02/23/13

Antenna Solutions

I live an apartment complex.  So an antenna is difficult to really get good performance. So far my best attempts are tuned wire dipoles with a Alpha Delta center connector. A very strong device that connector is. Now these dipoles are tree mounted. There 6 to about 9 feet up, which is okay. Really should be about quarter wave high. Also my tree’s I use are about 10 to 12 off the side of the building. The steel and concrete building.

Now I know people in the attics and that works all the time. But I put up one in our apartment and nothing. Absolutely nothing, almost completely dead, highly reflected and just terrible noise. Now my point is my dipoles are right up against our building and I can never get out west. Never. I can go a little south west, but it stops at New Mexico. No California, no Washington State or anything out there.

My solution. A couple things.

I’m still building my fan-dipole, that’s multi-band and portable.

I’m still building a Delta Loop for 20 meters. Maybe even a one for a couple of the higher bands. 4db over a dipole. Just need a 4:1 bulan.

Final part of my plan.

Mounting the antenna. There’s several ways to go about it. Fiberglass extendable poles, metal extendable poles and others. But solution, at least for now is military surplus style. Military antenna mask kits made from aluminium and painted OD green. They come in 4 foot sections and interlock. There’s base kits, ground spikes, guy wire mounts, and other accessories to go with them. Now what I’m planning on buying isn’t true surplus. Plenty of people copy the design and make new ones all day long. Which is great!

60_3 60_57 60257

http://www.ebay.com/itm/ANTENNA-SWIVEL-STAKE-USED-WITH-MILITARY-48-MAST-POLE-/360370946820

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-1-4-inch-Mast-Pole-CB-Ham-Radio-Antenna-Guy-Guide-Wire-Heavy-Duty-Support-Ring-/120817013090

http://www.ebay.com/itm/10-NEW-Aluminum-poles-4-long-Mast-Poles-Ham-Radio-Antenna-rubber-bag-included-/190800604568

02/20/13

My Resources

Some of the resources I use.

I make and fabricate a lot of the things I use. I make most all of my antennas, at least my none mobile antennas. All my wire antennas and a couple yagi’s. I’ve not made a lot of yagi’s. I made a 2 meter to get into a repeater well and a 6 meter antenna. The rest have been some kind wire antenna. Dipoles and Inverted V’s. I enjoy the challenge and learning aspect of making. As well most of my creations are a little cheaper than commercially available units.

» Ham radio band plan via ARRL
http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Hambands_color.pdf

» I use this site to calc my dipoles. I know the formula but I don’t always have a calculator on me.
http://www.kwarc.org/ant-calc.html

» After my fan-dipole project is over my next is a Delta Loop for twenty.
http://w5sdc.net/delta_loop_for_hf.html

» Where I buy most of the commercially built products is Gigaparts. At one time I lived in Huntsville, where they are located, so I feel I should help out the home town folks.
http://www.gigaparts.com/radioindex.php

» Ham Radio Practice Tests, this is where I prep before a test. You can choose individual parts to focus on or take an entire test. The feedback it gives on your test is useful in instructing you on what to study.
http://www.w8mhb.com/exam/

» QRZ.com, the goto site for ham stuff. Callsign lookups, forums, and just generally a lot of ham stuff.
http://www.qrz.com/

02/13/13

Fan Dipole Project February 2013 – Update 2

2013-02-13_13-25-57_570

It’s Wednesday now. I made my plan for the fan dipole yesterday and today I have cut all the bands 10 through 40, expect 40 meters. I’ve got to get some help with that one from the wife cause it’s so long. Plus got to do that outside, not enough space in the apartment. You ask why I cut all the bands? Well, now I’ve decide on two fan dipoles. The first one this weekend with be 6, 10, 20 and 40 meters. Minus 6 meters I’ll use this one the most including in upcoming State QSO Parties, specifically NC QSO Party. I really want a card from NI4BK.

Plus I’ll go ahead and cut my 70.5 delta loop section as well.

02/12/13

Fan Dipole Project February 2013

Coming Soon…this weekend…

This is mostly an example of what I’d like to build. The bands I really shooting for are 6 meters, 10 meters, 20 meters, and 40 meters. While I would love to have everything in between 6 and 40, that would be such and unwieldy mess of wire I’m picking 4 bands. I can probably build another one that will be 6 meters through 20 meters. Maybe a delta loop for 20 meters as well this weekend.

Fan Dipole

01/22/13

My First Ham Contest

If you read previous posts, you know this past weekend I took part in my first ham radio contest. It was the North American QSO Party. I was also trying to take part in the ARRL VHF January contest but that was fruitless, completely. Saturday afternoon about 12pm CST I started my setup. I gathered up my antenna supplies, a 20 meter home made wire dipole with a DX Engineering Alpha Delta Antenna kit. Basically it’s just a feed point and two insulators. This was going up into two tree’s outside the radio room’s window, so I also used rubber bands to lash the various pieces in place. Then I just opened the windows a smudge and feed in the coaxial feed line it’s self. This all worked really well!

By this point it’s about 12:40pm on Saturday, 20 minutes to go. I now grab my laptop put it on the desk, turn on the PS and finally radio. I’m using the NAQP program by N3FJP as my logging software. It’s simple, easy-to-use and this program is specifically made for this contest. N3FJP has a whole suite of programs for popular various contests. I had tried to get my radio to interface with Ham Radio Deluxe, but it just wasn’t having it. O well.

It’s now 15 till start time. Everything is on and charged. I tune up the antenna just to tighten everything up. Since I had extra time I tuned around and called CQ for about 13 minutes and 6 contacts so I was feeling pretty good about it. First hour 20 contacts right out of the gate. All over the north, north east, south and south eastern side of the USA and I think one Canada contact. So I take a lunch break and sit with the wife for a few and then get back at it. 26 more contacts in about an hour and a half.

This is awesome, I mean I don’t have a pile up of people looking to talk to me when I’m working CQ, but every single station that I come to that’s calling CQ I get through to. Including a pile up or two that I make it through. Remember home made antenna in a tree that’s not near as high as it should have been. I’m having a ball!

At this point I’m 4 hours into the contest, I’ve stepped away to do something for the wife. I come back and turn the radio back on and my for whatever reason my power supply takes a dump. The fan inside revs up to full speed, as does the voltage read out. It maxs! As quickly as I can I turn it off and unplug my radio from it. I put a voltmeter on the PS and 31.6 volts. AGH! So pissed.

Power Supply is a MFJ-4245MV

My nice, beautiful, expensive, new Yaesu FT-950 was over volted! Then I’m taking another reading and the POS power supply shocks me. I’m touch the metal chassis of the case and the negative terminal. I then, after my arm stops hurting, take a measurement on the chassis. 186.9 volts. At this point I go, pull out my antenna and bring it in. My contest day is over. Tomorrow, tuesday 23rd, I’m calling MFJ.

I’ve always heard the MFJ isn’t the best but I really was trying to buy from an American company. Astron

ft-950 338422

 

07/21/12

Ham Radio Project-Tram Dual Band Antenna Rehab

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, which is unfortunate. I enjoy my forum here. For today though I’m stuck at work, so I’ve brought my newest toy with me. It’s a Tram dual band, 2 meter & 440, base station antenna. It was an eBay find I acquired for a grand total of $28USD.
So, with the help of a friend and fellow ham operator, NI4SR, I have made sure that my propagates well across both bands.

So here’s what I’ve done or am planning to do today.
1.) I’ve already, carefully, removed the sealant/glue applied by the previous owner. I then re-applied some white Stampede “hardcore” caulk/sealant around the none-moving joint. Taking special note to precisely caulk around the base.
2.) Then I let that dry for about two hours or at least tack up. It’s not fully dry yet.
3.) Then I very lightly scuff sanded, with fine grit paper, the fiberglass body of the antenna. Just to promote adhesion.
4.) After that I wiped it down with a damp cloth to clean and get the dust off.
5.) Then I applied my first coat of flat white spray.
5b.) The bottom half of the antenna has absolutely no moving parts, so it got a few coats.
5c.) The top half does slide into the bottom and has bushings so it only get two coats.
6.) Re-assemble!

This is not a hard project and my $100 antenna that I got for $28 will look like, once again, a $100 antenna.
IMG_20120721_085855IMG_20120721_085912IMG_20120721_105631IMG_20120721_150349

06/20/12

2012 ARRL Field Day – (6/23/12 – 6/24/12)

Field Day is this weekend. If your a ham radio operator you probably have at least a little idea of what this means. But if your not do know this, Field Day is an event your everyone. It’s technically an event for hams to practice emergency communications but really Field Day is only half about that and half displaying our trade to the public. There’s a station called GOTA, Get on the Air. That’s all about getting newly licensed, unlicensed and formally licensed on the air. There’s normally a radio coach to help and instruct on the process.

If your in or near Near Hanover County, North Carolina come out to Ogden Park near the shelters. If you can find the shelters you can find us. We’ll be starting up at 2:30pm Saturday and going going solid through 2:30 pm Sunday.

03/11/12

Review of: The 2012 Charlotte Hamfest & ARRL Roanoke Division Convention

One of the things since I passed the Technician I’ve most been looking forward to is going to my first Ham Fest, licensed. I’ve been to HamFests before, more than a couple but less than several. I’ve been to the Huntsville Hamfest multiple times and possibly MemFest a couple. But either way I was looking forward to it. Well my dream came true, today March 10th 2012 was the Charlotte Hamfest in Concord, NC. I got up extra early this morning travel to it from Wilmington, 4 hours and I was there. I went to this by myself but hope to drag the fiance to one sometime. I tell you, I walked in bought my ticket went through admission area and looked forward and I was like wow. I was a little overwhelmed, but in a good way. I guess it’s different when you are taking it in by yourself and this time I understand most everything I see in front of me.

I proceeded to the flea market first. If your not familiar with a HamFest all the ones I’ve been to have manufactures and large ham stores in an area, then kind of small business like name plates, shirt, small antenna builders in the next section of the arena. And then segregated together, normally either to one side or the back, is the flea market. And the flea is one word “everything.” Seriously, there are resellers of hard components, connectors, electronics gear, radios, tubes(there’s always at least one person with 4 tables of vacuum tubes), old computer, cameras, and anything you as a consumer of electronics might be interested in or previously owned. I bought a good set of alligator clips and odds and ends connector. Specifically I got a set of SO-239 panel mount connecters with a very thick flange. Those will go to an antenna project.

Long story short. The Charlotte Hamfest 2012 was a very nice hamfest and I had a very nice time. They had great programs planned(I caught most of a D-Star program), nice flea market, and great vendors area. It was in a comfortable heated and cooled arena. It was very well accessible to get into and parking. And was very well attended. I was also told it appeared that attendance was up which is great! I look forward to it next year!

Here’s some pics I stole from MFJ’s Facebook, props to MFJ for these:

03/10/12

Review of: The 2012 Charlotte Hamfest & ARRL Roanoke Division Convention

One of the things since I passed the Technician I’ve most been looking forward to is going to my first Ham Fest, licensed. I’ve been to HamFests before, more than a couple but less than several. I’ve been to the Huntsville Hamfest multiple times and possibly MemFest a couple. But either way I was looking forward to it. Well my dream came true, today March 10th 2012 was the Charlotte Hamfest in Concord, NC. I got up extra early this morning travel to it from Wilmington, 4 hours and I was there. I went to this by myself but hope to drag the fiance to one sometime. I tell you, I walked in bought my ticket went through admission area and looked forward and I was like wow. I was a little overwhelmed, but in a good way. I guess it’s different when you are taking it in by yourself and this time I understand most everything I see in front of me.

I proceeded to the flea market first. If your not familiar with a HamFest all the ones I’ve been to have manufactures and large ham stores in an area, then kind of small business like name plates, shirt, small antenna builders in the next section of the arena. And then segregated together, normally either to one side or the back, is the flea market. And the flea is one word “everything.” Seriously, there are resellers of hard components, connectors, electronics gear, radios, tubes(there’s always at least one person with 4 tables of vacuum tubes), old computer, cameras, and anything you as a consumer of electronics might be interested in or previously owned. I bought a good set of alligator clips and odds and ends connector. Specifically I got a set of SO-239 panel mount connecters with a very thick flange. Those will go to an antenna project.

Long story short. The Charlotte Hamfest 2012 was a very nice hamfest and I had a very nice time. They had great programs planned(I caught most of a D-Star program), nice flea market, and great vendors area. It was in a comfortable heated and cooled arena. It was very well accessible to get into and parking. And was very well attended. I was also told it appeared that attendance was up which is great! I look forward to it next year!

Here’s some pics I stole from MFJ’s Facebook, props to MFJ for these:

430132_286881058048053_211581092244717_723197_176643007_n423970_286886148047544_211581092244717_723242_1376741348_n420743_286883128047846_211581092244717_723208_1439236473_n416967_286881458048013_211581092244717_723199_1299747354_n