Giving a Helping Hand to a HAM in need

By Dirk W0RI

Ray Buchicchio WA9BLP Antenna Project, Roselle, Illinois, Saturday March 10, 2018

Site Profile (Ray Buchicchio):

Ray was born 1927 in Chicago, IL, his Elmer was his Ham Dad. Lives with wife Millie in Roselle, IL. Ray was a charter member of SARC going back his friend Bill Sneed. An interesting fact is that the SARC repeater was on his tower for many years !!! Small world !!!
Ray contacted me end of last summer on 2M, we chatted for a while and informed me that he needed help fixing his station. He has Rotor and antenna problems, in several discover visits it was confirmed something is wrong on the tower. A few days later we cranked the tower over to take a look. Very shortly upon inspection all coax cables were bad-damaged since they have been on the tower for close to 40 years. In the meantime Ron KD9IPO (donated for temp use) helped me install an end feed wire in -20 degrees weather, to get Ray back on the air until we could solve the coax problems etc. The early volunteers were Mike Sorenson, Peter Mazuik, Rob Glowacki, and Dirk Smith. Hence from that point the project was planned and scheduled during warmer weather, which turned out to be Saturday, March 10, 2018.
The project required new coax, which Ray purchased, 250 foot spool of 8U, I had a spare rotor cable and also purchased new PL259 and SO239 connectors.

Weather: Clear Skies, 34 – 45 degrees

Start Time 8:00 AM

End Time: 8:28 PM

Food Provided

AM Donuts- Coffee, lunch – pizza (donated by Dirk Smith W0RI)

Project Team

James Richardson AC9PH, Bill McGovern KD9JQM, Ron Delpiere-Smith KD9IPO, Rob Glowacki N9MVO,
Kevin Willard KB9QVX, Kevin Chin K9AAB, Peter Maziuk N9POL, Steve Karson AC9EM, John Schofield AC9JS,
Chris Brewer AC9GN, Mike Sorenson (plus daughter Katie)K9KQX, Dirk Smith W0RI,

You Tube Link: by Kevin Chin K9AAB
Pictures: ALL Volunteers, Steve, James, Kevin W., Chris, Kevin C, Dirk, James at

Project Scope

  • Replace 4 Feedlines with new 8U COAX and a Rotor cable
    • 1x 3 Element Multi band Antenna
    • 1x Rotatable Dipole (Multi Band)
    • 1x 2 Meter antenna
    • 1x Fixed Dipole antenna
    • Rotor cable
  • Terminate cable with PL259 outside and solder to connection plate in shack, incl. Rotor cable
    • Replace SO239 connectors in shack
  • Replace Matching network on 3 element Multi Band Antenna
  • Visual Check of Rotor, replace junction box for rotor cable connection next to Rotor
  • Remove and reinstall fixed dipole from tower
  • Drape 5x cables on tower, feed cables into attic then down wall into shack, with drip loop, extra in 2 feet in attic
  • Verify operation when all ends terminated and tower raised again.
  • Check AMP and AMP power supply, both replaced with spare. (see detail write up from Rob, below)
  • Clean up yard and put away ladders and supplies

TBD: (remaining issues can all be done by simply by folding over tower)

  • Rotor repair or replacement does not fully rotate skips in some directions.
  • Determine is 20 M band was dead, or Antenna issue or FTDX1200 radio/configuration
    • 20 M coils bad?
    • FTDX1200 took a hit on 20M?
  • Drop 2M antenna approximately 2-3 feet, interferes with antenna rotate loop.


Report from Rob Glowacki N9MVO (Kevin Willard KB9QVX)

Also, he had some rather unusual connections in his shack. The FT 1200 was connected to the ‘antenna’ connector of the SWR/Power meter, the SWR power meter’s ‘transmitter’ connector was hooked to the ‘antenna’ connector of the MFJ auto tuner, and the ‘transmitter’ connector of the MFJ was connected to the input of the amp. At least the amp was connected correctly.
The SWR/Power meter was backwards, which made ‘forward’ and ‘reflected’ power readings reversed, but worse than that, the MFJ tuner was connected backwards. That *might* have caused it to try to tune for lowest ‘forward’ reading, and most ‘reflected’ reading, as forward and reflected would be reversed with that connection.
When we first got things connected, we heard NO signal on 20 meters at all, we found that the attenuator on the radio was turned on, at -18 dB. That would kinda reduce signals by about 3 S units. You know of the Antenna 1/ Antenna 2 switch
problem. He said the 1200 rig is rather new, so he’s not real familiar with it, yet. He may need a little hand holding to help him get things set up right for usual operation.
Of course, he also needs to have the 80 Liter antenna coax connector mounted on the wall, on a plate of some sort, and yet another coax jumper cable made to connect THAT to the antenna switch.
His backup amplifier power supply, the switching supply, smells of burning resistor shortly after getting turned on. Both amplifiers work, at about the same power output level, with the same 45 Watt input. The amp he usually uses indicates on its own meter about 550 Watts, the backup amp on the shelf indicates about 300 W output with 45 W drive.
Both amps show about 300 W on the same external power meter (his meter) and about 500 Watts on my genuine Radio Shack power meter, that MUST be made for CB, because it has a 2000 Watt scale (;^D) Actually, the package for it says it has a Buene bridge, which should be accurate across the HF bands. I know the 20 and 200 Watt scales on it are pretty close. I don’t use the 2 KW scale, so I don’t know how close that reading is.
The backup amp DID work on the backup power supply before we started smelling smoke, so it apparently was putting out SOMETHING for a while. We shut it down as soon as we smelled something bad..
It was a very worthwhile effort! Now we need to figure out what’s wrong with the tribander on 20 Liters, and the rotatable dipole on 10 and 40 Liters.


(+12 hours)
In Garage: Mike K9KQX prepped the coax 8U cables and soldered new PL 259 on ends. (Daughter Katie keeping an eye on Dad)
Roof Crew: Kevin C, Bill Cable drape, fixed Dipole remove and install (final tower tilt back work Dirk)
Spotters: John, Steve
Antenna: Ron, Chris, James, Dirk
Rotor: Ron, Peter, James, Dirk
Shack: Kevin W., Rob, Ron (solder cables, solder rotor cable, test power supplies and Amplifier)
Attic: Dirk, Kevin C., James, Kevin W.

Although the project is not 100% completed, Ray is back on the air with his Amplifier. Ray and Millie were very impressed with the courtesy and work ethics on this project. He could not get over the fact that so many people showed up to help him repair his issues. What I mentioned to Ray: “ You risked your life/ limbs in WW II, for many, it is now our turn to do this small thing for you ,as a token of our appreciation, as a Veteran,  fellow Amateur Radio Operator and charter member of SARC.”   In the next week or so I and Mike K9KQX RHG Editor, will feature Ray’s life profile in the RHG.

A personal message from me: Although I was not born in the USA, but did become a citizen, I was proud to have this kind of response and Crew working to help Ray. Looking back I believe we had the right number of volunteers, I actually had to turn people away prior to project start.

Thank You again on behalf of a very grateful Ray and wife Millie…..

Update (06/05/2018): Ray WA9BLP Antenna Project Update


CQ Worked All Prefix Contest

From 7pm Friday, March 23 until 7pm Sunday March 25 you can work countries around the world on HF SSB. The goal of this contest is to work as many prefixes as possible, with more points earned for countries on a different continent than you. The exchange for this contest is very simple, 59 and a serial number. Start with one and give each successive contact the next serial number in line.

CQ SPX SSB contest details

VE Testing

John Shofield provided the following report:  Results March 3rd, 2018

Name Call Class
Walgenbach, Neil E. AC9SK Extra
Chen, Hao KD9KLX Technician
Richier, Taylor L. KD9KLY Technician
Bizon, Bartlomiej KD9KLZ Technician


Technician 3
General 0
Extra 1
Total 4

Next examination date: April 7th, 2018

All of us at SARC would like to congratulate all those that received or upgraded their license this month, and we welcome you to the amateur radio community.  Hope to hear you on the air.   Should you have any questions, come join SARC at our regular monthly meeting on the 3rd Thursday of the month or stop in at one of the Construction Meetings.

Miscellaneous Updates

Construction Project   Gary N9VU

Next CP meeting will be Saturday, April 14th and 28th from 8am till noon.

Location is at the Schaumburg Tennis Plus, 1416 Payne Rd, Schaumburg, IL

EMCOMM  Bob Langsfeld WB9TZC

Leo N9NBH reported exercise of the Sunday night Net and the Peoria-based ARES 3.905 MHz test 4:30PM conducted for all districts within the state.

Bob Langsfeld WB9TZC reminded May 20th is the Chicagoland Marathon in Busse Woods.  Start 6AM and goes till 1PM

Repeater updates  – Kent W9KAO

Reports audio on the UHF side working well.  Kent responded to recent repeater hang as follows:  “……. It released when I restarted the system.  Most likely you heard the connection between the VHF system and the Link System.

I did hear an Echolink connection earlier in the commute.  There has been some talk on the HamVoip group that there may be a lockup interaction going on between Echolink connections and the repeater application.  They seem to think it is a stuck Echolink push to talk problem where a user leaves Echolink in transmit mode, but it has been my observation that the USB interface freezes with PTT stuck.  The only solution is to restart the PI operating system.  One suggestion is to implement Echolink on its own node, which is certainly doable, but I don’t think that is the problem, although an active Echolink connection may be involved in some way.

Stuck USB interfaces with this application has been an ongoing issue for years.  This is one of the downsides to using USB interface connections.  In the past it seemed that the longer the system ran without a reboot, the more likely a lockup would occur.  We are restarting the system on a weekly basis, but on the rare occasions, this problem still occurs.

One of the authors of this version of the software was incredulous when I suggested it wasn’t if but when a USB interface got stuck, of course it certainly couldn’t be his software, but it does happen.  There is a reason that at least two vendors provide usb interfaces that now monitor the usb device heartbeat signal and provide a logic signal if it stops flashing.  I implemented two of these usb devices on the UHF system, as there is no internet connectivity to do a restart should the system lockup.  I use the logic signal as an interrupt to automatically restart the system.  We probably should consider doing the same on the VHF system as well”.

Kent requests hardware:  Board approved $120 budget for purchase of two new interfaces.

President’s Report  –  Matt AC9IG

Reports we’re in need of avoiding consternation when there are unplanned events that conflict with planned meetings.  Several events can occur within our large membership and will sometimes overlap.  SARC_All is a public forum for club members so be careful with dialog.

We’re in need for Field Day Chair:  Rob N9MVO can assist and hopefully others will step forward to help him.

Public Service – Rob N9MVO

All Public Service events are over for the year.  Next years public service events start in April and May of 2018


Roger Ryan W9RDR not present; Robert Kocourek W9RKK has stepped forward to become Social Chair.

Education: Leo N9NBH

Reported plans for a winter General Class with the Library District are in place.  September 8th through the end of October at the Hoffman Estates facility, same as last fall’s Technician class.  Publication will be ready for the August issue. Looking for some text on ‘Why do you want to become a General?” as once published.

Net Check-ins – Leo N9NBH

SARC Net Check In’s For Thursday, March 8th, 2017:

The following hams checked in to the net this evening.

N9NBH Leo (Net Control)

Thank you to the following hams that checked in to the net,

  1. N9VU Gary
  2. KD9HIJ Ken
  3. AC9EM Steve
  4. W0RI Dirk
  5. K9KQX Mike
  6. KB9RGU Jim
  7. W9RKK Robert
  8. KD9IPO Ron
  9. W9KAO Kent
  10. K9EKL Ron
  11. N9LQ Joel
  12. N9NBH Leo
  13. KD9FMN Paul
  14. KB9QVX Kevin
  15. KD9HIK Dennis
  16. KD9JBU Joe
  17. N9AAE JR

From the President

I am always thoroughly impressed when I hear the attendance numbers for the construction project. Very often above 20. This is great. It’s unfortunate that my schedule doesn’t allow me to make it to them very often. I also enjoy the photos from the construction project that show up on SARC All from time to time. These certainly help to keep everyone informed of what is going on.

Some of the best things that come out of the construction project, by far, are the working projects. Every now and then there’s a great write up of how a project came together complete with instructions. Or, someone will bring a project to a club meeting and show off parts of it (whether it’s the night’s program or not). I recently got to hear the end of some of the details of the build of a graphical clock featured in the October 2017 QST. This made me quite proud of the number of active members we have in the club.

I mention these projects because they would all make great material for our updated web site. Continue to post your successes, trials and photos to SARC all and we will begin taking some of this information and posting it on the web page. If it’s an original work, we will ask for your consent first.