Collin County Clubs Team Up for Sci-Tech Installation

The McKinney Amateur Radio Club (MARC) and the Plano Amateur Radio Klub (PARK) teamed up over the past six months to install an HF-UHF station at the Sci-Tech Discovery Center (http://www.mindstretchingfun.org/) in Frisco, TX.  Sci-Tech is a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning center for elementary and middle-school age students.  The facility has hosted over 100,000 visitors in the past 12 months and provided outreach experiences for additional 165,000 students in Collin County schools.  The teams completed the project on September 15, just in time for the station to be in operation for the Boy Scout Jamboree-on-the-Air (JOTA) on October 20-21.

The project began with a donation by David and Diana Brandenburg of the Brandenburg Life Foundation in February 2012.  David, K5RA, has provided funding for amateur radio stations in schools and museums throughout the country including the Heard Museum in McKinney, Haggard Middle School in Plano and the Saint Paul School in Richardson.  Additional funding for a WeatherBug commercial-grade weather station was provided by the Goldblatt Family Trust.  The installation at Sci-Tech provides up-to-the-minute reporting of weather conditions on the Internet and is used by WFAA Channel 8, an ABC affiliate, as well as other news organizations that monitor weather in the north Texas area.

The clubs went to work immediately on the antenna installation and station design.  That was not an easy task.  The Sci-Tech Discovery Center is located in a commercial tilt-wall structure with 50 foot walls.  PARK President, Kip Moravec, AE5IB, designed an antenna mount that would clamp to the perimeter wall and allow the Rohn tower section to pivot down for easy servicing of the antennas, the rotor and the weather station components.  The mount was made of steel and weighed in excess of 400 pounds.  It took one full day to cut the steel and drill the necessary holes so the structure could be assembled and then powder-coated to protect it from rust and match the color of the building.

Once the antenna mount was complete, MARC President Walter Lemons, AE5IT, President of the McKinney club, along with Rusty Delaney, K5FEA, and other members of the team loaded it onto a flatbed trailer for transport.  The team hauled the mount to the roof of the building and began the installation.   It took two sessions the use of a 50 foot lift to position and secure the mount in place.  The team then installed the Rohn tower sections and added a Force 12 C3SS 10, 15, 20 meter beam, a VHF-UHF vertical and the weather station components.

During these two sessions other members of the team began drilling a three-inch hole in the building wall for the cable entry.  Again, this was not an easy task, since the walls are eight-inch thick concrete.  The cabling run from the tower to the station measured 175 feet.  Cabling included coax runs of LMR 400 for the HF-6 frequencies and LMR 600 for the VHF-UHF frequencies plus wire for the Yaesu antenna rotator, WeatherBug weather station and two runs of CAT-5 Ethernet cable.  The CAT-5 cables are reserved for a future installation of HSMM equipment.

A second team that included Tony Campbell, W5ADC, completed the cabling and connected the radios for their first QSO on September 15.  Rusty Delany, K5FEA, made the first VHF contact.  Dan Howard, KE5CIR, and Michael Porter, KF5LDJ, from the Lake Area Amateur Radio Klub (LAARK) made the first HF contact with N1LS in Colorado on September 29 in preparation for the upcoming JOTA event.

This installation was extremely complicated and arduous because of the building structure and the fact that the teams were working during a hot Texas summer.  The Brandenburg Life Foundation, the Goldblatt Family Trust and the Sci-Tech Discovery Center are extremely grateful to club presidents, Walter Lemons, AE5IT, and Kip Moravec, AE5IB, and the members of the McKinney and Plano radio clubs for their expertise and hard work.  This installation would not have been possible without their help.

(Article and photos submitted by Barry A. Goldblatt, WA5KXX)

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