Saturday, November 3, 2012

New 3 element Steppir and CW Sweepstakes.

The Steppir is in the air.  After several hours of reading and interpreting what turned out to be some pretty simple instructions, the antenna of all antennas is in the air.  The assembly was not difficult, it was just time consuming.

A month ago, the job would have been simple.  However, we are seeing temperatures right at freezing in the mornings.  It does get warmer in the afternoons averaging about 45 F but with the shorter days, waiting to get an already time consuming job done is not possible.  I did get to do a great deal of assembly indoors - no small feat with 18 foot long fiberglass poles and a 16 foot boom.  Of course all of the tower work had to be done once the temperature was above freezing.

Part of the tower upgrade included adding an 8 ft. section of tower.  I purchased a tower jack from Champion radio and it was the best investment ever.  I already own a gin pole so pulling the tower section in the air was simple.  Aligning the third foot on the tower section was a simple matter of tweaking the misaligned foot with the tower jack and everything fell into place. 

Pulling up the antenna proved to be a bit more than my poor wife could handle.  It was almost more than 3 people could handle.  At 58 pounds, the Steppir is no light weight.  To think, I almost considered buying a 4 element version that tips the scale at 99 pounds!!  Part of the issue was the dynamic rope we used to pull the antenna into place.  If you should try this yourself, consider a no stretch rope or even a cable and winch to get the job done.

So what about performance?  The first station I worked was Togo!!  Third call!!  Full gallon and a half for power and the Steppir!!  I noticed a much reduced noise floor when I first turned on the Flex.  It just seemed to be more stable without the pulsing and crashes that I have grown accustomed to with the Cushcraft A3.  Could be conditions, could be the antenna but I am impressed so far.

I was really hoping to have this weekend for the CW Sweepstakes.  I wanted to have the new antenna in the air in time to try my hand at this great contest.  Unfortunately, I sort of spent all of my Kitchen Pass minutes with the wife building and installing the antenna.  I even had her take the day off with me on Thursday this past week to help me get the antenna installed.  She is a great XYL but I figured it would be pressing my luck hiding in the basement all weekend after I put her through the trials of putting the Steppir up.  God Bless her, she may not always understand me but she puts up with me.

Until next time,