Thursday, March 31, 2011

N8WC's First QSO

Last night a long-time friend of mine, Mike Comer, came for a visit. Mike used to be N8DGV and had a MONSTER 10-M station in Ravenswood. Simply stated, he OWNED the band. I had a Hy-Gain TH6-DXX at 90-feet about 1 mile away from Mike's QTH and that was a really good 10-M antenna. But I would sit and listen to Mike "run" JA's and out of every 3 JA's he worked, I knew I could work one easily, one I figured I could work with difficulty and the third I could not even hear! Mike would open and close the band with his Alpha 86 and his 40-foot boomed antenna.

Well, as I often say, "life got in the way" and Mike became inactive while raising a family and maintaining his career. He recently retired from his main job and although he took other employment, he decided to get back into ham radio. He upgraded to Extra Class and acquired the callsign, N8WC. But, because of not having a station anymore, he has not had a chance to use his new privileges or his new call. So, when he came to visit last night, he asked to get on the air and put N8WC out into the ether for the first time. Below is a video of his first QSO.

It is obvious that an 18 year layoff from ham radio has not diminished his CW skills in the least! And, it was also obvious that the "bug" has bitten him again and it won't be long until he has his own station operational again.

After the above QSO with Spain on 15-M, Mike had a desire to get back on his favorite band - 10-M. So, we moved to 10 and Mike easily worked a Canary Island station with just 100-watts into the 160-M Inverted-L. More grins ensued there so I'm guessing he was making some QSO's in his sleep last night!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Beverage Maintenance

Two days ago we got slammed with a serious wind storm. Various reports indicated winds from 66 to 70 mph. I'm certain what we received up here on the top of the hill was at least 60 mph. It launched the neighbor's trampoline up into the trees (see photo at right.) - Click on any photo to see it larger then use your BACK button to return to this page.

I felt certain that my wire antennas must have suffered from limbs and trees falling on them so today the weather was good and I decided to go check it out. The first thing I found was a tree had taken out one of the two radials on the 80-M wire vertical. I brought the wire back up to the house so I can put another ring lug on it and I'll replace it tomorrow. I then noticed that one of the radials on the 160-M Inverted-L (the original radial) was not looking right. The tree that took out the 80-M radial had pulled down a small tree which was supporting the 160-M radial about 30-feet from the feedpoint. After I removed that I walked out to the end of it and removed another branch there. The loss of the one support tree now had the radial touching the tree which I nearly caught on fire (see the last Post to this Blog) so I had to find another support for the end of that radial.

I then decided to walk the NW/SE Reversible Beverage since it was over easier terrain than the NE/SW one. I found five or six branches on top of the Beverage which I removed (I had taken pruning shears with me) and was feeling like I was not going to find any serious trouble. Just as I got to where I could almost see the end of the Beverage, I found a good sized tree straight across the Beverage pulling it to the ground. You can see the Beverage wire near the bottom corner of the glove in the photo at the left and continuing just beyond the point of the index finger.

It turned out that this tree was 192-feet from the end of the Beverage. I could not budge the tree and did not want to walk all the way back to the house for the chain saw. So, I walked to the end of the Beverage, untied it and removed the wire from the transformer. I then pulled the wire back to the fallen tree, pulled it all underneath the tree and then re-strung it to the end. That's how I know it was 192-feet - I measured the wire (roughly) while pulling it through. It turns out that the Beverage has apparently stretched a bit as it is now a good deal closer to the end point. After securing the Beverage I walked its length back and estimated (by counting my steps) that the length of that Beverage is approximately 820-feet.

Back at the Beverage Hub I looked at the beginning of the NE/SW Beverage and just a matter of a few feet from the Hub, that Beverage and the N/S one were both pulled to the ground by another fallen tree. I managed to cut off some smaller limbs and freed up both of those antennas but did not attempt to walk the two of them as I feel sure that there are more and larger trees on top of them. I'll leave that job for another day.