Description of the current WA2IID/R operation, equipment, packaging and setup. You may want to go back to our home page and open the photos in a separate window, as I will refer to some of the photos. When you finish looking at the current operation, I would highly recommend that you look at the History and Evolution section since that describes some of our learning, mistakes, etc. and could save other rovers from making some of the same mistakes.
Our rover vehicle is an Explorer towing a small Utility trailer. The equipment is packaged permanently in the trailer which is dedicated to Roving and Emergency Communications
First the stations:
- 50 MHz - The six meter station is an ICOM 706 running barefoot at about 100 watts. We have decided not to take the beam with us, but have modified the loop mast so that we can have the loop up 30 feet while operating. This has solved our takeoff angle problems and the loop is almost as effective as the beam.
- 144 MHz - The primary 2 meter station is a Kenwood TS-790A, which is also the 432 station and the 1296 station. On 2 meters, the 790 drives a mirage amp for 150 watts output into a 5 element beam on the front mast . The ICOM 706 serves as a backup rig and can be used with a 3 el beam on the microwave mast for liaison on 14.260 when the 790 is in use or on 432 or 1296.
- 222 MHz - The 222 station is a Kenwood TS-440 driving a 222/28 DEMI Transverter. The 440 was modified internally (The only rig that was modified in our setup other than upping the power on the TS790) so that when the 222 control box is plugged into its mic connector, it only outputs low power. If a mic is plugged into it, it operates normally. The transverter drives a mirage 2512 for 120 Watts out into an 8 el beam on the front mast. The 440 and amp are controlled by a home built control box.
- 432 MHz - The 432 station is the TS790 running into a 100 Watt brick and an 11 element yagi on the front mast. It appears to us the 432 has a lot more activity than 222. That combined with the point multiplier yields a high contact point score on 432 than 222 and many times the highest of all bands..
- 1296 MHz - The 1296 station is the Kenwood TS-790 running with into a DEMI amplifier to give 40 watts output, and a mast mounted SSB (SB-23) preamp. The antenna is a 22 element M2 yagi which was on the microwave mast but we are going to move it to front mast. This station does leave us with an anomaly in our operation. Many stations we work like to go up the bands sequentially. However, our 1296 station is the same rig as our 144 and 432 stations. The 903 station is a transverter on the microwave IF. Therefore we prefer to run up the bands going to 1296 before 903, then doing microwaves.
- Microwaves - The microwave (903 MHz, 2304 MHz, 3456 MHz, 5760 MHz, and 10368 MHz) station consists of a TenTec 526 (6N2) that is switched between DEMI Transverters (a homebrew transverter for 5760). The switching is accomplished by a homebrew switch box that switches the receive IF, Transmit IF, and transverter and amplifier keying. The receive and transmit IFs are split and are on 145 MHz. In addition to the TenTec, I built a crystal controlled 150.595 MHz exciter to drive the transverters to be able to work the W2SZ rovers that are using the 5.595 MHz offset operation (since the TenTec can not transmit out of band). The individual stations are as follows:
- 903 MHz - DEMI Transverter (10 Watts ) into an 18 element looper
- 2304 MHz A demi transverter driving a Spectrian 30 watt amplifier that puts about 25 watts into a 27 element looper
- 3456 MHz a DEMI transverter driving a Toshiba 40 watt amplifier that puts out about 35 watts. Antenna is a 45 element looper
- 5760 MHz a homebrew transverter and surplus amplifier that puts out about 6 watts into a horn or the 10G dish with a dual band feed
- 10368 Station A DEMI transverter (2 Watt) driving a DEMI 8 watt amplifier that puts out about 7 watts into a 2 foot dish (the transverter is packaged on the rim of the dish as can be seen in photo
- 24 GHz station. On 24 GHz all we have is a WBFM gunplexor, but it does allow us to work some of the rovers we come across.
Packaging - The antennas can best be seen by clicking on the photo of our operation on Equinox Mountain that is on the home page (click it for details). There are three masts. The front one has (top to bottom ) 1296 looper, 2 meter beam 5 elements, 222 beam 8 elements and 432 Beam 11 elements. The near rear mast contains 903 on top, 2304 and 3456 just above the dish and the dish for 10368 and 5760. The other top slot can be used for a dual band vertical beam for FM on 144 and 446, or for a second 2304 looper with a power splitter. The far rear mast holds the 6 meter loop. All the masts are telescoping fiberglass tubes and rods that are telescoped down for travel and then telescoped up for operation at a site. I obtained the fibreglass tubes and rods from Max-Gain Systems http://www.mgs4u.com/ . Allen Bond there is quite helpful. He also regularly attends the winter hamfest in Orlando for those of you in the south.
Power - Over time (as amplifiers and stations are added) power becomes an increasing problem. We started with just automobile power. Then we went to a deep cycle battery, then to two deep cycle batteries, and then to two deep cycle batteries fed with a 40 amp switching supply and a generator. We actually have two generators which provide backup and also can be run in parallel to supply enough to run a heater in cold weather.
Setup - one key parameter to successful roving is to minimize setup and teardown time. Setup only takes away from valuable operating time. Upon arriving at a site our setup consists of the following: Get out the step ladder. Push up the microwave masts vertical and rotate the 903 and 1296 antennas to allign with the dish (They are center mounted so we rotate them along the axis of the trailer for travel). Push up and clamp the front and 6 meter masts. Align antennas for rotator accuracy. Get out the generator, place it about 45 feet away, start it, and plug in power. This can all be accomplished in under 15 minutes. In the previous configuration, we could set up in just over 10 minutes. However, antennas were not high enough to be fully effective and the new configuration does take a bit longer. Just one of those many trade-offs.