Thursday, November 26, 2020

Gen2 of the NY4G End Fed Half Wave


Generation 2 with the following improvements:

Winder is separable from the transformer so it can be replaced if damaged or if one that is impervious to weather is desired, a plastic one may be substituted

The end caps are now made of aluminum instead if walnut.   This gives more ruggedness to these parts.

Picture shown below is during testing and pruning for best balance across the bands.

Walnut winder and transformer box

88 feet of wire in the air for 60m operation.  The 60m extension is separable so that the 40-20-15-10-6 can also be deployed - resonant on these five bands

Walnut transformer box and white UHMW winder

Pruning and VSWR scans - the following are typical from the bottom end of each band

to the top portion of the band

The 60m extension connected

Monday, November 9, 2020

Antenna for SOTA, POTA, and DXpeditions

Initial Prototype:  The initial prototype had a turns ratio of 14:2 (14 secondary and 2 primary).  It used a single 100 pF capacitor across the center conductor to ground.  The tests of this initial prototype after pruning for a best compromise resulted in:

2:1 SWR Bandwidth on 40 meters is 6.730 -> 7.530 MHz with a dip to 1.3:1 SWR at 7.060 MHz

2:1 SWR Bandwidth on 20 meters is 13.910 -> 14.806 MHz with a dip to 1:1 SWR at 14.360 MHz

2:1 SWR Bandwidth on 15 meters is 21.010 -> 22.070 MHz with a dip to 1.6:1 SWR at 21.610 MHz

2:1 SWR Bandwidth on 10 meters is 29.1 -> 30.8 MHz with a dip to 1.8:1 SWR at 29.900 MHz

On 10m it is not very usable unless one has an ATU.

The second prototype (photo below) used two 220 pF capacitors in series which technically by the numbers should be 110 pF.  My measurements of the capacitance was closer to 130 - 140 pF.  This had a substantial effect on making 10 meters usable without a tuner.   The results are as follows:

2:1 SWR Bandwidth on 40 meters is 6.820 -> 7.510 MHz with a dip to 1.3:1 SWR at 7.150 MHz

2:1 SWR Bandwidth on 20 meters is 13.990 -> 14.840 MHz with a dip to 1:1 SWR at 14.430 MHz

2:1 SWR Bandwidth on 15 meters is 20.950 -> 22.270 MHz with a dip to 1.1:1 SWR at 21.650 MHz

2:1 SWR Bandwidth on 10 meters is 29.1 -> 30.8 MHz with a dip to 1.3:1 SWR at 29.900 MHz

Being a link dipole for 30m - here are the results for 30m:

2:1 SWR Bandwidth on 30 meters is 9.730 -> 10.880 MHz with a dip to 1.0:1 SWR at 10.280 MHz with a SWR between 1.3 and 1.2:1 from 10.100 to 10.150 MHz

A third prototype had the following results (identical in construction to the second one) with the following results.

2:1 SWR Bandwidth on 40 meters is 6.820 -> 7.500 MHz with a dip to 1.3:1 SWR at 7.150 MHz

2:1 SWR Bandwidth on 20 meters is 13.980 -> 14.850 MHz with a dip to 1:1 SWR at 14.440 MHz

2:1 SWR Bandwidth on 15 meters is 20.780 -> 22.280 MHz with a dip to 1.2:1 SWR at 21.600 MHz

2:1 SWR Bandwidth on 10 meters is 24.5 -> 29.9 MHz (which actually overlaps into 12 meters) with a dip to 1.1:1 SWR which is wide - 28.0 to 28.5 MHz so 10 meters is now perfectly usable without a tuner and so is 12m which is a very narrow band.

This is one heck of an antenna - requiring no tuner on 40m, 20m, 15m, 12m and 10m and power handling ability as follows SSB 60w, CW - 40w and Digital (key down) - 30w.

The final product:



Sunday, October 25, 2020

All Time New One (ATNO) #315. South Orkney Islands

This DXpedition took place between late February and early March 2020 just before the pandemic hit with full force.  Because of the pandemic, the major DXpeditions have been cancelled.  The one going to Midway was one I was looking forward to but became victim to the pandemic.   The last major one I was able to work was VP8PJ and I was able to make contact on 30m CW.  Between the sunspot minimum and the effects of the pandemic - I will likely be stuck on #315 for a long while.

Friday, October 23, 2020

My latest activation videos

My new backpacking set-up for SOTA Activations

 For backpacking where minimalism is important to me, my go to radio is the LNR MTR3B Mountain Topper.   The radio itself weighs 174 grams.  WG0AT has repackaged his into a clear lid tin that only weighs 120g.   With the battery and the key made GM0EUL, the whole set up weighs less than a pound.

I used a small camera case which has the earbud.

For an antenna, I use a 40-30-20 link dipole.  There is a separable link for 30m.  Separating this link makes it an EFHW on 30m.  With the link connected - it is a full wave on 20m and a half wave on 40m.  The winder is a home made UHMW PE plastic.  The line is spearfishing line and the wire is from SOTABeams.  The weight includes the weight of the line thrower.   

The entire set-up including antenna, radio, etc weighs about 1.5 pounds including the waterproof dry bag from Sea-to-Summit.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Worked a new ATNO #314 - 4U1UN - Remotely from a Hospital - 5 Watts QRP

My  Dad had a stroke and so I was doing duty in the hospital (Saint Francis Downtown) and 4U1UN had been on the air.   I have the ability to remotely control my home station via my phone.  I was first alerted that 4U1UN was on the air on 40m CW by HamAlert and my phone by Morse indicated it was an RBN spot.  I quickly dialed into my home station via the browser on my phone.  I listened to 4U1UN work European stations for about an hour or so.  He was calling CQ with the EU at the end of the CQ string.   My finger was ready to pounce on the call button the whole time waiting for the CQ string to stop sending EU at the end.  I had the split frequency all ready to go on the TX.  I was going to transmit exactly 1 kiloHertz up from his TX frequency.AT 2358 UTC on December 8, 2019, he stopped sending the EU string at the end of the CQ.  He was still loud - a solid 599.  Then I pounced - NY4G.  He replied back NY4G 599.  I replied TU 599.  It took about 3 calls and I was in the log.  I later confirmed it through his online log several days later.  It was later confirmed in LOTW for #313.  (Actually #314 but Revillagigedo never confirmed via Card or LOTW despite being confirmed in his online log)

Sunday, September 1, 2019

101 Summit Activations Completed

My blog posts to document the march up to the 1000 point goal is woefully out of date.   If you want to see the detailed blow by blow for every activation - you will have to purchase my book due to be out in October 2019. 

I finally got my Mountain Goat designation after my 97th summit activation of Mount Sterling on July 16, 2019.

In the process i was able to establish the following:

Fastest ever to Mountain Goat (1000+ points) in North America.   The previous mark was held by NA6MG which was over a period of 9.8 months.  The mark I set was 8.9 months.

I was also the 6th fastest to MG ever in the SOTA record books

In terms of number of summits to achieve Mountain Goat - I was able to be among the top 5 fewest summits to achieve it and the only person to have 100 summits or less in less than a year.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Head to Head Test - Center Fed Link Dipole Versus EFHW on 20m

The jury is in.   The same QTH, the same time, the same configuration (inverted Vee), same height above ground at the apex.    There is no significant edge for the link dipole in performance.   The EFHW wins on convenience, ease of deployment, weight (EFHW 160 grams, Link Dipole is 200 grams).

Link Dipole is a Home Brew

EFHW is an LNR 40-20-10

Power : 200 mW

Mode: WSPR

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Week 28 – Clingmans Dome (#58) and Nettle Creek Bald (#59)

It was April 22, 2019, the day after Easter Sunday.  My hiking companion was Dave KE4EA.  The second visit to Clingman’s Dome has long been anticipated since the last time in late fall had really cold sub-freezing conditions.  Monday promised to be a nice sunny spring day after a weekend of severe weather into Easter weekend.   Nettle Creek Bald was the double-header which was conveniently located on US 441 on the way back home.

We left Travelers Rest at 7:00 AM and arrived at Clingman’s Dome at about 9:30 AM and the temperature was around 43 degrees F.  There was snow in the grassy areas.  It was a bright, clear, spring day.    The views did not disappoint.  Tourists abounded on this beautiful day.

Dave and I set up in a wooded area next to the observation tower.  I made some DX contacts on 20m – Finland OH9XX and Sweden SA4BLM on top of the usual chasers.  I also made a summit to summit contact with K9OZ who was on Winding Stair Mountain W5O/OU-002.

The Appalachian Trail goes through Clingman’s Dome and we found a couple of young hikers thru-hiking the entire 2200 mile trail – Dani and Justin.  I explained to them what I was doing and they were intrigued by the idea.  I also told them that I was writing a book and taking pictures of thru-hikers of the AT that I meet.   Since I was next to the paved ramp to the observation tower, I had plenty of people ask me what I was doing.   With earbuds on, no one could here the dits and dahs of the Morse Code I was sending.

Before leaving, we had to trek up the ice covered paved path to the observation tower.  We had to grab the hand rails and looked for patches to step on with enough footing not to fall.  At the top the views were fantastic.

Soon we made our way to the truck to head on to the Thomas Divide Trail just off NC441 and only a few miles away.  The next summit to climb was Nettle Creek Bald which was about halfway to Newton Bald – on the same trail.

Nettle Creek Bald hike to the summit was a 3.83 km hike (approximately 2.5 miles), and we could see the summit from the trail.  Another interesting view is that we could also see where we came from.   From behind the trees we saw the summit of Clingman’s Dome.  The hike was up and down, not very steep.  The trail itself was well maintained.

Reaching the summit itself was sort of anti-climactic – no summit marker, just the end of the track on my GPS device and visually everything sort of fell away - from the ridge side and from the trail side.  The ridge was very steep on either side.   I was able to make another summit to summit contact – this time with NU7A who was 3500 Camas Mountain W7W/CH-228 in Washington State.  I got chased by EA2LU Jorge from Spain along with the usual chasers who always seem to appear in my logs Paula K9IR, Larry K0RS, Bruce W2SE, Dean K2JB and George KX0R.

Dave and I swept through the bands.  Dave usually has the responsibility of 40m while I swept 20m, 30m and 60m.  Soon it was time to go home.  It had been a good day.  

Dave continued up the ladder in W4C, after having completed 16 summits, he was now at 151 summit points.   I was now at 633 summit points towards the 1000 point goal.   I was still #4 in the standings for 2019 with W1PTS still #1 on the leaderboard with 696 points, followed by KN4LRI at 623 points, KS4FX at 558, and me at 500 points with an 11.11 points per activation average.    W1PTS had just become a Mountain Goat when his previous year’s total was added to his 2019 total.  At the time of this writing, during Week 28, W1PTS was at 1079 points.  I was still at #11 in the all-time W4C standings.

Week 27 – No Activations Because of Severe Weather

I spent the early part of the week vacationing with my wife and parents in Kentucky.  I had planned on doing Big Butt W4C/CM-009 with Dean K2JB.   The weather forecast indicated intense storms through Friday with a 50% chance of rain in the Carolina Mountains.  I thought about postponing the activation – but as of April 18, the front has been shifting enough to predict improving weather conditions for the 20th.  I was hopeful that weather improves enough as a Trans-Atlantic Summit-to-Summit event has been planned for that day by the boys across the pond and more alerts have been posted. 

Dean K2JB sent me an email stating that he could not accompany me on the hike to Big Butt as his wife sustained an injury to her knee and would have an MRI on Saturday.   As of April 19, I deleted my alert.    Doing an alternate summit that is a drive up – such as Sassafras Mtn would have given away summit points that I otherwise could have had.  So as it stands, there would be no activations during week 27.

Week 26 – Doubletop Mountain (#56) and Snaggy Bald (#57)

It was April 10, 2019.   Both mountains shared the same starting point which was on gated Forest Service Road 4652 (seasonally accessible between March 15th and December 31).  It started out as a 1 kilometer hike to the summit of Snaggy Bald which is a bush whack of the ridgeline.  There was no trail per se, although there was a logging road which hugged the ridgeline for a little while.  The hardwoods were still leafless at this high elevation which was desirable – as a bush whack with heavy foliage is that much more difficult.  Scott set up on the summit and I setup just below him on the AZ.   The hike was steep – climbing 140 meters in a kilometer. 

Patrick KI4SVM was going to Mt. Hardy W4C/WM-006 and he kept tabs on our progress – wanting to make an S2S contact with us.  I did make contact with Pat from both summits – once with CW and the other on the 2m HT, and so did Scott.  We then descended Snaggy Bald and made a right turn as we picked up the ridge  towards Doubletop.   It was a steep decent on the ridgeline to the gap between the two mountains.    We ascended to several false peaks before reaching Doubletop Mountain.  About 200m from the summit of Doubletop stood a 7 foot high boulder which covered the entire width of the ridge.    We had two options – go around the boulder by descending the ridge or go over it “free solo”.   The ridge was very steep and going around it did not seem like a good idea.   I was the one that found the boulder and I thought going over the top was the better choice. 

Scott and I both safely made it over.   We then ascended to the penultimate false peak – we called Doubletop Junior.    After Doubletop Junior,  the summit of Doubletop was still a distant 200m away.  We were still faced with a steep 60m vertical rise over the remaining 200m.   After we were sure we were within the AZ, Scott proceeded to the summit.   I setup my station just below Scott in the AZ

Scott set up using the observation tower as a support for his vertical.    I tried to call Scott but apparently his HT had died.   Scott tried to text me to tell me about the wonderful views to be had on the summit observation tower.   I was disappointed that I missed the opportunity – only a few meters away.

I set up my station by lashing my mast to a convenient tree.    The difficulty came in getting the antenna trap stuck in a tree limb.   Scott’s pole came to the rescue as he pulled down the tree limb with it to untangle the wire.   With station set up wrapped up and contacts made, now the chore of hiking down was before us.

Scott and I discussed that we still had a long hike back to the car.   It had already taken 3 hours to hike the 4 km from Snaggy Bald and it was about 3:30 PM when we reached the summit of Doubletop.  I stopped and started packing up at about 4:30 PM.  Scott shared  that the view was fantastic from the fire tower and we took a quick glance at the panorama video he had taken.
One of the mistakes we made in going up to Doubletop is not maintaining the ridge line and we paid for it by the steep bush whack to regain the ridge.  We resolved to maintain the ridge line coming down.

The descent went according to plan. We maintained the ridge track and made it back to the logging road.  We followed that logging road all the way back to the truck.   It was almost 7:30 as were underway back to Asheville.

We counted all the ups and downs and by my reckoning, we had ascended a total 750 meters (2453 feet) all in about 8 kilometers (5 miles).
That was an epic hike, Scott and I both were hurting at the end of the day – with Scott clearly the fitter one.

Week 25 Part 2 – Craggy Dome (#55)

It was April 3, 2019.  It had been in the 60’s and foliage was exploding in the lower valleys. One more week and the same would happen in the high mountains.   This was the last week to climb up the scraggly summit of Craggy Dome W4C/CM-007.  I was at the house of son in Greer overseeing some electrical contractors re-wiring a bathroom.   I had a planned meeting with Scott in Asheville at 12:30.   I was waiting for the electrician to complete his work and it was almost time to go meet Scott.   It was still an hour fifteen drive to meet Scott.   Electrician said to me, “Why don’t you go?  Instruct me on how to lock up and leave the key in the lock box”.   I thought to myself “My wife will have a conniption if I leave the keys but I can’t leave Scott hanging, nor can I postpone this hike, last chance to hike Craggy”.  I relented and left the electrician to call me after he locks up.

Soon  I was at the Veterans Restoration Quarters where Scott and his wife volunteer to serve meals to veterans rehabilitating from PTSD, depression and other ailments.   I had a meal with the church volunteers of stuffed potato and cole slaw.

Soon, Scott and I were up on the Parkway headed for Craggy Dome.   Arriving at the overlook where the hike starts, I saw Craggy Dome, a gnarly mess of a mountain full of thick undergrowth and rhododendrons in between the hardwoods.  Within it is a faint manway of a trail probably created by rain water all the way up to the summit.

Scott leading the way, we started hiking on the Mountains to Sea Trail and quickly made a beeline to the left toward the spine of the ridge.   It was shallow at first.   We were only about 600 meters or so to the summit as the crow flies.   It was about a 1 km hike.    The second half was fairly steep

There were no tall trees on the summit.  There was an abundance of heavy brush.  I had my 20 foot mast and fastening it to the trekking pole which was guyed to the shrubs was fairly easy to do.   I was on a rock outcrop where I sat with my radio.  Scott and I split the bands with him starting on 60m and me on 20m.  I had three S2S’s today - with George KX0R on Genesee Mountain W0C/FR194 in Colorado, K9IR Paula on W0M/ES-001 on Webster HP in Amish country near Springfield Missouri and Tom WX4TW on Mt. Mitchell W4C/CM-001.  Scott made contacts with the same summits as I.   
On a summit, it is an amazingly quiet place with signals sounding loud even without tickling the strength s-meter on the radio.

Scott and I headed down the small manway of a trail – and soon we were on the Parkway bidding each other farewell.

Week 25 – Part 1 – Bunches Bald (#54)

It was April 2nd.  Several have just activated Bunches Bald W4C/WM-013, and among them K2JB on March 30, and Tom W1PTS on March 31, to get the last winter bonus points.   I followed Dean’s directions to the letter.   I entered from the Blue Ridge Parkway at the entrance near Big Witch Gap and drove the 3 miles to the campsites near the summit.   Dean pointed out that behind campsite T4, there is a faint trail that leads to the summit.   I got to campsite T4 and found that the site itself, although very nice for setting up a station, is below the AZ by a couple of meters.   As soon as I jumped onto the trail, I was in the AZ.   A walked another 30m and with that steep trail, I was well into the AZ.

Setting up a radio station was tight but very doable. Soon I was on the air.   Propagation was not good as I was getting a lot of weak signal reports.   I could not hear any other summit activators – although folks were calling on K9PM.   I made about 20 contacts with chasers on 4 bands.  Soon I was packing up to go home.   On the way down, I found an alternate approach without bringing the vehicle into the campground.   It would involve a 1 km hike with 200m of elevation gain which is very doable.   There was a large grassy clearing on the shoulder of the Blue Ridge Parkway past the Lickstone Overlook if one is coming from Soco at coordinates  N35 degrees 31.114 minutes and W83 degrees 11.698 minutes which will bring you to within 40m of the dirt road.   One would just walk over the 40m from the grassy area to the dirt road and hike the rest of the way.

While planning the logistics for activating Bunches Bald and setting up my alert on the SOTA reflector, I found several alerts for Tom W1PTS.  It appeared he was planning activations on April 3 and April 4 which will get him to within 2 points of becoming a Mountain Goat.   Stay tuned to see how this played out. The projection was that Tom would just miss setting the North American record for the shortest time to become a Mountain Goat – in the neighborhood of 10.9 months.   The NA record is still held by WA7JTM of 10.75 months established in February 2014.  There I was at week 25 with 585 points – 27 weeks to go, and 415 points to 1000.

Week 24 Part 2 – Cove Mountain (#52), Greentop (#53)

It was March 29, 2019.  Today was intended to be a tripleheader with Cove Mountain W4T/SU-042 as the lead-off followed by Greentop W4C/SU-076 and then by Hall Top W4C/SU-055.  Scott and I met at Home Depot parking lot near Asheville and this time we rode his Subaru to the Cove Mountain trail head near Gatlinburg TN.   It was “Spring Break” and the trail head was full of cars.  We had to park by the roadside about 100 meters away from the trail head.  Families and kids abound on the trail.  There were steep drop offs on the Laurel Falls trail.  The trail was paved all the way to the falls.    With all the spring rains, there was a lot of water rushing down the falls.   This initial section of the trail was relatively flat.

After the falls, the trail started out very rocky then turned into a more even dirt trail.   Only two hikers joined us at the summit while we were up there.   At the summit there was a fire tower.  There were views of Mt. LeConte as we headed up the ridge.

The summit area had a large opening convenient for setting up.   Scott used the tower to drop a line for his vertical.   I set up on the trail using one of the trees as a mast holder.   
The first order was to get Dean K2JB who was on W4C/WM-058 Wesser Bald for a summit to summit contact and both Scott and I quickly got him on 60m (5.332MHz) with CW.  Following that was my first trans-Atlantic summit-to-summit contacts with activators Jorge EA2LU and Ignacio EA2BD who were both on EA2/NV-092 in Spain.   Scott took care of both 60m and 40m while I took on 20m and 30m to sweep the bands.   Soon we were on the long 6 km hike down.   We encountered a few more intrepid hikers trying to summit Cove Mountain on the way down.  Dean K2JB sent us text messages telling us about short cuts for the drive to Greentop.

Greentop is a “drive-up” except that this drive-up was on perfectly paved roads as opposed to gravel forest roads.   With the short cuts that Dean provided, it was a short drive, perhaps a half hour to the summit of Greentop.  We were warned about severe RF interference by Ron KI4TN but I encountered no such problems. Scott and I split the coverage of the bands, him on the low bands of 60m and 40m and me on the high bands of 20m and 30m.   We both made summit to summit contacts with Dean K2JB who is now on W4C/WM-018 Wine Spring Bald.  We did not generate a lot of QSOs but enough with our usual chasers.  Soon we were on our way to Hall Top.

The excitement of the day came in the process of trying to summit Hall Top.  We were both “on the fence” about whether to do Hall Top or not.  We had only one hour of daylight left with Hall Top only 11.5 km away (as the crow flies”.  We decided to do it.  With good cell service Google Maps got us to the gravel Tower Road to the summit.   About a fifth of the way up this long and twisty forest road – we encountered a sign that said “road closed ahead”.  We took a chance that the sign is wrong and the road is really open. 

About 2/3 of the way up, we encountered a washout of the road way.  The washout narrowed the road to about the width of the Subaru track and with trepidation we made our way across.   We certainly could not turn around at that point.  We were hoping that there would be sufficient space past the washout to turn around.   About another 800m and we encountered a barricade.    This was truly our “stop point” and I got out of the car to guide the car around.  We both looked at each other and I asked “Do we hike it?”.  Scott asked in reply “How much more elevation gain?”.   I said – “Another 200m to the summit per the altimeter on my GPS and another 2 km”.  With 30 minutes of daylight left and having to negotiate that washout again we both said “Nah, let’s go home”.