Transmitter Failure at Elizabeth

Bulletin:  Transmitter at the Elizabeth site is not putting out any power.  Receiver is working and all other functions seem to be normal.  Transceiver is drawing about one-third normal current when placed in transmit mode.

This symptom appeared last night immediately after a thunderstorm.  We suspect lightning damage, of course.  A site visit is planned for today to swap out the transceiver and Remote Rig and to make a visual inspection.

Update:  Kenwood USA gave me by email a test to run which I had already run and it failed.  Kenwood said to send it in which I will do asap.  Meanwhile a used replacement TS-480 has been purchased and should be here Thursday.  Although this seemed to be a surge failure at first no other equipment failed simultaneously.  It may turn out to be heat related as we are currently in mid summer heat in this part of the world.

Update 8/15/2016:  One can of spray paint later the box is now white.  The hope is white will keep the cabinet from overheating in the hot afternoon sun.  Originally the cabinet was supposed to be located in the shadow of the panels.  At construction time we were one T-post short.  Moving the cabinet to the side solved that issue but left it in the sun in the late afternoon.  A bad scenario.  The best fix is to move it to where it was designed to go in the fitst place.

We have the new replacement TS-480 radio installed and we’re back on the air at last from the Elizabeth, Colorado remote base station.  Hooray.

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“End of Story” update – September 29, 2016 –  Kenwood says the transceiver needs a new final RF board at a cost of $350.  Considering these radios are only $600 used, I decided to not fix it and repurpose the front panel for a test unit.  When it comes back from Kenwood the base unit will go on ebay or qrz for parts.

A few months later Ham Repair in Dallas was discovered and the repair only cost $165.  A much better solution than Kenwood technical support.  http://www.hamrepair.com/

Meanwhile I installed a fan in the white cabinet along with a thermostat to turn it on when the temp is above 84 degrees F.   Better late than never.

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Progress on Parker Remote

Yesterday was successful at the second remote base installation.  We exposed the original concrete and it is big enough to bolt the new folding plate to.  We got the 120 VAC electrical completed and working.  And we were able to raise the tower to 45 degrees as a proof of concept that the winch and folding plate will work. Here is the folding plate with two of the four expansion bolts installed into the concrete.

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Here’s the beautiful rig half way up with the new aluminum tubing extending the height to 50 feet.  A very light weight 20 meter half wave dipole will be installed at the tip of the aluminum tubing.  Sixteen foot crappie poles from Walmart will support the dipole.

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Coax will run inside the tubing to a balun feeding the dipole.

September 29, 2016  –  The Internet was installed at the end of August and we have been working stations for the past month successfully.

Back On The Air

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Back on the air with a completely new replacement antenna.  This time it’s aluminum instead of fiberglass but it has the same dimensions.  DX Engineering supplied the tubing and also supplied a tilt over base that makes raising and lowering much easier.  In the foreground above is the trusty ole Spiderbeam fiberglass pole with a PAR EF-20 end fed half wave antenna attached.  It has survived storm after storm with no guys at all.  Two of the guys on the new aluminum pole serve as a top hat for loading the low bands.  The relay to change bands is out of the circuit and the system is now dedicated to the low bands.  Below is a shot of the new tilt over base with the SGC SG-230 automatic antenna tuner installed on the new mounting post.

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Testing the antenna tonight it seems to be performing as well as the old antenna.  Contacts were made with JT65 on 40 meters, 80 meters, and even on 60 meters. Pskreporter showed multiple spots of this station on 40 meters from Europe and one from South Africa in addition to spots from all over North America.  Not bad for the middle of July. On 80 meters several contacts were made with U.S. and Canadian stations. One contact was made with Mexico and a spot on pskreporter was posted by a station in Brazil.  It’s looks like it’s going to work well. It’s amazing to know that contacts can be made on 80 meters in the summer despite static and typically low propagation expectations.

In a previous post it was mentioned that this pole is capable of going up to 65 feet.  Today a height of 40 feet was tested with no coax inside and no dipole at the tip.  It seemed to be right at it’s maximum stress.  Had we gone up higher or added coax or an antenna to the load the pole didn’t seem strong enough to keep from collapsing.  We were content with emulating the previous antenna of 39 feet high and left it at that. In the future it might be possible to accomplish 65 feet with an improved raising fixture.

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