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Author Topic: So what shack upgrades are you going to make for P5?  (Read 4302 times)
N2RJ
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« Reply #30 on: May 02, 2013, 12:04:15 PM »

Gain on 30 is nice, I'll grant you that, but I really have to wonder how much of an advantage your 3 elements are on 40 compared to my 2 elements on a shorter boom. 2dB maybe? The Delta 240 is rated at 4.3dB over dipole and your MonstIR is what, about 5-6?.

Gain is not everything and I think it's above 7dB on 40m with 3 elements.

Front to back is much better than a 2 element antenna. I can literally turn my back to 500kw shortwave stations and not hear them.

The instant 180 degree flip is pretty nice too.

Not having 6:1 SWR when the snow falls and forms an ice sleeve around your antenna elements is nice too. If SWR starts to go up, you adjust the element lengths and things are back to normal across the board. Performance is relatively unaffected.

But let's see what you're saying. You're saying "good enough" is better than "the best." That makes no logical sense whatsoever.

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All I have on 30 is a rotatable dipole element at 85', but consider that my stats are identical on both 30 and 40m (306 worked, 205 confirmed), I have to wonder whether that added gain on 30 is really worth it in the long run.

I don't think, as Chris said, that it is fair to compare stats. I am away from my house 12+ hours a day and pretty much only get to DX when propagation is at its crappiest. Weekends I spend more time with the kids than in the shack. The best DX is at best a missed opportunity here. But make no mistake, it slices through pileups on 30 like a hot knife through butter. Even EU walls are not much of a problem.

I bet if i had as much time as you to play radio my stats would be better, probably even better than yours given. But it is what it is. I'm not complaining.

What I do know is that 3Y/B was audible and workable here when you didn't hear anything, for over a month... That could be just terrain or it could be other factors. But others in the area with force 12 antennas couldn't hear him either. I have recordings if you're interested.

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The instant reversal is nice, but is it worth the added problems you've experienced? I can turn my array 180 degrees in about 20-25 seconds, by which time the amp is tuned, split is set and software is ready.

The first set of problems were resolved. Apart from the broken element I have not had other issues. It stayed up through Irene and Sandy and I was able to use it at 1:1 SWR during the 2011 snow storm without a tuner.

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I think the SteppIRs are great when you can have only one antenna and feedline but in your case, Force-12 or Optibeam aluminium would probably suit your needs far more. Obviously you're not going to change it out, but should anything happen to what you have, seriously, consider F12 or Opti instead, for the maintenance cost and hassle reduction if nothing else.

6Y1V and K1LZ would disagree. They have SteppIR stacks and they play very well. The other big guns have monobanders, which is what makes the SteppIR so unique - it is like having a monobander just about everywhere.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 12:06:18 PM by N2RJ » Logged
N2RJ
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« Reply #31 on: May 02, 2013, 12:12:21 PM »

I have to wonder whether that added gain on 30 is really worth it in the long run.

Terrain is a huge variable - and HFTA would be the best way to compare both QTH's and configuration. Just going by manufacturers specs - or even EZNec (which assumes flat ground) doesn't tell the real story.

Ryan's a close friend of mine and I did an HFTA for him two years ago. He beats me like a red-headed stepchild to Europe, I clean his clock over the pole and JA. He's 550' or more higher than me above sea level and has a clear shot east and northeast (I'm blocked 020 to 220 True). So if anything, he has it better overall than me.

Not so much for DXing because I don't do so good to Asia.

Europe is also easier from the East coast so gain to Europe means relatively little.

The main reason I don't have stats like you is time, plain and simple. I'm never home when propagation is at its best and the days that I am home I have other stuff to do (kids mostly). I get about 20 minutes at night before I go to bed to work DX. Maybe if a DXpedition is on I'll set alarms. Otherwise the radio hardly gets touched.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 12:14:28 PM by N2RJ » Logged
N2RJ
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« Reply #32 on: May 02, 2013, 12:17:14 PM »

I have to wonder whether that added gain on 30 is really worth it in the long run.

Terrain is a huge variable - and HFTA would be the best way to compare both QTH's and configuration. Just going by manufacturers specs - or even EZNec (which assumes flat ground) doesn't tell the real story.

2 dB can mean the difference in hearing the DX or not - but that also depends on QTH. If you are down in a bowl - (like I am) - 2 dB is HUGE - and has made all the difference between hearing and working them of being buried down in the noise. If you have a great QTH - on flat ground or up on a hill with no obstructions in the path you are beaming, then S9 +20 compared with S9 +22 is moot.

On 30 I pretty much own the band. The amp almost never comes on too.

We did do a HFTA comparison though and I do have an advantage to EU, AF, Caribbean and SA. Asia and VK/ZL are not so good here thanks to the kittitany mountains but I still do OK there. Depending on how it plays I may have to go to Peter's due to the mountain blockage.
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KB2FCV
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« Reply #33 on: May 02, 2013, 01:36:12 PM »

I think I'd try to throw up some sort of wire beam for a specific ban. I have a 17/12m beam sitting under the deck also.. maybe see if I can suspend that somehow and aim it that way.

I'll believe it when I see it though. As of right now things are a little crazy in North Korea as they have been in the news lately so I imagine that might affect when P5 will be on the air next..
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KY6R
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« Reply #34 on: May 02, 2013, 01:59:19 PM »

Gain is not everything and I think it's above 7dB on 40m with 3 elements.

Wow - I'd love to see the EZNec file for that. The "usual" 3 element full sized yagi's are 5 dB (13 dBi).

Typically, 4 elements will give you 6 dB (14 dBi), and 5 elements will give you 7 dB (15 dBi).

Now - if you stack two, then I would expect 7 dB - at least.

And all of these assume at least 1/2 wl up.
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W2IRT
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« Reply #35 on: May 02, 2013, 02:47:12 PM »

Gain is not everything and I think it's above 7dB on 40m with 3 elements.

Wow - I'd love to see the EZNec file for that. The "usual" 3 element full sized yagi's are 5 dB (13 dBi).
Ryan is running the SteppIR MonstIR, about 70' AGL and ~714' ASL. I re-ran an HFTA based on his precise tower placement and elevation. If Ryan consents, I'll post links to comparisons of terrain and figures of merit. Let's just say, for P5, I hope for his sake the angle is 5 degrees or higher! Conversely, to Heard, I'm up poop creek without a paddle and he's got 13dB on me if incoming angles are less than 4 degrees!

My Delta 240 is a small 40m two element yagi, rated 4.2 or 4.3 forward gain and IIRC about 20dB F/B. I don't think it's all that great in terms of rejection but I can work everything I can hear, and I can hear almost everything that gets spotted off the RBN, so something's working well.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 03:24:08 PM by W2IRT » Logged

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N2RJ
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« Reply #36 on: May 02, 2013, 06:34:31 PM »

Sure Peter, post 'em up.

As for Heard, you know that you're more than welcome to come over if you can't get them from your QTH. Or maybe I'll have the station remoted by then.

One thing I wish I had that F12 has is the tri feed. That I can never have with a SteppIR.
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KY6R
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« Reply #37 on: May 02, 2013, 06:37:58 PM »

My Delta 240 is a small 40m two element yagi, rated 4.2 or 4.3 forward gain and IIRC about 20dB F/B.

The gain specs are right in line with all 2 element yagi's. I'll have to look at Array of Light at that antenna - seems like a nice antenna for a small-ish footprint.

Except for my homebrewed stack and a short stint with a home brewed (designed and built) 3 element 17M yagi, I have used either variants of a dipole or a 2 element yagi (or Moxon) for HR.

4 dB (12 dBi) is all you need - and 500 watts is enough for anything HR on the West Coast - even the toughest ones. But I usually let you guys with more aluminum and height and better QTH's get your Q's on the first day - I end up making the Q on the second day - or later . . but I get it eventually.

Having 2 elements on 40M - up 1/2 wl or better puts you ahead of the pack for sure.

3 elements on 40 and 30 is 5 dB (13 dBi) in my book - and puts Ryan quite a bit ahead of just about anyone I know. I know of a few people with 2 elements on these bands, but not more. And not mant with 2 elements either.

Most people I know have verticals on 40 and 30 because they can't even get a dipole up 70' or so. I had one - but the squirrel ate through the Dacron, and on my way out the door - the neighbor cut the 70' Monterrey Pine down anyway - so the squirrell did me a big favor. Back to a vertical - this time - 55' with 64 buried radials and a top hat.

Zero gain. Instant direction - all of em'.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 06:41:57 PM by KY6R » Logged
N2RJ
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« Reply #38 on: May 02, 2013, 06:41:35 PM »

Gain is not everything and I think it's above 7dB on 40m with 3 elements.

Wow - I'd love to see the EZNec file for that. The "usual" 3 element full sized yagi's are 5 dB (13 dBi).

Typically, 4 elements will give you 6 dB (14 dBi), and 5 elements will give you 7 dB (15 dBi).

Now - if you stack two, then I would expect 7 dB - at least.

And all of these assume at least 1/2 wl up.

The gain SteppIR quotes is free space.

Yes, my MonstIR is 1/2WL up, at around 72ft. I thought that was too low but apparently it plays really well at that height. I have heard guys with theirs around 90ft and they don't sound as loud.

Here's the newer DB36 which has the hairpin elements and loses 0.4dB gain over the full sized MonstIR on 40m:

http://www.steppir.com/db36-yagi-antenna

So this means I have about 7.6dBi gain here which seems about right and that can be tweaked by modifying the element lengths in the controller. I can sacrifice gain for f/b and vice versa.

People say that the fixed element spacings are a compromise... yes they are but mostly in bandwidth which does not matter since with adjustable length elements bandwidth is NOT a concern.

I must admit, location plays a good part. With a GPS I've measured around 850ft elevation. Elevation maps seem to be around 700-800ish.

I've worked South Korea on my most difficult mode - RTTY - so I don't think I'll have a problem working the DPR, but of course the pileups will be insanity.

I have 4 weeks vacation per year so you can bet that I will be taking time off if they are QRV.
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KY6R
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« Reply #39 on: May 02, 2013, 06:47:42 PM »

The gain SteppIR quotes is free space.

OK - that makes sense. Then with taking real ground (not free space) its 5.6 or so dB / 13.6 dBi, which is right.

I always use EZnec with the actual ground that I have .004 mho and conductivity of 15. This way I know it takes in account for my poor to average soil. Especially needed for verticals and my 64 buried radials.

HFTA uses a version of EZNec for its models, and it doesn't use Free Space figures - but ground condx.

Like Dean, N6BV says - if you are already S9 +20, 2 dB doesn't make much difference. But 2 dB and in my case - 2 degrees take off angle can make or break me working them.
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N2RJ
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« Reply #40 on: May 02, 2013, 06:49:00 PM »

I think what is important here is that with SteppIR they do not have to compromise for low SWR across the band. In fact, outside of the narrow frequency range on most bands, SWR shoots up high. The antenna adjusts in 50kHz increments. That's why they can tweak it for high gain.

But I have no idea how to get their EZNEC files. I think they hold it close to their chest. However I can factory reset the controller and probably reverse engineer and get the EZNEC files myself. I say factory reset because I tweaked up mine for the lost half element and also to minimize SWR from interaction with my other antennas including my TV antenna array on the tower which receives philadelphia TV 90 miles away.
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W2IRT
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« Reply #41 on: May 02, 2013, 06:52:33 PM »

Sure Peter, post 'em up.

Here's the P5 comparison: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/463425/IRT-RJ-P5.pdf
Here's the VK0H link: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/463425/IRT-RJ-Heard.pdf
Each is a 2-page document, with P1 being terrain profile and P2 being the actual HFTA comparison. Both are for 4 elements at 72' AGL on 15 metres.

As for Heard, you know that you're more than welcome to come over if you can't get them from your QTH. Or maybe I'll have the station remoted by then.
Thanks. I worked Kerguelen on a bunch of bands, when propagation was crappier, so I know I'll get through...you'll just have an easier time of it. We're both at 72' AGL. The charts show the base of your tower around 714-715' ASL; my tower base is 251' ASL. GPSs always suck at elevation calculations for some reason.

One thing I wish I had that F12 has is the tri feed. That I can never have with a SteppIR.
Yeah, I really regret cheaping out and not tri-feeding mine when I had the bucks to do it. Really would have made doing M/2 a cinch. I'm still really happy with how the XR plays, though. Wouldn't trade it for anything and if I had to do it over again the only thing I'd do is go higher and stack 'em if I could. They're frickin' DX laser beams.
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Night gathers and now my watch begins. It shall not end until I reach Top of the Honor Roll.
N2RJ
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« Reply #42 on: May 02, 2013, 06:57:58 PM »

Yikes that terrain to Heard looks nasty. I assume that's Mt. Jellybean.

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W2IRT
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« Reply #43 on: May 02, 2013, 07:11:23 PM »

Yikes that terrain to Heard looks nasty. I assume that's Mt. Jellybean.

Yep. I'm like that from 020 right through to 220 via east. I'm perfectly clear to the southwest, west, northwest and over the pole. Sucks for contesting, rocks for DXing. But like I said, I had no problem with FT5XO (20, 30, 40 and 80m, CW and SSB) so a few bands and a couple of modes out of Heard should be equally likely. Those were in all March 2005, when condx weren't totally in the crapper but well past the second peak. I worked them from the 26th through the 30th of March 2005, and in that time the SFI was around 75-80, sunspot numbers were 10-20 and the Ap was sub-10 the whole time. We should hopefully have much more favourable condx next year.

But as I've said before, for stations like Ryan's and my own (and a few others here), I honestly prefer crappy propagation. Fewer noisemakers will hear the DX, hence fewer will call; the condx will bode well for the big guns in that case. With a high SFI/SSN and low Ap, every G5RV on the planet will be screaming their keyers off.
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Night gathers and now my watch begins. It shall not end until I reach Top of the Honor Roll.
N2RJ
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« Reply #44 on: May 02, 2013, 07:55:05 PM »

Yeah absolutely. I love it when propagation is in the crapper because the pileup gets thin...
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