Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A time for celebration !!!

A very dear friend of mine, who is a Ham, recently decided that the best situation for him and his XYL, was to move out of their house and into a Senior's housing complex.  This is becoming more and more common as owning a house is taxing.  It's taxing on your time, it's taxing on your finances, it's taxing on your peace of mind.  For those on a fixed retirement income, sometimes it's the only thing to do.  In my friend's case, I don't think it was so much of a money thing as it was a peace of mind and peace of body thing.

But here's the problem; and I mentioned it in the first sentence.   He's a Ham ..... a pretty darn active Ham.  He's definitely not one of those "on the air once every few years" kind of Hams.  So in the process of moving, he also had to give up his antennas.

Now I don't know about you folks out there; but in that regard, I guess I'm kind of weird.  If something happens to one of my radios or one of my antennas, I just don't feel quite "right" until I get it rectified.  Even if I don't be happen to have the yen to be on the air that much during that time period ...... just knowing that "I can't" makes me uneasy.  There's just something calming and liberating about knowing that I can enjoy my hobby any darn time that I want to - that all is up and running if I want it to be.

So I felt badly for my Ham buddy.  Right now, I'm in a point in my life where I don't even want to imagine about having to do without an antenna.  Even though he had gained a new kind of freedom - freedom from worry, freedom from the extra financial burden - I was a bit concerned as to how he was going to deal with his new situation.  For Ham radio isn't just a hobby for him.  For him, like me and so many others, it's part of who he is.

So I was very happy to get an e-mail from him today.  In it, he explained that he threw a hunk o' wire out off his apartment balcony, hooked it up to one of his QRP radios and had a QSO!  Way to go!  Okay, so maybe it wasn't a QSO with the outer reaches of Inner Mongolia; but the important thing is - he's on the air again!  And for the most part, any time he wants to get on the air, all he has to do is throw out that hunk o' wire and he's pretty much good to go.

Another advantage of  QRP.  That's something you really can't do with the kilowatt station and expect to remain alive with your skin intact.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


  1. Paul N8HM9:52 PM

    Balconies are great! Since January, I've worked 76 DXCC entities and 36 states with 5 watts and a magnetic loop on my apartment balcony. I don't even do much CW. Almost all of the QSOs are on SSB, RTTY, PSK31, and JT65.

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  3. Good to hear your friend is on the air! That must be so refreshing for him!

    Look at the Miracle MMD antenna. It works nicely on 20m and with a tuner on other bands too. Folds into a very small size and can be "hung" on the wall using the blue masking tape. I use it like that in hotel situations with my FT-817. Another antenna worth looking into is the Alexloop. I don't have it yet but will get it eventually, as with no counterpoise wire, there is little for dogs or people to snag/trip on.

    Amir K9CHP

  4. Hello Larry,

    I've been a ham over 15 years now and always have been faced with the "outdoor" antenna problem. True....a good antenna (outside) makes a significant difference, but there's still much fun to be had with something VERY simple.

    To date, I've worked close to a thousand stations (since retirement) with a very modest QRP station. Among those are better than 65 DX contacts on 20 and 40 meters. I think you're friend will be surprised (and even inspired) with working QRP and a random wire.

    btw/ An isotron antenna works well in these situations. Hihi

  5. That's a nice story, yes we can be QRV with simple wires. 2 years ago I was using a Miracle Whip with a 10 meter wire out of the window, worked 76 DXCC with it and 5 watts. 73 Paul

  6. I also use magnetic loop antennas on my balcony, but my opinion is that if your antennas are less than ideal, it makes sense to compensate by using a bit more power. There's nothing wrong with the double challenge of a small antenna and low power, but if you want to actually make contacts, being able to use more power makes sense. Not necessarily a kilowatt, but perhaps more than 5 or 10.

  7. Yes, balconies are the bomb! In my previous working life I used to travel a lot in the U.S. and Europe mostly and I always tried to bring along my K1 and about 30 feet of wire and a counterpoise. Many's the time I got a room in the hotel as high as I could and let the antenna dangle vertically out the window and worked whatever part of the world I was in and beyond.

  8. Anonymous7:54 PM

    Hi Larry,

    I am CT1DRB David, near Lisbon.
    Fortunately your ham friend had luck and he has a balcony. Unlike his situation I have a very small balcony, very hostile neighbors in a presence of any outside antenna if installed on the roof. Lately I am using a magnetic loop antenna inside my livingroom, it is better than nothing, however I could not face my neighbors anymore, in fact I do not talk with them and I am realy frustrated with my situation.
    Best 73 and have a nice weekend.

    David Quental