N9US Home Page
Welcome to the N9US Website!

You probably came here because you chatted with me using my Remote Station in Illinois, and you were curious about what it looked like. Fair enough! But before we get into that, let me tell you why I did it. My wife and I retired and moved to Bradenton, Florida in July, 2009. We found a very nice place to live……but our “land condominium” community (we own the house, but the Association owns and maintains everything exterior to it) doesn’t permit Towers and frowns on antennas. What’s a Ham to do? GO REMOTE, of course!

First, let’s talk about the station I had in Illinois, before selling the house and moving to Florida. By the way, I DID try to sell the house with tower and antennas intact. But after nearly two years of trying (advertising in flyers at Dayton and various hamfests, and ads in QST, CQ, QTH.com, Homes4Hams, etc.), my realtor convinced me that the tower had to come down in order for the house to sell. Guess he was right…..with the tower gone and a bit of re-landscaping, the house sold in 32 days!

Then, up to 30 June 2009.

The ham shack was in the basement. It was well-supplied with both 115VAC and 2 circuits of 220 VAC. There was plenty of counter space to run multiple stations simultaneously. Conduits through the walls gave coax and rotor cable access to the back yard and tower. It was well sound insulated to permit late-night yelling through the pile-ups without disturbing the rest of the family. And there was plenty of air conditioning for when the linears were "smokin' 'em up!".

Then Views from the Tower

These pictures were taken from the top of the tower in the late 1980s. The neighborhood grew up a lot since then...lots more trees, some of the neighboring homes had been expanded and extensively landscaped, and the then trees and shrubs had grown considerably. However, the line of sight from the antennas on the tower was still unobstructed. If the tower was still up, it would still be great for propagation in all directions!

The Old Ham Shack and Antennas

The antennas that were on the tower were:

160 meters...Sloper wire fed from basement shack in parallel with an L
160/80...4 selectable slopers with resonators to work both bands
60...4 selectable slopers (above) fed through a matchbox
40...Cushcraft XM-240 two el Yagi
30/17/12...Cushcraft D3W rotary dipole
20/15/10...KLM KT-34A four el Yagi
6...Cushcraft A50-5 five el Yagi
144/440/1300...Comet CX-903 collinear fed through a triplexer

Also had coaxes going up from the basement through the walls to the attic for various attic-mounted and/or roof-mounted antennas. I removed the satellite arrays on the roof when we had the roof replaced. Also had 3 coax runs in 4 inch pipe to the back of the lot for verticals and Beverage receiving antennas. The entire yard (front and rear) had an extensive buried radial system connected to the base of the tower.

Even though this was a suburban setting, I've had pretty good luck DXing on all bands, 160 thru 2 meters.

N9US DXCC Totals

Mode/Band (Worked) Confirmed
Mixed (353) 351
Phone (346) 343
CW (348) 346
RTTY (333) 327
Satellite (134) 134
160 (253) 234
80 (316) 309
40 (343) 341
30 (323) 317
20 (351) 348
17 (330) 324
15 (341) 338
12 (308) 306
10 (331) 329
6 (91) 89
2 (2) 2
Challenge (2987) 2883

The New N9US Station is "Remote"!

The Farm The Tower

The New Control Operator Location is...
Anywhere I want It to Be!

The N9US remote station is on a non-ham farm in Maple Park, IL (EN51RU), about 50 miles west of Chicago. The tower is strapped to the back of an unused concrete silo, with a shed at the base holding a steel box containing the station equipment. The antennas are the same as I had on the tower when it was at my previous home in Palatine, IL (EN52XB) with the exception of only two slopers for 160, 80, and 60 meters instead of the four I had there. A picture of the stack is attached. Bottom is a Cushcraft XM-240 2 element 40 meter Yagi just above the thrust bearing. In the middle of the XM-240 is a Cushcraft D3W WARC dipole. BTW, the D3W does not seem to degrade the XM-240 in any way I can detect (gain, F/B ratio, or bandwidth). But, in fact, the XM-240 seems to give the D3W dipole a definite 3-6 dB F/B ratio on 17 meters. A decided plus!

Five feet above the XM-240/D3W kluge is my old Cushcraft A50-5 for 6 meters. Five feet above that is a rebuilt KT-34A. At the top of the mast is a Comet GP-98 collinear for 146, 440, and 1300 MHz (although my TS-2000 does not have the X module for 1300 MHz). In case you're wondering, the small dish opposite the tower climber is for the 5 GHz microwave link to my Blastcomm high-speed Internet connection.

Another attached picture shows the 24" W X 30" H X 30" L steel box containing the remote station. Inside the box from bottom to top, left to right, are the Daiwa CN-520 SWR meter (for when I'm there to look at it!), the Kenwood TS-2000 transceiver, and the T2X rotor control box (with an Idiom Press EZ-Rotor card to give RS-232 control from the computer). On top of the TS-2000 is a K1EL WinKeyer2 USB for sending CW, and a Tigertronics SignaLink USB external sound card for getting the two way audio between the computer and radio. I normally use IP Sound VoIP software, although I have also used SkyPE on occasion.

The Steel Box Front Open Rear Open

Next level up is a LCD monitor (for when I'm there). The screen shown would be typical for what you might see sitting at a Panera Bread with a notebook computer (free-loading into their Wi-Fi while sipping a latte and chatting with exotic DX). Ham Radio Deluxe software is running the radio, etc. and snagging DX Packet Cluster spots from DX Summit, HRD's website, VE7CC, etc. To the right of the monitor you can see part of the back of the computer (an old 1250 MHz Pentium III with 512 Mb RAM and 27 Gb hard drive running Windows XP Professional, since I use Remote Desktop). Above the computer at the extreme right you can barely see a home-brew plastic jar holding an 8 relay switch matrix card which controls the remote antenna selection switch at the top of the tower. It is controlled by the LPT1 parallel port on the computer and automatically selects the appropriate antenna when I switch bands. Also on top of the computer (unseen) is a UPS for riding out short-term power outages. (The computer BIOS is programmed to automatically re-boot when the UPS dies and power is, eventually, restored).

To try to keep this contraption from burning up in the summer, there are 3 exhaust fans in the top of the steel box, controlled by an attic fan thermal switch (presently set to turn on above 65o F). Below the computer, there is a heater (a 75 watt drop light) set to turn on below 45o F. There's also a stirring fan down by the TS-2000 and its power supply blowing on their heatsinks. We'll play with these settings to see if they're OK to keep the gear cool in the summer and warm in the winter. When I get time, I'll look into a couple of schemes of remote sensing critical temperatures over the Internet.

So far, I've had this beast working remotely on all bands from 1.8 thru 450 MHz (except for 5 and 222 MHz). When I get time, I'll open up the TS-2000 to do 5 MHz. Doubt I'll get on 222 MHz with this setup.

For now I'm barefoot with the TS-2000 remote. Perhaps, someday, I'll get up the confidence (and the money!) to add a computer-controlled linear to the kluge. One flaming fiasco at a time!

N9US: The Early Years

I was born in Washington, DC in 1942, and lived in Arlington, VA, Forest Hills, PA and in Luverne, AL, before moving to Short Hills , NJ in 1950. My uncle, George McConnell, W4PY, a Maritime Radio Officer, started working on me to get a ham license. In September, 1952, at age 10, I got my Novice license (KN2BYF), and soon upgraded to General (K2BYF). My first rig was a homebrew 5763/2E26 running 20 watts to a 67 foot end-fed Zepp. I got into DXing with this setup, and eventually worked 84 countries on 80 meters with it. I was strictly CW……didn’t even own a microphone!

Besides ham radio, I was very involved with Boy Scouts and Explorer Scouts with my Dad. Made Eagle Scout and won a Navy ROTC scholarship to Cornell University studying Electrical Engineering. With the threat of loss of some ham radio privileges with the advent of “Incentive Licensing” in December, 1962, I spent 2 days at the FCC office in New York City getting my Amateur Extra, First Class Radiotephone with Ship Radar Endorsement, and Second Class Radiotelegraph tickets. Later, in 1978, I upgraded to a First Class Radiotelegraph, with Aircraft Radiotelegraph and Six Month’s Service endorsements.

The Military Years
After graduation from Cornell, I was commissioned an Ensign, USN and reported to Pensacola, FL for flight training. The day after Christmas, 1968, I deployed with my A-6 Intruder squadron (VA-65) aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) to VietNam.

In 1970, the squadron deployed to the Mediterranean aboard USS Independence (CVA-62). On these deployments, I occasionally got to run phone patches to the folks back home, but that was about the extent of my ham radio activities. After these sea tours (I loved every minute of it!), I transferred to shore duty at Naval Air Systems Command HQ in Washington, DC as Electronic Warfare Threat Environment Simulation Project Engineer. A most interesting tour working on classified radar projects! Also during this tour, I completed a Master’s degree in Aerospace Systems Management at University of Southern California night school at the Pentagon. After the Washington tour, I reported to the USS America (CVA-66) as a Carrier Air Traffic Control Center officer. After deployments to the Mediterranean, and promotion to Lieutenant Commander, the separations from wife and kids were grating on me, and I decided to resign my Regular commission and leave active duty service. Fortunately, I accepted a Reserve commission which I used for another 17 years!

Civilian Career (and Naval Reserve Duty)
In July, 1976, I left the active duty Navy and took a position with Northrop Corporation Defense Systems Division in Rolling Meadows, IL as Electronic Warfare Systems Development Manager. Upon moving to IL, I applied for the new call N9US (“Navy 9 United States”) and started getting back into ham radio. I soon missed the Navy and affiliated with a P-3 Anti-Submarine Patrol squadron (VP-90) operating out of Naval Air Station Glenview north of Chicago. The parallel careers proved to be a perfect match. At Northrop, I worked on protecting aircraft against enemy missiles. On weekends and during active duty tours, I flew missions keeping track of the Soviet submarine threat.

We flew missions far and wide to such locations as the Azores and Bermuda in the Atlantic, and to Hawaii, Midway Island, Alaska, Japan, Okinawa, Guam, Hong Kong, Thailand, and the Philippines in the Pacific.

After 8 years chasing subs, I got too senior for the squadron and took command of the USS Eisenhower (CVN-69) Reserve unit. Later, after promotion to Captain, I took command of the Naval Air Systems Command reserve unit at Glenview. In 1993, after 27 years of service (10 active duty, 17 reserve), I retired from the Navy.

My career at Northrop Grumman involved many challenging and interesting assignments in a variety of radar, electro-optics, and infrared projects in the Advanced Technology, Engineering, Manufacturing Operations, and Program Management departments. In July, 2008, I retired after 32 years. Northrop Grumman was a great company to work for, and I left with fond memories of both co-workers and our customers.

You can contact me at: n9.us@hotmail.com (remove the "." in my call when you email me.)