Kendall Amateur Radio Society

KB5TX


Club Activities

 

Mike - WW5WM Visits Malta

 

Mike spent eleven days in Malta, a really interesting combination of cultures, and brought back salt from some of the salt pans built there by the Phoenicians and Romans that are still in use daily.

From a radio standpoint, he found the world really sounds much different from 6,000 miles away, with Europe very loud and the east coast and some Middle East as well as a few JAs coming in even on poorer propagation days (if you planned the operating hours right). Mike operated mostly 20 meters (and a bit on 40) and not for too long as he had a tight schedule.  He visited a club with a triband beam at maybe 30 feet was more than adequate when the band was open and there was someone at the club station.

Ivan, 9h1pi, was a tremendous help both before and after arriving.  Mike operated the club station with the club call as well as a little QRP as 9H/WW5WM. European DX was easy with 1-3 watts CW or SSB, but his portable antennas were a bit lacking for other DX, although he did work a few US stations and other DX from Malta QRP as 10 was getting really sporadic.

While visiting the club station, Mike had the honor of meeting 9h2av (Andrew), 9h1at (George), 9h1es (Furtu), 9h5ap (Albert), and 9h5oo (Edgar). Really nice guys all around, and all were a bit flabbergasted that Mike had ten acres as most Maltese have very small patios and courtyards/rooftops and no other outside areas.

It was amazingly safe. Mike saw older people and women walking around late at night with no issues as well as the typical Italian older women with chairs pulled up late in the evening to chat at the edges of the streets. Many of the roads are literally the width of one car and just a little, so Mike used the local equivalent of UBER (BOLT) most of the time and found it was both cheap and quick

No one seems to take stop signs as more than a suggestion, although traffic lights seems to stop everyone okay and with the driving on the wrong side of the road, the BOLT arrangement was perfect. Food was amazing, as the island, though small, is full of outstanding restaurants with Italian, Indian, French, etc. influence and many near-Michelin star restaurants all over. Gozu, the next island that is also a part of Malta, was slower and less sophisticated.  Both were Mediterranean and the music available everywhere could not have been more perfect.  Overall, it was very enjoyable. 

 

Xiego VG-4 Installed at W6TIR

 
With only a 80-10 meter hex beam for an antenna, Jim – W6TIR looked at buying a 80-6 meter, no ground radials vertical for the low take off angle for DX.  He decided on the Hi-Gain AV680.  Delivery kept moving out past six months so canceled the order.  Peter -- K2PLM had put up a Chinese made Xiego VG-4 vertical for 40-20-15-10 meters with good results.  Jim bought one for $300 which was half the price of the AV680.  Jerry -- N5SGM, Steve -- W5SCL and Peter -- K2PLM and Jim assembled the antenna and tuned it.  It’s installed at 10’ AGL on a 2” mast.  Results so far have been favorable with many DX contacts using FT8.
 
                        
                                  Assembly                                                          Clearing a Path                                          Mount, Mast and Tilt Bracket
 
                       
                                       Radials                                                                 Job’s Done                                                      The Proud Owner
 

KARS Drone Activity

 

Last month, Wayne - KC6BAV, surfaced the idea of a club drone get together.  We already seen how useful the drones are for checking antennas, etc.  We brought it up a the Last Saturday of the Month Lunch (LSML), and it turns out about half the people attending already had drones, the rest were considering them.

So, it was decided to have a small get together at the skate park on Adler Rd. Wayne checked with Parks and Recreation and got their approval for drone flights.   It's a great location with plenty of space to fly and very few drone hazards.  Ten people showed up from novice to very experienced..  We had six drones in the air.  Four people (two couples) did not have drones, but were interested.  They got to try out different drones and fly them around.  We had only one wayward drone, all the others were recovered.

 

The Sisterdale Story

 
Mitch (W5OAG) joined the club a few years ago.  He has a very large ranch just North of Sisterdale.  On this ranch sits a 150’ Rohn G45 tower!  The tower at the time was solely used by the Sisterdale Volunteer Fire Department.  Mitch offered to let the club put a repeater on the site.  Great news, as our plan was to increase out footprint to the North into Blanco and Fredericksburg.  Now, putting up a repeater is not an easy project.  You need equipment, money and people to come together in amazing ways for the project to succeed.  This is that story.

Mark (N5YZV) and I (KI5AIU) did the initial site survey back in August 2019.  Later Marsh (WA5UBO) came back out with us to survey the tower and building.  He inspected the tower & guys, power to the building and got measurement & pictures inside & out.  He could then give Mitch an accurate estimate for materials needed to bring the building back to quality standards & make some upgrades to the building to have a first-class equipment building.

Louis (K5UUT), frequency coordinator for the area granted us a new frequency pair once we applied for it.  We now needed some equipment.  The club bought a new Yaesu DR-2x repeater from a club member (Rod – K9ROD), for use as the UHF repeater.  Steve (W5SCL) donated a Yaesu DR-1x repeater and duplexers which we use for the VHF repeater.  Doug (N8IQT) from the SADRC club generously gave us four CommScope UHF antennae!  I sourced a set of UHF cavities which Ben (K5AYR) and I tuned to the new frequency.  Now all we needed was some Heliax for the feed line. 

Heliax is not cheap.  We were hoping to recover some from our old Jennifer Road site; but when Marsh (WA5UBO) showed up to pre-check to do the tower climb and remove it, it was already gone off the tower and nowhere in sight!   But there was a trailer loaded with 1.25” Heliax cut up into 8 to 10’ sections, headed for a recycler to be sold for all the copper.  He couldn’t see if ours was at the bottom of the pile or not.   (Despite having told the company that was doing the tower work that we wanted our Heliax off the tower).  Grrr.   Eventually after many phone calls to the company that was doing the work for the County said told Marsh they would save the 2 runs of 7/8” Heliax for us since they destroyed ours.

Marsh made it a point to go to the old Jennifer Road site every time he came to Boerne usually 3 time a week.  He did this for nearly 3 months and finally found the crew at the site starting to do the tower removal.   He stopped and made sure they understood the 2 runs of 7/8” Heliax remaining belong to us!   They had got the word, but he made sure they understood & told them he would come back in his truck to pick it up in a couple hours!  Having the older type of Heliax, Marsh could use his new old stock type connectors.  Otherwise, if we had to buy new Heliax we would have to purchase a newer style connector to work with it.  That would have added more cost to the club that way! 

While the Sisterdale Tuff Shed was nowhere near as bad of shape as the Tower Rd shack when we took it over (Tower Rd epitomized the word shack; until Marsh rebuilt it).  The Sisterdale building needed some initial work & upgrades but nothing like Tower Road.  There was a turbine vent in the roof that allowed debris to fall onto the Sisterdale VFD repeater that was installed directly under it!  Worse, the bearings were starting to tighten up allowing rain to pass through onto their repeater.  So the next task was to fix the building.  The following shots show the tower, the building interior when we commenced, and the Sisterdale VFD repeater.

 

 
Marsh stripped the old 3-tab shingles off the turbine vent. Repaired the decking and installed a new 26-guage Galvalume metal roof. Once that was completed Marsh got Jerry (N5SGM) to help him insulate the building with 2” rigid foam.  The trim boards and siding had deteriorated after ten years, so it was removed and replaced along with a window.  All was then primed for paint later.

Now came the heavy lifting (really).  A remote-controlled camera was installed at the top of the tower for Mitch to could keep an eye out for fires as well as his cattle on this large ranch of his.  Marsh went up the tower with his tower equipment to mount the Candy Cane arm that the camera mounts onto as well as the camera.   Mark (N5YZV) and I were his ground crew that day & hauled all the parts for the camera as well as the UHF antenna and 2 outdoor CAT 6 cables to the top for Marsh to install.  Mark took care of the hookup and testing of the camera & network gear on the ground as Marsh installed the UHF antenna and mounts.

 

 
Picture above:  Right hand side, Mitch's camera on the candy cane mount, The tall DB-224 antenna is the VFD VHF antenna and off to the left is our 444.925 UHF repeater antenna.  At center, the new Coax connectors, and at right Jerry with his paint can. 

Over a period of several days, Ben, Jerry and Don came out to haul stuff up the tower for Marsh to install.  The UHF antenna went onto the third candelabra position.  A new VHF vertical antenna for the .19 repeater as well as all the mounting assembly & hardware for a side tower mount was built & donated by WA5UBO as well as the Heliax bulkhead assembly to bring the Heliax into the building properly.  The new vertical was mounted at about 135’.  Heliax was the next big job to get done, once new hoisting grips and top grounding assemblies were installed on the Heliax Marsh went up the tower again for this job.  They were hauled up the tower one at a time and the cable grip attached to the tower.  The Heliax would then be attached to the tower about ever 3 feet on the trip down. I think hauling the Heliax up was the more exhausting part (at least for the ground crew).  Marsh was pretty darn busy at the top of the tower for 5 to 6 hours each time he went up. (We kept him hydrated; but we the ground crew got the bathroom breaks!).

It took three trips up the tower to finish the antenna installations.  One trip for UHF, one trip for VHF, and one trip to replace two coax jumpers between the antennas to the Heliax because of some bad “N” connectors Marsh had purchased. One came apart in his hand as he was about to screw it on, So Jerry & I checked the SWR on the other antenna & it was bad.  So, this meant coming out another day once Marsh had made up two more new 9’ cables at about $85 each.  

On the third climb Marsh also found an issue on one of the Heliax connectors.  He had us send his connector parts up and repaired the problem up on the tower.  He finished all connections and waterproofed them all again and finished tying all Heliax to the tower on the trip down.

A few days later Marsh, Jerry & Don came out to start installing equipment once Marsh finished working with the Heliax. This required cutting to length, prepping the ends for connectors and installing them.  As I helped Marsh do this Jerry was giving the exterior of the building it’s first coat of paint.  Once the connectors were installed the grounding system was started with lighting protection installed.  There is still some that Marsh had to finish up.

 

Sisterdale building when finished.

 

Once Jerry had a good first coat of paint on the building, he put the paint up cleaned his brush and helped us mount the radios & the duplexer in the equipment rack.  The picture above shows the rack which has the UHF duplexer, UHF repeater, VHF repeater installed, and the VHF duplexer at the left.  On the right side of building is the Sisterdale VFD repeater & duplexer cabinet.  We cabled the radios up to the duplexers and to the Heliax, then connected power cords. 

Finally, it came time to turn it all on, and it worked!  The VHF repeater is on 145.19Mhz negative offset with a pl tone of 88.5.   The UHF repeater is on 444.925Mhz with a positive offset and a pl tone of 88.5.   Unfortunately, Marsh still cannot hit the VHF repeater from his QTH (one of the hopes of the project), we have had excellent reports from an HT in Canyon Lake hitting it with full quieting.  Our signal is quite good in Boerne, Fredericksburg and Blanco.    It’s a setup the club can be very proud of.

A week later Marsh & Jerry went out and gave the building its second coat of paint and the trim was all painted with the trim color. 

Marsh placed a dual temp thermometer at the site to check the indoor temps as well as outside without having opening the door.  Mitch graciously sent Marsh the stats a couple time a day of the temperatures for a week.  The next week Marsh & Betty (KC5MYE) took the air conditioner by and installed it in the building. Now we have very happy radios!

Are we done?  Not quite.  Marsh has to finish the grounding and fix an issue with a cable, all on the ground work though!  We have plans to backhaul internet into the Sisterdale site.  That will allow the UHF machine to join Wires-X.  We would like to link the 145.19 machine to the Tower Rd 146.64 machine through the internet.

And there you have it. It was a team effort, and I apologize in advance if I left your name off the long list of contributors.  Your efforts are appreciated.

We give a Big THANKS to Mitch W5OAG for granting the club use of this tower space and building for our 2 Repeaters. Marsh Thanks Mitch for covering the cost of the materials for him to redo the roof, insulate the building, new trim material and the paint to repaint the building. It looks pretty darn sharp now and will withstand the elements for years to come being maintained now.

73,

Don  KI5AIU

 
 

The LPA at K5NOF Fixed and Reinstalled

 

 

This is a 12 element Log Periodic Array manufactured in 2013 by M2 Communications in Fresno, California, mounted at 70 feet AGL at K5NOF.  Nominal gain is 5 dBd at 10 mHz up to 9 dBd at 30 mHz; not exactly a flame-thrower but close to it.  Find where the DX is listening and this antenna is a pile-up buster.

The M2 LPA 12 uses fiber glass rods to insulate the elements from the boom.  These rods pass through an element to boom clamp.  Metal elements are slipped onto the fiberglass rod, then the phasing line connections are placed on top and the entire assembly is bolted together through the fiberglass insulating rod.  The Texas ice storm of February 2021 placed enough weight on Element 5 (counting from rear to front) to break the fiberglass insulating rod.  You can see the elements hanging from the phasing lines.

Much has been written about mounting a large antenna on a tower.  Fortunately, our long time member and one of our directors, Marsh – WA5UBO is a skilled tower climber with all the necessary equipment to do the job safely. With the help of Don KI5AIU & Greg AB5I to be his ground crew.   He coordinated with Perry’s Crane Service, Kerrville, TX, and down the LPA came.  Once on the ground, it was decided to replace all the fiberglass insulating rods  because of deterioration through the years as well as the RG-213 feed line.

M2 could not have been more helpful.  This antenna had been out of production for a long time, so the fiberglass rods and the Element 5 hardware were manufactured from scratch and after a couple of months all was available to do the fix.  The fix took a while longer because we decided on a couple of “backyard modifications”  First to replace the old stainless-steel boom support lines with Phylistran, and secondly, add a third boom support line half way between the mast and the forward boom support line attachment point.

We had all ready to go up the tower, long before the weather would let us do it.  This antenna is BIG, weighing 75 pounds, with a boom length 45 feel and rear element length of 52 feet tip to tip.  Marsh – WA5UBO would look for a weather break, and when he saw a forecast for dry and calm WX, he would schedule the pick with Perry’s Crane of Kerrville, TX.  We had three false starts having to cancel due to weather. But no worries, Mr. Perry was great to work with and finally came the day, 6 May 2022.

Marsh and helpers, Don, KI5AIU and John, KK4ZRP arrived early to have all ready to go when the crane arrived.  It took 30 minutes for Mr. Perry to set up and deploy the Jib  boom with Don’s help.  Down came the hook to be connected to the boom straps fore and aft of the mast and to the mast itself, and up she went.

You can see the preliminary lift below left with Marsh up the tower in the background.  The idea here is to insure all is in balance; you can see it is.  So without further ado, the antenna, with new thrust bearing installed on the mast, was positioned directly over the tower thrust bearing plate where Marsh could guide it into the rotor connection, while the crane operator gently lowered it into the rotor seat. Then Marsh connected the thrust bearing, then connected the rotor, unhooked the crane cable and then removed the lifting straps from the beam. The final work here was to attach the coax for 360 degree rotation around the tower and waterproof same. But not done yet.

 
Marsh made a second climb up the west 70’ tower at K5NOF (40m 4el M2 Yagi) to reconnect a 400’ tower to tower hi-line used to support an OCFD (Windom) antenna.  Cargo straps were used to ratchet the line in place where it could be connected.  Don’t scoff at a Windom.  It needs a turner but is a “hot” multi-band antenna and the go-to antenna at K5NOF for general communication.

A final thanks to M2 Communications, Inc. in Fresno, CA for a great antenna and superb support.  The LPA-12 is no longer manufactured but their next generation of LPA’s are equally good.  If you want an antenna which ships with all the parts, and the connecting bolt holes line up, see www.m2inc.com for their great antenna line from HF to Satellite.  Finally, special thanks to KARS Members Marsh, Don, Greg and John.

 
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