"what do you reckon to this ?? - an X7, on a mast, trailer with a Lister Generator"
It is fair to say, that since the inception of Wrexham ARS' contest group - I've not been this excited. This was just a few days before Christmas, there was only one problem. The whole lot was on Ebay, we had a few days in which to move, and had to set a limit, we really didn't want to be paying over the odds for the kit.
When Adrian sent me the text message that we'd secured it all, and that he was on his way to Yorkshire to pick it up, I think we all breathed a collective sigh of relief
As Science Festival was looming, we had a short time to get to grips with this beast (The X7) - In the meantime, Adrian worked on the trailer, and the Generator - It was later discovered to be a 10KW Lister generator, in need of a little basic maintenance, but otherwise in fine working order. During the weeks leading up to Scifest, we had another opportunity head our way - The possibility of going to IOM for a contest, but we're not saying any more.
We decided that given the dimensions of the X7, plus before we even saw it we knew it would equate to a massive jigsaw - Adrian had already told us that it was in nothing more than a few hundred pieces. We would have to get it setup, and then figure out a way of taking it apart and putting it back together in such a way that we could cut the assembly time down (Current record is about 1hr 15mins, from landing on site)
We decided to meet at Adrian's QTH sometime in mid February - Adrian e-mailed us a copy of the instructions - I remember reading them and thinking "this is going to be a big job..."
The day arrived, and we landed at Adrian's QTH at about 9am, it was overcast - and over the remainder of the day it rained, hailed, was sunny, and was cold, and very windy (not as windy as the first trial) - We had a few cups of tea, and some bacon sarnies, looked over the instructions (Myself and JRP sorted out the PWs and SWMs that had been donated by PWP) and started thinking about it all - In the meantime, LCR and STE were already thinking about antenna configurations for NEWI - It was barely 9am!
Whilst Adrian, James and Jamie sorted out the trailer, and generator - I helped Steve sort out the elements. However after about an hour it was plain that Steve had the matter in hand - He was almost in a trance-like state sorting out this antenna, He had the matter all in hand. I ended up being the photographer, and the general dogs body.
Steve - Hard at Work, building the elements
Within 90 or so minutes at least 3 of the elements were built, and ready to be added to the boom - Which had taken about 30 minutes to assemble in itself, and all available manpower, and the side of Adrian's QTH.
Over the course of the day - the weather was totally against us, It rained (heavily) it hailed, it was sunny, and then it was windy, rainy and sunny - In short the weather didn't want us to put this antenna up. However, we persevered and gradually the X7 took shape. Given the immense size of the X7, Adrian had managed to secure the use of the Post Office car park over the road! - Initially the idea was to walk the X7 across the road, and attach it to the tower there. Given the weather, this never happened. Which was a shame, mainly as we were all taken by the size and performance of this antenna, we were very determined to get this antenna on the mast!
(Adrian - Preparing the mount at the top of the tower)
We retreated to a local SubWay, for some sandwiches - Fair to say that we certainly were well fed by the end of the day! - and then we headed back to Adrian's QTH in order to continue building this beast - Over the space of the afternoon - the remaining elements were built, the generator got a lick of paint (thanks to JRP and Jamie) and the winch cables, mechanism, and the diesel fuel lines were checked, and replaced where necessary...
However, the weather continued to put nails in the coffin - we decided that 5pm should be the cut-off point - If the X7 wasn't built by then, it wasn't going to be, plus we would start to lose the light about then! - We continued to battle with the elements (both the antenna ones, and the weather) over the course of the afternoon - even stopping work at one point due to a hailstorm!
As 5pm loomed ever closer - we had to stop - However before stopping we managed to work out a way of colour coding the elements in such a way that they could be easily recognised. However we had managed to properly attach 3 of the elements, and so we knew which plastic bolts were needed where - the remaining elements were built, but we didn't have a lot of room in order to attach them!
Over the space of the remaining hour, we disassembled the antenna, and then got on with packing the whole thing up - But before all that, we had to colour code all the various parts in order to facilitate quick re-assembly, as we'd previously thought of.
Our first test run was interesting - we decided to meet up at Chirk for the test run.
Little did we realise, that there would be a Gale, in Chirk that bright, somewhat damp morning. Myself, Eric, Adrian, Steve, James, Les & Geoff all turned up in a field behind Chirk Vintage Aircraft Museum - We took the X7 off the trailer, and started building it. With the manual, and various parts being carried off across the field in the wind - it certainly made for an interesting day.
The easy part done - we had to attach the X7 to the mast and get it in the air....This was a job and a half - Given the wind, we all agreed if the wind started to carry the X7, we'd let go rather than risk being injured by it.
It took all of 45 minutes to attach the X7 to the mast, but there was a gale, so I think we had good reason!! What followed next was a story in itself, We slowly winched the mast up but we took our time - With the X7 up the wind carried it on the rotator, which was good, as without the rotator and the strength of the wind we could have ended up with sheared antenna mounts. Once up - Adrian tuned up, and got on the air the wind meant the X7 was being turned and at any time was facing all over the world at any one time. A few contacts were made and we were happy..
Once we were happy that the tests were successful, we decided to take the X7 down - which proved just as amusing as putting it up, again getting the X7 off the mast and on to the floor without damaging us, or the surrounding cars was the biggest part of the job - Once on the ground we rapidly disassembled it and put it back on the side of the trailer...Getting out of the field proved interesting, as both Steve and Adrian managed to get their cars stuck, however some ingenious thinking sorted that out, and soon we were heading out of the field, and to a local McDonalds for a mission-de-brief.
The test run was deemed a success, that was the general opinion, not one caused by some sort of dillusion having been stood in a field in the cold, and going into a warm fast food outlet...
When we built the X7 at NEWI the following week, it took all of an hour, start to finish - not a few hours.....
Putting the X7 together before Science Festival 2004