Monday, June 10, 2013

"Silk Pursing" for Field Day 2013

Well, since I'm feeling much better, I reversed my decision to not operate at Field Day this year, but I will be scaling things down a bit.

Rather than bringing the "big" tower, seen in the background, I've come up with this smaller, lighter, and easier to handle replacement.

It's based on a Rohn "Non Penetrating Roof Mount" leftover from when I ran my community wireless (WiFi) Hot Spot back at my bachelor pad. The rotator is about 5-1/2 feet off the ground, with another 24 inches of mast sticking out of the top. Up on top of the stub mast will go the elevation rotator:

The four studs sticking up out of the housing are part of a set of clamps Yaesu calls a "Separation Kit", which allows you to split the Azimuth and Elevation motors and mount them separately. The two halves of the clamp spread apart, then slip over the stub mast, and you tighten the bolts to clamp it down.

Through the elevation rotator will go a tubular fiberglass cross-boom with a wood dowel inside so you don't crush the tube when you tighten the clamps, and mounted on the cross-boom will be the "Dual Band Easy Satellite Antenna" I purchased several years ago from Gulf Alpha Antennas.

I'm calling this "Silk Pursing" because I'm making it up out of bits and pieces I've had laying around. The rotators and cross-boom were going to be used on my "New And Improved" portable satellite station I was building to use for the even on the Iowa a while back. That got canned because the "Heavy Duty" eBay tripod I bought wasn't, and I busted the legs on it. The antenna was bought for previous Field Day events, worked extremely well, and got stored in the rafters when I built the "big" tower, and the preamps I'll be using came from a couple of places.

Coax I have by the spool, and connectors by the box!

I should be able to get the rotors and antenna all put together in the next day or two, test them, calibrate the rotor position pots and see how well it plays with the control software, and possibly be On-The-Air with it Sunday.

Set up at the Field Day site is in 10 days, and the clock is ticking......


  1. That looks like a seriously good time. I'm glad you are on the mend.

  2. Yep, it's always fun when things work!

    Which is why I generally start a few weeks early to do a full-on setup and operation.

    I'm getting a really late start this year, but since this is pretty much what I always use, except for the rotators, it generally runs OK.

    I have no doubt that the laptop will run the radio A-OK, and I just powered up the rotor and checked that the Azimuth motor runs, and it does.

    I'll do the same for the Elevation motor in a few minutes.

    Now I have to do a "preinstallation calibration" which compensates for the cable resistance, find and mark "NORTH" on the mast (which I just did) so I'll know how to position it at the Field Day site.

    Then I have to mount the Elevation rotor on the stub mast, mount the antenna, preamps and diplexer and "zero" out any Elevation error, and I *should* be good-to-go.

    If all goes well tonight I might be able to run the whole shebang, radio and all, and make a few contacts tomorrow. If not, I'll fix what isn't working, and try it again.

    And I feel much better compared to the first week or two after I was released from the hospital.

    Believe me, there are claw marks and footprints on the walls from me trying to climb them after a few days of no caffeine and no nicotine!

  3. Nice way to look at it, and takes the pressure off from the wife to 'throw that junk out'... :-)

  4. Both rotator motors are now calibrated!

    Since there's still plenty of daylight left, I'm going to mount the antenna and other stuff, and tip it back up to vertical.

    This little guy is MUCH easier to manhandle around than the full-on 9' tower with the big mast and TWO antennas!

    Old_NFO: She stopped complaining about all the stuff I've collected after I dug around in the garage numerous times, and found some item I needed to either fix something around the house, or fix something of hers!

    She's really pretty good about it, and after seeing me fix some of my own stuff "In The Heat of Battle", she understands why I have multiple spares for all my stuff.


Keep it civil, please....