Saturday, October 13, 2012

3 Element Steppir update and Random Equipment Ramblings

The Steppir is on its way from the factory.  I should see it some time next week.  I am looking forward to the upgrade.  I have the elevated guy support poles installed, and painted.  The are a bit obtrusive in the front yard and have raised some ire from the XYL.  I will need to beautify them in the near future to keep my hobby safe!!!  I am hoping that the cold weather holds off long enough to get the job completed this fall.  I would hate to have a great antenna sitting in the basement all winter while I struggle with the old one.

Speaking of antennas,  I ran my dipole as a Marconi antenna ( t vertical) on 80 meters during the CQWW RTTY contest.  I was running about 700 watts out of the SB220 when suddenly I heard a loud thunk and was rewarded with a massive internal arc in the SB220.  Smoke poured from the tuner shortly there after and it refused to tune on any band.  I removed the Palstar AT-Auto from serrvice and carefully removed the top to access the damage.  It seems that a current sense transformer had given up on me by burning off its insulation and cracking the torrroidial core.  DOWN FOR THE COUNT!!  A new box annd $65 later the tuner was on its way to Palstar.  Fast forward to yesterday (about a week later), UPS delivers a Palstar box to my front door.  The tuner was repaired!!  The invoice was markedd warranty repair and even the return shipping was covered.  I was impressed.  Buy quality equipment and get quality service!!  What a great experience.

With respect to quality equipment.  I had some pretty bad experiences with some equipment I purchased based on price alone from a particular manufactured with a 3 letter name that starts with M and ends with J.  Basically I purcahsed 9 items to rebuild my shack and wound up repairing 8 out of 9 before use.  I was not impressed.  Don't get me wrong, the equipment I purchased worked as expected once repaired but I never should have had to lift the lid on any of it when purchased new.  Since that experience, I made it a point to look at reviews on eHam before I purchased anything. Unfortunately, I learned to late that most of the reviews you see on the gear on eHam are positive because many of the manufacturers contact the writers of the negative reviews to get them removed....  THIS IS NO HELP!!  What I do now and what I suggest to anyone moving forward, subscribe to the yahoo support group for the equipment you are about to buy.  Read the forum posts, if the problems you are seeing are not to your liking, you will be able to save yourself some grief.  Be mindful of the fact that some of the forum posts come from users that are new to the equipment and sometimes cause themselves problems.  After you have monitored the posts for a while and get a feel for the issues you may encounter, then you can make an informed decision and purchase with confidence.

Until next time

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