Sunday, September 23, 2007

Painter pole mast

Thirty days until our departure. I just realized there are only four more weekends to finish up my trip planning. I need to get focused!

Sandy and I made a trip to Home Depot yesterday. There were a number of last minute items on the list but the biggest problem to solve was that of the mast for the Mosley Mini-32-A beam. I have heavy duty aluminum mast sections that I purchased from The Mast Company but each 48 inch section weighs 2.2 pounds (1 Kg). This is great stuff. It held up a very heavy monoband yagi on Field Day. It supported the very heavy Force-12 C3SS on Deer Isle, Maine for a special event. I just need far less for the 6 pound Mini-32A.
I purchased two 8 foot painter poles. I cut the threaded head off of one pole and removed the rubber bottom from the other. They now slip together nicely. A simple bolt through the two poles allows the stacked combination to be about 15 feet in length. It looked sturdy, but would it support the weight of the antenna?
Yes. I assembled (for the last time before the trip) the Mosley this morning and popped it on top of the stacked painters poles. Once guyed, it was quite solid. I'm considering adding a third painters pole! That would give me a combined height of about 22 feet from the three poles. Each pole weighs about 2 pounds so I've cut my weight for mast material in half. I like that!

The St. Brandon team (3B7C) is wrapping up their work. I had hoped to work them on either 20m phone or CW before they packed up. I listed on 14.022 for a very long time. I could barely hear them. Then I bounced back and forth between phone and CW ends of the band vowing to make my attempt as soon as they were readable in either mode.
The Mosley was set up outside the shack's window and pointed towards St. Brandon. (MacLoggerDX has a beam pointing feature but I'd never used it before today!) Finally, an opening on phone gave me my chance. I made my call and the return from 3B7C came though cloaked in QSB. A big tip-of-the-hat to the operator on St. Brandon. He spent the extra time confirming my call sign and fighting the noise to get me in the log. Thank you. I now have them confirmed on two bands. It should appear in their online log tomorrow morning.
This was a confidence builder for the antenna, but it also was a wake-up call for me. I had been hoping all this time that conditions and solar activity would have improved significantly by now. Obviously, they have not. If anything, conditions seem worse than those we had on Montserrat! I may need to reconsider my QSO goals for the trip.

Dave Bushong has a new podcast in his 99 Hobbies series. His guest this time is Carl Luetzelschwab (K9LA) discussing propagation. His podcasts are always fun. Give it a listen!


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