Winter 2010 @ ON5ZO

Traditionally Winter (2nd half of December) is the time of the year that I am the most QRV. The nature of my job as a teacher makes for a lot of free time when it’s finally up to the students to do something. Like studying and making exams. So I can spend some time in the shack. Low bands on SR/SS, some smaller contests, hanging out on 30m – my favourite band.

This year there was an additional challenge: work 9Q50ON as much as I can. A Belgian DXpedition with a couple of Belgium’s finest and nicest operators. It turned out not to be easy. Their signals weren’t the strongest at times and there were huge pile ups. And it seems they had a hard time copying signals, according to their website. Anyway last week I was chasing them on 17m but it didn’t really work. Something was wrong – then I saw it: the amp was going crazy. But the root cause was not the amp, it was the WARC dipole. SWR had gone up and I don’t not how or what. It might be water in the coax, or something went wrong with the antenna. But since the antenna still works on 12m, the coax must be OK. I suspect it is ice/snow/water/condensation in the coil. Because 12m still works, which is the part before the coil/trap, it must be that. First the amplifier problem the week before CQ WW CW. Now the WARC antenna.

I decided to keep the amplifier here for another month and use it with the workaround. I keep the amp active as long as I’m in the shack and switch it off so it can cool down when I’m not around for a while. It’s a BIAS circuit that drifts with time/temperature. Traditionally January is my ‘no shack month’ so I’ll have it fixed then. And if WX is fine, I’ll look into the WARC dipole then too. All other antennas are OK for contesting, so it isn’t really that urgent. Too bad for 30m right now. So I quickly put up a 30m “sloping vertical dipole” on Friday. Best DX on that was VK9NN yesterday around 9.30 UTC which is 2 hours past my sunrise.

With the WARC antenna broken, I contemplated all other options. Move to a bigger yagi covering 40m? Switch to a 5 band yagi (20/17/15/12/10) and install a 40/30m rotary dipole? OptiBeam now has the OB11-5, which is my beam OB11-3 with additional coupled elements for 17/12m. I informed if you could upgrade the OB11-3 to an OB11-5 but ‘no go’. Then go for the German OptiBeam 30/40m dipole or the French DXBeam model? The French costs half of the German antenna. But a user of the French model told me the German dipole is mechanically better engineered (less droop/sag). So many options that it drives me crazy. So to keep my peace of mind I decided to keep things as they are for now and try to fix the WARC dipole. It seems I can order the Fritzel coil/traps at the German Hofi dealer. That will be the quickest and most important: the cheapest solution.

I called CQ on 80m on Friday evening. Some loud USA, a dozen JA’s (woohoo) and a DS5. South-Korea might be a new one on 80m! And I managed to put 9Q50ON in the log on 80m too. Then they moved to 160m. I could hear them FB but the pile up was huge and it was almost 1AM local time. So I quit and went to bed. Next up: ARRL 10m contest. That one doesn’t even deserve a dedicated posting.

Against common sense, but you never know what might happen. That was my attitude towards this year’s ARRL 10m contest. A tribander with 5 elements for 10m at 22m above the ground, there are worse things to have. On Saturday morning, I could work some local EU in a 2000 km range, with the occasional UA9 between 3000 km and 5000 km away. But not many and no strong signals. Around 9.15 UTC I got called by 2 ZL3’s in a 5 minute time span. Getting their call was very hard yet the easy part. Then trying to get the number… The VK3 and the VK6 were much easier to copy. I managed to log 3 HS0’s too, quite strong and easily worked.

In the afternoon I had high hopes for some USA. The first one I heard was K1LZ around 14.00 utc. He wasn’t loud at all but good copy and no QSB. But he kept throwing CQ’s at me. Fine, maybe someone else? The first I could actually work was K1TO. The following hour I worked 24 USA stations, of which 15 came from Florida. No caribean. I tried to work a WP4/KP3 (don’t rememeber) but no go. Even the Brazillians were weak and harder to work than usual. The band died and so did my motivation. Saturday was a huge disappointment.

Sunday was even worse. All EU I heard was already in the log. In the afternoon I tried for some USA. VY2ZM was loud when I worked him on Saturday, he was very light on Sunday. The propagation barometer pointed to ‘go process the pile of QSL cards’. I stumbled across a weak KC1XX but all I could squeeze out was a ‘QRZ’, an ‘AGN’ and a couple of dididahdahdidi’s. I was about to go watch some TV (I hate processing QSL cards) when the S-meter got spastic. ‘…LZ’. Huh? K1LZ? S9++? Must be a local… No it was indeed K1LZ, S9+. I called him and we had a brief exchange of information about actual RST and antennas, but he went down to S3 and less during the 1 minute QSO. I worked another 2 light NA’s and then called it a day. No propagation, and heavy QSB on the signals that were there.

I came on HF late 2000 and played low power with a 3 element monobander on 10m only 8m high during 2001-2002. I can’t wait to have those conditions again with a bigger and higher antenna. Maybe in 2023?

2 replies on “Winter 2010 @ ON5ZO”

Comment on the Fritzel WARC dipol…

No need to buy parts…..just do an overhaul of the antenna/traps.

We have the WARC dipol at our clubstation as well – together with a FB-53.

I did a complete clean-up of the antennes 3 years ago.
Took all elements and traps apart, cleaned everything and put it together again..
Time consuming with the FB-53 and WARC dipole but the result in the end was very good.

– washed everything in hot water
– used Scotch-brite
– sanded with wet-sanding paper 2000
– polished everything with AutoSol polish for aluminium.
– made new end caps for the traps out of Raychem heath shrink tubing with glue.

Here is link to some photos.

The first 7 taken during the cleaning process. The rest from assembly and installation of the antennas. (mast is 21m)
All exterial of the antenna was in the end sanded light down, and sprayed with clear paint. QTH is a short distance from the North Sea with a lot of salt in the air……

73 de LA8AW – Odd-Egil

Couldn’t you even go with a shortened 2el yagi? They are pretty small and light weight and adds additional performance. But if not, sure the dipole should kick the ass out of the vert.

Your board is on the way, should arrive sometime this week.

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