AA8IA Amateur Radio

June ramblings

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June is a fun month for amateur radio contesting. But, with the good come the bad. It’s at this time of year that I really find myself thinking about improvements I’d like to make in the station. Unfortunately, it also forces me to think about the difficulties in making those improvements.

  • 1. I still don’t have a tower up.
  • If I did have a tower up, it would be no taller than 40 ft. I’d also be stuck trying to figure out whether I want to put VHF/UHF antennas on it or HF antennas. If I wanted to do VHF, we’re talking about 6m, 2m and 70cm all on one tower. Given the spacing required for optimal operation of yagis on those three bands, it’d be tough to get 3 yagis on a reasonable length mast. It can be done though. Many people sacrifice some pattern distortion in order to do this. But, the bigger problem is that there definitely would not be room for an HF directional antenna, whether that be a Hexbeam or a typical tribander.

  • 2. If I were to acquire the necessary minimum for a VHF/UHF station, can I really justify the cost and hassle?
  • Outside of a few contests a year, regular SSB/CB activity on VHF/UHF is hard to come by. And when it is there, it’s usually between stations running amps, using stacks / arrays per band, and it requires one to get the antennas up as high and in the clear as possible.

    I am quite positive that if I had VHF/UHF DX capabilities, I’d really enjoy them a couple times a year. But, I’m thinking the rest of my time would be spent regretting the lack of a directional antenna on 10/15/20m.

  • 3. Both of my dipoles were put up very quickly and without proper care.
  • There is no lightning protection on either one of the dipoles. One is fed with LMR-400 with no care taken to protect the coax-to-antenna connection from the weather. By now I suspect that there has already been significant rainwater encroachment down through the top of the SO239 / N-to-PL junction.

    No care was taken to waterproof anything at the junction of the ladderline and 80m doublet either. I still don’t have the ends of the 80m doublet off the ground as far as I’d like. I would prefer 10-15 feet at the ends, but right now they are perhaps 3 feet off the ground.

  • 4. I do not have proper shack grounding.
  • I don’t have a shack ground. If I did it wouldn’t be bonded to the AC Mains ground since there is no visible ground rod connection to the AC Mains. I have underground utilities. I’m not sure where the ground is for the AC mains, but there is not a ground rod or ground wire outside at the entrance. Inside there is a ground from the AC to the cold water pipe.

    I have no lightning arrestors. Of course they’d do no good without any grounding.

    As it is right now, when i’m not using the station I lower the mast to deck height and remove all feedline to the house. It just stays outside coiled up and hanging on the fence 10 feet from my shack.

  • 5. I don’t climb. I can’t stand or sit for long periods of time because of my back.
  • Doing antenna work of any kind usually requires a day or two of recuperation after as little as half an hour of antenna work. Mowing lawn I can do. Standing still and upright working on antenna crap, I cannot. Sitting for extended periods on anything but a couch really can ruin a week pretty fast.

Ok, that’s it for the ranting. I’ve cried a river. In the end, I’ll still be in all of the significant contests and I’ll still participate in nearly every QSO Party I can. Even with such mediocrity for a station, I still have a blast every time I get on and can work some stations. Gotta love the addictiveness of amateur radio.

Field Day is next weekend (June 25/26). I’ll be there, with bells on, running 1D (or perhaps even 1E) from the home with a couple of dipoles. Last year I made 359 Qs in 13 hours. I’m hoping for 600 or more in a 24-hour period this year. If I can do it, you can too. I hope to work you!

Written by Mike

June 19th, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Posted in Posts

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