Monday, April 7, 2014

The Tower Project that Just Won't Die!

Well, here it is, the first part of April and the 60 ft tower project with the HF Yagi, the 2M long-boom Yagi and the 2M/70cms vertical omni is still bogged down in logistics. My main tower guy and climber, Bill Wilson, KJ4EX, is thankfully recovering nicely from his heart attack around Christmas time last year. I have been in contact with a person who owns a commercial tower company in Winder, GA and he has surveyed the situation and thinks it will take him and his crew about 4-5 hours to complete the installation, run the coax, mount the antennas, rotator, etc. and run the guys....cost: $around 400-500 Buck-a-roonies!! That's a whole bunch more cash than K7SZ has available on short notice. Ryan, the tower company owner, said he would be available in April and May so maybe, if I can find the cash, the installation will be completed.

Originally I had decided to include an HF Yagi, a 6M Yagi and the V/UHF Omni on the mast that would protrude about 12 feet above the 61 ft tower top section. This would give me a total installation height of about 73 feet above the dirt. Not bad, considering. Sure, I would have liked to have a 90 or 100 ft installation, but I cannot complain, especially in light of the cost of the project todate.

Bill, KJ4EX, had constructed the 6M Yagi but was having all sorts of difficulties getting it to tune properly before installing it on the tower. Since I have a 6M Cushcraft Ringo on a separate mast on the roof, I decided to leave that 6M Yagi off the tower installation and substitute a long-boom Yagi for 2M in it's place. After scrounging around the area I came up with a KLM 14 element Yagi from the 1970s, which I picked up at a reasonable cost. In inspecting it, I noticed that the antenna had a log-periodic feed system and one of the element clamps had broken, which would take some work with some high grade epoxy putty to put right before it could go up in the air.

In addition to the KLM, I also found a local ham who had a Cushcraft 13 element long-boom Yagi that I picked up at a great price which was fully functional. All I had to do was assemble the boom (again) and bolt it together, which I did. I enlarged the through-boom screws from #8 to #10 size to give it added strength. I have to put this antenna on a test stand and insure that it is tuned for the lower portion of the 2M band (144-145MHz) for terrestrial weak signal work, but that shouldn't take all that long to accomplish. I was able to obtain copies of the Cushcraft manual so I am good to go.

As far as things I have to accomplish before Ryan and his crew arrive some time in May (or June, or July, or.......): wire up the rotator and control box, (I have already tested them out together, I just need to get the long cabling set up and labeled), obtain some low-loss coax/hardline and connectors for the two V/UHF antennas, get the coax and connectors on the cable for the HF Yagi, set the screw-in guy anchors for the tower, and fabricate a piece of angle iron to act as an anchor for the center feed point of the 40M EDZ that will be side mounted from the 55 ft level of the tower.

Stay tuned....I might have this installation completed before Christmas 2014 yet!!!

Vy 73

Rich K7SZ

Power Mites of Old!!!I'

I saw an ad for my first Ten-Tec Power Mite transceiver when I was stationed in the Azores in the early 1970s. The price was attractive but other things took priority. Thankfully, Jake Ritzen, CT2AZ, loaned me one of his Power Mites and I had my first experience with direct conversion receivers. I was suitably underwhelmed.

In 1973 I procured a Heathkit HW-7 QRP rig and built it according to the manual. It, too, had a direct conversion receiver. Again I was suitably underwhelmed! It seemed that any time the base MARS station came on the air (irrespective of the band) I was unable to use the HW-7....something I also experienced with the PM-2 from Jake.

Over the years I have had several of the PM series....the PM-3A being my favorite. It covered only 40 and 20 M but had break-in keying, which was nice. Not having to switch from TX to RX on the front panel, as with the previous models made the PM-3A a joy to use. Power output on the 3A was around 2.5 watts (5W input power).

Some how I ended up with a PM-2B while I was in Japan (KA2AA) in the late 1970s and that rig followed me to England (RAF Mildenhall), my next duty station. We were relegated to quartering off base, in our case, the town of Bury St. Edmunds, the place where the English Barons met at the Abby of Bury St. Edmunds and vowed to force King James (you, know.....Robin Hood and all that) to sign the Magna Carta (circa 1214).

Our house was positioned in a housing estate located on the end of a huge soccer field next to a school. Surrounding the field was a very large chain link fence. Lacking a suitable aerial at the time, I affixed a piece of wire from the fence into my bedroom and hooked it up to the PM-2B via a AC-5 antenna tuner. My first contact was Colin Turner, G3VTT, a member of the G-QRP Club. That started a 35 year love affair with the G-QRP-C. I met many fine QRPers during that time period and on the occasion of my 37th birthday, my wife, Patricia (KB3MCT) conspired with George Dobbs, G3RJV, head honcho of the G-QRP-C and his wife, Jo, to put on a surprise party for me at the Dobbs' home near Birmingham. With about 25-30 QRPers in attendance we had a grand time and I even was introduced to that old Scottish tradition, the Haggis! (Hint: If you get past the smell you got it made!!)

On a recent trip to Norm Schlar's, WA4ZXV, to pick up an antenna analyzer, I was presented with Norm's ailing PM-2, in hopes of getting it back into running condition. Unfortunately, I had off-loaded all the T-T literature I had amassed on the PM series of rigs dating back to the mid-70s, so troubleshooting this little QRP rig is proving to be somewhat problematic.

So, I am now on a quest to obtain a schematic of the PM-2 (I have one on the PM-3A but that is an entirely different radio) so I can get this old gal back on the air for Norm. Therefore, if anyone who reads this posting might happen to have a copy of that schematic and possibly the entire 9 page manual, I would be very grateful if you would contact me directly (

Looking over the PM-2 I am amazed that anyone was able to make a QSO with these simple rigs. The receiver is just this side of "horrible", and the power output is around 1W going flat out with a tail wind! All that being said, those were the things that made life using QRP "interesting".

Vy 73

Rich K7SZ