SteppIR BigIR: Installation

On Tuesday and Wednesday I got started the tedious task of taking down the Hustler 6-BTV in preparation for an upgrade to the SteppIR BigIR Mk III, considered by many in the hobby to be one of the best verticals available. While the price tag is rather high, it was really the only option I had to improve many antenna situation. I ordered the antenna direct from Leann at SteppIR on May 13 and was told there would be a 3-4 lead time. Plenty of time to prep the location for the upgrade.

On Tuesday I took my son to play school and got home and started working on the area that will replace the 6-BTV. After the arcing incident a week or so ago on the 6-BTV I had already removed the antenna from the tilt base, so removing the remaining hardware was a simple task. The only time consuming portion of it was remove the 50 nuts from the radial plate that connected all the radials to the vertical. I removed a total of 14 radials, whose length were approximately 7′, which will be replaced. The remaining radials were bent back to allow me access around the base of the mounting post.

After removing the tilt base, choke and radial plate it was time to dig out the 4′ mounting post I sledgehammered in back in 2007. What a pain in the ass! This was more time consuming than removing all the radials. I had hoped to get it removed in one day, but after a few beers and purchasing two, 50 pound bags of concrete and a 8″ diameter concrete form I ran out of time and had to pick my son up.

Wednesday allowed me to finally pull the old mounting pole out of the ground. I widened the new hole approximately 10″ in diameter and a bit over 2′ deep to accommodate the concrete form. Overkill? Maybe, but I have a piece of mind I don’t need to worry about wind taking this vertical down, as I am not planning on using guy wires.

Once the hole was complete I dropped the concrete form in and made the necessary adjustments in order get the top of the from just above the ground. The mounting pole will protrude 12″ above the ground once I pour the concrete. The standard is 8″ to 10″ inches, but I was told to go 12″ in order to use the DXE radial plate, which will sit near the ground and connect all the radials.

So while it has been slow going the past few days, things will pick up next week. Who knows I might be able to get the concrete in by the weekend, giving me time to remount the 6-BTV in place until the BigIR arrives (May 27 thru June 3). I still need to cut 16 new radials as well. OF course being at work I don’t have access to the images I took of the process. Those will come shortly.

SteppIR BigIR: Pole Mounted

So I got started a few days early working on the new install. On Friday I was able to get some time with my son in the backyard and we were able to fill about half the 2 foot deep hole with gravel, set the 24 inch mounting post in the hole, fill it with concrete and HOPEFULLY get the post straight. I did the best I could and I know for a fact it will be straighter than the mount for the 6-BTV.

Given some free time to night I am going to bring the install to the ham radio enthusiast. I have been following the installation provided by AE1Z. While the manual leaves a little bit to get desired, the images on this site coupled with the reflector and the assistance of Marty and Jerry at SteppIR should make the install fairly straight forward. I had debated about not putting the mounting post in until I received the vertical, but want to get on air this weekend for CQWW WPX CW, so I needed this mounting post in so I could erect the 6-BTV.

The only time consuming portion of this is going to be the 50+ radials I need to solder, since I was lazy the first time around and only crimped them. After removing all 50 there was some bad corrosion on them from the elements, so spraying them with a silicone will be necessary when I get them soldered.

Lots of work to do the next few days. I don’t know if I will get anything done today, at the least I would like to get the tilt-base mount on the post and the 6-BTV back in the air. I am debating what to do with the radials. I removed a good deal of them, 14 short radials at about 7′ each. Will that truly have an adverse effect on my ground plane? I doubt it, but we will see.

SteppIR: Part 1

Received e-mail confirmation from SteppIR that my cables and mounting post are in route from Washington and should arrive on Monday. Excellent! That is my Friday and give me almost three days to work on the area I plan on installing the BigIR at. I am still 3 weeks or so away from receiving the vertical, which is not a big deal, this gives me plenty of time to prep the area and run any necessary conduit to the shack and pull wires.

I am planning on digging out the 4′ mounting pole I have the 6-BTV clamped to. Half the of the 6-BTV is already removed after last week’s arcing incident. A check of damaged revealed nothing more than some scorching and the trap cap had a burn hole (melted) in it. I am not digging out the radials, I plan on peeling them back to allow me enough room to work in. I am going to remove a total of 24 radial, 16 of which are 7′ in length and will be replaced with longer radials.

Currently I am planning on using a concrete form 8″ wide and 2′ deep to set the 24″ inch mounting pole in. This pole needs to be 8″ to 10″ above the ground in which the BigIR will slide into. Prior to installing the BigIR I want to reinstall the 6-BTV for CQWW WPX – CW at the end of May. The only other upgrade prior to any antenna going up in replacing the short 7′ radials, which could prove interesting.

The positioning of the mounting post is only about 8′ from my fence in the backyard. I plan on digging under the fence in order to run 8-10 radials at a length of 40′ to 50′. The only modification I need to make to these longer radials will be the fact they are going to be running 10′ to the north followed by a bend to the east and the west, which will then parallel the fence bordering my backyard. I figure longer radials will be better even though their orientation won’t be due north. The remaining 8-10 radials will be doubled in length (at least) and point north. All of this occurring under my fence and off my property, which could potentially cause some problems, but I am willing to take that chance at this point.

With any luck I can pick up the concrete form by Monday, dig the hole and set the mounting post on Tuesday as well as cut the new radials and install them and hopefully be on the air by Tuesday night. If not, it gives me Wednesday to finish up the tasks I had yet to complete. looking forward to the new install.

Burned Up: Follow Up

I got some time yesterday to tilt down the 6-BTV and see the extent of the burn damage. The best I can tell the 20M trap is fine, but the cap and silicon inside the cap were burnt, with the plastic melting a whole through the entire trap cap. Not much damage. As for the cause, talking to KX5JT it was probably arcing caused by too much power. I usually tune up with less than 100 watts driving the amp, but I can’t remember if I did this prior to using the amp when I last made a QSO.

I want to get the 6-BTV back up and in line for the upcoming CQWW WPX -CW Contest, which is at the end of the month. I doubt the BigIR will be available at the end of May, so I will run one more contest with the 6-BTV before I dismantle it. I did find a wonderful site from AE1Z and his experience ordering and installing his BigIR, so I have been frequenting his site lately.

I plan on installing the vertical where the existing one is. Problems with that, first is the 4 foot metal pole I have driven into the ground in order to mount the 6-BTV. This post will have to be removed. The second issue, the 50 radials I currently have in place. I plan on replacing 16 of the radials, which are currently only 7′ long on the north side of the radial plate. I hope to double this length, maybe get them a bit longer. It will be interesting since I will have to dig under my fence in order to get them longer. I am debating about running 4-6 of them in an east-west orientation off the north portion of the radial plate in excess of 40-60 feet. Again, I will have to see what problems his could potentially cause.

The mounting pole is 24″ in length for the BigIR, with 8-10″ sticking out in order to mount the the vertical to. I will be looking at a concrete form tube for mounting purposes and some electrical conduit in order to run the necessary cables to the shack. The post and cables should arrive by the weekend, but I won’t consider the install until after the WPX contest.

Look forward the fun and thrill of the BigIR. Will report back as we make progress.

Installed. Connected. Online.

It’s been an uphill battle for a bit more than 2 months, but I finally have all three of my computers up and running. And yes, beleieve it or not I have finally upgraded from Windows 2000 to Windows XP Pro. I was going to go for the Linux distro, Ubuntu on my server, but since the hardware is a few years out of date (Asus CUV4X-D, dual P3-1000Mhz) the ISO I burned could not distinguish the hardware, thus popped up recurring error messages. So my attempt at Linux failed…for now.

At first, I lost my game rig due to, what I could not diagnose at the time, but later found out that both hard drives were bad. You never like to heard those drives grinding, but the noise was horrible! I was hoping to salvage some of my old Urban Terror data, unfortunately I was not able to recover anything due to the drives. So, I dropped in on of my 80GB Seagate drives from my server and installed XP Pro and have spent the better part of three days getting the system setup and updated, with any luck I could be on an Urban Terror server by tonight!

As for the server, I am somewhat limited to the number of drives I can use. Originally I had 4-80GB drives in a RAID 0+1 array, connected to a PCI RAID card. Since I am not going to run RAID any longer I have two IDE slots to use, since the other two are connected to a CD-R/RW and DVD-ROM. So I will run one 80GB as the C: and the 250GB as the D: (primary slave) with all my data.

I have purchased a 200GB external hard drive in order to back up all my information this time. I was able to recover all the data, including pictures, music and old shoutcasts, which is what I was hoping I could do. All this has been transferred to the external for safe keeping.

For now, it’s just a matter of getting all the updates loaded and reinstalling all the software I had prior to my, “Crash of 2006” as I am calling it. So far, I have installed Firefox and Thunderbird from Mozilla and NN Script (mIRC). I should be able to get my webcam, weather station and some of my shoutcasting componants installed and configured later today.

Now, what is the next problem that will occur, that I have not planned for? Anyone?