This weekend was spent at the QTH with gf and SM3JLA joining on Saturday at 0100 or so. He was gonna operate a bit in the WPX SSB contest and worked some 1200q before we went down to fix an amplifier. This took us several hours to trying to find the problem. It is an old auto-tune amplifier with a 4cx1500b tube which was built in the late 60s. It took us some time to understand how it worked and finally after several attempts we had found all problems. What started out with a broken relay went over to a broken soldering joint on the relay socket and then to another relay which was also bad. Finally we had it working and 1kW output on all bands and we also have good understanding now how the amp operates. The result was accomplished at around 02:00 on Monday morning so we started the sauna and did some celebration with a beer or two.
I also bought a new saw to be used when doing some carpentry and built a stand for it from and old table. However I need to make the foots of it a bit longer to make it more stable. We also moved some 19″ racks around the barn since they had been in the way. I installed a new camera as well in the shack so now it takes snapshots each minute and when there is movement it records it at smaller intervals. It has got night vision as well and pretty good picture quality. It is an IP-400 camera bought from www.dealextreme.com
I did also shovel a lot of snow with help from the gf. When we arrived we had to shovel away some 20-30cm of snow and during the weekend we probably shoveled as much again. The snow depth is now 105cm and this amount of snow I can’t remember that I have ever experienced. Might be the winter 86/87 but then I was 5 years old and my references are a bit off. The neighbor came by and helped to take away some snow with the tractor too, which is very kind of him. He doesn’t like all cables though that are temporarily installed, so next year he won’t have that problem when the switch room is moved to the barn.
Yesterday and today I spent some time to make the front and back panels for the openASC box. I also did the panels for the boxes that Teemu, SM0W at SK0UX will assemble to use on their station. For myself I milled for 5 boxes so a total of 18 panels where engraved and milled, which takes some time to do.
The gray panels will have black paint filled into the engraved text, to make the text very well visible. We tried to mill black front panels but I still consider the gray ones look better because of everything gets too black otherwise.
I have done some work on the power meter pickup that we will use at the station. I have re-thought my earlier design a bit so instead of having the log-amp + A/D conversion happening in the box located in the shack it happens “in” the pickup and all data is transfered on a openASC bus. However I think I will run a separate bus for the power meters just to not overload the openASC bus with data. This way I can hook up several pickups on the same bus and have just an openASC USB-dongle connected to the computer. So I don’t need to build the display units for each operating position, I can just run a PC software to display the info on position 3 and 4 for example. I will try to build the display boxes for the SO2R position (radio 1 and 2).
I have done some work on the display software for the PC, which will also make it possible to read the power remotely. It is written in QT and is therefor platform independent.
I will post some results when I have done some measurements on the pickup. I could not find any good boxes so I built one myself and I think it looks pretty good considering it was done in an hour or two.
I got to the radio QTH on Thursday after me and SM2XJP went to CUE DEE to pick up some aluminum that we ordered earlier. After that we went to buy another 600x2400mm shelf for the radio shack to add so we can put stuff over the monitors. I also bought a 12mm thick OSB board (kind of like plywood) which is meant to be used on the wall of the switch room, so I can add all boxes onto it.
I also cleaned out the barn and made some holders for aluminum tubing which has been lying on the barn floor, a place I don’t like since it’s in the way and can be damaged. I was planning on doing a different solution but unfortunately the room of the barn was exactly 6m, so I needed some more space to fit the tubing. I think the result is pretty good, even though it doesn’t look as perfect as I was hoping for, but it was kind of tricky putting it up by myself.
The 160m vertical went QRT on Monday during a storm. We saw during a storm in the autumn that the three direction guy wire system of the top tube wasn’t sufficient, since such long lines when you can’t tension them properly, is useless and this failure was kind of expected. I had plans to take the top tube down and add another guy line, however snow came and tower climbing season was gone. I was hoping that it would survive until the summer but it didn’t. So now plan is to add one or two more tower sections, making the top tube section very short and if we add two more sections guy line won’t even be needed. The plan to add one or more sections had already been made since we wish to add an array around the vert in the future, however since those tower sections are still in SM3 we couldn’t do it last year. So this will be a project to have done sometime during the summer.
As soon as I get the TS-850 sold (hopefully in the end of March) I will order all material needed for the summers antenna building projects, so stay tuned for lots of updates.