Pending QSY

It appears that my luck with housing has run out. For a long time, we had known that my housing area was on the “chopping block”, since there are currently less than 20 residents among nearly 200 housing units. It was just not fiscally responsible to keep keep this housing open, when most people chose to live closer to the Naval Station further south on Guam.

We received notice last week that the Navy is closing the housing area. We are now scrambling to try to get moved as soon as possible, before the school year starts, and before my next round of chemotherapy starts.

What does this mean for NH2T and KH2/N2NL? It almost certainly means that I will be QRT on 80 and 160m, at least outside of major contests. On the other hand, I hope to remain active on the other bands. Unfortunately I’ve already had to start taking down antennas. The Beverages will stay in the jungle until later this year, to be recovered after my chemo.

Moving to new housing does open some new opportunities for me. I will be moving south, closer to the Naval Station. It opens up whole new opportunities for WW2 exploration; new territory where the worse of the fighting took place. For that reason, there is some excitement along with disappointment with his coming move.

Summer antenna maintenance

Every summer I try to spend some time upgrading my station and antennas. This year was a bit more difficult, due to my medical condition. Besides, I had a difficult time coming up with things to improve. I’d pretty much maximized what can be done from this QTH, given the restrictions of bring in military housing.

Since it’s been three years, I spent most of the time renewing all the guy ropes and other lines that keep the antennas in the air. I use 550 para cord everywhere. It is strong, cheap, and seems to resist UV quite well from my experience. All lines got renewed – for the Spiderbeam and 80/160m vertical. Additionally, I renewed the ratchet straps on the roof that helps to lock the Spiderbeam mast in place. The three-year-old nylon straps were faded, and the ratchets themselves had turned into large hunks of rust.

One upgrade I did accomplish was to build a new 6m yagi, based on G0KSC’s excellent loop fed yagi designs. I chose his 6.8m, 6el design and tweaked the dimensions with EZNEC. Justin’s design uses single piece elements, which requires tubing lengths too long to easily ship to Guam. I essentially modified the design to use tapered elements, and purchased the aluminum from DX Engineering.

For insulators, I used fiberglass blocks cut from 1/4″ GPO3 sheets available at McMaster-Carr. The material is inexpensive and is easy to work with (cut and drill).

The new 6m yagi brought some excitement over the summer. I worked two stations in the Ukraine, a station in Israel, W7GJ on EME (Earth Moon Earth), and even copied CT1HZE in Portugal – a very long haul on 6m.

KH2/N2NL antenna farm, summer 2013
Another view of the antenna farm
New 6m yagi, based on G0KSC’s loop fed yagi designs
New 40/30m vertical (utilizing the existing radials)
Closer look at the feed point of the 40/30m vertical
New 6m yagi, built using the skeleton of a Cushcraft 50-5 and some new aluminum tubing from DX Engineering
close-up of the feed point
One of the element insulators, utilizing the old cushcraft element-to-boom clamp and a piece of 1/4″ fiberglass
View of the loop feed and matching balun which runs parallel with the boom


Back into the jungle

My Chemotherapy leaves me with good days and bad days. Each cycle lasts three weeks, the last week being an “off” week for recovery. During this time I feel pretty good and am able to be somewhat active. I wanted to get back into the jungle to further explore the Japanese defensive position I discovered prior to my diagnosis of cancer.

This site is not very easy to locate, being surrounded by heavy jungle growth that you have to blaze through to get to the five defensive positions. The area appears to have once been a ranch, with coconut trees for copra harvesting and cleared areas for farming, now overgrown with vegetation. It makes navigation difficult without a GPS. Once you find the location, however, there is quite a lot of evidence of WW2 activity.

One of five pits, painstakingly dug out of the coral. These pits make up an arc favoring the northwest, presumably for anti aircraft weapons never emplaced, to defend a Japanese fighter airstrip under construction when the liberation began in July 1944.

Most of the artifacts are Japanese beer bottles, but there are a few American remnants as well. It appears that the 3rd Marines occupied this site for a short period during the liberation, when the front lines pushed north through this area. The lack of any sort of quantity of American refuse leads me to believe they were here for only a short period of time before moving on.

Japanese Naval gas mask pieces found scattered about – straps, webbing, and rubber pieces long since rotted away.
Evidence of a former American aid station: a brown medicine bottle next to a blood plasma bottle.
The 3rd Marines located 75mm pack howitzers here to support the push northward. The patina on the old shell casings makes them difficult to find as they blend in with the environment.
Spool of communications wire, rotting away.
Some unknown aluminum piece laying on the ground, with a Japanese data plate.
Thanks to Hal, W1NN, for helping with translation. The bottom line is the manufacturer: Fuji Aviation Instruments Company, Inc. The middle is the serial number, date of manufacture (unreadable), and Japanese Navy inspection stamps. The top row is difficult to read, but it appears to be an emergency fuel level transmitter of some sort – perhaps a low level fuel sending unit that attached to a gauge. I am guessing is belonged in truck, not aircraft, due to the high serial number.
While hiking out, I spot these guys. Wasps are about the only thing I really fear in the jungle, as the nests are difficult to spot and they can be very aggressive. You usually only realize you walked into a nest when you get stung.
These are hornets. Fortunately, not very aggressive, but their stings are very painful – I have first hand experience while rooting around in low underbrush and knocking into a nest.


Slight hiccup in plans

It’s been quite a while since I’ve updated this blog. Back in May, I started suffering from severe abdominal cramping. A trip to the Emergency Room and a CT Scan led the doctors to preliminarily diagnose me with Diverticulitis. I was released with antibiotics, and for a few days I felt great. Then the cramping returned. I once again went to the ER, and had a second follow-up CT. The pain was intense, so bad that I couldn’t keep down the CT contrast I had to drink, and led to a tube being shoved down my nose and into my stomach to suck out the bile. Talk about misery!

The second CT scan showed a severe blockage in my large intestine. I was brought into the operating room immediately for surgery. Ultimately, I had about 14 cm of my large sigmoid colon removed, and was set up with a temporary ostomy.

The pathology on the blockage came back a few days later – stage three Colon Cancer. Wow! I am only 42, with no family history of cancer. I am healthy and active, do not smoke or drink. In a sense I was very lucky, because had I not come down with the side effects, I would not have had the cancer diagnosed possibly until it had gone stage four and possibly terminal.

In the months since the surgery, I have learned to live with my temporary surgery. Followup CT scans and a PET scan have shown that I am most likely clear of any spread of cancer, but with five positive lymph nodes in the removed section of colon, the seeds of future tumors may have been spread. To help prevent this from happening, I started six months of chemotherapy in June.

The Coast Guard has been incredibly supportive through all of this. I am currently on limited duty – meaning my primary job from now until early January 2014 is to get chemo and recover – and to return to full duty which is my plan. I am receiving treatment on Guam, which allows me to remain on island, which I preferred for a number of reasons.

The chemotherapy I am receiving is called XOLOX. I receive an Oxaliplatin IV drip on day one of each three-week cycle. Also, during days 1-14 of each three week cycle, I take oral Xeloda medication which is converted into the anti-cancer drug 5-FU in any cancer cells still living in my body. My side effects from the Xeloda are minimal, fortunately, but the Oxaliplatin, a platinum based drug, has some pretty severe side effects including nausea, tiredness, and a wicked cold sensitivity in my mouth, hands, and feet. This means no cold drinks, and even room temperature drinks are unpleasant when consumed quickly. It requires me to wear gloves when taking something out of the refrigerator. Fortunately, these side effects wear off after about a week, and during my chemo recovery weeks (days 15-21 of each three-week cycle), I can enjoy ice cream although I still have to wear gloves when grabbing the container.

At this time, I am a couple days into my 4th round of eight of chemotherapy. I hope to finish in time to recover slightly for at least a part time effort in the WW SSB contest. During November, I will be exercising heavily, to get some of my fitness back, and hopefully a full effort in WW CW. In early December, I should be receiving a second surgery to reverse my ostomy, and to return my digestive tract back to it’s normal path. After a few weeks of recovery from this second surgery, I should be returning back to full duty, and to continue my Coast Guard career, transferring somewhere in the summer of 2014 as previously planned.