Friday, August 28, 2009

Antarctica, on the first call!

Tuning across 20m tonight, I heard a watery signal from R1ANB. I called once, and got him!

Later, it's clear that 20m is nice tonight. I was working into Russia with no problem. If this is how things are with no sunspots, 100 watts, and a dipole at 60 feet, I can hardly wait...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Taking down a Hy-Tower

Recently, a friend asked me for some help in taking down the antennas at her father's QTH (W6RXU). He'd become a silent key in 2008, and the house was being fixed up to be sold.

The biggest challenge was taking down a Hy-Gain 18-HT Hy-Tower vertical antenna. It's 53 feet tall, with about 24-feet of triangular aluminum tower and the remainder aluminum tubing.

Here is Dan, W7DR, and Barry, K6RM, planning how to approach the problem. As it turned out, this older version of the antenna didn't have a hinged base. Originally, we'd planned to climb the tower and pull the sections off with a gin pole. However, we eventually decided to "hinge over" the tower at the base and allow the legs to deform a bit. This worked out quite well, and it meant that the only climbing we needed to do was to loosen the tubing portion and drop that down inside the triangular tower portion to reduce the height (and leverage required).

The Hy-Tower after tilting it down.

With the antenna tilted over, we were able to detach the last two bolts in the base and walk it away from the base. The triangular tower portions all disassembled easily. Getting the tubular portions apart required a bit of drilling, but eventually it all came apart and was on its way to a new home in the central valley!

W7DR and his new (old) vertical.

All snug in the truck bed.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


The NAQP CW contest was yesterday, and for the first time, I signed up for an NCCC team. I made it clear I was only going to be able to operate the last two hours of the contest, and I ended up exactly where I wanted to be - on team 6 of 6.

As it turned out, I was able to escape for about an hour and 20 minutes during the day, and was able to fiddle around on 15 and 20 (and even on 10 for 2 QSOs) while they were open. I think my S&P skills are improving, and I made 46 contacts on the high bands between errands in the house.

After my wife and I got the kids to bed, I headed out to the shack to focus for the last two hours. I was really happy with my antenna's performance on 40 m. I felt loud, as I was answered first a few times when there were multiple stations calling. I was even able to call CQ and keep up about the same rate that I'd been doing S&Ping across a band full of fresh meat.

The only badness happened near the end of the contest. I miscopied a callsign while S&Ping, and went to correct it after the QSO. I noticed that N1MM started to act strangely after that - the input window was colored light blue, and it didn't seem to be reporting dupes by changing the callsigns red. Well, I had managed to put things into "quick edit" mode, and didn't realize this until I'd made 10 contacts. The problem was that it logged everying with the same time and frequency, even though I'd changed bands. D'Oh! I emailed the contest organizer after I'd submitted my log, and exlpained the QLF. Hopefully, they can keep the stations I worked from getting penalized for my error.

On the plus side, the 153 raw QSOs in 3 hours 20 minutes was a personal best for me as far as rate goes, and I was really starting to feel a lot more confident in both S&P and run mode.