Hello and thanks for visiting my page here on QRZ.com. I'm located in the Northeast of the US near the city of Worcester Massachusetts, about 45 miles west of Boston.
My main interest is in HF Contesting and I also enjoy both DX'ing and ragchew contacts. I operate Low Power only, and I don't have any towers here, I use only trees for antenna supports and lightweight 2-element antennas.
I have been able to place in the Top-10 in many CQWW-SSB and ARRL-DX-SSB contests (in 8 of my last 9 ARRL entries). I've reached the Top-5 in 6 of my last 9 ARRL entries. Also 3 times I have finished #2 US in ARRL-SSB SOAB-Low Power (2013, 2011 & 2009). Each time finishing behind my friend Ed N1UR who continues to inspire me to catch him and who shows all of us what can be done with just 100 watts. I also finished #3 in US in CQWW-SSB SOAB-Low Power category (2005).
My station currently consists of the following: (February 2015)
I'm setup fairly well for SO2R, but most of my contesting has been primarily single radio, a lot of S&P style (and also mostly just single VFO). I'm still very early on the SO2R learning curve to get more value from it. I have a lot of room to improve my skills, and I'm working on it!
My favorite antenna is my homebrew 20m 2 element quad shown in the profile picture above. It is suspended at 45' between two tall trees, pointing to Europe. The antenna is located along the edge of a ridge and just past the antenna and to the right the terrain slopes down towards EU (click on the thumbnail picture above for a larger view).
Suspending the quads antennas (and also my 1 yagi) by rope & pulley allows them to move around a bit in the wind and allows them to shed the stresses of windload. The more the wind blows, the more the antennas move, just as a child's swing moves in the wind.
Even with their lightweight construction, my antennas have required very little maintenance over the years. I'm fairly sure that these same quads would not have survived as well if they were clamped to a fixed mast and tower. This rope & pulley method also allows me to lower the antennas to ground level while standing on the ground, very quickly and easily, to inspect and make any adjustments.
20m - Below is the 20m quad lowered down to ground level for inspection and adjustments. It is a typical DE/Refl configuration with 1/8wl spacing. It's mounted on a 2" x 24' boom and a reverse truss under the boom to help manage the mechanical aspects of being suspended w/rope & pulley from the boom ends. Many might think that quads are not a good choice to survive rugged weather, but this antenna has required almost zero repairs in over 12-years of New England snow, ice and wind.
Since these pictures were taken, I have added a second support line at each end of the boom which run off to separate trees. This improved support line arrangement makes the quad even more stable in the wind, as it's now supported by 4 points. It also allows me to now aim the antenna between approximately 45-deg to 70-deg simply by changing the tension on the alternate pairs of ropes. But with only 2 elements, the antenna's pattern is broad enough that have found that I rarely change the aim and I get great results leaving it pointed at about 50-degs+/- to Europe.
15m - I use a 2-ele quad for 15m @ 35' also suspended between 2 trees and fixed on Europe. It's a classic DE/Refl configuration and 1/8wl spacing. It's located just out of sight on the left in the 20m quad picture, and it's even harder to photograph than the others.
10m - Below is my lightweight 10m quad that I only put up for contests. It's also DE/Refl configuration on 1/8wl spacing. It's suspended using rope & pulley from a single tree branch @ about 30' and it is pointed to EU. For contests it takes only 10-15 minutes to assemble the antenna, connect the coax feedline and to raise it up into position. During the rest of the year, that same rope and pulley is used to hold a bird feeder and that makes my XYL (and the birds) happier.
40m - Below is my 2-ele array for 40m that was completed just in time for 2009 ARRL- SSB and it helped me finish #2 US SOAB-LP. It uses a Comtek controller and has 85-radials under each element. The radials are insulated 22ga wire laid on top of the ground. The array controller and the switch were both damaged by a close in lighting strike during 2011 ARRL-CW. The helpful folks at DXEngineering / Comtek rushed the repair and returned it back to me just 1 day before 2011 ARRL-SSB, where it helped me again finish #2 US SOAB-LP. Thanks guys!
South 10-15-20m - Below you can see my Force-12 C3s triband yagi suspended @ 45' with a single rope & pulley. It points South where the terrain slopes down for almost a mile. (To help see the antenna in this picture, just follow the coax feedline in the center as it goes straight up!).
Here you see I lowered the yagi down to about 20' so that the elements will intentionally foul into the branches of the saplings on the left. This keeps the antenna safer during a very windy day. Raising and lowering this antenna takes less than 30-seconds, so once the winds died down, the antenna was easily pulled back up to it's ordinary height.
80m- Wire vertical with the feedpoint at 7' and uses 8 raised radials at about 8'. The vertical wire does not go straight up, it tilts about 30deg as it goes up to a tree branch overhead. For such a simple antenna I seem to get out very well on this band.
160m - Inverted-L, with about 75' vertical and the remaining ~60' slopes down to 20'. It's feedpoint is at 12' and it has 8 raised radials also at about 12' above ground. Some nights I seem to do well with it, other nights I need to go out into the woods to check to see if the antenna fell down.
Receiving antenna - 480' terminated Beverage antenna at an average height of 7'-8' pointing at about 70-deg+/-. It works very, very well and I can hear far more stations than can hear my Low Power signal... It's also very easy to tell who also is using a listening antenna on the far end of the path!
Here are some proto-types of my homebrew antenna switches, based on the fine PCB designs from Karel - OK2ZI
These switches were fun & easy to build and provide excellent port to port isolation and very low insertion loss. Today these switches are in the shack. It's winter now, and all of my coax feedline runs are frozen into the ground, so today I'm switching antennas and radios in the shack. Once winter finally ends I can upgrade my feedline design plan to also take advantage of remote switching. There are also upgrades to these switches that are planned for the very near future, so you may see them here next time you check out my profile!
And to answer a frequent on-the-air question - yes, I'm a golfer. At one time as a much younger man I had thought about trying to play professionally. This is my original FCC-issued call, and not a vanity callsign. Back in those days the wait for the FCC envelope to arrive in the mail was a very long couple of weeks, but I sure was delighted by the call I was issued! I quickly upgraded to 20-wpm Extra Class, but will not change my call.
It is always fun for me to listen to the far-end contact when they de-code "P G A" and make various comments such as "hey PGA... you must be a golfer!".
Thanks for the contacts.
I hope to work you in the next contest!
John - N1PGA
1916621 Last modified: 2015-04-28 00:02:35, 22109 bytes
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