Thursday, June 20, 2019

Out with the Old and In With the New

It's been a while since my last post but unfortunately as usual work and other projects have got in the way of radio. Suffice to say conditions have not been good and the only stations I have been hearing lately are the Europeans and some Russians but otherwise fairly quiet. The delta loop antenna has been useful as it has a quiet receive but as I have said conditions have been very bad.

I have a new transceiver an FTDX5000MP . I saw it on eBay and the seller was asking a fair amount of money for it, but mentioned at the end of his description that if it was the right radio he would also be interested in a part exchange.

I wrote to him asking if he'd be interested in my FTDX9000MP, as I have decided after having the stroke it is now too big an heavy for what I need. Although a fabulous transceiver which normally I wouldn't part with, I feel now the time is right. It's such a heavy beast and takes up half the radio room! 

The seller, a chap from Wales was interested in the 9000 and asked for pics which I duly sent. In the evening he was round at my house having travelled the 110 miles to get to me in the late afternoon, I think he was keen!

His FTDX5000MP was mint having still got the plastic covers over the screens. After a cup of tea and some chatting we did the swap and within an hour he was on his way home with his 9000 and I was happy with my new 5000, all was done and dusted by supper!

The FTDX5000MP is a very nice rig and the size compared to the 9000 is much better for me. Should the need arise I will look for an amp but at the moment I;'m perfectly happy with the 200W. It also has the Station Monitor SM-5000 which incorporates the speakers which is a nice touch.

I will have a play and then do a full write up, but initial reports are good and this seems like an excellent radio. I will miss the FTDX9000MP but I've had some good time with it and now is the time to move on.

Farewell My Sweet!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The M0PLK Delta Loop Antenna

So at last the weather has turned for the better and I have been assembling the M0PLK Delta Loop which came from Poland. I’m amazed at the quality of various parts that make up the antenna, you don’t get this sort of quality with other local commercial antennas.

To start I had to make up the ladder line, I tried to follow the instructions which I managed to find on the website, but of course it was in Polish which was no  help to me. Instead I followed the pictures and I'm pretty certain all was OK, but for peace of mind I did a google translation at the end of the build just to be sure!

Each upright side of the Delta Loop is made from  aluminium tubular extendable poles and the cross section is 12 gauge wire, which is the same for the ladder line, nice and strong. There are excellent plastic connectors for the ladder line, 7 in total which are fairly easy to assemble.

Connecting the cross wire is again fairly easy, it has a couple of wire clamps with the wire circled over the top of the aluminium tubes and then clamped to fix it in position. The centre piece connects the two wires together with the ladder line. The bottom of each aluminium tube is connected by a single wire. The two aluminium poles are then clamped on a vee shaped piece of aluminium by six larger clamps.

The vee already has the balun attached to the aluminium plate, so it’s just a matter of fixing the ladder line to each side of the balun.

The pole are then extended and you add some jubilee clamps to each pole extension. Hay presto, the antenna is then completed!

I should have it assembled and up on its new 5 metre scaffold pole by the end of the week, subject to my work of course! I'll do another blog to see how it actually behaves when in use.
It will be interesting to compare with the homebrew, but I suspect "compare" will be a bit far fetched, but well see. The home brew has had a replacement fibre glass pole added as the one that was damaged was too far gone to repair.

Good news, I managed to assemble the antenna over Saturday and so far without serious testing it's sounding and looking pretty good. Certainly it knocks spots off the homebrew for receiving and transmitting. I did do a very quick comparison with the Hustler and initial results were pretty good. 

I'll do some more testing in the next few days and write up the results. As I write, the wind is starting to pick up again so I may well drop the antenna down for the rest of today. It's easy enough to do as its clamped to one of my scaffolding poles which is in the old sleeve cemented in the ground which was for the yagi. So it can just be lifted out and layed out on the ground for the moment.

It's certainly a lot tighter all round than the homebrew and the aluminium poles seem to be a lot stiffer than the fibre glass. As I mentioned earlier the quality is much better than you would get in the UK!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Delta Loop Set Back!

Calamity, the home brew Delta Loop Antenna has broken. With the high winds and the mini Blizzard we are suffering this morning, there must have been a strong gust and one of the fibre glass poles broke. 

Looks like it's broken clean in two which is a pity, but I have to admit I new it was pretty flimsy so it's not exactly unexpected. But the wind must have been reasonably strong for it to break a glass fibre pole!

I suspect somewhere I have a spare pole or certainly a section hidden away so I should be able to replace. But obviously I'll have to wait till the weather clears. In the meantime I just have the Hustler antenna to play with so all is not lost.

Talking of playing, I received an email from the guy I was hoping to do a deal for the new K3 but that has unfortunately fallen through. The chap decided he wanted to keep his radio. So With the FTDX 9000 MP currently in storage, I thought I'd have another play with it today and unpacked it. Of course once unpacked and set up I was wondering what an earth I was doing trying to swap it, it is such a beautiful radio, I must have been having a mad moment!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Delta Loop Progression

The new M0PLK Delta Loop antenna has arrived from Poland. I've yet to unpack it as the weather has been awful, very cold and damp, not really construction weather. So I'm waiting for something a little warmer so I can build the new antenna at my leisure and not freeze while doing so!

The home brew Delta Loop is working reasonably well, so I'm in no rush while this cold weather continues to build the new antenna when this home brew seems to be working OK. I say that, but QSOing around Europe the signals seem to be down when using the homebrew, it maybe a short or something else as we have had a few gales recently and the antenna is not that strong. However once I get the new one up I'll be able to compare notes and see how they both perform.

I saw an Orion 565 mk2 advertised on a website the other day, I always hankered after an Orion especially for CW purposes as they always seem to get rave reviews. The chap selling was also interested in a swap and as I have a few radios I could exchange, I wrote to him looking for a deal. Sadly though when I saw the Orion in pictures, it was not in such a good condition and needed a lot of cosmetic work to get it up to scratch, so sadly no deal was struck.

Interestingly on swaps, there's a chap who has a brand new K3s literally says it six weeks old. Again a Ten Tec or a K3s are something I've always wanted to own. This chap is interested in my FTDX 9000, so negotiations are currently taking place, if I can get a similar price I paid my brother in law for the FTDX, I'd be very happy with a brand new K3!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Further Notes on the Delta Loop

Waiting for the parts to arrive has taken some time, mainly I suppose because Christmas got in the way, but at last all the bits have arrived and I am able to continue the build with the Delta Loop.

Assembling all the parts on the main lawn also took some time but this was due to the weather, I wasn't going to rush when it's pouring with rain. Finally after a bit of patience we got there and the poles were fitted, the element wire pulled through and the ladder line measured and fitted and finally placed on a short piece of scaffold pole and up she went.

Just put up before dusk!

I must admit I wasn't expecting anything terrific first time, I hadn't tuned, played or tweaked in any way. But I tested on the FT1000  just to see if I could receive and get out. Well blow me, I got a result straight away. Measuring against the Hustler it was very quiet I almost thought it wasn't working at first it was so quiet!

A little closer

Using the Hustler I found a reasonably loud CW station then switched over to the Delta Loop. First impression was the background noise from a vertical like the Hustler was gone, although it was down an S point most probably due to it being so low off the ground.  I hadn't tuned or played with it in any way, so I could probably tweak it for better results plus I'd been using the auto tuner from the FT1000, not the manual Tokyo 400L. 
For a quick home brew job I was pretty impressed.
The next thing is to raise it a bit to give it some height, see if that improves it being down a S point to the Hustler.

Now I'll let you in to a little secret, a few days ago sitting talking to my Brother in Law over a glass of wine about delta loop antennas, we were mulling over M0PLK design and whether it was as good as everybody says. So in the spur of the slightly tipsy moment and after looking on the web at some Polish website 
I decided to buy an original M0PLK Delta Loop! The only place I could find one was at this website in Poland, well, M0PLK is polish! No other retail shop in Europe had them, Is that a good or bad sign?

£188 for the original M0PLK design, actually not a bad price, plus they have good reviews on Eham. So I'm expecting this in the New Year and I will compare notes with the homebrew to see how it performs. If its as quiet as this homebrew I shall be well impressed!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Delta Loop

This delta Loop is going to be slightly different as it's based on the M0PLK design which is the vertical triangle but with the 4:1 Balun at the base and is fed by a 450/600 ohm ladder feeder, the wire element is held in place by two fibre glass poles in a V position.

This is a multiband antenna that should cover 30 meters through to 10m. Trolling the internet I've been trying to find a replacement antenna that will not cause too many problems when its situated in my paddock. If you have read earlier posts, you will see I have had the local Council informing what I can and cannot put up!

This delta Loop should be camouflaged in front of some trees, does not need to be that high and is a quiet antenna that puts out a reasonable performance. Well that's what other users say on Eham, so I shall put it to the test and build one.

So far I have bought the two fibre glass poles at 7 metres in length although I suspect 5 metres will suffice. I've measured and cut the wire (17 meters) and ordered and received the main aluminium plate 350mm x 400mm, 8mm thick, which I have trimmed and drilled the holes for fixing the fibreglass poles. the idea being to make it reasonably close to the picture below of an original M0PLK Delta Loop.

The balun is fed with a 400/600 ohm ladder line and I have decided as a bit of fun to build my own 600 ohm ladder line.  I had a commercial 450 ohm feeder but thought as I'd never constructed a ladder line before I would give it a go, so if the 600 fails I can always fall back on the 450 ohm!

The main plate is made of 8mm solid aluminium 350mm x 400mm. I wanted something reasonably strong so I may have gone over the top but as far as I'm concerned the stronger the better.

You can see I've drilled the holes to hold the fibre glass poles these will be standard plastic brackets. The Balun is a small 200 watt 4:1 I had as a spare to show you where it will sit, but I have ordered a larger 1K version. The picture below shows the poles (not extended) in place together with the 16 gauge wire, just at the top of the picture is the home brew ladder line.

In the middle of the plate rising through the centre, a 5 metre two inch mast will be used for the plate to attach to, as you don't require any great height for this antenna, but obviously its the old story of any higher will be better, but I'm limited thanks to my Council!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Moving Antennas Yet Again!

So with the intervention of my local council I have to re arrange my antenna set up. I have decided to sell my mast and mini Mosley antenna but will keep the hustler as it’s a very good multiband antenna. I will re-fit in my main garden add the ground radials and hopefully be on the air within the week. That done I just have the W3DZZ which covers the lower bands adequately, but I’m tempted to go back to some wire antennas for experimentation.

I like the construction plus the experimental side of antennas, seeing what works and what doesn’t!
I feel I haven’t finished with loop antennas, I’ve built a 20m delta but I fancy having ago building some sort of loop for 30 meters one of my favourite bands. Also I’d like to try a delta loop for the 17m but on fibre glass poles and to this end I have purchased a cheap pre-built antenna that I shall have a play with and see if I can adapt.

The old 20m Delta loop antenna

My local council did not state that I cannot put any temporary antennas in my paddock, so that will be another factor to add to the fun. To sum up, I want to build a couple of loop antennas, perhaps a skywire and a delta loop on poles that must be of a temporary construction, this could be fun!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Caught by the Bureaucrats

Had a nice letter the other day from the planning dept of my friendly Council saying they had received a complaint regarding my paddock. Long story short, they thought it was so tidy it was being used as an extra garden, the grass was too short and my boundary fence near to my house wasn’t complete. Therefore I must correct this forthwith or apply to change my paddock from agricultural land to my garden.

Intriguing isn’t it, no mention concerning my antennas? I replied to the council explaining that the boundary gap was there because I had demolished my old shed and erected a new shed installed at a slightly different angle, there was now a gap in the boundary. I had no idea that the boundary fence should be kept or that the grass was too short (slightly weird), so I apologised and said I would install a fence and not cut the grass so often!.

I think planning officers at the council always seem to take the negative side. It was obvious from his reply that he didn’t believe me, and it was only then he mentioned the Mosley antenna and the Hustler vertical. Evidently they shouldn’t be there either, he was quite happy for me to move them back to my garden or apply to have permission to have the antennas placed in the paddock for a princely sum of £462, even then he wouldn't guarantee I would get the permission. The mast with the Mosley is a folding winch type, so he wasn’t complaining about height etc, just that both antennas shouldn’t be within the Paddock.

I thought about it for a few days and decided to hell with council I wasn’t going to pay them nearly five hundred quid, so I’m moving the Hustler back in to my garden but sadly the Mosley and the mast have to go to a new home and they are now up for sale.

There’s something about a complete stranger writing to you and telling you that your home or garden doesn’t fit in to their regulations. Nobody likes being told what to do especially by some organisation that you never really had dealings with before. Unfortunately you have to bite the bullet or if you’re feeling that energetic fight them. Personally I can’t be bothered to challenge them, I’ll just move the antennas and let them have their petty way. The annoying thing is I’m right out in the middle of nowhere and I know it’s not my two neighbours that complained because I asked them. This bureaucrat from the council was probably driving past the house noticed either my antenna or the cut paddock and decided to investigate.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Repositioning a Hustler 6BVT

Looking at my Hustler 6BVT antenna the other day got me thinking. After four years  everything has grown, the antenna is certainly being surrounded by nature.
While building a stone slab base for a  new shed near to the Hustler, I noticed the ground radials I laid out all that time ago have started to break up,  I have already noticed broken wires that seem to be appearing all over the place!  
 It’s now sitting surrounded by hawthorn and apple trees some as high as thirty feet which can’t be good, I’ve noticed reception has gone down since I first installed it and I think it’s time I found the antenna a new home.
The present position of the Hustler and the area of the new shed, I think I'll put the antenna on the other side of the trees in the paddock.

Two things immediately spring to mind, where to place the antenna and installing the ground radials. The recommended number of ground radials is around 32 but I like to have at least a minimum of 40 radials, all different lengths to cover the bands.

Ground radials can be a black art in themselves, you can get away with as little as about 12 but it not always recommended unless you have very wet soil. When I first installed the hustler there were about 60 and they seemed to take forever to lay out, but it was definitely worth it. The ground plate was a home brew  effort, basically a piece of aluminium bought off Ebay with the holes drilled and then small bolts place in every other hole, I could then attach each wire or a combinations of joined wires to each bolt with a small nut, fairly basic but worked well and saved me some money.

 when I removed the ground plate wires were everywhere!
 One difficulty is that I am limited by coax length, the present RG58 coax which is connected to the hustler is buried under a large part of my garden and unless I dig it up and totally start afresh, I will only have roughly 30 feet of coax to play with for re- positioning. So I have a number of factors to work out, but I’m sure it will come good in the end.
If I lay out the exposed coax around the paddock area to see what exact length I have to play with, I should be near enough in line with the mini Yagi, but obviously I don’t want to get too close.
Then I'll start  laying out the ground radials in the full 360 degrees circle and see how that goes. I will begin with 12 radials but hopefully ending up with at least double. As I lay each radial I intend to mow the grass fairly short so I can pin each one in to the ground and so in future it won’t get mixed up with the mower blades. Hopefully within a few weeks the radials will have disappeared from sight by the growing grass.  I'll then reconnect the radial plate with its new radial system and then install the newly positioned antenna and test for SWR!
The cleaned up radial plate.

So I've  disconnected the Hustler from the ground radial plate and disconnected the old wires and given the plate a good scrub and it's come up reasonably well. Next week if I get the chance I'll clean and then replace the antenna in its new home and then think about putting out the new ground radials!
What fun, the first spot I placed the hustler I raised it up I was touching a telephone wire a 1 in a 1000 chance, typical! so I had to move further than I liked,  the only issues was adding some extra 15 feet of coax.

The 2nd move of the antenna went according to plan with little fuss and no more telephone wires in the way. A tip worth remembering is to make sure everything is well greased up or lubricated in some way, it makes dismantling so much easier, I was very surprised how everything came apart so easily, but this was due to me lubricating when first assembled! I've added about 6 ground wires so far and a small amount of wire netting, I'm not going to rush just take my time and add more ground radials as I go along.


So far the SWR is a good 1:1 across all bands but the important thing is the resistance which ideally should read around 36 but at the moment is a 45. I suspect by adding more radials (about 7 more) it will come down to around 38/40 and then as you add more it will slowly reduce but not by any great amount. The average is about 12 to 15 but obviously if you can add more it will improve. A few years ago I would be going beserk adding as many as I can but now I'm a little slower and I'm getting reasonable results so I'm taking things slowly!

With 4/5 ground radials! I shall add more as I go along. 
More importantly results on the radio using the Hustler are good. Obviously conditions and solar flux are not at their best but testing between the Yagi and the 40/80 W3DZZ things are looking up. With some more ground radials to be added it's looking good for its new home!


Monday, April 30, 2018

The Kenwood TS 950 SD Has Gone!

Sadly I have let the old girl go as she wasn't being used regularly by me anymore simply because I was using the Yaesu FT1000 more and more. A chap down south has bought her and as far as I'm concerned got a great rig for a bargain price.

Before I let her go and when we were in negotiations I tested the radio one more time, just to see that she was running OK and to have one more little play and she didn't disappoint. Admittedly the receive is slightly down on the FT1000 but not by much, but every time I put out a CQ I got a reply back. These radios may now be old but they still pack a punch, I'll be sad top see her go!

Good bye old girl, I'll miss you!!