Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Busy, Busy, BUSY!

Well, at least I can't be accused of having idle hands.
I'm about 90% finished with my "Extend-A-Tower" project where I took a 4.5' Glen Martin Engineering rooftop tower and turned it into a 9' tower. I added 4' to the legs, and a bunch of cross-bracing to it. With what I spent for the aluminum angle and flat stock, and the cost of the hardware, I could have just *bought* the 9.5' tower! I would never do this again without properly sourcing the metal stock and nuts-and-bolts I used, a realization that hit me when I was over half way through this little project, and need to buy more metal stock and hardware! Yeeesh.....*another* one of my projects that took on a life of it's own and wound up taking twice as long as it should have. It's not that I don't know what I'm doing, it's just that once I got the leg extensions on and added some bracing, it was a little more 'flexible' than I wanted. Since I didn't want it to twist itself to death with the torque loads that the larger antennas I'm installing will cause, I added some "X" bracing to the sides. Well, the "X" bracing stiffened it up torsionally just fine, but the "X" braces themselves were kind of floppy owing to their length. So, I boxed the leg extensions with some more angle, centered on where the "X" braces crossed. The end result is this thing is really stiff, but looks more like an oil derrick than a Ham Radio tower. Fits right in with the history of oil exploration in Long Beach, though!
In the middle of all this I went back down to Harbor Freight and bought the little 48"x40" utility trailer I've had my eye on for some time. The plan is to mount the tower on the trailer making it transportable so I can tow it down to the Field Day site next year, and possibly to some remote sites so I can do some "Mountain Topping" in the VHF/UHF radio contests. The trailer is just about finished, so tomorrow I'll head over to Home Depot and get a piece of 3/4" plywood cut that will be the deck of the trailer. Later I'll get fancy and add some stakes and siding to it so I can load stuff into it without having to worry too much about it all falling out when I tow the rig! The next big contest is the ARRL September VHF QSO Party which is on the 14th, so if I keep my fingers and toes crossed, I *should* be able to get everything finished by this weekend, which will give me a week to test and debug the whole shebang. I've got the antennas rebuilt and ready to do the final testing on, and a pair of TE Systems 300 Watt amplifiers sitting in the garage just waiting to be used. My wife passed her Technician Class exam on Field Day, and is really excited about doing her first contest. She's watched me run several contests, and says it looks like a lot of fun. One big plus is that a female calling "CQ" will get a much better response than a guy, so I think she's going to find out what it's like to be the "Rare DX" on the receiving end of a pile-up!

I'll post some pictures of all the work after the dust settles, and I can download them from my camera......

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