Posted on July 21, 2019
Stack of JK-402’s from the JK Antenna’s web site
I’m very seriously considering this antenna. I like the idea of having 2 elements with coils out mid element – that is what I had on the 40M section of my N6BT DXU-32 and so I know its a great design. The (used) Cushcraft XM-240 fell through – so I will purchase something new.
The three yagi’s that are in the running at this point are the JK-402, N6BT DXr-240 and the Optibeam OB2-40
The winner will be the vendor who responds in a way where I feel comfortable with their service level. All three of these antennas are pretty much the same design.
Posted on July 20, 2019
The UrbanBeam right now is actually only up 45′, not the 50′ I thought. Its not a great DX antenna at this height – but it did seem to (usually) match the DX Engineering DV-40-P phased vertical array. I suspect that the DV-40-P had a pretty great low take off angle that beats a low 40M dipole. When I had the DXU-32 up only 50′, it was gang busters, that was the best 40M antenna I have ever had – but trying to get even a “Shorty 40” 2 element 40M yagi up high enough takes some effort. This is where the DV-40-P was a marvel – the bang you got for your buck – and the fact that it was very easy to maintain will always be a great memory.
However, I want what I had in the DXU-32, but only on 40M. Hence all of my interest in a 2 element “shorty 40” yagi.
Getting the UrbanBeam up to 65′ would make a very big difference for 40M (its a folded dipole there). Replacing it with a 2 element 40M yagi would be a major improvement over the UrbanBeam up 65′
The guying for the 4 additional tubes that I will be getting in about 2 weeks. I found the tubes on my nightly 75M Net – so that was a happy accident!
Ben at Ontario Surplus has the miscellaneous parts that I need – so I ordered 4 new clamps and 1 mid level guy ring. I’ll need some dacron guy rope too. Then I will be set. The yagi will be just above the top tube. I will not use a rotator – this way the antenna will stay up easily – it will be about 30 pounds less than the DXU-32 and also have a boom 10′ smaller than the DXU-32.
I don’t know when I’ll swap the antennas – I’m thinking I should keep the UrbanBeam up 65′ until switching to a 40M yagi makes best sense.
But at some point I expect I’ll make the switch.
Posted on July 20, 2019
The Cushcraft XM-240 gets great reviews even though some have derided the coils
I have a neighboring town Ham who has one of these for sale – and so its hard to pass up. This antenna has gotten great reviews – and besides a short time when Cushcraft was sold and transferred to MFJ, the reviews are all 5’s. There has been some discussion regarding the Q of the coils.
There is an article out there where a well known contester (W6NL) took an XM-240 and replaced the coils with Moxon style end capacitance loading. Its a really cool idea, but since I am not a contester or super DX-er who wants to squeeze every last drop of F/B and bandwidth, I’m not too concerned. I also found a Canadian Ham who did an evaluation of the coils and found that they weren’t worth replacing – that either keep the coils or go with the W6NL mod. For me, I’d just leave the original design. He did say to replace the silly self tapping coil screws with bolts – and I would do that.
The Mosley SF-402-A seems to be the best value, and is the smallest of the pack. It also has one really important characteristic – it doesn’t require trusses as the Cushcraft does. It also is the lightest – which is important – since the AB-577 is a big mast rather than a very sturdy lattice type tower. HOWEVER, my N6BT had a 28′ boom and was much heavier, so I know for a fact – any of these antennas can be supported by the AB-577 and well within safe limits – a lot more than the behemoth N6BT DXU-32.
The N6BT antenna might be a step up from the Mosley and still be reasonably priced. The DXU-32 I had was an excellent antenna – very well built and stayed up and worked like a champ for a couple of years. I am going to bet that the JK antenna is very much like the N6BT antenna. In fact, JK purchased Force-12 from the fellow who had owned it for a while – Innovantennas. Supposedly, JK Antennas have updated the old Force-12 line. JK gets great reviews as well – and he has great reviews on his technical support for antennas out in the field. I can’t justify the M2 or Optibeam due to price and what I would expect is expensive shipping. I will get a price for the Mosley SF-402-M – Mosley fans seem to love their antennas. The Cushcraft antenna – if offered for a great price would be really hard to pass up – HOWEVER – the trussing part bugs me a bit – I guess I would still at least go over and check it out.
I’ve also thought about the UrbanBeam – I would actually keep it and stash it away for the next 1.5 – 2 years. I expect that we will turn the corner as far as going from Cycle 24 to 25 next year, and then after that the higher bands would open up. The big problem with the 40M 2 element yagi – is I would kick myself if 3Y0I ends up being heard and workable on more than 40M – like 30 and 20M, and I don’t have an antenna up for those bands.
I am getting 4 more AB-577 tubes – which makes pondering about the 40M 2 Element Yagi worthwhile
I have a lot to ponder – and luckily no hurry to make a decision. But I know for a fact that there is no band that comes close to 40M for me – its a DX producing band every day, every month, and every year throughout the Solar Cycle – in fact, without it – I would have completely shut down my station at the bottom of Cycle 23 – when I was in hot pursuit of DXCC Honor Roll.
QRP with the Elecraft KX-2 and chasing DXCC – maybe 300 entities seems very possible and would take a long time – and would be a great challenge – I am really liking this idea.
The easiest thing to do is get the UrbanBeam up 15 – 20 more feet and see how it performs. That’s the path of least resistance. If I purchased my neighbors XM-240, I could stash it away and put it up when the spirit moves me – in the mean time I’d “Do nothing extra”.
More thinking required . . .
Posted on July 20, 2019
I will be getting 4 more AB-577 sections, and I sold my ALM-31 tower today, so it looks like I’m inching towards a 2 element 40M yagi. A nearby ham has a Cushcraft XM-240 – so if the price is right, I will go for it.
Bas, PE4BAS and Clarke, K1JX, have suggested that I try QRP DXCC and go for as many entities as possible. I really, really like this idea – and think the “award” will be QSL cards in a special QRP DXCC binder. I’m even thinking about trying to get to 300 entities using QRP and a 2 element 40M – so yeah – just stick to 40M, but have it up 65 – 70′. Also – maybe even just make it CW only . . . .
No pressure – take it as long as it takes, leverage contests where the Caribbean is easy to work and work Asia – OC – Pacific – which are always easy from here.
Posted on July 19, 2019
I live in California because of Aerospace, and my Father’s work on a project that paved the way for the first landing on the moon
In this document, my Father (who had changed his name from the German spelling) is listed as:
“Mr. A. Hallock acted as the Prime Manufacturing Coordinator”
He was a Mechanical Engineer by trade (after many years as a master machinist whose specially was CNC – like Pierro Begali), and was working for Thiokol Reaction Motors Division in Denville, NJ. The first Surveyor was one in a series that made it possible for Apollo 11:
My Father was the project manager for the “vernier propellant pressurizing gas tank”
Aerospace is very much a driving reason why I got into Ham Radio at age 13 in 1973. It is most definitely why I got into my career as a computer programmer – when in 1976, as WA2QHN, my fathers friend told me to Not become an EE – but get into software. I listened to him.
In 1969 we were supposed to move to Redlands, California, but that was put off for another 10 years. But again – Aerospace was the reason for our move. We ended up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which turned out to be a gift for me – I became Oracle employee 127 in 1984. My father and twin brother worked on the Space Shuttle tiles at Lockheed. I was a COBOL programmer at Lockheed before joining Oracle.
Its amazing to think that my Father landed on the beach at Normandy – drove to Stuttgart and gave his Grandfather a ride in his US Jeep. And then, years later, worked on the Surveyor – paving the way for Apollo 11, and years later working on the Space Shuttle. What a great career! I’ve always been inspired by that.
Yes, that was when America Was Great – and I only wish we had leaders in charge that weren’t so nasty and political – because America has always been great- and it was made that way by people like my Father – and so many others – in his generation and many before and after him. And like my Father – an Immigrant from Germany – the Great People in America are from all over this planet – the one that they marveled at from the Apollo 11 capsule.
Posted on July 19, 2019
It will be exciting to see what happens in 2020 with the solar cycle . . . Cycle 24 is getting long in the tooth . . .
Cycle 25 is on its way for sure – its just a matter when we turn the corner on Cycle 24. The graph above has the three possibilities – and it looks as though 2020 will let us know which of those tracks we will be travelling on.
I’ve been quite happy that even with the sunspot cycle at minimum, I can still hear VK / ZL / JA daily and also several EU stations. All of this has been on 40M – so I am still hearing DX in a way that keeps me turning on the radio. If I still had all of my Ham Radio Eggs in the DXCC Basket – I would be very frustrated – I haven’t worked an ATNO since VK0EK.
I think I will try QRP DXCC and also QRP WAS for a nice “easy going” set of awards to chase. It will be a very casual affair – and will be driven for my newfound love of my Single Lever Begali keys.
I still marvel at the fact that this Grande Olde KWS-1 Transmitter is 100% responsible for:
I started going down a nostalgic path trying out a few Bugs and other keys, and by wiring up the Begali Intrepid as a single lever paddle for the KWS-1 – my “happy accident” has led for me to sell all of my other keys – even my beloved K3ZN dual lever paddles, and now I only have 3 keys in the shack – the HST III, Sculpture Mono and this Begali straight key:
As far as 2019 trends here at KY6R – besides completely updating my shack – which I love more than ever – I’d rank these Ham Radio activities as the “stars of the show”, and in this order:
- Re-learning CW with Single Lever Begali Keys
- Learning how to use a Signal Generator and an oscilloscope while working on the KWS-1
- Getting “hoodwinked” into getting the Gold Dust Twins restored, on the air and operational
- Completing a restore of a National SW-3 and listening to it daily with AM radio station KPIG – what a joy
- Getting another AB-577 – the first of which I never should have sold!
- Getting into QRP – something I did try just before I got into DXCC Chasing back in 2001 – but which has just been a thought that I have carried in the cobwebs of my mind since about 1998 or so . . .
OK – its been a huge Ham Radio year for me. I just wrote that using my Jack Kerouac wannabe “stream of consciousness” writing style, and I find it interesting that hoping to work Bouvet was eclipsed by these other things.
We are almost into August – the 8th month of the year, which means we are only 1 month away from the 4th quarter. WOW – time has sped by – and thankfully I came out of the rough first quarter unscathed and like a champ. As bad as the first quarter was for me – I learned a very valuable lesson at work – and how to better deal with the way that IT has changed. I also learned that – like being on a plateau when trying to lose weight – never, ever give up – no matter how frustrating things get. In both of these things I have risen out of the ashes of what could have been a failure and both have ended up being a phoenix rising. In fact, at work yesterday I had full validation and even vindication from something really shitty that happened to me at the end of last year at work – and how the work I am doing is now the #1 Priority at my new job – preparing the company for CCPA – the US version of GDPR. Talk about a complete turn around. The moral to that story is that I was just about a year and a half ahead of management as far as corporate data management is concerned. In retrospect – that has always been the case I guess.
Speaking of patience and perseverance . . .
Don’t get me wrong – I sure hope that 3Y0I does make it to Bouvet this year – even with it being at the bottom of the cycle. If this fellow ever gets back to me about those 3 or 4 AB-577 extension tubes – I will have the UrbanBeam up to 65′ – a half wave on 40. And you never know – I could also have a real “wild hair” and end up with 2 elements on 40M before the year is done.
Going back to the beginning of this blog – we are pretty much already at rock bottom of this solar cycle. I believe that if 3Y0I does make it – my only chance to work them will be on 40M.
At my age – I feel I have just enough time left to snag Bouvet and Glorioso, but while I am waiting – look at all of the fun and education that I have had just this year in Ham Radio. The issue isn’t my age – its the fact that I think we are past “Peak DXCC”. You have no doubt noticed that there just aren’t many announcements regarding Top 10 DXCC activations. Contrast this with 2016 – where there were about 5 – if I remember right.
Its very important to try new and different things in this hobby – even if its “Older Things”.
Posted on July 19, 2019
The diminutive Elecraft KX-2
My “very serious” DXing days lasted from 2001 – 2013 for Honor Roll, and I stayed high energy “OCD” throughout about 2016, mainly because of my involvement as co-organizer of VK0EK. Heard Island is my last ATNO.
My wife said I could go to Heard Island, and after some soul searching I knew where I drew the line. I was an unapologetic armchair DXer, and had zero interest in going – I was actually kind of surprised, because I had had some thoughts previous about some day going on a DXpedition.
So, what was all that DXCC jazz about?
I loved those years and have fond memories. Besides work, there are very few things in my life that I stuck with that long. In fact, that “run” was about as long as my first marriage. I find that pretty funny, actually.
Getting the SW-3 on line was a pretty easy challenge, but the Gold Dust Twins were a bigger deal. They were fun for the education and the challenge.
I see QRP and improving my CW as the next challenge. It really works because at the bottom of the cycle, any HF QSO is great, and QRP makes it even a bigger deal.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my IC-7300 – it’s a keeper, especially since mine cost $900 something – the best value rig I’ve ever had.
I found a KX-3 is as new condition for half what it plus it’s accessories would cost, so one will arrive here next week.
The Red Hot 40 and NorCal40A are collector items like the Gold Dust Twins – cool rigs to put on the air from time to time.
Let’s see where this QRP path takes me.