Saturday, March 26, 2011

KJ4PST Antenna Work

Had a good day of radio fun today starting at breakfast with several of the gang at a fundraiser pancake feed.  After breakfast, we dropped Kevin-KW4B's truck off at W4JKG's house and headed up to Millen, GA to help one of our fairly new HAMs, Fred-KJ4PST, install an HF antenna at his farm.  During the 80 mile drive Kevin decided to work some of the CQ WPX contest stations on the HF mobile rig.  The Yaesu 857-D and High Sierra Sidekick antenna performed well.

We got to Fred's place around 1100 or so and Fred met us in the driveway.  We got a tour of the place and immediately started scoping out a good place for the G5RV antenna to live.  Lot's of good trees to choose from and we settled on one at the far back side of the house to be the center support for an Inverted V configuration.  Time to break out the air cannon line launcher!  Kevin charged up the cannon and launched the line straight over the 80 foot pine on the first attempt.  Perfect.  Pulled the support line back up through the tree then hoisted up the center feed point of the antenna up the tree.  We struggled a little bit getting one of the poles of the antenna routed thru the branches just like we wanted it and it took another cannon launch to get it done.  Then we tied it off on the one end. 

By this time we decided to break for lunch so we drove "downtown", if you can call it that, and grabbed a quick sandwich at the Millen DQ.  After a couple of unsuccessful stops to try and find some more pull line we went back to the farm.  Ended up just using some of Kevin's pull line and got the other pole of the antenna tied off.  Center of the antenna is up at maybe 60 feet and the poles slope down to maybe 15 feet at each end.  Should work real nice.  We then ran the feedline over to the corner of the house and along the gutter down to an entrance to the basement where the HVAC lines enter.  Fred will clean the routing up at a latter date when he gets his extension ladder from Savannah.

Just in time as we got a nice heavy downpour that lasted about 15 minutes.  Good thing we were inside now.  Kevin put the antenna analyzer on the feedline to test the antenna.  Resonate on 40 meters at a 1-to-1 SWR.  So we know the feedline and antenna are not shorted or open.  The physics of the G5RV and the internal tuner of the radio should allow us to tune up on all the HF bands.  We got Fred's Kenwood TS-440SAT powered up and connected the feedline.  We are ready to talk!  However, the 20+ year old TS-440 needed some time for the VFO to stabilize before we could hear anything and before we could tune.  I know this is a common situation with the Kenwood 400 family when they haven't been on in a while so we waited and then finally started hearing contesters on several of the bands.  The radio tuned up fine on all the bands at a 1-to-1 SWR.  Didn't get to operate today as we just plain ran out of time. 

Once we shut the station down and cleaned everything up it was time to say goodbye to Fred and head back to Savannah.  Might make another trip back soon to help tidy things up and give Fred some instruction on operating the radio.

Kevin and I left just after 5:00pm and Kevin worked some more stations in the contest on the way back.  It was like we had a direct pipe into Eastern Europe with Kevin snagging Croatia, Astonia, European Russia, England, Italy, and others.  Good strong signals.

We arrived at W4JKG's house to pick up Kevin's truck and Ken invited us in to look at his radio station and antenna.  Had a great time getting a tour of Ken's station and his workshop.  We couldn't leave without checking out his homemade "spud gun".  We went out on the back deck and Ken's sons John, Charles, and Franklin showed us how it works and we had a great time launching potatoes out into the marsh!

Wow, what a long but productive day!


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