40m through 10m – all done

I had to lower my antenna prior to my trip to Honolulu last week, in case a storm popped up while I was off island. Now that I’m back, it was an ideal time to relocate the 40/30m dipole currently in a 35ft high coconut tree.

I placed an extension above the Spiderbeam to move the dipole out of the tree and to get it up a bit higher. Some trig was necessary to figure out how high the extension needed to be so the near end of the dipole would clear the tip of the yagi.

The extension is not affixed to the mast, allowing it to rotate. In addition, the dipole is not pulled all the way up to the pulley so the yagi can still be rotated and not break the fixed dipole. The 8″ or so of line between the pulley and the antenna feed point allows the line to wrap around the mast when it rotates. In addition, the top 12″ or so of the extension is insulated so the dipole won’t short out to the mast should they make contact.

With this modification, I am done with 40-10m. There is really nothing more I can do which my current quarters, and the mast is at it’s limit. Any higher or bigger and I would not be able to raise and lower it by myself. The while assembly is very sturdy, and doesn’t move at all in the wind. The only time the winds exceed 20 or 30mph is during a tropical system, and everything will be lowered and secured before that happens.

The yagi (heavy duty Spiderbeam for 20/17/15/12/10m) is at 10.4 meters (34ft) and the center of the dipole is at 14.6 meters (48ft). The dipole worked well on both 40 and 30 when it was lower, so I expect performance to remain the same or increase a bit. I have some concern of interaction between 15 and 40, but no degradation has been noticed on 15m.

Time to make some QSOs, and to continue working on the 80/160m antenna!

Spiderbeam and dipole fully raised
close up of the mast extension
Both dipole ends clear the Spiderbeam by a minimum of 3ft. The left side is tied off in a tree top so it’s much further away from the yagi tip.


2010 RSGB IOTA contest

Call: NH2T
Operator(s): N2NL
Station: N2NL

Class: SO12CW HP
QTH: Guam
Operating Time (hrs): 12

Band CW Qs CW Mults Ph Qs Ph Mults
80: 11 8 0 0
40: 112 20 0 0
20: 442 28 0 0
15: 208 25 0 0
10: 1 1 0 0
Total: 774 82 0 0 Total Score = 459,036

Club: Florida Contest Group


Fun contest!

Contesting from the Western Pacific is unique, especially with the current
solar conditions. For most of the day, the bands are [always] open to JA, with
a few weak EU and NA callers. For a short period, perhaps a couple hours here
and there, a band will open to EU or NA and it’s off to the races while the
opening lasts. A few hours of shoveling pileups with the rest trying to grind
out 60 QSOs an hour.

Unlike the recent IARU contest, 20m stayed open all night. In fact, If it’s
possible, I think the band was too open. After midnight local time, 20 was
wide open into Europe. As long as I wasn’t spotted on packet, the rate was
excellent with only 3 or 4 callers at a time. Once I was spotted – all hell
broke loose. The pileup quickly grew unmanageable, and the rate plummeted. I
still don’t understand why, if I’m repeatedly trying to call a G0XY?, that some
UR7 or OK2 will keep calling. 20 was packed, so I didn’t want to go split, and
with the rate dropping like a rock, my only option was to spin the dial and
start over again. The rate would then be good – then the packet spot – and
resulting chaos. This happened a couple times – and I always felt bad leaving
the pileup – so I eventually packed it in with a realization that a 30/hr of JA
was worth the same number of points as a 150/hr of EU.

Sunday was the expected grind of Pacific rim stuff. Not too much JA activity,
but I was suprised at the amount of activity from China. Many were QRV,
including several BY IOTA expeditions. This is most excellent!

I saved some off time for late Sunday, expecting to add to the few QSOs I had
on 40 and 80. 80 was a bust – and the Dragon made a mess of 40. The radar was
between S8 and 10-over-9 here, and absolutely killed all but the strongest
callers. I felt bad pushing the F1 key when I knew there were guys calling me,
but it was hopeless. I will be adding a couple beverage RX antennas shortly
that I hope will have some benefit on 40 – and perhaps null the Dragon somewhat
when listening toward NA.

I hopefully will soon have my station SO2R capable, at least to some extent,
which should help make things even a little more fun with a score boost as

Thanks again for all the QSOs, and to W2YC for managing the QSL duties for me.
73, Dave KH2/N2NL

Antenna Approval Received!

I received approval from both Navy Housing and the Navy Spectrum Manager to install the Spiderbeam at my house.

The antenna is at 34 feet (10.4m). This is not very high, but is about the highest I can go safely and still be able to raise and lower it myself. It seems to work pretty well with good signal reports on all five bands when there’s been propagation.

The 40/30m dipole is still in the coconut tree to the left of the yagi. I still want to get it a little bit higher, and I am still considering moving the feed point atop the yagi, on a 12ft aluminum mast extension.

I have to lower the antenna prior to traveling to Honolulu next week, and I will look into adding the extension when I get back.

I have some concern with interaction on 15m between the yagi and the dipole, but there is not much I can do about it with the space I have. The yagi seems to exhibit good F/S and F/B on 15m with no noticeable change when I raise and lower the dipole. The dipole no longer has a flat SWR on 15m (2:1 now) once I added the 30m parallel wire, so perhaps that helped detune it somewhat on 15.

The good thing is that none of the neighbors seem to care about my antennas, nor does it appear that I have any TVI problems. I did get into my daughter’s TV a little bit, which is located directly under the antenna, but some turns of the CATV coax around a ferrite core cured the problem.

Lawn Ninjas Strike!

The lawn maintenance dudes – I call them lawn ninjas. They are dressed from head to toe, with only an eye slit, to protect themselves from the sun. They come wielding lawn mowers and weed whackers, to keep the jungle on the other side of the fence.

Over this past weekend, I got 12 radials laid out around the tree that will be the future home of my 80 and 160m “TEE” vertical. I know the cut the grass short, so I use a lawn edger and small pick ax to groove the soil, to bury the wire in about an inch of soil. There are currently 16 radials around the tree, all but two in a 100 degree arc as I work my way around the circumference.

Today the lawn ninjas came, with their tractor driven large deck mower. They took out 3 of the 16 radials in one shot. As the mower bounces on the uneven ground, the edge of the deck will dig into the ground, taking out any radial that might be laying there.

This divot took out two radials

Even worse was the sight at the base of the tree. The lawn guy took a sharp turn around the tree, gouging the soil in a 270 degree arc. Fortunately, this was the side where I only have gotten two radials down, made of heavier gauge wire that survived.

Had I made more progress, this would have been a radial massacre!

I was able to get the three cut radials repaired, but with bare stranded copper wire, once it oxidizes in a few days I will be out of luck. It was disappointing, but something I will have to live with.

What to do?

I first need to drag a bunch of dirt down and place 3-4″ of soil around the base of the tree, out 10ft or so, to try to protect the radials once I’ve got them down. I also need to make a more conscious effort to bury the future radials a little deeper. Another 1/2 inch and the three that were cut would have survived. Finally, I will need to switch to #18 copper clad steel. Not only is it stronger than the #18 stranded I’m using now, it’s still relatively cheap. Another bonus is that I can clean the oxidation off with some steel wool and repair any that get damaged.

I’m going to proceed with the #18 stranded I have now, and get the first 30 radials down. I will probably add another 30 later in the year, using the copper clad steel, near the end of the rainy season in October when the grass won’t need as frequent mowing.

80/160M Feedline Buried

I got the feed line buried today that runs from my antenna switch behind the house down to the tree in the back yard. This tree is only 35ft tall, but before winter it will grow a 1/4 wave 80m vertical out the top. I’m planning on purchasing a Unadilla 80m trap and adding it with a horizontal wire to make a resonant and hopefully effective vertical for 80 and 160m.

Digging here is no joke, and I kicked my butt getting the cable buried before the lawn ninjas come and chew it up with their lawn mowers.

Looking back toward the tree

First of all, I jump on the shovel with all my weight, to cut through the roots of the grass. Move 6 inches, and repeat. Once I get 30 or 40 feet, I go back and run a small pick through the slit to deepen it. The ground here is mostly broken pieces of coral of various sizes with a small amount of red clay in between. Not easy to dig into! Once I get it dug out, I insert the cable and cover it back up.

Once I cut the grass with the shovel, this does a good job of making a deep enough pocket to hold the cable. The ground is not easy to dig into!

Of course I did this during the heat of the afternoon, and I was soon drenched. It took a couple hours to bury the whole 150ft run of cable out to the base of the tree.

This is the business end of the feed line, awaiting to be hidden from the weed-wacker yielding lawn ninjas

It will be impossible to bury 60 radials with this method, so hopefully I can staple them down just after it’s mowed. I’m not sure this will work – they cut the grass here very short.

Looking back at the house. I just received permission to install the Spiderbeam. Eventually it will be higher, but I want to get everyone used to it first.

Assuming I can staple the radials, I still have almost 450ft of RG6 to lay out and bury. This will be the feed line for my beverage antennas. The cable needs to be well hidden as it will extend out of the fence line, which is patrolled by security. I don’t want curious cops pulling it up!