Last week found W2GD and myself out in Stillwater, OK, where we’d gone to replace all of K5KC’s wind-damaged OptiBeam HF antennas. Ken has two towers–a rotating 185-footer and a stationary 200-footer. The rotating tower carries beams for 6 through 30M; the big tower holds 40 through 160M antennas. The 80/160 antennas are wires, of course, with a 40M OWA up top on a K0XG orbital ring
We’d cleared the towers on a previous trip. Ken had received and begun assembling the new beams, so with this prep work accomplished, our goal was to finalize, balance, and test the antennas, prior to the arrival of the crane. We’d scheduled 1.5 or 2 days of crane time, Thursday and Friday. We had a plan.
It all more-or-less went to hell when the crane company called on Tuesday to say they couldn’t be there on Thursday. Scrambling and using 12-hour work days got us ready. But Friday, after gearing up and getting ready to climb, the crane operator suggested it would be prudent to wait, since the winds were gusting up to 30MPH. So Friday was a stand-down day in terms of crane work. And the winds only increased, up to 40MPH, so we’re still around to talk about things…
Having already gotten set up the previous day, Saturday found us in the air by 8AM. We got all the Yagis up on the 185-ft tower (7 of them) in 3 hours, impressing even ourselves. As the crane moved over to the big tower to begin re-setting, we began climbing down and installing the coax cables, setting the truss tensions, putting wire-ties on them, and taping the cables. The crane re-set was finished while we were working on the lowest beam (10M), so things more-or-less worked out. Ken had gotten some sandwiches, so while we had the proverbial “tailgate” meeting, we ate lunch, too. The crane operator suggested he haul us UP the 200-ft tower in the man-basket, saving us from climbing yet again. It certainly saved some energy to simply step off at 180-ft, rather than hauling ourselves up there.
With the jib now added, the crane had 277-ft of pick, so it was super simple to pluck the OWA up and drop it smoothly right overhead and into the K0XG ring rotator’s trough. Of course, this simple task was upset when we found the supplied bolts wouldn’t fit! Richard had sent us carriage bolts in lieu of regular hex head bolts and the slots in the trough were too large–the carriage bolts simply spun around loosely! Sigh…such poor quality control. Luckily, we were able to remove the shims from the end U-bolts (required to hold the top-half of the trough ON the beam as you lift it, and secure the vertical truss support mast), and use them with some hex head bolts (which we had, but were a tad too long). All in ail, it took longer than expected, but was finally secured in place. Then I climbed down to hook up the Green Heron controller while W2GD wired things up and oriented the cables for the upside-down rotation loop (needed for ring rotators). Getting the GH box going took longer than anticipated, as we made the first calibration pass with the beam pointed South, not North. Obviously this resulted in an OT (over travel) error in the GH. Not noticing the error cost us more time. (The two driven elements are perfectly centered and nearly equal length, so it’s easy to confuse the two, plus 200-ft high staring into the sun makes for easy confusion.) But I digress…all worked out and the beam turns smoothly and appears to work well. Ken got some excellent reports into EU (with the beam left North, as he’d not yet wired the control lines to the shack from the tower base), running barefoot. All good news.
The trip home was mostly uneventful. Although DELTA had some folks wondering when I transferred to my Charlotte connection in Memphis. They’d already boarded the First Class passengers, and those with small children or requiring assistance, and had begun general boarding, when they announced we were changing planes and needed to walk half the length of the concourse to a new plane. Seems one of the coffee makers was leaking water! There but for the work of a plumber goes the airlines….
This week, down to Texas, for repairs to WX0B.