Things often change and this is actually a big one for me. For just about forever I have used a headset and would probably use it still for contests, but for daily driving, I have been using my headset as a huge hand mic. Not the best way of doing things, but it was getting the job done.
I did dig out the hand mic and was using it for the last couple of days, but for a while now, I have had the idea to build a desk mic. Yeah you can buy them, yeah they are not all that cheap, but what always got me with them is that you really had no way to adjust them to fit your own unique needs.
So we have the above. The Gilligan is born. Its not the final product, it is just a mock up in wood to get the shape and dimensions just right for what i need. What will come after this is something similar but in steel with either a nice hammer tone finish or polished to a high shine.
The insert is out of a CB mic i bought off ebay, I have had it on the air for a quick test with Steve VK3KTT and from the video he sent back, it sounds just fine to me. Nice, clean and natural sounding. Cant ask for more, now I just need to buy the steel and get welding.
Actual doing stuff and building stuff ham radio kind of stuff has been rather absent from the blog for some time. Mostly I have been doing things around the house and in the garden. But I have fully reassembled the radio room now and have all my toys setup. Son inlaw the electrician was down a couple months back and connected all the power up that I ran. So The room is now A1, tip top and ridgy didge.
I have actually not been as absent from radio stuff as it might seem. There has been stuff going on in the background and others taking up a lot of my thinking time :), you know, old men need to think a lot or as the wife puts it, PROCRASTINATE.
So what has actually been taking up my thinking time is antennas. Namely, now i have the space and lack of noise, what am i going to do for the antenna situation. After lots of iterations and ideas, I think a beam is actually in my future, a dual band, maybe tri band yagi.
Sun spots are on the up, 10m has been open for days and 15m as well and they are only going to get better for the next 4 years, so i will start there. With that in mind, I needed to play with traps and trap design to get that solid in the mind so I can focus on the interesting part of mechanical design and engineering.
A trap is simple enough, its an inductor paralleled with a capacitor. So i knocked one up to test and play with for 29Mhz. 1.1uH and 27pF and well, it came out at 28Mhz but that’s ok, for now, its not like I can use a 50V cap on an antenna that’s seeing 100’s to 1000’s of volts, at one port. The actual cap used will be made from aluminum tube most likely.
Next is to make another and use them in a wire dipole and get that working dual band for 10 and 15m before i head to the big smoke and buy the tubing I need and other bits to make a yagi. I am not really an antenna guy, but sometimes one has just gotta do what they gotta do.
Once upon a time in the old shack I could never find the tool I wanted just about ever. They were all piled into a spot with no sense of order. So after unpacking things and having them sit on the bench in a mess, I figured I would go out to the garage and build a nice caddy to store them all in. Other than needing to drill a couple of hole a bit bigger, It should do the job.
Doing a bit of work on the antenna. Well, I took the 3 radials off that were way to short that I used portable and added 9 radials that are 10m long. That improved things a lot. Now that I am happy with how its working, the next step will be to add another 9 radials and talk down my portable antenna and replace it with a aluminum radiator and give it a little tune.
SWR is acceptable, its a bit long, by the usable part of the band is all under 2:1 SWR so eat the loss and enjoy doing radio 🙂
So somewhere along the line, I broke one of the retention tabs in the charger base for the DMR radio. Got to thinking, i can buy a new one for $20 off ebay or I can Aussie it right up and just make it work. So with a bit of metal that came off the mower, 3 zip ties and a wedge of wood, I got the radio to sit in the right place to charge. HAHAHA
Antenna is a little bit long, but not much i can do to shorten it now, its a helically wound wire up a 10m pole. There are currently 3 radials under the antenna. 3 is obviously not enough, 8 would be minimum and 36 would be adequate, but after the following tests, I am pretty much settled now on building a 40m vertical out of aluminium tube and putting down 36 plus radials.
+7 in the Canary Islands, I doubt i have ever been that strong before and I know that the spots from the USA are all higher than I would typically expect with my low power operation.
The real clincher was the RBN spots. I have never had so many spots from a couple of calls.
Needed an antenna back up for 40m since i broke the portable dipole and cannot find the parts in my moving boxes to fix it. 40m vertical it is then, 3 radials for sub par performance and a can do attitude to make it happen. Ok, its windy, not just any old wind, its Ecca wind from the west so strong it would blow your panties off as you can see by the bend in the sotabeams mast looking more like a fishing pole with a 100kg tuna than a 40m vertical.
I was able to leave it up long enough to run some tests and see that it works, that the noise floor here is so low that a vertical is useable and that a 40m vertical made out of aluminium and a heap of radials might just be the answer to my antenna problems. More to come on that.
I should have actually posted this a week ago, but, have had the flu and pretty much have been in bed for a week. Just the flu mind you, not covid, but it really knocked the crap out of me, but thankfully I am slowly starting to feel human again and able to actually do something more than sleep and cough my guts out.
So i started to get the antenna situation here somewhat more permanent with the tribander now up in the air in its final location. I still have the radials to sort out and tune each band better, but initial thoughts is that the antenna hears better than where it was on the front deck.
But all things are not perfect, what I do have now is what i think is a ground loop. The noise that you see in the waterfall is actually noise from my PC.
The short video here shows the problem in detail. My gut feeling is that because the mast of the antenna is now grounded, rather than floating is that I have a ground loop happening. The entire garden frame is at ground potential, so i got a few ideas on how to solve the problem other than just turning off the computer. LOL
One thing for certain, i am getting a lot more spots on the RBN with the antenna in its current home. So onward and upwards. Now all i need to do is not feel like death and be able to get a 40m antenna back up since i broke my portable dipole and to maybe isolate the mast for the tri bander so its not all at ground potential and causing the loop noise i have.
But that is all for another day. For now, its back to bed and getting healthy again.
A temporary mounting for now so i could prune the radials and get things working again.
SWR plot is ok on 20 and 10m and kind of MEH on 15m, but its always been kind of MEH on 15m. Actually if memory serves me correctly, this is the best plot I have ever achieved with this antenna LOL
These are just the numbers that go with the above plot. I can improve these numbers by adding in some more radials, 1 per band will work, 4 per band is reasonable. I think where I am going to mount the antenna, I should be good for 2 radials per band. At least for now I have all the bands I am interested in, 40, 20 and 15m.