Saturday 25 October 2008

Cushcraft R6000 Repaired and Refurbished

R6000 My R6000 is several years old now. I took it down 2 years ago intending to repair and refurbish it in a few weeks. Typical of my many projects lying around the garage this one always seemed to take longer than usual. If any of you are familiar with the R6000 it is quite a tall antenna. I've had it lying across a portable workbench and plastic lawn chairs for support. Last winter I took the traps inside and spent a couple of weeks cleaning adding new stainless hardware and sealing the traps. The original hardware nuts inside had become corroded due to moisture so they were all replaced. Everything was double checked and then new caps installed and then sealed with Silicone II to waterproof them.

The most complicated part of the project was the repair to the main insulator base. Originally an unprotected tube of fibreglass, UV had deteriorated it so the polyester surface had evaporated and left bare fibreglass fibres that absorbed dirt and moisture.isolatorf2_r

Show here as an example is the R5 fibreglass insulator in the same sorry state mine had become after 6 years exposure to Ottawa weather conditions.

I purchased a fibreglass repair kit at Canadian Tire where you mix resin and hardener and paint the resulting mixture on the old surface. You have about eight minutes to work the mixture before it hardens. I did this in two stages, sanding between the coats and re-opening the bolt holes with a cordless drill. After the final coating of resin, sanding and making sure the bolts fit through the holes I spray painted the repair with bumper paint, flat black, with 2 or 3 coats. Bumper type paint is very tough and now provides a UV blocking layer to prevent any further deterioration.

repairedHere's what the repair looks like. Again this is a Cushcraft R5 photo the repair looks very similar to my Cushcraft R6000. The R6000 is still sold retail in Canada for about $450CDN. I purchased my copy second hand and used it for a season out here till the brutal winds loosened everything up. Every piece of hardware was replaced with stainless steel. In a refurbishment like this a Dremel tool in invaluable for cutting new stainless steel hardware down to size and removing corrosion and polishing. The R6000 is a great performer and have worked Antarctica using 20 watts on PSK. The R6000 uses a set of elevated ground radials and there's no need for installing a ground radial system. The antenna instructions require the antenna to be at least 10 feet off the ground. I have mine sitting about 4.5 feet above ground but may elevate that when I erect the antenna this coming week. I'll post actual close-up pictures when I get it mounted in place. I also intend to add three guying ropes to stabilize the antenna during high winds.

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Thursday 23 October 2008

Radio News August 1929

From my collection

Radio News August 1929-2

Radio News July 1929

Radio News July 1929

PC, Call Home, now! (could it be true?)


We all use computers and you're reading this blog on one. I ran across an interesting article on's website. It's been widely circulated since published a few days ago. Here's the article by Robert Eringer.

And Now The Manchurian Microchip

The geniuses at Homeland Security who brought you hare-brained procedures at airports (which inconvenience travelers without snagging terrorists) have decreed that October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. This means The Investigator -- at the risk of compromising national insecurities -- would be remiss not to make you aware of the hottest topic in U.S. counterintelligence circles: rogue microchips. This threat emanates from China (PRC) -- and it is hugely significant.

The myth: Chinese intelligence services have concealed a microchip in every computer everywhere, programmed to "call home" if and when activated.

The reality: It may actually be true.

All computers on the market today -- be they Dell, Toshiba, Sony, Apple or especially IBM -- are assembled with components manufactured inside the PRC. Each component produced by the Chinese, according to a reliable source within the intelligence community, is secretly equipped with a hidden microchip that can be activated any time by China's military intelligence services, the PLA.

"It is there, deep inside your computer, if they decide to call it up," the security chief of a multinational corporation told The Investigator. "It is capable of providing Chinese intelligence with everything stored on your system -- on everyone's system -- from e-mail to documents. I call it Call Home Technology. It doesn't mean to say they're sucking data from everyone's computer today, it means the Chinese think ahead -- and they now have the potential to do it when it suits their purposes."

Discussed theoretically in high-tech security circles as "Trojan Horse on a Chip" or "The Manchurian Chip," Call Home Technology came to light after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched a security program in December 2007 called Trust in Integrated Circuits. DARPA awarded almost $25 million in contracts to six companies and university research labs to test foreign-made microchips for hardware Trojans, back doors and kill switches -- techie-speak for bugs and gremlins -- with a view toward microchip verification.

Raytheon, a defense contractor, was granted almost half of these funds for hardware and software testing.

Its findings, which are classified, have apparently sent shockwaves through the counterintelligence community.

You can read the rest of the article here at Cryptome's archives.

Here's a little about the author Robert Eringer too.

Counterfeit Chips Raise Big Hacking, Terror Threats, Experts Say

Monday 20 October 2008

PAR 30M End Fed Dipole - First DX



ft-100These little gems, the PAR EndFedz, continue to amaze me. With 25 watts out on 30 meters, an FT-100 and Ham Radio Deluxe software I was able to work, GI4SIZ in Ireland 599, 9A0COAST on the island of Brac off the Dalmatian coast of Croatia with a 599, EA8KV, 599, in the Canary Islands and EB5DZC on the east coast of Spain 599. They were all perfect copy though with some qsb late this afternoon (20:00Z). The old FT-100 has a great receiver so I keep the RF gain cranked slightly to reduce band noise. I'm located about 20Kms south of Ottawa on a quiet country road so signals really pop out of the noise floor. Most evenings at this time of year the noise sits at S0. Even at this solar minimum some really good DX can be worked with efficient antennas. These little antennas work extremely well - highly recommended for portable or permanent installations.

Willis Island Expedition Update

The Willis Islands Group, Mid Isl. Thursday, October, 16thJosh_039_vk9dwx_1_sm

This is the seventh day of operation. We had two days with heavy gusty winds. The long enduring rainfall for more than a day gave us some relief. It was refreshing to have a sweet-water shower from the sky and temperature dropped to 28 degrees C. Today the sun is back again and we are experiencing 39 degrees in the operator tents, with linears running.

Our receiving situation on the lowbands is heavily influenced by static noise, which usually comes up to 20-30 db over S9, a real challenge for our operators. We obviously built the 30m 4 square too close to the water, because two Verticals were nearly washed into the sea by the heavy surf. We managed to fix the guy-ropes and pegs again and could keep the antenna into operation. For the same reason, we also moved the 40m 4-square a few meters away from the beach. We also put up a 6m-antenna, but there is no activity at all so far.

Today we crossed the line of 40.000 Qs. Stations are pouring in in great numbers still. Unfortunately especially the W-path is interfered and jammed heavily on 160m. but we will do our very best to get as many of you as possible in the log. We also have set up a fifth station and now are able to operate from all five positions at the same time, to cater the needs of all of you even better.

Tomorrow, we are expecting the "Rum Runner", who will bring us more supplies, out friend Dale, VK4DMC, Bernd (DK2JW; our "tourist") and the new rookie Rhy, ZS6DXB. Unfortunately Josh, W4WJF will be leaving with the "Rum Runner" in the next day, but this also means that Rhy will be joining our effort. Josh says he has loved working you all on the bands and has greatly enjoyed his experiences so far. He came in mainly as a SSB operator but has made quite a few CW contacts with you on-the-air. Even though he said some operators complained of his slow speed, his proficiency has improved so far. He is lucky since he doesn't have to help break down the antennas and the camp AND can go home and put VK9DWX in his log! He thinks the idea of inviting rookies along on DXpeditions is a great idea. In the US, he said many DXers were inspired by this idea and he hopes to give a few presentations about his trip in order to motivate others to sponsor a rookie on their next DXpedition.

We are expecting a great weekend and another exciting week full of pile-ups on the Island.

We will enjoy to work you in CW, SSB and RTTY on all bands!

73 de the VK9DWX-Team

P.S.: Just a few minutes ago the Rum Runner arrived at Willis Island. Around noon we will start to transfer the persons and the ordered supplies.

Courtesy of the Willis Island DXPedition web site.

Sunday 19 October 2008

PAR End Fedz Antennas = Great DX


The PAR EndFedz have been great performers at VE3MPG. My first use was at the Manotick Amateur Radio Group’s Field Day in June. I used the EF-40 meter version of the PAR with outstanding results. We threw it up in a tree, tacked the bottom feed point to a stake and 20080807-IMG_1318the SWR measured flat across the band. We constantly got reports on 40 that "you're the loudest signal on the band here!" In fact this were the comments we got from many of the stations we worked - they included signal reports included with the exchange to let us know how strong we were. My psk station, an FT-950 ran 35 watts all weekend powered by a Honda 2000i generator.

Have just installed my EF-30 PAR EndFed and it tunes up great first time up. The far end is up a white ash tree - 25 feet up and then the feed end is tethered to my support mast.

Make sure that you know your test equipment prior to installing any antenna. My MFJ antenna analyzer was causing all sorts of problems - I was blaming it on the PAR antenna until I ran into the same problem with the 30 meter end fed. Turns out the MFJ-259 had a half dozen cold solder joints and loose ground screws.


T20081002-IMG_1759he various pictures here show details on my masting - it was constructed from 1" x 1" pressure treated scrap lumber that sat unused in my woodshed for years, glued with exterior grade glue, then screwed together with galvanized screws. Notice that the upper sections are cut at 45 degrees so water or snow doesn't accumulate. Two coats of porch paint then spray painted with Rustoleum silver paint. All the screw countersinks and seams were filled with good quality caulking prior to painting. The mast assembly was then permanently affixed to a large wooden planter. Closed eyehooks complete the mast assembly to support coax and rope attached to the PAR match box. This method takes the weight off the matchbox and prevents the wire from sagging too much.

Tonight I get to try out the 30 meter PAR end fed - stay tuned.


Thursday 2 October 2008

Interview with Dale Parfitt, PAR Electronics

DaleParfitt_w4op.967603067 I conducted an email interview this afternoon with Dale Parfitt of PAR Electronics, the maker of the wondrous PAR EndFedz end fed dipoles. Dale's company also manufactures filters, mostly for the commercial market and military.

I own three of the PAR EndFedz, the EF-20, EF-30 and the EF-40 versions. In my next post I’ll show how easy these are to install and the post will include photos and close-ups of the antennas.

Here’s the interview.

Dale, how did you get started?

I received a BSEE from Syracuse U in '71 and an MSEE in 73. After a short stint with Sperry Flight Systems in Phoenix AZ, I went to work for Avanti R&D in their antenna lab. One of my patents is for the original On-Glass antenna. It came out of a need for me to operate 2M from my Corvette. The patent describes an end fed half wave antenna where the radiator and matching means are separated by a dielectric (glass in this case). That patent is now owned by The Allen Group. It was a strong patent, and imitators were forced to use inferior concepts that gave the ON-Glass antennas a poor reputation. It is unfortunate, because our original design (still marketed by Antenna Specialists) is NOT a compromise antenna and delivers superior performance. This basic design forms the basis for the EndFedz series. I enjoy hiking (actually running) the mountains of NC. I often take a rig with me and operate on stops. I needed an easy to deploy antenna.

Tell me a bit about your amateur radio background.

I became interested in amateur radio when I was 11 or so. Adult Ed in Elmira NY offered ham classes taught by W2HQY (SK) and W2ZBD (SK). The rub was that you had to be 18 years old to attend. So, my Mom who was at that time completing here BS in Nursing from Syracuse signed up and "baby sat" me. This was in 1963 or so. I was assigned a novice call WV2YPY. Back then, the novice was good for 1 year and non-renewable sink or swim. I loved CW and so the upgrade to WA2YPY came easily 6 months later. I was very active on HF DX and later VHF weak signal. During my college years I was totally inactive outside of an occasional stint at the SU club station.

Many years later my passion to VHF/UHF returned and I still operate a KW on 80-->6M [PRO III + SPE Expert solid state amp]. But my first love is 1296MHz EME where I am a medium sized station with a 14' dish and 400W homebrew solid state at the dish.

What is the market for the PAR antennas, and filters?

Our core business remains commercial. PAR filters are everywhere from flying in space to airports to FM broadcast stations to NASA's lightning detection system:

The market appears bottomless. Design is done with Eagleware's Genesys software - makes me look smart. Over the years I have become a decent machinist and have added digital capabilities to our mills and lathe.

Our Omniangle antennas virtually own the RFID industry because of their near-perfect omni pattern and zero feedline radiation. The EndFedz are used by our military and amateurs around the world.

How are your antennas used worldwide?

I have no clue as to how the military uses them - I don't even ask. The vast majority of EndFedz are in amateur use.

We do have piles of filters in Asia minor used in a system that measures snow pack data and transmits the collected via random meteor scatter. The filter criteria are very stringent and obviously, the filters must endure a very harsh environment.

Other filters are in use by militaries around the world for spectrum shaping.

Many years back, the FCC contacted us to design a version of our patented 2M IM filter to relieve the problem of pagers interfering with commercial boats on the Mississippi. Today, there may not be a commercial boat on that river that does not have a pair of our filters on board.

Where is PAR Electronics headed?

Hard to say. I have a lot of other interests that have been put on hold while PAR demands 80+ hour weeks. A number of very novel antennas have never seen the light of production simply because we cannot handle the order levels they would create. At some point, I'll turn the reigns over to a younger fellow.

How many people does PAR Electronics employ?

Very few. I am a perfectionist who does not play well with others. So, while I do bring people in to do some of the mundane milling and lathe work, 90% of the work is done by me from 9AM to 2AM 6 days/week. I am the ultimate micromanager (not a good thing) and instead of critiquing others' work- I just do it myself.

Are you surprised by the success of your company?

Most of the time, I don't see the forest for the trees. But when I look at the bottom line- yes, it is surprising. I believe a very large part of our success is treating our clients like family. We regularly stay late to make sure someone has a certain product for vacation etc. Anyone can do this if they are willing to go the extra mile for their clients. This is getting harder and harder as our commercial segment takes up more and more of the time we traditionally devoted to amateur radio - but we remain committed to the amateur segment.

Any other interesting facts about PAR or yourself.

My shop, in addition to the lab and machine shop has a beautiful Olhausen billiards table for stress relief. I have very little interest in modern gear (aside what is needed for EME) and a passion for restoration of the tube gear of days gone by. I love to build and make the end product look as though it came off a production line:
Dale's Receiver Pg150_small DDS HF general coverage RX.

My version of a solid state Drake 2B with added bells and whistles.
Dale's Drake2B_homebrew_small

So there you have it. A great interview with Dale Parfitt creator of the PAR EndFedz series of end fed dipoles.

And some reviews of the PAR EndFedz on Eham.