Showing posts from July, 2011

Simple Antennas for the Hawaii Amateur Radio Operator, part 6

Here are a few more unusual and somewhat offbeat antennas I've used with varying degrees of success.  All of these "creations" work to the extent that you will get some contacts.  I've lived in a few challenging places where amateur radio antennas were never part of the landlord's world view.  Although my current qth is quite nice, it is still restricted to a small lot shared by 3 other modest rental homes and is approximately 20' away from utility poles.  With all of the salt air and moisture found on Hawaii Island, you can imagine the corona discharge problems I face several times a year.  To be fair, the Hawaii Electric Light Company does its best to keep the transmissions lines inspected and cleaned.  On an island with about 4,000 square miles, line maintenance is a major headache for the telephone, cable, and power companies. In my antenna book for 2002, I found a stop-gap antenna that served me well while the backyard was being torn up for a new septic

Simple Antennas for the Hawaii Amateur Radio Operator, part 5

One of the things I've enjoyed most about being an amateur or ham operator in Hawaii is the fairly consistent good weather for building and erecting home-brew antennas.  Other than our rainy season (November to March, generally), antenna experiments can be done in an unhurried fashion.  Since I'm not the most mechanically inclined operator, I need all the time I can get to make something that works.  In the 37 years since I was a novice class ham, I've built a large number of skyhooks that were just plain awful and a few others that were gems--largely because they worked despite my "cut and trim" approach to the art of antennas.  Over the past 3 decades, a combination of study and gradually increasing technical skills have enabled me to erect a number of antennas that not only look presentable, but also do a decent job of launching rf into the "ether".  While most of my antenna projects have been modest because of space restrictions, I've managed to

Simple antennas for the Hawaii ham operator, part 4

This weekend has turned into a decent antenna day for amateur radio operators on Hawaii Island.  Since I completed most of my newsroom duties early this weekend, I was able to work on a few antenna ideas I first tried in my early days as a novice operator.  I pulled out my antenna notebook for 1978 and found a bunch of antenna ideas under the November category--a fairly wet month according to historical records.  That may have been the reason I fashioned a few "quick and dirty" verticals capable of being erected and taken down between drenching tropical showers.  One of my vertical helix antennas proved useful and fairly cheap to construct.  Borrowing freely from the "ARRL Antenna Book" and various publications from the RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain), I assembled a compact portable unit that could be used in an emergency.  I decided to re-build this skyhook on Saturday.  It works well, considering its narrow bandwidth sosme high angle radiation.  I found

Simple antennas for the Hawaii Amateur Radio operator, part 3

The inverted 40-meter "vee" described in my previous post is performing well considering the severe space restrictions at my qth.  I would prefer some nearby trees to support a 40-meter dipole at a decent height (around 40 to 50 feet), but those living antenna supports are a few hundred yards away, so I will work with what I have.  As I examined some of my earlier antenna notebooks, I discovered a few antenna designs that may prove useful in your situation.  When I first became a novice in 1977, I used a random length wire approximately 50' long tacked to the ceiling of the teacher's cottage my xyl and I called home.  I stretched out the wire as straight as I could and ran the antenna in and out of two bedrooms and the living room, which served as the operator's position.  The wire was attached to a homebrew tuner and a 50' counterpoise was attached to the tuner's ground screw.  The counterpoise wire snaked along the house's baseboard.  A low-pass fi

Simple Antennas for the Hawaii Ham, part 2

'Just a few more thoughts on simple antennas before I shut down the newsroom for the day and head to the qth.  In the previous post, I described an unsophisticated, basic antenna that could get you on the air quickly with a minimum of effort.  You can erect a simple 40-meter dipole with coax feedline in a variety of configurations, ranging from a straight dipole and inverted "vee" to a sloper and a vertical dipole (if you have a tall mast).  This basic antenna will work well on 40-meters and give acceptable service on 15-meters (using the 3rd harmonic of the 40-meter band).  I'm using one these simple inverted "vees" in my backyard and it does well for casual rag chews and interisland service.  My pvc mast is 33' high at the apex and the 33' dipoles go off at an angle, meeting two 5' stakes at either end.  I get reasonable interisland coverage as well as decent DX to the west coast of the U.S. mainland.  I believe there is a degree of  high angle

Amateur Radio on Hawaii-the Big Island

Over the past few days, I've been reviewing some of my old antenna notes.  Like the late Lew McCoy, I keep most of my ideas in an antenna notebook for future reference.  Any notebook will do, as long as you keep yourself organized and have sufficient room for drawings, meter readings, and other perameters.  Although there are many good, inexpensive antenna design programs, I prefer the old style of jotting down thoughts in a notebook.  I'm not a technophobe, but after immersing myself in the latest digital, whizz-bang equipment and programs at the radio station, I just feel the need to retreat to a simpler time as far as amateur radio is concerned.  Anyway, I've accumulated 20 or more student composition notebooks full of radio ideas, failed experiments, and occasional successes.  Some of my early antenna designs were quite pathetic, but that's how one learns. While I was going through a notebook dated October 1976, I came across a very simple 40-meter antenna that ha

Amateur Radio on Hawaii Island

What a busy weekend!  Thanks to some excellent weather, Hawaii Island residents were able to select a range of community events to spend with their families. Our radio station covered a bunch of events, ranging from the Hawaii Island outrigger canoe paddling championships to the July Points meet at the Hilo Drag Strip.  The weather has improved considerably since late June, when most of us on "the rock" thought the seasons had been reversed.  Usually, our rainy season runs from November to April with generally clear, warm weather balancing out the remainder of the year.  However, this year, rainy conditions extended into June.  The rain was welcome, since most of the island has been griped in an extended drought that began almost two years ago.  There has been rain, but not enough to keep pastures green and crops growing.  Even Hilo, which normally gets around 120-130 inches of rain per year, has received only about 40 inches so far, about 20 incles below normal.  Since many

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Another exciting news day is coming to a close.  With all the stories about the government possibly defaulting on its massive debt and the potential delay in social security checks, my listeners have kept the telephone lines busy.  Throw in a few stories about local environmental and redistricting problems (spawned by the requirements of the 2010 census) and the usual lines about how Hawaii's state government must increase taxes to make ends meet and one gets an exciting week from the news room.  All of the hype, fear, and misinformation surrounding these issues makes me look forward to a relaxed few hours at the old Swan 100 MX or Kenwood 520.  Solutions to the above problems are not impossible--all it takes is for politicians to act like responsible adults and put the interests of the nation first.  I suppose that's asking too much from those who have lost what it means to be a "public servant."  At least in the amateur radio realm, one can always turn the dial to a

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Have you recovered from the extended 4th of July holiday?  I think I'm on the road to recovery after a little too much to eat and drink.  In my "golden" years, I find it harder to snap back from the indulgences of youth.  I behaved myself most of the time, since the 4th was a normal workday for those of us in the radio news business.  I was able to take in the festivities along the Hilo bayfront, where Hawaii County had organized a family fun day with a classic auto show, games for the family, a wide selection of ethnic foods, and patriotic displays.  The Lehua Jaycees rounded out the evening with their traditional fireworks show.  I didn't stay for that display because of my early morning news shift.  There won't be much to do in the amateur radio realm until tomorrow (Saturday) when I can leave the news room around noon.  There is never an dull or idle moment around here.  About the only major attraction this week for Hawaii Island residents  will be the Moku O

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

The Fourth of July is fast upon us--a time of backyard barbeques, a little too much beer, good fellowship, and the celebration of our nation's independence.  The radio station staff is engaged fully in the weekend activities.  There are several parades, rodeos, community block parties, and county celebrations to keep all of us broadcast types busy.   The weather looks promising with only a few morning and evening showers to dampen the enthusiasm.  The holiday will give the news staff (only yours truly) a chance to get out of the normal "doom and gloom" news cycle and have some fun with the local community.  The weekend will provide a necessary boost to my spirits.  There is only so much negative news I can take.  So, I'll take in the antique car show, cover a few parades, and eat too many hot's tradition.  On Tuesday, I'll increase the pace of my physical fitness program to burn off those calories accumulated over the past few days.  I'm sure my