Oct 012013
 

G4NOK managed a very creditable 4th place overall in the RSGB 4m cumulatives. This is excellent considering our humble beginnings in the contest way back in February.

You can see the results here:
RSGB 4m Cumulative Contest Results 2013

We can do even better next year. G4NOK will be entering the 6m, 4m and2m cumulatives at the very least and maybe even 70cms and 23cms.

There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make this happen. Thanks to all the supporters of this cause, you know who you are.

Apr 222013
 
Nice, straight and neat

Nice, straight and neat – click for full size image

Finally the antennas are up and working. Make no mistake some members of the club have worked very hard to make this happen, they should be proud. There is a lot more detail here than at first meets the eye. For instance Robert M0CRX took the time to make a very good balun former. This balun works extremely well on all the HF bands including 40m.

I am not an experienced HF operator but I have observed a lot over the years by being around. One thing that I can say for a fact is this: This is the quietest 40m antenna we have ever had up at G4NOK. It really is amazing to hear such a quiet band, the noise floor below signals is below S1 and then boom there is a huge s9+40dB signal there. This is also testimony to the HF rig’s good receiver, I was pleasantly surprised at how good the TS590 is in this respect.

The balun is not a true balun but a choke balun; it’s purpose is to prevent currents from flowing on the outside of the coax, you can see the balun structure in between the two antennas on the stub mast. The more observant will notice that the balun coil is at right angles to the feed. This helps to stop the fields from the antenna being induced on the turns of the coil. You will see this kind of thing all over the place. A standard way of preventing coupling between two inductors in a circuit is to orient them at 90 degrees to each other. The orientation of the balun simply follows this rule. The photos below shows the balun and feed in more detail, just click on the images for more detail.

Further out showing how the balun is clamped to the boom

Balun is clamped to the stub mast perpendicular to the antenna boom – Click for full size

A longer stub mast would allow the balun to come up from the underside of the driven element but this way is much stronger. This is important for us as we have an exposed hill top site. This way will also help rainwater run away from the cable. At the moment there are just ty-wraps holding the balun to the former but we will be coating the balun in a waterproof coating of some type in the near future.

 

Close up of the balun - maybe 'Ugly' but very effective

Close up of the balun – maybe ‘Ugly’ but very effective

Here is a slightly closer view, the inspiration for this implementation of the ugly balun came from Robert and the following site:

Build the ‘Ugly’ Balun

Notice the lack of connectors – cheaper , lower loss and nowhere for water to gather.

Close up of the A3S feed - Extremely waterproof

Close up of the A3S feed – Extremely waterproof

The tails to the feed are not super short like they would be for a VHF antenna but they are still quite low inductance at the frequencies we are concerned with here; namely 40m, 20m, 15m and 10m. There is a little give in case the antenna slips round in the 70 mph winds that we experience quite often. We have a plan to help ensure that there is no slippage of the antennas but you will have to wait to see what that is. I am a believer in letting the stub mast slip in the rotator a little rather than risking shearing the drive shaft of the rotator.

What I don’t like is the antennas slipping and thus damaging the feeds.Mick M6MWP has an idea how to stop this altogether.

Waterproofing 

For the A3S this consists of self amalgamating tape, heatshrink (2 layers), more self amalgamating tape and finally liquid rubber all over the eye terminals where they fasten to the boom. I don’t think that the water can get in unless the coax outer sleeve gets punctured. If you click on the image you will see that the photograph is so fresh that the liquid rubber is still dripping. It’s a bit tricky to get off as well so I recommend wearing some protective gloves.

VHF dual band yagi

As I may have said before the Innovantennas 12 ele dual band antenna is the best constructed antenna I have ever seen, it is extremely robust, chunky and yet reasonably light. You can tell the quality of the construction from how straight we have been able to get it when assembled. This antenna is dual band and so needs a balun that can cover both bands – once again a choke balun was chosen. Due to the higher frequencies involved the balun is quite a lot smaller. Also as we now on VHF it is imperative that there is no unnecessary inductance in the feed, so the coax tails are extremely short. I think that they are as short as possible. The cable passes through the boom and then the balun is formed by winding 6 turns on a furniture polish can. This is then kept in place with a few ty-wraps and the attached to the underside of the boom, once again at 90 degrees to the driven element – only this time in a different plane.

On 6m the antenna seems to be as good as my old M2 6M7 even though it is a little bit shorter. It is definitely a quiet antenna on 6m and GB3MCB in Cornwall was 559. On 4m the antenna is better than the old one but is a little off tune. The antennas have not been tuned at all yet.

Here are a few detailed photographs.

20130421_161333-1

Waterproof and low inductance – as recommended by G0KSC – click for full size

Choke balun under the boom

Choke balun under the boom

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 092013
 

I didn’t do a very good job of the 1st RSGB 70 MHz contest I’m afraid.

There were a number of problems.

  • I was very tired & very grumpy – this never helps!
  • The conditions weren’t great – so QRP operation such as ours is at the moment really finds it hard going.
  • The Stihl saw noise was a little distracting from out on the patio.
  • The antenna rotator was challenging – I didn’t know where I was pointing the antennas most of the time and I couldn’t go out and check because I would have been drenched as the patio was being jet washed :)
  • One unfortunate operator who was nearby developed an intermittent RF feedback problem and at certain times large portions of the band were wiped out – this can happen to anyone.

Apparently I had awful audio again but fortunately Peter G4IZH was on hand to give me some help with this. Peter is a very technically minded chap who knows his onions and I am now pretty sure that things are fine. There are some settings on the TS-570D that should not be used! TX bandwidth and TX-EQ! They were wrong and sounded awful, no wonder no-one would talk to me. Mind you that wasn’t a problem on cw and they wouldn’t answer me there either.

I discovered something very interesting about the antenna that we are using as well; the front to back ratio is very poor.  I suspect that it is an assembly  issue because the data sheet for the antenna indicates that the antenna has very respectable front to back and the data is reputable.

I feel sure that the new antenna will make a considerable difference to our station performance as well.

We certainly need an amplifier, this will increase our signal by 10dB. That will hopefully be completed by the end of the month in time for the contest on the 30th.

Can’t wait to do the antenna work this coming weekend.

Conrad G0RUZ

 

 

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