Antennas The Shack

A Hiatus, QTH Change, and Antenna Experiments

Since attending OzarkCon in April this year (which I still would like to write about), I took a break from ham radio.

In the time since, my family and I moved seven hours north from Arkansas to Kansas, both my wife and I have started new jobs, and have renovated our new-to-us, eighty-year-old house. It has been a busy and stressful six months but now we’re rounding the bend.

In the past week, I opened a PO box and have updated my address with the FCC. Now, I can get on the air.

However, it would be disingenuous to say that the moving, house renovating, and new job starting were the only reasons why I took a break from radio. I was a bit burnt out on it, to be honest.

Now that I’ve had a respite, I’m ready to begin anew and have since gotten on the air. The time spent at the last park I activated was well spent and much enjoyed.

When I moved in, I didn’t think I would be able to have enough room for antennas. The new house is less than 50 feet long and sits near the front of an eighth-acre lot. The back yard is bisected diagonally by the electrical overhead service.

Then, I cleaned my gutters. While on the ladder, I climbed up on the roof out of curiosity more than anything else. I looked to the front and realized just how much room that I have. Between the curb and the sidewalk is a tree that is probably 40 feet tall and thirty feet in front of the house.

I couldn’t help but take a break from cleaning the gutters to throw a string in the tree for future antenna wire pulls.

Excitement aside, site limitations remain. As I said before, the backyard is off limits. There’s no good place to erect a mast, either. But, limitations often force one to become creative. I’ve decided to take the opportunity to experiment with both end fed half wave antennas and “random wire” antennas.

During these experiments, I want to figure out which version of the end fed half wave or random wire antenna is the most efficient within some constraints. The first two things on my wish list are out of practicality while the last two are for the sake of SOTA and POTA.

First, I want 80 and 30 meter capabilities. When I get on the air during the week, it is likely that 40 and up will be closed. On the weekends, I find that 30 meters works well in those times in the morning when 40 is waning and 20 isn’t up yet.

Second, I want multiband capabilities with one wire that I don’t take down to change bands. This is partially a practical consideration. Trips onto the roof can’t happen every time I want to get on the air. Also, I need to control some elements of this experiment in order figure out which antenna is the best.

Third, I want to minimize the length of coax that I use between the radio and the feedpoint. Ultimately, I want to use this antenna in the field so saving weight and bulk is always a priority. I’m going to try to use the 3′ of of RG 174 I have for portable operations. With these antennas, I know that I’m risking current on the outer braid of the coax. Some designs require it to work properly. My goal is to eliminate this through a counterpoise and a tuner.

Fourth, I want to add a tuner to the antenna setup to rid my coax of common mode current in order to protect the radio. Also, adding a tuner before the coax that runs to the feedline is inefficient, so I want to combine the tuner to the antenna feedpoint.

So, I’ve got my work cut out for me. But, lots of hams have traveled this road before so I’m hoping that I can work something out both at home and in the field.

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