Jun 16

New and Old Notes About Field Day

Field Day is coming up soon, on June 25-26th, so here are a few thoughts (and facts) as you plan your group’s operation.

A FEW TIPS FOR ANY FIELD DAY OPERATION – I’ve posted some of this before but I think they should be repeated. (I’ve updated them a bit for 2016) 

1. When setting up antennas within close proximity: If you are using wire antennas such as dipoles, and they run parallel to each other there will be interference on your HF operating bands in the form of hash so arrange them at right angles to each other and at slightly different heights.

If you use wire antennas such as dipoles, try to stay away from trap dipoles and use full length antennas instead. You may also wish to run your dipoles in different configurations such as have one as an “inverted V” and another as a sloper, etc. An antenna cut to the exact band you are using will decrease interference to and from other bands.

Do not compromise by using trap or “all band” antennas. (The only efficient “all band antennas” are a log periodic and a “fan dipole” NOT a “folded dipole” or others that claim they use “balancing resistors” as this only wastes RF energy in the form of heat.) With others you may make a few contacts, but they are junk and will cause harmonic radiation. Do not fall for any ads claiming “miracle antennas”.

Don’t waste your watts! Dedicated operating needs the right antenna. Wasted energy on trap antennas (some of your RF energy is used up in the form of heat) and that equals an inefficient radiator, especially as you go lower in frequency. On HF, try not to use vertical antennas as they receive too much man-made noise from sources such as generators, street lamps, etc.

Using a Yagi style antenna for Field Day may look impressive, but be careful that the “focused energy” doesn’t interfere with other operations. Know as well, that transmitting focused energy may be all well and good, but it, in receiving signals it can also make your station “deaf” from directions so you may have to waste time turning the beam…. is it worth it? —–  READ ON, THERE’S LOTS MORE INFO! —-

2. When NOT to use a tuner! Tuners are great and some people use them all the time. (This includes any rig’s “built in tuner” or any “out board tuner”) HOWEVER, you need to concern yourself with something called “insertion loss”. Every time you use a tuner, there is a power loss due to heat of matching an antenna system to a rig.

READ THIS TWICE: If the antenna system is measured at an SWR (standing wave ratio) of 1:1.5 or less before using a tuner you do not need to use a tuner to do a perfect match as the insertion loss of using the tuner will be off set by any matching it does. Power (ERP) will be lost in the form of heat within the tuner. If you don’t believe me, do a test, using a good field strength meter at a distance of several wavelengths away from the antenna and you will see that what I’m saying is correct.

Tuners do not work miracles, so don’t expect them to. Using a tuner for NVIS is another story as it is an emergency “compromise antenna”.

Using a tuner to compensate for an antenna that is way “out of whack” should tell you to use a better antenna (or FIX it), matched by it’s length, for whatever band you wish to operate. If you use a tuner to match, say a 20 meter signal to work with a 15 meter antenna, it will also create harmonic distortion on the other bands! Don’t interfere with other operations at your site by doing this.ICE_Bandpass_402x

 

3. When operating within a tight area, as required by FD rules, it also pays to use “band pass filters” such as those manufactured by ICE. I have a full set of these HF filters and they work great. They are only about $38 per band and drastically reduce interference from your other operating posts. Make sure they are grounded as seen by the grounding lug on the top of the photo.

If your pocketbook can’t afford them, use coax “stub” filters. The lengths of these and how to build them can be found at: http://www.k1ttt.net/technote/k2trstub.html They are simple to make and easy to use. Both systems have been used by the major DXpeditions all over the world with great success. On HF frequencies make sure each operating station is properly grounded.

Do NOT use a common ground for all your operating posts. If you do, you will get “ground loops” with energy going where you don’t want it, including in to computer logging systems and the possibility of RF burns by operators or anyone touching the equipment.

4. Make sure that each operating position has a laminated chart of frequencies that can be used under your station’s or club’s operating license. Watch out and don’t operate too close to the band edges. (and remember: no one “owns” a frequency)

5. If using computer logging, always have paper logs and scratch pads ready to use in case your computers bog down or crash. (Ever use a “dupe sheet”? Don’t know what it is? Find out and use it!) Paper logs as a backup to computer logging also makes sure you get the info (exchange) right…. in some cases (mainly contesting), having the wrong info may get your operation penalized points or even disqualified.

6. Whenever I operate either in contests or operating events, I find it advantageous to camp out (remain on) a frequency rather than tune around (hunt and pounce). Remember that propagation conditions will change so stick with it even if you think the band has died or other stations appear on your frequency that weren’t there earlier. That’s just how propagation works. Save “hunting and pouncing” for near the end of the event when you wish to eek out those few last stations. Remember: When you move frequency, someone may take your camping out frequency and you won’t get it back!

7. Keep your calling frequency active by calling CQ often. Don’t wait! Leave a gap of only four (4) seconds between calls or stations tuning by will miss your call and other stations http://sanantoniohams.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/mfj434b.jpgwishing to camp out may take over your frequency. In events such as FD, it also pays to use an automatic voice unit such as MFJ 434B “voice keyer”. (Cost is about $170.)

If you can’t obtain one, use a cheap electronic memo reminder and just play back your pre-recorded CQ while holding it close to your microphone but not so close as to induce audio distortion. (Editor – Your smartphone might have a way to record and quickly replay an audio recording as well.)

This form of “acoustic coupling” is an inexpensive way to save your voice. I have used both methods over the years with success. Keep your calls “short and sweet” using ITU phonetics ONLY. Don’t use any “cutesy” phonetics.  BEFORE FIELD DAY…. REPLACE ALL BATTERIES IN VOICE AND CW KEYERS, ANTENNA ANALYZERS, DIGITAL CLOCKS, FLASH LIGHTS  AND ANY OTHER UNITS THAT USE BATTERIES!

8. If you are lucky enough to cause a “pile up” (several stations calling you at once) answer the easiest one to hear first. If you can’t make out complete callsigns, ask for the station with the easiest partial call to reply. The others will wait. Do not get flustered. If you do, simply state “QRX”. (This means you are requesting those stations to pause, usually so your station can change operators, go flip to another blank log sheet, etc.) This will give you a few seconds to re-focus your thoughts. It is at this time where it also pays to have another person with you to help sort out any call signs or help with logging.

9. Ignore jammers. Do NOT bother answering them.

10. Have your station’s callsign and exchange info posted in large letters at your operating position in case you get a bit tired or flustered so you won’t forget and announce your own call by mistake. Make up some large signs to indicate what band / mode each station is operating on, to avoid having more than one station on the same band / mode at the same time (rules violation).

11. If possible, bring your own headphones to make your life easier and to cut down on ambient noise from your area and helps you to concentrate. An “odd ball” pair of headphones can actually put stress on you if they don’t fit properly.

12. Talk in a loud, clear voice, just like you were talking with a child and want to put a point across. No need to shout as it distorts your signal and makes it splatter to adjacent frequencies. Speak in to the microphone at an angle. Female operator’s voices tend to attract more contacts for some reason as well. Other stations might accuse you of “switch and bait” if you use the recording from a female operator, but answer with a male’s voice.

13. Pace yourself, drink plenty of fluids and let whomever is in charge know when you need a break. Do NOT be a “mic hog” as other people may wish to gain the experience of operating. Hopefully there will be plenty of ops around which will allow you the chance to rest a spell.

14. Learn a bit about propagation characteristics for each band time of day before you come to FD. With sunspots on the raise, the higher bands will be a bit more active than in pervious years, unless there is a solar flare or other disturbance.

As a rule: Use higher HF frequencies during the day, when the sun is doing it’s job with the ionosphere, and use lower frequencies after sunset. Find out what “grayline” propagation is and learn how it use it to your advantage. (Grayline is the “terminator line” of sunrise or sunset, but read more about how it works and how it can work for you. If you are a DXer, you NEED to know about this.)

15. If there are enough people, have someone do the logging for you. This way they will learn to copy callsigns under less than perfect situations and will make life easier for you. A “double set of ears” makes it easier to operate and log. It might even entice non-hams to get their license. When you aren’t operating at the moment, try to keep the “chit-chat” down at any operating post. Save the talk when you are away from whomever is operating as it may confuse them.

16. If you want your FD to be more successful, WAIT until all members have arrived before deciding what amount of stations you wish to put on the air for the event. You can always change bands, even with a 1A station. Years ago one club I was a member of on Long Island decided to operate 20A! That’s 20 stations operating. The only problem was there wasn’t enough people to man all the stations for the length of FD, so we were stuck at times with 10 stations we couldn’t use. You can’t change your exchange once the event starts. Talk about bad planning. Make sure everyone signs a log-in sheet so operator tally can be accounted for.

17. Flag all coax runs, power cords and antenna guy lines with brightly colored caution tape so no one walks into them or trips over them. Label each member’s equipment and cables so you can sort them out easier at the end of the event.

18. Never assume you’ve “worked them all”. In 1991 a pair of inexperienced ops came out of the 40 meter SSB tent claiming they “worked the band dry”. I told them they hadn’t and taking another op to log for me, in 30 minutes I worked an additional 60+ stations on that “dry band” by hunting and pouncing. Lesson learned: There are always other stations out there to work AND propagation changes…. sometimes from minute to minute.

19. Know the rig you are operating by reading each radio’s instruction manual. By doing so you’ll avoid problems and make more contacts. Be especially careful of the filters in complex radios as they could filter out wanted signals. Keep your operations simple so the next person assigned to your station won’t get confused twisting and turning knobs!

Have a rig’s “cheat sheet” handy. For Field Day, basic rigs with basic filters, work the best.

20. Turn off all gear during refueling of any gas generators. Use proper safety procedures so voltage spikes won’t harm your radios. This means to turn off your radios BEFORE the generator shuts off and wait until it reaches operational speed before turning your gear back on. You can get voltage spikes during the shutting off of the generator and the start up cycle. Use care when refueling the generator and NEVER gas it up while it is running. A gas spill even when the generator is off but HOT can also spell disaster.

21. Learn , but most of all : Have fun. Take lots of pictures to post on your club’s website and on any report you may have for www. SanAntonioHams.org     Also, have your station license handy (the call sign you are using)… it’s an FCC requirement.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via email at: alonestaryank@aol.com

 

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Jun 16
W2IK LADDER LINE BACK PACK ANTENNA
     GREAT FOR CAMPING OR EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS
              
BOB HEJL – W2IK
EVER WISH YOU HAD A VERY SIMPLE, LIGHT WEIGHT HAM RADIO ANTENNA THAT COULD BE STUFFED IN YOUR BACKPACK AND DOES NOT NEED A TUNER? HERE IS A SIMPLE DESIGN THAT I BUILT MANY YEARS AGO AND FOUND IT TO BE VERY USEFUL WHILE CAMPING OR FOR EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS. IT’S GREAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE ABILITY TO TAKE ALONG MY “IK-STIC 2″ANTENNA (TO BUILD THAT ANTENNA, SEE ANOTHER POSTING ON THIS SITE.
WHEN YOU ARE CAMPING, YOU HAVE TO MAKE COMPROMISES. THE SAME IS TRUE ABOUT CAMPINGWITH HAM RADIO. USUALLY YOU’LL BE OPERATING ON 20 METERS IN THE DAY AND 40 METERS AT NIGHT. THAT BEING SAID, I DEVISED A VERY SIMPLE ANTENNA IN A SINGLE FORM THAT WILL COVER BOTH BANDS WITHOUT THE NEED FOR A TUNER.
TO BUILD THIS ANTENNA YOU WILL NEED
50 FEET OF 450 – 600 OHM LADDER LINE (NOT TWIN LEAD)
2 THREE INCH PIECES OF 1/2 INCH PVC TUBING
ONE CENTER CONNECTOR (DIPOLE TYPE-WIRE TO SO-239 CONNECTOR)
UNROLL THE COIL OF LADDER LINE AND CUT THE LADDER LINE IN HALF SO YOU HAVE TWO LENGTHS EXACTLY 25 FEET LONG.   EACH LENGTH BECOMES A SIDE OF YOUR DIPOLE SYSTEM. AT THE EVERY END OF EACH WIRE, STRIP OFF THE INSULATION EXPOSING ABOUT 4 INCHES OF BARE WIRE. ON ONE SIDE OF EACH LADDER LINE TWIST THE BARE WIRES TOGETHER AND SOLDER ONE END OF EACH LADDER LINE TO THE WIRES ON THE CENTER CONNECTOR.
 (SEE PICTURE BELOW)
AT THE OTHER END OF EACH OF THE LENGTHS OF LADDER LINE, TAKE ONE PIECE OF 1/2 INCH PVCTUBE AND SLIDE THE WIRES THROUGH 1/4 INCH HOLE DRILLED NEAR ONE END OF THE PVC TUBE. PULL THE PVC AROUND SO YOU CAN CONNECT THE WIRES TO EACH OTHER AND SOLDER THEM TOGETHER.
(SEE PHOTO OF THE ONE OF THE TWO END INSULATORS BELOW)
DRILL ANOTHER 1/4 INCH HOLE ON THE OTHER END OF THE PVC TUBE SO YOU CAN HANG THE DIPOLE SYSTEM UP USING NYLON CORD.
                           THE SPECIAL CUT
NOW JUST ONE MORE THING TO DO. IN ORDER TO MAKE THIS A 40 AND 20 METER ANTENNA, YOU NEED TO MEASURE 16.4 FEET FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE CENTER CONNECTOR AND ON ONE WIRE OF EACH SIDE OF THE LADDER LINE YOU WILL CLIP OUT A 1/4 INCH SECTION OF WIRE. IF POSSIBLE, CLIP THE SECTION OUT WHERE THERE IS A SEPARATING PIECE OF THE LADDER LINE WEBBING SO THE ANTENNA WILL BE PHYSICALLY MORE STABLE.
 THIS WILL LEAVE YOU WITH TWO ANTENNAS IN ONE SYSTEM. ONE ANTENNA’S TOTAL DIPOLE LENGTH IS 32.8 FEET (16.4 FEET ON EACH DIPOLE LEG) OR A 20 METER DIPOLE, AND THE OTHER IS THE 40 METER DIPOLE AS THE WIRE IN LADDER LINE YOU DIDN’T CLIP WILL NOW RUN THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF EACH SIDE, CONTINUE AROUND THE END INSULATORS AND CONTINUE IN A HAIRPIN  RUN AROUND TO THE OTHER (LOWER) SIDE OF THE LADDER LINE ON THAT SAME SIDE MAKING A LENGTH OF ABOUT 66.8 FEET TOTAL OR 33.4 FEET ON EACH LEG (LESS THAN THE MATH OF JUST ADDING AND SUBTRACTING BECAUSE YOU LOST LENGTH WHEN YOU SOLDERED THE WIRES THAT ARE IN THE END CONNECTORS) THIS IS FINE FOR A 40 METER DIPOLE.
 THERE IS JUST A LITTLE INTERACTION WITH THE TWO ANTENNAS SO CLOSE TOGETHER. IF YOU WISH TO BE REALLY FUSSY, YOU MAY WANT TO DO THE WIRE CLIP ACTION AND CHECK THE TUNING USING AN ANTENNA ANALYZER. IF THIS IS THE CASE, DO NOT CLIP OUT A 1/4 INCH PIECE YET, JUST CLIP THE WIRE, MEASURE THE SWR WITH THE ANTENNA HUNG AND MAKE ANY CORRECTIONS (DO THIS BYRESOLDERING THE CUT YOU MADE AND MAKE ANOTHER CUT DEPENDING UPON THE ANTENNA’SRESONANT FREQUENCY). ALTHOUGH THIS ANTENNA IS NOT AS EFFICIENT ON 40 METERS AS A DIPOLESTRUNG OUT INSTEAD OF FOLDED, I HAVE USED THIS ANTENNA ON MANY OUTINGS WITH GREATRESULTS AND IT IS MORE CONVIENT TO PUT UP OR STORE. YOU CAN EASILY COIL IT UP AND STORE INYOUR BACK PACK. IT CAN BE PUT UP AS A DIPOLE, SLOPER OR INVERTED “V”. MAKE SURE YOU HAVENON-CONDUCTING CORD TO HANG IT UP. AND BY THE WAY, SINCE THE 40 METER SECTION LOOPSAROUND, ALL YOU NEED IS 52 FEET BETWEEN TREES TO HANG THIS ANTENNA AS A DIPOLE!!!
LADDER LINE ANTENNA
COILED UP FOR STORING IN ABACK PACK SO IT CAN BE USEDWHILE HIKING OR CAMPING
ALL DESIGNS COPYRIGHTED
BY W2IK – BOB HEJL
MY NOT BE USED WITHOUT
AUTHOR CREDIT

 

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Jun 15
W2IK’s “IK-STIC 2”
DESIGNED BY BOB HEJL – W2IK
(PUBLISHED IN AUGUST 2004)
The “IK-STIC 2” is a vertical, all band, antenna that is over 25 feet tall yet weighs under 5 pounds !Using a tuner it can easily cover the amateur radio HF bands from 40 – 10 Meters.  No unsightly wires as the radiating wire is inside the telescoping mast!
TO CONSTRUCT THIS ANTENNA YOU NEED:
ONE SD-20 Telescoping mast (WorldRadio sells these)
ONE  6 foot section of 1 1/2 inch PVC Pipe
50 feet of 20 or 22 gauge STRANDED, INSULATED Wire
ONE SO-239 Barrel Connector with washers and Nuts
ONE male and female push on connectors (see photos)
TWO Large (6 inch) Hose clamps (see photos)
Electrical Tape, Epoxy, Duct tape and asst. hardware.

ANTENNA CONSTRUCTION

                                 

FITTING THE INTERNAL ANTENNA WIRE INSIDE THE TELESCOPING MAST:
Take the SD-20 telescoping mast and remove the bottom cap by unscrewing it.Looking in you will see the sections nestled in place. Remove the rubber plugfrom the next to thinnest section so now all the sections are “open”.  Carefullytake a 21 foot piece of 20 gauge, stranded, insulated wire and tie a very smallknot at the end. Take the knotted end and insert it into the smallest section ofthe telescoping mast and using a straight wire made from a coat hanger, shovethe stranded wire into the section as far as it can go. Then take a small amountof epoxy and glue the wire into place so it can’t be removed from the top section.SLOWLY telescope out the entire mast, making sure that the wire slides insideeasily. When the mast is fully extended you will have almost 20 feet of wireinside. Leave about 5 inches after the mast is fully extended and cut the wire.This will leave a 5 inch “play” to connect the wire at the bottom. NowCAREFULLY drill a small hole in the rubber base of the mast pointing outSIDEWAYS.  Epoxy a push on connector into the hole. Solder another 4 inchpiece of that same stranded wire onto the connector on the INSIDE. On thebottom cap of the mast, drill a hole that will allow you to half way insert, andtightly secure, that SO-239 barrel connector.  Carefully epoxy it on the inside ofthe cap so it won’t loosen. Next, solder the long wire that is in the mast onto theinner part of the SO-239 connector.  Solder the wire from the push on terminal tothe outer section of the SO-239 connector.  Take the cap and give it about 7 COUNTER CLOCK WISE turns so the two wires are twisted. This way, when youscrew the cap on, the wires will untwist in the mast.  Tighten the end cap, but donot glue it.
WINDING THE PVC COIL SECTION:
Next take 25 feet of that same stranded wire and start to wrap it around the 11/2″ PVC pipe at a point 14 inches from one end. (This becomes the top end.) MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE 8 inches of “free wire” before you start the coil wrap.Slowly wind the wire around the PVC pipe creating a coil, leaving a spacing of 11/2 – 2 inches from each turn. As you wind it down the pipe, you may wish tosecure it every so often with electrical tape. The winding does not have to be exact, but keep it as evenly spaced as you can. One foot before the bottom,create a tight wrap of the wire, leaving no gaps on the turns. At the end, tape thewire to the PVC pipe. When you are done, wrap the entire coil in electrical tape so the coil stays in place. On the top end, solder a mating end of a push onconnector so it can plug into the mast’s side connector.
Wrap several turns of Duct Tape to the very top of the PVC mast. This will serveto offset the taper in the telescoping mast when it gets mounted to the PVC pipe.  Using two adjustable hose clamps, carefully mount the very bottom of thetelescoping mast to the top one foot of the PVC pipe. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN. It takes very little compression to keep the mast in place. When you have done this, you can extend the mast out it’s entire 20 foot length. To keep the entire antenna up-right, slip it over a 4 foot section of appropriate thin wall steel tubing that has been pounded in the ground about one foot. The lower coiled section of the antenna on the PVC pipe will then be slightly “ground coupled”. This helps with the antenna’s operation on 30 and 40 meters.  Plug in the lower coil (The PVC pipe) into the male  connector on the side of the telescoping mast. The SO-239 connector is where you screw in your coax cable to your radio. Make a few windings of whatever coax you are using at the connector point and tape them tightly together to prevent RF from returning on the coax shield. Connect the other end of the cable to your tuner and you are all set to go !!.
IMPORTANT: When you attach your coax to the antenna, make sure that the cable is dressed away and at as close to a right angle from the coil base for at least 5 feet and NOT down along it’s windings. Doing this will help prevent RF emitted from the coil from being radiated back on the coax shield and also will prevent “RF bites” at your radio point….ouch!  The pictures are merely for display and do not indicate the coax properly run.This step is very important in it’s proper operation. Keep the coax away from the coil assembly!
 To dis-assemble the antenna, just remove the coax, loosen the hose clamps and take down the mast after unplugging the PVC coil plug.  CAREFULLY retract the mast and the internal wire should slowly coil down into the masting. DO NOT FORCE THE SECTIONS. A few gentle jiggles and a twist or two will do the trick. After several uses it will be easier to retract the sections as the internal wire will have “memorized” how to coil up. You can even store the telescoping mast in the PVC pipe by making a small slot at the bottom of the PVC tube toaccommodate the connector that is on the side of the telescoping mast .   Theantenna is very simple, light and works well when tuned properly. My first contact was on 15 meters when I spoke to Siberia. I have used it on all the bands it covers and have also made an adapter so it mounts on the ball hitch of my truck. This is great when you are parked and can’t make a hole in the ground. (NOTE: If you wish to make an “IK-STIC 2” that covers 160-10 meters with a tuner, use a 7 FOOT PVC PIPE  instead of the 6 ft. PVC and coil  35 feet of wire around it using 1 inch spacing between wraps and two feet near the end increase the spacing until you run out of the wire and the end of the coil wrap is four – sixinches from the bottom of the PVC pipe. Any longer coil winding that this willmake it difficult to tune the antenna on 10 meters.) (Use the rest of the antennabuilding dimensions as outlined above.)
A SPECIAL NOTE: IF YOU ARE HAVING PROBLEMS WITH THIS ANTENNAIT CAN USUALLY BE TRACED TO THE FACT THAT WHEN YOU BUILT IT,YOUR INTERNAL WIRES TO THE CONNECTOR WERE EITHER NOT FULLY UNTWISTED OR YOU ALLOWED TOO MANY TURNS SO IT UNTWISTEDTHEN  TWISTED BACK. MAKE SURE YOU DO AN ACCURATE COUNT SOTHE TWO WIRES ARE NOT TWISTED  IF NOT THE WIRES WILL BECOUPLED AND THE ANTENNA WILL NOT WORK PROPERLY.
AN ADDITIONAL QUICKIE MODIFICATION:
Epoxy two 1 1/4 inch thin wall PVC sleeves to the lower section of the telescoping mast so they will prevent the telescoping mast from beingcrushed by “over exuberant” tightening of the two hose clamps that hold the telescoping section to the other (coil) section.
REMEMBER…. it’s called the “IK-STIC 2”  
Designed by Bob Hejl – W2IK
This antenna has been used at Field Day operations, SpecialEvents Stations, JOTA Events and County Activations with greatresults.
 

 

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Jun 13
W2IK Desk Buddy
icon1 W2IK | icon2 New Hams, W2IK | icon4 06 13th, 2016| icon3No Comments »
During the weeks ahead, I will be posting a few of my old antenna projects. My old webpages are no longer operational and Lee tells me he has been asked if they are still available.
This one is great for new hams with just an HT who wish to “get out” further than with a standard HT antenna.
Bob  W2IK

Designed by W2IK – all rights reserved

You, too, can build a “W2IK DESK BUDDY”
It’s a two meter antenna to use in those small apartments or restricted neighborhoods. It sitson a desk and is a full-fledged ground-plane that is easy to store when not in use. (The vertical element unplugs from the rest of the antenna) What’s more, there are no ground-plane rods sticking you when you least expect it!  Finally make those fringe repeaters that are hit and miss with your HT! Just place the “Desk Buddy” on any surface: desk, table or dresser, plug it into your HT or house rig and start talking through repeaters you never could reach. Use it out on your deck, patio or anywhere you need that little extra punch.  The cost to build… about 15 bucks. Pictured to the right is a view of the finished antenna, ready to go. Hundreds of these have been built from as far away as Australia!

PARTS NEEDED: (most can be bought at “Lowe’s” or “Home Depot”
   PVC Pieces (all Schedule 40):
     4 – 1/2″ Elbows
     3 – 1/2″ Tees
     1 – 1/2″ Flat End Plug (NOT “Cap”)
     1 – 1/2″ Coupling
      2 – lengths 1/2″ Tubing 14 1/2 inches long
      6 – lengths 1/2″ Tubing  6 3/4 inches long
      1 – length  1/2″ Tubing 11 3/4 inches long
      PVC cement
   Other Parts:
    3 – 36 inch lengths of brass rod  1/8 inch dia. (“HomeDepot” brazingrods Lincoln Electric stk: KH510  3pack in plastic tube for about $4.25)
    1 – 10 foot length, RG-8X with connector on ONE
      end to fit your rig. (PL-259 or BNC)
    Epoxy
    1 – Set (male and female) push on “bullet” crimp connectors as seen inphoto to right

W2IK DESK BUDDYBUILT BY A HAM INAUSTRALIA

PHOTO 1
Create a square, flat base by using the four elbows with the two 14 1/2 inch lengths of tubing opposite each other AND two “Tees” attached to four lengths of 6 3/4 inch tubing with both “Tees” laying flat and both pointing in. (refer to photo 1) Do NOT cement the joints at this time.

Using the remaining two lengths of 6 3/4 inch long tubing, install one on each opposite sides of the last “Tee” with the empty (center) hole facing up (vertical). Now install this three piece section between the to “Tees” on the square base with the now center “Tee” facing up as shown in photo 2. Install the 11 3/4 inch length of pvc tubing into the vertical “Tee” hole so this now becomes the vertical section. Refer to the photo at the very top of the page to get the concept.
PHOTO 2

Using the photo to the RIGHT as a guide, drill a 1/8 inch hole in each corner elbow so it will admit an end of the brass rods. Each of the four holes should be at a 90 degree angle facing inward and upward. Do NOT install the rods at this time. Two of the three brass rods will create the FOUR radials. See the below details on creating the radial section of the antenna.

Take the pvc coupling and right below the center drill a 1/8 inch hole straight through both sides of the coupler. Turning the coupler 90 degrees, drill another hole 1/8 of an inch BELOW the holes you’ve made so that two lengths of brass rod can be inserted criss-crossed through the coupler (see photo on the right). With the rods placed so that EXACTLY one half of each protrudes out of each hole carefully solder the joint of the cross in the coupler so both rods are joined and FOUR equal lengths are coming out of the coupler. This is the radial section. Place this coupling on the top of the vertical pvc tubing that’s attached to the base with a rod end matching up with the corner elbows. Carefully and slowly bow each rod end so it comes near the holes you’ve drilled on each elbow. DO NOT FORCE OR MAKE SHARP BENDS. After the approximate bends have been made, take the coupler off the vertical tubing and slide each rod end into the elbow holes. Then replace the coupler on the vertical tubing. Refer to the finished picture at the TOP of the webpage for reference.  Where the vertical tubing on the base section fits into the “Tee”, drill a hole in the vertical tubing so you can now snake the bare end of the RG-8X into it and up, out the top, passing the radial cross. Bare wire carefully leaving about 2 inches of braid dressed out and away from the center conductor. Solder the braid, carefully, to the radial cross (rods) in the coupler. Strip 1/16 of an inch off the coax’s center conductor’sinsulation and crimp and then solder the wire on the FEMALE bullet connector. Do NOT remove the insulation on the bullet connector. Drill a hole at the top of the pvc “plug” adequate enough to ensure a snug fit of the bullet connector and push it in from the bottom it so it surfaces above the plug (see photo). Use epoxy to secure this connector to the pvc plug from the inside. Then carefully push the pvc plug into the top of the cross-radial coupler.  Make sure the center conductor does not short to the radial/braid assembly. Remember: Center of coax to bullet, Braid of coax to rods.
   Tape the coax cable at the bottom, as it comes out of the vertical section, to the base pvcsquare so the cable can’t be pulled from the connections you’ve just made to the radials and the top plug.

radials BEFORE bending

pvc plug with “bullet female”installed and wired to thecenter wire of the coax

Using the picture to the LEFT as a guide, take the remaining brass rod and cut it to a length of 19 3/4 inches. On one end, install the male crimp connector by removing the  connector’s insulation, spread open the crimp
area and insert the rod. Re-wrap the crimp area tightly around the rod and solder itcompletely around as shown in the picture. It should make a solid fit from rod toconnector.  Plug the rod into the vertical mast/pvc and using an antenna analyzer, with the antenna sitting on a table away from other metal objects, tune the vertical rod by snipping off from the tip by increments of 1/16 an inch until the antenna reads under 1.5:1 in the two meter band. When you are happy with the results you can glue the pvc base together and add a drop of epoxy to the vertical rod top. That’s all there is to it! When you wish to put it away, just remove the vertical rod for an easier store. If you only own an HT, you may wish to even use this antenna outdoors while doing a public service event by placing it on the roof of a non-moving car for greater range than your HT whip. Use it anywhere your imagination takes you.  Good Luck! PS: By using the left-over brass rod to make a plug-in vertical section about 6 1/2 inches long, you will have a 70 cm ground-plane whenever you need it!
 DESIGN BY BOB HEJL-W2IK all rights reserved.
plug the vertical rod in the top. note radials are bent and inserted in elbows

 

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Feb 7

Morning all!

Event: AERC Heart of the Hills Endurance Ride

Dates: 5th and 6th March 2016

Location: Hill Country State Natural Area – Bandera

Times: 0700 hrs to 1700 hrs – assignment times very based on Checkpoint.

Help is needed on both days, but, if you can only work one of the other, your assistance is greatly appreciated.

Operators will be responsible for tracking the progress of Horse/Rider thru the course at 4 different checkpoints.  We also handle in health/welfare information and other task as submitted by the event coordinator/manager.

3 checkpoints should be able to contact net control with ht and a gain antenna.  One checkpoint is a little more challenging requiring a mobile unit, possibly crossband.

Comms will be VHF simplex.

RMS Express/Packet will be utilized during the event.  Packet not required to participate.

Most checkpoints are easily accessible by car or truck.  One will require a truck with moderate clearance.

If your are interested please contact Charlie Land at charlesdland at gmail dot com or Mike Perez at mikerey01 at yahoo dot com

Event is coordinated by Hill Country REACT – membership not required to participate.

Thank You,

Louis Upton – K5STX

Hill Country REACT – Team # 4804 – President
Tejas Trails Communication Group – Cactus Rose and Bandera 100k Ultra-Marathons – Coordinator

Rocky Raccoon Communications Group – Tejas Trails Liaison

 

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May 24

The Skywarn Operators at the Austin-San Antonio NWO are in the process of updating our files and call-up list. Recently we have found the EC’s, Skywarn Coordinators and Net Controls have changed drastically in the various counties we serve.
It has also been found that several repeaters used in the past to contact and monitor Skywarn operations have changed or are no longer functioning.
If someone from each county could please e-mail me the contact information, frequencies and other pertinent information for ARES and Skywarn it would be greatly appreciated.
Also be advised that we have created a Facebook page and Twitter account to help get the word out. Feel free to like or follow to stay up to date with our operations.
Thank You, Louis – K5STX
e-mail to wx5exw at gmail dot com

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May 12

The Bexar Operators Group, with W2IK at the helm, will be operating this year’s 2015 ARRL Field Day at the Choke Canyon State Park’s Caliham Unit near the town of Three Rivers about 70 miles south of San Antonio. We will be operating at the “Screened Shelter” area (These are full cabins WITH air conditioning)

If you are interested in joining us, drop an email at W2IK@ARRL.NET for more information and to reserve your spot.

All food and drink will be supplied. The “class” of operation will be determined later.

We will be experimenting with different antennas ranging from NVIS to “Inverted V”and Wire Beam styles apexed up to 50 feet.

Although all of our antennas do not require tuners when used on their proper frequencies, we will have several types of tuners available so we can compare how antennas compare when attempting to match non-resonant elements on frequencies other than the antennas’ intended use.

We will be using solar powered (400 watts) energy for equipment operation and 12 volt DC lighting systems will be displayed so attendees can see how a DC lighting system works during any emergency communications work and which are the best types to have on hand. There is a big difference between 12 volt incandescent, LED and florescent systems.

Space is limited to 8 persons, so please check with us for availability. New hams are encouraged to make the trip as there will be a wealth of information available.

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Jun 11

Field Day is coming up soon, on June 28-29th, so here are a few thoughts (and facts) as you plan your group’s operation.

A FEW TIPS FOR ANY FIELD DAY OPERATION – I’ve posted some of this before but I think they should be repeated. (I’ve updated them a bit for 2014) 1. When setting up antennas within close proximity: If you are using wire antennas such as dipoles, and they run parallel to each other there will be interference on your HF operating bands in the form of hash so arrange them at right angles to each other and at slightly different heights.

If you use wire antennas such as dipoles, try to stay away from trap dipoles and use full length antennas instead. You may also wish to run your dipoles in different configurations such as have one as an “inverted V” and another as a sloper, etc. An antenna cut to the exact band you are using will decrease interference to and from other bands.

Do not compromise by using trap or “all band” antennas. (The only efficient “all band antennas” are a log periodic and a “fan dipole” NOT a “folded dipole” or others that claim they use “balancing resistors” as this only wastes RF energy in the form of heat.) With others you may make a few contacts, but they are junk and will cause harmonic radiation. Do not fall for any ads claiming “miracle antennas”.

Don’t waste your watts! Dedicated operating needs the right antenna. Wasted energy on trap antennas (some of your RF energy is used up in the form of heat) and that equals an inefficient radiator, especially as you go lower in frequency. On HF, try not to use vertical antennas as they receive too much man-made noise from sources such as generators, street lamps, etc.

Using a Yagi style antenna for Field Day may look impressive, but be careful that the “focused energy” doesn’t interfere with other operations. Know as well, that transmitting focused energy may be all well and good, but it, in receiving signals it can also make your station “deaf” from directions so you may have to waste time turning the beam…. is it worth it? —–  READ ON, THERE’S LOTS MORE INFO! —-

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Mar 5

2014_Field_Day_Logo_333_X_220ARRL FIELD DAY -June 28-29, 2014

To work as many stations as possible on any and all amateur bands (excluding the 60, 30, 17, and 12-meter bands) and to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions.

Field Day is open to all amateurs in the areas covered by the ARRL/RAC Field Organizations and countries within IARU Region 2. DX stations residing in other regions may be contacted for credit, but are not eligible to submit entries.

Field Day is always the fourth full weekend of June, beginning at 1800 UTC Saturday and running through 2059 UTC Sunday. Field Day 2014 is June 28-29.


W2ik-olympics 2This year, the BEXAR OPERATORS GROUP (W5BOG) will be running a good – old fashioned Field Day operation at the Callaham Unit at Choke Canyon Texas State Park.

In keeping with what Field Day should be about, we will be building our HF antennas from scratch and launching them, “site unseen”.

We will be operating out doors under canopies unless the temp exceeds 95 degrees in which case we will be operating from the air conditioned cabin we will be renting and sleeping in.

Anyone is invited to come and see what a real field day is all about. Our rigs will be powered by deep cycle batteries which will be solar charged. Please contact us at alonestaryank@aol.com  if you wish to join up with us for this fun event. We will be supplying the food and drinks.  Bob – W2IK

Note from webmaster – Bob knows how to conduct a really good, high scoring, field day operation. If you want to learn from one of the best, make the effort to drive a bit further and watch the master at work!  Other clubs will be holding Field Day in areas closer to San Antonio if you don’t feel up to driving so far, or if you want to support your local club’s activities. We’ll post those locations as soon as we have them confirmed. – Lee N5NTG

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Jan 2
W2IK/Rover  January 2014 ARRL VHF Contest
On January 18 – 20th, W2IK  will go on the road (operating “Limited ROVER”) during the 2014 ARRL January VHF Contest. We will attempt to cover a few rare grid squares during this operation: EM00, RT 41 North Of Leakey, DL99, RT 55 South of Rocksprings, EL 08, La Pryor, DL98, West of La Pryor on RT 57, and DM90 at Rocksprings.  (Grid square operation in the following order but subject to change especially if we get any pileups) We will be operating on both 6 meter (horz. loop) and 2 meter (horz. beam) SSB.:).  Anyone who wishes to join us may do so by emailing: alonestaryank@aol.com   See what it’s like to operate vhf rover and hand out QSOs from rare grid squares. For further information about this contest, or if you wish to join in at home, see: http://www.arrl.org/january-vhf
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