Why is it so crowded on 6 meters, all of a sudden???
We did it! We finally did it!! After the beam not functioning – at all – for over a year and all the restrictions during the Coronavirus pandemic we finally got together to fix it – once and for all!
The fix was probably not going to be that hard or too time-consuming: a loose connector, a loose bolt at the balun, maybe (maybe) a fault in the balun itself. It couldn’t be more than that. We also had a bit of tightening to do at the rotator end; because for the past month or two the antenna was spinning in the wind a bit. And: after all this time we’d be able to install that 40 meter add-on that Jason ordered in pre-pandemic days. Woohoo!
So Jason KS5TX came down to Uvalde on Friday April 23 and rented a scissor lift. Not the 8-legged monster lift we got two years ago; but this one worked just as well, if not better.
Jason had some other work to do before we got started on the tower. He’d ordered a whole new set of batteries for our battery powered backup system and installed those first:
Saturday afternoon the whole crew came together: Jason KS5TX, Erik K5WW and Jack Skye. Overwatchers were Arnold and Joe. President Jimi AB5JK came and had a look as well.
Things don’t work like that, generally speaking. That obviously came apart, after many years of heavy use. So, the coax was brought down, into the shack, stripped a few feet shorter until it looked good; and then a brand new PL-259 was soldered to it. Hoisted back up, connected to the balun: perfectly good SWR. Great, problem fixed!
Next we tackled the bolts on the rotator. That was an easy fix; they’re just bolts after all. But the antenna needed to be pointed north again; and the coax needed to have a good loop in it so it wouldn’t snag the tower.
All of that took a while, with several full antenna rotations. And all of a sudden the SWR was sky-high again!
So the second “possible reason for failure” came to mind: broken center conductor inside the coax. We brought it down again, hooked up the analyzer and shook it around as hard as possible (after doing that on top of the tower!). The results of all that shaking weren’t conclusive; we might as well have stirred it too. So we decided to replace the whole coax run. Brand new cable. Connectors. All of it.
We ran that back up to the tower and it worked fine. For a while. Because once again, after starting to rotate the big gun, the SWR went nuts. Ugh…
Third possible fault: the balun itself. The thing is rated for 1 kW; but that doesn’t mean it can handle 600 W PEP from an FT8 signal. Hours and hours of it. Which your rusty old Secretary is quite guilty of. So we replaced the balun, which luckily we had a brand new spare of, courtesy of Jason’s always planning ahead.
But: that didn’t fix the issue either. In fact, the 7 year old balun looked quite new on the inside:
It’s at this time that K5WW started to doubt his soldering skills. All antenna wires were properly connected, we had a brand new coax run and balun in place… what else could have been wrong?
Yep, the new PL-259 on the new coax run! There was a short in it somewhere, as we discovered during another wiggling session. I guess that’s what can happen under pressure, in a bit of a rush to get things done before time runs out. Mea (K5WW’s) culpa.
One new PL-259 later and another run up into the tower we had a perfectly good SWR, after several rotations and even more coax rattling sessions. Success, finally!!!
And with that Murphy had been chased out of the building. For the time being.
We finished up fastening the coaxes to the building a bit after dark. The 40 meter dipole add-on would have to wait until next time. But at least our fabulous contest station was back on the air!
Until 3 days later, on Wednesday, a heck of an ice storm rolled through the area, from the Mexican border all the way into and beyond San Antonio. Much of the area got hit by 4 or 5 rounds of large hail, strong winds and even a tornado in a matter of 7 hours.
When I (K5WW) finally managed to get on the road to clean up the club shack (it was a mess when we left it on Sunday) I wasn’t expecting any damage outside. Our friend James WW5XX right around the corner hadn’t reported any hail.
But… they’d had pretty strong winds. And that’s an understatement. What I found, after pulling into the parking lot, is not pretty:
They did have strong winds out there. And it looks like they just pulled apart one of the spreaders and laid it on top of the rest of the antenna.
Back to square one. Or minus 1, maybe…
(any guns for hire out there: we have a hefty reward for whoever takes out Murphy – permanently).
Long time club member and friend Gary K5QOW passed away July 24, 2020. He was 77 years young. Many of us will remember him for his big smile and amazing stories, his many visits to the club meetings – often accompanied by his XYL Carolyn – and certainly the fantastic Field Day held on their property in Reagan Wells way back when the Coyote Amateur Radio Club was still in its infancy. It was a super hot day; but Gary and Carolyn did all they could to keep everyone cool and hydrated so we could have fun!
Please make sure to read his radio biography on QRZ.com here. He updated it just a month before he passed away; it is as complete as it gets.
Also, there are many more photos of Gary (and his family) at various ages on the Rushing-Estes-Knowles Mortuary website, rolled into a video; click here. After that click on the video underneath the obituary.
I visited with Carolyn today; and she wanted me to let everyone know that she is doing OK.
Thanks for the good times, Gary!
(and thank you Jason KS5TX for letting me/us know)
… may I suggest “Darth Vader Amateur Radio Club”?
2020 sure got out of control in a hurry. Maybe 2021 will be better. I sure hope so. Not holding my breath, though.
All my best wishes to you, for the new year.
Your hard-working secretary. (anybody else still doing their job?)
Erik – K5WW
Your (t)rusty old QSL manager got a really nice QSL card today, from Steve WD5HNI. He sent us a QSL card in response to all the QSL cards we sent out for the 2015 K5C Parks on The Air event from Kickapoo Cavern State Park in Brackettville.
There you have it. In the file/box/safe with the insurance papers. Our QSL cards are just THAT important!!
Thanks Steve, 73 😉
Please welcome Mr. Tom Atkins KD5EIJ to the club! He will be relocating to our neck of the woods soon; and is eager to join us.
As all of you know we will be moving into a new shack once the new hospital is finished. At least I hope you know that. 😉
But: the contractor and the hospital have big plans. Bigger than I even realized!
I got a quick tour of the new facility a few days ago, albeit from afar.
Take a good look at this photo. If you click on it you’ll get a much bigger version.
Look at the top right of the new building. That – clearly – will be the new location of our club shack; because – as you can see – there’s a huge disc on top of the roof that will hold our antenna tower and antennas. Yes, it’s rotatable.
How do you like them apples?? Thank you, UMH!!
So this weekend is the annual ARRL Field Day. Woohoo, so looking forward to it!!
But… Careful suggestion: play in Class D. Stay home, stay safe.
Here is a link to the 2020 rules: 2020 Field Day Packet Rev a
That’s an equation that just about everyone in the electronics world strives to achieve: optimum power transfer! Power in equals power out.
But… from a slightly different angle: if that “power in” is the power that comes back in… then you have a problem. In this case: the reflected power.
Point in case:
After two Saturdays of troubleshooting this issue (I’m an essential worker nowadays) this old hound thinks it’s safe to say we have a problem up top. Because of recent heavy rain it could just be water in the balun or coax, as was the case with the 80 m dipole coax that I fixed last week.
For now our mighty, mighty beam has been disconnected and replaced by a multi-band Alpha Delta wire antenna, generously donated by WW5XX a while ago. (thanks James, you’re a visionary!).
Speaking of beam: there now is a 40 meter add-on available from the manufacturer. It comes in a kit, for those who want to have fun building. Wink wink, nudge nudge. 🙂
That’s all, y’all. Stay safe. Stop picking your noses. You’re shoving the Covids up in there!