I’m getting the itch to get on 6 Meters.  The band has been open recently, so I’m starting to gather up what I need to put up a small 6M beam.  My neighbor gave me a 30ft telescoping TV mast for absolutely free. I’ll start looking for a used rotator.  I’m thinking of starting with this DiamondA502HB 2-element beam.

It’s such a please to be living in a place with no antenna restrictions and neighbors that don’t mind.

July 7, 2018
Categories : Antennas

I’m VERY pleased with my Hy-Gain AV-640.  It’s mounted on a 15ft mast at the side of my single-story house.  I have a Kenwood TS-590s and I usually run 50 watts.

Today I was scanning 20 meters and I heard 4B4B.  That’s a DXpedition to Revillagigedo Islands (Socorro) in the Pacific. There was a small pileup but I punched the XMIT button and gave my call. He answered. About three weeks ago the same thing happened with F6KHM (France).

Both stations came back to me on my first attempt to make contact.  Coming from years of sub-optimal antenna configurations, this is a new experience for me. And I’m loving it.

March 18, 2018
Categories : Antennas

More changes here at the new QTH.  It’s always been somewhat of a pain to get Win500 and other ham radio programs to run in a VMWare Fusion virtual machine and connect to my radios.  I’ve had a Dell laptop running Windows 10 just sitting around, so I’ve decided to put it to use as the official Ham Shack Computer.

One of the first things then was to find a new logging program.  I’m trying out HRD right now and it seems to work seamlessly with my TS-590 via the USM cable.  I’m really using only the logging and rig control functions as this point, but the fact that it connected to my TS-590 right away without any fiddling is a good sign.

I’ve also got Win500 running to control my GRE500 scanner. (I’m presently using it to monitor a local 6M repeater.) That also connected flawlessly.

February 25, 2018
Categories : Stuff

I have not had much opportunity to get on the air for the last week or so, but the Hy-Gain AV-640 vertical seems to be working well. Contacts in the past week:

F6KHM

VE7MTW

AI0M

I each case I answered their CQ and they came right back to me.

The contact with F6KHM was this morning during France’s REF contest.  It was the easiest DX contact ever.

 

February 25, 2018
Categories : Antennas

My Hy-Gain AV-640 vertical is finally up!

This article is really about the assembly and erection of the antenna.  I will cover my operating experiences in a later post.

In the adjacent photo you can see it next to my house.  That’s my wife’s 2001 Toyota Tacoma in the photo (boy that is a great little truck).

First, this thing has a bazillion parts. A long time ago I had a GAP Challenger DX and this AV-640 seems like it has 20 times the parts to be assembled. And Hy-Gain is owned by MFJ Enterprises and has seemingly adopted the same policy of leaving the last ten percent of Quality Control to the buyer. Hoping to save some future buyer of the AV-640 some grief, here is a list of my discrepancies:

  1. Instruction Manual: Pages 10-15 , page number missing
  2. Instruction Manual: Pages 16,17 are numbered ‘1’
  3. Instruction Manual: Pages 19- end, page number missing
  4. Instruction Manual: Task VI refers to Figure G for mounting location of Matching Unit, It’s really on Figure H.
  5. Parts Bag #1, 705-1032S Should contain 10-32 nuts. They were 8-32 instead.
  6. 6 Meter stub 810-0640-19 incorrectly threaded.
  7. Hole in one Single Stub Insulator 737-8100 drilled too small

It’s amazing to me that I’m reading reviews that are several years old complaining of a mis-threaded 6 meter stub, and they have not corrected the problem. Having inherited my late father’s tap-and-die set, I ran a 10-32 die down the 6 Meter stub and corrected the mis-threading problem. The missing 10-32 nuts were no big deal except that it was a 50 mile round trip to Ace Hardware.

There are times during the assembly when a second pair of hands would have been helpful.  Specifically when adding the rods for the capacity hat and counterpoise. One pair of hands could hold the end of the rod into the rings while the other pair of hands tightens the screws/nuts.

The footer is a concrete-filled hole that is 15×15 inches and 30 inches deep. The Hy-Gain support guy said that 2-3 cubic feet of concrete would be a sufficient footer, so mine is a little bit of overkill. The ground here is HARD. I could dig about three inches at a time.  I would then fill the hole with water that would take about 4 days to soak in.  Then I could dig another three inches. I therefore spent weeks digging the hole.

Embedded in the concrete is a 4-foot steel pipe that is 2 inches in diameter.  I then attached a Hy-Gain ATB-75 tiltover to it.  I’m getting too old to be climbing to high places to adjust antennas.  The AV-640 is mounted on top of a 15 foot mast that also is 2-inch diameter steel pipe.  The result is that the top of the antenna is at 40 feet.

Quick initial SWR measurements with my MFJ-269C analyzer:

7.2 mhz: SWR 1.4
14.1 mhz: SWR 1.8
21.3 mhz: SWR 1.5

I coud ‘easily’ tilt the antenna back to horizontal and tweak the 20M length but for now it’s good enough. (The tuner in my TS-590s seems to have no problem with it.)

February 19, 2018
Categories : Antennas

When I was a young and very broke ham, I lusted for the Drake C twins. One of my Elmers owned a set and I probably got drool all over my shirt every time I was in his shack.

Yes, I know that my Kenwood TS-590s will run circles around the old Drake gear but it is time. The plan is to find and buy the gear one piece at a time and restore it.  A ham on QTH.com is selling a nice clean non-working R4C for a decent price. This is the beginning of what I hope to be a pleasant adventure.

December 17, 2017
Categories : Drake, Dreamin

Now that the VHF/UHF antenna is up, it’s time to start putting up the Hy-Gain AV-640.

Hy-Gain tells me that a footer of 2-3 cubic feet of concrete should be sufficient. I’m digging a whole about 18 inches in diameter and a little over 2 feet deep.  That will be 3.5 cubic feet of concrete.

The ground here is HARD and progress is slow. I can dig down about 3 inches.  Then I fill the hole with water.  It takes several days for the water to soak in.  Then I can dig another three inches. So far my hole is 16 inches deep.

December 17, 2017
Categories : Antennas

My permanent VHF/UHF antenna is finally up.

Antenna is a Diamond X200A mounted on a 10-foot mast.  As you can see in the adjacent photo, I have a 2-inch steel pip that is four feet long, with 2 feet of it set in concrete.

Attached to that is a Hy-Gain ATB-75 Universal tilt-over.  The 10-foot mast is attached to the ATB-75.

One difficulty of note:  The ATB-75 instruction say that you can use “tube bases or mast pipes up to 2 ¼” OD”.  They neglect to provide a minimum diameter. So I promptly bought a steel pipe 1.25 OD and set it in concrete, only to discover that the U-bolts on the ATB-75 would not accommodate a pipe that small.

AAAARRRRRRGGGGGGG! Yes, I know, I should have done a trial assembly before pouring the concrete.

I dug the pipe and it’s concrete out of the ground, Bought a 2-inch pipe and some more concrete, and after much cussing I was ready to continue.

From that point on the project went smoothly. The mast is also secured to the eaves of the house using a Rohn WM6S Wall Mount

I live in a small rural community in Arizona called Spring Valley, nestled in the foothills of the Bradshaw mountains. I keep the Wildflower Mountain repeater (145.350) on in the shack all the time and thanks to the broad coverage of it, I’ve made friends all over the state.

December 17, 2017
Categories : Antennas

I’m happy to say that I’m back in the air at least on VHF/UHF.  Things are a little makeshift (The antenna is vip-tied in a tree) but at least I am on the air.

145.350 (WIldflower Mtn)

147.000 (Mingus Mtn)

October 20, 2017
Categories : Stuff

My house in Phoenix is now officially sold and the proceeds are in my bank account.  The closing/escrow process on my new home in Mayer, Az is moving along and I expect to be handed the keys in about 2 weeks.

The vague outlines of the new ham station are taking place:

  • My tried and true Kenwood TS-590sand Hy-Gain AV-640 vertical for HF.
  • Yaesu FT-8800R and Diamond X200A for CHF/UHF
  • My Kenwood DM-710 will get moved to my car to help me through the commutes down the hill to Phoenix.

I’m most likely going to build a bench like the one I had 10 years ago.  I used the Simpson Rigid Tie Connectors to create a super-strong bench.

September 16, 2017
Categories : Station wiring