Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Five acres and antenna bliss

After a life in dense suburban settings where HF reception is poor, I am enjoying the benefits of five acres in the bush. 

The radio shack is in a shed somewhat distant from the main house (which does generate a bit of HF noise). 

Happily there is a convenient dead tree next to the shed that I use to support my antennas. Other trees hold the ends of dipoles up.

Getting lines up over these branches has been done in several ways, including a long squid pole skilfully wielded by Dallas, VK3EB, but the current method is a (rather beaten up) drone.

I tie a line around the drone, fly it up over the branch or tree top and then hit the motor kill switch. The drone falls, pulling the line as it goes.

This is very reliable and so far hasn't damaged the drone too much. It's a repeatable method but only one of my drones can be commanded to kill the motor without complaining.

There's a port on the wall of the shed where I have SO-239 through connectors. I have experienced quite a bit of frustration when an antenna stops working. I check the coax, the patch cord inside the shed, the balun and in the end the problems have been the through connectors.

The left connector, from China, is very unreliable. The centre pin disconnects. The middle one seems better and the right hand one is the best.

They don't fail without some trauma and in my case my coax has been attacked by birds or, more dramatically, by a kangaroo getting tangled up and ripping the coax from the connectors. To avoid this somewhat, I've run coax through some PVC pipe.

The current configuration is separate dipoles for each of 80m, 40m, 20m and 10m with a switch on the wall.

Also there is a vertical wire going to the top of the tree and a ground stake. This is used for general reception on SDRs. With a little extra length or inductive load it would also tune up on 40m.

I'm happy with the configuration here and am considering a horizontal loop as an interesting comparison.

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