Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Simple antennas for the Hawaii Amateur Radio Operator, part 15

Antennas--a cautionary tale

While reviewing the latest edition of eham.net, I ran across an interesting antenna "classic" by Don, W8AD.  "HF Antenna installation hints", originally published on 12 November 2006, offers many useful installation tips for those of us facing space retrictions, HOA and CC & R problems, and nosey neighbors.  Don provides a review of slopers, dipoles, antic antennas, and site locations for the intrepid radio amateur.  The follow up comments are also worth a read.  Don has written a good, basic primer for those of us a little rusty on the design and limitations of our "antenna farms."

Halloween is past and all of winter lies before us

This Halloween at the qth was wet, windy, and dangerous for those brave enough to do the "trick or treat" routine.  A cold front passed Hawaii Island Monday afternoon bringing several inches of rain, wind gusts of up to 40 knots, and generally dangerous driving conditions.  Many fruit trees were bent over in my neighborhood by the strong winds and debris covered miles of the Hamakua Coast Highway.  My xyl had prepared approximately 180 candy packets for the expected rush of the neighborhood children, but only 30 were given away because of the marginal weather conditions.  I see most of New England was blanketed by an early winter storm with some folks losing power until this weekend.  Not a good night for trick or treating.  According to the eham.net website, hams in New England have been busy keeping the communications lines open for law enforcement and emergency personnel.  Ole man winter appears to have arrived early...what a mess.  So far this year, Hawaii Island has escaped most of the heavy rains that usually fall from September through April.  The season is early and more rain is expected.  It will be welcomed, since much of the island is gripped by drought.  The Laupahoehoe qth has experienced only a half of the normal 75 inches.  The water shortage is especially acute in the Kailua-Kona area of Hawaii Island.  Many rural homes in Hawaii still use catchment systems.

Halloween scares in the radio realm

As mentioned earlier, Halloween was a very wet affair in my neighborhood.  After my xyl and I returned from our daily walk, I thought it best to lower the vertical dipole and inverted "v".  I'm glad I did.  The frontal passage brought about 5 hours of thunder and lightning.  A lightning strike took out a utility pole transformer several blocks from my qth.  I lost a vertical antenna a few years ago to a lightning strike...fortunately, all my equipment was unplugged and all antennas were disconnected from the house.  The fiberglass pole that supported the 40-meter vertical was blown to pieces and the coax running to the ground rod was thoroughly destroyed.  One of the things I do every night when I shut down the old Swan 100-MX is to disconnect and ground all antennas, unplug all appliances, and disconnect my PC from the mains.  Eventhough my amateur radio equipment runs off batteries, I disconnect everything.  The PC and other vital electronics (stereo, television, disc recorder/player) are connected to UPSs and surge protectors.  I disconnect them anyway when night approaches.  Hawaii Island gets a good number of "thunderboomers" throughout the year and I can't afford the chance of leaving equipment unprotected.  And even when the weather is fine (which is most of the time), the local utility faces power interruptions caused by earthquakes, landslides, traffic accidents, and the occaisonal lava flow.  The only sure source of power on this isolated chunck of basalt is a solar/battery system.  Many local businesses are installing solar systems to help offset the high cost of electricity in the islands.

I hope you enjoyed the holiday and didn't get "spooked" by the local children making their trick or treat rounds.  I guess the only people who look forward to this holiday are the children and the occaisonal dentist who will try to repair the damage done by a "jawbreaker" or too many snickers candy bars.  As for the CQ WW Sweepstakes--I got overwhelmed.  My 10-watt signal was no match for the 4-element monobanders, 100-foot towers, and the much admired Alpha amps.  I did have fun, though.  Everytime I dip into the contest pool I learn something.  Wait 'till next time.

Have a good day and get on the air......

Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM