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WT8WV “Colossus” Air Cannon Antenna Launcher

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These are the basic parts to make my “WT8WV Colossus” antenna launcher.

Folks, this has been a fun and hilarious winter project.  Yesterday, when I built this air cannon antenna launcher it was -4 degrees outside and this was a perfect evening project to put together.  For years, me and my two ham radio buddies (WR8S Bill Shultz and WV8TG Tom Graf), have enjoyed ARRL Field Day activities and usually used a slingshot and a 3/4 ounce fishing sinker weight and an old Zebco fishing reel (with 20 pound test line) to shoot and suspend our doublet dipole antennas high into the trees.  Certainly, the slingshot worked pretty much flawlessly… but… boys will be boys, and the idea of an air cannon / spud launcher / potato gun type system seemed to be a new desire.  (Most people, our wives included, wouldn’t trust our 3-man team with a slingshot, let alone a potato gun!  But I digress.)  Actually, our local ham radio club (Monongalia Wireless Association) had a version of a potato gun antenna launcher, so we decided we needed one of our own… and to make some design modifications in the interest of… “science”… plus our own sadistic pleasures.  (Make sure you read below WV8TG’s initial “pressure test” experience.)  The following pictures hopefully provide the basic concept and parts we used.  Tom and I split the cost of the parts needed to make launchers and each built our own version, but they both are the same basic design with only length dimensions of the air chamber and barrel being the difference.

All parts where sourced from our local Lowes store in their plumbing department, except the Schrader valve which can be purchased at an automotive store.  Total cost about $40 but you could make a couple of them as a joint project with a friend and reduce that cost per launcher a bit.  I got a small rubber gasket for the outside nipple of the Schrade valve to act as another seal on the exterior of the air chamber.  You will need to drill holes for Schrader valve, barrel slug stop and projectile slug caps to attach the screw eyes to attach the fishing line.  I used 3 inch PVC for air chamber, 1.25 inch PVC for the barrel and short sections to mate the air chamber, trigger valve and threaded barrel.  The projectile slugs were made from 3/4 inch PVC and caps and I filed off the nubs on the caps with a Dremel tool for a smooth fit into the barrel.  I used PVC Prep on each joint before applying the glue.  When gluing joints together, insert the sections together and twist a quarter turn for a solid adhesion.  Let all glue set up for 24 hours before testing air pressure chamber.  I will pressurize the chamber inside and let it sit overnight to see if it loses any pressure.  It’s too cold right now to take outside in -4 degree temperatures to test, but I will use a bicycle pump with a pressure reading valve, and start at 40 psi… then 50 psi… and then 60 psi for test shots to see how it functions and check for any air pressure leaks.  We use 60 psi for our club launcher.

WV8TG (Tom) charged his air chamber (barrel not attached) and let it set overnight to test for chamber air leakage.  When he opened the trigger value… there was NO leakage… but there was a sudden LOUD release of 60 psi air gush out of a 30 inch long, 3 inch wide fully charged air chamber.  He indicated the compressed air release was… impressive.  However, his wife was not impressed… nor was she aware of the scientific test that was taking place.  #surprise!  #WHOOOOOOOSH  #loudwifeexpressions  I have no reason to doubt Tom will find his projectile slugs in the next county using his design.  The club chamber was 12 inches long versus his 30 inch air chamber.  #overkill?  I designed my air chamber for 14 inches and will conduct all tests… outside.  #potentialmeanwife

 

 

 

 

Intro to Kit Building for Radio Amateurs by K7QO (Chuck Adams)

Chuck Adams (K7QO) makes a club presentation on Kit Building basics.  He highlights what every ham radio operator needs on his workbench to build kits or make repairs.

K7QO Chuck Adams website

Make your own Dipole Antenna

Randy does such a good job of explaining how to make your own 10 Meter Dipole.  Get on the air… 10 meters is a fun band when the sun cooperates!

Magnetic Loop Antenna

I always wondered if this type of magnetic loop antenna would “get out” to the world and how it worked.  This video shows both!

2016 Dayton Hamvention Post-Mortem

Well… another Hamvention is in the books and it was the usual great time of fun and friendship.  WR8S  (Bill Shultz) and WV8TG  (Tom Graf) and I enjoyed three fun-filled days scouring the Flea Market and also inside Hara Arena for all sorts of treasures and trinkets.  Tom scored a pristine 1959 Hammerlund HQ-One Forty Five short-wave radio and several other vintage radios to restore.  (The Hammerlund was the first serious short-wave radio Tom bought and it eventually led him on the journey to get his Amateur Extra Class license!)  Bill and I invested in a couple Yaesu FTM100-DR System Fusion digital mobile radios so that we can explore the Monongalia Wireless Association’s new System Fusion repeaters here in the Morgantown, West Virginia area.  Below is a video recap of our annual trek to the Dayton Hamvention.  If you have never attended a Dayton Hamvention… GET THERE!  Enjoy!

Doublet Antenna to Hang!

Will be putting this baby up in the air soon!  Also have a 4:1 balun to add to it.  We use these for Field Day, as well!

Will be putting this baby up in the air soon! Also have a 4:1 balun to add to it. We use these for Field Day, as well!

Best Way to Coil Coax and Audio Cables

Any one who has EVER coiled wire, coaxial cables, audio cables or even a hank of rope knows UNCOILING it has at one time or another created a “rats nest” of tangled mess that will increase your blood pressure, makes you exceedingly cranky and often has caused Tourettes-like symptoms.  Fighting an unruly coil of coax or audio cable wastes a lot of time when setting-up a gig, a Field Day site or even coiling a power chord at home!  Having spent years working in television studios, control rooms, and other audio gigs on a daily basis, I learned early on from the engineers that there is ONE way to coil cabling… W2AEW shows that in his video!  (P.S.  Engineers can be especially grouchy if you don’t coil correctly and THEY get to untangle YOUR improperly coiled rats-nest from a previous gig tear-down as they work on an important production. Time is money.)

Feed Lines… A Basic Understanding

The ARRL Website has excellent information on their website about all things amateur radio.  This article explains the basics about some of the more common feed lines in use for antenna construction and the termination to your ham radio equipment.  Check the link below…

Feed Lines… ARRL.Org

CQ Field Day 2014 de WR8S

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Operating Field Day Station WR8S from high atop Chestnut Ridge in north central West By God Virginia, Bill Shultz (WR8S), Tom Graf (KD8WQK) and Spence Graham (KB8FIR) ran QRP CW and PSK31 modes on 2 Elecraft KX3 radios.  It was a great weekend with excellent chums!

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