The u.RAT Rides Again!

The u.RAT will be put into service – now that I have switched to the Grounded Loop / Inverted U low band antenna

On the left, the Spiderbeam aluminum mast used as a vertical – with Alumox between each joint, plus two hex head socket bolts and the clamps that came with the mast. On the right – 41′ of DX Engineering aluminum – Alumox and pop riveted between sections using short “fast taper” sections. 

I was able to get several of the push up masts from VK0EK during a warehouse sale at a good price. I’ve used two of them for verticals for the past year. Yesterday it took me much longer than I had expected to collapse one (one on the right not in this picture), because when Alumox gets old it causes galling because it dries up. I think I should have not used Alumox – and just relied on the bolts and clamps instead.

Anyway, I replaced the Spiderbeam mast that was on the right with this center DXE mast, and that was a great idea because it was much lighter and easier to put up. The job at hand was to take the two wires from the Mod Bob and join them – making an Inverted U antenna – with the top wire up 41′ and 70′ across. The Spiderbeam mast will be used to replace a shorter one that holds my 2 element yagi – in fact, now that I have this mast freed up – I can move the yagi to a place where I can get the antenna up 50′ – so big “win – win” . . . I will clean the mast up and use some kind of lubricant – maybe like graphite – so it will work as a pushup mast again.

This is my “mash up” control box for the u.RAT.

Inside the bottom of my funky but in a weird way – cool control box is a 12 / 5v converter, a switch and on light. It also has a terminal block for the control line connections

I was able to drop the new control line down into the shack and will pull the cable after work today in preparation for getting everything finalized on Saturday.

I still have to experiment trying to get the Grounded Loop to work – maybe using the u.RAT tuner instead of the Palstar BT1500A will do the trick – but if not, I’m already quite pleased that I have found a great solution already. On the air last night on 80M SSB I was told that my signal was excellent in many Western States, and I did hear DX on 80 and 160M. I think RBN was down – no spots on any band were posted, and I know 40M is a place where I easily am always picked up. I had a really strong QSO with Bill, ZS6CCY on 40M SSB – SP – he was over S9, and he said my signal was a solid S9 as well. On the ON4KST Chat this morning, others lamented the same thing. It still seems dead this morning.

So, now I am entering the final phase with only a few things left to do:

  1. Finish the control cable pull and wire up both ends
  2. Test the Grounded Loop to see if the u.RAT can handle it – possibly experiment some more with LC circuits
  3. Hang the weatherproof box and u.RAT on the new feedpoint vertical post. I need to replace that second capacitor with the inductor that I originally had on the board. That’s easy – and I have some minor other re-wiring to do
  4. Look into tweaking the u.RAT code – micro step and get the tuning to be a bit faster with the KPOD

The hard work was yesterday, but it was a nice “indian summer” day – after a cool spell we have had almost a week of 80 degree temperatures, but the forecast is 20 degrees cooler starting Sunday – and 10 degrees cooler tomorrow. It even hit 90 one day this week. I do expect that this is the last hurrah – and all I can say is we have had a consistently warmer Summer and even Fall – and there was a lot less fog this summer than usual. Now that I ride to and from work every day I actually seem more acclimated to the weather than I used to be.

I forgot to mention – I met Wayne, N6KR from Elecraft – he was the last presenter, and I told him about the u.RAT and he was very excited and was hoping that some would find another use for the KPOD. I had quite a few people give me very nice feedback and compliments on my presentation, and it was more fun than I expected. I usually give my presentation early and then leave – it was fun to hang for the entire seminar.

The ARRL wasn’t interested in the u.RAT or Mod-Bob articles I had hoped to be featured in QST, but Pacificon gave me all the validation I need – plus some great feedback this week on this here blog.

Most importantly, after all has been said and done – I have a real use for the u.RAT – and exactly as I had originally mounted the C and L components on the plywood “demo board”. That’s a cool feeling – the u.RAT was almost left for dead . . .

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