Coasting the rest of May

05/30/09 — Installed coax to top C51XR; installed power and control wires to M2 Orion 2800.  Tested rotator- it appears to have survived the lightning strike.  Also tested all feedlines, control lines, etc. – all test OK.

05/26/09 — On Tuesday May 26, the station was severely damaged by a lightning strike.  Apparently entering via the AC power mains, very little gear that was interconnected survived.  As it turns out, another ham ½ mile down the road took a direct hit on his tower, which appears then to have back fed thru his solar power/battery inverter system and then to the power transformer to his home then down the lines toward my home.  


05/25/09 — Installed connectors on shack end of hardline.  Installed SixPack.  Installed terminal strips for control wiring junctions from 4 StackMatches.  Installed feedline up tower to middle C-31XR.

05/18/09 — Installed the new StackMatch, made up the control cables for the four StackMatches.  Climbed up to the bottom C51XR and installed the feedlines in a temporary fashion.  Now need to install connectors on the shack end of the hardline.

05/12/09 to 05/17/09 — Attended CTU and Dayton Hamvention.  Acquired a used AL-1500, another used StackMatch, several connectors, some repair parts for 3 Heil headsets, EZNEC 5.0+.  Participated in the Kansas City DX clubs CW Pileup event for the first time.   

Antenna Party

05/09/09 — Antenna party!  With a group of friends and a crane, we mounted the 3 large Force 12 antenna to Tower 1.  Certainly no one in our group had ever handled antenna as large as the C51XRs.  I thought the crane would be safer and save time – however it was on site for 7 hours.  W5KGT and WX5CW were up the tower first to change out the top section (I had pre-assembled a complete top section with rotator, thrust bearings, guy brackets, and mast.) and mount the top C51XR.  On the ground, we had much difficulty tuning the 40m portion of the 1st C51XR; took 1.5 hours, with the crane lifting and lowering the antenna a couple of dozen times.  We also had difficulty with the crane boom being in the way of the elements as the 2 C51XR were raised and mounted.  The C31XR install was pretty easy.  W5WZ and W5PEM were on the tower to mount the lower 2 antenna – with W5WZ working on a tower for the first time.  A nearby late afternoon thunderstorm brought everyone down the tower before the feedline could be run.  

05/04/09 thru 05/08/09 — Wow!  What a week!  Many final finishing touches from gathering final nuts and bolts, assembling comlete top section, installing last PL259s, installing baluns, assembly of 40m sections of both C51XR, verifying lengths of coax for the up the tower runs, gathering tools, electrical tape, etc, etc ad nauseam.  I did the very best that I could to plan ahead so the install would be smooth.

05/03/09 — Climbed a tower for first time – my tower – to the top!  Assembled 2/3rds of the C31XR.  Made a mast plate for the C51XR boom truss cables.  Made 2 plates to sidemount the C31.  Met with a crane company foreman to evaluate the antenna raising next Saturday.  Found a broken element tip on one C51XR – will order tubing tomorrow.  Wound the final 15m helical hairpin.  Assembled the last balun for a F12 antenna.

05/02/09 — Helped take down my F12 C31XR from a tower at K5ER and put my KLM KT34XA up in its place.  The C31XR will reside as my middle antenna at 85′, locked down to Japan.

April – T-minus 30 days until antenna stacking

04/25/09 — Assembled 11 LMR400 flex coax jumpers for rotator loops with PL259s.  Installed baluns on first C51XR.  Primed and painted mast.  Fit the boom-to-mast cradle to the top C51XR.

04/23/09 — Pulled control wiring in conduit.  1 – 12/2 UF; 4 – 18/4 w/grd; 3 – 18/4; 2 – RG59, a total of 2,000 feet of control wire.

04/18/09 — Cut 11 lengths @ 125 feet of LMR400 type coax for my StackMatch feeds to the antenna.  Installed PL259s on one end of each cable, using the K3LR method of soldering the shield to the connector body. During the past week, I’ve continued gathering the myriad of bolts & nuts, truss cable, electrical tape, etc. that we will need to install the antennas.  I borrowed an AIM4170, swept both antenna on 10, 15, & 20 — they do look and perform in a reasonable manner, considering they are only 3 feet above ground.

04/06/09 — Assembled the second Force 12 C-51XR.  Now both C-51’s need the 40m linear elements installed and tuned, all 4 bands baluns and feed lines installed, 20m driven elements lengthened for separate feedlines, and the truss cables inspected.  Then, a thorough inspection of each antenna, and they will be ready to fly!

04/05/09 — Installed three StackMatch relay boxes in telco pedastal box at tower base.  Parked M2 Orion 2800 at 0 degrees with South stop.  Installed studs in 2800, grade 8 bolts in mast clamp.

04/04/09 — Assembled the first Force 12 C-51XR, and laid out the parts for the second one.  The antenna party is getting really close now!  My daughter painted the 3/4″ plywood.

Two Busy Months

3/28/09 — Pulled and pushed six runs of 1/2″ hardline through the 200 feet underground 4″ conduit to tower. Modified telco pedastal box to support StackMatches.  Prepared 4″ conduit between pedastal and tower.  Mounted 3/4″ plywood backer on wall at feedline distribution point.

3/25/09 — Acquired another 2,000 feet of 1/2″ hardline.  Now I can put unbroken runs from the shack to the tower.  I have decided to mount the StackMatches at ground level at the base of the tower.  Also acquired 1,000 feet of 4-18AWG with tape and braid shield to use as control wiring.

3/14/09 — Gave a presentation on Antenna Stacking during the Louisiana Contest Club meeting & forum at the Rayne LA hamfest.  Met John WE3C at LCC meeting.  After discussion, now I’m not sure about mounting stacking relays up the tower.  Decidedly undecided, again.

3/13/09 — Have begun checking inventory of antenna & parts to ensure all will be on hand to assemble and mount on the tower.

3/6/09 — Visited W5WMU where I spent four hours (midnight to 4am, 80m & 160m) operating in the ARRL DX SSB contest.  My wife and I were on the way to New Orleans for a 5-day Carribean cruise.  She even slept at W5WMU!

2/16/09 — Received from JefaTech 2,000 ft LMR400 type and 500 ft LMR400 flex coax.  Have decided to install my 4 StackMatches in an enclosure on the tower just below the middle set of guys, roughly 75 ft up.  This will allow the individual antenna feed lines from the StackMatches to be about 50′ long, instead of 120′.  11 times 70’= a good savings in both money and dB!

January 2009 Work Efforts

Form and rebar, angle iron, to mount telco pedastal box over pull box.  The angle iron protrudes from the concrete to be used as a flange to bolt the pedastal to.

1/31/09 — Built 3’x3′ concrete pad with hole thru center to mount telephone pedastal cabinet on.  Installed a piece of 20″ culvert in the ground as a cylindrical pull box at the tower end of the conduit.  I will place the concrete pad/pedastal over the pull box, and from there use 4″ conduit to route lines to the tower.  

1/23/09 — Installed a 4″ and 1.5″ underground conduit from the shack entry point to the base of tower #1 (roughly 190 feet).  Also installed a 12/2 UF cable to provide 120vAC at the tower.  Lastly, installed #4 solid bare copper from the base of the tower to the western guy post and then to the shack entry point. There are 10′ ground rods installed at 0, 20, 40, 60, and 80 feet away from the tower.  Now the tower, shack ground, and electrical ground of my shop’s main panel and my shack’s sub-panel are all bonded together.

July 2009

July 2009 — Still working to overcome the lightning strike.  I have done much this month:  installed single-point grounding plate, 6 Polyphasers, bonded those to the existing station ground.  I also began ‘standardizing’ my control cable connections with DB-9 type connectors.  Installed them along with PowerPoles on all my StackMatch control boxes.  These ‘quick connects’ will better enable me to disconnect for lightning protection and also be able to swap a controller to another cable quickly in case of failure.

Also fabricated and installed a cable tray to run the length of the shack.  It is about 12 inches above the floor.  It is made from a section of 4″ PVC pipe.  I cut  a 1.5″ slot down its length.

Also pieced together a working computer from several that were lying around.  It won’t win any speed records, but it is Win98 and will run most software that is needful in the shack.

Also ran a 1″ conduit from my house to the shack (250 feet).  Pulled 2 runs of CAT5E, and connected to my wired network in my house.  Now I have a network connection with DSL for internet access, and a VoIP phone extension in the shack.  What better way to call “room service” at meal time?  I’ve never had high-speed internet in the shack — it sure is nice!