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