|The Van is Packed|
On the first day we arrived at Tim's QTH about 8:40 a.m. and began by unpacking the antenna and inventorying the parts. Since this antenna was designed and built in Great Britain, the instructions took a little work to understand. Things like metric measurements, "P" clips, "RivNut inserts", "Jubilee" clips, and so on took some searching on Google to understand. Tim took care of sanding the inside of all the element center sections and the outside of the element tips that will slide into the center sections. He used a handy power drill attachment made by Rick, W8ZT, that makes this job a snap. This is done to reduce any corrosion on the elements and assure the best possible conduction and lowest resistance at those junctions. When we assembled the elements tips, Tim coated them with Noalox to further enhance the conductivity and to keep moisture out of the junction which can lead to antenna corrosion in the future. We also used anti-seize on all the Stainless Steel hardware to prevent it from galling and from forming corrosion.
On the right you can see we assembled the boom sections and loosely installed the center element sections to the boom. Then we began to see a problem. The instructions I had been emailed did not match the parts we had. A phone call to the U.S. distributor resulted in my leaving a voicemail that was not returned. I called again later and did talk to someone but they were not able to be too helpful and suggested I send an email. I did late in the day email Justin, G0KSC, who is the designer of the antenna but it was late in the evening in England. My email contained 9 major questions that I could not answer from the documentation I received. I got Justin's response at 3:23 a.m. the next day.
After a couple of email exchanges, Justin emailed me the NEW dimension chart for my antenna. It seems that the manual I was originally sent was for the older version of this antenna. The antenna I actually have is a HD version. The boom sections are larger, all the element sections are larger, and some of the parts that were used on the earlier model are not used on my antenna. I am glad to have a ruggedized antenna but wish the manual originally sent was correct and more complete.
|Squaring the Elements|
|End of Day 2|
On the right you can see how the antenna looks right now. One element tip needs to be installed because of the broken "Jubilee" clip (which I replaced at the hardware store tonight) and the reflector tips need to be installed once we hear from the factory manager. Then we can install the boom-to-mast bracket and construct the guy assembly. Finally, the ferrite 1:1 balun needs to be connected to the driven element and the antenna will be ready to test.
Except for the bungled instructions and incorrect dimension chart, I am feeling quite pleased about this antenna. It is Heavy Duty for sure and with the square boom the elements look really nice all leveled up. The "fit and finish" of the antenna is First Class and all the element tips are cut to exactly 100 mm longer than the new dimensions. Thus, the over-lap of each element tip is about 4 inches. The boom sections were very clearly marked as well as the points for attaching the guy cables. And, making measurements against a square boom is a real pleasure over trying to use a round boom!
I can't wait to put some RF to it and see what the SWR looks like. Of course, the real test will be when it is up in the air and hearing those super-weak signals. Bring on the DX!
UPDATE - - -
|Tower Climber - Grant|
I had acquired a new "Jubilee" clip (hose clamp) for the one we broke yesterday and the remaining element tip was installed along the the Reflector element tips. The ferrite 1:1 balun was connected to the feedpoint. This revealed an Oops! I needed to un-install the center insulators in order to put the connecting screws through the Driven Element. Over-sight on my part yesterday. Then all the element tip measurements were re-checked (for a third time) and minor corrections of no more than 1 mm were made to about half of them. Before anyone asks, yes, I am being anal about these measurements. 1 mm should make no difference whatsoever. But, I'll sleep better knowing that the antenna is just a close as I can possibly make it to the required dimensions.
As I mentioned earlier, this antenna utilizes a "bent reflector" to enhance SWR bandwidth and F/B. It took a little effort to make sure that the "bend" in the reflector element tip was in the same plane as the rest of the elements. A little tweaking of the driven element loop was also required to make sure it was level as well. Once all these final tweaks were done, we installed the boom to mast bracket a little bit forward of the center of gravity of the antenna because I will be adding feedline to the "lighter" end later that will hopefully balance the antenna. A quick check was made of the antenna with Rick, W8ZT's Rig Expert AA-54 analyzer although the antenna was just 3-feet off the ground. SWR was 1.26:1 so it seems like it might be not too far off once the antenna is raised.
|Antenna Ready for SWR Testing|
Finally we carried the antenna around Tim's house and hoisted it up on his Rohn 45G tower. It is only about 7 feet above ground now but we will connect some feedline to it and pull it up to about 40-feet to run a full test. This might show that the SWR needs to be adjusted but that should be rather simple to do - just lower the antenna, tweak the driven element and hoist it back up. That can be done multiple times all from the ground. You can see the current resting place of the antenna on the last photo. Click on any photo to see a larger image.
With today's work I have nearly completed one more step in the New 6-M Antenna Project. There is still a lot to be done but I just keep plugging along one step at a time. "Haste makes waste" and since I expect this antenna to serve me for many years to come, I'm trying to do it all right.