Here are some pictures from some of the VHF activities I participate in. Updated 10-4-2000. New pictures!
A job opportunity has recently moved me from Rochester, NY to Reno, NV. Any time you sell a house you've lived in a long time and move nearly all the way across the country, there is some disruption. Well, there is a lot of disruption in this case! It will probably be a year or more before I will have any kind of a serious fixed ham station, especially for VHF. In the meantime, I plan to complete many unfinished parts of the station electronics, to have them ready for their permanent new home, wherever that ends up being. (A mountaintop would be ideal, and there are plenty of them out here. Unfortunately they are either spoken for, out of my price range, or physically inacessible!) In the meantime, you can have a look at my station as it existed just prior to the move. (Last contest operated with it was the August 2000 UHF contest.)
As you see it, it is equipped for 160 meters through 10 GHz. General HF operation is done using a Harris RF-3200 commercial HF rig located on the right of the center shelf. Immediately to it's left is a Kenwood TS-530 which is used as the main IF ich is used as the main IF rig for all VHF bands (Next station improvement: a second IF rig for working microwave liason. It has been purchased, and it's integration is part of the station finishing project.) To the left of the TS-530 is a number of control boxes. These boxes do the master keyline and sequencing management for the entire station. They also allow nearly instant band changing. Behind these boxes are the transverters for the bottom four VHF bands. These transverters are all essentially Microwave Modules clones. The two meter transverter also doubles as the IF for the microwave bands.
On the left end of the top shelf are the transverters for 903, 1296 and 2304 MHz. To the right of the transverters are three Hi-Spec amplifiers for (L to R) 903, 1296 and 2304 MHz. The box to the far right is the power supply for the amplifiers. These amplifiers each use a pair of air cooled 7289's, for 150, 100 and 50 Watts out on 903, 1296 and 2304 MHz, respectively. Water cooling is planned for the 2304 MHz amp, which should dramatically improve both power output and stability. Upper microwave stuff is described further below.
There are two rotators in the station. The newer Ham-IV on top of the RF-3200 is for 222 MHz and above. The older ham-II on top of the Hi-Spec power supply is for 6 and 2 meters. A Heathkit HK-232 (=PK-232 clone) sits on top of the TS-530 and a DSP audio filter can be seen on top of the newer rotor control. A Mrotor control. A MFJ memory keyer sits on top of the HK-232. The white object on top of the 902 MHz power amp is a lion skull.
VHF FM is handled on the operating surface. An old Motorola vehicle radio is used for 6 meters. It's control head is visible just below the weak signal bandswitch controls. Below that is a Kenwood TM-731 2 and 440 MHz radio borrowed from my vehicle for the contest. A Mirage B108 80W 2 meter brick is beneath the TM-731, but I usually do not use it during contests. To the right of the 6 meter control head is a Midland 13-502 for 222 MHz FM. The box on the far right, below the RF-3200 is a monitor for the 12 volt supply. This supply is a float-charged deep-discharge battery. This gives me many hours of emergency power during our frequent severe weather.
Just visible to the right of the station is the workbench. A laptop computer is currently on the benchtop, for logging. Some of the station test equipment is also visible. (You'll notice a lot of is actually video test equipment, for maintaining the video equipment collection!) To prevent boredom during slow periods in the contest, I have a nice view out the window!
Here is the upper microwave stack. It is located behind me when I operate, and for the most part operates by remote control. The top item with the CRT is a spectrum analyzer good throughalyzer good through 12.4 GHz. Also in the rack, but not visible in the picture is a good frequency counter and an ancient noise figure meter. The microwave electronics are in the 6 gray rack units at the bottom of the rack. From top to bottom they are: 3456 HPA (10W, TWTA), 3456 transverter and master controller, 5760 transverter, 5760 HPA (10-15W, TWTA), 10 GHz transverter, 10 GHz HPA (40(!)W, TWTA). At this time, these are not on the air. I will have the electronics functioning very soon, but only 3456 has an antenna at this time.
If the microwave part of my station looks familiar, it probably is. Most of it came from the legendary N2WK station when Wayne decided to sell it off. I was very lucky to have been in a position to acquire it, and many hamfests had to be skipped subsequently to make up for this big purchase! Below is a picture showing this equipment in Wayne King, N2WK's famous contest station. Wayne is the operator on the left, and Dave Hallidy, K2DH is the operator on the right. I will be only so lucky if I ever acheive what Wayne did with this equipment!
Not pictured, but nearly finished is a portable 10 GHz station. This station features the new Down East Microwave 10 GHz transverter kit, driving a 20 watt TWTA for transmit. Recieve will feature a state-of-the-art LNA. This was to be plumbed into a 2 foot dish with buttonhoo dish with buttonhook feed. Unfortunately, this dish was one of the few casualties of the move. If I can't fix the feed, I will probably use the same dish I plan to use for the fixed station, only with a 10 GHz monoband feed.
I own a pair of 24 GHz gunnplexers, but I have never built up the support electronics for them.
I also have a laser station, with a mechanically modulated gas laser for transmit. The gas laser features an external collimator to produce an extremely tight beam. Recieve is a silicon photovoltaic detector (Not a solar cell, but it works on the same principle.) driving a small audio amplifier. A 12 inch fresnel lens is used to focus light on the detector's 1/4 inch square active area. Out here in Northern Nevada, there is serious interest in laser communications and DX'ing. This station is nearly world class by their standards. I hope to have a lot of fun with it.
Here are the 'stacks'. This rotor sits on my roof and holds 222 through 3456 MHz. All antennas are either yagis or loop yagis. 222 and 432 are fed with 9913. 902 and 1296 are fed with 1/2 inch hardline. 2304 and 3456 MHz are fed with 7/8 inch hardline. Next addition was to be 5760 MHz and 10 GHz, in the form of a dual-band dish. I obtained the dish at Dayton, but moved before it could be put up. I have 130 feet of WR-90, and a considerable numbera considerable number of WR-90 flex sections for the 10 GHz station when it finally does get erected.
Here is the 6 and 2 meter beams on what started out as a temporary mount in the backyard. This was to be moved to the roof this summer, but the move intervened. (Gates, NY zoning ordinances make it very difficult to have a tower, but allow rooftop mounts!). 222 MHz and 432 MHz were later added to this stack. The overall performance was very good for it's low height, and the array was rock stable in the highest winds, even without guying. The mount came out to Nevada with me, as it could be completely disassembled.
Most of my operating in VHF contests is done in the field, from various hilltops. I was one of the team captains of the N2HLT contest team, and operated 222 MHz almost exclusively. (Although I now live in Nevada, I still plan to operate with the N2HLT team from time to time.) The station is very similar to the home station, and uses the same equipment. (Only the 222 components are taken into the field.) At home I operate QRP. In the field, I use the FAA amplifier for about 300 watts (conservatively) on 222 MHz. Although we usually run generators for power (It's like doing Field Day 3-4 times a year!), we have the year!), we have the reliability high enough to use desktop computers for logging. The astute person may notice the power supply on the extreme right end. It is the station low level 12 volt supply and is an old RCA TK76 TV camera power supply courtesy of Quadruplex Park!
Here is a picture of the 222 MHz stacks. The antennas are 2 KLM 30+ foot long antennas, stacked vertically. A small beam for FM is nestled between them. The main array is fed with 7/8 inch hardline, with a mast-mounted preamp just below the rotor. Tower height is 50 feet. These antennas and tower belong to Leon, N2HLT. The towers for the VHF contest efforts are erected and taken down for each contest! This stunning photo was taken during a rare sunny break during the June 2000 VHF contest.
Leon Ingerick, N2HLT digs for more Q's on 432 MHz in the September 1998 VHF QSO party. Leon is the 432 MHz band captain on our team.
The operators on the left are Loren James, N2LSJ (With the dog shirt) and Randy, WB4MJF. They were the six meter team for this contest, although the exact makeup of this team tends to change from contest to contest. The other operator. with his back to us, is Rick Ayers, KB2DMK. He is rrs, KB2DMK. He is running 2 meters, and is the team's 2 meter band captain. Here is a better picture of Rick:
Jim Babcock, KB2PVZ is usually a six meter op, but is filling in on 222 while I take a break. He has not been able to join us for the last few contests, but would if he could.
This is the newest team member, Steve Raas, N2JDQ. Here, Steve is operating his second favorite band, six meters, in the September 1998 'test. His first love is 432 MHz, and he has been known to operate that band exclusively in some contests!
Steve has a wonderful sense of humor and knows how to keep us all in stitches!
Here I am, digging out a weak one on 222. If you have never tried VHF contesting, you ought to. We had to check and see if we needed a permit to have this much fun!
The June 2000 VHF contest was especially wet. The morning after the contest, we were envoleped by a dense cloud of fog. It was reallyof fog. It was really neat to work in, but nothing would stay dry! Here, Leon, N2HLT works on taking down the 432 MHz array. From where he was, he could not see the ground!