Nebula progress 22/1/2021

At last the nebula is vertical and with 80, 40 and 20m elements added. I had a very hard time de-tangling the radials and manged to get 3 out of the ‘ball’ of wire i had managed to produce.

Adding 40 and 20 was quite straight forward and same process as on the classic. I dare say i could re-use the old vertical elements from the classic on the nebula, but its nice to start a fresh.

With just 3 sets of radials (4*10m wire each) i set about putting the antenna analyzer to work !

Initial results are very encouraging, I’m happy that the S.W.R. readings are close to what they should be, esp as the full set of radials isnt in place. I was able to test (and tune) easily on 80/40 and 20, making sucessive QSO’s on FT8 around Europe.

I still have all the radials from the ‘classic’ and these had worked well before on both 80 and 40m, so in the last bit of sunlight added these to tne Nebula. The results speak for themselves

I then wanted to experiement with some of the features of the rig-expert i seldom use, low SWR is often good enough for me, but as I’m going to upgrade the feed cable, went and got more measurements.

Now I’ll be the first to say I dont understand all the metrics on here, but I know that the return Loss of 19.9dB is very good !, likewise I’m happy with 11 and 10 for 80 and 20 metes as well.

I will find out more on what the other values mean.

Very happy with the clear reading sfrom the SWR meeter on the Rig Expert. I’m hoping i can get 80 and 20 even lower SWR and better return loss.

The all band analysis gave me a good visual on where the Nebula was resonant with just 3 elements. I’m looking forward to taking it upto 6, but with just 80, 40 and 20 these ar ethe main bands I use, so am happy with them. I could pull out my MFJ ATU – which I used to use to get me on top-band easily, so will see how i get on.

I’m going to manufacture the new feed lines, i’ve heard such good things about the coax and M&P connectors, i cant wait to see what happens.

End of the day I’m hugely satisified with how the Nebula is performing.

Stay safe and 73

Alan / 2E0FWE

Nebula progress 20/1/2021

So as Storm Chistoph arrived in the UK the chances of any vertical work was off the planning today. At 8AM the weather looked abysmal with gusts and rain prevaling. I’m not adverse to bad weather, but given the limited time, risk factors and no real urgency to do this, held back on any vertical work.

When the rain did stop, i got out and measured the distance between the shack and mast base.

At approximately 7m, i think 10m to the shack and a 1 meter post-filter will give me enough ‘length’ to play with. The db loss of the cable is really impressive, you get what you pay for with M&P. I am looking forward to learning more on my antenna analyzer on how to measure cable performance as well.

I got as far as lifting the reel of cable from its resting place (think its nov/dec when it arrived!) but the bad weather and lack of time really prevented me from even cutting the cable to length, and didn’t fancy doing it indoors due to the size/weight of the reel.

I’m glad i got one small thing done despite the weather and am hoping that the rain and wind will stop before the weekend so i can do some testing on 80m

Until then, stay safe !

Alan / 2E0FWE

Nebula progress 19/1/2021

Another fine day of English weather, typical for the season herald the morning. Having been up early to start the bread-mix off, i set the alarm for day-break at 8AM. It was still quiet dark, but enough that i could wipe the mast down and look at the next set of tensioners for the 80m wire.

The initial tensioner at the 3rd spreader plate had held up over night, and was pretty good, having wiped the mast down to remove any moisture/rain i looked at the 4th and 5th plates for the next set of tensioning. I dont mind saying that i found it more wordy than how-to, so i watch Calum’s video again on how he done it and tried to remember how to do it out in the garden !

I managed to get the intial tension into the 4th spreader, and by now the aroma of bread was fillng the house. I took the bread out onto a rack to fim up and then tided up ready for a day of work – cant complain for 50 minutes of time – i like making small, steady progress.

By now panda (aka Monica) had woken up for her breakfast, we both really enjoy havign fresh home made bread with no salt or sugar in it, it tastes lovely and is safe for both of us. I popped out to look at what i could do during lunch, and put the pipe-tube tensioner on to give me an idea of how all the upper side tensioner should work.. but to be honest i was still quite confused of how to get some decent tension.

I spent my lunch break putting in the tensioners for the 4th and 5th plates. I don’t mind saying i found this quite stressful as I really wasn’t happy with the tension I had compared to what Callum had in his video.

By now i was honestly a bit miffed by it all and was eager to get back in with my day-job. I felt i had made some progress, but I wasnt very happy with the tension of the wire and also worried that the ‘doubling’ for the loops will create a linear load that will off-set the S.W.R. readings.

I came in, a little frustrated, but still glad i had made some progress midweek. The weather tomorrow looks quite abysmal with warnings for rain and wind where the next thing i have to do is to vertically erect the mast and guy it, before adding all the radials.

I will see how things are tomorrow morning, the worst thing would be to catch a cold/cough in the current climate and I’m not adverse to finding other ways to progress. The forecast for the weekend looks promising, but if anything this has been a ‘standard’ documented build so far, what comes next is the hard part, with all the unknowns of wire-lengths, loops and metal guy wires that could effect how the antenna performs..

Until next time, stay safe & 73

Alan / 2E0FWE

Nebula progress 18/1/2021

Even thou a monday, i took advantage of the pre-daytime WFH sunshine to get small amounts of progress on the antenna.

I set about alining the radial plate and spreader plates. I actually make use of the ‘DX Commander’ stickers as an easy visual way of aligning the spreader plates, whilst I do have each of the vertical holes labelled (80/40/20) its still easier to see the stickers from a distance.

I threaded the 80 meter wire thru the top eyelet, which by now was totally rock-solid on the mast.

I also used my lunch break to attach the SO-230 – i found the tape very fiddly to work with, but nevertheless got it on to waterproof the connector. I’ve left the shield on for now. I then started on putting the tensioner loops into the 80m wire, which took me a bit longer than expected (sorry no photos!). but got the first one done at the 3 spreader.

I’m hoping the weather is ok tomorrow morning and I can get the last of the tension loops on the 80m wire in place, and all being well, get the mast vertical with the 80m wire going up it. A know the radials will take plenty of time to get out, so whilst I’m optimistic i might get a S.W.R. test tomorrow, realistically the first reading might not be until Wednesday.

Stay safe & 73 !

Alan / 2E0FWE

Nebula progress 17/1/2021

So I treated myself to a bit of a lay-in this Sunday, which for me is getting back into bed at 6 when i usually wake up, At 8 it was a gorgeous sunny morning and I was full of get-up-and go to complete the final bit of rigging/guying for the antenna.

There was some tension in the top spreader as can be seen in the final picture, but i know that slacking that off will give me a nice straight vertical. It took me about 30 minutes to complete, but its a quesiton of being safe and methodical.

Next was to start the construction of the radial elements, i had brought these into the shack and they was already creating a quite bit of mess and getting tangled.

When dealing with this much wire, its essential to have a process and method, else wire/construction materials just get all over the shack and making working not the fun it should be.

So i wanted to keep 4 radials to one connector so seperated them out that way from the big ‘rats nest’ of wire i had. I then stripped, tinned and when all four were tinned, inserted them into the lug. I could then use the glue-tube and some tape to keep everything waterproof. With all four radials on, i would then take them out the shack to the garden, ensurign a ‘clear’ workspace to continue working.

By now it was getting close to 4 and the time to tidy up and think about what i would do in the coming week. I was really pleased with my progress today, albeit not quite transmitting, but with a well rigged antenna and the majority of the radials (batch 1) completed.

I used the industial strength superglue to attach the fish-eye for the 80m wire to loop thru and tidied the ropes on the upper two spreaders. Keeping things as tidy as I can helps with getting the mast vertical well and reduces any tangles/issues with getting it vertical.

So I have a few more radials to make up to get the full compliment of 30*10m ready, then completing the vertical construction with loops/hooks and feeding. Having built the ‘classic’ and Callums videos, I’m sure this will be quite straightforward.

I’m hoping that this time next week I’m measuring SWR on 80, 40 and 20 meter bands and they are close to being useable, if not perfect, but I know things can not always go to plan !

Heres looking forward to getting the Nebula on air – i think some form of naming ceremony will be required 🙂

Stay safe, 73

Alan / 2E0FWE

Nebula progress 16/1/2021

So following on from the mid-week rigging exercise I could see some more adjustments would be required before adding elements or radials. I set about with my trusty spirit level and a whole load of energy to get the nebula as straight as i can.

So it was quite clear with the spirit level the direction and severity of the tilt that had to be overcome. I set about correcting the lenghts of the lowest ropes.

A bit of patience and some re-tying and adjust lengths soon had the mast in a better vertical postion when attached from the bottom most rigging point. I then set about the 2nd stage.

The caribinas for the second stage attachement are just about visible in the above picture. What I learned from the previous days rigging is that when attaching the ropes at this level I hneed to detach them each time from the ground stakes each time. Whilst this takes time, its stop a tangled mess and getting caught around the house, its more imprortant to take time and get it right, then rush and make a mess/get it wrong.

By now i was getting a little tired, and had quite a few other things to do (including walking me doggo sweety) – with the mild weather it was nice to get a socially-distanced walk and enjoy the flowers in the gardens in our neighbourhood. I came back home and had a good rest before attempting the next stage of guying as its quite suprsing how much effort/energy it takes to raise and lower the mast each time.

So the mast was looking far more aligned and well tethered vertically as I attached each level. The downside to this is that the trees do tend to tangle the ropes each time, but no real hardship in getting them untangled. I will be glad when I dont need to bring it down quite so much though !

As you can see the higher i go, the more the house blocks the ropes passage. Whats good about taking time is that as each time I do this, I get more used to simply unclipping the carabinas from each section. It is tiring with lifitng the nebula each time, but it was satisfying to see the rigging going so well.

So the days are getting ever so slightly longer, where it used to be pitch black quite quickly from 4pm, its staying brighter that little bit longer. I had guyed all the lower sections but still had one last rope on the highest section. At this time I thought, i’m tired, it will soon be dark and i need to get the mast back down safely and packup for the evening.

I done just that and have everything ready to get the last rope in place tomorrow. I will re-measure the vertical alingment with the spirit level once more, but its looking far better than it did, ensuring the mast will stay up in inclement weather. I’ve not had the time to solder radials or verticals yet due to uni assignments/exam revision, but am hopeful i can make some headway into that tomorrow as well.

Until next time, 73 & Stay Safe

Alan / 2E0FWE

Nebula tilt progress 13/1/2021

Was lucky enough to have a few extra hours of sunlight to get work on the antenna done as my house was having an electrical certification inspection (i.e. no power on at all) for a couple of hours.

In that time i set about rigging the rest of the nebula !

One thing I did not anticipate is how much the trees would interfere with the rope. I was glad i had this extra hour or two to take my time and just focus/learn about the rigging. I started off with the ‘^’ of the triangle in the rigging on stage 2, that went really well with the rope and could hitch it with a carabina no problem. Continuing with the nearside left hitch point, which is too tight, i was able to connect this to stage 2 without problem, where as stage 2 right side required a bit of work to get the rope thru the trees, but a quick bit of of trimming and I was connected !

The mast was quite a bit off center, but it was good to practice and see where this was. Having not ‘rigged’ a mast this tall before it was a question of take it down and put it up each time to get the rope lengths in a good approximate distance. This worked reasonably well and I’m building up a better procedure of bringing the mast down without tangling the ropes.

Undoubtedly I will need to spend more time on the ropes to give them a better ‘balance’ I think the main culpurate is the bottom left point (if you draw a ^ and take the tip as front-center). AS the guying distance is just before 5m its slightly asked compared to the other amount of seperation the other guy-stakes have, but I will be able to correct this so it doesn’t ‘tug’ at the mast and it will be vertical in all directions.

Overall for an hours work i was happy to get all the guy ropes attached. The picture above exaggerates the tilt somewhat as its on .5 zoom and naturally ‘bends’ the shot somewhat more (as you can tell from the bricks in the house). I will get my spirit level out and get the mast truly vertical and set about adding the vertical elements.

Still, i’m still learning and enjoying every moment of it. Fingers crossed will have the nebula on the air not before too long !

Stay safe & 73

Alan / 2E0FWE

Nebula tilt progress 10/1/2021

So as predicted I’ve been flat out with assingments/revision for an exam on Monday at Uni.

Having had taken Sweeety (our dog) for a walk, the weather was really nice – cold but bright and more importantly no wind. Having received the heavy duty guying kit in the week and now with the necessary tools to tighten the small clamps, though I would take 30 minutes/hour out to just get the antenna erected with the metal guying ropes.

I first started with the worst rope, where i have tied two piece together. As much as I trust my knots, this was the first one to address I could then work on the other two ‘front’ supports.

In no time I had the guy-wire measured out and firmly attached to the hitching post. As you can see that is not going to come loose any time soon, but there is quite a bit of excess wire as its designed for a 10m high mast, where as I’m at about 3.5m vertical on the first attachement point.

The tilt base really did make a huge difference in doing this work, it was so much easier in being able to push the mast up each time and then guy each hitching post. The end result was a very stable mast, even with only rigging point. Nethertheless I will still continue to guy up attachment points 3 & 4 with rope.

i even had time to make a quick video, and got the orientation right !

guying the mast video

Overall, i’m happy with the weeks progress, in doing small jobs thruout the weak, such as painting the base, cutting the radials and then at any opputnity i had to get the mast up.

Hopefully next week should be slightly less busy out of office hours and will still have my lunch break to doing small jobs.

I think for next week i will do

cut 80, 40 and 20m vertical wires

solder into groups the radials (need to see how many radial attachemen t points i can use)

then sat/sun complete guying 2 & 3, attach radials & 80, get first S.W.R. reading.

Hope you are all keeping well ! Stay safe, 73

Alan / 2E0FWE

Nebula tilt base progress 7/1/2021

So making good time of my lunch break, i set about creating the lengths of wire required for the radials.

The guide advises 10m radial lengths and 30 from teh supplied wire, with 60 being me the optimal for 80m. I took the wire from the delivered kit and set about it !

So i had time to checkout the base whilst i was in the garden, and apart from the part i couldnt reach, it looks a fairly decent job. I’ll be completing the rest tomorrow in my lunch break as its now flat on the ground as the underside is painted. I used my trust surveyors tape measure, i can really recommend getting one of these if you are making wire-based antennas, it saves so much cutting/adding later on. I pinned down at 10m10cm to allow a bit of room for cutting and soldering the hook connectors on.

I used two mast-brackets to create a ad-hoc spool system – it really made life easy in pulling out the 30 lengths of 10m wire. I have some other spools of wire also, but they are a little larger, but the ones supplied by callum are a really good size to ‘work’ with.

I was glad in the time i had to get all the lengths cut, so I can *hopefully* make a start on creating probably them into groups of 4 (will check how many connectors i have). I’ve ordered 500 meters of wire from Sotabeams, its not as ‘heavy’ as the wire callum provided, but good enough for radials, so i should be able to create the 60 radials for optimum 80m performance. The good thing is that the wire handly gives the velocity factor, so calculating the lengths of wire to match 40 and 20 should be easy enough.

I also received the guying kit which includes steel guying ropes. These are for only upto 10m high, but I’m intending to use these on the lowermost section, leaving guying points 2 & 4 to a good quality rope. I will probably use the guying stakes to secure the tilt base in some fashion.

So despite it being a busy week with work/uni-work and limited day-light hours, have got a reasonable amount of ‘prep’ work done. Hopefully I can at least get 80m working this weekend, but lets see how things pan out, but feeling confident so far !

Alan / 2E0FWE

Nebula tilt base progress 6/1/2021

So a few very long nights and little sleep, but having been making the most of my lunch-break to get little jobs done on the base as well.

On 5/1 i received my Makita routing kit, its not ‘brilliant’ but got the job done as the photos show. Could put it on my Bosch SDS drill and make enough of a gap to get the washer and bolt onto the main bolt. With everything tightened up and in place i gave a very liberal dose of industrial superglue to secure everything in place. A day later it was ROCK SOLID ! very optimistic that i should get no more ‘wiggles’ from loose bolts !

As ever the English weather arrived right on queue. I had received this *awesome* ‘paint‘ the night before. Its actually for sealing leaking roofs, but principle is that it will keep the water out the wood. It is as thick as treacle to apply but one coat has left the wood well protected.It can take upto a week to dry, but hopefully it will be ‘dry to the touch’ ahead of the weekend so i can guy the antenna up.

Overall, i’m happy that the bolts on the end and glue will keep the mast secure on the bolt, and the paint will ensure the longevity of the wood on the base (or more so than it just being naked!).

Heres until the next update !

Al / 2E0FWE