Up persicope

Up persicope – ON5ZO emerges from the deep sea.

What do you hate the most about ham radio?

Storms especially on contest weekends.

Why is that?

I can’t crank up the tower then and storms might damage the tower and antennas.

Like the WPX SSB weekend two months ago?

Exactly. I didn’t want to compete with the tower up since there was a warning for strong winds especially on Sunday and Monday. Good thing I left the tower down. Sunday noon one of the strongest gusts in years managed to move the 40m dipole so it shifted almost 45° off.

So once again the antennas got affected without real damage?

Yes although I got away pretty well. Some guys had less luck. ES5TV reported his 15m stack tower got blown over. It was a nasty storm that continued Monday.

Was that really the only reason you skipped WPX SSB?

No. I haven’t been in a ham radio mood for months. Too much going on at once and possibly a hobby burn out. I’m still heavily into ham radio but low on energy and needing to focus on a few other things.

And what about DXing?

I haven’t been into DXCC for years. Couldn’t care less. I wanted to work my friends at EP6T in January but the things I heard on the air made my ears bleed. I managed only one QSO. I couldn’t spend much time in the shack and found it a waste of time to try to listen to the mess. What are those people trying to achieve? Disgusting!

Exactly. But I assume you at least tried to log the ultra rare K1N? It won’t return on the air in over a decade, maybe two?

Couldn’t care less! On two occasions I listened and heard the same pathetic behavior. Is this what the hobby is becoming? Oh boy! I feel sorry for the people who prepare such a DXpedition years in advance and spend thousands of Euros (EP6T) or Dollars (K1N) to find themselves facing a bunch of undisciplined and utterly unskilled pigs. I came across an active DXer a few weeks ago and he raised the issue too and said he’s losing his interest in DXing because of the situation.

I see. Your last blog entry was almost two months ago. What gives?

Same story. There have been days when there was almost a full day between shutting down and booting the laptop. I don’t want to spend much time in front of a screen and keyboard. Lack of time, not in a writing mood and what to write about on a ham radio blog when there is no radio activity? I notice the same with the SJ2W blog: Mike has been slow in adding stuff because of being busy with other things. Adding content takes time. And AE5X stone cold pulled the plug on his excellent blog.

Hasn’t there been the slightest bit of ham radio in your life lately?

Sure. I picked up the UBA DX log checking a while ago. I have been preparing and collecting parts for a summer construction project. And I have been wondering a lot about doing something new in ham radio for a change. Rather different than new. I still want to contest and nothing else but right now I feel I have done all I can do from here. How can I possibly do better? Without adding imaginary 160m multipliers to the log that is!

Lets return to the tower and antennas after that stormy Sunday. Now what?

I have been staring at the crooked setup for weeks on end. I hate tower work. Titling the tower is easy but working on the antennas is not. Especially in a one man show. Ladders on a bumpy lawn, your head bumping against yagi elements and pulleys. Leaning on a 350 kg mast that is only held by a 7mm stainless steel rope. I put two strong wooden beams under it to support it just in case. And once again I am confronted with the poor engineering of the tower company. They placed the tower raising winch on the side of the triangle that normally lies on the ground. OT1A has the same model from the same manufacturer and it’s on the side of his tower. I wonder why they screwed up. But that’s another story. I wonder how I managed to install the yagi all alone in 2007?

Anyway I wanted to realign the antennas before WPX CW. I have postponed this job long enough so a few days ago the WX was fine and I convinced myself to finally do it. After the storm I was convinced that it was the 40m rotary dipole that got shifted. The optibeam muffler clamp style fixing is too weak for such a big antenna. My own reengineered boom-to-mast clamp for the yagi is way stronger so it’s only normal this antenna doesn’t move. But the more I stared at the antennas, the more it became clear. The 40m dipole didn’t move. It was the yagi that got blown off the right bearing. Somehow my heavy duty clamp has failed after all these years.

It consists of two high pressure clamping blocks with M10 bolts. These are tightened with a split washer, a normal nut and a second locking nut. This should be pretty tight and stay tight, right? Not so. I couldn’t rotate the boom on the mast by hand but I only had to loosen the nuts just a tad before I could adjust the boom and shift the 20m driver parallel to the 40m dipole. Somehow the dual nut combination had weakened. The storm gust was strong enough to make the antenna shift. It wasn’t easy to reach the nuts because the yagi feed system and current balun was in the way. It blocked the view and the access of the wrench. That was not the case when I installed the antenna! Anyway I think and hope it’s tight enough now. And I even have stronger hope for such a storm not to return. The 20m driver and the 40m rotary dipole haven’t been aligned this nice since I installed it four years ago.

What’s the last thing you did related to ham radio?

Write this blog post of course!

And before that?

Yesterday ON3DI and I went to one of the EP6T presentations. Speaking was ON7RU. It was a nice presentation and a was glad to see some familiar faces I hadn’t spoken in a long time.

What’s next?

Dunno. Probably WPX CW but I have no clue what category. SB or All Band? What’s the propagation like? I haven’t turned my rigs on in two months. That must be a new record…   ☺


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