Sunday, May 17, 2009

Elmering 101

If you're a regular reader of this blog; then you might also be a regular reader of Jeff Davis, KE9V's blog - "Calling CQ". He's issued a new post which you should make sure to read entitled, "Building a Better Blogosphere". It's a very interesting piece, which he addresses mostly to other bloggers, I guess; but it's worth reading just the same.

I started this blog with no real purpose in mind. Over the years (it's been four now!) I guess the main purpose of this blog has been to be newsy, helpful, entertaining and to promote QRP and the continued use of Morse Code in some small way. I've also used it to vent, rant, and blow off steam from time to time.

Related to this, was the result of the latest VERY unscientific poll that I ran about Elmers. The question was "Did/Do you have an Elmer?" With only a few hours to go until the poll closes, only nine of you responded, which is a limited sample to say the least. But seven of the nine responded with "No". Now THAT surprised me! I didn't respond to my own poll; but I would have more than likely answered "No" also. And all this time, I thought that I was the exception to the rule.

When I became a Ham back in 1978, there was a Ham living very close to me that I didn't even know existed. Back in the day when a lot of people were still running outdoor TV antennas, I guess he just wanted to maintain a very low profile. It turned out he had a very good reason. We had a mutual neighbor, who indeed had TVI "on the brain". As soon as he saw any new antenna of mine, I would get accused of causing TVI, even when I wasn't home!

But I digress. I got my ticket by taking an Adult Course that was offered at North Brunswick High School. The closest thing I had to an Elmer was Bill O'Donnell K2YJE who was one of the two Hams who ran the course. He helped the 10 or 15 of us earn our Novice licenses; and for that I am eternally grateful. I keep his QSL card on the Shack wall to this day.

But after that course, I was pretty much on my own. I learned Ham Radio basically by the "School of Hard Knocks". Fortunately, I never did anything stupid enough to get badly (and I emphasize BADLY) shocked or come close to killing myself. I did make blunders; and sometimes I was tactfully explained as to the error of my ways; and sometimes I was quasi publicly humiliated. In any event, I didn't cease to exist, I didn't leave the hobby, I didn't take my ball and run home. I plodded along, using the resources I had (which were darned few compared to today) and learned the best I could.

With that in mind, I've done my best throughout the years to be an Elmer in order to "give back" some of the joy I've received from the hobby. I've given talks explaining Amateur Radio to Boy Scouts and different children's groups. I've taught my fair share of license classes and I've spent a lot of time as an ARRL VE. I have also served as an officer in more than one local radio club.

Now before you get put off by this ..... I'm not trying to blow my own horn or anything like that. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the main purpose of this blog (as well as my Website, for that matter) has evolved (for me at least) to continue those "Elmering" ways, while having fun at the same time. I sincerely hope that some of the stuff I post here is helpful and useful to some of you out there, somehow. If there's anyone out there that doesn't have anyone to bounce questions off; or get needed guidance or advice from - please feel free to leave a comment or question here or via an e-mail. I'm no expert, but if I can answer a question or help in any way I can, then I will be more than happy to do so.

"Now, for something completely different", as Monty Python would say, I was very intrigued by an article I just skimmed across in the new June issue of QST which arrived at my house yesterday. It's an article about building a spirally wound vertical antenna for 160 Meters. Since I do not have nearly enough real estate for a good wire antenna for 160 Meters, this baby just might do the trick. I have a corner of my property, behind the shed, that just might be the perfect place for one of these. I'm going to re-read the article a few more times to wrap my brain around it; and if I can convince myself that it will work, it just might become a Summer project for me.

73 de Larry W2LJ

1 comment:

pidloop said...

I have a HWV for 40m and I just love it. It's about 8 feet high. Based on this experience I suspect the 160m version would work well too. Just one thing: the more radials the better the efficiency but the lower the input resistance will be at resonance. My 40m is about 5 ohms, so I made a 1:10 unun transformer to connect to my 50 ohm coax line. The transformer has the added bonus of putting the antenna base at DC ground which reduces static buildup and the chances for a lightning hit.