Saturday, December 28, 2013

Static And Lightning Protection

  Is your Ham Radio equipment protected not only from lightning, but also from static electricity caused by lightning crashes. Yes the best protection from lightning is disconnecting your cable from your radio and place the connector in a glass jar. The problem is we don't always know when the lightning will happen.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Handheld Transceivers Today

  I do not own one of the handheld transceivers as of yet, but I have been looking into them quite often. I have checked them out in the various catalogs I have such as, Universal Radio and AES Electronics. I have also been to the various manufacturer websites checking out specifications and any information I could  find. I have seen some that I am quite impressed with. I remember seeing a video online at one website where the Ham Radio Operator had it connected to a 2 meter quad beam antenna. For the small amount of wattage it did a pretty darn good job and got my attention.

Photo by Adambro. 

  Here is a link to Adambro s webpage .

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mobile Radios and How They Rate

  One of these days when I can afford it I will purchase a mobile radio for my vehicle. I have looked at quite a few of them in my various catalogs. There are some radios at the ham radio websites that have some interesting features. It is is just very difficult to choose form this list, but I will after income tax ha ha.
  I did check out the usual ham radio websites such as Ham Radio Outlet, Universal Radio, AES Electronics and DX Engineering. The other source of information I checked out was at, because I find the abundance of information very helpful. The other considerations I take into account are the size of the radio and the size of the display on the radio. I tend to like a bigger display, because as I get older little tiny characters get harder to see.
  One of the other choices I look are what frequencies can the radio cover. When I check out the websites I seem to be drawn to the amateur radios that cover the high frequencies as well as the vhf and uhf frequencies. The only thing that stops me is the cost of the radios in that category. I will just have to save up my pennies.
  My preferences seem to be with Yaesu, Kenwood and Icom. One of my favorites is the Yaesu FT-857D mobile radio. It gets very good reviews at, which are up around 4.5 out of 5. One it's in a small package, Covers a wide range of frequencies and puts out 100 watts. It covers the HF frequencies, 6 meter 50 mhz band,  the 144 Mhz and the 430 Mhz band. For More information check out the radio at this link . Here is a picture of it below.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dipole and Wire Antennas

  At the present time I am running a G5RV Lite dipole made by Radiowavz. It covers the 6 meter through 80 meter bands. Mine is at approximately 35 feet at the apex and each end leg is about 16 feet above the ground. The apex is on a mast connected to my chimney, one leg comes down to a tree in the front yard and the other leg comes down to a mast that my vertical antenna is on. Here is a link to the Radiowavz  website . See the pictures below. The drawing is an example of how a wire dipole can be set up.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Looking for a good Vertical Antenna

  When I was deciding on a vertical antenna it was the typical dilemma of what to pick. The first thing I did was look at the areas around my house to think of how much space I have. The other thing I had to take into consideration was what things may affect the swr on the antenna. A few examples are trees, houses and other metal objects. In my situation my backyard is very small. It is only maybe 23 feet from the house to the fence and about 26 feet wide. I do have a side yard, but have to watch out for the electrical lines to the house. Remember safety should always come first.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Propagation...What Is That

  I remember hearing people on the 11 meter band way back in 1977 from states hundreds of miles away and then I could barley hear someone 30 miles away. I remember having a basic understanding of how the radio signal would go up to the air and bounce off the ionosphere layer of air and come down at the same angle thousands of miles away.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Repairing Your Ham Radio Equipment

  There comes a time in every Ham Radio Operators life when some piece of equipment fails. The next decision is whether to send it out for repair or repair it yourself. If you are going to repair it yourself I would recommend that you have some electronic background. You will need to understand what various components are and what they do. There are some websites on the internet to get some electronic training for free. One such place is they have a lot of information on quite a variety of topics. Another place I have found some interesting videos and lectures is at learner tv . There are many more sites on the internet providing lots of information. I would also check out free college courses at places such as MIT .
  The next item you are going to need is the schematics for the piece of equipment you are going to repair. I have found that schematics are usually available from the manufacturer using the internet. I like to download the schematic and then use it through a program such as adobe reader, so I can view it as a pdf file. I like this program ,because I can make the schematic larger so it is easier to read. It can be found at . Just make sure to remove the check mark, so you don`t end up with the  free software they may try to give you such as mcafee security scan.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Shortwave Radios Today

  This is another side of radio that I like, because it came in handy when my Kenwood TS2000 went down. I started out with a small radioshack realistic DX-350. It is a fairly simple radio with a slider type selection for bands and then your tuning knob. It actually did a pretty decent job for not being expensive. I was able to listen to some stations at some faraway places. It was interesting to hear news from other countries.
Older Shortwave Radio

  I eventually advanced to a newer shortwave radio that would also pick up ssb ham bands. I wanted to listen to the ham bands before I got my Technician license. I wanted to understand how ham radio operators spoke. I was only used to the cb radio 11 meter band. That`s a different story. The shortwave radio I bought was a Sangean ATS 505. I did some looking on the internet and at some of the various suppliers such as Ham Radio Outlet  and Universal radio . I also liked AES Electronics . This radio had much better features than the dx350 and the receive is awesome. I would suggest going to the manufacturer and look at information and specs.

By Doc Searls from Santa Barbara, USA (sonos_radio.JPG  Uploaded by Partyzan_XXI) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Oona Räisänen (w:User:Mysid) (Photographed by uploader.) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
  I did decide on this also by going to and looked at all the reviews. Everything seemed to look good and it fit my budget at the time. I was definitely satisfied with it. 
  Well as usual the radio bug got me again and I wanted something better. I had some extra income tax money to spend. That does not happen too much these days, Ha Ha. I did some research by looking at my catalogs, searching the internet and looking at eham. I saw the Grundig Satelit 750 and fell in love with it. It had the look in radios that I like and the features were unbelievable. The best thing is it was in my budget. I checked the reviews and they were good at Eham. I can connect an external dipole antenna to it and I hear stations all over the world. This includes the shortwave frequencies as well as the Ham Bands. The sound quality out of the radio is very good as well. I would check out the features and specs at Grundig at .
   I did buy another shortwave radio for my son for Christmas. It is the Grundig S450DLX field radio. He is not into ham radio or shortwave radio, but he loves the radio. He always has it with his headphones on listening to something. Hi Hi.
   I have to say that one of the main reasons I like the shortwave radio is when there is an emergency situation going on somewhere in the world. I have to add that there is an abundance of different makes and models of shortwave radios out on the market with different looks and features. There are some base type shortwave radios out there that are more sophisticated and can be expensive. One that I have seen is the Palstar R30a. That may be my next adventure in the future if the budget allows.
   One other type of shortwave radio is the PC or Computer controlled radio. One of the new ones out there is the Bonito 1102s Radio Jet PC Receiver. It combines the small electronic unit and it controlled by the computer. There are also some websites out there that you can log into and listen to many different bands and frequencies. One is SDR Space where you can listen to an online receiver for free. Global Tuners is another website where you can listen online at . I would check out dxzone at because they have a pretty good listing of websites for shortwave listening online. Some of the sites may require some software to be downloaded and installed.
  Always remember to keep your antivirus software up to date and running to protect your self from infections.
 Thanks for reading and 73s from Dan KC2YTI


Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Few Current HF Radios

  Just took a look on the internet at Kenwood, Icom and Yaesu. Took a look at some of the radios that came out in 2013 and all I can say is wow. I am impressed with the technology that is out there. I always appreciate the jumps in technology since loving electronics since I was 18 and going through Electrical Engineering in College. Of course I have been working as a computer technician since 1996, but that's a different story even though the technology has been awesome.

An Example of a Kenwood TS-2000

By Alex Alfenas (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

  I have always loved the big beefy look of a radio with all the buttons and gadgets. I have a Kenwood TS 2000 and I tend to get a little lost in all the buttons, but I still love it. I looked at the info on some of the Icom radios and was impressed with the IC 7700. Here is a link to a video I saw at icom check it out Icom . This radio has been out for awhile, but I still like it.

By LuckyLouie at en.wikipedia Later versions were uploaded by N0ty at en.wikipedia. [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

By Jeff Davis (originally posted to Flickr as Icom IC-756PROIII) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

   Another HF Base that caught my attention was the Yaesu FT DX 3000. Once again I like that big beefy box look with all the different buttons, knobs and displays. The best advise I can give is go to Yaesu and check out all the specifications on this radio. I would also advise to check out any videos on you tube, which will give some added information. I did take a look at some of the reviews on and they seemed to be very good with a rating of 4.7 out of 69 reviews.
                                                  Yaesu FT 450d
By Alex Alfenas (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By M0TCX (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
                                              Yaesu FT-DX9000D
By Dave Parker (originally posted to Flickr as Pacificon 2010) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

  I did take a look at another Yaesu radio that I did take a liking to. It was the Yaesu FT DX 1200. It is not as expensive as the FT DX 3000 and may not have as many features, but still looks very impressive. I would advise to check out all the specs at Yaesu FT DX 1200 . I did check the reviews at Eham on this radio and even though there not many, the rating was still at a 5. I would just keep my eye on it.
  Well my final radios I took a look at were the Kenwood HF Base Radios. I saw two that I tended to favor. I liked the Kenwood TS 990s HF Base and the Kenwood TS 590s HF Base transceiver.Once again I like the big beefy radio with all the buttons, displays and features. I have to admit my TS 2000 does not have the big square look of these radios, but is still packed with lost of features and has worked really well. Both of these radios have a 4.7 rating at and the reviews seem to be all very good. For more information on these radios check out this link Kenwood.

  As a final thought I did want to say that these are not all the radios out there and I do love all the different radios by all manufactures. These are only my opinions and I welcome all comments good and bad. I also love the older radios as well and when I hear anyone on the bands using an older radio it always impresses me how good they do and sound.
  Well Thanks For Reading. 73s from KC2YTI

SWR Analyzers

  I thought I would say a little something about an important tool that every Ham operator should have in their shack. It comes in quite handy for testing your antenna or if you like building or home brewing antennas it will be extremely helpful. I my self have an MFJ 259b antenna analyzer and it has helped quite a few times.
                                              MFJ-269 SWR Analyzer
By User:しまでん (A photo taken by the contributer User:しまでん) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

  It runs on battery power or an ac adapter. I would recommend getting some rechargeable batteries so you can use it when you are out doors. If you are using it in the shack ,then I would use the ac adapter. There are a number of videos out there on you tube that you can watch to give information on how to use the swr analyzer.
  There are also some accessories that you can purchase for the swr analyzer. Usually you will see grid dip coils, which can be used in the design of traps for a trap dipole antenna for a multiband antenna. There is also a handy carrying pouch that will protect the analyzer from the weather. You can also purchase the ac adapter from any of the distributors on the internet such as universal radio, ham radio outlet, dxengeering or  mfj.
  There are quite a few different MFJ SWR Analyzer models to choose from depending on the frequency range you are working with whether HF, UHF or VHF. Aside from MFJ there are also a number of other manufacturers out there selling SWR Analyzers. They tend to range in price due to features for the analyzer. I would recommend checking for information and reviews for the various analyzers out there. Here is a  SWR Analyzers made by Palstar Inc. There are other manufacturers out there as well. 

                                      Palstar ZM-30 SWR Analyzer
By Dimitri Aguero (user Daguero) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

  Well Thanks for reading. All comments or additional information are welcomed. 73s from KC2YTI

6 meter quad update

  Just a quick note about the 6 meter quad build. Had to hold up on further assembly due to the wonderful weather here in Rochester new york. My house and small garage are not big enough to work on it inside. If I get a break in the weather I will do some more.
  Thanks for reading. 73s from KC2YTI

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Just an Update on the progress of the 6 meter quad antenna

  I decided to give an update on the progress of my 6 meter quad build. This is mainly the building of the spreaders. All of these parts are at your local lowes and home depot stores. The only part I had to order was the pvc 5 way adapter. The tools are also bought locally at lowes, home depot and harbor freight.

 I used the grey pvc 3/4 inch conduit, because it is UV resistant and can be used above ground as well as below ground. The grey pvc conduit is cut to approximately 18 inches in length. The pvc could be painted with a UV resistant paint if desired. I used a 3/4 inch piece of dowel rod cut to approximately 12 inches. I drilled a 3/8 inch hole in one end of the dowel rod to about 6 inches in depth. The trickey part was to use clamps to hold the dowel rod in place. You also have to drill evenly into the end of the dowel rod or the hole will be crooked. I had to do this a couple of time.
 I used a hillman 48 inch fiberglass staff driveway marker that is 3/8 inch in thickness to insert into the dowel rod. I also used a pvc cap on one end of the grey pvc conduit pipe and drilled a 3/8 inch hole in it so the fiberglass staff will fit through it.  The pvc cap was tapped in place with a rubber mallet and then the 3/8 inch hole was drilled in it.

 I followed the same procedure for assembling the spreaders. First I slid the fiberglass staff through the pvc cap and into the grey pvc conduit. The fiberglass staff is pushed out of the end of the pvc pipe temporarily.
I then inserted the fiberglass staff into 3/8 inch hole in the center of the dowel rod. I used a rubber mallet to tap the fiberglass staff in the dowel rod. It was a pretty tight fit. If you would like you could use some marine adhesive to glue the parts, but might no be necessary due to the tight fit. This also gives some play in the adjustment of the spreader length. I have found that for six meters it will be set even with the open end of the pvc conduit pipe. The spreader can then be inserted into the pvc 5 way adapter.
  If you decide you can glue the pvc parts together for a more permanent antenna. You may also use small stainless steel screws to keep the pvc parts together.
  This is a list of the tools I used to build the spreaders. I used a electric drill with an adjustable speed. The drill in the photo was just used for a pilot hole. If you have a drill press it would be much better to keep things straight. I also used a pipe cutter to cut the pvc conduit. I used a 3/8 in drill bit the is 12 inches in length. I did use some smaller drill bits to get a good pilot hole in the dowel rod first. I used some clamps from harbor freight to hold the pvc pipe in place while I cut it to my preferred length. The pvc 5 way adapters were ordered from green house mega store on line.
  The next post will be more on getting the spreaders on the 5 way pvc adapters. Also the boom assembly and the assembly of the wire on the spreaders. I am debating on using a hair pin matching assembley for adjustment of the swr.

 Thanks for reading and 73s from KC2YTI

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Studying For Your Ham Test

  When I thought about going for my Technician license I was not quite sure where to get the information or study material. I did have some old radio shack books from 1994. So I went on a quest over the internet looking for any information I could find. I could not believe the wealth of study materials and sites out there.
  I downloaded some different study guides and question pools with answers. I read these over and over until I felt satisfied. I then decided that I would look for some free study sites on the web. I found one site called AA9PW where I could practice the tests over and over until my score was passing. I did alot of reading as well so I was not only memorizing ,but was also learning all about Ham Radio.
  I decided to go to the Hamfest here in Rochester New York and take the test. Well after sweating bullets I handed it in to be scored. Well to make a long story short I passed. I waited awhile and decided that I wanted to go to the next license, which is the General.
  I followed the same routine again and found all sorts of information for the General Class license. I studied for quite a long time and when I kept passing the practice tests I decided to go for it. This time I went over to Rochester Institute Of Technology and took the test. They graded it and I passed with a pretty good score. I earned that on June 18, 2010.
  Well after much thought I have decided to go for the Extra License. I do have a slight advantage with my degree in Electrical Engineering, so I understand the Electronic side of things. I have been studying at Ham Test online, and have downloaded a program from Shenandoah Software called Amateur Radio Test. I also have some power point presentations for the Extra License Study and other question pools. I have been thinking about getting the Gordon West study book and software. It may take awhile , but I will get there.
  Thanks for reading, 73s from KC2YTI


Just A Little About Computers and Viruses

  I figured since I have been working as a computer service technician since 1996 I would give some advice for everyone. The most popular repair I see is cleaning up viruses. The problem is that viruses can come in from anywhere these days. As Hams we use computers in a variety of ways, whether for keeping a log book or voice over internet as well as other ways.
  If your computer becomes infected do not click on it. Hold the power button in for 10 to 15 seconds and the computer will shut off. If you have access to another computer then go on the internet and look for these programs. Download tdsskiller.exe, combofix(not ready for windows 8 yet), malwarebytes(USE THE FREE VERSION NOT THE TRIAL VERSION), spybot 2.1 and super anti spyware portable. Save them to a flash drive so you can copy them into a temp folder on the root drive of your computer.
  You should boot the computer to the safe mode with networking if possible. Run each program in the same order that you downloaded them and do it one at a time. The computer will reboot after some of them are run. Just try and reboot back into the safe mode with networking. Some other programs that are useful are a-squared and eset online scanner.
  There are occasions when you can not get into the normal or safe mode. What I do is download a program called Hirens 15.1 which is a iso file, which can be burned to a cdr disk. This is a bootable disk with a wealth of programs on it. When you boot off it choose the mini windows environment. You can then insert your flash drive and copy your saved virus cleaning programs to the root drive which is usually c: drive and put them in a temp folder or whatever folder you choose. The next step is to boot the computer to the safe mode with command prompt. Now this is where some old dos will be used. Type cd\ to get to the c:\ prompt. Now type cd and leave a space, then type the name of your folder and press enter. You will be in the directory (folder) you created. Now you can type for example "combofix.exe" and this will run the program. Just follow the program through and let it run. If it does reboot the system remember to get back to the safe mode with command prompt.
  NOTE: To get to the safe mode with command prompt press the F8 key on the keyboard while the computer is first booting up. This is called the post test. You will see a menu with various choices, so you need to use the up down arrows on the keyboard and then press enter.
  There are occasions when you can not get into any of these modes. What I do is disconnect the hard drive from the system and connect another hard drive in its place. Use your windows cd and install a fresh load of windows on it. You do not have to activate the software just enter the product key number when asked for it. This is usually on the top or side of the computer and indicates what your operating system is. The next step is to copy the saved virus cleaning files to the fresh loaded hard drive. Next connect the infected hard drive back in the system on one of the free sata ports. You will need and extra sata cable and possibly an extra sata power connector with a molex 4 pin adapter on the other end. I use one with the Y adapter for extra connections. Now just run each of the programs in the safe mode with networking. The safe mode with networking helps so you can update the programs if they need to. NOTE: for malwarebytes just download the free version not the trial version.
  If none of these are successful then save your data after all cleaning is done and install a fresh load of windows, install all drivers for the system ,reactivate windows, download and install all current critical updates and then copy your data back to their proper locations. The data is usually pics, documents, favorites, music and any other saved information. All programs, printers, cameras etc.... will have to be reinstalled.
  NOTE: For windows 8 I like to go to msconfig and set it for safe boot with networking , so after rebooting it will only go to the safe mode. This can be done for windows 7 and xp as well. Just remember to run msconfig from the run or search box and uncheck safe boot so the system will boot up normally. Also at this time combofix can not be run for windows 8.
  I hope this information helps anyone who needs it. If you have questions leave me a comment or email me.
  Thanks for reading 73s from KC2YTI.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What Kind Of Meter Do You Like.

  When I was looking into purchasing a meter to read my swr and power it seemed perplexing at first. I had swr and power meters from my 11 meter cb radio days. I still have some cb radios running, but mostly listen. I much prefer the Ham Radio. I started by looking at some ham radio catalogs I acquired through the internet. I was surprised by the different manufacturers and choices.
  My first decision was based on how much power am I going to run. Since I am only going to run no more than 100 watts due to having no amplifier, I would not need a meter running more than 300 watts. That seemed to be the limit in that category. Maybe in the future I will be able to purchase an amplifier. But for now we will keep it at a 100 watt limit. Listening to some of the ham radio operators they seem to do very well with 100 watts.
  The next choice was what display type do I like. The come in a cross needle display or the older single needle display. I did end up with the cross needle type of display. I was used to the single needle from the cd radio days, but decided I could adjust. They come in a variety of sizes that seem to be small, medium and large. As for myself I preferred the larger display. Maybe it`s just because I am getting older and wear glasses. It is definitely easier to read.
  My next decision was what manufacturer to choose from. They range from MFJ, Diamond, Jetstream, Daiwa, Bird as well as others. My considerations went with a couple different factors, prices and reviews. I started by checking for reviews on the internet and especially Eham. I find eham to be one of the best placed to get tons of information from other ham radio operators. I generally put it into the good, bad and the ugly, just kidding.
 Well after looking at the reviews and prices I decided to go with the MFJ-894 . I like it because it is easy to read and very large. I also liked the idea that it covers a frequency range from 1.6mhz to 525mhz. This will cover all the high frequencies to vhf and uhf. I have not had any problems with it and it does the job I needed it for. I have recently been looking for another meter when I do add power to my station. I do like the larger single needle MFJ meter as well as the Diamond single needle meter. But that`s for another time.
  Well that`s all for now, so please leave any comments about your favorite meters.
  Thanks for reading and 73s from KC2YTI.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

MFJ 993B Switch Problem

  I own a MFJ 993B antenna tuner and have suffered from the dreaded on/off power switch failure. The antenna tuner functioned properly for about 4 to 6 months and then it would not power on. When the on/off switch was pressed it would have power and then shut off. I did some research on the internet and found that this was a common problem. I emailed MFJ and they sent me a couple of switches to replace the bad switch at no charge.
  Well I have replaced the switch at least four times and this would have been the fifth time. I started checking the internet for a better solution then to just keep replacing the switch. I found some switches at some suppliers on the internet such as Jameco and Digi-Key. I then came across a person that decided to replace the switch with a toggle switch.
  I checked my junk parts and found some on/off toggle switches that are 2amp 125vac, which will easily handle the current and voltage. My next step was to ohm out the six pin power switch to determine what the pin outs were doing. I found that 4 pins were either on or off depending on the switch position. I removed the defective switch from the smaller front board. I looked at the traces and found the two pins were shorted by a trace as well as the other two pins. The last two pins have no trace on either side of the board. I shined a light behind the board and found there are no traces at all going to those pins. They seem to be just for support.
  I should say it is a little tricky removing the small front board, because there is a grey ribbon cable connecting the small front board to the main board. I soldered two wires to the two holes that have the traces shorted. I the drilled a hole in the lower right side of the front panel. I pretty much eyeballed it because the bottom case does slide in under it. I did put some electrical tape on the bottom under the switch just to make sure nothing shorts out. I then soldered the two wires to the toggle switch.
  I powered on the antenna tuner to see if it powered on properly. It powered on and off properly and the meter needles moved properly. I closed it up and connected back in place with my antenna switch and my ts2000 radio. I then tested it in the system and it is working properly. The best thing is if I ever have to replace the toggle switch it will be much easier to replace.
  Thanks for reading 73s from KC2YTI.     

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Working on the 6 meter cubical quad antenna.

  Started work on building the 6 meter cubical quad antenna. Cut about 8 pieces of the grey 3/4 inch pvc tubing into 18 inch lengths. Then I put a 3/4 inch pvc cap on one end of the tube. Cut a 3/4 inch piece of poplar dowel rod into the tube and drilled a 5/16 hole in the end and 6 inches into the dowel rod. I will then place the 4 foot fiberglass driveway marker into it. These will be placed into a 5 way pvc fitting. These will make up the spreaders for the reflector and the director. I will then place each of these crosses on the grey pvc boom. I am going to place a piece of metal conduit inside the boom for extra strength. If this causes any problems with the antenna, then I will replace the metal conduit with a piece of 3/4 inch dowel rod. Still deciding on the type of matching I will use. I am going to use two stainless steel adjustable clamps and some tuning to string the antenna wire around the crosses.
  Thanks for reading and 73s from KC2YTI.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Home Brew A 6 Meter Quad Antenna

  I am starting to build a 6 Meter Quad Antenna. I have chosen this mainly because it will fit my area comfortably. The first thing to do is check the internet for as much information as possible. Youtube has a variety of videos out there to get ideas for building the antenna. There are also many sites with excellent pics to get various ideas as to the construction of the antenna. I also tend to write different ideas down on graph paper for future reference.
  Once I had a plan in mind I decided as to where I would get materials from. There are places out there that sell fiberglass tubes of varying sizes to make the spreader arms. Some of the places I would suggest are dx engineering and max gain systems. I decided in my case due to a lack of funds I would go with grey electrical pvc conduit pipe. It will not be very heavy due to the small size of the antenna. It would work well for other antennas such as 2 meters. The grey pvc conduit pipe is also uv resistant. The pvc conduit is always available at Lowes and Home Depot.
 In trying to make the antenna as light as possible I am extending fiberglass driveway markers out of the 1.5ft pieces of pvc conduit pipe. These are also available from Lowes and Home Depot and are not very expensive. The also have some flexibility which will help in case of wind. I have seen some different techniques for stringing the antenna around the quad ends of the spreaders. What I will try using are two small hose clamps and a piece of the black outer part of some coax cable. Inside the pvc conduit I am going to place a 1 foot piece of dowel rod and mount the fiberglass driveway marker into it. This would also provide some adjustment for the spreaders if needed.
  The next part to tackle is what to make the boom out of. Since I am using the grey electrical pvc conduit pipe I bought some 5 way pvc connectors online from the Green House Mega Store online. They fit the 3/4 inch grey pvc electrical pipe properly. To reinforce the grey pvc pipe I am going to try one of two options. I may use a piece of 3/4 inch dowel rod or 3/4 inch metal pvc pipe. I may design a clamp assembly of some sort to clamp the antenna to the mast.
  The wire for the quad antenna can be interesting as well. Some individuals use scrap wire or even heavy duty speaker wire. I am going to use 14 gauge stranded copper antenna wire with relaxed pvc insulation for uv protection. It seems to be flexible enough for my situation. This was purchased from dx engineering online. There are a number of other ham radio supply sites out there that sell this wire as well as other types and sizes of antenna wire.
  On a final thought once I get this together and tune it properly I will let all my readers know the results. Well everyone out on the air waves take care and 73s. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Gadgets we connect to the radio.

  When I started to set up my shack I wondered what things will I need besides the radio and antenna. The first thing I looked into was a meter for reading the swr and power. I collected some catalogs from various online stores such as ham radio outlet. I started looking at the various models and manufacturers. I looked at what each meter had to offer such as how much power can it handle. At this point and time I am only working with a 100 watts total, so I did not need one to handle over 1500 watts.
  The next thing I did was to start looking at reviews of the different meters out there. I checked, which is an excellent source of information. I also used Google to search for other reviews on these different models and manufacturers. Another avenue I chose was to check out the various youtube videos where people were demonstrating different meters.
  It came down to the price, size of the meter, review of the meter and what wattage it could handle. I finally ended up with an mfj large cross needle meter. It was the mfj 884 swr power meter. It was very easy to read especially for a guy with glasses who is getting older. I also liked the fact that it covers a wide range of bands and frequencies. The price of the meter was also in my budget range. I have not had any problems with the meter since purchasing it. I am planning on buying another meter in the near future that will handle more power, but that will be when I can afford an amplifier.
  The next item I had to think about was an antenna tuner since I am using a g5rv junior dipole antenna to cover a wide range of frequencies. I followed the same routine as for a meter. There are alot of tuners out there on the market and a pretty good price range. I then thought about a manual antenna tuner or an automatic antenna tuner. The first tuner I bought was a mfj 949e antenna tuner. The reviews were plentiful and they were not that bad, plus I could afford it. The only thing I don`t care too much for is that the knobs are hard on the fingers to turn. I have some other knobs left over from some electronic projects that I may try at some time. I did buy a mfj 993b automatic antenna tuner later on that seems to work very well. It tunes easy, fairly quickly and is not very noisy. The only drawback with this tuner is that the power button does not seem to last very long. I have replaced mine at least 3 or 4 times since buying it. I may look into finding a better quality switch, but that means more money. Thankfully my electronic technician background helps with the desoldering and soldering of a new switch that mfj has provided free of charge.
  Another item I decide on was a switch to change for the different antennas I will buy or build as time goes on. Again I searched the catalogs, internet and checked all the reviews. I ended up with a ameritron rcs-8v remote control switch. It provides me with at least the connection of up to five different antennas. There are some manual types of switches out there on the market, but I preferred the remote switch.
  Lastly I had to look into a power supply for my radio and other devices. When I purchased my kenwood ts2000 I bought the kenwood kps-15 switching power supply. It started to have a problem with the power after a year or two. I opened it up and found that some of the capacitors were popped up on top and bulging. I replaced the capacitors and it works like new. I decided that I wanted another power supply to handle the radio and other devices if needed. Again I took the route of looking for a good power supply. I could not believe all the choices out there. After checking reviews I decided on a diamond gzv4000. It has plenty of power and current to supply for all my current devices. It will provide an adjustable 5-15vdc and  40 amp continuous with a current foldback at 42 amps. It run very quiet and I have had no problems with it.
  As a final thought there is the case of coaxial cable, guy rope and various connectors. The best solution is to go with the various online stores like universal radio or dx-engineering. I have also found some other places on the internet selling pretty good connectors. In a pinch you can always check out the local radio shack. As far as cable goes I would look at the power you are going to run and whether or not it is going to be buried under ground.  Another thing is how flexible the cable is, because that can determine where you have to route the cable.
  If you have any other ideas or sources out there please leave a comment. Take care and 73s.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

What Radio Should I Start With.

  The choice of what radio should I start with depends on a few different factors. The first one would be how much can you afford. The second factor would be what bands do I want to work. Will you be interested in the high frequencies, vhf ,uhf or all three. The third choice would be do I want a fairly simple radio to control or do I want a more sophisticated radio. The simpler radio may be a good choice for a beginner in the hobby.
  Once you have various radios in mind I would start to read reviews by the hams that own them. One of the places I like to go to for information and reviews is They seem to have a wealth of information on all kinds of ham equipment. The reviews can provide you with the good, the bad and the ugly. Sorry about that I borrowed that from an old movie. I would also suggest to use various browsers on the internet such as google and yahoo to search for reviews on the different radios out there.
 Another route that one can take when deciding on a ham radio is to go with a used radio. There are numerous sites out there whether it be the classified swap add, ebay or one of the ham radio equipment stores online. There are some sites out there such as ham radio hut that have alot of equipment for sale including used radios for sale. This type of site seems to be associated with ebay, because when you click on an item that's where it takes you. Once you like a radio you can then use a site such as RigPix to look at information about the radio and as well a a good picture of the radio.
 Finally one thing I would advise is buyer beware. There are alot of places out there that just want your money for a piece of junk. Before you purchase any product out there look for reviews on the place it is coming from. If you are using ebay you can look at the persons reviews on there store to check out the ratings. You can also read the reviews whether good or bad. I would also make sure you have insurance on the item you purchase. I have seen alot of damaged items come through the postal services out there.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What homebrew antenna should I build ?

  I have been trying to decide on what antenna to build. The moxon antenna would fit my area if I keep it for 17 meters or 6 meters. From the different things I have read they do a pretty good job. On the other hand I like the idea of a cubical quad antenna for those same bands. The quad antenna is supposed to somewhat like a three element yagi. The moxon antenna is supposed to be essentially a two element wire beam antenna.
  I have pretty much decided to build a 17 meter moxon with some crappie fiberglass fishing poles. Now for the cubical quad antenna, I am thinking about trying to make it a multiband antenna. It would cover the 6 meter band and the 2 meter band. Both of these designs seem to fit the present location.
  I will have to move my 11 meter imax 2000 vertical to a different area, so I can work with these in that area. It will be a mast wall mounted to my shed. The cubical quad will be made of some grey conduit pvc pipe and some five foot driveway markers. I have found that it takes alot of planning to accomplish this task, but I feel it will be well worth it.
  I will try to get some pics of these when I get them built. If anyone out there has any other ideas please leave a comment. Any and all advise is welcomed.   

Sunday, August 25, 2013

To buy an antenna or build one

 Yes I am one of those Ham Radio people that do not have alot of space to put up a large tower and a big gun beam antenna. I have been an Electronic Technician since 1984 and like the design aspect. At the present time I have a G5RV Juinor up and I am quite suprised as to what I can hear all over the world.
  I have researched different methods of building antennas with local materials such as grey pvc conduit that is uv ray protected. There are ways to make moxon antennas with the pvc and some wire. You can also make quad antennas or even a vertical antenna. There are numerous web sites and you tube videos that are very informative.
 I think for now I will keep planning on which antenna to build and what bands to cover. Maybe one of these days we will move to a house with some acreage to fit the antennas.
  As for now I generally go around my yard and inspect the area for problems. The first and most important is the safety factor. Look up and make sure there are no power lines in close proximity to your antenna. I have read many times about someone who was killed by their antenna coming in contact with the power lines. There is nothing worse in this world then losing a loved one. There is no sense in becoming a silent key too soon.
  Also look at the surrounding objects such as metal ones or trees. They may have a direct effect on the swr reading. There is no sense in burning up an expensive radio.  I also look at where I can anchor my antenna. In other words will it be cemented into the ground or wall mounted. Also remember with a ground mounted omnidirectional antenna  you will need the space for ground radials.
  For my final thoughts at this time my advise is experiment and enjoy the hobby.

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