Radio W4KAZ

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TA-33jr, Ground Crew, College Football, RFI, and CAQSOP

Spent some time over the last week re-conditioning an old Mosley TA-33 jr, courtesy of N4YDU.  The date on the box is 1979.  Gotta wonder if 30 year old aluminum is ready for metal fatigue, but its a novelty project.  Some of the hardware was shot, so I decided to replace most of the u-bolts.  Got a quote from Mosley on those parts, but since I needed some other hardware bits for other projects, I instead went with parts from DX Engineering.  The u-bolts available from DX engineering were slightly shorter than the original parts, but seem to be a good fit.  Spent some time cleaning everything up, and used a scotchbrite pad to remove some of the oxidation and crud around the joints and at the trap connections. Got all of the elements assembled on Friday evening without burning any of the chicken on the grill.

That project will likely languish after testing the elements for resonance.  Might assemble the whole shebang for an on the ground SWR check, but it looks like some moderately serious tree trimming would be required before it could ever actually be put to use at the QTH.  More likely to use it for Field Day. The TA-33jr is a versatile bit of kit. It is light weight for a three element yagi.  If space or weight were a problem the driven element and reflector can be used to make a ta-32jr, the two element version.  The driven element can also be used by itself as a stand alone dipole.  Mosley also sells a set of traps for converting the low power version into the hybrid light weight/high power version.

Saturday morning was spent over at KZ1X tugging on ropes along with KA1ARB, with KZ1X and N1LN up the tower.  Steve needed to debug a problem with his 20/15/10 yagi.  We found that the coax run up the tower seemed to be the problem.  After swapping that off to a different coax run, things looked better.  Steve also  hung a replacement 80m dipole for one that went down with a falling branch.  Got a first look at the K3 panadapter while doing the in shack checks.  A cool gizmo. 

Lesson Re-Iterated: Do NOT trust readings from an MFJ antenna analyzer when the power supply is weak.  A portable supply or external battery pack is worth using when that is practical.  My own MFJ-259 has long had its internal battery pack removed in favor of an external pack.  The pack is about 1″x3″x”slightly longer than the 259″.    It’s a cool little pack, that has a charger and two output jacks.  It is taped to the back of the MFJ-259.  With 10 rechargeable batteries it supplies about 13v when fully charged.  It is slow to charge, but the cigarette lighter socket makes it versatile.  Note: don’t have the matching solar cell, just the charger, ac supply, and car adapter.

Had a bit of R&R on Saturday unwisely spent watching the LSU-Tennessee game.  Being an LSU football fan is an interesting experience -  but not always pleasant.  O’course, the Tennessee fans  really got the short end of the stick, but their own teams last second decisions were just as squirrelly as those of “The Hat” and associates.  I sure hope LSU gets their offense to pull together going into the tough part of their schedule against three current top-20 teams(Florida, Auburn, Alabama) in the next four weeks and end the season with another(Arkansas).  Ouch. Tough schedule. Life in the SEC West.

Glad to see the Tigers defense is working well as a unit, but the talent on the offensive side is there too, just not clicking yet.  After being beaten by Tennessee(and UNC and WV) right up to the brain death of coaching staffs on both teams on the last play of the game, they really need to find their best game quick.  Otherwise the losses will accrue rapidly, despite excellent defensive play.  I suppose Florida will be mad as hell after their spanking in Tuscaloosa.

Sunday R&R consisted of a hour or two in the shack.  Turned on the radios and heard some of the California QSOP guys on 15m.  I’ve sorely missed 15m these past few years, so it was a bit of fun to make a few Q’s on the band. Signal strengths ranged from S1 to a very loud S9+, and only one station was called without answer.  That’s an improvement compared to 15m over the past two years.  Not a lot of stations heard, but a few European QSO’s were also decent copy.  10m was still silent.

Requests for audio reports indicated the RFI issue introduced on SSB when setting up the sound card DVK into the SO2R set up is now fixed. [Yippeee!]  Good audio reported by all.  The issue with the RFI on the PTT line for the K2 is still a mystery, but ferrites on the mike and PTT lines going into the K2 were needed to resolve the problem.   Resolving that problem has me looking forward to the coming contest season, and hoping that the bands are better during 2010 Sweepstakes.

As fall rolls in it is time for some much delayed antenna maintenance on the 160m inverted L.  It would be nice to get the 80m element added, and the radials need maintenance since the falling branches have taken out about half of them since last contest season. Gotta work that into the leaf raking schedule – the sooner the better.

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