Field Day 2016

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This was my first field day experience, which spanned just about 2 whole days, and it was fantastic! I felt like a kid going camping again, lol!

My friend, K5URU, Blake, hosted the first day of field day @ his ranch where we were allowed free range to setup just about anything we could imagine! Thanks Blake!

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That’s me in the distance covering up my screen room tent, it started to rain a bit.

We had scattered rain showers coming in all throughout the day it seemed, then it finally cleared up late afternoon. I brought my HF rig & VHF rig (and a truck absolutely full of stuff!). I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing a thing. Setup everything pretty quick, and we were on the air in no time, although it seemed as if band conditions were not favorable (at least for our club). We were still able to snag contacts left and right though.

K5URU also constructed this mobile mast and was able to demo its operation for the club members this weekend:

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I’ll let you read about his great write up here: Freestanding Mobile Mast Project

I was definitely interested in something like this for my truck, I had to fashion a pole stuck in a concrete bucket (which still worked ok), but the concrete bucket was a pain to lug around. And this mast is just oh so beautiful! As soon as we were up and operating, my buddy KG5LVT, Matt (or CWBoss as we like to call him) was putting my 590SG in CW mode for the first time!

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KG5LVT with his vintage key on the Kenwood TS590SG

CW is definitely in my future, I’m only up to lesson 3 on ‘LearnCWOnline.’ The mode is just so simple, and I’m sure with practice, I could really get out with CW even on my compromise antennas, Matt really had his technique down, and is getting faster with each lesson.

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KG5LVT & his homebrew 6m moxon

 

 

Was also able to test out a 6m moxon that KG5LVT built. Had several analyzers around that day, so we were able to get it resonant around 50.125. Although conditions weren’t too favorable that day, not to mention all of the lightning crashes we kept hearing on the radio.

Our day was full of BBQ, good times, good friends, and most importantly ham radio!  This was a great opportunity to checkout other gear as well and compare the different brands. I was curious as to how other HF rigs sounded in person (I’d only ever heard my 590SG & a KX3). I was surprised to find out that I was actually impressed with the sound of the Icom line of HF rigs.

 

We used our club call sign, N5OAK/1D/TX. This was the first ‘contest’ type event that I’ve taken part in, and I actually liked the fast paced nature of it for once, not sure I could contest every weekend, but it was definitely fun! Our day stretched late into the night, but eventually I had to call it quits just past midnight to get ready for the next days events!

Our next day was spent at the local fire department, which was really cool, because we were able to use their ‘training tower’ as an anchor point for our antennas, and it also made for a really cool operating position up top! There were members of the public stopping by and asking questions about the hobby, some were even interested in getting licensed. I think next year, we’ll try to do a better job of getting the message out to the community that they are more than welcome to come out and operate with us! I acted as a control operator a few times helping some folks make their first contacts 🙂

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Oak Hill Fire Department Training Building (HyEndFed 4 band hanging with LMR400 off to the left)

 

We strung up a 4 band HyEndFed antenna all the way to the top of the tower, attached some LMR400, and pulled the end up and attached the other end to a tall light pole in the parking lot, worked great! The top of the tower is about 50 feet up. There is a floor under the top floor that we were able to run our coax into and make another operating position!

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K5ACL scrolling up hoping for some action on the higher bands (no luck)

 

There was so many folks on 20m, it seems like they were calling CQ over each other on the same exact frequency, so yes, it was a bit crazy, I’d usually just spin the dial, and look for someone else calling CQ Field Day. No international contacts were made on either of the two days, next field day, we won’t be using an end fed, but rather an OCF dipole at a minimum, we definitely had the space for it, but wanted to be as portable as possible.

Had the chance to try out lots of new modes I’d never even tried yet, there are just so many routes you can take in ham radio, I say focus on the one that interests you the most and excel at it! Then you can move along to the next.

Looking forward to events like this in the future, but who says you have to wait for field day to enjoy operating like this? 🙂

Lessons learned though – be a bit more prepared for adverse weather, have a backup antenna for HF & VHF, try to promote the event more, and eat more BBQ! I also think it might have been neat if we provided like a class on something that we could all learn from as a club, we each have something we’ve specialized in, I’d like to think my focus has been more on SDR’s, so maybe I can provide some training on that at the next FD. All in all, a great success, hope you had fun too!

Hustler Vertical Mod Redo

Good day hams!

I’ve been as busy as ever making continuous improvements, and trying new things over the past month, and I’ve learned a lot along the way! It’s time to put some of this down on paper!

My Hustler 5BTV was previously modified to include 12 & 17m, I went off of KL7JR’s website. But I wanted to make the installation a little more permanent than just using zip ties, and hose clamps, so I decided to get to work, yet again, on the vertical! I thought my previous installation, while effective, was a little sloppy. (note to self: take the time to do things right the first go around!).

I also got to remembering that Hustler makes a 30m add-on kit to convert your 5BTV to a 6BTV. I really enjoy doing digital, and was missing out on one of my favorite bands. I just had to get the kit, it was like $49 (should’ve just went with the 6BTV to begin with), but to be honest, I wasn’t sure it would fit! Here’s some shots of the old installation:

It effectively removes the top aluminum tube, & replaces it with a trap & two shorter tubes. The spider web assemblies are also removed so now its just a straight vertical. I used the measurements that Hustler suggested for the spacing between the tubes/traps (1.5 inches on each gap), slapped plenty of dielectric compound between the joints this time & tightened everything up! The antenna was about 2 feet longer now, and was definitely going to need guy wires this time around, even just for a temporary setup, i’ll still use guys, I feel that this added a few pounds to the antenna, and there is a bit more sway at the very top.

 

 

 

 

Now I was posed with a problem that I could no longer use the spider web assembly up top to ‘sort of’ support the pvc pipe that was up there with a zip tie. I’ve seen many variations of how hams have attached stuff to the Hustler, and I knew I needed something that would last, and hold up to the weather over the years. I recut two pieces of elec. conduit (was colored dark grey figured it would be better), but the 3/4″ white pvc works as well, just get the schedule 40 stuff, it’s a lot thicker, the thinner walled pvc will bend too much in this application. Each piece is 2′ long, I then marked the center and cut two holes measured for ‘U’ Bolts. The elec. conduit still moves a bit, but if you apply the right amount of tension with the strings up top for the 12 & 17m wires, it equals everything out, a second hand helps in this situation. I reused a 13′ piece of wire & 9′ 5″ piece respectively.

The only difference that I’ve seen in other folks Hustler modifications is the point where they attach these additional wires. I’ve seen some add them close to where the feed point is, others have added them above the first insulator (as I did). I asked this question over on eham, and luckily, there’s two spots that you can add these wires apparently, where I added them, or at the feed point at the very bottom of the antenna, anywhere else between and they can become radials in effect I guess.

It loads up nice on 12m & 17m, the tuner is taking care of the slack until I can get my analyzer hooked up to it. All in all, an improvement that will last a bit longer than my previous attempt at this. I really enjoy the WARC bands, it seems there’s lots of DX opportunity on 17m (12m hasn’t been open that much). May not be the prettiest modification, but it’s an easy way to get these bands, other 8 & 9 band verticals from other manufacturers can be pretty expensive, the Hustler is still pretty reasonable, and this cheap mod works!

KL7JR’s mod – initially I was confused whether to place the wires at the green arrow or aqua arrow @ the feed point

There are other mods available to hams for the antenna as well, you can add roughly a 32′ piece of wire somewhere in between to get 30m if you don’t want to go for the 30m commercial kit, that wire can be tied off to a nearby tree or structure of some sort, just try to keep it as vertical as possible. Another ham connected a piece of wire to the very top of the antenna and formed an inverted ‘L’ with the Hustler to to get a better bandwidth on 80m (requires retuning), not sure if you could get 160m on this although I’m sure it’s possible if you have the space for a 123 ft wire, or if you are good with trap wizardry! That might be an upgrade for me in the future, but for now 8 bands is plenty!

(Edit – finally made a short video on the mod…):

73
K5ACL

Now a WSPRnet Admin!

I was just added to the WSPRnet admin team, going to try and make a whole bunch of improvements on the website.

Bruce, W1BW, was gracious enough to allow me to help out with the website. I really enjoy WSPR. Some use it as a propagation tool. Seeing the different spots throughout the day with different -db levels shows you how the bands are moving/opening/closing around the earth. I almost try to visualize it, breathtaking!

Sometimes you’ll get a spot that’s ridiculously far. Those make you smile even more. 🙂

If I can ever help anyone out with their WSPRnet account, please let me know!

73
K5ACL