Saturday, January 14, 2012

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

This has been a busy teaching week at Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School.  Eversince I landed a long-term substitute teaching position at the school, there hasn't been too much time to chase radio signals.  My position involves working with several special education students--a real challenge.  My heart goes out to parents who are trying to bring their special needs children into the main stream of education.  The job is frustrating at times, but I get a lot of personal satisfaction helping these students get an education.  So much for an easy retirement.

As for amateur radio, I manage to get on late in the evening after lesson plans are done and student progress reports are compiled.  The time before my venerable Swan 100-MX and Kenwood TS-520 provides a way of escaping the pressures of the day.  I find cw relaxing.  I never thought I would look at cw that way, but, after all these years, the old J-38 key has become a real tension reliever.

On the antenna front, I found an interesting article in the December 2011 edition of "CQ" entitled "It's snowing...it must be antenna time!  Plus a review of the DX Engineering ATSA-1 Stealth Antenna."  Rich Arland, K7SZ, has written an excellent review of a multiband, stealth antenna that could help you get on the air without neighbors or HOA committees being disturbed.  Basically, the ATSA-1 is a second-generation stealth antenna system based on an MFJ remotely tuned automatic ATU feeding a 45-foot vertical wire.  The RF counterpoise consists of twenty 25-foot radial wires attached to what looks like a DX Engineering central mounting bracket.  The ATU is attached to the plate  and is very low profile.  Power for the tuner is fed through the coaxial cable using a coupler available from MFJ.  The project will take a bit of work and is a bit costly, with the retail price around $459.  The results seem to justify the price if you are forced to really conceal the antenna.  Arland believes the antenna will be almost invisible once garden decorations such as false rocks conceal the low-profile ATU.  I once tried a homebrew copy of this idea using a SCG-230 ATU, 50-feet of #14 wire, and a run of RG-8.  Although my counterpoise system comprised only 10 wires, it seemed to work well.  The hardest part of the project was the installation of the radials and trenching of the coax underground.  I removed the antenna when I moved into my current qth.  If you have the time and are willing to bury your coax, this might be another answer to running a stealth operation.  From what I can tell from the article's review and its accompanying photographs, the ATSA-1 system appears to be well-built and durable.

Once I finish my classroom work and lesson plans, I'll be able to tickle the atmosphere for some long-overdue relaxation at the console of my modest station.  Every minute at the station is worth the effort.  I have fun and that's one reason I keep the antennas up.  Of course, my neighbors may have other opinions.  So far, I haven't done anything to ruin the appearance of the neighborhood or ruin television reception.  All I do is run low power (10 watts or so) and lower the homebrew skyhooks when I'm done with my rf "psychotherapy".

Have a good weekend.  Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM.