First licensed in 1977 as a Novice at age 14, I have enjoyed many aspects of ham radio. Currently my focus is on chasing DX & awards. To date, I have achieved: 8BDXCC, 9BWAC, TPA, VUCC-6m (350 grids) and VUCC-Satellite (225 grids). On 11-11-11, I was first listed in the DXCC Challenge standings for confirming 1000 band countries. (On my next submission I'll be at 1700 or more!)
I got back on the air in the summer of 2010 with a new call after a 5 year hiatus. I am QRV on 160m-70cm with a Yaesu FT-847 "Earth Station", using an MH-31 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 an Astron SS-25 power supply, an Ameritron RCS-4 remote antenna switch and the rotor controllers for the HF & 6m beams as well as the AZ-EL controller and computer interface for my satellite antennas.
My antenna farm includes a T.G.M. MQ-36 Hybrid Quad on a tripod mounted mast that doubles as a 40m vertical, a reworked Butternut vertical for 80/160m, a modified Hy-Gain AV-18VS vertical for 30m, a 5 element, 17 foot boom 'no name' 6m yagi and a set of satellite antennas, consisting of a pared down Cushcraft A148-10S and a Cushcraft A43-11S. (Closer view of verticals in back.)
A few have been curious about my location in North Carolina. My home is located on the edge of 'the Piedmont' and the Appalacian foothills. My subdivision is called 'Ridgecrest', but it's not much more than a high spot really. And my house is not at the highest point in the neighborhood. If you walk up onto the crest in the agri field behind my property and look back at the house, you can see that my antennas are almost in a 'bowl'. But turning around reveals a really beautiful view of the foothills just 8-10 miles away.
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 ranges from 100 khz on 20m, to over 1 MHz on 10m. In between, it is wide enough to cover the whole band on 17 & 12m and over half of the band on 15m. The beam is 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.
The tripod is bolted to wooden railroad ties. As a result, the tripod and mast are electrically insulated from the ground. Considering the height of the antenna, coupled with the top loading capacitance of the beam, I estimated the whole thing should be resonant somewhere near 40 meters. After creating a direct feed point (connection to a tripod leg and an 8' copper ground rod joined to a common radial field) the result is a nice wide resonance right around 7MHz. The SWR of the antenna is less than 1.6:1 across the 40m band. It also appears to be resonant around 14 Mhz and shows an SWR of less than 1.05:1 across the 20m band - The picture on the right shows all the lines going to the shack and HF antennas with toroid chokes to help cut down on common mode RFI.
This is a refurbished/reworked Butternut vertical modified for 160m & 80m. On the left you see rope guys and top loading wires while on the right you can see an added coil and larger capacitors. I have laid out a common radial field for all three antennas that averages 32 radials for each. The thick bermuda grass I have in my yard made it slow going. I had to cut through the grass with a trimmer so the wire could be laid next to the ground and then kept in place with wire staples. Note the toroid choke, matching coil and radial connections in the inset. The wire coil, or 'Q' coil, helps with matching the feedline impedence closer to 50 ohms.
This is a Hy-Gain AV-18VS that I modified for use on 30m only. I removed the coil that came with it, then added a short section of mast at the base to extend the length as well as aluminum wire loops at the top for capacitive loading. I kept the feedpoint at the same location using a crimp style blade termination and a hose clamp. The SWR is 1.2:1 and it works better than the shortened vertical dipole I used previously. It is connected to the common radial field which is well beyond 1/4 wavelength for this band.
This is a 'previously owned' 6m yagi that I acquired. I'm not sure if it's a home brew antenna or some 'yet to be determined' brand. It is gamma fed, lightweight and very well tuned! (SWR is less than 1.1:1 across the bottom 600 kHz of the band.) An 'on air' check shows it to be at least two 'S' units better than my TGM beam on both transmit and receive, even though it's mounted lower. Despite being fairly light, the boom is too long for a light duty rotor alone. So I used a longer mast and added a lateral support bearing.
After getting back on satellites in 2013 with first an HT and then some homebrew antennas at a fixed elevation, I decided I wanted to build up a full blown set of AZ-EL yagis. I purchased used equipment and got some pretty good deals, but some of it did require refurbishing. I have a Cushcraft A148-10S that I removed the middle section of. (some parts were missing and I just didn't need all ten elements) Across from it is a matching Cushcraft A430-11S. The cross boom is a roughly 5 foot piece of 1.25" EMT and the two masts are 4 foot long pieces of same. The rotator is stated as a Yaesu G-5400B, but in fact, it appears upgraded to a 5600B with the beefier azimuth rotor. In the black box below, there are a couple of Advanced Receiver Research preamps and MFJ-916 diplexers to act as filters. Read more about me putting up the antennas on my new satellite blog: N4UFO sat - What's that flying overhead?
I have a new shack kitty as of last summer. We found this little girl wandering around in the back yard next door and she was very friendly. She and our other cat don't get along so well and have divided up the house into separate territories. "Starlight" inherited the hamshack, so I got her a cat tree to watch out the window. Her job is to keep an eye on any birds roosting up in the antennas.
My wife N4ICY has spent many hours out in the sun helping with everything from tweaking elements, to pruning wires, digging dirt, 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!
1731833 Last modified: 2015-02-25 17:53:11, 9446 bytes
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