The Sunshine State….??

Sure, that’s what the little logo says on their license plates. But after Tuesday of last week, (which WAS sunny and bright, 84 degrees!) that was a true misnomer–there was little or no sunshine to be found!

Joe and I were in West Palm Beach, to take down W1MBB’s OptiBeam, since he’s never been very happy about its performance level, replacing it with a new JK Antennas HAWK model. Then, using a new, larger chrome-moly mast, we were to stack a Force-12 4-BA & a little 6M Yagi above. The work included new Heliax feedlines to everything, too.

The OptiBeam came down fine, resting on some sawhorses until Matt can dis-assemble it and maybe find a buyer. The big JK went up just perfectly, flying flat and level. Then we put the other two beams in the air using the “flying forklift” method, which simply means we attach some 2X4s to the man-basket, resting the beams on them, riding up and then reaching out & installing them on the mast.  Everything worked exactly as pre-visualized.

There were some awkward moments using the MFJ/Comet analyzers, apparently de-tuned by the radio station from the school across the road. Once we hooked up a real transmitter, all the curves fell in to line. Everyone went away happy.

We headed to Daytona Beach; Matt headed to Orlando. Rain was falling in both places. Our work at W2ZI’s was cut short, when it simply became too dangerous to climb. Don’s US Tower MDX-72 suffered a broken cable. And while he had purchased replacements, he had not seen the extensive damage to the interior sections–making the tower just unusable. All three interior sections have severe bends at their ends, there are four frozen sheaves, the mast is bent, the rotator case is cracked, the thrust bearing is no longer in the proper place, etc. All the result of the tower collapsing once the cable broke. The C-31 beam’s boom broke in two places. Some element tips snapped off. We were able to repair the beam and hoisted it back up to 23 feet, getting him back on the air. But the reality is the tower needs replacing. Exactly HOW we’ll get it lowered (there is no erection fixture, for example) remains a mystery. And how we’ll get a new tower in to the backyard is yet another puzzle. I’ve found a smaller MDX-series crankup for sale in Ohio and hope we can perhaps buy that (it HAS the needed erection fixture), and use it to solve the question of lowering the old tower.

Then we dashed over to Orlando, where it rained constantly. Last year’s Hamcation attendance was over 13,000; this year saw only 9,000 folks show up, a significant loss. Lots of vendors never even uncovered their outdoor tables. A few bargains were found, making the trip worthwhile, however.

It’s snowing in Charlotte; the temperature isn’t above freezing. So, it’s doubtful we’ll get any work done yet this week. Off the MD at the end of the week for the ARRL DX Test at W3LPL’s.

stay tuned…

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