Bulletin as of June 22, 2017

W5RRR Yahoo Group:

New Whew, TS Cindy missed up

  • Tropical Storm Cindy heads North,
  • Breathe a sigh of relief—but we’ll have scattered thunderstorms thru FD.

New Yikes! Field Day Almost here

  • June 24-25; starts at 1:00pm and goes 24 hours
  • Check this site’s “Field Day 2017” for update information

Lunar Rendezvous 2017

  • In partnership with Clear Lake Amateur Radio Club
  • July 15 7:00 AM starting at Space Center Houston
  • Soliciting JSCARC volunteers: contact w5oc@arrl.net

JSCARC weekly information net

  • Tuesday 7:00pm 146.64MHz – Net Control KB5PGY/David Fanelli

Texas City Hamfest July 8th

  • JSCARC has paid for two swap tables.  Members can use these tables to sell your treasures.

 Next JSCARC meeting

  • Thursday June 29 5:30PM-7:00PM @ Gilruth Inspiration Rm

 Congratulation to KF5QNS

  • Barbara Hassett passed her General Exam.  Great job, Barbara!!!!

 

Mr. Murphy arrives early

Suspect Beta feed match on 20m yagi
90 degree bend on coax + 2 missing elements on 15m yagi

It’s not even field day, but Murphy’s Law has arrived.

  1. The W5RRR shack back doorlatch is broken. Completely kaput.
  2. The 20m Yagi has degraded to the point there is no discernable resonance and the defective feed connection is causing splatter during transmit.
  3. The 15m Yagi has now gotten worse. Resonance has shifted to 21.7MHz.
  4. The IC-781 is broken again. Intermittent TX and RX. Perhaps lose internal connector.
  5. On the antenna patch panel, the SO-239 threads assigned to the 15m antenna have worn down. All PL-259 push-on connector shells make unacceptable contact. Not a big deal but needs attention.
    IC-781 something intermittent causing TX and RX noise crackle

    Tired old door lack decides to give up
Threads on SO-239 connector have worn down. Push-on PL-259 shell connectors now glide on with little contact.

Let’s hope Murphy won’t return before FD…

 

Pre-Field Day work crew

Great turnout from club and CLARC to knockout preparations for next week’s FD.

K5KGH, K5DLF,KG5LJZ,N9RCS, N8MTV, KG5HOK, WD8KUJ, N5FWB,  W5OC, Chatwin and Ian Lansdowne (prospective new members).  A new antenna was hung, the tower was scaled, software was checked out, digital modes were demoed, guy wires tightened, cables were rerouted, rigs were tested, the room was reconfigured, and plans/info have been shared and updated.  Congrats to KG6LJZ, Jayant and Ian for their first HF QSO contacts during training session.  Thanks all for the hard work.

N5FWB pretends to build a new antenna from scratch.
N8MTV shows off his digital mode expertise to the rest of us newbies
KD8KUJ and N5FWB take a well deserved breather after working out in the 98 degree Houston weather and hunting down power cables.
KG5HOK help Ian Lansdowne score his 1st ever QSO with W7 station in Washington. What a thrill for Ian!
N9RCS extends out his finger that I (W5OC) accidentally smashed while he was removing the access panel. Sorry Bob!

JSCARC scores a shiny new Yagi antenna

Sky cranes at W5FH’s QTH

Friday 3:30pm was a nice hot 95 deg day to visit superham Bryon, W5FH at his QTH in Alvin. Bryon had an incredibly great condition TH7DX 20/15/10m triband 7 element yagi for sale, and we luckily snagged it to replace our tired HF yagis ontop W5RRR 80′ tower. Bryon’s shack was easy to spot, since he has two monster 100′ towers with an impressive array of HF /VHF/UHF antennas. Incredibly, Bryon had installed and mounted the antennas by himself! Please checkout his impressive photos at https://www.qrz.com/db/W5FH. Guarding his property and shack were Rosco (Beagle/Border Collie mix)and Charlie, rescued from the street. They greet us with southern hospitality and spiritually assisted us load up Keith’s truck. Huge thanks to Bryon for the antenna and warm welcome to his property. He’s hinted he might have a 12 element VHF yagi that might be donated to the club! Before this year ends, we’ll finalize a plan and team to get this huge antenna re-assembled and installed on top of our tower. In the meantime, we’ll have it safely stored in our outside fenced storage yard with our other antennas/tower sections.

KG5HOK packing the treasure
N9RCS carries two huge element pieces
Our new friend, Byron, W5FH
Bob, Keith, Bryon
Charlie and Rosco investigating W5OC’s leg
Bob finishes up loading Keith’s truck
Example photo of what TH7DX looks like when assembled

2m Repeater Antenna Fix (JSC Bldg 1)

Keith (KG5HOK) and I were up on the B1 Penthouse roof this morning replacing the W5RRR repeater antenna this morning.  We took down the remaining half of the Hustler G7-144 and replaced it with a nice and shiny Diamond X700HNA.  It took us about 1.5 hours and I’ve attached a few pictures, and Keith has a few more to contribute.  SWR measured at the repeater was 1.5, which is within specifications, but still a little higher than I’d expect.  I’m going to attribute it to the coax or my MFJ-259 🙂  Next time we’re up there, we should bring the Bird wattmeter to double check it.

So, we have a good repeater, good backup battery, good antenna – I think the W5RRR repeater is in good shape for local and emergency operations for a while

73 de John  AB5SS

EOC/MCC Tuner troubleshooting (JSC Bldg 30)

On June 1, a trip up the roof of Building 30 was made by KG5HOK, N5FWB along with JSC Security.

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) antenna wasn’t working, so the guys went up to “coax” the External Tuner to start externally tuning.  With W5OC downstairs at the EOC radio station we tried various attempts to command the tuner to tune.  No joy.  Good news, however: after the external tuner (MFJ 998RT) cover was removed, it revealed that all the internal circuitry looked great with no evidence of water penetration nor burnt up components due to a lightning surge.  Even better, the internal 2 line LED display seemed to be properly working.  Jerry was able to command the electronics to manually bypass the auto tuning mode, but not much progress beyond that.  The external tuner was unbolted, removed and it’s sitting on a bench for a checkout.  There’s a slight glimmer of hope that it may only need a reset of the confused non-volatile memory.  More to report after testing.

Notes from a Tower Climber Newbie

 

After guidance at the last JSCARC meeting from Ken, K5RG, and reading on-line comments, I successfully completed my first climb of Mount Gilruth (aka the 80’ W5RRR tower). Actually, I only climbed up a bit beyond the rotator, so the actual summit measure was more like 70’.

A few comments posted here, which may aid future, ham trekkers. Some comments are reinforcing messages from Ken, and some are my own lesson’s learned.

Here goes:

  1. My forearms were straining as time wore on. Why? Because, as Ken advised, get a very short positioning lanyard as possible. The positioning lanyard, which comes in a variety of lengths, ties your body to the tower and allows one to lean back a small amount, and redistributing your upper boday weight from your forearms to the lanyard cord. My mistake: I bought a medium length positioning lanyard- I thought it was good enough, but for it to work effectively, I would have to really lean uncomfortably backwards for the cord became stretched out enough to share my weight. Yes, I could have used it but as a newbie, there was no way I was going to lean waaay back from the tower to exploit it’s weight distribution property. I elected instead to completely not use it (even though still clipped in) and instead relied on my forearms to assume the bear hug position to keep me safe. Buy as short a positioning lanyard as you can.

 

  1. Stiff soled shoes. I wore my old hiking boots. Yep, they worked fine, but over time, my 170’ body started to concentrate it’s mass thru the shoes and directly onto the narrow 1” horizontal crossbars. Yes, my soles started to hurt and I’m sure a firmer or steel shanked shoe would be helped immensely. It would have been agonizing to do this with tennis shoes. Note: my climb was 1 hour in duration- that’s a lot of concentrated force on a small area one the bottom of one’s feet.

 

  1. Gloves. I wore a pair of leather gloves as recommended in many online articles. The primary benefit is to offer thermal isolation between one’s hands and the extreme cold temperature of the metal. We’ll, its summer in Houston, and there was none of that cold metal thing. I suppose the gloves also provide protection from metal burrs etc, but overall they were useless and hampered my ability to use tools, and to take photos. I ended up droping them down unceremoniously to Keith before the half way mark. A further bit of humbleness and admiration how crew use tools in their EMU suits.

 

  1. Hard hat. Ken shared a compelling anecdote why a helmet is important- it saved his life. I get it. I acquired a helmet with a 1-2” lip along the edge. During the climb, Keith and I were manipulating 2-3 cords, which were used to hoist items and to finalize the pulley system. On occasion, the lip on the hat seemed to catch the cords surrounding me. Lesson learned: the lipless helmet (like the one Ken brought in to the meeting) is much preferred.

 

  1. Miz en Plat. Ah that great French word for “having everything in place, and within reach”. Usually applied to restaurant cooks, one can envision perfectly placed utensils, ingredients, pots, pans, and cookware all concentrated within reach of a line cook operating at frenetic robotic fast-order restaurant. I’m going to use this term for having all your hooks, tools, and supplies within easy access while on the climb. For example, I built a tool pouch with a carabiner hook specifically for my climb. I clipped it onto an unsed lower ring of my body harness.. but it took an innocent yet small stretch to easily reach into the pouch bottom. Of course it worked great on the ground, but while in the air and while bear hugging for my life ontop of the tower, I struggled mightily whenever I had to grab the camera, the wrench, the cutters, and the materials. If I only clipped it onto another ring that rested higher on my harness! This was clearly out of place and added great inefficiency to get the job done.

 

  1. The fall arrest harness. These are the two limp dangly cords that hook to your back ring. You climb with at least one of the two hooks clipped in at all times, so if you fall, you’ll have an arrest cord to capture your fall. During the club meeting, I specifically asked Ken, “how do you position and manage the hanging cords while climbing?” His answer was unexpected, “ they will always get in the way”. Well Ken was correct. Actually, I managed very well during the climb up. On the way down, it was a PITA as it kept on getting tangled in the stupid tool pouch that I clipped onto one of my body harness loops (see above). In two cases, I had to ascend upwards a few feet during my decent in order to untangle them.

 

  1. Where to clamp your hooks. I never read this anywhere, but here’s a pearl of wisdom from Ken. When climbing, clamp your safety lanyards onto the main vertical legs, not the horizontal nor diagonal braces. The vertical legs which are larger and more structurally robust, will be you lifeline holding up your weight if there’s an accident. The smaller diameter braces should NOT be used for any lanyard attach points. Thanks Ken- I never would have considered this without your warning.

 

  1. Having great ground crew is so comforting. Keith was my anchor. Having him down blow almost reading my mind was awesome. We discussed the climb plan together in advance and the execution went great even though we had a few unplanned issues.

 

  1. Having a camera is essential. Especially when trying to inspect and troubleshoot, having a camera is essential. Focusing and accessing the device takes technique and practice. I feared droping my small Canon and I only partically captured photos that were properly in focus. Much included having to swith to macro vs full view modes- a rather difficult maneuver with one hand.

 

  1. Working on the tower is hard. Can’t tie knots with full strength. Can’t work tools with full efficiency. Can hold multiple things without the great risk of dropping them. Perhaps if I had a shorter lanyard, I could have freed up my hands to do these things. But overall, I’ll continue to bear hug that tower until I can find a good very short positioning lanyard. And climbing is definitely a learned skill along with learned techniques. Much of the techniques rely on one handedness.

 

  1. Conditioning. By design, the week before I climbed Utah Zion’s Angel’s Landing which included 22+ steep switchbacks up 1500 feet. I preconditioned my out of shape body and especially my legs. This was extremely helpful and climbing a tower requires strong legs when climbing up vertically. Likewise, strong upper body strength is required to holding on and lifting your body upwards. It’s a balanced body technique- you don’t want to fully lift with your legs or fully hoist up with pulling arms. The balanced approach (and condition) makes so much sense in case any of the metal braces would break. Its all about maintaining balance and retaining control and stability.

80′ tower climb

Had a smooth 1 hour duration climb up the ladder on June 31 5PM.

Weather was perfect and breeze was comfortable.

More photos to follow, but the biggest surprise was to find that the pulley holding up the Windom endwise was jammed.

The cord had slipped off the roller and was jammed in-between the roller and the inside shell.  Previously, we thought the pulley was intentionally disabled and tied down permanently.

A couple death defying yanks on the cord freed it up and it’s now hoistable again.

The bad news:  no new findings why the 20m yagi is problematic, altho inspections of new photos might give us more clues.

Took shots of other issues.  Will post in next day or so.  Special thanks to Keith KG5HOK as a perfect ground anchor and Ken K5RG for lots of early guidance on “how not to climb a tower”

I have some lessons learned to share as well.

 

Soggy Windom Balun

Here are photos of the current Balun on our Carolina Windom antenna. This Balun hangs vertically in the air, and we discovered that the small “weep hole” was inadvertently installed upside-down, allowing moisture to easily enter the inside cavity. We found lots of water inside and significant contaminant the grew inside which compromised the balun, likely for years. After a cleanup, it has been re-housed in a new PVC tube with ends. It’s now re-installed and ready for operation again!


AB5SS Observation of UAS photo

John, AB5SS, has already keenly spotted some significant items after examine the recent  UAS drone photography.

“… the brackets are clamped to the vertical legs instead of resting on the horizontal braces.  See pic below of how they “should” be installed.  As you might guess, the problem with the way they are installed is they can crimp the legs (although they are thick wall steel tubing), but worse and more likely, they eventually slice down the tower to rest on the bracing, and guy tension is reduced….The factory guy attach link is missing, and the cable is rubbing directly against the attach point bolt (no thimble installed).  I can’t tell if the cable clamps are installed correctly or not…”

Bracket at 40′ with same problems
Bracket at 80′ with problems described above
This is the correct seating for a guy wire bracket.
Another view of a properly installed bracket