It took my antenna installer, Adam, 3 full days valiantly and painstakingly getting the SmallIR with 30/40 coil installed and tuned on the metal roof of my new CN88 QTH. In the best-case scenario, the metal roof would have acted as a ground plane with the antenna bonded to it. The roof is too small and has too many angles for it to act like a ground plane. It was impossible to tune bonded to the roof. Adam ended up mounting it on a DX Engineering ground plate elevated several feet above the roof, strapped to one of the chimneys. He dropped the balun down the chimney several feet. The LMR400 ultraflex coax was fed down the (unused) chimney and out an opening in the brick in the basement, then run along a beam to the new shack, where it was fed through a ready pass-through. Radials touching the metal roof was not an option as the roof interacted with them. Adam’s challenge was to devise a plan to elevate radials above the roof. He cleverly ran Mastrant or thicker rope to the second chimney and a second line from the second chimney to a kitchen vent on the far side of the house. He then ran one radial per band to the other chimney and some tied to the line between the two protrusions. That is literally all he had to work with. He put up a second radial for 40 meters in the opposite direction across the yard, tied to a fence post. It is elevated high enough to be out of the way. There are no high trees on the property. It is a ¼ acre city lot. I stayed in Woodinville out of the way during the 3 days Adam worked. He did the best humanly possible during the 3 days of his weekend from his regular job.
As one might guess, the results with only 1 radial per band (none needed on 6m) are less than one would hope for in an elevated vertical near salt water. I have spent several days testing and operating, mostly CW. Most signals are RST 229 to 239. I had to ignore some uncopyable callers. I heard no DX signals. I worked a few East Coast stations, some Midwest stations, California, Arizona, and Idaho. The only true 599 was across the Sound in Marysville on 20m. Because I have capability of remoting in to my CN87 station to work FT8, I was able to compare decodes between stations. CN87 has many more decodes, but CN88 does decode some DX. Working a DX from CN88, it missed numerous decodes during the exchange that CN87 heard, making it a less efficient station for completing an FT8 QSO.
With wider filters, noise in the SSB end of the bands is a major impediment to that mode. It ranges from S5 to S9. 40m and 20m are the worst. The CW portion of the bands is much more listenable with noise ranging from S0 to S3, but with only one radial per band the incoming signals are very weak. For close-in work, 10m turns out to be the best band, even though the Thursday night SnoVARC tuneup yielded no copy between participants. I tested subsequently with a QSO partner who has a yagi and some power, in both CW and SSB. Both directions were very satisfactorily heard.
I have significant work to do running down local noise sources. Next week I will put the station on battery power and turn off the main. If that yields no noise source, I will ask the PUD to test its installed Smart Meter and the overhead power lines running past the lot. Beyond that I will walk the neighborhood doing some direction finding. DX Engineering has an interesting new noise-finding antenna I may investigate. I will order a new pile of Palomar ferrites.
My shack is a fantastic space, ironically the brightest room in the house, with two below ground basement windows, where I watch mama deer and spotted newborn fawns ambling by above my head level. My station is set up temporarily on two portable and not very stable tables. Therefore, it is a minimalist setup, using the KX3 to the smallish KPA100. When my permanent operating desk is built, I will add the KPA500, connecting it to the KPA100, driving to 500w out of the little KX3. Yes, it apparently can be done and I have the adapter to do it.
Even though I custom-planned my she-shack, I forgot about my UHF antenna run. It had been jumpered through the laundry room door. Now it needs a way into the basement and into the shack. I did not have the electrician make a pass-through for it. Oops. I guess during another radial tying session, perhaps Adam can run the Comet GP15 down the chimney and along the same beam (if he will come back!), threaded through the enlarged pass-through into the shack. Otherwise, it will be a very cold winter with an open door into the basement.
So, that is my up-to-date report. There is much to do to improve the antenna results and station. Currently it will be best as my CW skill-building station. Listening and copying such faint signals will be very good for me. I need domestic CW QSOs on 17m and 30m, so those will be my focus at CN88. I can simultaneously run FT8 remotely on the CN87 station. So, it is super fun operating two stations at once.