Friday, November 2, 2012

A Sleep at the Mike

Last night I worked Reunion Island on 20 meters.  So today, while calling a station in Togo on 12 meters, I was looking at a map online to verify where Reunion Island is located.  Of couse I was day dreaming and calling the Togo station at the same time. 
Don't you know, he came back to me and before i could get out of daydream and respond he moved on and then went QRT 3 calls later.  HI
Teach me to daydream!
I have worked Togo on a few bands but not on 12 meters.  So, it would have been a band fill, not an all time new one.  Still, I am dissapointed in myself.  This guy has been there are almost two weeks, and this was the first time I heard him.  He goes QRT on 11/4.  I have company at the house until then.  So...
Maybe next time.

73 and good dx
Leslie, ad5wb
Galveston Island, Texas 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

post contest season ruminations

It was fun and exhausting.  I added two contests to the schedule this year; the Tennessee Qso Party and the winter NAQP.  It was my first time for both contests.

Conditions were horrible for the NAQP.  Really made it where it was tough to keep going.  Calling and calling and no response.  I knocked off early in fact.  I finished in the upper one third of five land logs.  Maybe I am not serious enough. HI HI.

The Tennessee QSO Party was okay.  Still at times I called and could not find a station from Tennessee to come back to my call.  But those I did work were nice people.  Preliminary results show me as the leading out of state SSB hi power op. 

The HI qso party was in late August.  For some reason I thought it was later in the year.  But, never mind, there is was.  Having lived on Maui twice, I really enjoy working the islands.  I hope one of these days to go back where the weather suits my clothes.  Due to a variety of issue I did not get the chance to really work the contest, this year.  My operation time was very limited.  Somehow I came in first in my category from five land.  I can only think that the ops in Hawaii had mercy on a kama'aina and pulled me out when I called.  For that mahalo nui loa bra.

I previously wrote about the IOTA contest.  Provisional results were released last week.  While I exceeded my best, it was not enough to move me up in the standings this year.  I stayed in 8th place for my category: island fixed station, hi - power, phone only, un assisted.  I did operate 11 of the 12 hours this year.  Maybe next year I will make all 12 hours.  I don't really expect to ever win this contest, still I do enjoy the IOTA.  This year my work schedule really impacted my endurance.  I was real cognisant of the fact I had to travel the next afternoon.  My errors were not too bad this year, though I did lose one multiplier due to bad copy.

Let's see, I don't think I made any entries about the Texas Qso Party. 
My best ever TXQP.  I worked all 18 hours, as usual.  It sure is nice to be able to get a good nights sleep between days of operation.  No real technical issues, thankfully.  I worked approximately 250 more stations than last year and had 26 more multipliers.  Overall, I am very happy with how I did.  I really did/do want to take 1st in my category this year.  But, time and the committee will tell.  HI HI. 
It was a long contest.  A back injury suffered in May definitely made it self known during the contest.
I did work some real dx during the contest on 20 and 40 meters.  I think two of the dx stations I worked may have been 10 miles away across the bay.  I think I even worked one station that may have been 4 miles or so away.  Serious DX.  HI HI . 
Nice to work my friend Rafael, XE1RK in Mexico City during the contest.  Huge signal as always.  I was also honored to have the dxpedition XE1L/XF3 on IOTA NA-183 give me a call.  Thank you Luis.

So there we go.  A years contest season summed up.  It was fun. 
I hope to do it again.  I hope I had the chance to work you.

Until next time.
Very 73 and good dx
Leslie, ad5wb
Galveston Island, Texas

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Operations for special event station N5I concluded yesterday at 6:00 PM local.  N5I was noting the four year anniversary of the landfall of hurricane Ike and the re-birth of Galveston Island.  This year over two partial days of operations we made 216 contacts.  We even had a visit from one of the 20 meter trolls.  So I guess we were doing something right.  HI HI

For those of us living on Galveston Island, hurricane Ike was a momentous occasion.  Thankfully the Island is coming back bigger and stronger than every before.

Thank you for supporting our special event.  The logs have been upl oaded to LOTW and to Club Log.

I hope we had a chance to visit.

Very 73 and good Dx

Leslie, ad5wb
Galveston Island, Texas

Saturday, August 11, 2012

2012 IOTA Follow Up

Well, the 2012 IOTA contest is history.

I thought I had my 40 meter receive antenna problems resolved but found out I did not.  No matter since the forty meter band did not open up quite as I expected.  Instead the higher bands were open longer during the day and I did not capitalize on it.  Shame on me.  I guess I had tunnel vision, so I stuck to my initial game plan instead of being flexible and adapting to the band conditions.  Overall, I can not complain though.  It was a fun contest.

In 2010 I managed to work 10 and half hours.  I really wanted to work 12 hours this year and but did not organize my time properly.  I worked 11 hours total this year.  Still it was a better contest this year than last.
I only worked 16 more people this year but my multiplier count was up from 51 last year to 68 this year.  So my overall claimed score was higher.  I will have to wait until the judges send results to know for sure how I did, but I am optimistic about a good result.

As I got ready for the contest I examined my score from last year.  You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that I actually came in 8th in my category.  I thought I finished in 11th.  Inquiry to the contest committee confirmed the 8th place finish.  It was my error in how I searched the records that showed me in 11th place.  My thanks to the contest chairperson for taking the time to answer my inquiry and clearing up my confusion.

All qsl card requests are currently answered.

Very 73 and good dx to all
Leslie, AD5WB
Galveston Island, Texas
US Isle: TX-001s

Friday, July 27, 2012

IOTA 2012

The eve before the IOTA contest.
Very excited and happy to be taking part in the contest.
Theis may be my last IOTA from this QTH.
We are trying to sell our home and thought we had it sold in fact.
So, just a matter of time.

I hope to do better this year than I did last year. 
Last year I faced all sorts of tecnical issues and rfi problems.
In fact, I wound up working only 10 1/2 hours last year instead of all 12 hours.

This year I seem to have managed to get my receive antenna working.
So time will tell.
Hopefully the bands will be good.

Hope to see you in the pileups.
73 and good dx
Leslie, AD5WB
Galveston Island, Texas  NA-143

Sunday, June 10, 2012

N5E - The Tall Ship Elissa

Museum ships weekend was last weekend.  N5E activated the Tall Ship Elissa.  To our knowledge this was the first activation of the Tall Ship Elissa.

We would like to formally thank, in no particular order; the Galveston Historical Foundation; The Texas Seaport Museum and Becky Jones of the Texas Seaport Museum.  Becky thank you for getting us permission to operate and put the Elissa on the air!

We had to set up and tear down the station each day.  The Elissa is currently moored at the pier next to her normal berth.  And The Texas Seaport Museum had their largest gala scheduled for Saturday evening.  As the band was setting up for the Plank holders event, the RFI being generated by their amplifiers made all bands un-usable.

But, none the less, we had a great time.  We made in excess of 600 contacts during the two days of operation.
The wharf was real hot.  Thankfully, we had a canopy to operate under.  Some stations take breaks to change operators, which we did too.  But, we also took breaks to move the table, with the station, back into the shade!  Thankfully we had a good breeze some of Saturday and all of Sunday.

I took some photos of the station, the Elissa and our location along with a couple of short videos.

Except where noted all of the photos and video on this blog were shot by myself, ad5wb.  Anyone who wishes to use them to promote museum ship weekend, The Elissa and ham radio may do so by giving proper credit for the source.  Please, just you let me know you are using them.

Because the Elissa is a working ship with visitors, we had a sign noting what we were doing.  We spoke with several people over the weekend about ham radio.

The beautiful figurehead on the Elissa.

A view of the station and The Elissa.

A closer view of the station.  Jeremy, K0JCC is operating, Dominic, N5TCB is in the foreground.
If you look closely you will see a 2 meter beam that we used to check into a local 2 meter net that was set up to give local operators the opportunity to work us.  There were four of the five Texas ships on the net:  the USS Texas, the USS Cavalla, the USS Stewart and the Elissa.  The Lexington was too far from us to join this net.
The BVARC people put together a worked all Texas Navy Certificate for this event.  Well done guys!

Jeremy, K0JCC operating.  The station was made up of an IC 756 Pro 2 running at 80 watts, an LDG tuner just for safety, and a Transworld vertical antenna.  The Elissa is in the background.  She is an absolutely beautiful ship.

Another view of the station with Jeremy operating.  You can just see the base of the Transworld vertical in the background.  The antenna was a breeze to set up and take down.  It worked like a champ for us.

 Yours truly operating.  Photo by Dominic, N5TCB.

Sunday when we go to the dock, we had a visitor.  One of the carnival cruise liners had docked overnight and was in the process of loading up to leave port.  You get a better view of the vertical antenna in this shot.

 A black and white photo showing the antenna and the cruise liner.  Photo by Dominic, N5TCB.

In this photo, from lest to right:  Jeremy, K0JCC logging for Rick, KE5BZE with Dominic, N5TCB observing.

The pileups seemed to start instantly when we called QRZ.  They were often a huge, buzzing mass of noise with an occasional syllable coming through.  When we could make out what seemed like 2 letters that went together, we called for the station.  At times the QRM was very tough.  My hat is off to the operators, to a man they did a good job.

Here is a short video of  Jeremy, K0JCC operating.

 And here is one of Rick, KE5BZE operating.
We are hopeful that putting the Elissa on the air for museum ship weekend will become an annual event.  We are quite pleased with how the activation went.  There were many people who we could not work.  Sorry, we tried to pick up all we could hear.  Hope to work you next year.

Logs have been uploaded to LOTW and forwarded to the New Jersy Battleship Amateur Radio Club and the Brazos Valley Amateur Radio Club as of 6/10/1210.

Thank you all.

Very 73 and Good Dx
Leslie, AD5WB
Galveston Island, Texas

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Activation of the Tall Ship Elissa for Museum Ships Weekend

On June 2 and 3, 2012, we will put the tall ship Elissa on the air for Museum Ships Weekend.
Activity will be from approximately 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM local.
To our knowledge this is the first time the Elissa has been activated.

Please see N5E on for more information.

Hope to hear you in the pile up and get you into the log.

73 and good dx
Leslie, ad5wb
Galveston Island, Texas

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Home for Sale in Ham Friendly Neighborhood

Galveston Island, Texas  NA-143, US Isle TX-001s

Our home is still for sale.

Sand and Sea Realty is now listing it.
For more information please call:
Jana Turner @  409.797.5500 

73 and good dx
Leslie, ad5wb

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bob Cat

My dear friend Bob Cat passed away in the early morning hours of April 1, 2012, at our home, from natural causes.  He was 19 years old. 
He was a dear friend who had character.  He had a sassy stride that was more of strut than a saunter.
In many ways he acted more like a dog than a cat.  Coming to a whistle, waiting outside a room or door for me to come out.
We had many memorable hours in shack. 
Bob on the desk creeping closer and closer to my hand so I evenually had to pet him and move him back. 
Or even him prancing down the hall way with me to dart in front of me almost making me spill my beverage. 
To fighting with our Siamese in the early morning hours while I was deep into the IOTA contest.
Bob was a loving cat, with walrus whiskers and character to match.
Bob thanks for sharing your life with me.
Rest in peace my friend.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

2011 IOTA Contest

Hear back from the IOTA contest people a few weeks ago.  I place eleventh again this year.  Not great.  But, no bad too considering the rfi problems I had.  With the RFI problems, and troubleshooting time I only worked approximately ten and half hours out of the twelve hours.  So, overall, I guess I am satisfied with the result.
But, I will do better next yeear!
I should have the rfi issues behind me and have the recieve only antenna working for 40 meters.  This will help me a lot.

Still waiting on the results of the 2011 US Island QSO Party.  They are really running late this year.  aLst year they announced results in January.  Maybe soon.

Until next time
73 and good dx
Leslie, ad5wb
Galveston Island, Texas

Friday, February 24, 2012

Winters day

A really windy day on the island.  A cold front moving in.  Gusts from the north to 43 miles per hour.  The BigIr antenna doing exactly what is designed to do in the wind.  Sway and bend.

Until next time.

73 and Good DX
Leslie, AD5WB
Galveston Island, Texas

Monday, January 2, 2012

Vertical Antenna Installation

Oftentimes, when I am on the air, people will ask me about my antenna.  This post will detail what I have done for my primary antenna, a ground mounted vertical.  On my primary antenna is described as follows:  a BigIr vertical planted on about 335 square feet of hardware cloth and approximately 700 ft of wire. 
The following information will help you understand what I have done.  I am sure that there are things I could have done better.  But, this is the best install of this antenna yet.  And yes there is at least one thing I would change.

I live in a suburb with a very small backyard.  The grassy area of the yard is 16 feet wide by 18 feet long.  There is a sixteen foot wide by four foot deep garden bed at the end of the 18 foot length.  This effectively makes the total length of the backyard to be 22 feet long.  The yard is bound by a six foot high wood fence.  There is a concrete driveway on the other side of the left hand fence.  There is also a six foot wide grass easement strip on the other side of the fence at the garden bed end of the yard.

BigIr Vertical by SteppIr
Radial plate by DX Engineering
Approximately 335 square feet of hardware cloth, in rolls that are 3 feet wide by 25 feet long.
Approximately 700 feet of insulated wire,
Lawn staples

The original concept was to lay down three strips of hardware cloth and tie them together with insulated wire radials.  This evolved to include two more strips of hardware cloth that were “stitched” onto the original three strips using some of the insulated wire.  I do not have any photos showing the five strips but there are photos showing the original three strips stapled down on the ground.  I used the additional strips to fill in the gaps.  The additional strips do not go under the fence like the originals do.

The first photo shows, the view from the house of, the antenna installation.  The driveway is on the other side of the left hand fence.  The six foot grass easement strip is on the other side of the fence behind the antenna.  You can see the original three strips of hard ware cloth on the ground.  You can also see the bricks used to define the edge of the garden bed.  The bricks were set in place after the three original strips of hardware cloth was run.  The deck sits on the edge of a concrete patio.  The original three strips of hardware cloth start approximately 2 feet out from the deck and run the length of the yard and under the fence.  When I added the overlapping strips they also started at the two foot mark and ran to the brick border. 
I originally planned on only the three strips to clear unmovable things such as plants, fence posts etc.
This photo shows the base of the antenna.  Note the service head in the forefront of the photo.  The coax and antenna control cable run through buried conduit to this location.  Also in the forefront is one of the three guys.  This one runs to an earth anchor.  On the back right of the photo and front right you can just see two of the four three feet long pieces of all threads sunk into the ground as ground rods.  Heavy insulated stranded wire runs from each piece of all thread to the radial plate.
On top of the EHU is a one to one unun.  The goal is keep all of the rf out of the shack.
The mulch was laid after the hardware cloth was run through the garden bed and under the fence.  The mulch is laid down on top of layer of weed cloth.

The next couple of photos will show the path of the conduit, housing the control cable and coax, and entry into the house.

In the photo above, you can see the trench the conduit is buried in.  Before I put the conduit in the trench, I placed a layer of gravel in the bottom of it to raise the conduit off of the dirt and to allow water to drain.  

This photo shows the end of the trench and where the conduit comes out of the ground starting the run to the house.  Also pictured is that infamous party guy the party poodle checking out the scene.

This photo shows the continuation of the above ground run towards the house.  The conduit is held up with plastic pipe hanger tape.
The conduit runs diagonally under the deck to the far side of the drive way.  It then starts down to the entryway.
This photo shows the final stretches of the exterior conduit to where it terminates into the work box.  The box is screwed into the foundation and sealed around the edges with silicone caulking.

This photo shows the entry way for the conduit and control cable.  You can see some holes drilled and plugged with silicone caulking as well as one piece of coax and the antenna control cable.  I had to use a hammer drill to get through the foundation, note the concrete dust on the ground.  I drilled more holes than needed at this time to allow for possible future expansion of the antenna farm.
Subsequent work on the entry included: 
Drilling weep holes in the bottom of the box and gluing green nylon scrub pad over the holes.
Adding an access hole on the right side of the box to run in the coax from my wire antenna.
The work box seals with a cover with rubber gasket.
In the garage the coax and control cable run through conduit, along the base of the slab, to the wall at the front of the garage.  My shack is located on the other side of the wall.  I cut through the wall to mount two gang boxes, back to back with the backs cut out and the boxes, glued together.  I covered each box with an appropriate cover and used six inch bulk head connectors to go from the garage to the shack.

So far we have looked at the overall antenna installation and the coax / control cable run.  Let’s take a look at the hardware cloth and radial wires.  You have previously seen a photo that showed the three primary strips of hardware cloth in the yard.  I mentioned earlier that I used approximately 700 feet of insulated wire in the installation.  The wire is used in two ways; as radials and to “stitch” the hard ware cloth together.  Let’s take a look.

This photo shows some of the actual radial wires.  Note they are laid out in straight lines and thread their way through the hardware cloth. The next two photos will show how the strips of hardware cloth are “stitched” together.
Some of the stitching, across a wide expanse of lawn.  I later laid down overlapping strips of hardware cloth to cover the open ground and used a similar stitching to tie them to the original three strips.
Another shot showing some of the stitching.  At this time all of the strips of hardware cloth have radial run through them and are subsequently tied together.
Earlier in the post I mentioned a grass easement strip and the location of the driveway.  The next photos will look at this area.
This photo shows some the edge of the drive way, some of the radials running through the hardware cloth, and some of the stitching binding the strips of hardware cloth together.  You can also see how the hardware cloth was run under the fence.
Same basic shot but showing the detail of the radials and stitching in a closer shot.

Another shot showing the “stitching”.

And the last photo shows the original three strips of hardware cloth.  Again you can see how the hardware cloth runs under the fence, the radials and some stitching.  These strips also had overlapping strips of hardware cloth stitched onto them.  You can also see the concrete alleyway that borders one side of the easement.

In doing this installation I did not bond each layer of hardware cloth to each other.  There is practical limit to how much time I have and physical limitations as to how much time I can spend bent over.  I did solder ring terminals to the ends of each radial.  Right or wrong; I did rely on skin effect and proximity effect for the ground screen and wires to interact with each other.  Most but not all of the wires used for stitching attach directly to the radial plate.

I mentioned at the beginning that there is one thing I would have done different.  When I tied everything into the radial plate I used ring terminals for the wires and tried to bolt as many of the squares of hardware cloth to radial plate as I could.  Next time I will come up with metal clamps to tie the hardware cloth to the radial plate in an attempt to get greater bonding. 

Final thoughts
There were no measurements take of ground conductivity or anything else. I can tune the BirIr to 1:1.1 swr on all bands, 40 through 6 meters, except for 17 and 6 meters.  I may need to lay down a couple of dedicated radials for these bands.  17 and 6 meters currently run approximately 1:1.4 to 1:1.6 swr.

I have read and heard comments that hardware cloth will rust.  I am sure it will in time.  I can only say I previously used some hardware cloth in a similar installation and it was still good four years later.  The current installation was completed in April 2010 and is still going strong.

I do not claim by any stretch of the imagination to be an antenna guru or have a great deal of knowledge.  I am still learning.

If you should use any of this information, your mileage may vary.  I hope it works as well for you as it has for me.

If I can answer any questions please do not hesitate.

If you can share any observations good or bad about this install, please do.

Until next time.
Good DX and 73
Leslie, AD5WB
Galveston Island, Texas