Tuesday, July 17, 2012

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

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Post #169

NOVICE ANTENNAS

The remnants of Hurricane Emilia are sweeping Hawaii Island with frequent showers and gusty winds--not the sort of weather conditions I prefer to do antenna maintenance.  So, bowing respectfully to the wiles of Mother Nature, I continued my antenna research via my personal library and notes from years past.

One of my favorite amateur radio magazines besides Radcom (RSGB), QST, and CQ is the quarterly volume issued by the Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA Journal).  The magazine features interesting articles about hams who have been licensed 25 years or more and have contributed to the "radio art" in both their professional and personal lives.  The current issue (Summer 2012, Volume 61, Number 2) has several intriguing articles articles including a review of the venerable Barker & Williamson 6100 SSB, AM, and CW 80-10 Meter Transmitter and a continuing series of articles on Amateur Radio Novice Operator history, created by Cliff Chang, PhD, AC6C.

I always like this historical column because it takes me back to the summer of 1977, when I first passed my Novice License test and started my official days as an amateur radio operator.  One of the engineers at the commercial radio station I called my second home came in after my air shift and administered the exam.  After two weeks of anxious waiting, my first ever amateur radio license arrived via mail from the FCC.  Armed with an old Heathkit HW-101, a J-38 key, and a simple 40-meter dipole between two Norfolk pine trees, I was on my way.

Everytime I read the "Novice History" column in the QCWA Journal I return to those days when I thought I knew everything about radio.  The passage of time has taught me that the license was only an introduction to a life time of learning--a process that has never stopped.  In those passing years, I've seen tubes transform into solid state devices and rigs transform from heavy "boat anchors" into highly portable units that can fit in your hand.  About the only thing that hasn't changed so much is the design, building, and erecting of antennas--a skill that many amateurs still practice.  Despite the availability of excellent commercial antennas, many amateurs, including yours truly, prefer to "roll our own."  This perhaps is the lingering legacy of our early days as new operators when there wasn't much money to spend on rigs or antennas.

As I look out the bedroom window facing Mauna Kea and the upland forest, I see a descendant of my original novice dipole stretched between two trees.  This 40-meter skyhook has also been converted into an inverted vee on numerous occasions.  And like my first dipole erected 35 years ago, it does a decent job on the lower 25 kHz of 40-meters.  So, in a sense, part of my novice history continues in the antennas I build and in the old rigs I repair because I'm too cheap to buy the more expensive equipment in the marketplace.  My old Swan 100 MX and an even older Kenwood TS-520 are the mainstays of my station.  An old Yaesu FT-7 goes into the van as part of my "go" kit.  I suppose I'm locked into my past, since I prefer doing my own repairs and modifying my equipment to suit my own needs.  I have nothing against the modern digital transceivers--the newer Icoms, Yaesus, Kenwoods, Elecrafts, and even Ten-Tecs are super rigs.  I just prefer the older stuff.  There is hope, though.  I'm saving up for an Elecraft K3.  At that time, I'll join the 21st century.

Once the rain stops, I'll connect the old Swan to the antenna and pound out some cw until it's time for bed.  It's been a good day to think about my radio past and to plan for my radio future.

Have an excellent day!

Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM--KK29jx15