Triband Yagi Day 1 & 2

With the Easter weekend and good weather it was a good chance to get the multiband Yagi installed. It has been sitting in my garden since it was *missing parts* which then had to be ordered and paid for from the original supplier in the Netherlands.

I’ve had the rotator and coax for VHF/UHF for some time as well so was really looking forward to bringing it all together.

RCA Rotator

The rotator was purchased from Farnell, no longer available, but ‘RCA VJ226E’ may find some sources on the Internet. warning – my unit came from the US so requires a step convertor for UK usage for 240v -> 110v.

I really liked the instructions for the unit, clear and easy to follow, unlike the sketch-sheet of poorly presented documents that came with the GB-3 Yagi, which looked like something a DIY or student would put together. May the instructions from DX-Engineering on their Hustler just spoiled me..

I started with assembling the rotator indoors and checking the necessary parts. I didnt have a long enough run of coax cable for the feed line, but was quickly sorted out by a local dash to B&Q for “Time Black 3 core Multi-core cable 1.5mm² x 50m” – this is meeting or exceeding the specification required for the unit. I’m approximatting 10 meters of ground-feed and about the same going vertical.

terminals 1, 2,3

Whilst the instructions used black/red/green, i swapped out for ‘live/netural/earth’ but the thing to ensure is that the colours both ends are the same.

Once I Had completed the wiring and had a clear idea of how to mount the rotator mast, i set about how to mount the yagi.

Because an extensive amount of time would be at about ground level I invested in a support so i could work at height with better saftey than just a ladder.

Abbey 5 Way Multi Purpose Platform and Scaffold Combination Ladder

At £114.99 the Abbey 5 Way Multi Purpose Platform and Scaffold Combination Ladder from Amazon would do the job, and also allow me to work on the higher parts of the Mazda Bongo that I have.

Construction was simple enough with a few bolts and rods to put in place. I’m not a ‘light’ person and getting on the first time was a challenge. I used another smaller step ladder to get on and off, which helped. Using one end to get on and off from helped with usign the strength of the frame as a support.

Having got the working platform up, i mounted the rotator onto the mast, this wasnt as easy as I thought as some of the clip-sections blocked the rotator, but with some fine adjustments, was able to get the rotator on.

I went back over all the nuts and bolts at ground level on the Yagi to ensure they was of good tightness, and brought the Yagi over to the mast to assess how to raise it. With help, I was first able to attach the Yagi onto the mast. I checked it from ground level and could see that some cables would get caught so with help raised the yagi slightly up the support mast by about 1 foot allowing more distance for the cables on the Yagi.

I ran the electrical feed wire back to the QTH and then noticed that the power is 110v – I’ve ordered Tacima SC5474W/BP Step Down Voltage Convertor which at a 50 Watt rating is easily over double what the rotator will draw.

I done some preliminary SWR readings using the Rig Expert Stick Pro. I bought the Stick Pro to accompany my HF AA-55 Zoom, which doesnt have 2m or 70cm capability.

For a first attempt I was happy with the SWR readings with no adjustments. I think the next step will be to connect different coaxes and measure their losses, which at VHF/UHF coax can have a real difference.

I’m looking forward to testing out the rotator and seeing how good the gain is on the antenna – with a J-Pole I was able to reach Blandford, Southampton and of course the local repeaters.

New QRZ Award

Had a great start to the day by having an FT8 QSO with ZL3IO – amazed that even without all the radials down on the Hustler, I’ve managed to reach New Zeeland.

I checked to see if the QSO had been logged on QRZ, where I could see that I’m now able to use the QSO’s from my other callsign (M7ALU) which already had Australia in it ! A quick application and sure enough I have received the Contienants of World award !

Fantastic start to the day and looking forward to increasing the Hustlers performance – have to say with only 3 days of activity, I’m really impressed with it.

RST Rcvd-10
RST Sent-7
Distance18693km (11615 mi) @ 355°
QSO Details

Hustler 6BTV – Day 2 & 3

Its been a busy weekend at the QTH, but all good !

In hope of good weather over Easter and the lifting of groups mixing, i’ve got some comfy garden furniture. It took the best part of 6 hours to build, but am looking forward to trying it out. I might even try my IC-705 outside before heading out with it, as its not had alot of use outside the shack !

Having completed the furniture, the next day I continued my work with the Hustler 6BTV.

I used the DX Engineering documentation on how to build the hustler. It was really clear and easy to follow, with practical tips on construction methods. The detail and clarity on each step was really good. I got all the sections first connected together then looked at how to attach the SO-239. Whilst fiddly due to the small parts, it was easy enough to get it put on.

The forums (eham) strongly recommended usign plenty of copper grease for making good connnections and when the antenna has to be moved. As the pictures show, i wasnt shy about how much to use and it did make moving the linear loaders and posts easier.

I followed the guide and put the distances accordingly, it was all really straightforward.

Having done alot of the work for the radial plate before hand, i set about reusing the radials I had from my previous antennas, just to get me started. I was not to be disapointed with the results !

Having only put down roughly 20 radials to start with I was happy with the SWR Results. I’ve not got 80 tuned yet, but will spend some time for that when time allows. My first job is to get as many radials down as space/connectivity will alllow me, i can then tune the bands to the resonant frequencys I want

I’ve already made contacts on 40 and 20 meters, reaching the US and all across Europe on FT8, reception on ‘Phone’ end of the bands is equally good.

Overall this is becoming an excellent antenna, and hindsight is 20/20 vision, probably be one I would choose to start with, its construction and build quality is excellent and has the ability to tilt over in bad weather. There is still plenty of work to go, but for such few hours, it really has stood out as an excellent antenna. I’m sure as I add more radials and complete the coax installation/fine tuning will only go on to be an antenna i use for a very long time.

Hustler 6BTV – Day 1

So having looked at reviews for a multi band vertical, the Hustler 6BTV looked the right model for me. The hustler came from Radio World, and the accessories from ML&S, as they didn’t stock the 6BTV at this time. Needless to say both arrived very promptly.

I dug a hole to recommended depths and sunk a decent bit of scaffold pole I had into it. Having never done anything like this before, i was happy with the outcome in that the pipe came out level and the concrete set well. At the moment, it looks like what it is, a post in th eground, but it will look much nicer once the installation is complete.

It should be noted the reason to try out a new antenna is that the tilt-base on the Nebula had a defect and would require a new bolt and drilling the base again. I also wanted something that was easier to take up and down as even with the tilt base the Nebula is quite a weight, and the guy ropes tended to get tangled quite frequently.

nebula tilt base – bent/twisted M10 bolt

It has set a very high standard in band coverage and reach, so it will be interesting to do a comparison on the same transceiver.

The post to attach the DX Engineering and Tilt base has gone in really well, and very level. I had one section of PVC piping already in the shed, and have ordered one more and some vent-like structures to feed the coax thru under the radials will obviously check the coax for connectivity before burying it !

I’m waiting on some more radial plate bolts, so far it has 20 on there, but i want the full 60, as I’m limited in space in some directions, I want to get as many as I can down in a very radial/spoke fashion as described in the documentation.

So far I’m really encouraged by how well the instal is going and the documentation supplied with the antenna and components is top notch, but the proof will be in the performance of the antenna, which I hope wont be too long in happening !

A spring clean!

So with us coming out of winter into Spring (20/3) I really wanted to tidy up. And tidy up everything. My shack had become a really bad ‘mess’ and as an engineer/student/professional this is my ‘small home office’. I’ve had used these Keter Store-It Out Midi Outdoor Plastic Garden Storage Shed around my back garden for storing various things and they have proved really good, in capacity and being waterproof. With an electric screw driver i was able to put it up and thanks to a mild Friday evening, started filling it. Swiftly I had reclaimed my floor and alot of other space in the shack/office 🙂 I then turned my attention to outside the office !

With the bad weather forecast I had already lowered my Nebula, as it look pretty high wind forecasts. I’m pretty sure my mast would of been ok, but I don’t like to take a risk where its not necessary, so the best part of the week I was without HF on my main right (IC7300). The end fed antenna for receiving Weefax was still doing a grand job thou pulling in the images

I took the opportunity to inspect the Nebula and i noticed the main pivot bolt had got seriously bent out of shape, so I took the decision that i would have to rebuild the swivel base with a much larger bolt for the scaffold pole to go thru. I six hours then tidying down the Nebula and al its components. I think for now I wil keep my DX Commanders (I Now have 4) for when I can construct a full phased array with them. I know how good the Nebula is and the classic, so getting a phased array for amazing DX. What I do have now thou is a lovely clear garden, free from antennas apart from my 40m dipole for WSPR and my end fed an NVIS heights for RX.

I have a staggering amount of uni work going on as well as work-work, and I feel that i could get my shack and all my equipment really in tip-top order before mounting another antenna, be it HF, UHF or VHF. Hopefully the weather and longer evenings will mean that I’m not off the air for long (other than WSPR) and soon trying out a new and exciting antenna.

Stay safe, 73.

Al/ 2E0FWE

Uni assignment takes over blog!

Hi all !

Not sure how many people read this on a regular basis, but needless to say apologies for the absence of updates in recent weeks. I’ve got loads of updates to do, with pictures and videos but my MSc has taken over my life at the moment (outside of work).

Good news one of my modules on Web Technologies i’ve embraced my course and my hobby and am using WSPR data, amongst others, as one of the components of a website I am building.

You’ll find the code over on github.

In the mean time, stay safe and keep well !

Alan, 2E0FWE

Surveying the Nebula

So its already ‘hump’ day (aka Wednesday) – i’ve had very little time to even go outdoors and the weather is being typically English.

English weather for an English Seaside town in Winter

I did get a chance to survey the Nebula as to what work can be undertaken this weekend, well looking like Sunday is my best hope !

So i think i will replace several elements with fresh wire from the Nebula kit. I will measure the wire in place. I think its physically stretched hence why it has become so slack. There was quite a gale blowing last week, so maybe it got stretched then ? I will take measurements and replace either way. I will also be taking more time with the guying and guying the mast where ever i can to ensure the wires cannot stretch again (if thats the case).

So list of work for the Nebula this week

  • Remake 80, 60 and 20m elements
  • Guy/Tether spreader plates at 1,2,3, 4 and 5 if carabinas fit
  • get vertical/straight

So I’m looking forward to hopefully some sun/dry weather. I’ve got another project going on with the bongo, but not all the parts are here yet, but it will be nice to have a cross over between bongo and hamradio blogs !

Stay safe and 73

Alan / 2E0FWE

Nebula – Multiband

The weather in the QTH has been particularly bad for the past week and the opptunity to do any amateur radio activties overtaken by university assignments. Thankfully today though, both the weather and a bit of respite in the amount of course work to do meant i could focus on the nebula.

Having operated 80, 40 and 20 the next step was to multiband the nebula. I’ve done various configs on the DX Commander Classic before (adding 80 as L, different band makeups) but this was my first time with the Nebula in moving elements and adding new ones. As ever my first port of call was the instructions to review what was ahead to get from 3 to 6 bands.

I set out first thing in the morning, probably around 8, to start measuring the elements. The surveyor’s tape measure really is great for these long pieces of wire and getting the lengths right. My ad-hoc spool shystem formed from some mast brackets and securing pin done the job in being able to pull the wire off easily. Note the nebula still had its existing 80, 40 and 20 meter elements. These would be taken off with all the tape/elastic as well as they would need repositioning.

I set about cutting the longest element first, being for 60m. I cut longer and trim, based on experience this allows to get it close to the lengths required. As you can see the sun was coming up and thats not smoke from the fire, thats the ice evaporating ! As you can see the Nebula had a good amount of ice on it from how cold it had been overnight, and was still quite chilly in the morning !

With the lengths of wire cut for the new elements, i returned to the ‘shack’ and stripped the wire to fit into the connectors. I stip/tin, then crimp to ensure electical connectivity and mechanical strength.

I started with the 80 meter element, by far the longest, and most complex to get right. I do not like ‘floppy’ wires for elements, so I have a good amount of tension. Getting enough ‘slack’ into the top takes a bit of time and install fettling to get right, but taking time and getting the right lengths of elasticcord makes a big difference. I was able to get good tension on my 80m elements and even should the wind blow hard causing the mast to ‘flex’ it will enough ‘give’ to not snap/come off.

I repeated this for all the other elements. The process I used was to first to re-markup the vertical plate at the base of the mast, then rotate the spreaders, using the ‘dx commander; stickers as visual line up, I was able to install all elements quite easily, even 60 was ok to install despite its length. I had run out of paracord, but getting the tenion in the rope has done the trick for 17m and 20m verticals.

As you can see from the Rigexpert output SWR results are satisfactory to excellent. All the bands where I have elements are tuneable on the IC-7300’s internal tuner, and in some cases not even needed. I was amazed at the results for 60m, being a ‘new’ element to me on how well the SWR was. 10 and 6m look good as well, but think with a dipole conditions would need to be very good in the ‘E-Layer’ t pick up any signals.

The S.W.R. reports for each frequncy mid-band demonstrated the effectiveness of the Nebula. As a Intermediate licence holder, i cannot transmit on 5Mhz, but I will tune in and listen for sure ! I think the SWR’s for all the bands is quite acceptable.

When I’m not using my radio, or my antenna is down, i put this dummy load on. Whilst not rated for 100W, its better than not having anything on there. I’ve never tried to transmit without an antenna in place, but this strikes me as a good idea to ensure the longevity of the rig..

By now i had taken our dog Sweety for a walk, as well a few bits and bobs around the house. I do enjoy taking a break and having a cup of tea with me missus, it keeps things at a sane pace.

I knew at around mid-aftenoon it would be slightly close to get the antenna fully vertical and all the radials reattached before night came along, thankfully we are getting slightly more sun now and dusk is getting later everyday (well until the clocks go back…)

I was really happy with how I ahd really enjoyed the build and the results from it in acceptable S.W.R. readings on the desired bands. The tilt-base was awesome and I finding easier and easier to get the mast vertical and guyed each time.

The Nebula is my most recent additon in terms of antennas, but I’m very confident it will be one that i will be using for many, many years.

Heres a video of the mast up with all the elements attached.

Nebula Multiband in the QTH

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