Getting it up

View of a backyard with a dipole antenna. Feedline can be seen coming down at a 30º angleCommon advice to new Amateur radio operators asking questions about antennas is that “anything is better than nothing”. The idea being that you can always improve things later, but for now do something to get on the air.

I live in a small rental unit in a rural town, with overhead power lines across the front of my block. As far as antenna’s go, the only thing in my favour is that many houses nearby have UHF CB colinears mounted on roofs or free standing at around 6-7m. This proliferation of CB antennas is not a symptom of a thriving CB culture – more that mum and dad usually retire into town when sons take over the day to day operation of farms, and that before the widespread use of phones UHF CB was a staple of farm communications. Continue reading

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Diamond in the Sky

AW07AI’ve been meaning to write a follow up to my earlier post about the Feature Tech antenna analyser. The short summary of that post was that when I hooked up the antenna analyser to a mobile whip on a magnetic base, I saw all sorts of SWR values which were often not repeatable and changed even as I was taking my hand away from the meter. I was disappointed with the device.

Fast forward a few weeks, in a QSO with Martin VK6ZMS and he was strongly of the opinion that I was doing myself a disservice by running a mag mount without grounding the antenna to my vehicle close to the base of the antenna. Another clue was one idle afternoon at home, I threw the analyser on my WARG Pogo Stick 2m antenna and it had none of the problems I had seen. The SWR readings were reliable (you could read of a value for a frequency, change the frequency then change it back and get the same SWR value) and did not alter as I handled the coax or moved away from the meter. One of the features of this antenna is that it has an coax choke at the base.

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The Download

I’ve been drawn away from time playing with radio for a couple of months, working away in another town to backfill someone else’s (harder) job. In addition to the time involved in getting my head around the new job, it means starting from scratch again with antennas etc, and I haven’t brought all my gear so whenever I do have an hour to play, I’ve often not got the tools or equipment I’d like. As a result I’ve been keeping in touch by catching up on a number of podcasts and I thought it might be interesting to talk about a couple of them plus some other ham news sources.

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Trans-Tasman Contest

G5RV JnrNow my dipole is up semi-permanently, I can sort of operate every weekend I’m home. I say ‘sort of’ as it’s much noisier here in town than at the lookout where I made my first contacts, and I suspect I don’t get out as well with this little half size G5RV at only 6m high.

I turned the radio on last Saturday afternoon to have a tune around and heard VK6QM calling CQ contest. I wasn’t aware there was a contest on, but when no one else was answering I called back and got a quick lesson in what the exchange was (signal report and contact serial number) and scrawled that and my times on a piece of paper. Continue reading

Contact!

I went out for my first shot of HF operating today had had some success as well as learning a couple of lessons.

The set up was at a local lookout – it has a slight elevation compared to town, it’s out of the Snapped squid polenoise (nearest power-line is about 400m away) and partially surrounded by the salt lake that the town is named for. The lookout has an iron railing that is perfect for strapping my 7m squid pole to. The plan was to hook 20m of wire from that down to the back of the ute and run it as an end-fed.

Lesson 1 – there is only so much tension that can be placed on a squid pole before it snaps.

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2m Tape Measure Yagi

My club (BRC) is looking at getting in to some fox hunting as a way of creating some shared activities, so I’m going to need a simple, portable beam with a good front to back ratio in order to play.

I had a look around and vk3hra’s blog had a nice step-by-step so I decided to copy his. It’s based on the fairly common PCV pipe & tape measure approach. The idea with steel tape measure is that it bounces back from being folded, so it’s easy to fold the elements for transport etc. Here’s his design:

vk3hra tape measure beam

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