Friday, April 30, 2010

What a Day of Therapy!

Today has been probably the greatest single day of working out since I began therapy for my broken leg. It started easy enough with a visit to the eye doctor. He dilated my eyes so I when I left his office I was wearing sunglasses and squinting. But, I felt good and the day promised to be a real summer-type day so I started on a project. Last week I had picked up a pallet at Home Depot (for FREE!) that I planned to use as a platform at the base of my tower. I needed something there that would let me sit down and lay out my tools while I installed coax connectors and the like.

The pallet I got was a very heavy duty one that measured 4-ft. by 4-ft. So today I went back to Home Depot and picked up two 2-ft. x 4-ft. pieces of 3/8-inch plywood, some screws, paint, four concrete blocks and other sundries. Back home I screwed the plywood to the top of the pallet then mixed some sand (for traction) into the paint and painted all that I could with up to 3 coats of paint. I used the entire quart of paint.

After the 87° temperature, strong sun and the wind had dried the pallet, I proceeded to carry the concrete blocks over the hill to the tower. Those of you who have made that trip can relate to the difficulty of that operation. It took FOUR trips as I had to BACK down the hill and lift the blocks a couple of feet at a time. I was just not stable enough on my feet on that hill to try carrying them. (Actually, I had two full size and 2 half-size blocks and I did carry the smaller ones for part of the trip.) Then came the fun part. The pallet probably weighs in the neighborhood of 50 pounds and carrying it was possible only for short distances on level ground. I ended up "rolling" it end over end down the hill. Evelyn stood at the top of the hill and watched as I rolled the pallet to make sure I didn't get into any trouble.

At the tower I used a garden trowel and hammer to notch out a place for the blocks with the smaller ones on the uphill side and the larger ones on the downhill because of the slope. I wanted to make the pallet fairly level and, as it turned out, my first attempt had the slope 1.5° downhill and 1.3° away from the tower. That's a done deal! I still need to shim up one of the downhill blocks about 2 inches to make the pallet stable but it's in place and ready to use now. The sand in the paint (an idea from Rick, W8ZT) gives very good traction.

Bottom line - I now have a very nice, stable, and level place to work on everything at the base of the tower. And, I made a total of SIX trips down and up the hill (in addition to all the stuff at Home Depot, in the garage, painting the pallet, etc.) So, I truly gave the leg a workout today. I may not be able to roll out of bed in the morning, but right now I feel really good about what I got done. You can click on either photo to see a larger image then use your BACK button to return to this page.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

EME Experiment to Hear KP4AO from Arecibo

This weekend a group of hams were operating EME (Moonbounce) using the 1,000 foot diameter radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico. They used the call KP4AO. I decided to try and see if we could hear and maybe work them using a single yagi. So, we set up the antenna in a make-shift manner on the patio and proceeded to point it at the moon and listen during the time KP4AO was on the air. We were able to monitor a real-time computer link of the operation and compare it with what we heard. KP4AO made 103 QSO's in about 2-1/2 hours of operation. We copied their SSB signal quite well at times but usually it was pretty much in the noise. When they finally shifted to CW, we were able to hear them very well. We were not able to make a QSO with our kludged together station but we gave it a good try.

Below you can see the K1FO 25-element yagi we used for the Arecibo, Puerto Rico, EME experiment today. The yagi is supported by a mostly fiberglass stepladder and secured to it by a rubber strap and dacron line at the base. The rear of the antenna is supported and raised above the concrete patio by a cardboard box. In the second photo you can see the "manual" method of antenna positioning. As long as we could see the moon, it worked well. But, with the moon so close to the sun today, only a very tiny sliver of a crescent was visible and that could not always be seen. In the photo on the right, you can see our "Target" in the upper right-hand portion of the image. You need to look really close to see it. In this photo the moon had moved away from where we were pointed and a re-positioning needed to be done. (You can click on any photo for a larger image then use your browser's BACK button to return to this page.)

Below are a couple of photos of myself, W8TN, and Rick, W8ZT, operating the station. Rick brought an Icom IC-706 and a 150-watt amplifier. You can see the Bird wattmeter on the chair between us in the first photo. Feedlines were REALLY short so we had essentially no loss to consider.

Hal, W8HC, was the photographer so we have no shots of him but he also spent a good deal of time on the mike and on the key trying for a contact. What a hoot it would have been to hear his call come back from the moon! Maybe next time.