Pt2 SG-237 Tuner and Long Wire Installation

Installation of the radials for my antenna started by laying them out to get the correct spacing, the first lawn picture shows 7 wires, the total in the lawn was 15 in the end, additional radials extend to the front of the house, the SG Tuner guidance says to extend the radial past the length of the antenna, hence the radials on the front lawn, the layout plan shows the dimensions to fit my plot:

11 Farriers Gate_Radials

Wires dry laid ready for cutting in:

initial wires layout

This picture shows the last radial ready for the grass to be cut with the Edging Knife, unfortunately on the start of the last radial the end broke off the shaft!!, time for a trip to Toolstation for a new one (£4.80).

buried wires bar 1

The wires will be routed to the base of the antenna tuner in 25mm plastic flexible conduit.

wire out of grass

Picture shows the 100mm x 100mm timber post concreted in place which will be used to support the 6m scaffold pole, also in the picture is the circular box where one of the 2.4m copper DC earth terminates and of course the box containing the tuner.

Side tuner boxed

This is the front view of the SG Tuner enclosure, I have used a storage container to keep the elements off the equipment, the location gets very little direct sunlight, hopefully the container is sufficiently UV robust.

SAM_5086 (Medium)

I have raised the tuner off the backboard so that the surplus cable can be neatly coiled behind it, in the centre on the picture is a lightning arrestor held in place with a ‘Terry Clip’, the box the clip is mounted to is for the low voltage connections to the home made Smart-Tuner.

SAM_5087 (Medium)

The Amber led indicates power is available as it is fed remotely, the large orange knife switch is set to the working position, one set of blades close a circuit giving me an indication in the shack that the aerial is available, the other set of blades either routes the longwire (when fitted) to the tuner or to ground.

The earth block brings in the ground radials, I have used 20 with an overall distance of 400m.

I have separate earth rods for RF and Lightning, each of the lightning rods is a total of 2.4m long (two 1.2m coupled together as picture), rods are spaced 9m apart from each other, the construction of the rod is 15mm copper coated steel.

This picture shows that one rod has been driven in, with the additional 1.2m rod coupled to it, ready to be hammered in. On the top of the rod is another coupling and bolt which takes the impact of the hammer, it is simply unscrewed when finished leaving the top of the rod undamaged.

SAM_5092

Once level with the ground, a Gweiss round box is used to identify and protect the connection to the rod, I have used 10mm diameter copper pipe as the conductor, this will be buried once all the other cables are in place.

SAM_5094

The RF earth uses 1.2m x 10mm copper coated steel earth rods, 4 have been used, each spaced at 5m from each other, interconnection is by 10mm copper pipe, where the connection ‘loops through’, I have soldered the two pipes together for extra measure.

The smaller diameter rods do not have threaded ends to allow extensions in length, the tip is to place the cable clamp over the rod before you start hammering, as the head of the rod will ‘pan’ over, which might make it difficult depending which type of clamp you use.

SAM_5090

Planning permission application is now in the public domain (8th August 14) on www.fenland.gov.uk for the aerial wire and support post, hopefully the next installment will show this fitted with pictures.

Picture taken on the 17th August 14 showing the new galvanized lawn edgings and lawn seeded, the radial lawn cuts have almost disappeared and the garden is looking ok, the lawn edging is also connected to the radials to maximize the RF Earth from the Tuner.

seeded

2 weeks after seeding and feeding, the lawn is not looking too bad.

2014-09-06 19.55.05 (Medium)

9th August 14, Finished laying the front of house radials, the photos show progress:

Wires layed under the gravel down the side of the house before breaking out to the front lawn.

SAM_5153 (Medium)

Last of the three wires ready for the edging knife to be cut in.

SAM_5156 (Medium)

Wire ready to be pushed into the notch, two other wires are sticking out ready to have an insulating crimp fitted.

SAM_5157 (Medium)

Wires in and gone.

SAM_5159 (Medium)

Click for part 3
 

Web Site Modifications

Just a few small modifications to the Chatteris.biz Weather pages:

1) The current spate of lightning has caused a problem of page formatting, originally when a storm cell was detected, the information was displayed inside the header of the page, as the lighting cells grew and the information increased, this caused the web page to overrun and loose formatting, I posted the problem in the wxforum.net forum and Wim sorted the script in moments.

Only when lightning cells are detected, will the page header show the lightning alert against a red background, clicking on this message will show the information, I have also added a clickable shortcut to the lightning map page and also a clickable link to how to set a lightning alert up.

Weather alerts page can be accessed from the menu as always.

2) Tidied up the wxspace pages and the radio ham information by adding additional links and sorting page validation errors.

3) Added information on lightning types.

4) Alert message when the weather station is going offline to protect its sensitive and expensive lightning detection equipment, this equipment failed last year due to a storm and I don’t want a repeat, I think the issue was the imbalance in ground potential, so in future when a large storm is over Chatteris, the broadband and external aerial will be unplugged.

July 14 update on getting on air progress

Thought I’d do a quick update on how I’m progressing with my shack equipment and any changes I’ve made since my last blog.

I have done a fair bit of reading on the subject of RF Grounding, as opposed to safety earthing, where the shack is on the first floor as is mine, the issue is the 4m grounding cable which goes to the earth rods, dependent on this cables length being a derivative of a particular wavelength, it may act as an additional antenna and radiate, especially with my proposal of using an end fed antenna which is unbalanced.

To be honest it seems like a black art, so to avoid any problems I may have gone over the top, but better that, than problems later on, so what have I done.

First job was to purchase a MFJ-931 Artificial Ground, this unit allows the cable to the ground rods to be tuned out of being a radiating element returning it to a relatively effective path for RF currents to drive against. I will be installing more earth rods local to the SCG Tuner as well as installing counterpoise wires, but that is for another blog :-).

The MFJ-931 is on top of the MFJ-949E tuner.

Shack setup

The rear of the Artificial Earth has two terminals, the wing nut one is to bring in the grounds from the rig and ancillary equipment, in my case it’s simply the Rig and the antenna tuner, the picture below shows the rear of the MFJ-931 with the two copper braided leads crimped up ready for the incoming connection.

Ground copper braid

I had to modify the antenna connector wall bulkhead for the artificial earth to be effective as the original faceplate design earthed the incoming connectors via a copper plate with an earth stud which made contact with it, the modification involved removing the bolt and replacing it with an insulated banana plug socket, the connection to the existing 10mm2 cable was by using copper braid, again insulated so as to keep the grounding point to be the MFJ-931.

Incomming Antenna bonding bulkhead insulated from the RF Earth

One change I made from the original antenna faceplate installation was to change the metal back box to a plastic dry ling type, this allows me to easily remove the box giving greater access. So I can dismantle the faceplate, I replaced the soldered SO259 sockets with crimped ‘N’ Type bulkhead ones and it has made a huge difference as I’m not constrained by cable length when I remove the faceplate.

Antenna drylining box

This is the antenna faceplate back in place.

Assembled antenna faceplate

I will know in the next few weeks whether or not this has been worth it when the external antenna goes up and I start transmitting, my license limits me to 50watts at the antenna, so it may well be that no problems are apparent until I start transmitting at a value greater than this in the future.

Neat Feature of Ham Radio Deluxe

I recently installed Ham Radio Deluxe software, this software allows remote control of my rig as well as a whole host of other functions and features, working through these I stumbled across a neat little feature, that is the ability to automatically post to your web site details of the frequency, mode and time last seen using the rig at regular intervals, I retained the default of every 5 minutes.

An example of the output can be seen here on my site.

Setup is fairly straightforward, the main details you must have are your host upload details and password, I use Notepad++ to edit and create pages, using this I added the following text and saved as radio.html:

2E0DDI was last seen on frequency ###-frequency-###MHz using ###-mode-### mode with a Kenwood ###-radio-### Multi Band Transceiver at ###-timestamp-### – Data automatically updates every 5 minutes when using Ham Radio Deluxe Software.

Once Ham Radio Deluxe is downloaded and the connection and control is established with the radio, go to Tools >> Web Page Updates.

In this panel, enter the location of the html document previously created, your host name, directory you want to upload the document to, (I simply placed it in the root directory – /web), fill in your user id and password, then press the test upload button, if all is well, the detail box will show success, if transfer fails, re-check your settings.

Hopefully your still with me :-), so the next bit is to insert the information which is being uploaded into your web page, the raw information looks like this on my site.

Where you want this to display, add this to the page using iframes –

iframe src=”http://www.your web site/radio.html” frameborder=”0″ width=”700″ height=”75″>/iframe>

In order to show the code I had to remove the < from in front of the first iframe and also in front of the ending /iframe - place the < back in front for the frame to work, (if I'd left the < in, you would have seen a blank frame in the blog page as the information was trying to be gathered from a non existent source of www. your web site) That's it, hope you found it useful, the feature does only work when you are working through the Ham Radio Deluxe software, but it is quite a nice addition to your site. When I get my antenna sorted, I will add a contact log to my web site, again this can be automated through this software. 73

SG-237 Tuner Control pt1

As I want a relatively discrete antenna arrangement for my radio ham interest, I have opted for a single random length wire with automatic tuning being dealt with by a SG-237 tuner, Part 2 of this blog will go into the fixing details of the antenna and hardware.

I have made a tuner control unit out of a single gang blank faceplate, although this is not required for the basic installation, it will give me some control and confirmation indications at the shack end of power and that the tuner has finished tuning.

The schematic I followed with the exception of the polarity protection diode and Antenna Available ON led, is within the manual available from SG Tuners, I used an small offcut of veroboard to make the unit and this will be inside a backbox, the faceplate displays the lights and access the controls.

board v2

The connections and schematic for my unit are shown here.
schematic from manual

The veroboard layout is shown here.

SG Tuner Board - V2

This is the unit fully assembled but not yet labeled, holes were drilled will a hss bit on a slow speed, letting the drillbit do the work with little pressure, I bought off ebay a Dremel copy, and used the grinding bit to gently open the holes to the right size and also to grind down the faceplate support ridges:

Virgin Faceplate

SAM_5040

Labeled unit ready for installation, the label is made in Word or Visio to the right dimensions, printed to plain paper and cut slightly oversize, the reverse of the paper then has double sided self-adhesive tape applied, the front of the label then has a clear self adhesive covering applied (the sort of clear covering you would use for school books), I used a sharp knife, steel rule and cutting mat to cut just inside of the second outer boarder of the label, I printed a double border in case I made a hash of cutting it the first time, at least I could have another shot.

Once the label was ready, I striped down the faceplate, lined it up and carefully stuck it to the faceplate, to cut the holes, I held the faceplate to the light and used the knife to starburst the holes before going round the edges to clean up.

faceplate v2

I have added an led which will light when the longwire is NOT to ground, the transfer will be done by a mechanical knife switch, the switch is a double pole double throw, one contact pole will switch the antenna wire from the SG-237 to ground, whilst the other pole will switch the Anntena Available led, credit goes to Bill O’Neil, KW8KW for a simple but effective solution to what could be a costly problem.

INSTALLATION IN SHACK

I opted to fit a double dry lining box and to have once side blanked as a spare for future use, the positioning of the tuner control was important as I did not want the display obscured by the PC monitor.

I started by clearing the area:

Preparing

Offered the backbox to the wall and leveled it with the existing antenna faceplate:

Wall Marked

Bin bag opened and taped to the dado trunking ready to contain the majority of the mess:

Bag in place

Using a sharp utility knife I scored the plaster board along the pencil markings, repeating this a number of times until the blade cuts through (the finishing lining plasterboard is quite thin for my internal walls, so it was quite easy), you can use the alternate method of drilling a hole at each corner and cut the hole with a plasterboard saw or similar.

board knife cut

I knew by tapping on the plasterboard that the fixing adhesive was right in the middle of the hole, to break the cut board out, I split the board worth a chisel and took each piece out, I try not to let the pieces fall into the cavity between the wall and the board, the adhesive was removed using a bolster chisel, notches in the breeze block were needed to allow the fixing wings of the dry lining box to be fully pushed back to clear the plasterboard:

wall exposed

The control cable to the SG-237 tuner was put in place when I was drawing the antenna cables:

cable fished

Drylining box in place with cable conductors pin crimped:

box in ends made off

Cable connected to veroboard:

connected to veroboard

Veroboard sized to fit within rear of backbox:

vero in backbox

Faceplates screwed on and area cleaned up:

faceplate on

Job done, 12v wall wart PSU plugged in all ready for Part2 hardware and long wire installation.

back together

Click for part2

Intermediate Call Sign

Received my Radio Ham pass confirmation today, logging into the OFCOM website, I have the new callsign of 2E0DDI, I don’t think I’ll change all my details on QRZ.Com and other forums just yet from M6EID as I’m considering taking the advanced license test in the next few months.

Weather Site Minor Additions

Minor tweaking carried out today:

Added Lightning Analysis tab, this opens another page to show statistics from the Boltek lightning detector.

Expanded to Pollen page to show information from The Weather Channel, I have retained the Chatteris map as this has greater detail on it when you follow the link by clicking the map directly.

Glossary of terms added.

Link from the lightning StormVue NGX and Alerts Page has been set up via the TSentry icon, this link takes you to the Contact Me page – TSentry is the software which send the e-mails when certain conditions are met, have a look at the Alerts Page to see what they are.

General information and status updates.