Wednesday, December 2, 2020

K9AY Controller and Antenna

K9AY Controller at operating position.
In 2007, I put up some K9AY loops. They were a little less than half-sized, about 33 feet in each loop. They worked pretty well on 80 and 40m, although they were a little weak on 160m. After about three years, they stopped working. At the time, I was using a rotary switch to change directions, but I really wanted a push-button controller.

In 2015, I designed a controlled based on a 74LS175 Quad D-type flip-flip. It was pretty simple in concept, but, it didn't work. The bounces from the switches changed directions rather randomly.

Which lead me to write this article, about a solution - using a PIC micro-controller to solve the bouncing switch problem. 

I built that prototype, and wrote about it three years ago. One problem was that the wiring appeared flaky, it wasn't always dependably switching. I figured I needed to design a PC board. 

While I've been working on that, I had a thought a couple of weeks ago -- maybe I could piggyback a second piece of perfboard to my prototype and keep the board from flexing, and that would avoid the flaky wiring. Easy enough to try.

K9AY Antenna box
at base of tree used as
Sure enough,  doubling up the perfboard helped. I determined that the wiring wasn't that flaky. Part of the problem was that the NW and SW switches and LEDs were reversed. Pressing the SW button sent the NW voltage, and vice versa. 

With that fixed, I couldn't find any reason not to put the K9AY back up. I used 42 feet of wire in each loop. This is a good compromise length for 160, 80 and 40m. 

Some on the air testing shows that it works pretty much as expected, and the push-buttons make it really easy to change directions. 

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