Showing posts from September, 2015

Moving on to the Simple-Ceiver Project

New Subject and More Exciting Work! As a final recap, the new beam antenna is up and running and I am pleased with the results. A real highlight and icing on the cake was on September 27th, 2015 when I finally had an "on the air" contact with Bill N2CQR. Bill and I have fun talking about ham radio "stuff" on the SolderSmoke Podcast but have never had an on the air QSO. This was also a first for Bill as it was the first time he had a HTH (Homebrew to Homebrew) QSO. Bill was running his BITX 20 and I was using the ZIA. What a joy to have the HTH and even better with Bill. See the SolderSmoke Blog for an audio recording of the QSO. Time to Move on to Radio Hardware  During the course of the SolderSmoke Podcasts Bill and I frequently encourage the art of homebrewing by starting with simple projects such as the Michigan Mighty Mite (M3) transmitter. This project is a functioning transmitter with only 7 parts (well I use 8 --a capacitor key click filter). BUT before actu…

New Beam Antenna Installation at N6QW ~ FINAL INSTALLMENT!

The Final Piece - Post Mortem! My dream beam is up and operating and I surely can tell the difference! The front to side and front to back attenuation is very evident and I have netted quite a few contacts running 100 watts with my ZIA transceiver on 20 Meters. The signal reports are very good even with crappy band conditions so all and all I am a happy camper. The cost of this installation --well I stopped counting after $2300. The mast with accessories and delivery was close to $800. The beam with shipping was $500 and the rotator with free shipping was $300. The coax and rotator cables were $250. The US Tower base plate with shipping was about $100. The Home Depot hardware was $100 and the contractor was $200. That is a lot to spend for a beam that ostensibly will be used during the down part of the solar cycle. But given where I am age wise this is probably not  all a bad decision. For about another $1000 I probably could have had a 40 foot tower and a three element beam. But nev…

New Beam Antenna Installation at N6QW ~ Part 19.

We are there -- the Joy of Rotation Two short videos to demonstrate the Joy of Rotation. We have some clean up to do and will test the Beam later this afternoon. In part 20 I will share lessons learned and things the manufacturers and suppliers could do better to enable a successful installation the first time. 73's Pete N6QW 

New Beam Antenna Build at N6QW ~ Part 18

The Beam Is On The Mast!9/24/2015 ~ The contractor will be here on 9/25 to assist with the mast raising. Received some sage advice affirming that the final raising of the mast needs multiple pairs of hands to do it properly! Stay tuned. Pete N6QW Yesterday and today I spent getting the beam mounted on the mast. That was a chore but it became obvious I could not raise the mast/beam combination singlehandedly. Thus I am attempting to hire  local contractor to do the final erection. I just don't feel comfortable climbing on the roof. I have used this contractor before and am just waiting for a break in his schedule. In the process of manhandling the beam onto the roof I moved the reflector out of alignment (same plane as the driven element). I need to reset the reflector so it is horizontal. Stay tuned ---- we are closer. Pete N6QW

New Beam Antenna Installation at N6QW ~ Part 17

Final Beam Alignment and Installations In preparation for the final installation on the mast and then raising the beam I wanted to have one final go at torqueing all of the bolts and to upsize the connections from the SO-239 to the driven element. Initially I used about a #16 stranded wire and a voice in my head said make it bigger so that was changed out to #14 stranded. I used shrink tubing at all wire to connector interfaces and added the anti-corrosion compound at all the mechanical connection points. I came up with what I thought to be an innovative idea for this last step. We have a six place metal picnic table with a large umbrella in the center of the table. It so happens that the umbrella mast is the same size as the mast used on the SpiderMast top section. Light Bulb moment. I installed the MP-32-N on the umbrella mast and using two wood blocks to clear the boom to mast bracket I was able to insure the beam was in a horizontal plane and provided access for bolt torqueing at …

New Beam Antenna Build at N6QW ~ Part 16

Final Assembly of the Mosley MP-32-NAdditional photos added on 9/17/2015 Today I spent working on two activities. The first is the final assembly of the beam itself and the second to raise the mast to the final height so I could cut to length the guys that will be used. The SpiderBeam mast uses two sets of guys wires and thus we will have six lengths of wires that we must fit and cut. Below are photos of the beam as it is assembled into the final configuration. The instructions were silent about some aids that would make the final assembly of the beam an easier task than simply putting Tab A into slot B. My approach was to build each of the two halves of the driven element and reflector and THEN assemble those on the boom. I used some wood blocks on my picnic table to keep things  steady and level so that the two elements ultimately end up in the same horizontal plane when installed on the boom. The several photos with the coax connector is a mod from N6QW and somewhat put down by Mo…

New Beam Antenna Build at N6QW ~ Part 15

Really Building the Beam! Getting Close to B Day (Beam Day) Test of Mast Assembly Below are some photos of the elements that have been built. You will also see what I mentioned in an earlier post about the size difference in the traps used on the TA-32 Jr N versus those traps used on the TA-32.

The normal procedure is to install the coax is a direct wire connection from the coax to the driven element on the beam. My bent is to install a coax connector. Mosley is not too keen on that idea because of losses but did say if I decided to do that to keep the lead length to no more than 2.5 inches. Today I fabricated an L bracket from a piece of one inch wide aluminum angle stock and designed it so the bracket is held in place by one of the sets of U bolts that affix the driven element to the boom. It looks like with this arrangement we may meet the 2.5 inch criteria. Stay tuned. 73's Pete N6QW


New Beam Antenna Build at N6QW ~ Part 14

Assembling the Beam ~ Mosley MP-32-N(Information added on 9/13/2015) (Information Added on 9/14/2015) (Information Added 9/15/2015 ~ Project temporarily stopped because of Rain) (Information added on 9/16/2015) Since it was raining out I took the opportunity to assemble the beam elements and would like to report the following. I essentially assembled the two driven element sub-assemblies as well as the two sections of the reflector. In the final assembly of the reflector these two section fit inside a 6 foot long center  tube that has two 1/4 inch holes closely spaced in the center of this section. Ultimately a U bolt clamps the reflector to the boom by passing through this section. The two reflector subassemblies fit within this center tube and there is significant overlap (almost three feet on each end). In the final configuration the reflector subassembly ends have 1/4 inch holes align with the two closely spaced  1/4 inch holes and a U bolt which grasps the boom passes through a sup…

Simpleceiver ~ A 40M SSB/CW Receiver and Test Bed Updated with Si5351 vs LC Oscillator

Another Short Diversion from the New Antenna Build For the last week or so the temperatures in southern California have been inching toward 100 Degrees F. It is just too hot to work outdoors and the next step involves assembling the 2 element Tri-Band beam which of course would be done outdoors. So I have taken a short break from the antenna installation to work on a radio project in hopes that the temperatures get back into the 80's.

So now the temperatures are down But believe it or not is raining --we direly need the rain. But there is so much junk in my garage that the beam can only be assembled out doors so back to the Simpleceiver while I wait for the weather to clear In the back of my mind I have been thinking about building a simple super-heterodyne receiver that could be easily replicated, has a low part count yet some nice features like a 3 pole crystal filter. In searching my junk box I found some 12.096 MHz crystals which if used with a 5.0 MHz LO would put you on 40 M…

New Beam Antenna Build at N6QW ~ Part 13

The Mast is in the Air!Houston we have an Erection (of the mast). Below is a photo essay of the first time in air of the Spiderbeam mast assembly. This is not the full height -- when I was trying to pull out the very top section it slipped out of my hand right into the nested pipe. So the final height will be about 6 feet taller than what is seen in the photos. Right now the mast is being supported with out guy wires using only the rotor base and my homebrew house bracket. I strongly recommend the house bracket when making the SpiderBeam Mast a permanent installation. It will only be up for a short while sans the guy wires but this will enable me to accurately cut and deploy the guy wires (actually magic rope --for what it cost me, it has to be magic). This mast deployment also enabled me to get a feel of how high the beam will reach above the house structure and the aesthetics of how it will look.  The photos show the SpiderBeam Mast next to my fiberglass mast used to hold up my cur…

New Beam Antenna Build at N6QW ~ Part 12

More Preparations for the InstallationHouston: We have Rotation!  Hopefully I won't be boring the readers much longer with this, what I now believe. was somewhat of an insane project. Much is happening in the background in preparation for the final erection of the beam on the mast and the hoisting of the mast into the air. There are just so many details that must be in place and anyone who tells you their accomplishment of a similar project was done in one day must be awfully lucky or that the install will not last the winter! Here are some of the tasks which have been going on in preparation for the final installation. The key issue is that the rotator must be capable of bottom rotating the mast and to do this properly requires having the rotator in a level position. A bit of rework was required to have that occur and luckily my idea of having the threaded portion of the anchor bolts be sufficiently long so as to accommodate a nut and washer underneath the L bracket assembly plus…