Monday, June 19, 2006

Father's Day and Antennas

It was hot yesterday! It got up to somewhere near 97 degrees in my area. It was a great day for doing antenna work.

After going to Sunday Mass, I took the family out to breakfast. After some good food; we returned home and my wife, Marianne, took our two children to the community pool. So, I had a few hours in which my goal was to put up an end fed Zepp. It stretched from a corner of the house, to the mast in the corner of the backyard which anchors one leg of my G5RV.

The antenna went up pretty easily, despite the inevitable snarls and tangles of antenna wire and feed line. The antenna itself ended up being a close to 80 foot length of 14 gauge "Flex-weave" antenna wire. I fed it at the house end with some "deluxe" Radio Shack 300 ohm TV twin lead. I tossed the twin lead down the side of the house where it goes to a 1:1 balun which is housed in a Rubbermaid plastic food storage container. A hunk of RG-8X (maybe 35 feet or so) takes it the rest of the way to the radio.

I got everything already for the big test. I turned on the K2 and was greeted to the sounds of silence! I didn't panic as twin lead is by its very nature, unmarked. I figured that even though I had a 50/50 shot, I had probably hooked up the twin lead conductors backwards at the balun. I went outside and reversed them, which is quite easy as the balun has screw terminals on the "input" side. A quick trip inside and a flick of the switch gave me the welcome sound of CW on the Amateur Radio bands.

I switched over to 30 Meters and found that my LDG AT-11MP autotuner had no problem tuning up the Zepp. I got a match within 5 seconds of when the relays started chattering. A few seconds later, I heard J88DR calling CW on 10.107.00. I gave him a call and he came back to me with a 559 report. Not bad, I guess, for 5 Watts all the way down to St. Vincent Island down off the coast of Venezuela.

A few more trial runs will have to occur before I decide if any changes need to be made. But for now, my experiment in end fed Zepps seems to be working. It will be fun learning the characteristics of this new wire.

73 de Larry W2LJ

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