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

Nebula tilt base progress 3/1/2021

So an early start pondering more programming and exam revision – have to say that I dont write a MSc blog, maybe i should… hmm. Anyhow more work on the Nebula today as soon as the sun came up and i could safely work in the daylight. First job, take down the 40m and 20m antennas I have been using for the last few weeks.

I was really happy how well both the dipole 40m and the buddipole vertical on 20m worked the last few weeks, they was quite quick to setup and kept me able to do the things I enjoy, also making telphony SSB contacts on 40m was great as well. I was glad that the buddipole went up with no damage and came down equally as well – I have packed it up nicely (as always!) for its next outing.

Having a free area to work in I started to measure up 5m diameters for the guying stakes to go in the ground. I started with the measurement from the guy I would ‘walk’ i.e. attach the last rope to, then work out the other angles/positions for the two attached. I was able to mount the nebula with relative ease onto the mast base, the scaffold diameter and length being ideal and not having any lateral movement.

I had not guyed any points yet as i wanted to be sure that the bolts and pivot action worked correctly. I created some temporary supports from the garden furniture we have, which proved to be an ideal height for the mast at rest. I noticed that the position of the mast the trees to the right would need some trimming back as not to catch the elements on when they was attached to the nebula.

I had already done one test run, but I asked my good lady to take some pics of me raising the nebula up, as you can see here, the tilt base is doing an excellent job and it makes raising and lowering the mast no harder than the ‘classic’.

Next i measured out the necessary positions of the guying stakes, i had enough room in all directions, but would require some pruning of the trees/bushes to allow access. The electric saw I used to cut the base-posts made light work of that and I was soon able to access the 5m distance from the mast to where the guying post is located. I also took down the other branches which would interfere with the mast as when doing the ‘test’ push could see they would constantly be tangled if I left them.

It took about 4-5 attempts to get the guy ropes the right lenght. I opted to use Mastrant-P 4mm diameter as I have used that in the past and can trust it to keep the mast up. As is I dont have enough to complete all the guying for point 2 & 4, so have ordered 100 meters more to compelete the guying. I will keep the guy rope callum provided for my other SOTA beams.

Having completed the first unsupported upright I then took it down until the additonal guying rope arrives. I’ve put up some posts around the mast to keep people safe and avoid any damage to the mast.

As it gets dark quite quickly here during the week and I have a massive backlog of Uni work to get thru I think the earliest I will have to work on the antenna again is the 9th/10th – my plans are for ‘during the week’

Complete the countersink for the bolt exterior nuts/washers. (A quick drill/cut job)

Waterproof the wood so it lasts as long as possible (due on Wednesday)

Measure 80/40/20m vertical elements and create (measuring outdoors/sun/daylight needed!)

Create radials for 80m (reckong on 8*10m to start with, i have *loads* of radials pre-made)

Then come Saturday/Sunday I should be able to get the 80m wire going vertical attach the radials and see what the initial S.W.R report is like !

Hopefully this will all come to frution, but depends on how well i’m doing with my assignments in the evening and the weather next weekend.

Until then, stay safe and hope to catch you on the airwaves soon !


Alan / 2E0FWE

Nebula tilt base progress 2/1/2021

Another sunny start to the day down here in IO90, having started the day early playing catchup to some cool python programming waiting for the sun to come up, i was soon out working on the nebula tilt base as soon as it was light ! (8:30 UTC).

I assembled my progress and tools and looked at the next steps, i always enjoy watching Calum’s videos so I could see where i am upto in the build. One thing stood out tho, there is a plate at the very bottom of the tilt base. See pics below from Callums videos.

I’m lucky enough to already own 2* Classic DX Commanders – I’ve used them in a very good parasitic array before, so i could identify the plate calum is using as the radiating plate for the classic. I headed out to the garden to source one !

So having sourced the required plate and safely keepng the parts so I only need another ground plate to get the classic working again, i set about checking that the plate would fit on the scaffold pole. Here I ran into an issue, my scaffold pole was thick in diameter, probably only as much as 1cm but enough that that the plate wouldnt slip over.

I used an offcut of scaffold as a template and tried to find the best way with the tools i have to cut a bigger hole, but excessively big, so it would still be a reasonable fit. I used the saw with a metal blade to make small 1cm depth cuts the circumference of the inner-circle, where i was then able to cut the ‘teeth away’. Sure enough, although it looked very ugly, it worked !

I marked out the part to ‘hack’ out so it fitted reasonbly ‘snug’ to the bolts and tilt, i ‘popped’ the base out the Nebula cap and fitted over. This looked like the same base as Callums ! I was making real progress ! Hurrah ! Now the time came to make the supports. I took the other end of the fence-post and cut it in two. This would give me an ok-ish 6cm either side to play with for supports, but then this is a nice bit of 10cmX10cm post.

Having made the supports i needed to get them onto the tilt, the wood is 10cm deep, and need about 5-6cm plus to make any kind of secure connection. I had a quick look online, but was coming up with nothing, darn, was making such good progress ! I am very reluctant to goto any shop, but needed to get this done, so headed to B&Q to get some essential screws. I found the staff incredbly helpful in helping me choose the best screw for the job (self-tapping wood, thickness/end screw type) which I wouldnt of been able to do via the internet, so although I was a bit stressed with going to the supermarket, i was glad of the help i got.

For the side-supports i used 4 self-tapping screws to start with 2 of them went in very easily, the othe 2 needed a ‘manual’ finish to tighten up. I think what helps the most is doing a manual ‘screw’ for 4-5 turns so the screw is nice and vertical, then going in with the dill. I liked the way the combo of a SDS/Manual chuck adapator worked with a torx screw holder, it saved me a fair bit of work !

I then used the last two bolts I had to attach the tilt-base to the pallet boad, these went in the easiest by far, and as you can see the result was really good in that the tiltbase had a very secure ‘ground’ to work from on the pallet.

tilt base in rough location

I then moved the tilt base to the ‘antenna’ area of the QTH, pointing it in the general direction of how i will walk it up. I made a short video that hopefully helps in explaning the positioning.

Having spent around 4 hours it was time to take my doggo for a walk !

I’m hoping for more good weather tomorrow and after tidying away the current 40m and 20m antennas to do a ‘test’ erection of the Nebula !

Until then stay safe and 73

Alan / 2E0FWE