(Ummmm…. Small warning: the images and videos are quite large; and might not be something you want to be watching on your smartphone with the low bandwidth data plan…)
We started working on this “monster” Spiderbeam antenna on Saturday August 23. First snag: no propane in the fork lift. So… while Jason KF5EJX drove to San Antonio to buy some (why doesn’t anyone sell propane in Uvalde on Saturdays???) Erik K5WW did a little bit of inventory on all the parts that were shipped.
Let’s just say these are just the small parts; and this isn’t even half of it!
K5WW also managed to assemble to center hub for the antenna:
Looks easy enough, right? Until you start doing it yourself!
Just trying to get a bit of an idea about how big this thing is actually going to be:
Holy cow…. What have we started…..?
So Jason got back, and we were able to lower the mast, thinking we would be able to install the antenna that night. Yeah, right…
Second snag came after installing the rotator, and then the trust bearing. Mounting the rotator was easy enough; but there were no holes in the tower for the trust bearing. Jim AB5JK took it upon himself to drill those holes:
Ride that steel horse, cowboy! 😉
And that wasn’t an easy task… Jim worked on it until he had it just right – which was way after 10 PM!
After that we elevated the tower again (yes, with the fork lift!) and secured it for the night:
Jason just loves motoring!
Jason and Erik securing the bolts so the thing won’t blow over:
The first Sunday we spent most of our time measuring and cutting monofilament wire and burning Kevlar rope. And putting knots in it. And measuring again. And again. And, yup: again! Spent hours and hours converting metric units into American units. Ah, I love metric. But: nobody took any picture of anything. Thanks, guys… 🙁
Forced to call it a weekend K5WW took home the Spiderbeam balun kit. The coax used is very rigid, hard to bend and not easy to work with. It took several tries to get everything in that little box:
But after several hours it got done:
Second weekend of work. Surely we will be able to install that antenna soon!
Thanks to Jason’s very creative mind we now have a very easy (and safe) way to lower and raise the tower, with these things attached to the fork lift:
And down it will come again: K5WW removing the bolts once more.
And Jason lowering the tower. Ready to install that antenna!
And Jason found another handy little lift to hold the tower, while the fork lift could be used for other purposes:
How cool is that?
Yeah, OK, so it’s down, once again. Now what?
Just a bit after 8 PM on Saturday the 30th. We got a lot more done; but still not finished. About to secure the “almost finished” Spiderbeam to the “almost horizontal” tower overnight:
Attached some CAUTION tape to the spreaders; and praying that nobody would mess with our hard work overnight! And – in a way – that the project would finish itself overnight too 😉
Second Sunday. Nobody messed with it, phew! And sleep it did. Unfortunately – and contrary to what I (K5WW) was hoping for – it didn’t complete itself overnight:
So: back to work! Jason and Erik worked all Sunday; got most of the antenna completed. But there was nobody around to take pictures…
Third weekend. Saturday September 6, 2014. Already!
Jason and Dave WA6YJW tightening up Kevlar ropes (fun, fun, fun!) to straighten the fiberglass arms:
And yes: they also put the VHF repeater antenna on top. It now sits at about 60 feet AGL. Go try it!
Before all of that was done we tested the SWR on all bands, with the mast sitting in a water-filled barrel:
And took some close-ups:
And hey: we had to personalize it too 🙂
And then we had to go back home. Lack of daylight. Two weekends spent.
But: the 3rd Sunday we were ready to go! Jim took this panoramic image of the whole antenna setup, to be installed on the tower:
That Sunday was a bit rough, though. Nearby thunder, lightning strikes and quite a few rain showers kept us from working on this project. But we got it done, in between two claps and with the use of a couple of umbrellas!
Richard N5YPJ, Erik and Jason making final preparations to install and raise this beast. Now!
Our almighty president Jason found yet another way to provide support for the tower: the trailer!
Pull up your pants, please, K5WW??
The idea was to lower the tower and lift the mast (with Spiderbeam and VHF antenna) and slide it into the trust bearing and rotator. Good idea, not as easy as it sounds! That’s Jim on top of a pallet on the fork lift.
Not easy; but not impossible either:
Slightly different angles:
After we took a break Jim did the final cable management:
With Richard (always the ground crew!) doing quality control:
And then, the magic moment: Jason pushing everything into the sky with the fork lift:
And it’s up!!!
Looks soooooooooooooooo sweet at 55 feet!
Jason once more with that final push; and Richard looking to see if everything is going good:
From a distance:
Now all we need is for the cleaning crew to come by and clean up the boys’ mess. Oh…. did we make a mess!!!
That’s not the worst of it… I didn’t have the guts to take pictures of the trashcans!!! 😉
And does it turn? Hell yeah it turns!!
“Somebody” (who couldn’t wait…) already made a few QSOs with it. But the first big workout will be the Worked All Europe SSB contest on this coming weekend; and this is your invitation to join us!
One last thing: if you consider building one of these beams yourself, then please never forget what our team was reminded of so many times, for three weekends in a row:
Thanks DF4SA; you have a fantastic sense of humor! 😉
And on a personal (K5WW) note: my thanks to Jason KF5EJX, Jim AB5JK, Richard N5YPJ and Dave WA6YJW for making KN5S bigger, bolder, stronger, and louder than it ever has been! You guys ROCK!!!!
(images and videos courtesy of Jim AB5JK and Erik K5WW)