Friday, December 11, 2009

Twisted SteppIR

On Wednesday we had some high winds. Various places close to me measured 62 MPH and as much as a 74 MPH gust. I was gone all day and when I got home, it was too dark to tell any more than the tower was still standing. In the light of day I was able to see that the SteppIR got twisted a bit by the wind. Below you can see two views of the antenna that is canted at about a 30-degree angle from horizontal.

Using the telephoto lens of my camera I was able to see that the truss wire on the driven element side of the antenna has come loose. It can be seen hanging down below the antenna. (Click on any photo to enlarge it and use your Back button to return to this page.) Below you can see the reason the truss wire is no longer connected. The turnbuckle came unscrewed. Apparently there was no safety wire put through it during installation. In the first two photos below you can see the turnbuckle body hanging from the boom and it is missing the end that attaches to the mast. On the second photo you can see the missing "eye" that is still attached to the mast.

On the third photo I have put an arrow that shows the EZeye eyebolt. This is used during installation to quickly and easily secure the SteppIR to the mounting plate before attaching the U-bolts. I can't tell for certain but it looks like the SteppIR boom has rotated in the U-bolts and has been stopped from further rotation by the bolt hitting the mounting plate.

Repair should be simple. just loosen the U-bolts and return the antenna to horizontal, then reach out and retrieve the truss cable and re-connect it to the mast. This time, a safety wire WILL be put through both turnbuckles so this does not happen again.

This minor damage to the SteppIR installation is not the extent of the wind damage here. The 160-M Monster-L was working great on Thursday morning when I checked out the antennas. However, this morning the SWR was nearly 7:1. Possibly something failed last night as we continued to have high wind on Thursday. Also, the 80-M Inverted-V is no longer functional. I suspect either one leg has come loose or broken on it. So, some of the wire antennas need a little work in addition to repairing the truss wire on the SteppIR. Then, we will again be back in business.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

W8TN is BACK on Top Band!

Today, Mike Null, NU8LL, and Eric Mynes, K8OHZ, came to the Hill and pulled up the 160-M Inverted-L. That antenna had not been replaced on the tower when we did the antenna installation of the SteppIR. But today, Mike climbed the tower with Eric as Ground Crew and re-installed the Inverted-L. Mike also removed the gin pole and rope and brought them back up the hill with the roll of Phillystran.

As you can see by the SWR plot of the 160-M Inverted-L on the right, I'm now "back in business" for Top Band. The SWR ranges from 1.45:1 at 1.800 MHz to 2.0:1 at 1.869 MHz. At 1.850 MHz it is 1.72:1 and the lowest SWR is at 1.819 MHz where it is 1.19:1. I would say that is just darn near perfect since I have no series capacitor or other tuning network to do any matching at the base of the antenna.

I guess tomorrow I'll have an early wake-up to try for TX3A on Top Band. I was up at 3:00 a.m. this morning for 2-1/2 hours trying to work them on 30-M when they were S-9 here but nothing! So, hopefully tomorrow morning will bring good luck for me. But, just to see if the antenna was functioning, I took a look at the band and found OE3I operating in the Austrian 160-M Contest. I do NOT have Austria confirmed after sending a Direct QSL 2 years ago. So, I called and worked OE3I with very little trouble. And here's the good news, HE's ON LoTW! YIPPEE! I'm BACK!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

W8TN is WALKING Again!

Today I visited the Orthopedic Surgeon who had repaired my broken leg. He took another X-Ray (see the photo at right - click on it for a larger image), looked over the leg, felt it, moved it, and said I was now cleared to do whatever I want! YIPPEE! It's been 4 months and 2 days since I broke the leg.

Actually he did schedule me for 6 more weeks of Physical Therapy (3 times a week) which will be pretty intensive. Strength Training, Gait Training, more Flexing, etc. I'm sure the people in P.T. will turn the screws tightly now as before I was limited to NO weight bearing on the broken leg.

WOW, I can't tell you how good it feels to not be just marking time (or so I thought) waiting for everything to heal. The surgeon was very pleased with how the incisions had healed and he liked the look of the X-Ray. He said he had been pretty worried about an infection and with my diabetes how well the healing would go. However, Evelyn has kept me on the straight and narrow with my diet and for the month of October my fasting blood sugar readings averaged 116 with a high of 139 and a low of 92. This is great as I'm still healing somewhat so the readings may even go lower once I'm past that stage and start getting more exercise.

Actually, as soon as we got home I put on my shoes and have been walking all over the house using the walker but now I'm not "hopping." I'm bearing weight on the broken leg and actually WALKING! WOW! (It didn't take too many walks to get tired though - I really need to build up my strength!)

You never really appreciate the simple things in life until they are taken away. I have so much empathy for those people who are stuck in a wheelchair without the possibility of ever getting out of it. It's definitely a hard road.

Looks like if I ever fly somewhere, I'll set off the metal detectors for miles around!

Monday, November 2, 2009

W8TN's Antenna Project - Phase IV

The last work on the W8TN antenna project was just over 3 weeks ago. A HUGE amount of work was done but we came up a bit short on time to finish the project. Since then the coax feedlines and the control cables have been entering the ham shack through the window. See the photo below for how it looked (click on any photo to view it larger.) This worked OK for awhile but with the nights getting colder, it was starting to become a problem. Also, the need to lift up the coax to allow the wheelchair to roll underneath it led to me not keeping the antenna connected all the time.

So today, Tim, KC8UHE, Mike, KE8V, and Apollo (the Archer), N8RR, came to remedy that problem. In addition to running the cables underneath the house, they were kind enough to erect a KILLER 80-M Vertical down over the hill. The "Archer" brought his trusty bow and amazed Tim with his ability to loft an arrow with great finesse over the exact limb of the tree which was chosen to support the vertical wire. Below (L-R) you see KE8V, The "Archer", and KC8UHE.

I look at these "projects" as my way of helping the hams become "Heart Healthy." The climb up the hill is a great workout!

I cut the vertical portion of the wire for the vertical as well as the two radials to Apollo's specifications of 66-feet. I then crimped and soldered ring lugs onto the wire to make connection to the center insulator easy. Apollo shot his arrow over the chosen branch and pulled up the wire. He says about 5 inches of the vertical and radial wires were used to attach to the insulators. The MFJ-259B meter was put on the antenna and it was deemed DONE. To the right you see the SWR plot of the finished antenna done from the shack with my N8LP LP-100 Digital Vector Wattmeter. The best SWR is 1.03:1 at 3.535 MHz. It is 1.35:1 at 3.500 MHz. and doesn't pass 2.0:1 until you reach 3.656 MHz. I'd say that's going to be one heck of an antenna.

Again I want to express my sincere appreciation to the members of the WVDXA who have taken so much of their time to help get my station operational again. Once the 160-M antenna is pulled back up the tower, I'll be SET. Look out DX, here I come!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

SteppIR Tuning Relay

Since my 4-element SteppIR antenna was graciously erected by the WVDXA members last weekend, it was now time to build up the SteppIR Tuning Relay I had purchased long ago. The SteppIR Tuning Relay is a device that connects between the PTT line of the transceiver and the PTT input of the amplifier. SteppIR specifies no more than 200 watts be applied to the antenna while it is being tuned from one frequency to another. Doing so could damage the antenna and result in an expensive and time-consuming repair.

So, Larry Phipps, N8LP, has designed a device to detect when the SteppIR is moving and break the PTT line to the amplifier during that time. You can see all of Larry's fine products on his WEB SITE. In addition to this SteppIR Tuning Relay I also own his LP-100 Digital Vector Wattmeter which I dearly love!

After unpacking and checking all the parts I began placing them on the circuit board. This consisted of sticking the leads through the plated holes, soldering them in place and cutting off the leads. I took my time attempting to do a fine job. You can see both the underside and top side of the completed board below (click on any photo to see it larger):

The assembly went easily and took about 2 hours. Once I had all the parts mounted I double checked the placement of the diodes, relay, transistor, and I.C.'s to make sure I had made no mistake. I cleaned the excess rosin off the bottom of the board and then made the simple resistance and voltage checks. Everything checked out OK. At that point I placed the circuit board in the case and buttoned it up.

During normal operation of the SteppIR antenna, an "asterisk" blinks on and off on the SteppIR control box indicating that the antenna is tuning. That is just not enough of a warning to keep you from engaging the PTT and calling the DX especially after you have clicked on a spot which caused your rig to change bands and the SteppIR is moving to the new frequency. With the SteppIR Tuning Relay in place, I now do not worry about accidentally engaging the Alpha while the antenna is moving!

Below you can see a photo of the Tuning Relay to the right of the SteppIR control box. Note that the Asterisk is blinking on the SteppIR control box and the Red LED is lit on the Tuning Relay indicating that it has interrupted the PTT line to the linear.

In tests with the amplifier all works perfectly. Now I can comfortably interface the SteppIR controller to the computer so that the antenna will automatically change to the appropriate band when I click on a spot. That is one more step to both automating the station and assuring that the operator does not forget to change the antenna when he changes bands (like I did when I was chasing K4M!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

W8TN's Antenna Project - SteppIR Installation

OK, we set the official date for the installation of the SteppIR 4-L yagi with the 30/40-M option for Sunday, 11 October 2009. I put out the call on the WVDXA Reflector for persons who would be willing to come and help with the operation. Several people responded that they would be there. However, I was more than a little surprised to see that TWELVE hams showed up to help. What a fantastic turnout! I did not get any photos of all 12 at the same time but here is a single shot with 9 of the guys (click on any photo to view it larger.) All photos except this first one were taken by Hal, W8HC.

There was a lot of discussion about what had to be done and then folks just started DOING stuff. I am still stuck in this wheelchair so all I could do was supervise from my hamshack door. I had stayed up until 2:30 a.m. the night before getting all the "parts" ready. Tim, KC8UHE, had taken me "shopping" on two days in the prior week to acquire all the bits and pieces we would need. We had communication over 2-M H.T.'s between those outside and myself in the shack so everyone knew what was happening.

Mike, NU8LL, aka the "Tower Man", arrived and hit the ground running. He began instructing the ground crew in how he wanted them to do everything while he was up on the tower. Safety was stressed all around and I'm proud to say no one received any sort of injury during this operation. Here some of the Ground Crew are shown pulling on the rope (well away from the base of the tower) to raise the antenna (L-R, KC8UHE, KE8V, WA8VPN, & N8RR):

In the following photos you can see the antenna as it reached the top of the tower and then after Mike, NU8LL, flipped it over and attached it to the mounting plate. The antenna is now UP. It sits atop a Rohn 45 tower at about 86-feet above ground. The hillside behind the house slops very steeply so that the base of the tower is 30-feet below the top of the hill.

The group was here for as long as TEN hours but when they left, the antenna was atop the tower and fully functional. All the fine details were attended to and the only job left is to run the coax through the PVC tubes up to the top of the hill and then through more PVC underneath the back yard and up into the shack. In the interim they thoughtfully brought the cables up to the hamshack window so that I could go ahead and put the station on the air (and I have!) Come Spring a 6-M beam will be installed above the SteppIR but in the meantime, I'm back on the air!

I should also mention that my wife, Evelyn, cooked up a large pot of homemade chili, and made a couple of pans of Brownies! That made for a wonderful meal break before the guys began pulling up the antenna.

Here is an 8-minute video that shows several scenes of the operation. The video was shot by Garry, W8OI. On the bottom row of the YouTube video below, you can click on the next to the last icon (a small rectangle inside a larger one) and it will switch to Full Screen mode. Press your ESC key to return to normal mode.

As an extra added benefit to the day, the DX'er Emeritus of the WVDXA, Bob Hall, W8QHG, was celebrating his 93rd birthday the very next day. So, unknown to Bob, the WVDXA surprised him with a Birthday Cake and a Card signed by all the club members present. He was truly surprised and I was amazed that he stayed here for 6 hours watching the installation. Here is a short video of the presentation of Bob's Card and Birthday Cake:

Below you see the beneficiary of all this work, W8TN, peering longingly out of the hamshack door. I so wished I could have been out there in the middle of all this activity.

I want to especially thank all those who were here that day:
Bob, W8QHG - Charlie, N8RR - Pete, K4OM - David, W8IW - Lonny, WA8ZDL - Dwight, KC8WDT - Garry, W8OI - Mike, KE8V - Hal, W8HC - Bob, WA8VPN - Tim, KC8UHE - And, our Tower Man, Mike, NU8LL.
I also want to thank those other members of the WVDXA who helped previously both in person and on the email reflector. It is my privilege and honor to belong to such a wonderful group of hams. It just doesn't get any better than this!

Now, Bring On the DX - I'm READY!

Friday, October 2, 2009

W8TN's Antenna Project - Phase III

A funny thing happened today. I had a mis-communication this week with Mike Null, NU8LL, about when he was going to come and do some work on the tower project. So, about 1:30 p.m. Mike called to say he was on his way to the house and was apologizing for taking so long to find all his equipment. WOAH! The last communication I had with him was me asking him how many folks he needed to help him. Somehow, I never received the email he sent me on Thursday night so I thought the work was called off due to the chance of rain today. Mike thinks he was in a bad coverage area all day yesterday and his iPhone failed to properly send the email to me due to lack of network coverage.

THANK GOODNESS Tim, KC8UHE, was off work and agreed to drop everything and come up here to help. I sure hope Tim did not miss a chance to work FT5GA because of his unselfishness!

Above you see the entire crew for today's work. Mike on the left and Tim on the right. That meant Mike was the "tower guy" and Tim was "ground crew." It also meant that Mike stood on the tower for a few hours while Tim ran up and down the hill - again, and again and again! Poor Tim, his legs must be killing him tonight.

Below you can see a close up shot of Mike in his climbing gear. Also, another shot of him on the top of the tower. I had one little "clearing" in the trees where I could see him from the hamshack. So, I shot this photo through the window in the shack. He is right at the top of the tower.

You can click on any photo to see a larger image.

Anyway, in about four hours this two-man crew accomplished the following: removed the TailTwister rotor from the tower, removed the current rotor cable, installed a new thrust bearing on the top accessory shelf, installed the M2 Orion 2800AC rotor (that puppy weighs 45 pounds!) - the installation of the bigger rotor meant the mounting holes had to be slightly enlarged so Mike had to mount and remove the rotor in order to get the holes right. They then pulled up and connected the new rotor cable, dropped the mast onto the new rotor, secured the thrust bearing and did several other small jobs associated with this rotor installation.

In addition, Tim sprayed more Roundup and cleared the brush from the guy anchor positions. I think there is one small tree that still needs to be removed and that may require Papa November's brush cutter.

On Thursday I had prepared the pigtail on the rotor with a quick disconnect connector and ran the rotor through its check out and calibration routine. While the first part of the work was being done today, I installed the mating connector on the rotor cable which was just delivered by UPS yesterday.

The good news now is once we acquire a couple of missing flat washers and some stainless steel spacers, 200-feet of PVC and a "pull box" to connect the PVC together, and some other miscellaneous items - we are READY to pull up the SteppIR! Tom, AB8RL, came by on Tuesday and went over the hill with the SteppIR controller and an MFJ-259B and confirmed that the antenna functions properly after its two-year hibernation standing beside the tower.

Pizza Hut kindly delivered a pizza for the crew at the end of their work so everyone got some calories to make up for all that were expended today. The completion of this project is getting so close that I can almost smell the finish line!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

W8TN's Antenna Project - Phase II

I have not reported on "Phase I" of my antenna project before but suffice it to say that Tim, KC8UHE, came and cleared a lot of brush around the base of the tower and around the SteppIR antenna. He also sprayed a few gallons of Roundup to kill off the brush so there will be space to work when erecting the antenna. Also, Pete, K4OM, came one day and we attempted to install an "N" connector on the hardline for the 6-M beam - but we failed. Apparently there is some coating on the center conductor that prevented it from making sufficient contact with the center pin. Now that we know about that problem, we are ready to do it again.

Today, 4 willing souls arrived beginning at 9 a.m. to work on Phase II of the project. This involved digging a trench to bury three 2-inch PVC pipes (which will eventually carry the coaxes and control lines) and install a No. 4 solid copper ground wire and 2 ground rods. Below you see Pete, K4OM, Steve, KC8FVE, and Tim, KC8UHE hard at work on the trench (click on any photo to enlarge it):

As the work progressed, we moved Pete, K4OM, into more of a management position. Here you see him directing the work from the shade of the steps to the ham shack:

Below you see my step-son, Darren, KC8QGV, coming up the hill from doing some chain saw work to cut a clear path to the tower. Also, Pete, K4OM, is installing the ground rod just outside the shack. Because of the rocky soil, we had to angle this rod a bit but were able to sink about 7 feet of in in the ground. In the third photo below, you can see Steve, KC8FVE, just about to reach the point where we stopped pounding in the ground rod.

A 200-foot roll of No. 4 solid copper was purchased (ouch!) and it was run under the house and up into the ham shack. It exits the house where the PVC pipes do and will later be bonded to the ground rods just outside the shack and where the ground begins sloping down to the tower. I will also put ground rods about every 16-feet down to the tower and this No. 4 will be bonded to all of them and to the three rods that will surround the tower.

All that remains of this portion of the project is to acquire about 200-feet of 2-inch PVC and run it to the base of the tower, install a junction box at the top of the hill and another at the tower and then begin running the feedlines up to the shack. This is a HUGE step forward in getting to the point where we can put the antenna up and hook it all together. My hat is off to all the guys who have helped up to this point! I sincerely appreciate all the excellent help and am now getting really anxious to see the antenna finally at the top of the tower.

P.S. I also need to thank my wife, Evelyn, for providing a great lunch for everyone. The guys partook of hotdogs with homemade chili and slaw, homemade Bar-B-Que, chips and dip, veggies and dip, and they even tried some Humus. I did a little fetching and carrying in my wheel chair and after Tim, Steve, and Pete tried to open the PVC glue, they had to turn to the old guy in the wheel chair to open the can with his bare hands! What can I say?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A-1 Operator Club

Looking on the ARRL web site, you will find the following description of the A-1 Operator Club.

Only the best operators can qualify for the A-1 Operator Club, amateurs who have met the highest operating standards. But you can't apply; you must be recommended independently by two amateurs who already belong to the A-1 Operator Club. Who knows? Fine-tune your operating skills, and one of these days you may be pleasantly surprised when the mailman delivers an A-1 Operator Club certificate.
The A-1 Operator Club was first organized in May 1933. By 1934 there were 400 members and in 1938 the club hit the 1,000 mark. That number had only reached 3,000 by 1995 because, as the A-1 Operator Club newsletter states:
Then, as now, nominations were not made lightly; through the years, recognition as an A-1 Operator has represented an unsolicited acknowledgment of one's high standing among one's peers.
In 2008, just 207 amateurs were appointed to the Club. As of June 15, 2009, there are a total of 5,354 on the roster.

On Monday, June 15, 2009, I was more than "pleasantly surprised" to receive a certificate stating that "Clark Stewart, W8TN, is a member of the ARRL A-1 Operator Club." What a surprise! I have no way to tell who nominated me for membership in this august group but in looking over the roster, I see many well-known calls including at least 14 members of the WVDXA! So, whoever felt that I was worthy of nomination into the A-1 Operator Club, I sincerely thank you for your nomination and will strive to live up to the ideals of this group.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Building a 40-M 1/4-wave Vertical for KC8UHE

Today KC8UHE and I undertook to build and install a 1/4-wave, 40-Meter vertical at his QTH. Tim had a 21-foot telephone pole already installed (left-over from a prior antenna project) so we decided to use that as the support for the antenna. We had previously ordered 6 telescoping pieces of aluminum tubing from DX Engineering. The smallest was 1/2" in diameter and the largest was 1-1/8 inches. We planned to slip the pieces into each successively larger piece to build up a 33-foot long radiator. We also purchased two Resin Support Block Clamps from DX Engineering (see one HERE) and planned to screw these to the telephone pole to support the vertical.

Last night I cut off a short piece of perforated metal strap, used a chassis punch and drill to make the mounting holes for a chassis-mount SO-239 connector, and bent it into an L-shape to attach to the telephone pole. A short jumper from the center pin of that connector would connect to the vertical radiator.

Tim drilled some pilot holes and then I lifted up the 33-foot piece of tubing and he secured the Upper Mounting Clamp to the vertical at about 20-feet above ground. This meant Tim was on one ladder near the top of the pole and I was on a shorter one to the side where I could hold the bottom of the vertical about 10-feet above ground. Then Tim moved down and installed the second Mounting Clamp. At this point, the vertical was UP!

We then screwed the mounting bracket with SO-239 connector to the telephone pole and connected the center pin to the vertical tubing. Three elevated radials were then cut at 33-feet and a spade lug soldered to the end that would attach to the SO-239 bracket. We put a couple of lag bolts into the pole to take the strain of the radial wires off the spade lug ends and just wrapped the wire around the lag bolt in a simple over-hand knot. Below you can see the Lower Mounting Bracket, the coax connector & bracket and the radials attached to the lag screws. Click on the photo for a larger view.

The final step was to wind the end of the RG-213 feedline into an RF Choke to decouple the feedline from the antenna. We purchased a piece of PVC that was 4-1/2 inches in diameter and wound about 23-feet of feedline in 18 turns on the form and secured it with Ty-Raps. See THIS PAGE for similar chokes. Below is a photo of our RF Choke (click on the photo to see a larger image):

Checking the antenna with the MFJ-259 we found the antenna to be a bit too short. So, Tim climbed back up the ladder and loosened the clamps to let the pieces of tubing telescope back down for three sections. He then lengthened the amount of tubing that was above each section so that we raised the height of the antenna by about a foot. This brought the resonant point of the antenna down to 7.19 MHz. At that point the antenna had an SWR of 1.1:1 and exhibited a 50 ohm impedance. Down at 7.025 MHz, the SWR had climbed to 1.5:1 so that was still acceptable. We may lengthen the antenna some more after Tim has a chance to use it a bit but for now, it seems to be A-OK. And, total cost of this antenna (less the feedline) was under $100.

Below is a photo of the completed antenna. Click on the photo for a larger image. You can see more photos of our project on THIS PAGE.

At 4:45 p.m. we checked the radio and had excellant copy on 9K48NLD in KUWAIT on 40-M SSB!! This was more than 1-1/2 hours BEFORE our sunset! I just can't wait to see who Tim works with this Monster! (Now I need to get the splinters out of my hands!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Beverage (Antenna, That is!)

With Charlie, N8RR, having FOUR Inverted-L antennas for 160-M, he is hearing a good deal better than I. He has worked ZD8UW a couple of times and I can barely hear that station (and have no QSO's!) So, I decided to put up a Beverage antenna aimed at ZD8 and began to gather together the parts. Thankfully I had almost everything I needed. I had previously acquired the 9:1 transformer, pre-amp, and miscellaneous small parts from Lance Johnson Engineering. I had intended to put up a Beverage last fall but just had not gotten around to it.

You can see in the above photo (bottom row) ground rod clamp, insulators, split nuts (to connect the "Ground Drop" and "Feed Drop" wires, and a coax connector. I had to make a run to Radio Shack for a barrier strip, some spade lugs, and a couple of 1-K, 1-watt resistors (put in parallel they give 500 ohms.) That was a "guess" at the termination resistor. Later I'll fine-tune the antenna for the best Front-to-Back and put the exact value resistor there.

I had also previously purchased 500-feet of RG-6 coax and 500 feet of No. 14 solid copper insulated wire. I had a couple of 4-foot ground rods in the garage (one shown above) and only need to pick up a couple of ground rod clamps, some extra split nuts (in case I dropped one) and a new needle nose/wire cutter that would handle No. 10 wire. I had some No. 10 wire that I planned to use for the "Ground Drop" and "Feed Drop."

I then set about adding an additional 45-feet of No. 15 to the 500-foot spool as I was shooting for a 540-foot Beverage. Then I put spade lugs on the "Ground Drop" wire so I could easily connect it to the barrier strip where the termination resistor would be mounted. I soldered the two resistors together and to some spade lugs so they could be easily mounted. I installed a PL-259 on one end of the RG-6 and I put another PL-259 on the "Feed Drop" so I could easily connect it to the 9:1 transformer box.

After all this "prep" work, I put on my warm coat and loaded myself down with a canvas bag containing my tools, electrical tape, the prepared "Drops", the transformer, the pre-amp, spare gloves, compass, drinking water, etc. I then hung the 545-foot spool of No. 14 over the other shoulder. I stuck the two ground rods through my belt on one side and put the sledge hammer through my belt on the other. I then picked up the 500-foot spool of RG-6, several dowel rods I planned to use to support the wire (along with electric fence insulators that were in the tool bag.) And picked up my lightest step ladder and headed for the hill behind the house.

Some of you know how steep that hill is. Of course I was not able to make it down in one trip, loaded like a pack mule. I had to ferry some of the stuff down and come back for the rest. I should note that the "prep" work took a lot longer than I had planned and it was 4:30 p.m. as I descended the hill.

I quickly picked a sturdy tree to serve as the "hub" for my future "Beverage Farm" and, using the step-ladder, climbed up and secured one end of the Beverage. I then used the split nut to clamp the "Feed Drop" to that end of the Beverage and connected that to the 9:1 transformer box. Later I would connect the transformer to the pre-amp with a short length of RG-8X coax.

It was now after 5:00 p.m. and I was starting to lose the light. So I took a heading with my compass and took off into the woods. This was where the adventure began. I walked, and walked, and walked (ALL DOWNHILL) and played out the Beverage wire as I went. I utilized local supports (tree limbs, bushes, etc.) to support the wire, stopping every so often to take a new bearing. As I got within about 75-feet of the end of the wire, I ran across a place where three large trees had fallen. I had to climb over the fallen trunks and make my way through very think brush to reach the end of my trek.

At that point I had a nice tree for the end support but had to cut off about 10-feet of the wire. I had not been able to drag the step-ladder with me so I just tied it off as high up as I could reach. Here is a photo of the "front" end of the Beverage.

Yep, it's kinda dark out by now. In fact, I had to hold a flashlight in my mouth in order to do all the work at this end. I then connected the "Ground Drop" with another split nut (covering the connection with Scotch 88 electrical tape) and then used the sledge hammer to drive in the two ground rods about a foot apart. I connected the previously prepared ground wire with the spade lug to the ground rods and the spade lug end was connected to the barrier strip with the terminating resistor (the other end of the resistor was connected to the "Ground Drop.") Below you can barely see the tops of the ground rods and the ground rod clamps with the No. 10 wire connecting them.
Now I drank one of my bottles of water and took a breather before gathering up my tools and heading back. Here is where I began to think I might be out here for awhile. I could barely see the lights from my house and they looked like they were at a 45° angle from me!! Man that hill looked steep. But, I knew I had to trudge back up it and I was certainly thankful for both the flashlight and the fact that I had the Beverage wire to follow! Without that, I might STILL be wandering around down there.

It took me 25 minutes to cover that 500 feet back to the Beverage hub. I quickly connected the pre-amp and began laying out the RG-6 cable back toward the house. I had now made it back to the "haul road" behind my house, just 250 feet from my garage (but about 100 feet in elevation!) My wife, Evelyn, had called me on the cell phone 4 times by now, concerned for my safety. At this point I used the flashlight to blink at her so she could see where I was in the dark night.

I finally made it back to the top of the hill but it did take two trips to get the ladder and tools up and the RG-6. As you can see by the next photo, I did my best to insure that the antenna would play by shedding a little blood on it!

At the house (after I put away the ladder and tools) I connected the RG-6 to a PL-259 and put that into the "Power Signal" box that sends the DC voltage down to the pre-amp and returns the RF signal to the receiver.

Now comes the point in this treatise where I expected to be able to tell you that I could hear the ZD8 just like a local. However, that is not the case. The antenna seemed to not be working at all. I was crushed. I had been "over the hill" for more than 3 hours and it was nearly 8 p.m. I had spent all day on this project and had nothing to show for it.

After making what tests I could, I called Steve at Lance Johnson Engineering and he walked me through some tests that finally resulted in my replacing the cable that ran from the "Power Signal" box to the remote antenna jack on my transceiver. The first cable I had used was apparently faulty. The antenna now seemed to work but the ZD8 was not on 160-M. He was working SSB on 75-M. So, I tuned up there and worked him as I still need a confirmation for that band.

I guess I'll just have to wait for tomorrow evening for him to come back on 160-M to see if all my work will pay off. It's 2:15 a.m. now and I'm so tired and sore that I will probably sleep till noon. I'll post here again with the results of the antenna's performance once I determine what that is.