Monday, May 28, 2012

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

Happy Memorial Day to veterans and their families!  From one veteran to another, thanks for your service to our country and for covering my back during those dangerous times in Southeast Asia many years ago.  Also, thank you to the amateur radio operators who relayed thousands of health and welfare messages for our forces overseas.  Many amateur radio operators are continuing their service through MARS, public safety communications, and emergency agencies such as the Red Cross, SATERN, and civil defense. 'Makes me proud to be an amateur radio operator.

With the ending of the school term last week, my xyl and I have some free time to pursue until the fall semester begins.  For me that means house repairs, the usual routine of daily errands, and, of course, spending some time launching rf into the ionosphere.  Among my projects this summer is a thorough cleaning of the venerable Swan 100-MX, which has served me faithfully since 1983 and a continuing effort to bring an old Kenwood TS-520 back to life.  I have most of the parts on hand to facilitate repairs, so there should be no excuse to avoid rig maintainance this year.

As for my "antenna farm", the vertical dipole, the "upper and outter" vertical, and the 40-meter under-the-house loop antenna continue to work well.  I've taken the inverted vee down for repairs.  It seems rats and their related kin (i.e. mice) like to chew on wires and cable.  During a recent spot check on the inverted vee, I found the wires on both sides of the feed line connection pretty well chewed by our rodent friends.  This reminds of the stories some amateur radio operators tell about the damage done by squirrels and other animals.  So, it's a never ending battle against the elements and the animals at my "antenna range."

Along the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island, high winds, drenching rain, sun, and vog (volcanic haze) are the main dangers to amateur radio antennas.  When rain combines with vog, you get a weak acid that etches glass, erodes exposed metal, and even damages vehicle paint.  If one doesn't wash and wax their car frequently, rust and corrosion will soon turn that prized set of wheels into a mobile junkyard.  Antennas can last a long time in the islands if you maintain them and keep moisture out.  Various products, such as "coax seal", waterproof sealant, and even vinyl tape can help keep antennas healthy.  Coax takes a beating on Hawaii Island.  I've had better luck with balanced feed line when it comes to resisting the weather.  Even with balanced line, it's important to wash off the salt spray and acidic residue from the ongoing Kilauea Volcano eruption.

I hope that your holiday was spent with friends and family.  It's difficult to enjoy a break if you're stationed in some isolated or extremely dangerous place.  My fondest "aloha" goes out to our service personnel and their families. I hope each of you return to your loved ones in good spirits with your mind and body intact. 

'See you on the bands!
Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM--BK29jx15