2006 Summer Tower Work

Quick Index

Just a few things in the plans for the summer of 2006.  The big change will be replacing what is probably the oldest antenna still in the air, the 40-2cd that starts the year at 180'.  Some of you will remember this antenna as the one that was broken in an ice storm around 1985.  It was converted to 4 verticals, rebuilt, reinforced, and has worked its way back up from 60' to 180' where it has been since that tower was installed in 1999.  The replacement is an M-Squared 40m4LLDD just like the one installed in 2005 at 105' fixed at Europe on the 180' tower.  Since this one held up ok to the wind and ice I decided to go with another one.  To turn it I will be using a TIC 1122e ring rotor.

The first order of business after running up a big bill on the credit card is to unpack the 40m4LLDD.  This is a couple hour project and requires the full expanse of my garage.

Aluminum spread\

The 15 bags of assorted hardware show just how many pieces there really are to this project.

Hardware bags

There are a couple essential tools to doing this job without losing parts.

Specialty tools

This is a typical use of one of those tools during element assembly.

Sorted screws

The different size screws come in separate compartments of the hardware bags, but since some of them are only 1/4" different in size a short ruler is also necessary to be sure you have the right ones for each step.  Note above that the locknuts are all the same size, but there are so many of them that they don't fit in one cup of the tin at the start.  They also supply two tubs of the conductive grease stuff, so you won't run out even if you are as sloppy as I am putting it on.  An old toothbrush is a good tool for that job.

Since the first Saturday I had to start assembly was a bit wet I started putting together the elements in the shack.  This is what you get when you assemble the elements up to the point of adding the element truss/linear loading clamps and spacer.

Partial elements

There are a lot of parts that go into the insulator and loading bracket section.  (did you ever notice that its hard for an auto focus camera to lock in on shiney aluminum??

insulator section

The first transplanting takes those element sections out the shack window to the first staging area where another 5' of tubing is added that wouldn't fit well in the shack.

almost complete elements

Next I start the boom assembly on the trusty old tripods.

boom assembly

There is just one minor problem I realized at this point...  I temporarily attach the ring rotor cradle and boom brace struts and realized that the phasing line that should go on top of the boom will have to get around the struts somehow.  This is what the front driven element bracket looks like looking back at the reflector.  The U bolt is where the balun mounts.  The two clamps on the elements are where the phasing line rods attach, they are then bent around the balun and through stand off insulators down the boom to the rear driven element.

partial boom assembly

A possible solution being explored.  The phasing line insulators should normally be on top of the boom, but obviously that isn't going to work.

possible phasing line routing

the stand-off insulators and section of phasing line closeup.

phasing line

The summer that wouldn't start.

Rain, rain, rain, and wind, and more wind.  This was definately the summer that wouldn't start.  I got lots of little things done in the shack, the garage, the shed, but not in the air.  There was so much time that I decided that the 40M4LLDD wouldn't be able to get up past the guy wires from the house side of the tower... so i cut a bunch of trees down and made a new launching pad on the pond side.  The tram was rigged up over the guy wires, and the cable was just barely long enough to be able to attach to the antenna when it was staged just above the guy anchor point.  Finally in the middle of June a nice weekend forecast, some quickly recruited ground crew, including pulling a neighbor out of the shower, and we got to work.  Then it rained on my while I was up fastening down the antenna.  Loads of fun all around. 

In any case, the work had to start by removing the old antennas.  The ground crew (W1TO and KJ1K) was pretty busy for this so we didn't get many pictures.  But here I am doing the normal method of handling a 40-2cd.  Take it off the mast with the driven element down, lower it till the reflector is in reach, remove the reflector and tie it to the boom... then lower straight down.  The little twist on this one is that the tram wire was below the top of the tower, so the antenna had to be tipped and tucked under it to rig it for lowering.

We got the old 40-2cd and 10-4cd off the tower ok, and then raised the 10m4dx and the 2m porcupine.  I hate all those little elements, they are always poking in the wrong places.  In any case, this is what the top looked like with the tram wires and rope with the 10m and 2m in place on top after we were done Friday afternoon.

After getting the little stuff up I then started rigging the 40M4LLDD to get it lifted on Saturday.  This is the rigging of the pulley to the tram line and boom.  The lifting rope is the white one going to the right, the yellow one going down to the left is tied to a big pry bar driven into the ground as a stake.  It is holding the antenna down and back on the tripods so the lifting rope doesn't take it off before we were ready.  At this point the tram wire is very loose.  Note the two wood 1x2's taped to the bottom/back side of the boom, these were meant to prevent damage in case the boom landed on the guy wires.  These were needed, I had to stop the lift twice to take more tension on the tram wire to pull the antenna off the guy wires.  I didn't want to start with it any tighter then necessary, but as it turned out there was plenty of margin in the rigging.  Also note the supervisor in the background checking out the work.

The same rigging from the other side.

The lift that wouldn't end...

Saturday dawned calm and mostly sunny as predicted.  But we were slow getting started and the weather was going down hill quickly.  We finally got the ground crew assembled (W1TO, N1SR, and Chuck Wood, then W1EQO near the end).  When we were getting ready to lift the sun came out.  But it quickly clouded up and the wind picked up.  There were showers in NY, but they were far enough away and shouldn't make it here till we were done.  "Shouldn't"... famous last words as it started dripping on me as I went up the tower to secure it on top of the tower. 

The sun is out, the ground crew is assembling.

Ground crew still waiting, not sunny any more. 

Finally, LIFTOFF!  The lift started by taking up tension on the tram wire, this lifted the antenna 25-30' straight up.  Note the perfect tilt angle on the element, just right to slip over the other guy wires.

Hard to tell from this angle, but the perfect angle at lift off has turned into an upside down antenna.  But we press on anyway.

The other guy wires and the 160m V help us out and stand the antenna up vertically, of course now the new 10m antenna is in the way.  But here it is just about at the level of the star guy bracket.

Me, on the way up... just to put it all in perspective.  Right about now i started to feel the first few rain drops.

Here I am, just about up to the antenna... taking a good look at it and figuring out how to get it in the right orientation.  The wire on the right that is helping to straigten it up is the 160m inverted V... I had lowered it out of the way to make sure it wouldn't get in the way of the element had it come up the way it lifted off.  Instead it helps out a bit tipping it the other way.

Here I am up at the top, starting to maneuver it around to get it flipped over the right way. 

It took me 3 tries to get the 10m antenna to stay on side and out of the way after this.  I thought I could just flip it up and it would stay there, but the wind had other ideas.  I finally had to tighten it down to make sure it stayed put.  Now it is almost vertical and picked up to above the ring, we had to release some of the tension on the tram to let it into the tower to settle down in the boom cradle.

Now its sitting in the cradle, but still on side.  At this point I cut off the wood and the extra saftey rope.

Finally, in the cradle.  The wood pieces are removed and both clamps are installed.

After this I just tied the boom brace ropes to the tower and untied the lifting rope and big tag line.  The two positioning lines were left on for removal later.  Then I came down a very wet tower.

The lift that wouldn't end picked up again the next morning.  This time just me going up to do all the little stuff like:

 In any case it was about 4 hours up the tower... but it was a beautiful day, and well worth it.

Here is a nice view... looking west down the boom of the 10m4dx.

A view looking down on the 150' tower.

This is the 40m boom struts from above.  Note the piece of tape on the boom between the stuts, that is the center of balance.  I had to slide it to the right to get that in the middle.  You can see the 40-2cd on the ground up in the corner of the field.

Here is the tower quiz... What is this, and why?  Answer at the end of this page, so don't read too far ahead.

Tower quiz part 2.  What are these?

Now, back to the work.  Remember in part 1 I was trying to figure out how to fit the 40m phasing line around the boom struts?  Well this is what it looks like when its all done. 

And from the other side.  Note an oddity of Ring Rotors, the coax goes up the boom strut and the rotor loop is above the antenna, and has to be long enough to wrap half way around the tower each way.

Now the cleanup... This is how I coil and store rope.  The lifting rope, all 600' of it coiled and ready for storage.

To do such a neat job takes just a few simple steps.  You start with a pole through the tower legs, in this case a broken shovel handle.  And add a piece of PVC tubing to it.  Tie one end of the rope to the tubing.  Stand sideways and take one or two arm lengths of rope and wrap it over the tubing.  Get a good swing to it and you can coil up a lot of rope very quickly and neatly this way.

How it hangs when its done.  Note the shorter tag lines I do in one arm span loops, the lifting line is in 2 arm length loops.  Use the last few feet to wrap up the coils and then slide the tubing off the pole and carry to the storage shed.

The coils hang in a clean and dry place out of the sun when not in use.  The PVC tubing hangs from wire loops on eye bolts in the rafters.

Here is what it was all for, and what you are all probably waiting for... 4 over 4 on 40m!

And a closeup of the top.

 

ANSWERS:

The first 'what is it' is a ball of rope and tape that is hiding the clamp bolts on the Rohn thrust bearing on the top plate.  Since the rotor loop has to hang down from the antenna and somehow get over the edge of the top plate it means there has to be a fair sized loop, unfortunately it could get caught under those bolts.  The 'fix' is to make a big round ball out of it using some rope and lots of tape.  The new coax is in the front, it needs to be well covered in tape or some other abrasion resistant material so its not damaged on the other bolts or edge of the plate in the wind.  The second 'what is it' are the hard line connectors for the 10m and 2m antennas at the top of the tower.  You can only see the middle of the body as the top and bottom are well sealed.

Not quite on the tower, but necessary stuff...

I finally decided to clean up the antenna switching system this summer also.  I was interested in protecting against hot switching, and also getting rid of the little knobs from those MFJ control boxes.  I looked at some of the commercially available boxes that had ptt protection, but they also did lots of other stuff and were way too expensive for the quantity I would need (10 boxes).  So I inquired on a couple reflectors to see if anyone had a simpler solution, preferably one that didn't need a bunch of integrated circuits that could generate noise or need filtering from RF, no micro processors to program, just a simple relay system would do.  I was told it couldn't be done with just relays, and of course then had to prove that it could be done.  After prototyping a simple relay circuit I found N5QQ who was interested in building a set of them for me.  After some negotiations we settled on a design and housing and he went off and built me 10 boxes.  There were only some simple changes to the original design I came up with due to differences in latching and unlatching speeds of the relays that he used.  The boxes were delivered in August and only took a few hours to wire in and replace the existing switches for transmit and Beverage antennas.  So no more hot switching worries now, much bigger and easier to read labels, and also no more guessing which Beverage you are on because the switch knobs were loose.

The basic schematic.

The insides with the cables hooked up.  The diode matrix is under the wires where they come in.  All connections are to those wire clamp blocks on the left side. 

The 40m TX antenna one sitting on the new TIC Ring controller.

20m box closeup showing label.  I went for a box that was probably a bit taller than needed to be sure there was plenty of room for a good label.

Official minutes:

A regional meeting/picnic for the Yankee Clipper Contest Club was held on
July 29, 2006 at the station of Dave Robbins, K1TTT in Peru, Massachusetts.
The picnic started officially at noon. A brief business meeting began at
approximately 1:30 p.m.

Tom Wagner, N1MM, was on hand to demonstrate the N1MM Contest Logger. Dave
continues as an active member of the N1MM Contest Logger Software
development team. His multi-multi station uses this software for all major
contests. Tom gave an overview of the software operation and then
demonstrated its operation in the IOTA Contest. Several of the group gave
the software and station a test drive.

A tour of towers and antennas was conducted after the business meeting.
During the tour discussions of construction techniques, grounding, stack
design and switching were conducted.

Dave's new deck is a great place to hold a cookout and view the extensive
antenna farm. There were plenty of burgers, hot dogs and brats from the
grill and lots of other good food.

Our goal to attract new members was successful. Three new members were voted
into membership. The new members are: K1SFA, Khrystyne Keane; WS1V, Clinton
Spaar (a returning member) and KD1EU, Donald Casella.  Completed application
and dues will be forwarded to the secretary and treasurer.

This celebration also marked the first anniversary of the Berkshire
Insulator Gallery.

Many attendees took pictures and some will be posted on www.k1ttt.net

There were twenty-three YCCC members and guests attending. The sign-in sheet
will be forwarded to the Secretary.

K1TTT Cooking

K1TTT Starting the cooking.

FOOD!

FOOD!

Chow Time

Some of the eating.

W1TO Cooking

W1TO at the grill.

More eating

More eating.

Even more eating

Even more eating.

N1MM Cooking

N1MM even made a return trip to the grill.

10m tower

Nice day for viewing towers, the 10m tower.

20m tower

The 20m and spotting station towers.

40m tower

The 40m tower with the new 40M4LLDD on top.

N1MM in shack

N1MM answering questions about the N1MM Logger.

Walking tour

The walking tour stops in the shade.

Walking tour

Besides beverages the tour saw the Beverages.

Fishing

After the picnic there was some time for fishing lessons.

Wet fishing

There were a few small showers.

Lucky Dog

The Lucky Dog enjoying the activities.

BIG

Final stop of the tour was at BIG .