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 !
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.
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 !
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!).
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 !
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.
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 !
Its a bank holiday here in the UK and I made good use of the lovely bright sunny morning to get cracking with work on the tilt-base for the Nebula. It gets dark pretty quick here now in the afternoon so maximizng daylight hours and me not getting too tired really means making good use of the free-time.
I set about getting my tools together I would need to continue the build. I had left it at the point where I didnt have metal drill bits and the ones I had ordered were not SDS, so then had to get a SDS adaptor. After a couple of minutes of working out how the adaptor fits, i was able to drill the hole in the scaffold pole. Have to say the drill bits done an excellent job cutting through the scaffold pole like it was butter !
Having now successfully drilled the hole through the scaffold cut off i spent a few more minutes watching callums tilt base video (will post again below for reference) – the next step was to construct the base.
I was lucky enough to hold onto an old pallet that came with some goods i ordered on line, as there was no instruction or request to return it, I was able to use that. It had plenty of wood to cut down and move forward with the base construction. I already have a good electric handsaw, but its more designed for ‘flat’ cutting, so I purchased a Reciprocating Saw, HYCHIKA 18V Cordless Saw with 2x2000mAh – at £83.99 this is not ‘cheap’ but compared to other tools in the price range, it certianly is good value for money. I have ot say i was expecting it to be ‘will do the job’ but was really impressed that it came with two batteries (3/4 charged) and several wood and metal cutting blades. I can see myself using this tool alot on other projects, it certainly made light work of cutting up the bits i needed from the pallet !
Having cut the wood I wanted to get an idea of how ‘wide’ to make the base, so i popped around to see the Nebula mast and do my daily antenna inspection (yep, I check the knots/stakes are safe *every* day). Have to say the QTH antennas look quite seasonal.
Having got the Nebula radial plate i could then size up the base and fix it together. I have a number of electric drills, ironically the most expensive (Bosch) being utterly useless. I have a hand-held black and decker one and I added this electric screwdriver for £21.99 to the armoury of tools. Now for £21.99 you’d not really expect something that was particualy brilliant, in the video Callum uses a gorgeous Makita drill (envy) to get his screws in, but I have to say i was amazed that this little USB charged drill had plenty of torque to get the large screws into the wood. Only the last screw (which I think I put it in at an angle) required manual intervention.
Next I wanted to check i had got the holes aligned, and amazinly i had got them inline to about 50mm of each other. I did take a bit of a ‘wack’ with a lump-hammer to get the bolt thru, but sure enough, it went in !
Getting the rod out was interesting.. i used an old drill bit and hammered away, this did cause some slight damage to bolt, but nothing that wouldnt be seen or stop the build. I then went back to watch the you-tube video to work out the placement of the bolts and washers with the tube, making a sketch so i would get them on right.
At this point i could see that i have either drilled the whole too high up the pole or got a measurement wrong from the guesstimates made from the video. I was able to use the saw with a metal blade to shorten the scaffold pole so it would tilt fully.
I was now able to tilt the pole into position. I made some adjustments with the bolts and used the saw again to cut the excess off the bolt. By now my dog Sweety (yes hes a boy) was also after my attention and had been doing this for about 2-3 hours. I felt i had made really good progress and it was time to take Sweety for a walk and enjoy the afternoon with the missus 🙂
Having tidied up all the tools etc, I started to think about the next steps. I’m going to counter-sink the bolt-holes so they are not protruding and use some good all-weather protection for the wood. Next steps will be to secure the tilt-mechanisim to the larger pallet base, where by it should almost be ready to test out ! Hopefully the bright, but dry weather will continue over the weekend allow a few hours each day to get ever nearer completing and getting the Nebula up and operational !
It has been fantastic weather for December down here in IO90. With my son visiting for Christmas it was the perfect opportunity to make some real progress on the tilt-base for the Nebula.
I started out in the morning by building the workbench that had come from Amazon. At £28.99 i wasnt expect high-quality and i was pleasently suprised at how nice this was. Construction was fiddly, but nethertheless straightforward. Overall, if you want a cheap workbench, you can probably do ok with the Wolf.
Once the workbench was assembled, Paul and I started getting things safely setup outside. I have never used this type of saw before, and i said to Paul to shoutout STOP if he saw me doing anything dangerous/or could go wrong, thankfully it went really well ! The Circular Saw I used is the Katsu 100793. It cost £43.99 and comes with another wood-cutting blade. The instructions were simple, yet useful and reassured me of being able to use the tool safely, having never used one before. Overall I can recommend this a tool you are going to use on on occasion – one niggle is that it really does need a better protective box, as i’ve kept the original but that will only provide limited protection.
To keep the wood secure on the round table we have, I used Irwin Quick grips – these cost £16.99 but really done a good job in holding the wood tightly in place. Operation is easy enough after the first time of use, and getting things clamped becomes very familiar quickly. Overall I can recommend them as well !
I then set about drilling the hole for the steel bolt to go thru. I already have a good Bosch SDS drill (altough i’d love a Makita like callums !) i just needed to order the required SDS wood drill bits. I chose the Yato YT-3300 drill bits. These come in a really nice presentation pack as well, and made easy work of drilling the hole for the bolt to go thru. I measured an inch from the top and mid-way on poles.
The next step was to use an old bit of scaffold i had lying around – i got this off the builders who were erecting my neighbours buildings in his back garden. £10 well spent. This involved another first as I’ve never cut tubing before, i’ve ground things down (usually flat surfaces) but never cut a tube. I already had an angle grider so put on my protective goggles and tried to see what i could do with the angle grinder
Having cut the scaffold pole, the next step is to put the bolt-hole in it. I thought i had some SDS metal bits, but all the ones I have are for plaster-board. A quick trip to Amazon found LATERN 10Pcs Tungsten bits. At £9.99 the price is good for the amount of bits and I’ll only be using these occasionally. As I was getting a little tired and by now it was about 2PM, thought it best to tidy up and put everything away. I’m really happy that my son and I could work on this together and the bulk of the ‘heavy cutting’ is done, plus I’ve increased my confidience in using power tools I’ve never used before !
Weather is not looking so great tomorrow/monday, so it might be next week/weekend for drrilling the hole in the pole but will see how I’m doing.
Was very greatful to receive an email from Callum regarding the tilt base giving some advice and alternate parts, suggesting the Barenco BE211//2. Myself and JTB (read previous post) are already planning on a ‘metal’ upgrade, so will hold off the BE211/2 for now.
Having watched the ’tilt’ base created by Callum I ordered the parts I didn’t have, and these have since arrived !
I ordered online for limiting my exposure to other people, but having seen the wood am very glad I did ! Not sure why, but it seemed alot bigger than i imagined – which is good. I have an old pallet in the garage which i think will help with the remaining wood components. I will have to source a pole of some type for mast to go onto, but am glad the wood and bolt/rod have arrived !
The IC-705 has really got me into QRP, given that without any additions, its max portable power is 5W and 10W when powered from external supply. I watched Peter Parkers’s excellent QRP Video and knew i had to also read these books to really understand and get the most out of what was being taught
Needless to say, I’ll be blogging extensively about my QRP experiencs with the 705.
Further to recommendations on DX Commander Discord server I have signed up to CW Academy and book my space on the BEGINNER CW class. It does mean ‘waiting’ until April, but having seen this excellent video about learning from CW Academy, have done well in getting a slot as early as that !
I’m really confident that with tuition from CW Academy and giving the commitment required to learn, i will go from 0 wpm to at least 10 wpm.
Also learned that the FULL LICENCE is now available on-line ! Of course i wanted to book straight away, but the latest that could be booked so far was end of Feburary. Given my ‘Intermediate’ exam i thought i would really have to commit and revise well, so I didnt book yet. However, i have bought the RSGB Full Licence Manual, which looks slightly less scary than it would of a year ago (Just passed Foundation).
This great video gives a recent full licence experience, and i will be taking on the advice
With the absence of clubs, training again will be online and with youtube, I’m really grateful for the amount of work people put into their training videos. I will be using Cornish Amateur Radio Club – they really helped with my intermediate
I continue to enjoy the 40m dipole, getting contacts all over the world on FT8 and decoding Wefax images. Hopefully the sun is out this weekend so cutting the wood can begin for the Nebula swivel mount !
So it has been a gorgeous sunny day with little to no rain down here in IO90BS today, of course it being a work day means that I am kept very busy ! However I do get a lunch break and made the absolute most of it !
So after yesterday was, i dont mind saying, hard work to get the mast up, I really pondered what my next steps are. The days are short, the weather, mostly wet & cold, doesnt lend itself to antenna building like those lovely long sunny days of being able to put an antenna and still have sunlight after it.
I watched Callums DX Commander piviot video, many, many times in the evening – and i thought, this has to be the way for me. On my own, getting an antenna up and down, i have to have as much help as I can get where engineering can give me that assistance. This was about 11:30 a night, and most of my sensible friends are asleep at that time, or at least wouldnt want to be disturbed on a Sunday night about ‘is it a good idea to build a mast tilt DIY’ so couldnt get a second opinon.
The build !
I asked my good friend, who we shall call ‘John the Brush’, some thoughts on the video. He is very capable and building and generally ‘making things work’. He was very quick to identify the required parts, which is something I couldn’t do after browsing B&Q and Wickes last night.
“he made that from a bit of M10 st4udding and some 100 x100mm fence post” – now i don’t know what M10 studding is, but B&Q sell it and it looks like the pole that Callum put thru the wood.
I’ve now ordered the wood (From Wickes) and the M10 and nuts and bolts from B&Q, total cost – £42.04 (including delivery). I have plenty of tools, although i have to say i love that Makita drill that Calum uses in his video – what an awesome bit of kit that is – i’ve got a Bosch SDS drill which i think should be able to do the same job.
So, that gives me a short-to-mid term plan for the Nebula, but what about NOW ! I dont like being off the air, it was hard work to get my lience and its a nice enjoyable, relaxing hobby (well putting 18m masts up can be a strain…)
So I was pondering, what is the quickest antenna i can get up in the small window of time i have for lunch. I thought about and started getting the bits for the classic – i’ve got all the wires and can get it up and running pretty quick, but things can, and do go wrong.. Whilst i was untanglilng all the radials, i spotted my 40 meter dipole, and remembering Tim (G5TM) had just done a recent video on dipoles.
Dipole it is ! I had everything ready and could get this up pretty quick.
With one end attached to a washing line, another to fence post, it got my 40m antenna up in the air ! Now, time to see, how is the SWR..
So i only had so much time, usually i’d be looking for between 1.5-2 on the SWR, but 3.3 was good enough – i did have to reposition the right-arm of the dipole as it was just touching the mast, that did get the SWR down a further .3 points.
I went in and put it on the 7300, sure enough I could hit the ‘TUNE’ button and SWR was restored to 1:1 – this is on the 7300 internal tuner !
A quick test on FT8 yeilded positive results !
What a result, for less than an hours work, i was back on 40 meters. Then I eyeed the 705.. could i use that with 20m ‘whip’ on the mag mount ? hell, lets give it a try !
This really was ‘plug and play’ antenna, the mag-mount is on my step ladder, which gives some support (it is guyed as well) to my dipole mast. The SWR results on the 705 were slightly higher than the Rig Expert, but still not bad for such a quick, and somewhat crazy, setup.
I was able to tune FT8 audiably, but have nothing to receive. Next project – Raspberry Pi 400 on the IC705 !
So I’m back on air, able to enjoy listening and transmitting on 40m and potenitally 20m as well , as well as a fix in plan to get the Nebula up. I’m really happy that i can quickly get back on line and also progress the Nebula.
Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to test 20m in the day, even WSPR would be amazing, at a push FT8 ? (FT8 requires working/engaging with the app, I’m working in the day).
Big thanks to “John the Brush” (who is a ham, but doesnt go on air!), Tim and of course Callum !
So as predicted, its been typical English weather here today, drizzly and cold. I bumped into a neighbour and we was discussing how “spring” like it was yetersday.. and the forecast doesnt look good for a while..
So what did i manage to do today – well long and the short is that after a couple of trys i *did* get the nebula vertical and guyed in, but the wind and rain was really taking the toll on me, so i had to pack up for the day.
I took the 120 degree pattern and 5m distance for the stakes so (hopefully) my measurements for the ropes would be long enough.
One area where the wet weather did help was being able to get the stakes into the ground, as you can see from the first pic, these are not short at 18″, a good club hammer got hem into the ground nicely, so it was a positive start after measuring and getting them into the ground easily.
I really struggled for about an hour with getting the mast up, its really heavy and i was getting no traction. With a classic i can get it up no problem, but its much, much lighter than a nebula. I was somewhat at a loss as to what i was doing wrong ! So i went back and RTFM’d, in it sugest using two ropes as a ‘2nd man’ on the base. I done this and that at least started to get the mast in the air ! huzzah – but now the guy ropes wouldnt reach 🙁 bummer. So i repositioned the mast and ‘2nd man’ and finally was able to get the mast vertical !
I was happy that i could get it vertical and on the guys, the wind was having a great time vibrating it like heck, and as you can see from the top of the mast was really wanting to send it over – guying the nebula at 3 stages is giong to be a minimum IMHO, anything less, you could end up waking up to a mast on the ground… or worse !
So to conclud whilst I’m ok with todays progress, it leaves me asking some questions. I follow the weather and when there is a warning, the mast always come down (see previous blog postings) – the Nebula is always going to be hardwork to get it up and down as easy as a ‘classic’. I can ask friends for help to get it up the first time fully rigged, but what when I need to get it up and down myself ?
I’m thinking to make the most of the bad weather, get a classic back up, but with M&P cable/connectors, and follow Callums example of a tilt base over the next few weekends, at least that is something I can do in the ‘garage’ in the dry and will mean getting the mast up and down is that much easier. I dont think any of the ‘commercial’ tilts will take a mast with a 3″ diameter, plus adding on more (i would estimate at least £100, if not £150) to the atenna the costs are going up.
I will sleep on it but i suspect the English weather and keeping to a budget on these things will decide for me.