It’s been one heckuva project, but the tower and beam are now up and running at WA2HOM.
I’d like to thank everyone involved in this project: Roger, W8OMB, for donating the beam; Jack, WT8N, who really spearheaded the project; Jim, K8ELR; Ovide, K8EV; Rob, KD8PUC; and of course, all the museum people: Mel, the museum director; Dave, the old facilities manager; and Doug, the new facilities director.
As you can see from the photos below, we still have some work left to do. We’re going to be taking down the 30-ft. mast (in the foreground) and moving the dipoles back so that they hand from the tower. And, since we no longer need a 20m inverted vee, we’ll be disconnecting the 20m elements and attaching some 30m elements.
After raising the tower yesterday, Ovide and Jim made a couple of contacts, one on 15m phone and one on 20m phone. They report that both guys gave us 59 signal reports. What a change from the puny signal we used to have on 20m.
Tomorrow, we’re really going to be putting this antenna system to the test as we operate the MI QSO Party. We’ll be using the callsign W8CWN, which used to belong to Dr. Richard Crane, the U-M physicist who was a great science educator and built many of the early displays down at the museum. Listen for us, and give us a call if you hear us.
The tower is up! This the view of our tower and beam from the north, facing the main entrance of the museum. In the foreground is our 30' mast, with the 40m and 20m inverted vees.
This is Doug (left), the museum's new facilities manager, and Ovide, K8EV (right), discussing how best to raise the tower.
From left to right: Dan, KB6NU; Jim, K8ELR; and Jack, WT8N in the WA2HOM shack after the tower-raising. We can't believe that the tower is finally up and the beam is working like a charm.
Ovide, K8EV, our “kid wrangler,” did his thing yesterday and we were able to get three kids on the air. Seven-year-old Jack was our first kid communicator; he spoke to K9IRO. Peter was our second, and Brian our third. A good time was had by all.
We were very fortunate in that band conditions on 40m were very good. All three stations we talked to were 57 – 59, and no one had to strain to hear one another.
We’re making progress slowly, but surely on the tower project. Over the course of last week, I mounted all the lightning arrestors to the mounting plate that goes in the NEMA box. On Friday, Jack, Dave, and I lowered the tower and mounted the rotor plate and rotor. We mounted the thrust bearing, too, but after inspection, John decided that it needed some kind of cap to prevent water from pooling in it.
AnnArbor.Com has published a nice interview with Mel Drumm, the executive director of the Hands-On Museum. Did you know that his biggest pet peeve are people that don’t use their turn signals when driving?
Football Saturdays are always very slow down at the museum—at least as far as the number of visitors is concerned—but I still go down there anyway. As far as operating the station was concerned, it was a lot of fun.
First of all, I managed to work several special event stations:
- W0CGM at the Milwaukee Road Railroad, Newport, MN. This station was operating from the restored 104-year-old Milwaukee Railroad Dispatch Tower.
- N4J at the Archaeology Open House at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, Forest, VA. This station was operating from Jefferson’s retreat home and farm in Bedford County, VA. The archaeologists there are working to uncover evidence of life and work on the plantation 200 years ago.
Right after I broke with N4J, he got a call from W4JAM. I listened intently, with the idea that I’d get a chance to have a contact with him. As soon as they ended their short QSO, I yelled out, “CONTACT!” Fortunately, N4J broke for me, and John, W4JAM was still listening.
We had a very nice chat, and as it turns out, his wife has the callsign W0MAN! So, he’s going to send me both cards. I got two for the price of one! Both John and his wife, as it turns out, are both Honor Roll DXers.
I tried to work a couple more special event stations, but I wasn’t able to copy any more of those listed on the ARRL website. There were two that I really wanted to work, too: the Blackeye Pea Festival at the East Texas Arboretum and Botanical Society and the Nowhere, KS Special Event. Maybe next year.
Hi everyone. 20 and 15meters were really jumping this weekend. The California QSO party was going this weekend and I made 10 ssb CA contacts on 20meters Saturday. I was very surprised to hear so much activity on 15 meters. So I made another 10 ssb CA contacts on Sunday.
Also on Saturday and Sunday I made a few contacts using psk31, psk63. Man that was a blast.
Come down to the station and join us. I can be contacted at my call (K8ELR) at arrl dot net.
Yesterday, down at the museum, we got a whole pack of Cub Scouts on the air, thanks to Ovide, K8EV, my ever-ambitious “kid wrangler.” No sooner had I managed to make a decent contact than he lassoed a group of five Cub Scouts from Detroit. Fortunately, conditions held out so that I could give them all a turn at the mike.
They must have liked it and told their buddies. About a half hour later, another group showed up. Fortunately, I was already in another QSO (with W3BEE), and he was gracious enough to talk to everyone in the second group.
W3BEE is a very interesting guy. As his vanity call implies, he’s a beekeeper as well as a ham. I’ve often thought about trying beekeeping—especially because of the bee crisis. He encouraged me to look into it further, noting that now is the time to start preparing for next year.
WA2HOM won the Feld-Hell monthly Sprint for July 2010. This is the first and only thing I ever won in Amatuer Radio. I was very surprised when I ( I was operating WA2HOM) received word that I won. 73! Jim K8ELR
We have had great success running digital modes with the SignaLink hooked up to the Ten Tech Omni VII.
We have made Feld Hell, SSTV, RTTY, PSK and Olivia contacts. We use HRD/DM780 and it works well. Although we use DM780 and I have no complaints I would like to try other software. ROS sounds cool too but is not legal in the USA due to it using spread spectrum.
Unfortunately the tower and beam are not up yet. It was going to be installed in May and here it is July and we are still waiting. So we are still using our inverted V dipoles at about 30 feet.
If you are in the area or just want to visit email me Jim k8elr or Dan kb6nu and we would be glad to give you a demo and let you operate the station.
Later and 73!
Yesterday, we held yet another One-Day Tech Class, and just like last time, we scored 100% again. We had twelve students, with all twelve passing the test!
What was notable about this class is that we had two of our youngest students ever—two brothers, aged ten and twelve. Normally, kids don’t do well in the one-day format, and I mentioned this to their mother. She turned to the kids, who quickly told her that they were sure they could pass.
As we got into the material, it was evident that they had been studying. They had a little trouble doing the math—at one point one of them exclaimed, “We haven’t had fractions yet!” I slowed down a bit, though, and I think they got the idea.
They did have the other material down, though. As we covered the other sections, they were quick to answer the questions.
I was very impressed that the kids were able to stick with us through the whole six-hour session. They did get distracted from time to time, but I tried to keep them involved by asking them questions and speaking directly to them. In the end, it paid off. They both passed the test!
While we were waiting for their tests to be scored, I spoke briefly with the parents. As it turns out, it was their mother who encouraged their interest in amateur radio. As a girl, she’d built a crystal set and learned Morse Code. Now, I’ve got to get her into my next class.
This Saturday, we operated the MI QSO Party—I operated on Saturday down at the Hands-On Museum. To avoid any confusion, we used the W8CWN callsign.
I got to the museum around 10 am, and the contest didn’t start until noon, so I fiddled around a bit, trying to figure out how the bands were. I made three contacts on 40m and a couple of contacts on 20m, so it looked like band conditions were going to cooperate.
When noon hit, I was off and running. Switching back and forth between 40m and 20m, I made a total of 90 contacts in the next two hours, including three DX contacts. Not stellar, but not bad, either.
Having my WinKeyer certainly helped. As I’ve mentioned, the Omni VII doesn’t have a built-in memory keyer, meaning that in previous contests, I had to bang out the CQs myself. The WinKeyer improved the process immensely.
On Sunday, Jim, K8ELR, opened the station up around 12:30. I joined him about 2:15.
Unfortunately, the band conditions weren’t so good on Sunday. We managed to eke out only one CW contact on Sunday.
Next Saturday, April 24, we’ll be conducting another One-Day Tech Class. There’s still room, so if you know someone that would like to attend, have them e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.