DXCC on 160M and repairing the SteppIR beam

This morning received qsl via LOTW for the qso on 160M with A92IO on Dec. 7. This is qsl no. 100 so my 10th band DXCC. Especially 160M is quite difficult, most time signals are marginal. Beverages are needed to improve RX but also to defend against EU-qrm. Radiation pattern for a beverage is much lower than for the inverted-L.
I’ll wait for some more qsl’s (HK, V5) before submitting to ARRL-DXCC-desk.
Total count on 160M now 110 countries.

Another way to defend against local-&EU-qrm is having a good trx.
So I bought a TS-590S (second hand). The down-conversion on the low bands and roofing filter must be able to eliminate the strong signals in the neighberhood (1 Kc, maybe less).
This weekend Steve Perry contest on 160M will be the first test.

Meanwhile I’m still reparing my SteppIR shafts.
First I took all the shafts down and took some pictures

damaged shaft

damaged shaft

damaged shaft

damaged shaft

Very strange some parts very heavily damaged and 5 cm further no scratch at all. This is not simply done by birds. Some parts no paint at all, some parts the paint is 100% as new.

Via the newsgroup I got in touch with Peter PA2DXY who advised me on repairing the elements with 2-component glasfiber repairkit and UV-resistent green paint (Need more info? mail me)
A lot of work but hope to qrv in February (after my holiday).

Meanwhile some more pictures of the freezing rain: my beverage survived

Beverage in freezing rain

And on the 160M vertical there were thick pieces of ice, dangerous to come close when it started to melt.

160M vertical

Freezing rain

Guess I have been lucky last night.
We had freezing rain that lasted until the morning, when the temperatures rose again above zero.
Some damage but repairable.

'Naked' SteppIR, saved my shafts!

‘Naked’ SteppIR, saved my shafts!


The inverted L for 80M survived although it was bending over


The 160M inverted-L survived by a miracle.
The top was bending very much but didn’t break. Guess the fiber is still rather fresh.

But the main reason for surviving was that the horizontal part of the wire had landed in a tree.
This lift saved my 160M system….


About 0.5 cm of ice was on the wires. What would have been the result without this lift?


Not the best time to work outside

Mast down checking all elements of the SteppIR

Mast down checking all elements of the SteppIR

Being outside in freezing temps is not the most funny part of being a ham
But that’s life….

meanwhile had a problem with the beverage bought @ DX engineering.
The reversible beverage is controlled by a unit (FVC-1) that needs 12~V
DX engineering sent me a wall-transformer with the USA-legs and 110~V AC input. #fail
The email conversation was short: buy one transformer yourself.

Good thinking DX engineering! Real customer-oriented behaviour, sending USA material to Europe.

‘because you ordered via web, there is no checking done by us’. BULLSHIT.

Antenna’s Antenna’s

Excellent transmitters can be bought on the market. But the best antenna’s have to be made by ourselves.
Last week I added a reversible beverage system (from DX engineering). Direction 160-340, Africa and NW USA-Alaska. About 120 meters long this is fair for 160M and best for 80M. According to the DX engineering brochure.
Today heard K7ZV on 80M Long path, the difference between beverage and inverted-L was significant. Especially the qrn is down on the beverage.
Still have to install the 2-way switch, work in progress.

But my SteppIR is broken, like last winter. But now it is worse than last year, tuning by band gives SWR > 5 and tuning up or down by small steps (‘coarse’ on the controller) is not improving the SWR. So I took down the mast and started to dismantle the hollow arms. Are they leaking water? Is there anything else inside which blocks the expanding wires? Motor defect? Spindle broken? Anything else.
The concept of SteppIR is nice but the system is very volnerable.

Meanwhile I added some more countries on 160M like 5T0SP and A92IO. VK4MA is heard nearly every day, he has a good system. Conditions are not very good on TB. 5N7M was audible on the new beverage but it was one-way.

This week I have to find out what’s wrong with the SteppIR.