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Showing posts from August, 2012

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

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Post #182

Stealth and hidden antennas

One of my favorite interests within the Amateur Radio hobby is hidden, disguised, and "stealth" antennas.  I'm amazed at the creative ways amateur radio operators stay on the air despite severe space limitations, restrictive housing regulations, and proximity to power lines.  I'm one of the lucky ones--I do have a backyard.  It's small, but it does allow me to keep most of my HF and VHF antennas outside.  I'm always a little uneasy about using indoor antennas.  There are interference and rf exposure issues indoors which are sometime difficult to solve.

Whenever I feel the need to design a concealed antenna, I often refer to the work of Simone, IW5EDI, an Italian ham residing in the beautiful city of Florence.  Ham radio aside, Florence is a true wonder of the world.  I was in that city many years ago and was impressed with its cultural and historical background, parks, and natural surroundings.…

Simple Antennas for Amateur Radio Operators--a continuing series

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Post #181

A small loop antenna for limited space--the MFJ-1788 Super Hi-Q magnetic loop.

I'm a huge fan of loops.  They are quiet and can be hidden if creatively designed.  These antennas can be fed with either coaxial cable, ladder line, or ordinary 300-ohm television twin lead for a simple, effective antenna.  Loops do have their drawbacks.  A full-size 40-meter loop can be large--with a total length of approximately 141 feet.  In my situation, a large full-wave 40-meter loop fits under my house which is raised off the ground by pier and post construction.  A 20-meter full-wave loop is fastened under my garage roof.  Both of these antennas are invisible from the street or from nearby neighbors.  Since these loops are fairly low to the ground, they serve as NVIS (near vertical incident skywave) antennas, which give me strong signals out to 200 to 300 miles.  That range is perfect for afternoon nets and local emergency work.  The 40-meter loop is fed w…

Mars and beyond--some random thoughts for Amateur Radio Operators

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Post #180

Mars and beyond--some random thoughts about the Red Planet.

I was truly astounded as I watched the descent and successful landing of the "Curiosity" Mars Rover on Sunday evening, 1938 hrs local Hawaii Standard Time.  Of course, some of this was computer animation, but when those first grainy, black and white 64 X 64 pixel landing shots were received, all of the animation made sense.  The sophisticated cable release system did its job as the one-ton vehicle reached its intended landing zone.  Now, the testing and hard work begin.  As a sidenote, one of the 2004 rovers is still performing some of its mission, eventhough one of its wheels is stuck in sand.  It is continuing to send photographs of its surrounding environment despite the harsh martian conditions.  The American taxpayer has surely gotten a good return on those two earlier vehicles, as well as the intial data bank sent back by the two Viking landers in the 1970s. 

Speaking of …

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

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Post #179

Portable antennas for the unexpected

I've made it a habit over the past few years to keep an emergency "go" kit in my van in case I'm needed to provide communications backup for our local civil defense agency and the Hilo office of the American Red Cross.  Other than the 11 March 2011 tsunami (the one that damaged Japan and its Fukushima nuclear reactor), I haven't used my portable equipment that much, except for weekend operations in a local park or beach area.  When I worked at Pacific Radio Group, I kept an old Kenwood TS-520 and a Kenwood HT at the station for emergency backup to the Hawaii County Civil Defense office in Hilo.  But, since I retired, my forays into portable operation have been subject to personal whim or to opportunities I get handed to me.

Such is the case this weekend, where I revert to my 22nd year as the tower announcer for the Big Island Auto Club's monthly points meets.  I'm under contract to…

Simple Antennas for Amateur Radio Operators--a continuing series.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Post #178

Portable antennas

One of the things I like to do when the weather is nice (such as today) is to drive my van up an old sugar plantation road and set up a low-power emergency station at a clearing above Laupahoehoe town.  At an elevation of 1,200 feet on the east slope of Mauna Kea, I have a clear view of the Pacific Ocean off to the northeast and a fairly good shot at Japan over the summit of Hawaii Island's largest mountain.

Once I reach the clearing, I retrieve my homebrew 40-meter helix (see last post), 50-feet of 450-ohm ladder line, a 4:1 balun, the trusty Drake MN-4 tuner, about 10-feet of RG-6 coax, and the venerable Yaesu FT-7 qrp rig, which can be used for both cw and SSB contacts from 80 meters to 10 meters.  The vertical helix is comprised of two, 5-foot schedule 40 pvc pipes, which are joined by a pvc connector.  Sixty-six feet of #22 gauge hookup wire is wound in a spiral to the top of the vertical pole.  A 48-inch "stinger&q…