go up for 2m and 70cm.
Implemented an EA4TX INTERLOCK to keep us honest in M/S and M/2 contesting.
After nearly 10 years, I decided to change the layout of the 3rd and 4th positions in the shack. The mult station had been under the stairs, the the 3rd station on a very small table. Additionally, all 4 computers were replaced. And I decided to identify the stations by letter, from left to right, rather than by number.
I’ve had a Mackie 1202-VLZ Pro sitting on a shelf for years. For Christmas 2018, I bought a gift for myself – a pair of powered JBL Control 2P monitor speakers, and integrated the mixer and the speakers into the shack. Connected the K3 at A, the K3 at B, and the computer at B (my main single op and “work” computer) to the mixer. This has really improved my enjoyment of shack time. I can listen the the bands without being tethered to headphones; I can listen to music from my computer; shack guests can hear the action; the list goes on. I’ve told some of my ham friends that this single change has had a bigger impact on my shack time enjoyment than anything else I’ve ever done!
At position A, I added a vertical dual monitor stand. The EA4TX interlock will sit on a shelf between position A and position B. The desk remains unchanged.
It was a different story at the other end of the shack. I had a desk that my father had built for me when I was in 4th grade. It was somewhat custom built for a old 19-inch black-and-white TV, my Commodore Vic 20 computer, and an Atari 2600. I replaced the table top when I became a ham, making it longer and deeper. A removable hutch on top was still functional. Letting go of some sentiment, I took the desk out of the shack, but kept the hutch to use on the table top under the stairs.
Several years ago, after I custom-built my L-shaped desk for A and B, my friend WW5RC (ex:KC5WA) had me build a nearly identical desk for him. He recently moved into a retirement apartment, and had to downsize. He offered me first refusal on the desk I built. So, with a modification to utilize what I needed, the desk built by me returned home for position C and position D.
Dual vertical monitor stands were added, and new computers also installed. An Astron RS-70M supplies power.
I think the next remodel project will be to epoxy the floor- the bare concrete is constantly dusty and gritty.
Over time, things up in the air change! I’d put together an ambitious to-do list!
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
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.
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.
“10/31/2018 – Paul Bittner, W0AIH fell 60 feet from the Strum tower (40m). (It was) a beautiful day and he wanted to get ready for SS SSB. No services information yet obviously and the shock has still hit me. Please pass the word. Thanks.”
I last saw Paul at Dayton 2017 with my daughter Jordan KF5GDJ. K8CX took a great photo of us. He was a kind man, always pleasant to be around.
Several years ago I acquired an unidentified tilt-over crank-up tower. Manual winches, it appeared to be about 60 feet tall. The deal was take it down and it is yours. So it has sat behind my shop for about 10 years.
Recently, I saw a picture on the internet of an identical tower, and it was identified as an EZ Way, not that it mattered much to me at the time. However, the motorized trailered tilt-over crank-up tower that our club has used for Field Day for many years isn’t available this year. Ah-hah! Now I have a reason to be interested in the EZ Way. Of course, it was designed to be ground mounted. But I have a heavy trailer, and began considering the possibility of mounting the tower, temporarily and safely, on the trailer.
Short story is I reinforced the under frame at the four anchor bolt points for the tower base, and also fabricated a support for the long end of the tower to rest on when in transit.
All attachments to the trailer are bolted, so the installation is easily reversible to return the trailer to normal utility use. The project turned out quite nice!
For FD, I don’t expect to need to crank up to more than 45 feet. Exercising the KISS principle, I’ll install a flat top plate with a 3 ft pipe stubbed up. Then, I can slide the larger diameter mast over it, and rotate it by a pull rope attached to one end of the boom. The antenna will be a KT-34.
Many thanks to Jim W5LA, Mark K5MSB and Shawn WA5VQP for the helping hands on the labor to make this all possible.
During 2017 ARRL Sweeps SSB, we noticed that one of the FT-1000MPs had gone deaf on the receive antenna. During SS, this radio was on 40/15, so not having the beverage receive antennas available was not critical.
So, the night following the contest, I popped the top cover off, and removed the RF board. It only took a couple of seconds to identify 3 broken solder joints that hold the RCA connector on the board.
Within 15 minutes, the connections were repaired, the radio reassembled, and tested on the air. Easy fix!