Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Deader than dead !

The bands are dead tonight. I spent the last 30 minutes alternately scanning 40 and 80 Meters and calling CQ. You know it's time to quit for the evening when you start to nod off while calling CQ!

There's so much to do; and so little time to do it in. I've really got to spend some time cleaning out my shack. How my shack came to be the family repository for junk, I'll never know; but I can tell you that this is going to be a job that will take a weekend day or several weeknights in order to get it accomplished to my liking.

While I could be doing that, I find myself spending time perusing the Web trying to get some ideas for a new wire antenna this spring. Once again I find myself gravitating towards a Windom or some variant thereof. If I could put up four masts on each corner of my backyard, I would love to put up a loop; but my wife would kill me. She's not too fond of masts and towers and verticals and the like. If she can't readily notice it; then it's fine with her. If she considers it an eyesore; then it's a no-go.

But realistically, I am limited in my antennas endeavors by three things:

1) Space - this is the most precious commodity. I have one tree in the backyard. I am limited to an apex of roughly 25 feet as my maple had to be topped a few years ago for safety reasons. In addition, if I use that as my center point, I have one leg which can terminate near my son's bedroom window which is roughly 70 feet away. My other leg can terminate at the previously mentioned mast which is roughly 45 or so feet in another direction. My doublet (if you were to view it from overhead) ends up not running in a straight line; but more of a right angle, or "L" shape.

2) Money - Need I say more? I have family monetary concerns that come before my hobby needs. The more frugal the better.

3) Time - Full time job, family and a house and two pets to take care of. I can't spend an entire weekend futzing around with antennas.

What I will more than likely end up doing is making a "random length doublet" so to speak. I'll put up a center insulator in the tree. Then for one leg, I'll run as much antenna wire as I can until I reach the house. The other leg will run to the one mast I have tucked away at the far back corner of the backyard. I'll feed it with window line down the trunk of the tree until I reach the ground. I'll terminate the window line with a 4:1 balun at that point and will run coax to the shack. My own version of the $4 Special.

Someday, after I retire, I'll play around and experiment with antennas more. Currently, my operating time is at a premium. I just want to have a reliable hunk of wire up there that I can match up to using the ATU in the K2; and push in the big switch and go!

I see the VP6DX team shattered all kinds of records for DXpedition QSO rates with over 180,000 QSOs in the logs. I'll send in a QSL card along with my $3 "contribution" and will wait for a "snail mail" QSL card. You can request an "on line" QSL; but it costs more. I also think 3 bucks is a bit steep for some colored cardboard; but hey, that seems to be the going rate these days. I guess whatever money they make as a profit goes towards defraying the costs of the DXpedition; and I really can't argue too much with that.

Tonight is their last night on the air with whatever remaining station(s) there are that haven't been broken down. Tomorrow they leave the island and VP6DX 2008 will be one for the history books. If a DVD ever comes out documenting this DXpedition, I might be tempted to buy it. After all, who hasn't dreamed of operating from some exotic South Pacific tropical locale, being the DX that is being pursued by the entire Ham world! Now THAT would be living!

73 de Larry W2LJ

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:57 AM

    Hi Larry, I enjoyed your blog and web pages. As for a suggestion on your antenna I would heartily encourage you to visit my blog at
    and slide to the bottom for a pdf I wrote about reinventing the dipole. I found a lot out about balanced lines, transmission line losses (read the links concerning ladder line as well)and just how noise affects receiver performance and how to mitigate its effects. I do not operate much QRP (yet) but have in the past and consider the efforts spent on this dipole to be the best antenna I have ever owned/built considering I cannot use a tower. Please read all the articles about ladder line and the W8JI links about impedances. Very informative.
    Best, Chas