Sunday, April 19, 2009

And then there were three ....

The weatherman was only partially right about today's forecast. It was a lot cooler than yesterday. It only got up to about 60 degrees, which was a far cry from the high temperature of 78 degrees yesterday. But on the other hand, he was wrong about the rain. It turned out to be a very sunny day; and the cooler temps made it a good day for antenna maintenance.

I have been limping along with my Butternut vertical for a while. The center conductor of the feed stub broke free from its connector; and I was using a make fix jumper to keep the antenna usable. Today I got the chance to expose some new copper on the center conductor and solder on a permanent piece of wire to extend to the feedpoint. The feed stub is some non 50 Ohm type of coax that Butternut supplies; so it was not as easy as just hooking up coax to a SO-239 connector. A check with my antenna analyzer proved I still have a decent match on all bands; and now the Butternut is officially back up to snuff.

My end fed "Inverted L" Zepp that I put up a few years ago was also giving me fits and starts throughout the winter. I cut a bit back on the 300 Ohm twinlead that I use to feed it, just enough to expose new copper. I soldered on two new ring connectors and attached it to the balun I am using to transition the twinlead to coax. I had originally intended to pound a copper grounding rod into the soil to provide a ground. Unfortunately, I was only able to go down about 2 feet before I hit a layer of clay; so I ended up attaching a 60 foot piece of wire to the ground connection to act as a counterpoise, instead. Hooking up the antenna analyzer showed a 1:1 match at around 3.560 MHz which is actually perfect for 80 Meter CW. The K2's autotuner gets a match on all bands. The reason I have this up in the air is that it runs on a different axis than the G5RV, so it allows me to get a little directionality going. Just as a "final" check, I got on 30 Meters and called CQ and got an answer after just a couple of calls. When I got a decent signal report from the Ham in Ohio, I was satisfied.

As always, "Ol' Reliable", my G5RV (which is my mainstay) is doing fine and needed nothing to be done to it. However, I was taking another look at the maple tree that it is being supported by to see if there's any chance I might be able to get that apex up another 5 feet or so. Right now, it looks like probably not. The branches all the way at the top still look a little too skinny after the cutting back they underwent a few years ago. In another year or two, it might be do-able. However, even so, it's nice to know now that I can switch between three antennas at any given moment to try and get the job done as needed.

Last night was productive, too! I made new dividers for the aluminum case that I carry my K1 portable station in. I had some old clear plastic down in the basement that had come out of some picture frames (it was used instead of glass). Using a single edge razor blade, I was able to cut pieces to the sizes that I needed. Unfortunately, one thickness was too flimsy; so I took two identically sized pieces and glued them together with Duco cement. They proved to be sturdy enough; and I was very happy that I was able to use materials that I had scrounged up instead of having to go out and buy something.

73 de Larry W2LJ

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