Tuesday 24 March 2009

Antennas Survive Ottawa Winter

My antenna farm survived the brutal, windy, snowy, freezing rain type weather known in this neck of the woods. Some good planning, engineering and blind luck allowed my PAR EndFedz and my Cushcraft R6000 to survive unscathed through the arctic like conditions up here. A 3-point guy system protected my R6000 from self-destruction. The PAR EndFedz were securely anchored with enough slack to survive the windy conditions south of Ottawa. We do get some extreme winds out here. A couple of years ago, during a micro-burst type summer storm I lost some siding on the upper story of my home. Anything not anchored down gets blown to the next county.

DX has been hit and miss but throughout the season there's been some good conditions favourable for long haul communications. D44TXF on Cape Verde - 17m, NH6I Hawaii on 40 meters, ES3RM - Estonia on 17m, 5D0IPY - Morrocco on 17m, ZS6GAV - South Africa on 17m, and many more. The 17 meter band has been open during the very early morning hours during dawn and stays open for at least a couple of hours. Despite the low sunspot numbers there's a lot of DX to be had. I'm working these stations with a multi-band vertical and low power and on digital modes. Power reaching my R6000 vertical can't be more than 10-15 watts. I'm feeding it with 100 feet of RG59 75 ohm coax. At the transmit end I have my FT-950 set for 20 watts output.

The new Yaesu PEP FT-950 enhancements have made the FT-950 a superb DX rig. The receiver is quieter, the noise reduction settings now work great, and the AGC and Contour functions have been improved 100%. Check out the eham.net ratings for the FT-950 with the PEP enhancements. Satisfaction all around, and Yaesu is continuing to enhance the FT-9000, FT-2000 and FT-950 family of transceivers with regular firmware and DSP updates and features. The latest update to the FT-950 required a new operating manual to be released by Yaesu, such were the number of changes to the radio.

In conclusion the PAR EndFedz 40 and 30 meter antennas survived quite nicely through the rigours of an Ottawa winter, as did the recently refurbished Cushcraft R6000. Proper installation and guying were the key points that kept everything running with zero maintenance.

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