Antenna Part Deaux

June 24, 2012

G5RV Jr. Back in the air.

Today I put the G5RV Jr. back up. As you can see above the feed point is in the clear! It wasn’t before. Hopefully the clear feed point will work out much better for operating QRP. I knew the leaves and branches were reducing the radiation because the tuner settings changed from winter to summer. Although I have not checked it yet I expect to see dramatic changes in the tuner settings now that the tree is gone. If you look at the photo below you can see a wide shot of the antenna. The legs go over the tops of two Pine trees and are tied off. on the left of the picture the end is secured with a three foot bungee cord. It allows a little give with the wind (and falling Mulberry trees) and also has about 6 feet of the UV resistant end rope in a loop and secured to the fence. That way if the bungee breaks, the antenna doesn’t come all the way down. The darker part of the feed line is 300 ohm window line. At the edge of the garage  roof it switches to grey RG-8X to the shack. By the way the Jr. is a converted WA2NAN Trutalk 204′ model as I don’t have enough room for that size. It is well constructed and has been in the air for 5 years at 3 different locations. In this photo you can also see the stump of the Mulberry tree and remaining sawdust.

Wide Shot

The right side of the antenna is though the top of a substantially larger Pine tree which is also on a rise in the yard.  Below is a a street view of that tree with the antenna tied to the gutter. I know you can’t see it but that’s the idea isn’t it? So you get an idea of why the antenna in the pictures has a slope to it.

Street View

I will post some reports when I give it a try this week. I do have plans for a 31 ft vertical support for an 80 and 160 Inverted L for fall. When it is installed I will have coverage for all HF bands.

The Antenna Gods smiled upon me today!

June 19, 2012

My HF antenna got stretched a little today. The G5RV Jr. runs from the corner of the second story roof over a Pine tree then a Mulberry tree and then another Pine tree and is tied off to a chain link fence.  The feed point is in the middle of the Mulberry tree. Or at least it was until today. When I walked through the house this afternoon I noticed a low hanging branch and out I went to investigate. Well it was more than a branch, it was about half the tree. The Mulberry tree belongs to the neighbor and it had split about 3 foot down the middle. He is going to have it taken out. That is a wonderful thing for my antenna. It was not damaged in the fall. The bungee cord I use to maintain tension stretched a bit, it was time to replace it anyway. The best part about the tree getting removed is that the feed point and vertical component will now be in the clear. In the winter the bare tree didn’t seem to affect the radiation. The leaves seemed to affect it during the summer as you would expect. So even though I wont be on HF for the next couple of weeks, my signals should be a little better when I return!

Dayton Hamvention Comedy Bits

June 5, 2012

One of the things I enjoy the most about going to Hamvention with my group of friends is the funny things that go on. Kennie KC8BBU, Mark KB8RBT, Missy KB8VFK, and Doug KD8EZD are great friends. We have been going to Dayton as a group for about 6 years now. It all started when I lived within a few miles of them in Southern Ohio. When I moved away we continued the tradition and it became a reunion of sorts each spring.

Anyway as with most groups of friends the ribbing abounds and it never stops. Of course someone falls asleep in a chair at sometime over the weekend. This year it was Missy. Of course I took a pic with my cell phone. I posted it on Facebook for her birthday with a comment about getting old. My 50th is coming up in a few months so there will no doubt be retribution!

One of the guys made a comment about not being able to find the flush button in the Port o let. He was quickly instructed to look under the horizontal cover that was below him. Of course he couldn’t find it!

A couple of weeks before Hamvention, Pam my YL was trimming the Ivy at the back of the house. She accidentally cut a section of RG-8X that runs to my VHF/UHF antenna. I told her we would be able to get some replacement cable At Dayton. On Friday Doug bought a spool of 300 feet of 7/8′ Heliax. When Pam showed up On Saturday with me she was told that they had bought the replacement cable for her. Of course her eyes bulged when she saw the size of the cable. The running joke all day was how we were going to lift the spool so we could put it on top of my compact car for the ride home.

Kennie had some PC’s on the flea market table without Hard Drives. One brilliant person after looking at them ask a question. “What operating system do these have?” The ensuing explanation of how a computer works provided a whole weekend of snappy comebacks “yeah but what operating system do they have?”

The best bit of the weekend I got second hand. The group was on their way home on Friday night. As they passed a local dairy/restaurant operation. Mark asked what they were going to have for dinner. Doug very dryly said that he wanted Ice Cream as he pointed to the dairy place going by. The rest of the way home Doug commented on how he really wanted ice cream. When they passed a small Ice Cream stand near home later, Mark almost put Doug out of the vehicle as he brought it up again. We ended up at the original place on Saturday evening for our group dinner. Of course we had the delicious Ice Cream! Check out Young’s Jersey Dairy if you are interested.

Good friends make a hamfest so much better!

 

 

FDIM 2012 musings

May 31, 2012

Well as things slow down a bit around here I have been thinking about the fun at FDIM. So many good things went on.

I met up first thing with 3 local QRP fans. Ron N8VAR, Larry N8QNM, and Jim AB8YK. I sat with them thru the seminars and had lunch with their friends. They responded to my email about forming a breakfast/lunch QRP group in the Dayton Springfield area. There were others who responded so I will try to set a day soon for our post-Dayton get together. It was nice to meet other QRPers and we have other things in common too.

I have been thumbing thru the Conference Proceedings book and thinking back to the presentations.  Wow, what a great group of presentations! The range of topics was great. Though some didn’t really apply to things I do, there was lots of good info in each. It must be difficult to spread the presentations over a range that will appeal to as many operators as possible. As can be seen by the attendance going up, they are doing a good job. The room was standing room only for the whole day. The only thing is, I am coming up with questions on the presentations now weeks after the event. I will be shooting some emails out soon!

Rex shows how to ready a soldering iron tip for use

The Buildathon was a big hit as usual. Rex did a fine job of coaxing us thru the building process. I will put up a whole post on the Buildathon soon. Suffice it to say, Rex and his crew of volunteers are excellent! Below is the semi finished product. A soldering/work station for QRP builders. There is a holder for a roll of solder that I need to finish yet.

Zed admiring my handiwork

After the Buildathon was vendor night #1. What a great crowd of exhibits and browsers. I spent a lot of time drooling over some of the gear I saw. If only I had bottomless pockets! I did get to spend a few minutes with Ed WA3WSJ at his table. I have enjoyed following his exploits on the trail by email. I hope to work him soon. Maybe today as he is on the trail to Pulpit Rock, PA. for so /PM operating. I did pick up his books on disk for my NOOK. One is finished and I am about half way thru the second. I will review them when I am finished.

Ed WA3WSJ Presenting

I also me Jim K8IQY and talked a little about my upcoming 2N2-40 build. A very nice chap. The home brew competition was great this year. Who knows maybe I will enter next year. That means someone else is guaranteed to win. I picked up some building supplies and saw all the new Hendrick’s stuff. Again a top notch event.

I am already looking forward to 2013. If you have never been you really need to make plans!

NOOK Tablet for Ham Radio (and other uses)

May 27, 2012

What is it?

A while back there was an email thread on QRP-L that was about E-Readers for Radio use. I had been giving that some thought since I am not a smart phone guy and my Dell Axim handheld was the equivalent of a boat anchor. So I read what everybody said and did lots of independent research. My budget was around $250 and I was not interested in an Ipad. I looked into the various Android Tabs, Kindle Fire, and the NOOK Tablet. My basic requirements are listed below.

  • Portable but not more than handheld size
  • WiFi capable
  • Extra storage available
  • Ability to side load data from my PC
  • Basic Apps available
  • Ham apps nice but not necessary
  • Good battery life
  • Ability to read e-books in multiple formats

I opted for the NOOK Tablet for meeting all of the above requirements and because the YL already had a NOOK Simple Touch. She liked the book selection available and we had the ability to share certain items between our NOOK’s. She had been storing recipes in PDF format from Cute PDF and it handled the nicely. Price wise I was able to obtain my 8GB NOOK Tablet for around $150 with discounts. That left me $100 for more radio stuff!

I have had the NT since mid April and have been impressed so far. It is light enough that i can carry it in my hand or in my lunch bag without too much trouble. The screen is bright and clear with nice color. The dual processors make it pretty fast. I am not one to watch a lot of video so the slower speed due to the 8GB RAM is not on issue for me. Initially I found no issues with the NT. The only downside so far is that you can only get apps from NOOK. It will not run all Android apps. This has something to do with the user interface that is used. It has not been a real issue as I am not an app snob, but it is worth mentioning.

NOOK and cover.

Above is a Picture of the NT in a cover I made for it. I used an idea from Intstructables for this. I cut the inside of a book out. (Nice title for a ham) Glued felt inside of the cover. Installed an elastic band to keep it closed like a Moleskine Notebook. Attached the “fingers” side of Velcro to the back of the NT and then stuck it directly to the felt. Works like a charm. Not only protects the NT but makes it a little less likely to be stolen. Who would want to steal a book on solid state troubleshooting? You might wonder if the Velcro is strong enough to hold the NT. At Hamvention I was showing it to a friend. She was trying to take it out of the cover and actually pulled the NT off of it’s back cover! She was trying to take it out by pulling up on the edge of the NT. So now I know how to open it up. Maybe some mods are in the offing?

Speaking of Hamvention, while there I noticed another drawback. The color display is a little hard to read in the bright sunshine. I had my shopping list on a spreadsheet and I had to turn up the brightness all the way to see it well in the sun. It is usable but I am sure the battery life would be diminished if I used it long term that way. I picked up some E-books from Ed Brensiser WA3WSJ on Pedestrian mobile operation. What you see in the picture below is the front page of one of his books, “Amateur Radio and the Great Outdoors.”

                                                                                                                        

Ed’s Book

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