29 July 2014

Adventure Radio Society Flight of the Bumblebees 2014

I operated in this fun event which is sponsored by the Adventure Radio Society and known as the 'Flight of the Bumblebees'. This year I was Bumblebee #94.


This is a 4 hour event where QRP stations operate from the field for a period of 4 hours. The operating time this year being Sunday July 27th from 1pm - 5pm eastern.

I set up in a lovely spot overlooking Lake Jordan which is about 20 minutes from our home. Using my trusty Norcal 40A and an End-Fed Halfwave. The weather was hot and humid but with a slight breeze.

Band conditions were terrible (to use an understatement). There were a number of stations that I copied that could not copy me. There was a period of an hour in the middle of the contest where I failed to make a contact hi! I know that Paul AA4XX who was operating from Topsail Island NC experienced the same poor band conditions.

Always an enjoyable event and a nice chance to get out into the woods.

Lets hope the Skeeter Contest in August will see better condx.

26 July 2014

Excalibur 2 Project. Final Takedown.

Today was a good day at Excalibur 2. The weather was hot and steamy!

  1. Roof Shingles removed to the dump site.
  2. Rood trusses dismantled.
  3. Wall Framing taken down.
  4. Flooring removed.

Next Steps:
  1. Lift the Floor Frame.
  2. Remove the foundation concrete blocks.
  3. Install the black plastic sheeting.


Floor Frame. Not much of the insulation has survived. Why? Was it carted off by critters?

20 July 2014

Excalibur 2 Project. Shack Rebuild Procedure


I thought that this information would add huge value to the Knightlites archives and body of knowledge. After all, Amateur Radio covers not only radio, but a huge range of allied disciplines including the all important construction of the radio shack.

This information was compiled by Sir Marty W4MY. Marty has great experience in construction. The Knightlites have a fantastic range of experiences to draw on. Here is one very practical example. Thanks Sir Marty!

At this stage the shack has been disassembled down to the floor frame. This frame currently sits on concrete blocks a few inches above the ground. The timber used for the floor frame is pressure treated timber.

The original Excalibur 1 shack was a kit purchased from one of the hardware stores in the area and really intended as a garden shed. The aim now is to rebuild the shack and to make it more comfortable for the anticipated many amateur radio operations. Also to ensure that the shack will withstand the test of time.

Herewith the procedure from Sir Marty (format editions and small clarifications by N4HAY).

The rise of EXCALIBUR 2. Shack Rebuild Procedure

1.      Lift the floor off its present location and add an additional course of blocks to make the floor clear the ground by 6 inches.

2.      Put a single piece of 6 mil plastic sheet directly on the ground under the block stack.  If a single sheet is not possible, overlap the seams by12 inches.  

3.      Place rolled batten insulation and staple between the floor joists with the paper side facing the ground.  

4.      Install steel flashing between the top course of blocks and lowest part of the wood floor. This is for termite protection.  It comes in 6 inch wide strips about 30 gauge thick (1/16" approx).  It can be nailed to the bottom of the floor in the area where it will rest on the top course of concrete block.  

5.      Level is very important. Rig a simple "hydraulic" level to do this.  You need a bucket of water and about 20 feet of clear fish tank tubing.  

6.      Install the sub floor. This must be 5/8" C-D plywood with the "C" side facing up.  

7.      Place roofing tar paper sheet on top, overlapping about 6" and sealing with general purpose "roofing tar" commonly dispensed in a caulk tube. 

8.      Frame the walls, door, and windows on top of the sub floor.  

9.      Place OSB board on the outside of the wall framework.  

10.   Frame roof and ceiling.  Use 1/2" plywood on roof, not OSB.  

11.   Do not sheet ceiling or soffits at this time.  

12.   Install ridge vent, tar paper, drip edge and shingles on roof.  

13.   Structure is now "dried in"

14.   Install Owens Corning 1/2" foam board on top of OSB walls,

15.   Wrap entire four walls with Tyvek vapor barrier.  

16.   Cut out windows and door openings.  

17.   Seal edges of Tyvek with construction adhesive. 

18.   Install finish floor on top of tar paper with 1/2" "Pressboard". Not OSB

19.   Sheet facia and soffits and install soffit vents. 

20.   Install electrical wiring.   

21.   Install batt insulation on walls between the studs, paper side facing inside.  

22.   Install batt insulation between ceiling rafters with paper side facing down. 

23.   Sheet interior walls and ceiling with 3/8" drywall.  

24.   Finish interior drywall and seal.  

25.   Install siding to exterior walls,

26.   Paint/finish as required.  

27.   Finish floor (Linoleum suggested) 

28.   Hang windows and doors

29.   Finish interior trim.  

30.   Paint inside. 

31.   Move/Build furniture 

32.   Knightlights enjoy!

13 July 2014

Excalibur 2 Project. Roof removed.

The roof has now been removed.

Thank you to the man (or woman) who invented the crow bar...

Next step will be to clean up and remove the roof trusses.

Phew this was good exercise!

Tools for the job. QROO, QRO, QRP, QRPp 


Field Day 2014

The Knightlites (www.knightlites.org) field day operation this year was superb. Everything about the event was pure enjoyment. Thank you to all who contributed to make this the best ham radio event I have ever experienced!

Thank you.

Here below enjoy the details and some pics.

Dates:   06/28/2014 - 06/29/2014
Times; 1800 UTC Saturday through to 2059 UTC Sunday
Location:  35.631, -78.692. Horse Pastures at the farm of Paul AA4XX
WX:  Mild and Dry. Excellent
Propagation:  (ARLP026), Solar Flux 100,105. A Index 8,12. 10m and 6m bands did not open

LOGGING SOFTWARE:  N1MM used by all stations.

       AA4XX      Paul
      W4MY        Marty
      WD4NAL   Julius
      WA4GIR     Joe
      N3GO         Gary
      WF4I          Derek
      KD4PBJ     Chris
      TBD            Alex (Harmonic of Sir Chris)
      AB4PP        JP
      N4HAY      Dick
      KC4PHJ     Alex
      WN4OFT   John

       KK4BVN Dan
       W4USR    Dennis
       Chris, harmonic of Sir JP's AB4PP
       Ty, harmonic of Chris and sub harmonic of  AB4PP
       Brian friend of Chris
       AJ4MJ     Justin and harmonic Lizzie
       W4VOC  Doug (Whiskey 4 Voice of Carolina)
        K4PHS   Pete

        Kim (Marty's XYL) and Kim's friend, Tina



BANDPASS FILTERS: Reference http://www.kitsandparts.com/W3NQN_May_June_1998_QST.pdf
Used on all HF Bands

TRIPLEXER: Reference June 2010 QST by K6KV. Interfaced to the KLM 10m, 15m, 20m Yago array and to the 3 accompanying stations.

12V Battery system supplied by Solar Power. Laptops ran on inverters which were powered by the 12V Battery systems. More details as follows:
AC Delco Marine deep-cycle battery, 95 ahr reserve capacity (@20A/hr rate)
PowerFilm R-13 flexible solar "panel" providing 13mA charging at greater than 12VDC in full sun
Charge controller is a SunGuard 12V/4.5A unit
Field deployable 50ft, sectioned, Aluminum Mast from the Vietnam Era and used to deploy point to point microwave horns by the US military. More details to be provided by W4MY)

Sirs: AA4XX(Paul), KC4PHJ(Alex), N3GO(Gary), WA4GIR(Joe). Coupling to Sir Gary's FB Broadcast Band Rx Loop

Intense discussion about important matters!
Sirs: AB4PP(JP), WN4OFT(John), AA4XX(Paul), WF4I(Derek), WD4NAL(Julius), KC4PHK(Alex),  KK4BVN(Dan)

Sir Gary N3GO looking for the tuning knob

Tent City with Sir Marty W4MY's Rocket Launcher Mast. Vietnam Era.

Sir Chris (harmonic of Sir JP AB4PP) gave us a superb demo of his Drone system. Thanks Chris!
Now how can we use one to hold up a TopBand vertical?

Sir Chris with the Knights looking on as the drone sends hi def video back to earth

Sir Dennis W4USR and Sir Doug W4VOC waxiing lyrical during their visit. 

Sir Marty's Teardrop QRP accommodation and accompanying  social tent and kitchen.
We had some fantastic eyeball ragchews in this area.

Left 6M/2M tent. Center  20m, 15m stations & Right was the 10m tent.

Sir Marty's main Boma where the Indaba takes place (as we would say in Africa) 

Sir JP operating the 40m station and using the KX3. Supplied by Sir Joe WA4GIR. Thanks Joe! 

CQ Field Day! Harmonic Sir Alex working FD stations under the watchful eye of Sir Chris. Well it doesn't get better than this! Chris says that Alex has been asking a lot of questions about Ham Radio since FD. WAYTAGO! 

View from the 20m position. The Argo VI paired with the KLM Yagi was a superb setup. Thanks Sir Marty and Sir Paul!

The Rocket Launcher supporting the HF, 6M and 2M antennas

Pure beauty!

Sir Marty beginning the take down. What a wonderful  set up this was!

72 de Dick N4HAY

12 July 2014

Excalibur 2 Project. Siding removed

Good progress today. All the siding is now off. Next step is to remove the roof starting with the shingles.

AA4XX at the Key!

11 July 2014

Balanced Feedline Loss test. How could it be done?

How can different balanced feed lines be tested for loss?

Since  the feedpoint impedances are all different then the attached ATU would have different settings, and thus, efficiencies, for each attached feedline.

So how does one easily determine the efficiency of just the balanced feedline using simple easily available equipment?

The below approach is clearly incorrect in many aspects. A better approach could be as follows:

At least for balanced feedlines of known characteristic impedance the test procedure could be as follows.

1) Terminate the ATU with a resistor having the same resistance as the Zo of the feedline.
2) For each frequency measure the efficiency of the ATU using a scope with a 10X probe on the terminating resistor. Derive Power = Vp^/2R. Convert power to dBm.
3) Terminate the feedline using the same Zo resistor and measure the Power dissipated in the resistor as per 2 above.
4) Subtract the result of 2 from the result of 3 to derive the feedline loss in dB.

Do the above procedure for each frequency of interest and for each feedline.

NOTES: Using the same scope to measure the Transmitted power and terminated power for each frequency will eliminate any error introduced by the scope since it is a comparative measurement.

07 July 2014

Excalibur 2 project. Termite inspection & siding (cladding) removal

A lot of work was carried out over the July 4th weekend. We have now established that although there is termite damage the timber frame is sound. We will definitely get termite treatment done to prevent any further damage. We also decided to remove the siding (cladding) in preparation for the correct installation of a vapor barrier. This should make the shack much more 'livable' and pleasant. Especially during winter. Currently we get a lot of moisture condensation in the shack. Maybe we will also put down a concrete base. This is the correct thing to do however the cost still needs to be assessed. There are a number of competing sub-projects here. 

Next weekend we should be able to complete the siding removal. We will then invite Marty W4MY to visit. Marty knows about construction and will give us invaluable advice. Thanks Marty (in advance :))

Our beloved hound 'Chaiya' keeping me company.

Siding removed from one side of the shack. A vapor barrier needs to be added. Maybe we will put down a concrete slab?

A hole cut in the floor to check for termite damage. It looks fine.

AA4XX OM Paul applying max persuasion!

Yeah we are not fooling around! Entry road clearance.

Is this stuff valuable? Dunno yet....removed from the shack including the door.

Oh No! Termite damage. Lesson learnt. Treat for termites. Always!

Valuable jewels extracted from the shack and now stored per kind favor of AA4XX
The Early Days in the shack at Excalibur

Carting away the fire burnt fiber glass thermal insulation. This stuff is an 'itch' to deal with. No fun..