Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Proud Papa Ham

One can only imagine the smile that has been across my face since yesterday. Why so happy you may ask. Well it all stems from a contact with Santa Claus that my harmonic (KJ4EGJ) made. You may recall an article from back in December that Duncan MacLachlan (KU0DM - Youth Editor for ARRL) wrote about Santa Claus (W6S).

Well yesterday, Duncan's latest youth article appeared on ARRL's website. Well I can tell that I had a smile much like the Cheshire Cat's when I beheld in mine eyes my daughter's picture and small piece about her contact with Santa. Of course I had previously knew this was going to happen and had been anticipating the article for the last week. It was about 3 weeks or so ago when Duncan contacted my XYL (AJ4IJ) about the article he was planning, and was hoping to get a little information from her about the contact and of course ask permission to write about Ashby in his article.

Yes, I am quite the proud papa. Ashby, you go girl. This coupled with the speech you gave that garnered 2nd place at the 4H competition at your school about Ham Radio tells me you are going to go far in the hobby. For those who don't know already, Ashby gave a speech about her Ham Radio hobby in a 4H competition at school. Now it has been published in our local 470 ARG newsletter. You can read more about it at my XYL's blog along with more about Ashby's contact with Santa. You can also catch Duncan's article on ARRL.org at the following URL: http://www.arrl.org/news/features/2009/02/09/10623/?nc=1.

Until next time, 73 and good DX to all,
AJ4JD - Tim

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Antenna is Finally in the Air

Well today we finally got the antenna in the air. Last week we put it all together and made a valiant effort to try and get it in the air but failed miserably. The odds were against us as the wind was blowing something fierce, and we ended up losing one arrow in the tree and the other lost its notch.

So today, we tried again. This time we had a different plan. Instead of bow and arrow, we opted for a sling shot and a 3oz. fishing weight. Our first few attempts were for naught. The weight was too big and kept getting caught on the sling once it was release. So we decided to cut the thing in half. Once we did that we started having better results. Unfortunately, where we originally wanted to put it on one side was too tall for us to achieve. So we opted for a bit shorter beech tree. By doing this we no longer has a need to run a support rope or pulley system as before this we were going to run it up in a tall pine tree.

Well after a couple of attempts we finally had the short side up in the tree and it was time to trek to the other side. This one was more than we bargained for. Getting the rope up in the old oak tree up the ridge wasn't the problem. The problem came when we tried to raise the antenna. We found that as we raised it the long side was going to get hung up on a branch of a dogwood tree and there was no way to guide the wire out from under it. With this in mind we only had one option... Chop It Down. I trekked back down the ridge to get the ax and the saw. 2 blisters and a bruised thumb later, we had the dogwood hewed and the antenna up in the air. The battle was won with the exception of running the coax into the house and connect it to the radio.

With daylight, strength, and energy waning rapidly, we decided it was time for some dinner before finishing our small war. So we ran out to Cap'n D's for some fish and brought it back to the house. We filled ourselves on fries, fish, and hush puppies and decided it was time to put a hole in the floor. We had originally planned to connect the coax running from the antenna to the house into a lightning arrestor, and take a second run of coax on into the house. This would have required us to put another hole in the house and to find screws to mount the arrestor to the house as well. So instead we ran the one run in through the garage door in th basement, into the crawl space under the shack and up through the floor until such time comes when we have screws for the arrestor and enough motivation to put a new hole in the house.

It wasn't long before we had our Windom connected to the radio and were ready to see how it performed. On 80 meters, the SWR is pretty good up to about the DX Window. after that the tuner needs to be used and past 3.900 MHz we have to cut the power back a bit. On 40 meters the antenna is mostly flat. On 20 it is completely flat without a tuner. same on 10. The only band it won't even tune on is 15 meters. Other than that, it does quite well for a multi bander that's supposed to work 80 - 2. So far I've made about 5 contacts with it and one of those were to the Bahamas. All reports have been 5-9 except the Bahamas reported 5-7. So I can't complain considering we can only run 100 watts at this time.

So we accomplished what we set out to do, with a few exceptions of course. In the end the result was good. We are finally on the air and that's all that matters. Stay tuned and I will get some pictures posted in the next couple of days or so. Anyway, many thanks go out to dad (KU4ME) for helping us out tremendously in this project and to the XYL Robin (AJ4IJ) for all her hard work too.

Till next time, 73 and Good DX.