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Showing posts with the label Drake

Simple Ham Radio Antennas. A 20 meter through 10 meter Vertical Dipole Antenna. Post #284.

One of the joys of moving into a bigger home with a decent back yard (1 acre of mixed brush and trees) is the ability to build the wire antennas I've always wanted.  Like many of my fellow amateur radio operators, I've endured HOAs, CC &Rs , and limited space for most of my 37 years as a ham.  I operated fairly well under these circumstances using stealth antennas from "ground hugging" loops to thin random wires stretching to the nearest tree. Now that my xyl and I are semi-retired, we have to the time to "fix up" our final home in an area conducive to our various hobbies, including gardening, amateur radio, backyard astronomy, and just plain relaxing.   Over the past few months, I've begun the erection of my "antenna farm" and the building of my radio room in the garage.  There's a lot of work to be done, but it's enjoyable and gives me exercise. Last Friday, just before the 2014 ARRL Field Day, I completed a new antenna whi

Simple Ham Radio Antennas. An 80-10 Meter Field Day Inverted Vee Antenna. Post #282

ARRL Field Day is right around the proverbial corner--28 June to 29 June 2014, to be exact.  According to the ARRL, more than 35,000 amateur radio operators used 2,500 emergency-powered stations to get on the air in 2013.   A similar number is expected this year. While many of our fellow amateurs will be heading to a Field Day site, there are a few of us, including yours truly, who will be operating under emergency conditions at home as 1E stations or as mobile stations as 1C.  For those of us home bound or forced by HOAs or CC & Rs to "hit the road" during Field Day, this national emergency communications exercise can be just as much fun and instructive as showing up a your club site. Before I retired from the commercial broadcast business, I usually worked Saturdays and Sundays in the news room, doing play by play over the radio, or hosting remote broadcasts from shopping malls and craft fairs.  Great work and lots of crazy people, but I often missed a chance to

Simple Ham Radio Antennas: The Aluminum Foil Vertical. Post #278.

I knew it would happen.  The time I ran out of antenna wire.  After several years of using old #14 AWG house wire, #18 AWG speaker wire from Radio Shack , and remnants from studio wiring projects at my former employer (Pacific Radio Group), I had finally exhausted my wire supply for homebrewed antennas.  What to do until the next sale at Lowe's, Home Depot , and Ace Hardware?  Give up? Banish the thought!. With last week's beautiful weekend before me, I needed some cheap wire to erect my latest antenna "masterpiece."  I found my resource in the kitchen in the form of a new roll of "Diamond Aluminum Foil"--the stuff my xyl uses for cooking tasty treats and dinners.  Since there were several new rolls near the stove, I decided to "borrow" a new roll and apologize later.  Besides, I would buy another roll the next time I visited the supermarket. According to the label on the container, the roll contained 66.66 yards (199.98 feet) or 60.96 meters

Simple Ham Radio Antennas: An Extended Double Zepp for 20 meters. Post #277

How would you like to have a simple dipole-like antenna that would give you almost 3dB over over the classical dipole antenna ?  You can if you're willing to build a Double Extended Zepp antenna for your favorite amateur radio band.   Now that I have enough room at my new home-in-progress in the Puna District of Hawaii Island, I decided to make a simple gain antenna for one of my favorite DX bands--20 meters. I had a spare MFJ telescoping fiberglass mast available, some leftover #14 AWG house wire in the garage, a spare 4:1 W9INN balun, a 50-ft./15.24 length of 450 ohm ladder line , a sturdy Drake MN-4 transmatch ("the tuner"), and 25-ft./7.62 meters of RG -8X coaxial cable with UHF connectors. I decided to configure the extended double zepp as an inverted V, knowing that its gain would be a bit less than a horizontal arrangement of a half wavelength dipole. With school over until mid-August, I thought this simple antenna project would give me something creat

Simple Ham Radio Antennas: A 5/8 wavelength vertical ground plane. Post #272

According to Edward M. Noll (W3FQJ), "The 5/8-wavelength vertical is a preferred length for the best low angle radiation."  For the higher HF bands (20 through 10 meters), this antenna is easily assembled and requires a small quantity of wire, some ceramic insulators, a suitable mast, 50-ohm feed line or 450-ohm feed line, a simple ground radial system, and a sturdy antenna matchbox or ATU .  Multiband use between 20 and 10 meters is possible with 450-ohm ladder line , ATU, and a balun, while good single band use can be obtained with 50-ohm coaxial cable and an inline or base antenna "tuner". So, let's build a simple 5/8 wavelength vertical for the 10 meter amateur radio band, centering on 28.4 MHz .  This frequency is at the mid-point of the SSB allocation for Technician Class licensees.  The antenna was built at my new home in the Puna District on 18 April 2014. MATERIALS: Using the general formula, 585/f (MHz)=L (ft), our vertical element will measur

Simple Ham Radio Antennas: The Ghost of Antennas Past--the simple vertical. Post #269

Over the past few posts, I've been describing some of the antennas I designed, built, and used during my days as a novice amateur radio operator (1977-1978).  Most of the working designs were copied into school theme books and saved for future reference. One of my favorite homebrewed antennas was a simple vertical  antenna supported by a high tree limb terminating with a slightly angled ground plane consisting of 10 radials.  The antenna was designed for 40 meters and worked very well for contacts throughout the Pacific Rim and the mainland United States . Last weekend, I decided to duplicate that antenna with some spare wire, ceramic insulators, coaxial cable , and basic tools. As mentioned earlier, the process of moving to a new home often uncovers items you once thought were lost.  Such was the case here when I found several 50-ft /15.24 meters rolls of #14 AWG house wire in the garage.  That wire would serve as the vertical element and the rudimentary ground radial sys

Simple Ham Radio Antennas: The Ghost of Antennas Past. Post #267

Humans tend to collect things.  Amateur radio operators are no exception.  In my 37 years as a licensed amateur radio operator, I've collected enough electronics-related material to fill most of my garage/radio shack at my new home in the Puna District .  Fortunately, I've managed to keep things organized, more or less, with plastic storage bins and some old filing cabinets. During the ongoing moving process, I discovered antennas, books, logs, and parts once given up for lost.  Such was the case Monday, 17 March 2014, when I reorganizing some of the material brought to the new QTH.  I found several well-sealed boxes containing some of my successful antenna projects.  All the antennas were dipoles built during my over three decades of "warming the ether" with a variety of old tube rigs long since gone to to the great capacitor in the sky.  After I finished using these antennas, I had the foresight to clean and store them for future use.  Also along the back wall wa

Simple Ham Radio Antennas: The "Fencetenna". Post #266

Building wire antennas is one of the few amateur radio activities that remains fairly inexpensive.  Your nearest hardware store or home improvement outlet is chocked full of wire, connectors, pvc pipe, copper tubing, and basic tools to launch your antenna building efforts. Whether you make simple dipoles, inverted vees, loops, or even directional vertical arrays, the satisfaction of having built something that links you to your fellow amateurs around the world is beyond compare.  If the antenna doesn't meet your expectations, you can salvage most of your material and try again.  It's all part of a continuing educational experience that can last a lifetime.  Add to this mix a few simple transceiver kits or accessories and you have something that will be your faithful radio companion for many years. I approach my antenna "adventures" with that sort of mindset, and I'm always on the lookout for intriguing antenna ideas that I can modify for my own use. Such wa

Simple Ham Radio Antennas: "The Poor Man's Beverage" Antenna. Post #265

Like many amateur radio operators, I've collected many boxes of electronic parts, various lengths of coaxial cable , and assorted rigs over the past 38 years.  I suppose my "shack" is testament to my "pack rat" tendencies.  I rationalize this collective habit by saying all of this material will become useful some day.  That some day was Thursday, 13 March 2014.  I had several lengths of RG-58 coaxial cable that had seen better days.  The assorted 100-ft/30.48 meters and 50-ft/15.24 meters lengths were gathering dust in the corner of the garage serving as the storeroom for my radio room.  The connectors were in good shape and the vinyl covering was intact, although a bit grey from sun exposure.  I wanted to find a use for the old cable ,now that it had been "retired" from active service. Why not use the old coax as a low noise receiving antenna for 80 meters, which was a very noisy band even in my remodeled home in the Puna District of Hawaii Islan

Simple Ham Radio Antennas: When to use antenna tuners. Post #253.

Nowadays, the antenna transmatch ("tuner") is an integral part of many amateur radio stations.  With this device, a ham can match the output of his/her transceiver with the often unknown impedance of the antenna itself.  With a suitable balun (balanced to unbalanced) transformer, it is possible to use one antenna to cover several HF bands, especially if you're facing space restrictions on a small lot or have  to operate in "stealth" mode because of HOAs and CC&Rs.  This situation applies mostly to the use of 300 ohm tv twin lead and 450 ohm ladder line, which require a balun (1:1 or 4:1) and antenna transmatch to operate as feed lines in a multiband, single antenna system. There are times when you may not have an antenna "tuner" at your disposal, especially if you're operating in portable or emergency situations.  In my case, I remove my Drake MN-4 and MFJ 941-E transmatches from the antenna system for routine maintenance several times a