Sunday, January 1, 2012

Simple Antennas for the Hawaii Amateur Radio Operator--a continuing series

Happy New Year's Greetings from Laupahoehoe along the beautiful Hamakua Coast.  This was the first day I could spend some extended time with my favorite pursuit--Amateur Radio.  There are no obligations until I return to the classroom on Thursday.  With that in mind, I checked out the "antenna farm" in the back yard and ran a few contacts in the Straight Key Night event hosted by the ARRL.  I found the 40-meter inverted vee did an excellent job on 40 and 15 meters.  It's good to see some propagation after several years of marginal conditions. 

Before breaking for lunch today at around 2057 UTC, I decided to drop in on a "New Year's Net" hosted by Neal, AE1P up in New Hampshire.  His signals were excellent, running between 57 and 59.  It so happens I need New Hampshire for my QSL collection, so I just dropped my call into the roundtable, hoping a puny 5 watts could make the trip.  Wonder of wonders, he and a few others in the net were able to copy my old Swan 100-MX running a cool 5 watts off my solar/battery power supply.  Although I never got above 55 during the exchange, I was understood by most of those on the net.  Over the past few days, 15 meters and 20 meters have been the best daytime bands for my operations.  Ten meters was very noisy at my location.  I made a few other calls, but my signals were buried in the increasing noise level.  I'll send off a SASE and a QSL card and hope that Neal responds.  I still enjoy getting QSL cards--they form an interesing and colorful background for the shack in the corner of the living room.

The 20-meter dipole performed well over the weekend.  Nothing spectacular, but I did have a few interesting contacts into the western half of the country.  During the weekend, I received no complaints from neighbors, another reason to run qrp in a marginal signal area.  While most of my neighbors have cable or direct tv, there are a few who still rely on over the air transmissions.  So, I keep my footprint small and swivel the vertical and inverted vee to ground level when my operating is done for the day. All of this seems to keep the peace in my crowded area along the Hamakua Coast.

I didn't use the under-the-house 40-meter loop this weekend.  This NVIS antenna has been reserved for statewide nets and medium wave broadcast reception--two tasks the loop does quite well. 

I hope your holidays were safe, somewhat sane, and enjoyable for you and your family.  The winter vacation is coming to a quick close, and before I know it, it will be time to polish up my lesson plans and return to the classroom for my new job.  As a substitute teacher, I've had several opportunities to return to the profession for which I once prepared.  The experience has been a positive and instructive adventure.  I'm not sure who is teaching whom, but the lessons seem to get done and the students seem to respond to what I'm doing.  Although I won't be earning what I once did as a full-time broadcast journalist, there are compensations--less stress, becoming more involved in my community, and getting more time in the shack.  I hope to become more active on the bands as time rolls on.  Sometimes, life just gets in the way.  But now, with a less hectic schedule, I can enjoy more time at home, do more activities with the xyl, fix up the house, and spend a few hours chasing dx on the lower portion of 40 meters.  Anything above 7.225 Mhz tends to be a bit noisy in the Central Pacific.  There are still quite a few SW broadcasters who seem to prefer the upper reaches of 40 meters these days.

Have a good holiday...see you down the log!
Aloha  es 73 de KH6JRM ("Russ").