Installed New 6M and 2M/70cm Antennas

From the time I became licensed, just a little over 5 years ago, I have been using a trusty Diamond X50A antenna mounted on one 5-foot galvanized steel mast on an eave mount, putting the antenna about 4 feet above the roofline. The apex of the roof is approximately 30 feet from the ground. This antenna has served me very well, and with it I could reliably hit most of the repeaters in the area, as well as work stations on simplex up to about 15 miles away. Last year, I added a Cushcraft AR-6 Ringo for 6 meters. When there is a 6M opening, this antenna works OK and I worked quite a few distant stations (see previous posts under the category 6 Meters). However, because of the vertical polarization, I had difficulty working some stations in nearby grids who have horizontally polarized antennas. Also, the Ringo would frequently detune for mysterious reasons. Even though it was mounted on a telescoping mast, it became tiresome to frequently lower and retune it.

When my friend Rusty inquired about renting a 50-foot articulating boom lift to do some antenna work at his house, I thought now might be a good time to upgrade both antennas. I got a Diamond X300A for 2M/70cm, and a M2 HO Loop for 6M. I also got some new 5-foot galvanized masts and 55-feet of new RG-213 coax. My ham friends came over this morning to remove the existing antennas and install the two new antennas. Special thanks to KG4HIR Rusty, KG4HIQ Earl, W4EFS Walter, and KK4ZHT Eric for working all day on this project in the heat and humidity! Eric and Walter did all of the work in the bucket, and Rusty and Earl did the majority of assembly and adjustment of the antennas on the ground.

For this installation, we used three sections of 5-foot galvanized mast (for a total of 15 feet). Approximately 2 feet of the first section sits below the roof apex in the bottom of the eave mount, so about 13 feet of mast is above the rooftop. The X300A, which is a 10-foot antenna, is mounted on top, and the 6M horizontal loop is mounted about 5 feet below that. We used the existing LMR400 coax for 2M/70cm, and the new RG-213 coax for 6M. We tested the SWR and impedance on both antennas on temporary masts at about 15 feet above ground, and both antennas had great readings as assembled – no need for adjustments. I thought we might have to adjust the 6M antenna once it was in place above the roof, but the SWR stayed about the same at 1.2:1.

Eric and Walter preparing to remove the existing Diamond X50A and mast from the eave mount. You can also see the 6M Ringo vertical on the left side of this picture.
The X50A and the old mast have been removed. Installing the first new mast section into the eave mount.
Both new antennas were assembled and mounted to two mast sections on the ground. Eric and Walter preparing to place the two mast sections with the new antennas into the first mast section.
All three masts and the two antennas are in place. Walter and Eric are adjusting and tightening all of the mounting hardware.
The new masts and antennas in place.
Looking up from the roof at the shiny new antennas.

With the lift bucket extended, Eric took some photos that give an “antenna-eye” view from the rooftop.

Since we already had the lift, I took advantage of the opportunity to place a couple of ropes and pulleys for future use. The first about 40-45 feet up in a hickory tree, and the other on an old utility pole beside the driveway.

Installing a pulley and rope on a tall hickory tree in my yard.
Removing some old wires and installing a rope and pulley at the top of this utility beside my driveway.

We had to take a short break for rain and thunderstorms. (The new antennas survived their first thunderstorm.) Even though there were a few adjustments made along the way, overall the project went as planned and was successful. Unfortunately, we did not have the same luck earlier in the day at Rusty’s house, because we could not get the lift into a position where the bucket would reach his antenna mast. I sure wish that had gone better.

I have not yet had a chance to fully test the performance of the new antennas. The new 2M/70cm has higher gain and is mounted 10 feet higher than the previous antenna. The 6M HO Loop is very narrow-band, but the SWR is nearly perfect at 50.3 MHz, so it will be great for digital and CW work. I did tune to 50.313 MHz and could hear and decode lots of FT8 from stations participating in the ARRL June VHF Contest. I’ll make some additional posts with my observations about the performance as I operate more with these antennas.

New VUCC and WAS Award Milestones Reached!

Due to work obligations, I haven’t had much time to spend on the radio, or to update this blog. Since my last update, QSOs with several stations have been confirmed in Logbook of the World, allowing me to reach a achieve a couple of new awards.

I recently received a LoTW confirmation for a QSO on 6 meters that took place in July. This confirmation was number 300 on 6 meters, and an endorsement for the 50 MHz VUCC Award.

It took a while, but I finally confirmed 300 grids!
Grids confirmed on 6 meters for N1ADM

Also, on November 28th, I had a FT8 QSO on 12 meters with a station in Alaska, which gave me my 50th state for the Worked All States Award on 12 meters. I still need to work Alaska on 10 meters for a 5 Band WAS, so hopefully the band conditions will continue to improve!

Alaska on 12 meters, finally! Now hoping for 10 meters!
I am getting close to WAS on all HF bands!

Western Europe on 6 meters!

A few days ago I had the great fortune to work Japan on 6 meters. Today, I was fortunate again to be at the radio during a brief 6 meter opening to western Europe. I was able to complete QSOs with 5 stations – 3 in France, 1 in Guernsey, and 1 in England. The opening lasted less than an hour, and I decoded lots of other stations in western and central Europe that I was not able to work. I am very happy to get the 3 new DXCC countries and 5 new grids.

New 6m QSOs from western Europe for N1ADM on July 23rd
PSKReporter map of stations that decoded N1ADM’s FT8 signals during the 1500 UTC hour on July 23rd.
DXMaps 50 MHz map showing lots of hams in eastern North America and western/central Europe active during the brief 6 meter opening on July 23rd. If you look really close, you’ll see my callsign in there.

Japan on 6 meters!

I was very fortunate to be at the radio during a very brief opening to Japan on 6 meters during the early 2300 UTC hour on July 20th. It only lasted for about 10 minutes, but the signals were fairly strong and I was able to work two stations. It was very exciting! I had one confirmed 6 meter QSO with a station in Japan back in June, but it was really nice to also get two new grids today.

I was able to log 2 stations from Japan during a very brief 6 meter opening on July 20th
This is something you don’t see very often on 6 meters in Georgia!
PSKReporter map showing stations receiving N1ADM’s FT8 signals during the 2300 UTC hour on July 20th

CQ WW VHF Contest

The CQ World Wide VHF Contest ran from 1800 UTC (2:00 PM EDT) on Saturday, July 18th, through 2100 UTC (5:00 PM EDT) on Sunday, July 19th. I participated for about 8 hours total at various times on both days. The band conditions were not very good, but there were some short openings to New England, southeastern Canada, the Midwest, and Texas. Despite the less than ideal conditions, I was able to make 56 contacts in 40 different grid squares, for a total score of 2,240.

PSKReporter map showing stations that received N1ADM during the CQ WW VHF Contest
N1ADM contest log summary for the CQ WW VHF Contest. I use N3FJP contest logs.

13 Colonies Special Event

One of my favorite operating events every year is the 13 Colonies Special Event. This year, the event ran from July 1st through July 7th. The object is to complete QSOs with special event stations in each of the original 13 colonies:

K2A – New York
K2B – Virginia
K2C – Rhode Island
K2D – Connecticut
K2E – Delaware
K2F – Maryland
K2G – Georgia
K2H – Massachussetts
K2I – New Jersey
K2J – North Carolina
K2K – New Hampshire
K2L – South Carolina
K2M – Pennsylvania

There are also two “bonus” stations:

WM3PEN – Philadelphia
GB13COL – Great Britain.

All participants can submit their log sheet to receive a very nice certificate. Confirmed QSOs with each of the 13 K2- colony stations constitutes a “clean sweep”, which is a coveted achievement that is reflected on the certificate. Each station also has a unique QSL card. The stations can appear on all bands and modes. The most difficult station for most U.S. operators is GB13COL, especially when band conditions are unfavorable. Fortunately, GB13COL logs special event contacts for DSTAR (Reflector 063B), DMR (talkgroup 31426), and Yaesu System Fusion (room 28173) contacts. This allows U.S. hams with access to one of those modes an opportunity for a QSO in spite of HF band conditions.

This year I was happy find several of the stations on 6 meters during a great opening on July 5th. I was able to work most of the stations via FT8 on July 5th, along with a few CW and SSB QSOs for a clean sweep. Unfortunately, I was never able to work GB13COL via HF, but I did complete a DSTAR QSO.

N1ADM log sheet for the 2020 13 Colonies Special Event
13 Colonies Special Event certificate from 2019

6 Meter DXCC progress

I’ve mostly been focused on collecting new grids on 6 meters for the VUCC Award, but I’ve also managed to add a few new countries toward a 6 meter DXCC Award. I started this season with only two countries (USA and Canada) confirmed. I am now up to 26. While that’s only 26% of the 100 countries needed for the award, I am happy with the progress. It’s not bad considering that I am working with low power and an omni-directional antenna.

I’m most proud of the QSOs with JA0RUG in Japan (6,866 miles) on June 3rd and TF8KY in Iceland (3,262 miles) on June 20th.

ARRL Field Day 2020

The Amateur Radio Club of Columbia County held an abbreviated,  one-day Class 2A operation on Saturday, June 27th. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. To help out the club’s aggregate score, as allowed in ARRL’s temporary rule changes for Field Day 2020, I participated as a 1D station from home on Sunday.

My HF wire antenna was down after an unexpected and strong thunderstorm on Saturday evening took down the limb holding it. That left me with just my 6 meter antenna. Thankfully, there were some decent 6 meter openings to Texas, the upper Midwest, New England and southeastern Canada for most of the morning and afternoon. I was able to complete 56 FT8 contacts during about 4 hours of operating time, with a preliminary score of 274. That’s not an impressive score, but not too bad for working a limited period of time only on 6 meters. My score will be combined with the club’s 2A score, as well any scores submitted by other members who participated from home and included ARCCC in their submitted results.

My ARRL Field Day 2020 contest log. I use the N3FJP Field Day Contest Log.