Florida Frivolities

K3TW says he’s awaiting my writing about the recent trip to Florida, which included work for him, so here goes:

It took me 12 hours to get to the West Palm Beach area, home of W1MBB, our first client of the trip. Got there, got checked in, grabbed a Mexican dinner, & immediately fell aslee in the motel room. Up early the following morning & found the W1MBB QTH. While Matt headed to the airport to pick up W2GD, I began assembling the OptiBeam 4-band Yagi (40-20-17-15). All went well until I found the 40M element truss ropes were missing. (I suspect Matt may have lost them, since I know DF2BO uses a checklist as he packages the antennas for shipment) Got some Phillystran over-nighted in & I built some replacement truss lines. Matt had rented a Bobcat & operator to finish the backfill of the tower base, so we struggled to get the tower assembled using it. (No fork lift tongs, just the front loader bucket!) All went well but one leg of the bottom section.The crane arrived the following morning, & we used it to dis-assemble the bottom section & hosed out the offending sand, which was making a close fit impossible. Then, despite wind gusts of 30MPH, we were able to get the Yagi up & on the tower. Imagine our surprise when initial tests showed it NOT to be working, at all! Nothing made sense, no amount of trouble-shooting provided a clue, etc. Finally, a call to Array Solutions pointed out that not only was the MANUAL incorrect, they had shipped us the wrong balun! More Florida follies, indeed. Another overnight of the correct (2:1) balun & we had a working antenna.

That afternoon I drove up to Lecanto & checked in at the Citrus Hills Lodge, where K3TW had reserved a room. Tom popped over & we sat around the lobby rag-chewing for a couple hours. Somehow, he’d not purchased the W9IIX ginpole clamps for AB-105, as I had told him to do, so the heavy duty pole atop my truck wasn’t going to be of much use. And the primary focus of this trip was to get down N4KW’s 70-ft of AB-105. After a quick tour of Tom’s new home (built three years ago, very very nice!), we surveyed Tom’s backyard the following morning after breakfast, determining where things could or would go when we get the tower base & anchor holes done. Then headed to KW’s. Decided to take down the top section of the 105 tower the “old fashioned” way, one piece at a time, or erector set fashion, which W3LPL recommends anyway. Frank had told me I could get a section apart in 20 minutes, so I was somewhat confident. (I’d never dis-assembled a 105 section, only having put them up or together, previously. But still, I told myself, how hard could it be…?) Well, 2 & a half hours later, I told myself it was pretty damn hard! First of all, the top plate consists of 8 heavy angle iron sections, along with the thrust
bearing (rusted in place, immovable) & a 12-ft hunk of water pipe for mast. That alone required almost one hour of work. Then began the laborious process of taking out all the hardware, leaving me with three vertical siderails. There, the bolts were seemingly rusted into place & it required a tremendous amount of tuggling & pulling & twisting to get the siderails loose. Then there’s the fun part of having this heavy hunk of angle iron falling over on top of your, while you’re holding it with one hand & hoping to get the sling tightened such that it does not fall. Fascinating work. We decided to jury-rig a setup of db products clamps Pete had with my 55G pole & see if our original plan of taking down completed sections would work. But by not having a clamping setup allowing the pole to slide up & down, that proved impractical. By mid-afternoon, everyone agreed it made sense to rethink, reconvene, & do it right, later.

Grabbed a bite to eat & went to see SKYFALL at the Lecanto theater. Terrific entertainment.

Following morning, drove back South to the Tampa area, where I met up with Mike, KS7D, who has decided he wants a small tower & beam in his backyard. Site survey went off without a hitch. We’ll be going back once he gets the base & anchors in to put up 50-ft of45G for him.

I was supposed to stop off in Gainesville on the return leg of the trip. But that client had become lost, not
responding to any communication, so I just drove on through, heading home. Took me 15 hours of on-the-road time to get home. Silly silly stuff at my age but it was good to be back in NC. Hereabouts working on local stuff until the weekend, when I hope to go to Ohio.

stay tuned…

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