First licensed in 1977 as a Novice at age 14, I have enjoyed many aspects of ham radio. I currently hold: 8BDXCC, TPA and VUCC-6m (250 grids). Under my old callsign I was awarded: VUCC-Sat (#86), WAS, 5BWAC, RCC, OTC and others. On 11-11-11, I was listed in the DXCC Challenge standings for confirming at least 1000 band countries.
I got back on the air in the summer of 2010 with a new call after a 5 year hiatus. I am QRV on 160-6m with a Kenwood TS-690s, using an MC-43s hand mic, Kent SP-1 paddle, HK5A Ham Keyer, a J-38 straight key, an MFJ-929 tuner and a Signalink USB for digital. Also pictured is a Kenwood TR-751a 2m all mode rig and an Icom IC-451a all mode UHF rig for use on satellites, an Astron SS-25 power supply and the rotor controllers for both the satellite and the HF beam antennas. (The black box under the digital clock is for switching the CW keys between rigs.)
My antenna farm includes a T.G.M. MQ-36 Hybrid Quad, a reworked Butternut vertical for 80/160m, homebrew satellite antennas, a modified MFJ-1796 vertical dipole and a 2m squalo.
The T.G.M. MQ-36 Hybrid Quad is a three element yagi with a diamond shaped quad reflector. It has a reduced physical size thanks to wire coils and capacitive spokes, but therefore has reduced bandwidth. It covers six bands: 20, 17, 15, 12, 10 & 6 meters. The basic elements are the approximate length of those for a 6m yagi and then have a coil and capacitive hat located on both ends of each element for each of the HF bands. The 2:1 bandwidth on 20m is about 100 kHz, while the 2:1 bandwidth on 10m is over 1 MHz. The bandwidth on 17 & 12m is wide enough to cover the whole band and over half of the band on 15m. I have it mounted at twenty-five feet on top of a 28 foot telescoping mast, which is not fully extended. The Rohn H-30 mast is mounted in a 9'4" Rohn tripod and secured with quarter inch Dacron rope to four 2-3/8" fence posts.
This is an MFJ-1796 vertical dipole modified to work on 30 meters. I added to the 20m capacitive hat to increase the wavelength to 30m. This also changed the tuning on other bands, so they had to be modified as well. Normally, the spokes are all the same length for each band, but I used different lengths to allow extra clearance at the bottom of the antenna for mowing. I duplicated the pattern on the top to mirror the reactances between bands on both ends. You will notice the antenna has a built in choke. Since it is a balanced dipole, it does not require ground radials. The mount is simply pieces of railroad tie, held in place by rebar to prevent tipping by the wind. A bolt can be removed from one of the tripod legs to allow the entire antenna to be tipped over for tuning.
This last year's "winter antenna farm" included a refurbished/reworked Butternut vertical. It is mounted with the feedpoint about 3 & 1/2 feet above the ground and then guyed with ropes about a third of the way up. I also decided to add some top loading wires to increase performance. I strung up 4 full size above ground radials for each band made of 17 gauge aluminum electric fence wire mounted on electric fence posts. The 80m radials form an 'X' and then the 160m radials do the same but make a dogleg at the end of the 80m radials and turn towards the end of an adjacent leg. I tried using the antenna with the original 160m resonator kit it came with, but after some initial unsuccessful attempts to tune the antenna, I decided to go with an alternate plan. I rearranged the coils and added to them. Then I added a couple capacitors and a 'Q' coil which made the antenna tunable on 80 & 160m.
(UPDATE: The radials have been removed for the summer as mowing around them was just too tough. I am looking into laying out standard radials this fall as well as lowering the feedpoint to just above the ground. If I find performance suffers, I can always add the above ground radials back and see if that helps.)
I worked the RS-12/13 satellite in years past, achieving VUCC with 150 grids and several other awards, but I had never before, until recently, worked an FM sat. There is only one FM bird operational at the moment, SO-50 (Saudisat 1C), but I did manage to work a QSO on my very first pass! I was transmitting on my Kenwood TR-751 to my 2m "squalo" and listening with my new Baofeng UV-3R HT and 'CJU' directional UHF antenna. I worked KK4NWC in Louisville, KY on his Baofeng UV-5R HT and Arrow hand held beam. (Thanks, Joe!) It's unbelievable how small these new HTs are!!!
The trial run with the FM sat inspired me to put together a more elaborate station with SSB/CW capability. I acquired a UHF radio and put up another tripod and mast with a small TV type rotor on top. I decided to build my own antennas to save money and also just for the fun of it; I ended up with a 7 element UHF Yagi (vertically polarized) and a VHF 'IO' (or 'CJU') 2 element loop fed Yagi (horizontally polarized) built out of PVC and copper wire. The antennas are around 15 feet high, which is just above the roofline of my house. I didn't want to go any higher as the unguyed mast and rotor seemed too unstable. So far, I have managed to have QSOs on AO-7 (A & B), VO-52 and FO-29, including with Brazil and Venezuela.
My wife N4ICY has spent many hours out in the sun helping with everything from tweaking elements, to pruning wires, untangling ropes, hoisting antennas and general fetching & handing of tools. Yes, my wife helps with antenna work. She also enjoys going to hamfests and chatting with other XYLs. Be jealous, guys, be VERY jealous!
And just in case you were wondering, there are two "UFOs" in Statesville, NC: W4UFO
Hope to work you soon. 73!
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