How to Make The DX Engineering NCC-2 “Sing” . .

•January 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

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The DX Engineering NCC-2 is an excellent piece of gear – but is expensive. I had the NCC-1 before and have had success, but (until yesterday), nothing rose to the level that lived up to its marketing hype. That left me feeling somewhat foolish – because at the $500 I paid for it – I wanted it to be “amazing” – what I had was lesser – noticeable and showed promise, but not “kick ass” . . .

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The K6SE ground independent EWE – or Flag antenna – but with my “KY6R Feed” was the answer after a good 6 months of experimenting. I direct feed the antenna at each place that you see in this diagram (where the circles are). If I had to do it again – I’d either just use two “Budwig” center insulators or even just solder the RG8X directly to the antenna wires using an insulator. The bottom wire just lays on the ground – no special grounding anywhere.

I do have common mode chokes in the shack at each NCC-2 input.

As I said in yesterdays blog post – when I turn the NCC-2 phase knob its like rotating the antenna – as DXE promised it would behave – “electrically rotating” so that I can find the best direction for the station I’m tuning into.

Wow – that took a good 6 months of back yard work to get this right – so glad I finally found “it”.

 

160M Vertical – Comparing Inverted U With Bent Vertical

•January 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

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My Lowband Vertical right now looks like this – lets call it an Inverted U.

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This is what I call the “Bent” version, and I’ve generated some comparison EZnec plots.

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I think on 160M these two antennas are similar – I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference

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On 80M – EZNec seems to get really confused. I don’t believe that any vertical would have 11 dBi gain – heh heh

40m-bent

On 40M, the Inverted U wins

30m-bent

On 30M, The Bent vertical is better

Sum total – they are pretty much equivalent – even though the Bent Vertical looks a bit better overall.

 

KY6R Optimized K6SE: Best 160M RX Antenna I’ve Tried Yet!

•January 22, 2017 • Leave a Comment

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One of the two vertical elements in the KY6R Optimized K6SE Flag Antenna. You can see the feedpoint – which is at the half way point, and the wire that goes to the second element at the top.

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I’ve been searching for an array of two elements that work the best with the DX Engineering NCC-2, and I have finally found it. BTW – the DXE 1/8″ fiberglass masts – after I cut each section in half to make them “fast taper” are perfect for this application. As they ship they are way too “wobbly” to use for just about anything. Adding the Rustoleum rubberized coating is also a great idea – since fiberglass in the sun rapidly deteriorates unless UV protected.

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This is a K6SE Flag with two feedpoints and the DXE NCC-2 phases using these two inputs. The dimensions are 26′ high and 50′ across, and the bottom wire is laying on the ground but not grounded anywhere. There is nothing in the feedpoint boxes – no common mode choke or transformer. It is quieter than my DXE 40P 40M phased array (which used to my best 160M RX antenna) and always is as quiet as quiet and always beats it signal strength wise – which has been my goal. Funny how my 40M phased array became the “benchmark” to beat in all of this testing and experimentation. The new KY6R Optimized K6SE Flag is at least 2 S Units stronger than the DXE DV-40P phased array and at the same noise level (most quiet antenna I have tried). 

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This is the right feed – measured from inside the shack (rain was threatening, so I did not have time to measure this right at the feedpoint – and wish I could have)

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Close up of the right feed

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Left feed

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This is the first antenna that the NCC-2 can be used to electrically steer the phase angle so that signals coming in from different directions can be peaked. Its really a cool experience – turn the phase knob and its like a rotator turning as fast as you move the knob. I have been hoping for this – and honestly, until now – I had been disappointed. But I never gave up trying – and finally hit pay dirt.

I could only have arrived at this solution by trying as many RX antennas as possible – that would fit in my small lot. I had to observe and learn all the characteristics of each to reach my optimal small lot solution. Here are the antennas that I tried:

  1. “Magnetic Loop”. The design in the ARRL Antenna Book (past editions) was actually wrong. The best version is the N6RK version, but that has the problem that its bi-directional, because the feed is at the bottom. I even changed the feed per W8JI, but I agree with him – this sort of antenna is really not worth it unless you are really restricted. And its not good if you want to reject noise off the back as I do. I even tried two and three of these on rotators. Yeah – nuts.
  2. TX Vertical – Cushcraft MA-160V, 50′ Top Hatted vertical, N7JW top loaded 60′ vertical and 43′ tall “bastardized” Inverted L” – noise was between S5 and S9 – always higher than RX antennas
  3. VE7CA Variant on the “Magnetic Loop” – this one solves the bottom feed issue of the “Magnetic Loop”, but really requires a preamp
  4. “24′ Verticals With Tuned LC Circuits” – this was much better than the coaxial loops, but then I found that my DXE 40M phased array was as good or better. I got rid of the LC tuned circuits and then they were equal to the 40M Phased array. I even tried turning the verticals into phased flags – but I really screwed up – I put the terminating resistors in the wrong direction. But that is not a problem because I have learned that antennas with resistors pretty much ALWAYS require pre-amps, and I think ALL preamps introduce noise, and now am 100% against using any preamps. They ALWAYS increase noise as well as the signal – so for me – they defeat the purpose. The DXE 40M phased array on 160M made me realize that direct feed and detuned is the way to go. Trying to get a low SWR in the 160M band is silly
  5. K9AY Loops – very “convenient” design – but suffers greatly in the F/B department – better than the “Magnetic Loops”, on par with a grounded EWE
  6. EWE – the grounded EWE depends on your ground quality – so really hard to tell. Also requires that null resistor – which I don’t care for any more
  7. DX Engineering DVA-40P Phased Array – just trying my 40M phased array on 160M RX turned out to be the antenna to beat – I tried this because I realized that two 24′ W8JI style phased verticals was pretty much a quarter wave on 40M. And this is when I learned how 160M and 40M have some “relationship”
  8. KY6R Optimized K6SE Flag – Nirvana! The K6SE Flag is basically a ground independent EWE. A few years back I tried this on my roof – since it was billed as a good alternative to a ground dependent EWE, and it was just OK. EZNec says just lay the wire on the ground for the bottom part – Yeah – a “lazy” EWE or a “lazy” K6SE? Also – screw the common mode choke and 4:1 binocular core stepup XFMR – just feed it directly! I do have common mode chokes at the input to my NCC-2.

I started this journey last June – and feel I may have reached the goal I’ve been searching for. You can only do so much on a small lot – but I’m quite pleased with where I have ended up. I also wanted to finally be able to really justify paying so much for the DXE NCC-2, and now I feel “vindicated”. At one point – when nothing seemed to beat the DXE 40M Phased Array I felt kind of foolish buying such an expensive toy.

Now – when I use my new TX antenna and use it with the RX antenna in the K3’s Diversity Mode – its magic.

The KY6R Phased NCC-2 Based EWE

•January 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

phased-ewe

I’m still very impressed with how well my DX Engineering DXE 40P 40M phased array works on 160M as a receive antenna. With more testing, the VE7CA Optimized Diamond Loops – with their terminating resistor and feed have so much loss – they do seem to require a pre-amp, and I don’t want to do that.

Because the two fiberglass supports that I put up would be excellent supports for a wire EWE, I started goofing around with EZNec to combine some things I’ve learned since I started getting intensely obsessed with Top Band Receiving Antennas on a Small Lot. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Terminating resistors do work as notches (nulls), but drive the gain of the antenna down to a level where a preamp is needed
  2. I don’t like preamps anywhere in the RX chain – they always raise the noise level, and I have since learned to respect that a Q5 weak signal with very little noise is always better than one where the signal is bobbing around in and out of the noise
  3. Tuned circuit feeds give you great SWR – but on a receiving antenna – this (for some reason) makes the antenna too “hot” – and increases the noise. Detuned antennas – like my 40M phased array – which in the center (broadsided direction) falls somewhere in the 80M band – and still beats these KY6R Optimized VE7CA loops
  4. If I could trust myself switching between using the DXE 40M phased array as a 160M RX antenna and switch between it and my 160M TX Inverted L – I would just call it a day, but its just too risky – especially when I’m up at 3 AM and trying to work DX on 160M – mistakes are easy when I’m half asleep

So – today I will try this new idea – and might try this really good looking variation first – a K6SE Flag:

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now – for the kick ass part of this equation:

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The gain is slightly less, but with dimensions of 23′ for each vertical wire and 50′ for the bottom and top wires – I end up with a quarter wavelength on 160M – and in a closed loop – should mean quiet and without a terminating resistor which kills gain. I might use my feed point boxes and play with using them or bypassing them to see if the binocular xfmr and common mode choke help or hurt performance and how much they affect noise.

The EZNec model suggests that the SNR will be what a K6SE Flag should be – 7.4 or so SNR, but somehow – from my experience, my gut feeling says that just doesn’t matter – because that’s about what the SNR is for my phased 40M verticals and they play better than anything else I’ve tried that was supposed to rock SNR wise.

We shall see – as long as we get some sunny breaks today!

Latest KY6R Antenna Plan and Map

•January 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

ky6r-antenna-plan

Most of my antennas are right at the edge of a creek – which defines the longest part of my property down in the bowl in Orinda.

  • Yellow Triangles – 160M Optimized VE7CA end fed terminated loops, phased through NCC-2
  • Blue Stars – 40M DXE phased array
  • Orange Diamond – 160M bastardized Inverted L (works quite well on 160 – 10M, but esp Low Bands)
  • Lime Rectangle – 20M Moxon

You can see just how massive the N6BT DXU-32 was – since its in this satellite image. That antenna is sitting on the side of the house waiting for its new owner to pick up. He lives in Reno and we have had so many rain and snow storms that he is just waiting until the roads going over the Sierra become more passable. The last two or three years were great for putting up antennas during the drought – this year not so much.

Can I Get The 20M Moxon Up This Weekend?

•January 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

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Here is a picture of the Moxon I used to (very easily) work Tromelin – FT4TA.

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The Moxon only is waiting for me to add the wire to the frame, so it can be done in my basement – and then deployed in between rain squalls.

I’ll only push it up when its not windy – since there is nothing I need ATNO wise until 3Y0Z. New one’s on 160M are needed however – heh heh.

My Soon To Be Backup Station

•January 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

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I already have a K3 that was upgraded to something “close” to a K3S, so I will put together a backup station using the KXPA100 100 watt amplifier to match the very fine

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KX3 and PX3.

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And this guy to assist the K3 that I have.