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Mike K7IR’s visit to Waters and Stanton in Essex has caused a lot of excitement. And rightly so, as these antennas are rated as superb performers. We have already appreciated this with our new installation. Every day so far we have been getting 59 reports from USA and Middle East. And switching direction in a matter of seconds has to be heard to be believed.

 

Peter, M0PSX from Essex Ham visited us to interview K7IR and you can see and hear the interview by clicking the link HERE

 

Peter G3OJV

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Special Offer on MFJ-928 Auto ATU   April 29th, 2016

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We have a few of these 200W Automatic ATUs on offer. The regular price is £229  and we are offering them at £189.95. This is a great price. If you want one then get in touch with our Sales department.

 

 

Peter G3OJV

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ICOM IC-7300 A Winner   April 27th, 2016

The ICOM IC-7300 is still outstripping sales of base station HF transceivers in the £1K price bracket. Only today we had three callers buying IC-7300s. And when you stack this radio up against other budget class rigs, you can see why. It has also got a great rating in www.sherweng,com ratings. Frankly it is probably under priced and I think many customers appreciate just what a great deal they are getting for the money.

 

I have no doubt that the “competition” will be taking stock of this radio, but I have heard no rumours of anything similar coming from the other manufacturers. we have no axe to grind with the big three names, and speak as we find things. The fortunes of the manufacturers is for ever changing. Currently ICOM seem untouchable in this part of the market.

 

UPDATE

Quite amazingly, our second shipment of IC-7300 transceivers has sold out within four days. That speaks volumes about how ICOM have hit the “sweet spot” in the eyes of many ham enthusiasts.  Everybody that comes into the shop makes their way quickly to the IC-7300. It probably helps because our IC-7300 is connected directly to our SteppIR 3 element Yagi.

 

Peter G3OJV

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There is a very obvious change in the demand for HF transceivers, or at least the designs. Rig sales such as the FT-450 and IC-718 are now very low. The FT-DX1200 is likewise very low in demand. The Kenwood TS-590SG is outselling almost anything else in the low end price range by a large margin.  The one exception is the IC-7300 which is bringing base station SDR to the masses.  The FT-DX3000 is being hit hard by the Elecraft K3S and the FT-817 is being squeezed by the KX3. And the high end is seeing FlexRadio and Apache eating into sales in this sector. As for the ageing FT-DX9000, well if you want one you have to order it now.

 

This change in buying has little to do with prices. It has more to do with performance and value for money. HF performance is now very easily measured by visiting www.sherwenf.com. A few surprises here! But for all this, there are those that buy on looks rather than performance. So all is not lost for the slow sellers!

 

Peter G3OJV.

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ICOM IC-7300 Back in Stock!   April 25th, 2016

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We are pleased to announce that we have another shipment of brand new IC-7300 transceivers in stock. These are factory fresh including coverage of 60m and 4m. We are already working through a backlog, so if you want one give us a call as soon as you like.

 

Peter Waters G3OJV

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Last week was a bisy time with Mike fromSteppIR coming over from Seattle USA, and Don G3XTT, the editor of Practical wireless coming for an interview with Mike. And in between tines we had to assemble and install a SteppIR 3 element Yagi.

 

Well we all had a lot of fun and there were a few challenges on the way, when we realised that the SteppIR antenna was going to collide with one of our VHF arrays. That put us back half a day, but we did get the job done within the allotted time frame. We aso managed to get the interview completed with K7IR.

To watch the interview, click the link below:

 

 

CLICK 

 

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Above left  is myself, Peter G3OJV and on the right, Mike K7IR, the designer of the SteppIR antennas.

 

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Above is a picture of the antenna installation nearing its completion.

 

Having witnessed two days of training and one day of installation, I have begun to understand and appreciate, not only the concept of the SteppIR design, but also the number of hoops that Mike K7IR, the designer, had to jump through.

The concept is simple in that SteppIR antennas have elements that expand and contract to suit the frequency of operation. The mechanical implementation of this is not so simple. Mike, spent almost five years in developing the mechanical side of the antenna. Attempts in Europe to copy the idea have stumbled with reliability problems and extensive failures. This underlines the skill and hard work that was required to achieve the enviable performance and reliability of the steppIR range.

Copper tape is fed from counter rotating spindles, operated with stepper motors. The tape is punched with precisely spaced holes that prevent slippage and give very precise control over length. This is a critical aspect of the tuning of the antenna. The area of the copper tape is equivalent to 0.25” diameter tubing. In other words, the antenna has the equivalent of 1/4” diameter elements. This is smaller than the average Yagi and thin elements mean narrower bandwidth. In normal circumstances, this would be regarded as a disadvantage. But because the antenna is tuneable across the whole spectrum, a narrower bandwidth is more of an advantage rather than a disadvantage. No matter where in the spectrum you operate, you are assured of optimum VSWR.

There are a couple of interesting design features that are unique to the SteppIR design. Firstly the copper tape has to have a slightly “saddled” or rounded shape. Rather like an  expanding tape measure, the saddled shape gives the tape additional strength. The second design feature is the way in which the antenna is fed. The SteppIR feed impedance is nominally 22 Ohms. The coax input is via an SO-239 socket. To achieve matching, the SteppIR Yagi employs a traditional balun followed by a 2:1 UnUn that gives the impedance match. This dual matching device is housed inside the driven element central EHU unit. This also has the mechanical features required to  attach the boom to the mast.

So how easy is the antenna to service? Well the elements are hollow fibre glass and there is nothing that can really go wrong here. There are no traps to burn out so it is unlikely that any  RF damage will result. The motor units themselves are extremely well weatherproofed and Stepper motors are very reliable and destructive testing has shown that the life expectancy is likely to be many, many years. In other words, the electrical side is not a weak point and should not be an area of concern. In the unlikely event of a unit needing servicing, it is very easy to remove a unit, pop it in the post, and have it serviced or repaired by Waters & Stanton.

Our installation of the 3 element antenna is just about completed. We need to make some changes to the positioning of  some of the VHF arrays to a avoid interaction. This will be done later this month and will complete the current schedule of antenna work.

Peter G3OJV

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Mounting the Boom on the Mast   April 20th, 2016

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The next stage is installing the boom onto the main mast. This is the most critical part in that everything needs to be square and true. So it is worth taking time on this part of the job.  Also remember that this antenna is built to take high power and so everything is heavy duty. In some ways that makes the job easier and more precise. We are fortunate that we have a flat roof and a short roof tower. This enables us to work on the antenna and check it out. Once this is done, we will move it up the mast somewhat.

 

Peter G3OJV

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First Steps with StepIR   April 20th, 2016

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The first thing that you need to do with the installation of your StepIR is to put together the boom assembly. The element control motor systems are installed on the boom, one for each element. Here in the photo you can see, left to right, Chris Danby (RSGB Advertising Manager) and Justin Johnson (W&S) doing some final checks on the motor systems.

 

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Above is the SteppIR desktop controller on the right-hand side of the Create Antenna Rotator. This will be the control position for the new SteppIR 3 element Yagi, covering 40m to 6m.

 

 

Peter G3OJV

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Today we have been on the roof with K7IR. Mike has been overseeing the installation of our new SteppIR antenna. The first job was to take the main HF Yagi down. The photo above shows the work in progress. The weather has been very kind to us and so no problem here.

 

Peter G3OJV

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