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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

ZL8X, Kermadec - 19 Nov to 05 Dec

In just 10 days a group of 13 mostly German operators will put ZL8, Kermadec Island, on the air. The 2009 Most needed Country List placed ZL8 at No. 28 so a lot of you guys probably need them on several bands. Since I only have them confirmed on 20-M Phone, you can bet I'll be in the hunt!

They have already shipped 2.5 TONS of equipment to New Zealand and will operate SEVEN stations in two camps about 1 km apart. Antennas will include 4-squares for 30, 40 and 80-M, verticals for 80 and 160-M, and multi-element dipole arrays and yagis for the HF bands. Each station will have a transceiver, amplifier, laptop, interface and Win-Test software. They will be operating in the CQ WW DX CW Contest.

More details are available on their web site HERE. To find what you want, hover your mouse over one of the items in the menu bar on their web site and a "Sub" menu will appear where you can choose a topic. For example, hover over the word "Organization" on the menu and then click on the word "Operating" on the sub-menu. This will take you to the page with the table of their operating frequencies and their Hints for Operating.

They WILL have an online log once the operation starts. GL to all WVDXA Members.

Friday, November 5, 2010

W8JA's Antenna Project

Over the last couple of months many WVDXA Members have been working tirelessly to help Jimmy, W8JA, with a big antenna project. Jimmy lives on a city lot in St. Albans and had a 40-foot American Standard tower supporting his antennas. The goals of the project were to install a sturdier tower, gain 10' in height, and have 2 elements to enhance his 40-M performance. The extra 10' of tower height might also help the performance of Jimmy's 160/80-M trap dipole. A new 6-M antenna was purchased and installed to allow Jimmy to put up a lower yagi for 6-M in addition to the higher, new antenna.

Since I was not in on the project from the beginning, I may not have listed everyone who helped with the project. If so, I sincerely apologize for any omission in advance. However, I do know the following contributed many, many hours of their time, their expertise and their advice to see this project through to completion:

Charlie, N8RR
Mike, NU8LL
Dave, W8IW
Dave, WA8WV
Eric, K8OHZ
Seth, W8FG
Rick, W8ZT
Clark, W8TN
Jimmy's brother, Mike

The old HF antenna was a Force 12 "C-3 S" and it was replaced with a Force 12 Delta 4-XL which has an 8-foot longer boom and 2-L on 40-M. His old 5-L CushCraft 6-M beam was replaced by a 6-L CushCraft about 8 feet above the F12 HF antenna. The new tower is Rohn Model 35 which is half way between Rohn 25 and Rohn 45. It is very sturdy and much easier to climb and work on than Rohn 25. The new tower is 50-feet tall. In addition to replacing the antenna feedlines and splicing on additional rotor control cable, the Phillystran guy cables were replaced with larger ones using pre-formed dead ends to attach the ends of the guys.

Jimmy had Custom Welding make a new house bracket to accommodate the larger tower. Tim, KC8UHE, drilled the concrete patio to facilitate the attachment of the new tower base plate. Rick, WZ8T, fabricated a new roof attachment bracket for the guy cables as well as the tower top plate. Jimmy's mom selected Sherwin Williams Beige as the color for the new tower which several of the guys painted. This turned out to be an excellent choice as it blends the tower in nicely so it does not stand out too much.

A lot of man-hours were spent assembling the antennas in Jimmy's back yard and testing them before they were installed. Still, the F12 40-M antenna needed to be "tweaked" after it was hoisted the first time so that meant pulling it back down, making the modifications, and raising it back up. At least three FULL days of tower work were required to remove the old antennas and tower and install the new ones. It seemed like Mike, NU8LL, was in the air for DAYS!

On the first day when the old tower was to be removed and the new tower installed, I was about an hour late to arrive. Therefore, I missed the Bar-B-Que! It seems Eric, K8OHZ, had arrived early and his car decided to self-destruct and go up in flames right in front of Jimmy's QTH. The fire department was called and managed to extinguish the flames but Eric lost his ride! This was bad news for him but good news for Jimmy's project as with that one incident, Murphy was banished and everything else proceeded without major incident. (Sorry this had to happen to you Eric!)

Jimmy's mom, Oleta, supplied enormous amounts of food to everyone who was there - on every day we were there! Jimmy himself supervised every step of the operation even at the expense of a pretty good sunburn! And, during the project when the New PJ Entities came into existence, it was quite evident that Jimmy was torn between supervising the project and getting in front of the radio to work the New Ones even with Mike, NU8LL, still on the tower!

Above you can see a photo of the completed installation. But, click HERE for the complete photo album of Jimmy's project. On that page, click on any photo to enlarge it. You can then use the Left/Right Arrows above the photo to navigate the album. Or, just click on the Slideshow button at the top left of the first page (the one with all the thumbnail images.)

This was a MAJOR effort on the part of many members of the WVDXA. A lot of personal time and effort was expended to help just one DX'er, but, it's what we do. And for that, I'm extremely proud to be a member of this group!