Skip to main content

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

As the news cycle comes to a close in the KKBG-FM/KHLO-AM newsroom, my thoughts are turning to a relaxing drive home, a daily walk with the XYL (about 2-4 miles depending how ambitious both of us are), a good home cooked dinner, and some time with the trusty Swan 100-MX and my basic, but workable "antenna farm".  All of my rigs have been given the monthly cleaning and other necessary maintenance needed to keep them functional.  The older rigs are fun to use, but one must keep them maintained, since spare parts are getting scarce and expensive.  The antennas are a no-brainer, considering what I use to keep them up and running.  My biggest challenge is keeping one step ahead of Hawaii's salt air, vog, and heavy rains.  This trio can ruin a homebrew antenna is just a few weeks.  But thanks to co-ax seal, electrical tape, and some home-brew plastic enclosures, I manage to keep most of the moisture out.  Coax takes a real beating as well--not only from the elements but also from the geckos, rats, and orther garden beasties that have developed a taste for vinyl covered wire.  My coax problems are minor compared to the squirrel problem some amateur radio operators have experienced on the U.S. mainland.  None the less, small animals of various types can develop a taste for tape and wire, especially in an area that once hosted sugar plantations.  The legacy of rats, wild pigs, and other pests from those sugar cane days can often complicate antenna maintenance.  Thankfully, I have plenty of wire and coax from various station renovations to last a long time.  So replacing cable isn't a real hardship.  The only problem comes from mating regular UHF connectors to the "F" connectors found on most RG-6 cable runs.  There are a few parts places that can find suitable connectors to match these cables to UHF configured cables.  I ordered a bunch a few years ago, but I can't recall the name of the company that supplied them.  Talk about short-term memory loss.  Anyway, I haven't used regular RG-58 or RG-8 for several years since I have a good stock of RG-6 on hand.  My trusty Drake MN-4 ATU can handle the small mismatch encountered with RG-6.  The only shortage in my "junque" box is 450-ohm twin lead--something I usually order from AES or one of the other ham equipment distributors.  I've also used some home-brewed twin lead made from #14 gauge wire. 

Keeping with my ultra-simple and dirt cheap approach to antennas, I usually prefer simple dipoles, verticals, or loops.  My lot is fairly small and shares an access road lined by power poles and other obstructions.  A tower is out of the question for now.  A tower will have to wait until the XYL and I build our house on a larger lot.  Meantime, I'm having fun building a variety of "skyhooks".  Although I've tried stealth antennas inside the house, they don't work as well as an outdoor antenna.  I just don't like working too close to radiating elements and the problems they often create with in-house wiring and entertainment systems.  At the power levels I run (around 5-10 watts), my precautions are probably extreme.  Of course, amateur radio and all of its sub-hobbies provide an endless avenue to explore the electromagnetic  spectrum.  So much to investigate, so little time.  The idea is to have fun at minimal cost.

One of my future projects will be to build a low-power beacon station for 10-meters.  I have a few old CB radios that could be modified for that purpose.  Most likely, I'll opt for a kit or a home-brew contraption of my own design.  I have a few spare deep cycle marine batteries and some small solar panels which could be used to power the project.  It wouldn't be too hard to erect a 10-meter vertical in the backyard.  I've got enough radio projects to keep me busy for several months.  The other project will be to get an HF transceiver in the Honda Odyssey van.  I may have to think this one out, since I am adverse to punching a hole in the roof or on the side to accommodate a mobile whip.  I'm not a skilled metal worker or auto body specialist, so I may go for some kind of removeable magnetic mount.  The efficiency of this kind of arrangement will be low, so I may have to look at other options.

All the above is continguent on actually having the time to do a proper, professional job.  Any guidance in this area would be welcome.  Never a dull minute...time just seems to move faster the older I get.

Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM.


Popular posts from this blog

G5RV Multi Band HF Dipole Antenna. Post #1555.

If you can't see the video, please insert this title URL into your browser search box: This well-produced and richly illustrated tutorial on the classic G5RV HF Dipole Antenna was presented to the Brandon Amateur Radio Society in Brandon, Florida in 2017 by Bernie Huth (W4BGH).  Bernie does an excellent job of  explaining the pros and cons of this popular HF antenna from the late Louis Varney (G5RV).  Although Varney envisioned his design primarily as a 3/2 wavelength antenna for the 20 meter Amateur Radio band, radio amateurs have used the antenna for multiband use.  The G5RV is an excellent choice for the 20 meter band.  Performance on other HF Amateur Radio bands is good enough to qualify as stand alone HF antenna if you can only erect one HF antenna. For the latest Amateur/Ham Radio news and information, please visit these websites: (a wee

Amateur Radio Bicycle Mobile Setup. Post #1554.

If you can't see the video, please insert this title URL into your browser search box: Here's a way to use Amatuer/Ham Radio while you work on shedding a few pounds in useful exercise.  Why not equip your bicycle for 2 meter/70 cm mobile operation? In this short, well-made video, "taverned" shows us how he used a mag mount antenna, a simple C clamp, and a basic ground system to convert his mountain bike into a mobile station.  The project is straight forward, simple, and gives you emergency communications while you peddle down the road. For the latest Amateur/Ham Radio news and information, please visit these websites: (a weekly podcast which is updated each Friday afternoon). (Amateur Radio News & Information).

An 80-Meter Vertical Helix

Like many amateur radio operators, I live on a small lot surrounded by neighbors, utility lines, and civic-minded citizens concerned about the "attractiveness" of my community.  Whether by design or outright fear, I've adopted the "stealth" approach to ham radio antennas.  It's the old "out of sight, out of mind" idea applied to amateur radio antennas. The amateur radio press is full of articles describing the struggle of amateur radio operators to pursue their hobby under the burdensome regulations of CC & Rs, HOAs, and other civic minded citizens who object to antenna farms.  So far, my modest verticals, loops, and inverted vees have blended well with the vegetation and trees bordering my small backyard.  Vertical antennas have always been a problem because of the limited space for a radial system.  There are times, however, where a shortened vertical for the lower HF bands (such as 80/75 meters) is necessary where horizontal space is lack