Sunday, September 4, 2016

BirIr Vertical Installation

After living at my QTH for three years, it became time to do a better permanent install of my BigIr.  Since moving in, when I did the initial install, all cables were on top the ground and I had to open the window to pull in the cables to operate. 

When I did the initial install, I used concrete for the mounting pipe and a dx engineering radial plate.  I ultimately had 12 - 63' long radials in a u shape from the antenna, across the backyard and down both sides of the house.  All in all, the BigIr worked fine.

But, I had a goal of having all wires run into the house and to have the BigIr playing against a good ground screen.  I also wanted all wires to enter the house without having to open a window and to make the antenna more pleasing to the eye (aka:  YL approved)! HI!

For the new install, I added an eighty meter coil kit to the antenna, drove an 8 ft ground rod into the ground at the base of the BigIr and added a lightening arrestor.  The ground screen consists of 6 strips of hardware cloth (25' long x 3 ' wide) (450 square ft) laced together with insulated radial wire.  The radial wire ties into the radial plate.  Everything is lawn stapled in place.  I did not remove the old radials and left them attached to radial plate.  For the record, the 80 meter coil played fine before I started the ground screen project.
This project took me all summer due to a variety of issues including rain.  Here are some photos from the the project.

In the top photo, you can see 2 strips of hardware cloth on the ground.  At this time they are not laced together.  You can also see the fake landscaping boulder, the 80meter coil and the ground rod with lightening arrestor.   The 2nd photo is an alternative view.  As can be seen, all cables are still on the ground.
In this photo you can see the trench running next to the foundation.  The bottom is covered with rock for drainage.  Each piece of conduit has holes drilled in the bottom to allow condensation to run out.
In this photo you see a final fitting of conduit, with heather head.  All wires are still on the ground. You can see the 80 meter coil, ground rod and lightening arrestor.
This photo shows, filling in the gap (with hardware cloth) caused by the location of the BigIr in relationship to the strips of hardware cloth.  It should be noted that the runs of hardware cloth cannot go any further due to an upcoming patio installation.  So, the Big Ir is definitely not centered which would have been ideal.

The top photo shows the trench filled in.  At this stage all wires are running in conduit.  2nd photo shows the trenching down the side of the house filled in.  3rd photo shows the conduit coming out the ground, topped with a weather head and all cables entering the house through the utility enclosure.  I removed one brick to allow wire access.  The utility enclosure is heavily caulked to avoid rain and critter access.
Another shot of the base of the BigIr.  You can see the wires coming out of the weather head, the ground rod with lightening arrestor and the balun.  Note the new patio install.  And the trench is filled in.

In the top photo; you can see the 3rd and 4th strips of hardware cloth on the ground.  The 2nd photo shows a short piece of hardware cloth fastened directly to the radial plate.  The 3rd photo shows how the overlapping strips of hardware cloth were laced together.  Every place the wire in the strip of hardware cloth crosses another wire (in the same strip) is bonded during the manufacturing process.  You can see the lawn staples used to hold every thing down.  Notice how the grass is already starting to encompass the first two strips of hardware cloth.
 This photo shows the landscaping boulder in place.  The Big Ir comes out the top of it.  All coax, control wires etc, are covered by the "boulder".  To get the BigIr to come out the top, I cut a hole in the top and then split the "boulder" up one side and most of the way across the top.  This allowed me to pry the boulder open to get the mast into the hole.
This photo shows  the split sealed shut using silicone caulking.  You can also see the fifth strip of hardware cloth in place.  The 6th strip of hardware cloth was used at the far end of the run to fill in some lawn area.  Any radial wire left over after lacing hardware strips together was run into the yard.  I used a total of 5 - 63 ft insulated radial wires for the new install.  This equated to 315 ' of wire.

So there you have it.  With horrible band conditions I am getting very good on air reports.  All bands are exhibiting good swr.  I am pleased with this install.

Could it be better yes.  But overall, I am happy with it and so is my YL!

Strong signals

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Activation of The 1877 Tall Ship Elissa for 2015 Musueam Ships Weekend; N5E callsign

June 16, 2015

Thanks for stopping by.  

Once again our "no -club group" was privileged to put the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa on the air for Museum Ships Weekend.  We had a great deal of fun doing so.  I think this was our best year yet!

Operators included:

Rick, KE5BZE; Michael, K5WRN; Jeremy, K0JCC; Dave, AE5CG; Dom, N5TCB; 
Leslie, AD5WB; James, W5AOO.  

We ultimately had four stations on the air and made contacts on the following bands:  6 meters, 10 meters, 12 meters, 15 meters, 17 meters, 20 meters, and 40 meters.
The combination of heat and humidity on Saturday was brutal.  As always the location was noisy :-)
A summary of operations is as follows:
675 Qs
QSOs by band
Band     # Qso
7 MHz     46
14 MHz   164
18 MHz   296
21 MHz   126
24 MHz      3
28  MHz   34
50  MHz     6



Our logs are already uploaded to LOTW and Clublog.

Here are some photos and videos from the event.  I hope you enjoy.
 Lunch.  Hams work best when fed. Hi! HI!

 Another shot of our operating position.  3 of our antennas are visible.  We ultimately had 6 antennas for 4 stations set up.

  A shot of our operating position on the balcony of the workshop.  In this shot you can see 4 of our antennas.

Some of our operators trying to work you.  The bands were very tough the entire weekend.  We would be in Qso with someone in 57 conditions then they were in mud.

 Shot of our operating position from the other end.

 Another shot showing our 3 canopies and four of our antennas.

  Same shot as just above but lighter, difficult to see our antennas.
 Shot of our operating positions and in this shot you can see the two dipole antenna, the Transworld vertical and the six and two meter antennas.

 This shot shows the antenna farm a little better.  the only antenna not visible in this shot is the vertical we had set up on 20 meters.  It was on a corner of the dock right above the water.
 One of my buddies.
 I really miss seeing these guys, since I moved to the mainland
I really like watching them fly in formation!

 As mentioned earlier, the heat and humidity were tough.
 Another shot of our operating position
 Taking your calls
15 meter SSB
This video shows all of our antennas and our operating position.  You can also see that the location is a working museum.
This video shows the crew hoisting a dingy using one of the ships capstans.  The two people walking in a circle are actually pulling the rope that is lifting the dingy.  Mark, the bosun, is directing the action.

We are privileged to be able to put the Elissa on the air.  As such, we would like to extend our gratitude to the staff and volunteers of the Elissa, the Texas Seaport Museum, The Galveston Historical Foundation and especially to Jamie White - Museum director and mark Scibinico Boatswain.  Mark is kind and allows us to take over part of his office on Saturday night to store our gear.

The Texas Seaport museum is the home of the Elissa.  Here is information about hours and admission.

Texas Seaport Admission:
Adult [Age 19 yrs and up]: $12
Youth [Age 6 through 18]: $9
Child [Age 5 and under]: FREE

Hours of Operation
Winter Hours:
Open Daily: 10am - 5pm
Last ticket sold at 4:30pm

Summer Hours:
Open daily: 9am 6pm
Last ticket sold at 5 pm

Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and during annual Sea Trials.

Note: Hours may be seasonal and subject to change. 

I hope we got to work you.  Please feel free to ask any questions you wish about the operation.
Leslie, ad5wb

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Activating the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa for Museum Ships Weekend, 2014

This year was our third year for activating the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa for Museum Ships Weekend.  Each year has been different than the year before.  But, some things do remain constant.
We literally have to build the stations each morning and take them down each afternoon.  On the Saturday evening of MSW, the Elissa holds her largest fundraiser of the year.  We have to be out of the area by 5:00 pm.  Our activations are always a group effort.  We are not a club, just a bunch of amateur radio operators who get together to do an event, once a year..  We exchange emails on who is bringing what and then deal with the gremlins as they show up.  I don't know that I would have it any other way!

Our first year we operated on a concrete wharf right next to the Elissa.  Her normal berth was being renovated due to damage caused by Hurricane Ike.  In fact we barely made the time frames to activate the Elissa that year.  She went into dry dock two weeks later for hull repairs so she could regain her seaworthy certification.  The hull damage was courtesy of Hurricane Ike too.  That year we had one hf station and a 2 meter station for a ships two meter net.

Our second year we operated from a deck overlooking the Elissa in her normal berth.  We had two hf stations that year with a 2 meter/satellite station.  We added more operators.  Saturday the conditions were horrible.  Sunday morning had us holding down canopies, in the middle of a thunderstorm, as they tried to go airborne.  Once the weather passed, we set up and had a whale of a day.

This year, we had three hf stations and a six meter station.  Saturday was real good.  Propagation was steady.  Rick, KE5BZE and his son Richard, KF5FIB worked a strong pile up on 20 meters all day long!  We had 3 six meter contacts as well.  We even manged to work a little dx on 17 meters.  We lost two operators this year and added three new ones.

Sunday started good on 20 meters but a strong geomagnetic storm wiped out the bands for us.  Finally at 2:00 pm we made the decision to pull the plug.  We had made 1 contact in 1 hour and 20 minutes of calling on multiple bands.

The pictures and videos below are from the weekend.  I hope you enjoy.

This shot shows the operating positions on the deck overlooking the Elissa.  from Nearest to further-est:  Michael, K5WRN; Rick,KE5BZE; Richard, KF5FIB ; Stephanie,K5SFV; and James, W5AOO.

This photo was taken Sunday afternoon after we had everything down and loaded for the trip home.
Left to Right:  Leslie, AD5WB; Rick, KE5BZE; Nathan, N5NYV,; Michael, K5WRN; Jeremy, K0JCC; Dominick, N5TCB; James, W5AOO.  Not shown in this picture are: Stephanie, K5SFV and Richard, KF5FIB.  They did not join us Sunday.  Photo courtesy of W5AOO. 

 Photo with Elissa on the left and the wharf down the middle.  You can see the canopies that we operated under on the right hand side of the picture.  Photo courtesy of W5AOO.

Operating outside, as we do, on a working harbor, has it's challenges.  There is obviously the Texas gulf coast heat and humidity.  Thankfully this year we had a good breeze almost all weekend.  But since it is a working harbor in a tourist area there is all sorts of moving qrm to deal with.  Here a few videos from the weekend.

This video shows the operator positions and the harbor tour boat taking off.  The harbor tour, after a while, started including us in their spiel.  It was nice for MSW to be recognized to people who had no clue as to what we were doing.  You can hear the 20 meter pile up and Richard, KF5FIB and Rick, KE5BZE work it down. 

We even tried a little cw action on Sunday.  That is Michael, K5WRN at the key.
Again since it is a working harbor it is open to all manner of boat traffic.  In this video you will see one of three powerboats that decided to make high speed passes up the channel only to turn around come back by.
Here are the other two powerboats and the tour boat all coming together at the same time.  Complete with long horn bursts. We really were trying to hear you!  HI!  You can see the top of the inverted V ten meter antenna in this photo.
 And of course we also had airborne QRM.

A real big thank you to Jamie the Director of the Texas Seaport Museum and to Mark, the bosun for their kind help and for allowing us to activate the grand ship. We quite obviously, could do not do this without you!

I hope we got to work you.  All logs from this year will be posted shortly on lotw and clublog.
Until next time, very 73 to you and yours.
Good dx and Island hunting.
Leslie, AD5WB

Update to BigIr Installation

I did some thinking and decided to pull up half of the radials I laid down.  My thinking was that the 6 ft width of the walkway between the house and the fence was too narrow for 12 radials without them interacting with each other.  I needed to have some room next to the house and next to the fence for the weed eater to feed! HI!
The antenna is playing just fine.  I have not been able to detect any on the air difference.  I have 12 radials each approximately 65 feet long.  SWR is good.  Signal reports are good.  So far so good.

Very 73 to you and yours.
Good Dx and Happy Island Hunting.

Leslie, ad5wb
League City, Texas

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Installation of BigIr antenna

Six months ago my wife and I moved to a new QTH.  We moved from Galveston Island to League City on the mainland.  We chose our new location, partially, because the deed restrictions allowed for the installation of ham radio antennas.  After getting permission from the HOA, I finally got around to installing my BigIr during the Christmas holidays. 

Like most installations mine is a compromise.  The depth of my backyard is only 13 ft.  I have utility lines behind the house.  And only a six foot easement between my house and the fence separating our yard from the neighbors.  The installation is being done in segments. 

I am planning on installing the 80 meter coil for my BigIr vertical antenna.  At that time, the coax and control cable will be buried in conduit and run up into the attic and then down into the shack.  I will also hide the ehu inside a fake landscaping boulder.

But for the moment I am on the air.  Playing radio and having fun.
Here are some pictures of the install as it is right now.

This photo shows the Transworld vertical antenna I was using, temporarily.  The blue tape marks the future site of the BigIr antenna.

The hole for mounting the BigIr mounting post.  The hole is approximately 12 inches square, 2 ft deep and expands to about 18 inches wide at the bottom.  I filled the bottom with about 4 inches of gravel for drainage.  I filled the hole with approximately 130 pounds of concrete.

Mounting post in place with the Dx Engineering radial plate and some radials.

The antenna is mounted with a 1:1 balun, there is an 8 ft ground rod at the side of the radial plate and a lightning arrestor on the radial plate as well.  You can see the 24-63 ft long radials in place.  As noted earlier, eventually I will mount the 80 meter coil and run the coax and control cable to the house via buried conduit.  For right now, I have to open the window and bring in both the coax and control cable when I wish to operate.

Since my yard is so small, the radials have to make a a 90 degree turn and run down both the east and west side of the house in the 6 foot easement.

This photo shows the antenna in place.  You can see the three guys, 2 run to the top of the fence and one to the house.  You can walk under all of them which helps make things YL friendly. HI!
You can also see some of the utility lines.  The utility lines closest to the antenna are low ones: cable and telephone.

So far the antenna is playing well.  As the work progresses I will run some shorter radials in a fan shape from the radial plate.  All radials are lawn stapled and the grass should absorb them this spring and summer.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me.

73 and good dx
Leslie, ad5wb
League City Texas

nice conditions today on 10 meters

I heard my first station ever, from Vietnam this morning.  What a treat.  I run a BirIr vertical so stations that others hear I often struggle to hear.  Running barefoot, I could not break the pileup.  But still a treat non the less.
I hope you signals are full quieting.
73 and good dx
Leslie, ad5wb
League City, Texas

Saturday, November 30, 2013

updates to my ham radio hobby

My last entry in this blog was right after the 2013 Museum Ships Weekend in early June.  Shortly after that, my family and I moved off the island (Galveston Island) and onto the mainland.  We now live in League City, Texas.  I kept my station, on the island, on the air until the last moment.  My last contact from Galveston Island, NA-143, was on June 27.  K4IMB, Doug was my last contact.  Thank you Doug!  We moved on June 28.

I set my station up, on July 19.  I am still operating with a temporary station at my new qth.  I currently run an IC-7600 into an ALS-600, (currently in the shop) which feeds a Transworld 10-20 meter vertical.  I have to pull the antenna coax and antenna control cable through the window when I wish to get on the air.  HI!  No 40 meters yet.My first contact was with a state side special event station, W2R.  My first dx, July 19, was TR8CA, Alain, in Gabon.  It was not my first time to work Alain.  But, perhaps my most pleasurable.  It was good to know that even with my temporary set up I could work dx!

It has been a transition.  I have never known ham radio without living on the island.  My introduction to vhf and hf was grounded around being on NA-143.  I truly enjoyed putting the island out.

I have permission from the HOA to install my BigIr vertical, if I can get the neighbors permission.  I have 1 of 2 signatures.  I hope to start on the install before years end.  This go round, I will add the 80 meter coil, to the BigIr.  I hope in the next 30 days or so to be QRV 80 - 6 meters.

I will add more updates regarding the contest season and more to this blog in the near future.

I hope to work you on the bands.
73 and good dx
Leslie, ad5wb