The Nighthauler

This massive vertical is called the Nighthauler because it’s the antenna that can haul ass on the night time bands  — the bands that are open at night.

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We’re definitely out on the prairie.  The radiating element is a DX Engineering ATK65A Telescoping Aluminum Antenna Tubing Kit, described here:

ATK65A kits consist of 11 slow-taper 6-ft. sections and one heavy-wall section of DX Engineering’s rugged 6063-T832 aluminum tubing and include all stainless-steel element clamps. The bottom section is the 2.0-in. outside-diameter heavy-wall that mates up to 2-1/8 in. diameter tubing, and then back to 2-in. diameter for the first 12-ft. length. The sections continue to taper down to 7/8-in. diameter at the top.

Of course hams are never happy with a stock product so it’s modified slightly for improved performance.  A couple of additional tubing sections are added at the top for a total of 69 feet of height along with four top hat wires.   The four wires that make up the top hat are 16 feet long and are the first 16 feet of the top guy wire.  The remainder of the guy is Dacron “Antenna Rope” as are all the other guys.

The 16 foot top hat elements, which are actually the guy wires at the top, can be seen in this photo.

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A raising fixture was constructed to help with tilting up the slightly unwieldy mast.   It’s the red thing on the left in the picture above.   The mast is just too much to handle alone without some additional leverage.  The fixture consists of a ten foot pole ( which no one would touch, lol )  a pulley at the top and a winch at shoulder height. A rope goes from the winch to the pulley to an attachment point on the aluminum element about half way up.  The point was picked to allow the top half to flex but not too much and to allow the bottom half to sag but not too much.  Kind of what Goldilocks was looking for.

Unfortunately even the raising fixture was not enough.  The mast bowed out sideways as it was raising, damaging the tilt up base.  A single set of guys was placed at the midpoint of the intended mast.  Most of the top half was left on the ground for a while.  We had to settle for a 45 foot antenna due to not being able to raise the mast with the top 25 feet attached. The top hat didn’t make it either.   Back to the drawing board.

December 27, 2016 Update – Two more sections were added successfully; that is, the mast didn’t bow out as it was being raised.  The four top hat radials were added, too.  It’s now 56 feet tall and an electrical equivalent of 67 feet with the top hat included.  We heard China on 80 meters the next morning.  Batteries were too weak to attempt a call which was the perfect excuse to upgrade to a new set of golf cart batteries. Future plans include adding a second winch and rope to the raising fixture.  This might bring the excessive bending under control while lifting and lowering.   -0-

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An antenna analyzer should show the resonant frequency to be 2.9 MHz.  This frequency between the 160 meter band and 80 meter band is about perfect for a tuner to match on multiple bands.  An SGC SG-230 automatic antenna coupler is connected at the base between the radial field and the vertical radiating element.

Performance is expected to be good.  The first qso will probably be on 80 or 160 meters with Afghanistan or Somalia or something like that. Ya, right.

Progress On New Site

Today was a milestone because we got Internet installed and made the first remote base qso on a test antenna.  It is the vertical on the right in this picture which is a EF-20 end fed half wave on a fiberglass pole. Notice the new Internet dish on the roof. It brings in Internet from 7 miles away but it also produces a birdy in the center of the 60 meter band. That birdy will have to be worked out. ( Clamping on a couple of ferrite toroids completely eliminated the birdie.)

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Progress was also made today on the main low band vertical antenna by completing the radial field.  It is made up of 4 radials each 4 feet wide consisting of welded wire fencing laid flat and held in place with landscape pins.  Below is one radial.  The vertical element will  be 60 feet tall with a top hat.

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The equipment has been moved up from the Elizabeth site and re-used.   Even the welded wire fencing was painstakingly removed and brought up to Strasburg.