Sunday, May 13, 2012

Simple Antennas for Amateur Radio Operators--a continuing series

The ARRL's annual Field Day communications exercise is coming 23 June 2012.  Field Day is one of the largest operating events in the United States and Canada.  Whether you operate from a multi-station position or run emergency power from your home, Field Day will test your creativity, endurance, and ability to withstand the forces of nature for at least one day.

Since I'm commited to announcer duties for that weekend at the Hilo Drag Strip, my participation will be limited.  I plan to run class 1-C mobile from the Drag Strip using my emergency kit stashed in the Odyssey van.  While I camp overnight at the race track, I will set up the Yaesu FT-7, a few hamsticks on a mag mount with several radials, and a deep cycle marine service battery for several hours during the event.  This should be a good test under field conditions.

If the first day of racing finishes early, I most likely will meet members of the Big Island Amateur Radio Club at Hilo's Wailoa Community Center for its 2A-PAC station.  The site is a few yards from the Wailoa River and the beach, so getting some low angle radiation from our phased verticals should not be a problem.  Last year, the club managed to secure a utility truck with a "cherry picker" boom from a private contractor for a tribander.  That arrangement worked well on 20 and 15 meters.  The phased verticals will be used on 40 meters.  The club will also be able to track a few satellites for extra points.  Since I'm the Public Information Officer, my responsibilities will be to inform the public about the event.  Fortunately, my former associates at the radio station I once called "my home away from home" will help me spread the word throughout Hawaii Island.

What kind of antennas are you planning to use for Field Day?  The June 2012 issue of QST has several interesting articles on simple antennas that you can erect without much trouble.  These antennas could also be suitable for areas restricted by CC&Rs, HOAs, and space.  Steve Ford, WB8IMY, has an article called "Whip It", which describes a simple vertical comprised of a MFJ-1977 telescoping whip antenna with a 3/8-24 threaded stud at the base.  Ford attached the 12-foot whip to a clamp called "Jaws" which can attach the whip to just about any pole, rod, or wooden dowel.  Ford says the quickly assembled system "plays like a champ."  For a compromise antenna, the MFJ-1977 seems to work very well.

If you want to get a few 2 meter contacts for Field Day, you may want to copy a 2 meter yagi made by Zack Lau, W1VT.  Lau's article on p.39 of the June 2012 issue of QST describes what he calls a "Rear Mount 2 Meter Yagi" which can be constructed out of locally available materials.  The article has several easy to understand pictures illustrating the construction sequence.  The finished product can be used for Field Day contacts or for emergency use.

The June 2012 issue of QST also notes that ARRL members will be able to download a digital copy of the magazine and its historic archieve (dating back to 1915) by the end of this month (May).  This will surely reduce the incidents of missing paper copies which occasionally disappear in the mail.  The shift to digital issues is already underway by CQ Publications and numerous technical journals.  As the cost of paper and postage continue to rise, you will see more publications shifting to digital formats.  Once I can download and archieve QST, I will be able to give my printed copies to the Laupahoehoe Public Library.  Perhaps someone will become interested in Amateur Radio when they read copies of my old radio magazines.

That wraps up this edition for now.  Monday is another busy day at Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School.  I have a few lesson plans to revise before retiring for the day.  I trust your weekend went well.

Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM--BK29jx15