The Precision Antennas 2.8m Dish Project (S4C Auction)

moonbase

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Hi,

As some of you will know the recent S4C auction catalogue contained three lots, each lot offering a Precision 2.8m dish setup, two fixed and one motorised.
Considering that both Precision Antennas and Elite Antennas are no longer in business, the auction seemed to offer an opportunity to acquire some UK located high quality large dishes at hopefully acceptable cost.

As it transpired, the winning bid amounts plus auctioneer and transport fees were within budget and all three lots were bought.
We used a single nominated bidder approach on all three lots.

One of the Precision 2.8m setups was purchased and collected by one of the major players from "the wavy line scene" whilst I had the other two.
This topic will mainly cover the two setups that I purchased.


To start the topic off it might be useful to provide some pictures of the three Precision 2.8m dish setups on site before dismantling and removal.
The first picture attached below was taken back in 2012 before the dishes acquired another 9 years of Cardiff grime.

Access to the compound where the dishes were installed was by a flight of steps through a single gate.
We had a team of five people on site to work on dismantling, carrying the equipment down the steps and loading onto vehicles.
It proceeded without any issues.

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Precision 2.8m - On Site - Before Dismantling.jpg Site Access - pic2.jpg Site Access - pic4.jpg Site Access - pic0.jpg Site Access - pic1.jpg
 

moonbase

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Continuing on from the topic opening post I have attached a few more pictures below of the fixed dish setups before dismantling.

The procedure for dismantling the fixed dish setups started with a slight issue due to most of the feed support arm release bolts on the rear side of the dishes being siezed.
To remove these bolts we used a plumbers torch and a wrap around soldering mat that fitted closely around the dish face ends of the feed support arms.

The mat protected the dish face very well from the torch and all feed support arms were removed without any sign of damage to the dish faces from the torch.
After that it was simply a matter of removing the three mounting ring bolts and carrying the dishes down the steps to the awaiting vehicles, followed by the mounts and ground stands.

Interestingly, the two fixed setup reflectors had sequential serial numbers, probably indicating they were ordered at the same time from Precision Antennas?

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S4C - Lot 995 - Pic1.jpg S4C - Lot 995 - Pic3.jpg S4C - Lot 995 - Reflector Label.jpg S4C - Lot 996 - Pic3.jpg S4C - Lot 996 - Reflector Label.jpg Feed Support Arm Removal Tools.jpg
 

moonbase

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Today's offering is a set of pictures presenting the transport of the dishes from Cardiff.
As I was taking two dishes we built an A frame on the back of the collection vehicle with each side of the A frame accepting a dish.

Loading of the dishes onto the A frame and transport home proceeded smoothly.
Pictures of the transport stage are attached below.

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Precision 2.8m Collection - p00 - On Site Before Loading.jpg Precision 2.8m Collection - p01 - On Site - One Loaded.jpg Precision 2.8m Collection - p02 - On Site - One Loaded.jpg Precision 2.8m Collection - p03 - Drivers Side.jpg Precision 2.8m Collection - p04 - Kerb Side.jpg Precision 2.8m Collection - p07 - Rear View (Dirty).jpg
 

Captain Jack

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Bloody hell, that's a heck of a haul!

What's the plan for them?
 

moonbase

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Bloody hell, that's a heck of a haul!

What's the plan for them?


One of them may be going to the south coast for a client down there.
Currently it is in storage at the back of the garden while the other one is undergoing cleaning etc on the lawn.

One of them will probably be kept here but I need to work out a strategy for a mobile platform.
My existing mobile platform with the 2.0m Precision setup on it is too small for the 2.8m.

On the subject of storage, they were both on the lawn for around two weeks after removal from the van and the areas of grass underneath them was starting to deteriorate.
I wanted to get one of them off the lawn completely and move the other one to an area that had recently been scarified to remove moss where I was not so concerned about the grass.

Basically, I spanned across two concrete fence posts with a beam and built a frame that rests on the beam.
There was initially a small 18mm plywod shim at the bottom of the frame that the dish rested on.
As soon as the dish was on the frame, side chocks were screwed and bolted to the frame at the point where the dish rim passed over the verticals and the shim was removed.
It resulted in the dish being supported at two rim edge points each one coinciding with a radial bracing arm.
After that it was simply covering with a tarpaulin and securing in place with some bungee cords and some strapping.

I have attached a few pictures below of the storage solution.
The picture of the lawn shows the two areas where the dishes had been. Fortunately, the lawn is now almost back to normal in those areas.

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01 - Post Cap Frame Support.jpg 02 - Post Cap Frame Support.jpg 03 - Precision 2.8m Support Frame.jpg 04 - Precision 2.8m In Storage.jpg 05 - Precision 2.8m Lawn Circles.jpg
 
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moonbase

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Today's offering is from phase 1 of the general tidy and clean up for the dish that is not in storage.
Prior to cleaning I removed the mounting ring fixings and cleaned out the three x M16 boss head bolt holes used to mount the dish.

For cleaning the dish face, the mounting fixings were replaced with 6" long M16 bolts to prevent the central curvature of the dish bottoming out on the ground.
The dish curvature in the centre protrudes beyond the plane of the 1200mm mounting ring so it cannot be rested on the rear mounting ring with the face upwards.

After cleaning I did a string test on the dish using 1.0mm thick nylon cord. There was a very marginal gap but it was less than the cord diameter of 1.0mm.
Considering the age of the dish and its size, I am happy enough with the string test.

I need to clean the dish face a little more once it is on the mount or better angled for access to the centre
It was not possible to reach the central part easily to remove some of the algae marks.

Also, I am not decided on the S4C logo, I could either leave it in place to show the provenance of the dish or I could remove it.

Pictures attached below.

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Precision 2.8m - Mount Fixings - Thread Cleaning.jpg Precision 2.8m - Rear - 01 - Before Cleaning.jpg Precision 2.8m - Rear - 03 - After Cleaning.jpg Precision 2.8m - Face - 00 - Supports.jpg Precision 2.8m - Face - 01 - Before Cleaning.jpg Precision 2.8m - Face - 02 - After Cleaning.jpg Precision 2.8m - String Test.jpg
 
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s-band

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moonbase

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For today's offering we return to the dismantling stage but this time it is for the Az/El motorised dish.
The motorised Az/EL mount, actuators and motorised skew mechanism are part of the two setups I brought back so it seems reasonable to include a few details in this topic.

This one required a bit more time to dismantle and remove from the compound at S4C.
The tripod ground stand did not have a removable leg and was a bit awkward to manoevre through the gate but we managed it as a 4 man job down the steps and onto the van.
Similarly, the Renold goliath actuators were a three man job to remove from the mount and a two man job to carry.

The electrics had been previously isolated before we arrived on site and we were given permission to cut the cabling at whatever point we felt appropriate in the compound.

All in all, the dismantling and loading proceeded OK.
Pictures of various parts of the Az-El motorised mount are attached below.

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Az-El - 01.jpg Az-El - 03.jpg Az-El - 04.jpg Az-El - 05.jpg Az-El - 06.jpg Az-El - 07.jpg Az-El - 08.jpg
 

uhf-satcom.com

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Here are a couple of pictures of the other 2.8M, which will be used for 'wavy line' purposes ;-)

The antenna is mounted on a radamec 409 AZ/EL unit, with US Digital A2 encoders, steered by the F1EHN tracking system, typical res is about 0.04 degrees.

I need to sort out a decant feed box arrangement, its on the things to do list.

20210710_182946.jpg20210710_182925.jpg
 

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Here are a couple of pictures of the other 2.8M, which will be used for 'wavy line' purposes ;-)

The antenna is mounted on a radamec 409 AZ/EL unit, with US Digital A2 encoders, steered by the F1EHN tracking system, typical res is about 0.04 degrees.

I need to sort out a decant feed box arrangement, its on the things to do list.

View attachment 137512View attachment 137513



Beautiful - fabulous installation.
 

Channel Hopper

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Here are a couple of pictures of the other 2.8M, which will be used for 'wavy line' purposes ;-)

The antenna is mounted on a radamec 409 AZ/EL unit, with US Digital A2 encoders, steered by the F1EHN tracking system, typical res is about 0.04 degrees.

I need to sort out a decant feed box arrangement, its on the things to do list.

View attachment 137512View attachment 137513
Shiney shiney :Y (and exceptional counterweight)

What is on your front end wish list ?
 

moonbase

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Here are a couple of pictures of the other 2.8M, which will be used for 'wavy line' purposes ;-)

The antenna is mounted on a radamec 409 AZ/EL unit, with US Digital A2 encoders, steered by the F1EHN tracking system, typical res is about 0.04 degrees.

I need to sort out a decant feed box arrangement, its on the things to do list.

View attachment 137512View attachment 137513



Welcome to the topic, after a parting of the ways at S4C in Cardiff all three Precision 2.8m dishes are re-united again in this topic.
That is a fantastic install, the dish looks awesome now that it is mounted, the garden is looking a lot perkier as well with all those vibrant greens.
 

uhf-satcom.com

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Shiney shiney :Y (and exceptional counterweight)

What is on your front end wish list ?
I need to make a suitable feed holder, currently thinking of something like 8 to 12" ally pipe about 4-6" long, then other pipe that can fit inside that. Each will have a stop to ensure the phase center is correct for the band in choice. I will adapt my existing set of feeds so they are easily swap-able. Current plan is to get 8.4GHz / 7.5GHz stuff done first for sun noise tests, then 10GHz EME transceiver, followed by the misc bands like Ku, C, S, L, UHF etc. Just need time as always ;-)

I reckon the round arrangement would work well because it allows easy rotation of the feed which is important with linear stuff like 10GHz EME. Pretty much everything else is circular pol.

The counterweights are just a quick test. The plan is to make two triangular arms from the back frame that has the 2 down-converter boxes on it. These will extend to the centreline of the AZ/EL head and the counter weights will be mounted there, as they are they will hit the rain cover on the controller if I move in AZ to about 280deg (must remember not to do that). The AZ/El head does have a lot of torque, a friend of mine who has the same unit bent the internal 1" steel EL drive shaft due to driving it into the end stop because the micro-switch limit didnt trigger...

I'll upload more photos as I get on with the job too.
 

uhf-satcom.com

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A quick update on the counterweight solution, the mount has been adjusted to give clearance to everything, and the 3X 17Kg counterweights are all mounted inside the frame, much better.

20210807_093257.jpg
 

uhf-satcom.com

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Update on feed supports; 4 point fixing to feed support plate, idea is to mount various feed bands on studding through the mounting holes.

1630691985670.png

8.4GHz feed for DSN;

1630692063773.png

L/S band cavity backed spiral feed plus LNA's etc;

1630692139610.png

C-Band LNB - titanium PLL thing, performance seems OK.

1630692194580.png

10GHz EME transmit / receive system;

1630692251664.png

Next on the list is Ku LNB with adjustable servo driven skew, and Ka band probably also with adjustable skew, need to see if its worth the engineering time.

So far the feed support idea seems to work nicely, each feed can be set with lock nuts on the 4X studding so that the phase centre of the feed is in the right place in terms of focus etc.

regards,

Paul (Twitter @UHF_Satcom)
 

John

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Update on feed supports; 4 point fixing to feed support plate, idea is to mount various feed bands on studding through the mounting holes.

View attachment 138393

8.4GHz feed for DSN;

View attachment 138394

L/S band cavity backed spiral feed plus LNA's etc;

View attachment 138395

C-Band LNB - titanium PLL thing, performance seems OK.

View attachment 138396

10GHz EME transmit / receive system;

View attachment 138397

Next on the list is Ku LNB with adjustable servo driven skew, and Ka band probably also with adjustable skew, need to see if its worth the engineering time.

So far the feed support idea seems to work nicely, each feed can be set with lock nuts on the 4X studding so that the phase centre of the feed is in the right place in terms of focus etc.

regards,

Paul (Twitter @UHF_Satcom)

Nice engineering :Y.
 

Raystorm

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We considered buying those antennas, but decided against it as we have about that many in storage at work! We did get some other bits from the auction though!
 

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@Raystorm do you have a home setup or just for work? :)
 

Raystorm

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@Raystorm do you have a home setup or just for work? :)
Just work, unless you count the long unused sky dish at home! I've got over 50 antennas at work to look after, don't need to have them at home!
 
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