Testing 20m dipole

Happy Sunday folks,

Since my 6m dipole project didn’t fair so well, I thought i’d try a 20m 1/2 wave dipole.

I cut each leg to 16.7 feet, and looped the extra back onto itself, (about 2 inches), and trimmed an extra 1/2 inch off each leg to account for the insulated wire. Definitely not the most scientific way of doing it, but i’m pretty impressed with the results thus far, it makes me think I should do a 1/2 wave 40m dipole, but then the angle of my inverted V would increase significantly due to the increased leg length. The antenna tuner is taking care of the rest. I also used the 1:1 balun that I just can’t seem to put to good use anywhere else.

Here are a few shots of the dipole:


I pushed the balun to the edge here so the legs wouldn’t touch the roof, I had to find some way to squeeze another 18 inches out of my coax, but found it 🙂


Taped up the connection
Coax was routed through a vent cap in the roof
Adding PVC insulator here
Had these tie downs leftover from gardening project
I do need to add some egg insulators or some pvc pipe rather than attach the rope directly to the ends, this was just to see if it worked first, I think some black pvc pipe would work nicely.

I’m using a 25 foot piece of LMR240 from the coax switch, and the balun is mounted up top on the roof near the edge. I made sure that the legs aren’t touching anything. I thought this antenna would pickup quite a bit of noise from the house, but so far i’ve been mistaken. I’ve also noticed that when everything is off at night (all the electronics in the house) I generally have a better waterfall display anyways, but this is a 20m dipole, and 20m is best during the day. So i’m pleased with the noise level so far. I’ve used it on SSB, AM & several digital modes, and i’ve gotten great reports on it. Only had it up a day so far, pretty pleased!  I think conditions lately have been pretty good on the 20m band during the day.

I wanted a bit more stealthy antenna that I could leave up during the day. My end feds are too long & noticeable when I have them out & up with the fiberglass push up poles. The Hustler sticks out like a sore thumb, attic antennas suck, the magnetic loop needs to be outside for best results, so this is my best option so far. Here’s a shot of the antenna running on WSPR over the first few hours of having it operating during the day today:

The antenna is pretty stealthy where it sits too because of some trees/vines I have up close to the house. Speaking of trees/vines i’ve spent the majority of my weekend doing landscaping! Have you ever gotten so into ham radio that you tend to neglect your other responsibilities? LOL!

I had a great weekend on the radio, a few rag chews, some JT-65, WSPR, got the dipole up, all in all a very accomplished weekend. I was scheduled to take the extra class exam this past Saturday, but I was not yet ready. The extra class question pool is a tad bit larger than the others! I really would like to have the additional allocations in the frequencies though so I really need to stop procrastinating!

73 to all.

Keep it Weird.


Portable WSPR Beacon Experiment

Greetings hams,

Now that I’ve taken a long hiatus from HF, I think it’s time to get back to business.

I built these little gems last night in hopes that I can get them to power my QRP labs transmitter.

They were easy enough to assemble, just apply the heatsink, and build the casing. I’m trying to step down my 12v power output from a linear power supply to 3.3v & 5v respectively powering the QRP labs transmitter & GPS device. I’m also understanding that they can be used to power Arduino type devices as well. I made sure to buy at least 2, since the reviews were a bit spotty on a few. You can find these online on Ebay for less than $3 without the plexiglass casing. I’m a bit on the clumsy side, so the casing will definitely serve it’s purpose. I’ve still yet to build the transmitter, that requires the better part of a day to assemble (for a noob like me anyways). Once I’ve verified that they’re working properly, I’m going to hook them up to my 9ah Bioenno battery:


(Speaking of Bioenno batteries, if you haven’t heard of them, look them up. Great company, and these aren’t the cheap Chinese knock off batteries either that you have to worry about exploding in your gear back if you go mobile. This battery has handled everything I’ve thrown at it from my 100w rigs, to my QRP projects)

Once I’ve got the QRP labs transmitter built, i’d like to package it all up, and suspend it under the tripod that I’ve been using to hold the F loop like so:


This way, I can take a portable WSPR package with me and test out different spots, perhaps some distant locations away from the city, or maybe on the beach to see how the salt water affects the signal, or better yet, the top of a mountain! I currently have the F Loop tuned for the 30m WSPR band: 10.138700. I was able to get the SWR down to 1:1 by adjusting the tuning loop while transmitting low power on CW. The loop is quite finicky when being adjusted! The loop would probably need to be checked/readjusted each time you took it out somewhere, but if you had an antenna analyzer or a portable hf rig, you could use that to help tune the loop. I plan on using the KX3, but I can’t imagine you’d have to move the knob much, if any at all when checking. Right now my Chameleon F Loop is sitting up in the attic listening to the 30m band, and for being where it’s at, I think it’s doing a pretty good job:


WSPR spots for K5ACL on a Chameleon F Loop (situated in attic) for 02/17/16-02/18/16

That’s one thing I appreciated about this loop was the fact that I was able to disassemble it and locate it up in my crawlspace, although I’m not sure how the antenna would fair up there long term in the heat. I’m unable to fit an MFJ loop up there because I can’t take it apart.

I’m sure that the HF signal is attenuated to a certain extent being in the attic, but I can already tell that just being up there, I’m getting much better results than I was just leaving it in my QTH. The loop is currently oriented in a North/South direction, after a few days i’ll switch it to E/W and compare the results. All this is allowing me to get better at using the loop, and testing everything out before I take this portable.

Edit: The SWR keeps fluctuating on the loop, I thought it would stay put, i’ll adjust it again a few times tonight, but if it keeps getting out of tune, this obviously won’t work, hence another reason a remotely tuned loop would work best for a situation like this.

Just another weird experiment.

Is it Friday yet?



Ditch the j pole, get a real antenna they said!

I’ve still been spending a lot of time on VHF lately, and I was lucky enough to have a local ham lend me a Comet GP-3, and let me just say, WHOA!

Why in the world would someone recommend the Arrow J pole over an antenna like the GP-3, I have no idea. They are sort of similar in footprint, the Diamond X-50 is even smaller, and both have similar performance.

Here’s a shot of the GP-3 mounted up on a vent pipe:

This is just a temporary solution to see how it performs while I test it out over the next few days, but so far i’ve been able to hit every repeater within a 50 mile radius easily, and every signal that’s came across the radio has peak signal strength compared to my Arrow J pole. Outstanding. Although this antenna is a bit more noticeable due to it’s location and height.
I think the j pole will be placed in the closet unfortunately. It was an ok antenna to start out with, although I wish I would have saved that $50 towards one of these antennas, i’ve heard it’s a good antenna to test out your rig with for some reason? Although if a new ham locally ever needs one, I think I know what i’ll be donating to a good cause!
Here was a shot of the j pole:
I had to mount it here because the arrow j pole only comes with one spot for one u bracket, and unfortunately that doesn’t provide support for ANY kind of wind situation. So lag bolts are holding it here.
I’m able to hit 17 more repeaters than I was before, I think that speaks for itself.
We’re slowly but surely getting there, i’ve had to focus and concentrate more on my antennas as of late due to the poor performance i’ve had on both HF & VHF.
I posted a tweet about the upcoming Houston hamfest, if there’s anyone going that might be interested in meeting up, please let me know! I’m considering going to the Houston one, as I figured it’d be a decent size hamfest to start out with & I just might find a good deal on a 2m rig for the vehicle.
I so wish I could make it to the Hamcation in Florida this year, but I really don’t feel like making the drive to the sunshine state anytime soon!
Here’s another local swap fest if your in the central Texas area:


Saturday, March 12, 2016 

8 am -Noon 

I might try to make it to this one as well, as its a bit closer to me! (It’s in Georgetown, TX – google it).
Today was unbelievably beautiful in Texas, hit 80 degrees today, sunny & a nice breeze. It was the perfect day to install the GP-3!

A week spent in VHF/UHF land

Greetings Amateur Radio Enthusiasts & the like!

There’s something noble about the ham who has all home brew gear. I certainly aspire to learn more and more each day in this hobby, but sometimes I just don’t think i’ll catch up fast enough to those who have been in the hobby for 30+ years! If you are one of those… consider yourself lucky! I think that would have been neat to see how amateur radio has developed over the years, although some of the technology may still be the same believe it or not! One day I hope to have an old shiny transceiver from either the WWI or WWII era, but until then, my Baofeng will just have to do! LOL!

Speaking of Baofeng’s, this past week I have spent the majority of my time on VHF on a local repeater (N5OAK) here in Austin, TX (147.320 PL Tone 114.8, EchoLink Node 7448), I met a great group of guys on there that have been really helpful, they have a net every Thursday night @ 8PM (CST) called the GeekNet, although I may not always be the most talkative in the group, I check-in, and usually there’ll be someone talking about some antenna issue they’re having, so I’ve been picking up experience that way too. I’ve since discovered that the J Pole in my attic isn’t serving me so well after all, so I’m going to make some adjustments and attempt to put it outside (if I can conceal it well enough). If not, I’m considering building a moxon antenna to get some gain, but then I believe I’d lose the 70cm. To be honest, UHF doesn’t seem to be so active, and the traffic that I usually do find is being crossbanded over to VHF.

I’ve been active so much on VHF in the last couple weeks that I’ve been swapping my 2m radio in & out of my truck when I go on trips, because lets face it, my Baofeng can receive spotty reception when inside my truck, but the FTM-400 works wonders.  Frankly I’m tired of swapping the radio in & out, so figured a second vhf/uhf radio would be a good idea.

(Excuse me for a second while I have a conversation with myself)

Wait a second (voice inside head)…

You just spent your left arm & your soul on the FTM400DR, and you want to get another radio? (still voice inside head)

Go ahead and slap yourself…

Maybe I should sell some of the stuff I have…


(End conversation with self)

And then this little device popped up in my head:


Why not just use my Baofeng inside the truck! Surely i’ll be able to hit the repeater with a mag mount antenna & five watts!
I’m not sure I can even justify installing a mobile radio in my vehicle. I’m not sure how most folks do if you live in the city? I mean, my commute to work is about 15-20 min long, so I don’t particularly spend a long time in my vehicle. Now if being in the vehicle longer than your average joe is part of your job or duties for some reason, then a mobile radio may be the way to go.
I probably could have found an sma connector of some type & just wired this myself, but for $5, I don’t mind.
I would really like to get a Kenwood TM-V71A rig. I’ve read nothing but good things about the radio, and I read somewhere that once you get used to a particular brand of radio, it’s best to stick with that brand because it’ll be easier for you to operate since the manufacturers tend to keep most of their menu options standardized across most platforms. The rig runs about $350 new. If I chose this rig, I would be able to listen to vhf while I’m at work because I could crossband the repeater output into my HT
Then again I could just go with the Kenwood TM-281A, it’s only running $130 right now, but it’s just a 2m rig, and very limited on features.
Any thoughts on what kind of rig goes best in a vehicle? One with all kinds of options? For now the Baofeng with the adapter cable will work great while I research other options.
Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend, & thanks for stopping by!

POLL RESULTS: How is your end fed antenna configured?

End Fed Poll Results. Thanks for voting everyone. Horizontally configured & L configuration seem to be the most popular. I have mine in an L & a random wire pattern at this point. The higher the better though. I’ve found that they’re best for NVIS communication so far. I’ve had a few DX though.

Results as of 02/05/2016: (144 total votes)

Just wanted to show the results for all to see.

Poll is closed.

Have a great weekend hams.