Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dream Fulfilled - Roy's Antenna Farm

     Did you ever want some something really outstanding?
Something that only a few ham radio folks have! Like an antenna that out performs all others except stations like the voice of America. Its easy and you don't have to be rich. All it takes is a big piece of flat land, like forty acres and a few thousand dollars, some antenna knowledge, a lot of hard work and more than normal perseverance. 
Home brew 197' tower almost up. 

197 feet up on a home brew tower


    After my first three years the in military I had been thinking about a big Antenna for a long time so in 1954, I built a multi Vee  beam antenna system on my dad's ranch 100 miles south of Tucson Arizona, just a few miles north of the Mexican  border. From the center tower I pulled seven wires spaced 30 degrees apart, 600 feet out on 40 feet high wooden towers all except for the center one. On the center tower I had a relay box that allowed me to select any of the six Vee beam antennas and with a built in home brew all band remotely controlled antenna tuner I brought the 52-ohm coax down to my  globe scout running 40 watts of AM.

 This antenna worked great on all bands 80 thru 10 meters. It was my first ham radio antenna and it made me feel like I had a KW. I used this antenna system for about one year till I was sent over seas again. During  my Air Force career I have held two DX calls, DL4DK and CN8IZ. 
   I retired from the Air Force in January 1968 and as my first job, I managed a cable T. V.  company for 10 years. The wife and I had made some good investments and I thought I could retire, so I bought a new truck and travel trailer and we went to Mexico for the winters and to Canada in the summers for 10 years. By that time we don’t feel so rich any more, and I was tired of being on vacation full time. The wife and I went back to work for the next 15 years, and after selling our business we bought 40 acres of flat land 40 miles south of Phoenix AZ. While in the military, I had the good fortune to work at some big and powerful transmitter sites and since then I always yearned to have an antenna farm some day. 
   73's Roy,  w7yrv . 


8o meter 8 element sterba cutrtains on 200' towers.

 Wow this is a 200' tower pulled up with a 90' gin pole. I did this all by myself with a hand winch and I had to get a picture to prove that I got it this far up in case of a mishap. We know bad things happen.  

I am going to put up two of these antennas. If all goes well it will be one of the most power full 80 meter antennas on the band.

 This is the winch at the start. One turn equals about 1/2 inch and it takes many hours to get it all the way up.

 Ready to start the lift, the 3/16 inch cable goes to the top of the gin pole and back down to the winch giving you twice the pulling power.

The dead man is 3"pipe 8' long and 30 " down, and the VW truck is insurance that it does not pull out.

 To start a 24' gin pole pulls up a 60' gin pole.

 Now the 60' gin pole is ready to pull up the 90' gin  pole

 The 200' tower is in the fore ground, the vertical tower on the left is the 60' gin pole, the center tower is the 65' rhombic tower, the tower on the right is the 150' 40-meter  bi-square tower.

 The 24' gin pole on the ground has pulled up the 60' gin pole, and to the left the 60' gin pole is  pulling up the 90' gin pole which will pull up the 200' tower.

 The dead man is 30" down and the stake is not the guy anchor. This is the two middle guys on the east side.

 This is the two middle guys on the west side.

 This is the two top guys on the west side. The dead man is down 30" to the right of that stake.

 This is near the bottom guy on the west side.

 This is at the base of the tower and the gin pole. The 65' towers in the back ground 600' out are for the rotating rhombic antenna. They are  spaced 20 degrees apart.

 Another view from the pasture.

 The 90' gin pole pulling up the 200' tower. The rhombic tower was in the way so I took it down. The other tower on the right is the 150' tower for the 40-meter bi-squares.

 Another view from the pasture.

 My wife Mary Ann is taking lots of pictures.

 I quit for the night, hoping we don't have any wind tomorrow.

 Now we are near the balance point, meaning we have to move one set of guys to the back anchor to keep the tower from falling forward as the gin pole comes down.

 Now the gin pole is pulling too hard on the back guys.

 Here we hold the gin pole while we loosing the back guys enough to let the gin pole down about six inches at a time till the tower is vertical.

 Well, there it is,  surprised even me by not having any mishaps.

 This is how it looks from the ground.

 Now I will go up and see how it looks from top side.

 This is the first time I climbed a home brew tower this high. It feels very sound not scary at all. Where the rope is coming down behind that mountain is Phoenix 45 miles to the north.

600' out is my other 200' tower.

Looking down from the tower near my house

Looking down from the other tower that I never intended to climb, but a helicopter clipped the tower about 1/2" from the top, dropping both 80 meter sterba curtain antennas. He came back to see what he hit and then went back to his accident site. By the time I got there he had left, but days later I got a letter asking about damage and I told them only a couple of insulators that cost nothing. All I had to do was to re-hang the antennas.

A view of my QTH from near the top of the tower.

I hung some experimental antennas on the tower before I pulled it up and later I removed them and installed two 80-meter bi-squares as reference antennas. Then I installed an 8-element sterba curtain between the two 200' towers. Later I installed another 8-element sterba between my 150' 40-meter tower and one of the 200' towers.

My 200' towers use 9 of these dead men, 3 on each corner, they are about 3' of 3" pipe 30" down.

A view form the ground.

This is the point where I decided that I had to take down the rhombic tower.

This is the three 80-meter sterba curtain towers.

This is an 80-meter sterba curtain antenna between two 200' towers and about 600' apart. It has a gain of 9 dBs. Really big rhombics can have that kind of gain but they take up 40 acres of land.  This antenna will for sure make you a big gun on 8o meters in the antennas given directions.

20 meter sterba curtain array

Six 20 meter sterba curtains 120' high
          12 directions

Schematic diagram of six 20 meter sterba curtains 120' high.     

Looking down from my brothers' airplane

65 foot gin pole pulling up a 120' tower with 35 feet of 2½ inch pipe inside the tower, which will be pulled up through from inside to give the tower a total height of 150 feet. The 120 foot level will be part of the sterba curtain array and the 150 foot will hold up two 40 meter bi-squares.


 120' of square tubing, to be a tower for the 20 meter sterba curtain array. To get it off the truck, first lift one end by hand and set it on the ground , then set the ladder up and lift it off the truck.  

120' feet of 3 inch pipe, to be a tower for the 20 meter sterba curtain. The 50 foot triangular tower section on the truck has the 120' tower wired to it, in order to keep the ends of the pipe off the ground.

120' tower is going up for the 20-meter sterba curtain.

 This 120' tower is the longest tower I have ever hauled on my truck.

 Looking at all five sterba curtain towers standing. Each tower has a pull wire to pull up the antenna.

20-meter sterba array. The tower on the right is 150'; and it also supports two 40-meter bi-squares. The tower on the left supports two 20-meter       bi-squares.

Nine rhombics antennas (reconfigured)

Three 1100 foot long rhombics 120' high and the control relays giving you six direction. I used these antennas for about 18 months until I figured out how to put 9 of them on my 40 acres.
 This is the relay control box that takes the power to one end of the rhombic antenna and then brings back the reflected power to the shack to be terminated making the antenna transmit only in one direction. The four deck wafer switch allows me to select any of the six directions.

Nine  rhombics antennas reconfigured. You cut a diamond shaped rhombic in half, and then put it back together in the form of an X, and feed it in the center, now you have  electrically the same antenna. These rotating  rhombics change directions in 20 degree steps, and they cover all bands from 160 through 10 meters.  The apex angle can be adjusted from 40 degrees on the high bands to 120 degrees for the  low band. Of all the antennas I have built, this was the best all around antenna.  If I had to do it over again, I would have made them 120 feet high to get a little lower angle of radiation, but at 65 feet it was a super  great performer.  When I started building 197 foot towers for the 80 meter sterba curtains, the center tower of this antenna system was in the way, so although it grieved me to remove it, I knew that if the 80-meter antenna system didn’t work out, it would be no big deal to rebuild it.

The reconfigured rhombic antenna system with the transmission lines coming down to ground level. Ever thing worked very well, so later we moved the relay box to the top of the tower

This is a 40' gin pole pulling up a 65' rhombic tower.

We moved the relay box to the top of the tower

This is a Gila monster that I almost stepped on.  I heard a loud hiss, and I jumped a few feet, at first; I thought it was a rattlesnake. I just had to get a picture of him, because you almost never see one in the daytime.

The direction control box with a 9-position switch that lights up four lights on each of the 9 antennas showing you the direction and apex of your antenna.  

Same as above, looks complicated but its not, each deck is for a different apex.

 This is the relay switching box at the base of the tower 

 The transmission lines coming down to the relay box. The antennas performed great with the relay box at ground level,

    A look inside the relay box.  The wires seem to be going everywhere. You might think you could have an impedance problem, but it was not apparent.