My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Antenna Revival

I have a lot of vintage aluminum squirreled away in various locations on our premises. All of it is of the VHF and UHF variety except for one, a Hy-Gain 18 AVT/WB-A vertical intended for the 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meter HF bands. I bought it new in November 1980 for $81 and installed it at my old folks' home, but I seldom used it because I had a TET HB43sp 4-element beam that I favored for 20, 15 and 10 meters and I almost never got on 80 and 40. When I moved out of my old folks' home in the fall of 1983, I disassembled and packed up the Hy-Gain and never used it again.

Considering all my antenna choices, I thought about the Hy-Gain and wondered if it was a viable option. I found it in pieces in the shed and was surprised that it seemed to be in decent shape; most of the nuts and bolts were rusty, but otherwise, just dusty. However, there were parts missing ― the U-bolts for mounting the antenna and the four radials of the antenna's top hat.

None of the U-bolts in my hardware collection were the correct size, so I visited a big box hardware store, but none of the U-bolts they sold filled the bill. I probably will find what I need somewhere online, but in the meantime, I decided that two or three hose clamps would do the job temporarily.

Replacing the radials was more problematical. My plan was to use some Copperweld that I had on hand, straighten it as best as I could and solder ring terminals to the ends of each radial for mounting to the antenna. The only problem was that I did not know the proper length of each radial.

Reading various online top hat articles, it seemed the longer, the better was the recommended length for the radials. So I cut each radial to 24 inches, a length that was long, but not so long that the radials drooped much.

The weather finally cleared mid-morning on Field Day, so after lunch I assembled the antenna in about an hour and had it up in the air by the mid-afternoon. I did not have time to run a coax cable into the shack, so I brought the shack outdoors and connected my Elecraft KX3 transceiver to the antenna with a 25-foot run of coax and operated from my deck.

I went up and down the bands just to hear what I could hear and I was happy with the results. Reception with the vertical was on par with my 80-meter inverted Vee.

Next, I checked the SWR on each of the five pre-WARC bands and the KX3's internal antenna tuner was able to tune the antenna to 1.5:1 or better on each band.

I connected a microphone to the KX3 and began answering Field Day CQs transmitting 5 watts using the KX3's internal battery (1B Connecticut). I did not work all the stations I called and I did a lot more listening that transmitting, but in about 45 minutes, I worked a half dozen stations on 80, 40 and 20 meters. Nothing on 10 or 15 ― 15 meters seemed dead and the activity on 10 was sparse.

Overall, I was very satisfied with the antenna revival and plan to include the Hy-Gain as part of my antenna farm.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Radio Cap


Monday's post, The Radio Hat, reminded me that I own The Radio Cap, that is, a baseball cap with a built-in AM/FM radio. My mother gave it to me as a Christmas gift 15 to 20 years ago. The brand name is Headmates and it was made in China.

The radio and a 12-inch telescoping antenna for FM reception is on the right side of the cap and the batteries (4 AAs) are in a pocket on the left side of the cap. The speaker is on the lid and it includes a jack for earbud listening. The radio has three controls: an AM/FM switch, a power/volume control and a frequency tuning control.

During flat daytime conditions, the radio receives about 20 stations on AM and 30 stations on FM. Don't know what kind of antenna the radio uses on AM, but it is directional. The sound is typical for a small radio.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Radio Hat


This story came off the mojo wire this morning: The Radio Hat, a circa 1930 invention out of Europe that never caught on here or there. Reminds me of the antenna hats I've seen at various hamfests in the past.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Long Time, No Write!

It has been over three weeks since my last post here. I apologize for the lack of words, but I have been very busy... retiring!

Earlier this year, the company offered me an attractive voluntary severance package and I happily volunteered to take it. The last day of May was my last day in the office and I was busy the days before and after preparing for no more manic Mondays!

My regularly scheduled routines are no more and I am getting acclimated to a less structured schedule.

On the radio front, I have a lot of projects in the works: some new antennas to erect, new kits to build and a vintage radio to restore. But before I do that, I have to prep my little acre for the new aerials. I am over half way there and figure that the antenna work will begin shortly after Father's Day.

Also, I am looking for freelance writing opportunities. Writing has been my life for the over 40
years and I want to keep at it.

Friday, May 19, 2017

E-Skip Time


Yesterday, Mike Schaffer, KA3JAW, alerted me that E-skip season is upon us.

Mike wrote, "Es season in western EU started on Sunday, May 14th. Es season in US started yesterday, along the west coast inland towards Texas. Today Es started in Virginia and reached as far north as Wisconsin."

So today, I began monitoring the VHF Propagation Map and all day long so far (it's 1700 UTC now), there have been big openings in the southeastern USA. The map does not differentiate between types of VHF propagation, but whenever a big red footprint appears on the map, it is worth investigating if you are under that footprint.