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Back into the Ham Radio Spirit

Feb 17, 2006
5,078
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
I love Ham Radio. I have been gone too long from the spirit that is Ham Radio. What ever happened to the DIY Ham? I think we basically have all turned into appliance operators. We don't build "stuff" anymore. Well, I decided to do something about that.

Granted, it is not a radio or amp, or digital box of any kind, but build I did. I had some spare PVC lining around and also 1/8" wire rope from boat projects. So I decided to see if I could improve on my poor antenna farm at home.

Not having a good antenna is a killer. I hear stations but cannot work them. Then there are times I cannot hear anything at all. So I did some research, specifically MFJ antennas and SGC antenna tuners, and came up with a loop for 20 meters.

Loop 1.jpg


Yo... BD! Little short for 20 meters, eh? Correct. I based the size off of the MFJ-57B Loop Antenna. SGC also had a design which required 80 feet of wire in 4 loops for a workable size. This loop is 13 feet and very manageable.

As you can see, it looks like I cut the left horizontal spreader just a wee bit too long. I will trim that. So the details. MFJ's 57B is also 13 feet. Their theory is that a loop that is 75% of 1/4 wave will be resonant at the calculated frequency. I think MFJ used 14400 KHz for their calculations. But MFJ says the antenna is tunable down to 30 meters.

The blue tape is "place holder" for the wire until I get the cross symmetrical (or closer to) and figure a way to keep the wire from rotating. I will put a 4:1 balun at the feed (bottom of wire) and feed the antenna with coax. This might, or might not, work. We will see.

Since the radiation pattern is perpendicular to the plane of the antenna, and due to its small size, the antenna becomes very directional, I will use rope to act as my "rotor". The antenna will be placed on the top of my patio cover and accessed from the radio room on the second floor.

This should be fun. Don't know if this will work but it is a very cheap experiment.

Side note: I am almost sure you are looking at the other things in my garage. LOL The tie-dye cloth hanging are backdrops for my portrait studio. Yeah, I shoot portraits in my garage as a side business. In the upper right of the picture you see the fluorescent light. Under that is a 200 watt lamp to keep my subjects pupils from dilating under low light conditions in the studio. The resulting 200 watt light during a flash session is not visible due to the nature of its "low power" compared to the high power strobes I use. :)

P.S. It was the top piece that was too short, by 2". It has been fixed and now the antenna is semi-symmetrical.
 
Oct 3, 2014
249
Hunter 33.5 & Lake City, MN
Nice job! I love antenna building.

I quit being active in amateur radio about 10 years ago but I find myself thinking about getting back into it from time to time. This weekend I plan on taking my HT to boat with me and see if I can hit any local repeaters. Hey, it's a start!

I'd love to build and install some sort of HF antenna for the boat but I have a few other boat projects which are a bit more pressing.
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,078
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Well @plenny7, there are several options for HF on the boat without modifying your standing rigging. When you are ready let us know and we can give you some ideas. Or, just look at some of the links on this SSB?Ham forum.

Just for fun, I was thinking of taking an old boat hook and trying it as an emergency HF antenna. LOL (not really LOL, it should work)
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,078
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
No electronics were harmed or damaged during this project, thus they retained their smoke. However, my brain lost a few math cells. :yikes:
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,078
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Oh... sorry about that. There was a fire on Camp Pendleton, but as far as I know it is contained. I don't see any smoke.
 
Jan 25, 2011
2,219
S2 11.0A Anacortes, WA
I've also been thinking about getting back into ham..i fired up my IC-745 awhile ago into a dummy load with not so good results. I talked to a guy "down the road" who does radio repairs about the feasibility of putting money into an old radio. He stated a lot of hams stay with the older radios due to the inherent digital noise that the more modern radios have..I think there are multiple capacitor issues. I listened to a "modern" icom (dont know the model) and tuning across the band gave a stair stepping effect that I did not care for. As for antennas..I remember when I built a 2m quagi. About 12 elements give or take. It was awhile ago...I put it above my TH-6 on my tower and I could bounce transmissions and receptions off Mt. Rainier from S. Seattle into Eastern Wa and into Idaho. Had a lot of fun with that antenna..
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,078
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Well depending on how this project goes, and it is done just not on the air, I will tackle the next one. It could be a loop for 40m. But if this 20m loop fails I may just go with an inverted V on 20m. Man, my wife is gonna kill me if I start putting up PVC antennas. LOL

I have a Yaesu FT-857D that is pure digital. It seems noisier than my Icom-707. I love the 707 because it is so simple to use. Like the Kenwood TS-50. You should look into the Icom-718 as a possible new-to-you rig. @Rick D has that rig on his "want" list for his boat. It is the same fit/form/function as the 707 but with a little more bells and whistles.
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,078
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Part two of the project. Waiting on a few part for the 1:1 current balun. Have the toroid and it is wound, just need the box and a few connectors.

As you can see, I changed the foot of the stand. The C-stand I was using is really designed for indoor use for lighting. Very sturdy, but not so outdoors. The location of the antenna is in a high wind area of my yard. This is not where it will operate. It will be placed on the patio overhang and the bottom of the loop will be about 10' or so above the ground. Recommended minimal height is 1/2 the diameter of the loop, or 6.5 ft.

This new footing is very sturdy. I pushed the antenna around and it never threatened to fall over. When it goes up on the patio overhang it will be tied down. So sturdy is the name of the game.

Plan B if this does not work well will be to install an inverted V for 20m. I know, maybe I should have gone with that antenna first. But if I did, where would the fun be in experimenting? Eh?

DSCF4483a.jpg
 
Feb 14, 2014
5,617
Hunter 430 Waveland, MS
I loved directional antennae for their gain. Working DX on lower power was a fun challenge.
You got me thinking on how your antenna would mount on a sailboat. I found this 12VDC portable rotor.
http://www.portablerotation.com/product-category/a/
ARRL did a review on it. I am sure you know about it.
__________
I love watching your progress.:clap:
Jim...
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,078
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
I don't know if this will even work, but it is fun trying. Anyway, I don't see any feasibility for something like this on a boat. I mean it could possibly work, but it's a low takeoff angle antenna, so definitely DXable. Most sailboats maintain a straight course so a rotor wouldn't be needed I would think.

When I was a Marine on board a Navy ship (long time ago) I always knew which was was home. Just looked up to see where the HF Log Periodic antenna was pointed.
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,078
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
The antenna is finished. Will it work? We will find out possibly tomorrow. Too hot for me to be playing around outside. LOL I might melt.

DSCF4484_1.jpg

The small box is a 1:1 current balun. Homebrew type with a T-200-2 Toroid and bifiliar wire (14 AWG).

DSCF4485_1.jpg

Close up of the Balun. This will allow 50Ω unbalanced input to match 50Ω balanced output. Although a loop is hardly 50Ω, most of the information I read said to use 1:1 balun. The way the toroid is wound is to eliminate common mode currents. This should prevent RF in the shack. We shall see.
 
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Feb 17, 2006
5,078
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
Well, here she is in her operating position. Looks nice but also ominous to the casual observer.

DSCF4486_1.jpg


And the results? (drum roll please)

NOTHING. Not a damn thing except noise from the big bang, the beginning of the universe as we know it, or possibly just plain old static. LOL

Anyway, I can tune OK on 20 meter and 30 meter. But the tuner I use can tune a tooth pick on the 1 MHz AM Broadcast Band. So I tuned it to WWV on 10 MHz and rotated the antenna to try to see if possibly it was highly directional. Nothing. I could barely hear a signal there. But other than that, nothing, on any band.

OK, let's close that chapter and move to the next one. C'est la vie!
 
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