SteppIR failure (again!)

For the second time the 3-element SteppIR antenna at SEØX failed, this time with terrible timing a few days before the SAC SSB Contest. First I expected the failure to be similar to when the antenna copper tape jammed inside the EUH the past winter. Friday night, less than 20 hours before the start of the contest, we took the tower down and opened up the dipole EHU to find the drive shaft broken. Accepting the fact that the SteppIR would be grounded for the contest, I started to think about alternative antennas but possible replacement antennas would never provide a signal similar to the SteppIR so instead I re-focused my thoughts on how to temporarily repair the EHU. Looking closer at the shaft assembly I realized that the plastic shaft had not entirely broke into parts, it was actually still sitting on motor shaft but not able to move as it had broken where the lock pin is attached. With glue and cable ties I was able to fix the platsic shaft in place and hold it tight, so that the mechanism worked as intended (see photos).

Broken SteppIR shaft before repair

Fixed SteppIR shaft after repair

Fixed SteppIR shaft after repair

With just a few hours left to start of the SAC contest, this was encouraging progress and a test run on the floor confirmed that it worked fine. But having the shaft stay in one piece with the tapes running in glassfiber pipes rocking back and forth in the wind is another thing. The dipole was assembled on the antenna, and the tower went up in the air again. A test run confirmed the tapes where moving as intended and SWR readings where similar to before the breakdown.

Happy to have a working SteppIR I put the station on air and worked around 1000 contacts in the contest without the shaft failing on me, most contacts on 20 meter but with several band switches between 20, 15 and 10 meters and heavy use of the 180/Bi-dir functionality during the runs. Suspecting that the calibration procedure would put extra pressure on the shaft, I did not dare to calibrate the antenna during the contest.

A refurbished EHU is now on its way to Stockholm to replace the one with the broken shaft, so hopefully this will be the last time the SteppIR have to be repaired the morning of a contest.

SAC CW – Claimed Results

SEØX was active in SAC CW this weekend. SMØMDG operated the station in SOAB-HP logging a total of 1.100 stations in 20 hours of operation.

Propagation was weak in higher bands with just a small opening Sunday on 15 meter and only four contacts logged 10 meter. Lower bands provided good action overnight with DX from NA, SA and AS on both 40 and 80 meter. 40 meter was the band with most contacts logged, but 20 meter contributed  most to the 153 multipliers collected.

SAC CW Claimed Scores

SAC CW 2009 Score Card

The claimed score is 392 751 points and you can see how this compare with others at the brand new official SAC website at www.sactest.net.

This upcoming weekend, September 26-27, SEØX will compete in the SSB portion of the SAC Contest. CU in the QRM!

Band    QSOs    Pts  Cty
3,5     227     490   33
7     413     921   42
14     387     970   51
21      67     177   24
28       4      9    3
Total    1098    2567  153
Score : 392 751

Polar DX team members active in SAC

SAC 2009

51st SAC Contest 2009

The 51st SAC – Scandinavian Acitivity Contest is the next major event for Polar DX and the team is gearing up and preparing for the two contest weekends.

The following Polar DX team members will be taking part in SAC;

  • SEØX SOAB-HP (SMØMDG Björn, CW and SSB)
  • SFØX SOAB-HP (SMØNOR Ulf,  only SSB)
  • SGØX SOAB-HP (SMØMLZ Patrik, only SSB)

The goal will be to beat last year’s result of SEØX who finished fifth SM in SSB and fifteenth SM in CW. For more information about the 51st Scandinavian Activity Contest visit go to the SAC promotion website.

73, GL in the SAC Contest!

10m open in IARU Contest

SEØX was active in the IARU Contest this past weekend operated by SMØMDG Björn in the Single Operator SSB High Power category.

Most contacts where made on 20 meter but 15 and 10 where also open and 10 meter provided the second most number of contacts of all bands in the contest. No transmit antenna where available for 160 meters and only one RX antenna reamins up in summer, so most of the effort where made on higher bands in daylight with a 5.5 hour break overnight.

Propagation was decent on 20 meters with DX from AS, SA and NA coming in strong. Also on 40 some DX from SA and NA appeared together with UA9 stations. On 15 meters there where some sporadic DX from SA and AF and on 10 meter it was a strong Es opening on Sunday morning providing for a good QSO rate mostly from EU.

A total of 945 stations, 110 sections and 67 zones where logged excluding dupes. The end result after 16 hours and 45 minutes of operating was a claimed score of 547.155 points.

Equipment used in the IARU contest was a K3, 1 KW power, 3 element SteppIR, wire antennas for low bands and N1MM contest logger.

73 de Björn, SMØMDG

SEØX active in IARU contest

SEØX will be active in the upcoming IARU contest July 11-12. SMØMDG will be operating the station competing in the single operator SSB category. Antennas for 80 – 10 meters are functional and Es on 10 meters have been strong recently, so a special effort is being made on this band.

CU in the contest, 73 de Björn

SEØX SteppIR back in the air

Finally the SEØX 3 element SteppIR is back in service after repair following the failure this winter. This picture was taken after the first test QSO receiving excellent reports from Kevin, NL7Z.

SteppIR tower with 10 meter mono on top.

SteppIR tower with 10 meter mono band yagi on top.

In February SEØX lost it’s 3-element SteppIR antenna. During rapid temperature change from above to below zero the antenna tape froze inside the fibreglass pole tube and got stuck resulting in a real mess inside the EHU, Element Housing Unit.

Mess inside EHU

Mess inside the driver EHU

Both reels of the driven element needed replacement, a fairly simple task but it took three months as we had to wait for spring to bring the tower down on the ground. The lesson learned is to always retract the elements when the antenna is not being used to avoid element tapes getting stuck in the poles due to freezing.

When the 10 meter mono bander came down on the ground as well, we took the opportunity to replace all the elements to make it last another few winter storms. The wind has a nasty habit of chopping the elements in half, especially if element clamps are over tightened.

Now SEØX is ready to put an excellent signal on 10, 15 and 20 meter in the next contest.

7S0X in WPX SSB

CQ WPX

A team with SMØMDG Björn, SMØMLZ Patrik, SMØNOR Ulf, SMØUXX Erik and SM3VFE Loic was active in WPX SSB 2009 competing in class muli-one.

Preparations involved a lot of antenna work and Friday night greeted us with a snow storm while rolling out two 100 meter long BOGs and laying out radials for the 80 and 160 meter band verticals. In addition to this, the 80 meter vertical crossed wires with the 40 meter loop resulting in a little antenna meltdown… the Acom amp make a very good welding supply.

7S0X station in WPX 2009

7S0X station in WPX 2009

On Saturday morning around 0600 zulu we we’re up and running full speed and Patrik took the first shift logging. In addition to contesting the team had gathered for a club lunch with traditional Swedish herring served as a starter, for main course we enjoyed salmon and canned “fresh” potato.

The contest activity ended around midnight on Sunday with 1.300 contacts logged and a claimed score of 1.622.191 points.

73 de Polar DXers

Svalbard Topband Activity

SvalbardSMØMDG Björn and OZ1LXJ John were active from the JW5E club station in Longyearbyen, Svalbard Januari 8-13, 2009. A total of 1.011 QSO’s were logged.

  • 1002 QSO’s 160CW
  • 7 QSO’s 160SSB
  • 2 QSO’s 80MCW

The radio used was an Elecraft K3 with a TL-922 amplifier, the TX antenna was a double inverted L and for RX we added two BOI (Beverage On Ice) and a pennant.

QSL route is via homecalls, buro or direct. If you worked us both and prefer to send direct, it is enough to send to one of us.

If you want to confirm your log status, please check our log search for this activity.

Our TNX to everyone of you who worked us, tried to work us, or just listened. A special TNX to JW5NM Mathias (RIP!) for your help and hospitality!

Below some statistics from DXHeat.com, click on graphs for more analysis.

JW/SM0MDG Statistics

JW/SM0MDG Statistics from DXHeat.com

JW/OZ1LXJ Statistics

JW/OZ1LXJ Statistics from DXHeat.com

Below is the QSL confirming the  Svalbard Top Band Activity.

Svalbard Top Band Activity QSL, back side

Svalbard Top Band Activity QSL, front side

Svalbard Top Band Activity QSL Front Side

Svalbard Top Band Activity QSL, back Side

Update: All QSL requests have been replied to, if you have not received your QSL please email SM0MDG or OZ1LXJ.

73 de John JW/OZ1LXJ & Björn JW/SM0MDG

7SØX in CQWW 160 SSB

SM0MDG Björn, SM0MLZ Patrik and SM0NOR Ulf was active Saturday in CQWW 160 SSB. This was no effort to contest, but a chance get together to make plans for WPX and to test some equipment.

All corners of EU was heard and worked, but very few DX came through the wall of noise. The exceptions where CT3, UA9, KP4 and HI. The TX antenna we used was a very low Inverted L with 12 radials and RX antenna a Pennant facing NA.

A total of 180 stations where logged.

Svalbard Top Band Activity QSL

JW QSL

Svalbard QSL

The Svalbard Topband Activity QSL has been designed and will be printed next week. Click the QSL icon to the right for a peak at the artwork.

QSL requests have been coming in since the day we arrived back home from Svalbard and we are looking forward to start replying to the requests. If you want to confirm your log status, please check our log search for this activity. QSL should be sent to the home call of the operator via buro or direct.