Friday, July 8, 2011

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Have you recovered from the extended 4th of July holiday?  I think I'm on the road to recovery after a little too much to eat and drink.  In my "golden" years, I find it harder to snap back from the indulgences of youth.  I behaved myself most of the time, since the 4th was a normal workday for those of us in the radio news business.  I was able to take in the festivities along the Hilo bayfront, where Hawaii County had organized a family fun day with a classic auto show, games for the family, a wide selection of ethnic foods, and patriotic displays.  The Lehua Jaycees rounded out the evening with their traditional fireworks show.  I didn't stay for that display because of my early morning news shift.  There won't be much to do in the amateur radio realm until tomorrow (Saturday) when I can leave the news room around noon.  There is never an dull or idle moment around here.  About the only major attraction this week for Hawaii Island residents  will be the Moku O Hawaii outrigger canoe races.  The county canoe racing championships will be held 16 July. The entire staff will be busy that day, with yours truly announcing the July Points Meet at the Hilo Drag Strip, while other staff members handle the canoe racing events. 

There will be plenty to do for amateur radio operators this weekend with the FISTS Summer Sprint taking place on 09 July and the IARU HF World Championship being held on 09 July and 10 July.  Depending on propagation, I just might jump in and get another lesson about erecting a decent antenna.  My modest inverted "vee" and the 10 watt output of my Yaesu FT-7 probably won't make a big splash in the contest, but one never knows.

Speaking of antennas, the 06 July 2011 edition of eham.net has an interesting, sharply focused antenna article by Bob Raynor, N4JTE.  His article "Antenna Myths" does a decent job of dismissing the hype and often misleading details surrounding antenna traditions.  Bob puts a lot of emphasis on building your own antennas, careful modeling, and empirical results.  Many of our favorite skyhooks, such as verticals, low slung loops, and inverted "vees" have serious flaws, but, even these shortcomings can be minimized by careful construction, reducing feedline loses, and adequate height.  Bob feels the most important dimension of antenna design is to make a system that performs consistently for your location.  And for those of us restricted by space or invasive CC &Rs, an antenna that gives useful results at a modest cost is paramont.  Like many of you, I've been forced by circumstances (small lot and peering, suspicious neighbors) to use the simplest of antennas--stealthy verticals, under-the-house loops, and disguised long wires.  Despite the limitations imposed by space, I've been able to have many contacts.  My station will not bust the DX pileup encountered in this weekend's IARU HF championship, but I may be able to sneak in my call sign every now and then.  Hunt and pounce works for me.  Besides, I don't care about the score.  Getting on the air and having fun will be my reward.  So, Bob's article is a good, basic refresher on what is true and not so true about antennas.  He writes well and provides some useful information. 

I hope your weekend is productive, fun, and challenging.  I must be insane to enter the championships with only 10 watts and an inverted "vee".  This only confirms the suspicions of my neighbors that a radio "nut" lives next door.   My XYL has given up.  I've assured her that the amateur radio disease isn't terminal.  This type of contest fever occurs infrequently.  And yes, I've promised to take the garbage to the recyling center and help with the laundry.  She has the patience of a saint.

Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM.