Skip to main content

Simple Antennas for the Amateur Radio Operator--a continuing series

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Post #179

Portable antennas for the unexpected

I've made it a habit over the past few years to keep an emergency "go" kit in my van in case I'm needed to provide communications backup for our local civil defense agency and the Hilo office of the American Red Cross.  Other than the 11 March 2011 tsunami (the one that damaged Japan and its Fukushima nuclear reactor), I haven't used my portable equipment that much, except for weekend operations in a local park or beach area.  When I worked at Pacific Radio Group, I kept an old Kenwood TS-520 and a Kenwood HT at the station for emergency backup to the Hawaii County Civil Defense office in Hilo.  But, since I retired, my forays into portable operation have been subject to personal whim or to opportunities I get handed to me.

Such is the case this weekend, where I revert to my 22nd year as the tower announcer for the Big Island Auto Club's monthly points meets.  I'm under contract to provide weekend drag race coverage for my former employer, as well as coverage during primary and general elections.  The work is part-time, which suits me fine.

Anyway, the track manager and I usually arrive at the track at around 0500 W to help the maintenance crew prepare the track for the races, which begin around 1100 W.  Since my work in the tower is fairly basic (turn on the generator, hook up the race computers, test the timing lights, and make sure track HTs are charged and working), I usually have a few hours of free time to explore amateur radio in a quiet zone just outside of Hilo town.  There are no power lines near the track, so all track power is produced locally by a state of the art diesal generator.  The track is very  quiet radio-wise until the race cars arrive--then you must put on ear protection to ward off the din of noise associated with drag racing.

As I've done in past races, I usually set up a mobile antenna on an adjoining chain link fence, run out several radials, and connect the arrangement to my trusty Drake MN-4 tuner with about 50-feet of 450-ohm ladder line.  Currently, I'm using a 54-inch Hustler mast with 40 and 20 meter loading coils.  The low-power Yaesu FT-7 provides the signal.  The early morning conditions shortly before sunrise are quite good on 40 meters.

When the track closes down after sunset, the clean up and lockdown of the track begins.  This task takes about two hours, depending on whether oil has spilled on the track or lights/sensors have to be repaired.  Tower clean up takes only about 30 minutes--mostly disconnecting computers and securing timing equipment in a secure area.  That gives me around 1.5 hours to have some fun on 40 and 20 meters shortly after sundown.  Once again, the same arrangement is used.  Results have been good on most race nights.  This schedule also gives me time to check out weak links in my own equipment and to improve the antennas.

Some of my fellow race fans have expressed interest in amateur radio after they see the system I bring with me on race days.  Perhaps, I'm having a good influence afterall.  I'm an old "gearhead" anyway, so any chance I get to combine radio and racing is an open invitation to explore new antennas and create a little "buzz" for amateur radio.

This will be a busy weekend, so it's off to the futon and a few hours of sleep before I drive through the pre-dawn mist to the Hilo Drag Strip.

Have a productive and safe weekend!

Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM--BK29jx15


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