Beverage work started

I got started on installing one of two Beverage receive antennas this week. As I thought, it won’t be easy. So far, I have 730ft of 800ft run for a North American Beverage, and it is very difficult to get through the jungle due to the growth. Once I finish the NA wire, I want to install a second one for EU/JA, then run 1100ft or RG6 coax. As from my former QTH, I try to tread lightly – since I plan on removing everything when I transfer next summer.

This is close to the feed point (south west most point) of the NA Beverage. You can see one of my homebrew wire insulators attached to the tree. I make them from 1/2in PVC pipe
The trees are all really small and densely packed together. Makes it difficult to clear a path for the wire so it does not contact anything. I use bare copper clad wire and I see signal attenuation if too much growth gets in contact with the wire.
Easier going through this stretch, a grove of palma brava trees. These are used as ornamental plants in many areas. Some of these are 40ft tall.

I found the above photo in the NPS War in the Pacific Park web site photo gallery archives. It shows the Nimitz Hill area where I live, as it looked in March of 1945. The object at the top of the photo is a float – most likely this photo was taken from a Curtiss SOC Seagull float plane. These planes were most often flown from Cruisers and other large combat ships. The tent city you see is actually the 94th Construction Battalion, a SeaBee unit. They occupied the ground where I am installing my temporary receive antennas today. There are very few remnants left – you can still make out the grid work of access roads, but other than a few pieces of brick and pipe, there is not much else left. This probably explains why the vegetation is so dense – since this is not “old growth” forest. Very little “old growth” forest remains in this area, due to the heavy fighting and extended bombardment during the liberation.

The yellow arrow points toward the northeast (North America) and generally follows the path of the receive wire.

This won’t be easy…

I have kept as busy as possible while dealing with chemo side effects which have gotten worse due to their cumulative effect as my treatment continues. I now have resonant antennas for 10-80m, leaving just 160 and 6 to go. Today I spent some time in the jungle adjacent to housing where I hope to install two Beverage receive antennas, one for NA, the other for EU. Unfortunately I don’t have the strength or time to install more, given I will be transferring off island next summer.

It will not be easy going – the growth in the jungle is very dense. Here in central Guam, the jungle is more “jungle like” than northern Guam, which technically is a limestone forest. Up north, the tree canopy and rocky ground keeps low vegetation in check. Here, the red volcanic dirt means anything and everything grows.

These vines are my nemesis. They are extremely strong, and can only be cut with sharp pruning shears. They catch you like a spider web, grabbing your ankles and tripping you up. They are very difficult to get through, and on top of everything, they grow very fast.
This is real jungle growth!
I still have my trusty WRTC 2002 compass which I use when blazing trails.
I also bring my Nexus 7 with a hiking app. The built-in GPS allows me to record my track, and export it into Google Earth. In this case, the white track is my path. I parked my car at the Asan Beach overlook at the left. My house is the 3rd one down from the top center house, to the left.


Over the past few weeks, I was very busy getting moved into the new QTH. It was a mad dash of sorts, to get moved before the start of my next round of chemo. I was able to get the Spiderbeam installed, and it has a fantastic view from the new location.

The view toward Europe and Japan
The view toward North America isn’t quite as spectacular, but is still better than my former location.

I am very much space limited at my new location. Since I will only be here for less than a year before I transfer, it is hard to justify the effort into developing a highly effective antenna for Topband. Even with time, I just don’t have the space, and since my new location is much higher visibility (next to a road), I feel it is more important to keep a sort of minimalistic attitude. Better to be QRV on the higher bands than to upset the wrong person and get shut down all together. That said, I am currently working on installing radials for a 40m vertical which I plan on top loading for 80, and perhaps additional base loading for 160. If nothing else, it will allow me to work some multipliers on 160 in contests.

I do hope to get two Beverages installed here as well. There is a bit of space, enough for a 700-800 footer toward Europe and North America.

Directly behind the house is a sharp drop off about 30ft to the road.

Looking up the hill at the Spiderbeam and the patio of my house.

This not only raises the effective height of my Spiderbeam significantly, I hope it will provide a good takeoff for the vertical, which I am mounting right next to the drop off. Unfortunately, I really don’t have any vertical supports tall enough for an effective horizontal antenna for the low bands, even from this location.

I have done some preliminary HFTA runs and this location should be fantastic, especially into Europe.

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.

Receive antenna maintenance

The week before the ARRL DX CW contest, I figured it was time to walk the receive antennas again. It’s been a few months since I’ve done it last, and due to some windy conditions, I expected to find some issues.

Tree branch fallen against the Beverage wire – the vine behind the branch is a troublesome species since it grows so quickly.

As expected, I found a number of issues, mostly branches and vines that had fallen across the Beverage wires. Fortunately none were broken. I allow the wire to “float” through the insulators, so a branch will usually pull the wire to the ground but not break it.

The vine in the above photo is especially troublesome. They grow extremely fast and are very strong and difficult to cut with a machete. They often trip me up when walking in the jungle. Because of their strength, apparently they are used in the Philippines to tie up farm animals. In several places these vines quickly overwhelm the receive wire.

Signature of a hunter

The area where my antennas are located have been unoccupied since WW2. Unfortunately, however, poachers have started hunting on the land, which is Government of Guam property. They leave telltale signs – such as the water bottle above. It is really sad that they do not pack out their trash, however I see it everywhere on Guam even in the most remote areas. Water bottles, beer cans, and Mr. Brown’s iced coffee cans scattered where hunters sit and wait for their prey. Fortunately, none of my antennas have been disturbed, however metal theft is a huge problem on Guam so it may be a matter of time until my antennas start disappearing.

Coconut fronds are heavy and easily pull the wire to the ground.
This honey bee hive is located right next to my longer North American beverage. Fortunately they are not aggressive. Apparently these bees are somewhat rare on Guam.
A pig rubbed up against this tree, damaging the feed point connector. It still works however I’ll have to replace it at some point this spring.
A pig rubbed up against this tree, damaging the feed point connector. It still works however I’ll have to replace it at some point this spring.
The red arrows point to tooth marks in my African Beverage termination where a pig grabbed the wire in its mouth. No real damage fortunately; usually they don’t see the black wire. White wire gets torn to shreds quickly and I can’t use it in the jungle.
This fully loaded M1 Carbine magazine sits where I found it last year, under my original North American receive antenna. It has sat here since 1944, where it was left at the edge of a Marine’s foxhole probably on August 6th, 1944, when this was the front line during the Liberation of Guam. Pretty cool stuff – which fascinates me.


Japanese defensive position

Weather was beautiful this past weekend – sunny and low humidity. Perfect for doing some exploring.

I decided to revisit the Japanese positions I had discovered last weekend in the rain (my previous post). I brought my son and his best friend along also. It is nice to have some company because it can get spooky at times when alone. The kids wanted to bring my metal detector, so we brought that along too.

First order of business was to relocate the gun pits, and mark their position with GPS.

The five pits are all separated by approx 50 meters, and are located in an arc.
The five pits are all separated by approx 50 meters, and are located in an arc.

I’m still not sure what this position was supposed to defend, since the Japanese focused their defensive efforts on the beaches. I suspect this was to be an anti-aircraft position, due to the depth of the holes and the fact that they were round (allowing 360 degree arc toward the sky). [December 2020 – there appears to have been a Japanese airstrip under construction just east and north of the old FAA housing area.  This construction was not completed when the liberation took place in June 1944.]

Decent sized monitor lizard sunning himself along the edge of pit number 2

Around the eastern most pit (number 1), which is closest to an abandoned WW2 dirt road, is evidence of American troops – notably several 75mm howitzer shell casings. The fact that there are no American bottles around tells me that this was a short-term American position, likely on the 6th or 7th of August 1944 as the American troops pushed the front lines northward.

The other gun pits are surrounded primarily with Japanese beer bottles (DaiNippon), with only a small scattering of American bottles.

The kids played around with the metal detector, and gave up after a little while. There are a number of shell craters around, from artillery hits. All the kids were finding were bits of shrapnel laying around. Later, while they took a break, I explored an old burn pit filled with broken bottles, and found some bits from a Japanese naval gas mask, but nothing exciting.

At first I thought this was a modern battery, perhaps from the 70’s or 80’s if the area was inhabited by ranchers post-war.
The manufacturer – Yuasa – makes batteries in the modern era. However – in this area I only found WW2 era Japanese bottles. I also found out that Yuasa made batteries before WW2. This quite possibly was left by the Japanese from the war. I’ll have to go back and see if I can find any dates or other information the next time I visit this site.
This is a Japanese two-holer outhouse. These barrels are smaller than the American ones, which indicates they are Japanese. There are many like it about a mile south at a Japanese anti-aircraft position, where they have been filled with rocks for protection. This was the business end of the outhouse.
The kids take a break; wore out from a couple hours of exploring

After a couple hours of exploring, we headed home. Not much to see other than a few Japanese beer bottles and the positions themselves, but it is so heavily overgrown in this area, it is worth revisiting and exploring more closely in the future.