Friday, March 2, 2012

Simple Antennas for Hawaii Island Amateur Radio Operators--a continuing series

It's been a busy week of teaching for me and my xyl at Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School.  As substitute teachers, we have a variety of assignments ranging from special education to agriculture.  Variety is the spice of life at this rural school on Hawaii Island.  Both of us enjoy doing something positive for our community in our "sunset years."  Now that the school week is over, I can focus my attention on amateur radio and my favorite aspect of the hobby--building antennas from commonly available materials.  A good, effective homebrew antenna is what you need to join the ARRL International Phone DX Contest, which begins 03 March 2012 at 0000 Z and ends 2400 Z on 04 March (this weekend).  I plan to do a lot of listening and get what contacts I can as a QRP station.

My limited contest participation will rely on the homebrew 20-meter vertical dipole in back of the garage and the trusty 40-meter inverted vee along the hedge line fronting my neighbor's house.  I plan to have fun no matter the condition of the atmosphere and the rising volume of qrm.  I'm sure my 10-watt signal will get a few contacts no matter how propagation goes.  So, I'll raise the verticals during operating hours and lower the antennas when I'm not calling "cq".  With rain and perhaps a few thunderstorms in the forecast, I'm glad I installed swivels to lower and raise antennas quickly.  This contest will test just how effective my "homebrew" antenna "farm" really is.  Fortunately, I have a good supply of RG-6 coax, #14 wire, connectors, and some 450-ohm ladder line in case strong tradewinds take any antenna to the ground.  As a last resort, I'll connect my Yaesu FT-7 or Swan 100-MX to my under-the-house 40-meter loop and see what I can stir up.

Speaking of antennas, you may want to peruse the March 2012 "QST", which focuses on antennas.  There is an interesting article by Joel Hallas, W1ZR, called "Selecting a Commercial HF Vertical for Your Station" on pages 69 and 70.  Although I prefer building my own verticals, Joel makes a strong case for a commercially produced vertical if your interests lie in that area.  Joel reviews a number of commercial verticals from Butternut, Gap, Hy-Gain, Force 12, SteppIR, New-Tronics (Hustler), and Mosley.  Any one of these products could be what you need to get on the air, especially for those with severe space limitations.  The only commercial vertical that I have tried, and that was years ago, was the Hy-Gain 12AVQ--a classic 1/4 wave trap monopole covering the 20, 15, and 10 meter bands.  At 13-feet, it is a compact antenna that can either be ground mounted or elevated.  I used the 12AVQ as a ground mounted vertical with 16 quarter-wave radials cut for 20-meters.  The antenna served me several years without problems until Hawaii's tropical air, volcanic haze, and heavy rains finally destroyed the aluminum and traps.  I may pick one up one of these 12AVQ skyhooks again just to see what I can do with it.  But for now, I'm content to "homebrew" what I need.  As you may have guessed, my favorite antenna store is Home Depot, Ace Hardware, or the nearest farm supply store.

Have a good weekend and enjoy the contest!

Tnx for stopping by.

Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM
Laupahoehoe, Hawaii--along the beautiful Hamakua Coast