K2ADA Merritt Island, Florida USA

This journal is a record of my building, and operating an amateur radio station capable of world wide communications from a condo off the Banana River on Central East Coast of Florida.  Located between Cocoa Beach to the East and the Village of Cocoa to the West, Merritt Island is the home of the NASA Space Center, Port Canaveral, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Indian River lagoon.

W1AW/4

300 contacts in two hours? The power of that call: W1AW. I was lucky to get some mic time today at the PCARS Club station, W4MLB (Melbourne Florida) as we became W1AW/4 in honor of the ARRL’s 100th anniversary. Here’s an explanation of the program from the ARRL site:

The ARRL Centennial “W1AW WAS” operations that are taking place throughout 2014 from each of the 50 states will relocate at 0000 UTC, January 8 (the evening of January 7 in US time zones) from North Carolina and West Virginia to Utah (W1AW/7) and South Carolina (W1AW/4). In conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the ARRL, the ARRL Centennial QSO Party the kicked off January 1 for a year-long operating event in which participants can accumulate points and win awards. During 2014 W1AW will be on the air from every state (at least twice) and most US territories, and it will be easy to work all states solely by contacting W1AW portable operations. The event is open to all, although only ARRL members and appointees, elected officials, HQ staff and W1AW are worth points. Working W1AW/x from each state is worth 5 points per contact.

To earn the “Worked all States with W1AW Award,” work W1AW operating portable from all 50 states. (Working W1AW or W100AW in Connecticut does not count for Connecticut, however. For award credit, participants must work W1AW/1 in Connecticut.) A W1AW WAS certificate and plaque will be available (pricing not yet available). For an extra challenge, work all 100 W1AW portable operations — essentially a double WAS with W1AW!

Thanks Jan (K4QD) Heise for the invite. Really enjoyed the opportunity.

RemoteRig configured and Fully Functional

Big step forward.  The RemoteRig units arrived and, after  a struggle with ip set up and port forwarding, they are functioning at the Radio Ranch and in the condo on Merritt Island.  The two locations are 140 miles apart.  Connected by the internet, I can now control the Kenwood TS-2000 at the Radio Ranch from the condo.  Audio – both ways – and radio control are controlled by the RemoteRig units (one on each end) and I’m controlling the rotor by a remote desktop app called LogMein.  Audio reports have been good, no packet drop outs reported.

I have an Icom IC-7200 with a Buckmaster 6 band OCF dipole at the condo.  This station is still in place and it’s very interesting to run both stations side by side.  I have even used the two stations together, listening on the Icom and transmitting from the Radio Ranch with success.  The difference in what I can hear between the two locations has also been surprising.  The dipole at the condo runs north-south, favoring signals from the east-west in theory, and the Radio Ranch is a hexx beam, favoring the direction in which it is pointed.  Early tests have shown the hexx beam into Europe and Asia is very strong.  I’ve been able to work many stations on both stations and difference in signal reports have been significant.  More to follow as I get more operating time.

The Tower is UP at the Radio Ranch!

With help from Frank (Annie’s Father), and Ted’s (Authority Tree Service) bucket lift,  the Universal tower has been raised.  On top, the hex beam (6, 10, 12, 17, 15 and 20 meters), below, two Comet VHF/UHF verticals.

 

The assembled tower before antenna installation

Tower assembled

The hex beam was assembled on the ground and attached to the mast.  Stand off brackets were bolted to the tower and VHF/UHF antennas were installed.  The rotor cable was run into the shack and tested.

tower & antennas

The bucket truck arrived and the key was getting the bucket up to about 70ft above the tower base.  We attached a pulley at bucket height and a rope to the tower, and slowly raised it to vertical!

bucket truck

The tower in place and ready.  Now working on grounding systems and coax runs.

RR tower

Universal 21-50 Tower Installation

My first tower installation at the K2ADA Radio Ranch.  The Universal 21-50 is an aluminum 50 ft tower rated at 21 sq ft of wind load.  It is self supporting, and requires a substantial base of concrete: 5′x5′x6′.  The hole was dug by hand, no , not by me.  Caruthers concrete dug the hole and provided the forms and concrete – lots of it.  Here are some photos of the hole, steel base and the first tower section.

Antennas and Tower for the Radio Ranch

The tower has arrived (Universal 21-50), and the main multi band HF antenna is on order.  After much consideration and research, I ordered the KIO Broadband Hexagonal Beam.  6 bands, one feed line and twenty pounds.  I really considered a Mosley TA-54-XLN-6 and, one day, I may still end up with one.  I’ve sized the tower (21 sqft wind load) and rotor (hy-gain IV with up to 15 sqft of wind load) to turn a much larger antenna than the hex beam.  The TA-54 has a 21ft boom, longest element 30ft, and weighs 87 lbs.  It’s a bit of a beast.  Of course there is a big difference in gain:  4 elements compared to 2, but I like the light wind load of the hex and it will make the raising of the tower much less of an adventure.

The tower will also support two Comet GP-3 VHF/UHF ground planes and the surrounding trees will support a Buckmaster 7 Band OCF Dipole and an Alpha Delta 80/40 inverted V Dipole.