I have always been a “Mac” guy, but it has been difficult to do all the things you want to do in amatuer radio and stay in the Mac environment. Running a FlexRadio 6300 has meant a windows computer needs to be the centerpiece of the shack, until recently. I have the Maestro control head and that makes it possible to run the Flex without a pc. However, if using a logging program with rig control, a pc is back in the picture. Now – with the addition of a dynamic antenna that needs band data info to model the elements, additional pc programs are needed (ddUtil) to send band data from the Flex to the Steppir control head.
Enter MacLoggerDx and dogparkSDR. Don Agro, VE3VRW, has now created a complete solution for the Mac user that wants to run a FlexRadio, Steppir dynamic antenna and stay in the Mac environment. Logging and station control, including rotor control, all seamless. No PC (windows), no driver nonsense, no windows port configuration, no intermediate virtual software to facilitate comunication. It all works over ethernet.
Ham Radio Mac/Flexradio/Steppir users Rejoice!
The KIO hex beam has worked well here at the K2ADA Radio Ranch. Now that we are here most days, I began thinking about an upgrade. Since my primary rig here is a Flex 6300, a multi band yagi or log periodic interested me. Both would “listen” to all bands with a single coax run and I could open multiple slices on the Flex. However, both also have compromises. A mono band antenna for every band would of course be the ultimate, but I didn’t want the multiple towers and switching that would be required.
A dynamic antenna. The Steppir has been around for awhile now. The 3 element (w/ 40m option) will not pose a problem for my Universal 50ft tower and Hygain rotor, and after several months of thinking and rethinking, I pulled the trigger.
Assembly is really straight forward but the instructions could use some attention. Steppir has updated the documentation of each option and sends each as an addendum to the basic build. This is a little confusing and requires a lot of extra work to assemble the antenna correctly. A phone call to one of the Steppir techs cleared everything up and the build took me about 3 days. Working several hours a day.
Here are some photos (thanks Annie) of the assembly, and the removal of the hex and raising of the Steppir:
Steppir needs to rethink their assembly documentation
KIO Hex beam.
Steppir element tubes
Steppir boom and EHU (stepper motor).
The entire boom assembly
40m driven element
a 60ft lift was used to retrieve the Hex antenna and replace it with the 3 ele Steppir
the completed Steppir is visible in the foreground
Thanks to help from a neighbor, we raised the Steppir, and attached it to the existing mast
I’m getting use to the time it takes the Steppir to “remodel” itself for each frequency change. Signals have been strong and reports have also been good.
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
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.
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!
The tower in place and ready. Now working on grounding systems and coax runs.
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.
6 ft deep! A ladder was the only way out!
6 cubic yards of concrete.
Universal 21-50 first section installed.
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.