In this section, the following topics are covered in detail:
- Stack Switching
- Antenna Switching
- Main Tower
- Turning the Tower
- Where Do I Point the Antennas?
- Controlling the Acom 2000a Amplifier
Once you’ve the connected radio, you’ll also connect to the station computer. This provides complete control of antennas, amp, N1MM+ logging software, WSJT-X, and various other features. Once logged into the computer, you’ll see the following:
Controlling the antennas in the stack is done by pressing the Top, Bottom, or Top+Bottom buttons. The top box in the stack should always be left black as there is no antenna connected to that port.
This switch ONLY controls the secondary antennas you see above. The Main Tower follows the radio and automatically switches to the correct antenna.
R1 is not presently used for remote purposes and should be left on a blank port to avoid port conflicts. A blue box indicates which radio has control of the port or antenna. If you see a red box, that indicates a port conflict, meaning the antenna is in use by the other radio.
R2 switches the station’s secondary antennas when used in combination with the Tower Select switch.
KT36A is a triband antenna fixed to stateside.
2 Element, JK 802, 80M Beam
When N1MM+ is running, the antenna will automatically switch to the appropriate band segment. If N1MM+ is not running, then manual switching is required.
The 160m antenna is a full-size vertical with elevated radials. The best operating frequency range is from 1.800 to 1.870. Beyond 1.870, the SWR climbs quickly, so please keep that in mind.
R2 – Main Tower
This switch connects the K3 to the Main Tower. The Main Tower controls the 160m vertical, 80m beam, 4/4 – 40m stack, 6/6 – 20m stack, 6/6 – 15m stack, and 7/7 – 10m stack. All antennas switch automatically as you change bands. No manual switching is required.
R2 – Antenna Switch
Once this option is highlighted, you are now controlling the antennas using the R1/R2 Antenna Switch. !! There are no automatic band switches when using these antennas, so please be careful not to transmit on the wrong antenna for the band you intend to use !!!
R2 – BOTH
When this switch is highlighted, both the antenna you selected in the R1/R2 Antenna Switch and the Main Tower are phased together. This is useful if you are trying to work Japan and Europe at the same time.
Turning the Tower
The Main Tower is a 135′ Bertha Pole. The entire tower turns with all of antennas pointing in the same direction.
To turn the antennas, enter the desired direction in the white box and click the “Turn” button. While the tower is turning, if you wish to stop on a certain direction, press “Stop.”
The tower does not turn quickly and may take up to 30 seconds to reach the desired direction depending on travel distance. Once you start turning the tower, please wait for it to stop before entering a new direction. You may also press “Stop”, then enter a new direction.
Important Safety Precautions!
Please remember you are turning a very large tower and array. Plan your operating accordingly by keeping any turning to a minimum as to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on the rotating system.
The maximum turning radius is 180 degrees on either side of 0 degrees. Keep an adequate safety margin when turning. Personally, I never go beyond 160 degrees CW, or 220 degrees CCW. In an abundance of caution, avoid getting too close to 180 degrees.
Where Do I Point the Antennas?
Here are a few general guidelines to get you in the right direction (pun intended).
Most of the time, pointing in the general direction of the area you want to work is sufficient, especially if you’re running stations. For example, if you’re pointed 245 degrees, VK and ZL will hear you very well. There’s no need to swing the antenna from 220 to 260 for every station you work. The only except is if you’re trying to break a pile-up. In that case, an exact beam heading is best.
ZL – 220 degrees
VK – 260 degrees
Japan/Asia/KL7 – 300 degrees
Middle East – 10 degrees
Russia – 15 degrees
Europe – 45 degrees
Stateside – 100 degrees
South America – 120 degrees
One of the best ways to get an exact beam heading is by using N1MM+, which is configured for CN88, the station’s grid square. Type in the prefix, or call of the station, and N1MM gives you the proper heading.
Controlling the Acom 2000a Amplifier
Starting the Amp
When starting the amplifier, if you see a message that says, “Disconnected”, simply press the CMD button. A small menu will appear under the button. Click “Connect.” Once connected, the amps status will say, “Power is Off.”
To switch the amp on, press the red On/Off button in the bottom corner. A message appears asking if you want to remotely turn on the amp. Click “Yes.” After a number of seconds, you’ll eventually see a warm-up message. The warm-up takes about 180 seconds. Once the amp is ready to use, you will see a frequency range in amp’s message window.
Once the amplifier is warmed-up and ready to use, the OPR/STB button will become active and you’ll need to press the button to toggle between operating and standby mode. The lights in the upper right hand corner will tell you the amp’s status.
Operating the Amp
Operating the amp is seamless. There are, however, a few points to cover.
The Acom 2000a is a robust piece of equipment with many protections to avoid damage:
- The amp will change bands automatically as you change bands.
- If it senses a high SWR beyond its capacity, you will a receive fault protection message. The red light will blink and the amp will automatically put itself in standby mode.
If you receive a fault message, check the following:
- Check that you are using the correct antenna for the band of operation.
- Check that you are within the proper SWR range of the antenna.
- For the 80m beam, check that you have made the correct switch between CW and SSB.
- Check that exciter power is not too high, as this can trip protection circuits. Exciter power of 60 watts provides plenty of power from the amp.
If you receive a fault error and made the appropriate corrections, press the OPR/STB button to resume operating.
Tubes were recently replaced, so you should see plenty of power from this state of the art amplifier.
Important Operating Tip:
To ensure you do not over-drive the amp, check to be sure output power on the K3 reads about 60 watts or less.
When you are done operating, or do not wish to use the amplifier any longer, please turn it off to prolong tube life.
Operating the K3/0
Lastly, please do not change any of the internal K3 setting using the Menu or Config Menu. These setting have been carefully calibrated for the station and changes may result in undesirable operating issues.
Now that you have basics down…
If you have any questions, please contact me.