New QTH antennas all complete

It took about two months, but I have finally completed all the work installing antennas at my new location. The Spiderbeam went up pretty easily, but the vertical took quite a bit of time to get it to work on 40/80/160, and the Beverages took the longest time, because I had to clear paths through thick jungle.

I got to shake down the station during the Oceania DX SSB contest last weekend. I made just over 1800 QSOs in 17 hours of operating. The location seems to be a winner.

Arrows point NW (Europe and Asia) and NE (North America) from my house. The takeoff toward Europe especially is fantastic. The house is at 560ft ASL.
The arrows show the direction and location of three Beverages I installed. 800ft for NA, 750ft for EU, and 500ft due south for Australia and New Zealand.
The receive antennas are switched remotely from here, with 12 VDC injected in the feed line. This is at the end of a 1000ft run of coax from the house. From here it is about 300ft more to each of the three antenna feed points. There is still plenty of signal so no preamp is needed.

The EU/AS Beverage terminates in an area filled with bamboo. Hopefully the Asian influence helps with receiving in this direction!
I really could have used a flame thrower to make a path through some of the thicker areas. The vines are incredibly difficult to get through – very strong and hourly progress is marked in feet.
The end of my European/Asian receive antenna has a nice view (looking northwest).
Here is the feed point of my low band vertical. The big coil provides loading for 160m. The smaller copper coil is for fine tuning resonance within 160m. The smaller aluminum coil is to match the antenna on 80 and 40m. Band switching can be accomplished remotely through the three vacuum relays.
My transmit antennas are all located at the edge of a 40ft drop-off. 40/80/160m top loaded vertical to the right, Spiderbeam and 6el 6m beam to the left.
Looking south at the house from a rock pillar on the other side of the road.
Looking southwest from the same point toward Orote Point and the Commercial Port showing the dramatic drop offs toward the ocean. The 3rd Marine Division had to fight up these cliffs during the Liberation of Guam. There are shell casings and bullets all over the area (this is NPS property).
Looking northwest from the same location, showing more of the cliff face and drop off.


Disassembling my old Beverage farm

We finally got a break in the rain, so I had an opportunity to go back up to my old former QTH and finish removing the six Beverages I had in the jungle there. It’s really a shame to have to take everything down after all the hard work I invested putting them up, but I can reuse the wire, feed point transformers, and even the termination resistors. Due to all the rain, I was able to recover quite a few ground rods as well.

The wind we got last week definitely changed the appearance of the jungle up north. Many branches were down, and the ground was covered with fresh leaves. All my remaining Beverages were felled by trees, with the exception of my trusty EU/JA wire. It survived three years without breaking, even though a tree had fallen on it last week.

It is hard to see in the image, but this is a pandanas tree that fell across one of my Beverages.

I dare say that my former EU/AS Beverage was “magical” – very quiet with excellent performance. I will reinstall this wire as my new EU/AS Beverage here at my new QTH. Hopefully it performs just as well!

Beverage wire and ground rods gathered up and ready to be relocated
I still find random WW2 Japanese beer bottles in the area. This Kirin bottle was sitting under one of my wires. I only found it now after three years, after the wind blew away some ground cover. This area was used as a ranch and was occupied first by Japanese soldiers and later by Marines.
Kind of sad – my old QTH – all empty.

I still have a lot of work to do at the new QTH – the feed and termination of the NA Beverage, to make a path and install the new EU/JA Beverage, and to run almost 1500ft of RG6 coax.


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.

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.


Beverage Antenna Repairs

We have had some gusty winds this winter (perhaps up to 35MPH), and I noticed that my African Beverage had gone deaf. Since this is long path season into NA, and since this is also the heading for NA long path, I figured I needed to repair it.

It turns out that a large branch had fallen on the wire very close to the feed point, snapping the wire at the feedpoint insulator. I float the wire through insulators along the length, so a branch falling usually does not break the wire, but in this case since it fell close to one end, it broke. Anyway, it was an easy fix, and all six Beverages are once again operational.

It isn’t pretty, but it works. I don’t waterproof boxes because (1) it isn’t necessary and (2) it is easier to trap water in such a “waterproof” box than keep it out. Better to let it breathe.
Typical terrain and growth in the jungle
Pretty much looks the same in late December as late July; the temperature remains the same year around. There usually is less humidity in the winter so it feels much cooler.

Beverage antenna splitter

This week I wound a simple Beverage RX antenna splitter – 12 turn primary on a 73-202 binocular core, with a 16 turn secondary center tapped and grounded through a 33 ohm resistor. The idea is to share my Beverage switch box between both radios. This should help me with multipliers on the low bands, an improvement over the past where the 2nd radio could only listen on the noisy low band transmit antennas.

Thanks to N0AX for deciphering my spectrum analyzer for me, but it looks like about 4dB of loss through the transformer, with good isolation between both outputs. Theoretically I could get 3DB loss with a Magic T splitter, but this is fine for Beverage antennas. It seems to work well, and it appears I may even be able to do some same-band SO2R with some of the more remotely located Beverages I have.

The signal was zeroed out to the 50dB line before putting the splitter in-line – shows about 4dB loss on 3.5 Mhz (similar measurements were found on 1.8, 7.0, and 14.0 mhz)


Another new Beverage Antenna

Yesterday I finally got the chance to install a 6th Beverage receive antenna. The new one is pointed at 160 degrees – about the line separating zones 30 and 32. The new antenna should help not only with VK/ZL, but also Europe long path on 40 and perhaps even 80m. This had to be a short one, about 450ft long, because the housing area and fence meant that I would have to place the feed point deep into the jungle – the deeper I go, the more coax loss countering the performance gain of a longer antenna. I ended up using about 500ft of RG6 to reach the feed point from the remote coax switch that is already 400ft from the shack.

Last night the antenna seemed deaf. While laying in bed – the light bulb went on in my head – I was a doofus and had forgotten to splice the two pieces of wire I used to make up the antenna. Essentially I had been listening on an unterminated, 75ft long Beverage. After I fixed it this morning, the new antenna seems to be hearing normally now.

Here’s the splice point I had forgotten yesterday. A terminated 450ft long antenna hears better than an unterminated 75ft long one!
Yes – the beverage transformer is housed in a Tic Tac box. It’s all I had at the moment, and I only care to keep the transformer somewhat dry and protected from the rain.
Yes – the beverage transformer is housed in a Tic Tac box. It’s all I had at the moment, and I only care to keep the transformer somewhat dry and protected from the rain.
The new wire passes through an area used as a late WW2/immediate post-war dump. These are beer and liquor bottles dated 1945-1947. The Beverage passes through a field of Beverage containers – good luck?

Today, when I finished the splice, I had to clear off a tree that had fallen on my old North American Beverage. The insulators I use allow the wire to slide through them – so tree falls like this normally do not break the wire and allow the antenna to still function.

Nice day in the jungle – sunny and not too damp today
This tree fell when it became overgrown with vines.

While walking the 045 Beverage, I crossed some cigarette butts under the antenna. I had heard a couple gun shots last weekend – pig hunters – but didn’t realize that had been in the vicinity of my wires. Either they did not see them (the #18 cu clad wire is almost invisible) or they are respecting them. Copper theft is very prevalent on Guam but most hunters I’ve seen in the area are responsible people and I let them know what the antennas are for (and that the cu clad wire is almost worthless as scrap). The fact that there are hunters in the area are why I do antenna work mid day, when the hunters are not active (pigs are active in morning and evening) and why I wear colorful clothing and make a lot of noise. I don’t want to be mistaken for a pig or deer!


Receive antenna success

After going through the effort to install a new NA Beverage (see previous posts), I was nervous the first time I listened with it. Turns out, I needed not to worry. The first station I listened to was VE1ZZ – the most difficult area in NA to hear on 160 except for VO1. He was peaking 559. Better yet, I had no copy on him at all on the old NA Beverage, the one I have used for the last 18 months.

I can tell that there is some feed line loss – this antenna seems to have less gain – but there is no hint of line noise, which is constantly present on the old antenna, sometimes S2. The noise floor is significantly lower – by 12-18dB – but signals are about the same strength.

Today I disconnected the old NA Beverage and reconnected the SA wire. I will probably take down the old NA Beverage and use it for a new receive antenna toward New Zealand – a direction which can be somewhat difficult for me to copy currently. A 160 degree heading should cover ZL, east VK, and EU long path quite nicely.

Before then I need to build a new remote coax switch capable of switching more than two antennas. I’m working on a schematic now built around a LM3914 chip and a bunch of 78XX DC regulators. I should be able to design something that can switch 5 antennas remotely with only the feed line – no control wires.

The station is set up now for CQWW DX RTTY this weekend.

I have RTTY working on both radios so I should be SO2R ready (two CPUs, stations interlocked via PTT lines and W6NL designed lockout box using NTE2357 devices). If you’re wondering what the two feed lines are that run under the amps; these have BNC quick-disconnects so I can manually insert bandpass filters. Not much of my station is automated.


Walking Beverages

I generally have to walk all my Beverages about once a month. If I don’t the growth becomes overwhelming. It may not be true, but I’ve felt that wet vines, branches, and leaves tend to cause some attenuation if they contact the uninsulated wire in too many places. Walking the antennas regularly allows me to try to keep the jungle at bay, before it becomes a huge clearing project.

Yesterday, while working on clearing the route for my soon-to-be new NA Beverage, I brought my GoPro camera. Once I finished clearing a path to what will be the termination point, I turned it on and walked back along the length of the new trail I had made. This video will give you an idea of what it’s like to walk in the jungle here on Northern Guam. The area is very typical for what you find in the northern forest, however I chose a route that was less heavily overgrown than many other areas in an attempt to make my job clearing easier.

You may notice that I am walking slowly. This is on purpose, to keep from tripping over vines, roots, and rocks laying on the ground. Additionally, you will notice that the jungle is absolutely silent. There are no birds in the jungle, which is very much in contrast to my housing area where birds can be heard chirping all day long. Why? Because of the brown tree snake. You will never find one in the jungle, but they are everywhere, masters of disguise hiding in the tree tops during the day. The birds have migrated out of the forest and into trees on base, because it is protected from snakes by a barrier of snake traps. It can be eerily silent in the jungle, and I’ve often been startled by the quick explosion of noise which occurs when I stumble into an area where pigs have bedded down for the day, as they crash through the jungle running away.

[I need to relocate my video on Youtube.  I didn’t upload it on my normal account.  The link did not survive in the archive copy I am using to rebuild this site in Dec 2020]

By clicking on the Youtube icon at the bottom right of the imbedded video, you can watch a higher resolution version in a new window.