Sunday, December 25, 2011

Simple antennas for the Hawaii Island Amateur Radio Operator--a continuing series

Merry Christmas to all!  I trust that Old Saint Nick left a few presents under your Christmas Tree.

During the holiday season, I've been  busy with various household chores, visiting friends, and just relaxing until the new school term begins on 04 January 2012.  I'm sure the coming year will be exciting both in the classroom and out in the real world.  The holiday break is also giving me some time to do basic antenna maintenance and general shack clean up.  The December weather has been quite wet along the Hamakua Coast with over 13 inches recorded at the qth since 01 December.  Despite the recent storms, Hawaii Island rainfall totals are about 30 % below normal.  The Kailua-Kona area on the west side of the island  is even more parched, with most leeward areas getting less than 50% of their normal rainfall.

SIMPLE ANTENNAS FOR NEW YEAR'S EVENTS

Three major operting events remain as this year morphs into 2012.  The 2012 ARRL Straight Key Night is set for 01 January 2012, 0000 UTC to 2359 UTC.  This is the time to recall and take part in the fun associated with hand-sent CW...especially CW sent by "boatanchor" rigs such as the old Heathkits, Yaesus, Kenwoods, Swans, Drakes, Collins, and Hallicrafters.  The ARRL says this event is not really a contest, but rather a chance to operate vintage gear and make new friends worldwide.  Although my oldest rig is a Kenwood TS-520, I plan to use as much "old" gear as I can, including a J-38 key and some classic antennas.  Presently, I have a 20-meter dipole and 40-meter loop that could be pressed into service.  A random length wire around 130 feet will also be used as long as my neighbor doesn't mind the wire crossing his property.  If you have the time, get on the air with a homebrew dipole or vertical antenna.  Ah, those thrilling days of yesteryear, when novices like me, were thrilled to just get a contact on our crystal-controlled rigs running 75 watts or less.  I imagine all sorts of homebrew transmitters will be dusted off the shelf and used to create the proper "atmosphere" of that night.  You can submit your votes for "best fist" and "most interesting QSO" along with your log to straightkey@arrl.org or by regular mail to ARRL Straight Key Night, 225 Main St., Newington, CT, 06111.

Another popular event is the ARRL Kids Day, set for 07 January 2012, from 1800-2400 UTC.  The program is designed to encourage young people to have fun with Amateur Radio.  The event will give on-the-air experience to youngsters and foster interest in gettting an amateur radio license of their own.  The December 2011 "QST" has a nice article about Kids Day and shows how one of our Hawaii Island amateurs, Lloyd Cabral (KH6LC), provided hours of fun and education to aspiring hams last year.  For details on Kids Day, visit www.arrl.org/kids-day.

The final trio of early January operting events is the always popular ARRL RTTY Roundup, which will run between 1800 UTC Sunday, 07 January 2012 to 2359 UTC Sunday, 08 January 2012.  Digital stations worldwide will be doing their best to contact as many fellow amateurs as time allows.  Although I'm not equipped to run RTTY yet, I plan to dive into the RTTY as soon as I can.  All logs must be postmarked no later than 2359 UTC Tuesday, 07 February 2012.  You can e-mail Cabrillo-formated electronic logs to rttyru@arrl.org.  Good luck everyone.

QST TO OFFER DIGITAL FORMAT

The ARRL plans to issue "QST" in a digital format sometime by mid-year 2012.  Recent editions of the "ARRL Letter" have the details.  This follows an earlier announcment by CQ Publications that it will start digital subscriptions by the end of this year (2011).  Unlike the CQ project, the digital "QST" will not come at an additional price.  I see this as a desireable trend, since digital publishing will reduce costs in the area of paper and distribution.  When I worked in the commercial broadcast business, most of my professional journals were available in a digital format.  Once I set up various files, it was easy to read, store, retrieve, and print what I needed.  With distribution costs rising ever higher, digital publishing is the way to go.  It may take some time to adjust to the change, but with resources getting more costly, digital is an obvious alternative to previous publishing methods.  On a local level, the Big Island Amateur Radio Club has converted its monthly newsletter to digital, saving the club hundreds of dollars in postage and printing costs.

With SKN approaching, I'll spend some time this week repairing the homebrew antennas for the event.  Although I still use the J-38 key, my sending skills could use some improvement, so a little CW this week should get me up to speed.  Good luck in the SKN.

Have a safe and sober holiday season.

Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM