Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day & the Summer 2014 VHF Contest

It's been a while since my last posting. At the end of May Ryan Wheeler, K4HQV and one of his tower crew came by and finished my tower installation. At long last (about 10 L-O-N-G months) I finally had the tower completed and the antennas mounted. It's really nothing special: a Cushcraft A3S at about 65 ft, a 13 element long-boom Cushcraft Yagi for 2meters above the A3, and at the very tip-top.....a Diamond dual band (2M/70CMS) vertical. Nice little antenna farm, if I do say so myself.

This weekend was Father's Day. Today I tried my new antennas out on the June VHF contest. Totaled a massive 28 Qs and 390 points! Certainly not anything to brag about but it was fun. On Saturday my next door, Darrel, helped me relocate my only 6M antenna, a Cushcraft Ringo Ranger, from the original mounting place on the lower side of my roof to the vacated Glen Martin roof tower on the peak. We clamped the Ringo onto a 10 ft R-S mast and stuck it into the roof tower thrust bearing and secured it into the Alliance HD-73 rotator. This is a temporary installation. Sometime in the fall I will be taking it down, sending the rotator off to be rebuilt, and eventually re-install it on the roof tower to spin a 5 element 6M Yagi (of my own design). I will top this installation off with the 6M Ringo making it a single band "stack".

I love old gear: specifically some of the late 1970s through the mid 1980s transistorized equipment. Several months ago I purchased a Kenwood TS-700A (2M Multi-mode transceiver) on e-bay. At the Atlanta Hamfest a week ago I purchased it's 6M brother, a Kenwood TS-600.  While there are certainly better, newer, more flexible, digital equipment on the market, I find these older, analog rigs a lot of fun and quite the challenge. Both the Kenwoods ran very well. Although the 6M rig needs some TLC on the bandswitch/controls. As with everything electronic, moisture and "mung" accumulate inside the rigs on the switch contacts necessitating a liberal application of DeOxit, which is the next major shack undertaking. 

The "new" 2M station consists of the TS-700A (about 9-10 watts of RF) driving an old Lunar 85 watt 2M amp with a 15dB receive preamp inside to boost the RSLs on the weak stations.  The amp is of thbe same vintage as the radio and they play together very well. Employing this Luna amp gives me a bit more RF not to mention flexibility.

The "new" 6M station consists of the TS-600 running barefoot at between 8-10 watts of RF output. The receiver on the  TS-600 seems to be very sensitive, but a good pre-amp probably would not be a bad idea, as long as the gain can be controlled so as not to destroy the receiver performance by over driving the rig's RF front end. I will be looking for a 6M amp with or without a receiver preamp. To be technically adroit and focus on sound station engineering practices, I should actually add any receiver pre-amplification at the "head end" meaning at the antenna feed point. Mast mounted pre-amps are not cheap and the engineering that goes into their proper application makes this a major K7SZ upgrade project for the future. Although I have used the MFJ mast mounted pre-amps several years ago, I will probably go with the pre-amps manufactured by Advanced Receiver Research due to their better overall design. Of course, with mast mounted pre-amps comes the always-fun-to-design transmit/receive sequencing which can become a real pain in the tail. 

All in all, it has been a great Father's Day. Peppermint Patti (KB3MCT) and my daughter Gwen (ex: KB4UNT) went together to give me a great present: a years membership to the brand new gun club and indoor range that just opened up about 4 miles from the Bent Dipole Ranch! Thanks, girls!!

That is about it for now.  I have a lot to blog about in the near future, including my grand daughter, Kielan, who just went on active duty with the USAF!

Here is hoping that some of you readers wander onto the VHF bands (no, not on the repeater sub-band) so I can QSO you. Till then, Vy 73

Rich K7SZ