Sunday, December 03, 2006

Mast repaired

Last weekend I attempted to set up the Buddipole with the new large coil to see if I could get it to work on 80m. Of course, since it was just “temporary”, I didn’t bother guying it. Stupid, stupid me. A gust of wind came along and blew the whole thing over, tripod, 16-foot mast, coil, and 7-section shock-cord whip. Of course it fell across the sidewalk, too, ensuring the most damage would be done.
When I saw the antenna fall in what looked like slow motion, I feared the worst. Amazingly, only one small piece was damaged. The very top of the 16-foot mast had a plastic threaded piece used to mount the “tee”. This small piece snapped unceremoniously. {sigh}
I dropped Budd Drummond a note explaining the situation. Apparently, I was a very early adopter on this mast because Budd told me they had stopped using that plastic part only months after the mast began shipping. What they replaced it with is pictured below:
The replacement part is a solid metal piece shaped just like the old plastic one, only much, much stronger. Mind you, I’m not happy I dumped my antenna like that, but the result was a system with a much more rugged mast system and top mount. It was better that I goofed this up here, at home, with a couple of months to go before the big trip, than on the island. The pictures above is my system for securing the threaded piece to the mast. Budd said that a good epoxy will also do the trick nicely, but I like the idea of a nice solid screw holding it. I goofed up the head on the screw a little (it is a tight fit), but otherwise I think it looks great. Certainly it feels solid.
The Buddipole repair project only took a few minutes. I spent a few hours working on Cab-converter, a utility I maintain for radio contesters that use Macintosh computers and MacLoggerDX. I received a note from a user who discovered the program performed very badly on large data sets (large numbers of QSOs). Actually, he had a number of excellent observations and suggestions for the program. The performance problem is fixed along with a few other rough edges. Actually, that work took some of last night and half of today to complete (time really flies when you’re programming!) Cab-converter is free (as in free as in beer).
What I didn’t get to today was the log processing software for the Montserrat trip. I hope to complete at least a first version of it tomorrow. If I do, I’ll process some test data as though they were QSOs from the island and put those pages up on the dxpedition web site so the group can discuss it in tomorrow night’s conference call.


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