THE antenna!

Steppir DB18 on a US Tower 555HTX heavy-duty tower.

After having the tower in place, holding up various dipoles and wire antennas, I now have a dream antenna on top of that monster tower. It now works for its existence.

I bought this Steppir at an estate sale, and it was not in the best of shape. It had been in the Arizona sun for about 10 years, and the fiberglass was showing and some other things that needed work. So, I helped take it down from the original tower, disassembled it with the help of my wife (NI7Y) and we brought it up from Mesa to the cooler pines near Payson at an altitude of 5950 feet.

It took me about 6 weeks of sanding elements, cleaning bird shit off of everything, and removing anything that was weathered to clean it up. I went so far as buffing some of the metal parts. I even did a bit of re-engineering to help it last longer in Arizona sun.

The first thing I did was paint all 10 fiberglass elements with Rustoleum marine paint. One coat did a great job, and that paint is metal-free, I called. It works great. It should be good for 20 years based on the paint it came with and the much thicker coat I have on it now.

One of the motor units had a broken spindle, and having the parts doesn’t help if the screws are seized up inside. Not cheap, but one of the three motor drives is new. The relay box was missing the weather seal, so there was a lot to clean up in that. I re-engineered that a little to ensure large open shafts were not open weather or bird crap. And added the seal of course. I also replaced all of the control wires and while I was at it I added a plastic braid cover over the wire. I expect that will bake away in 3 or 4 years, but that’s 3 or 4 years the wires won’t be exposed to the sun.

With the help of some neighbors and friends, we tilted the tower over and attached it to the boom, and up she went. On the first day, I had a nice SSB QSO with three stations in Europe. With the wire antennas, I could never head them well enough on phone. CW worked, of course, but now it is harder to find the DX on the spectrum display because they aren’t typically the weak stations anymore. Nice problem to have.

Now to learn my Flex 6400M better and get it all integrated with the beam and a logging and spotting system to automate some things for me. Just programing the antenna to be more resonant on the frequencies is a chore I need to get to.

So, here it is, July 23rd, 2022 and it has been up for a week. I’ll have to revisit this page and update what it’s like after a year of playing with it.

A whole new radio world I’ll tell ya’!