2020 Jan NAQP CW M/2

Call: W5WZ
Operator(s): W5WZ WM5H
Station: W5WZ

Class: M/2 LP
Operating Time (hrs): 12
Location: LA

Band    QSOs    Mults
160:    181    43
80:    289    53
40:    301    56
20:    311    57
15:    72    22
10:    0    0
Total:    1154    231    Total Score    266,574

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!

CQ Magazine included this blog post in their official post-contest writeup!

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.