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Thanks for stopping by my QRZ page.  I was originally licensed in 1963 in WI.  A young family and other priorities caused me to be non-radio-active for quite a while.  In 2008 I fully retired from my job after 1/3 of a century as a weapons systems design engineer (civilian) for Navy & Army programs and moved to my current QTH – a very rural setting 90 miles NW of Minneapolis, surrounded by dairy farms.  Nearest town is Upsala, population = 403.  Locals got me back into ham radio; got re-licensed and joined several local clubs.  Active in VHF (FM analog & DSTAR) and HF (SSB & a little PSK-31).  Am now the EC for Morrison County and a Skywarn trainer/spotter; ham radio is a hobby; emergency communications is a commitment.  I am very blessed with my XYL who also has her tech license and we enjoy doing radio support for local civic events.  My ham shack is in our lower level spare bedroom and has been taken over by her quilting endeavors, although I’ve managed to retain a desk in the corner.  Names for our room have gone from Pig-In-A-Blanket, to Studio A & Studio B; we’re still deliberating that one.

My station: 
VHF – Kenwood TM-V71A, ID-51/DVAP/RaspberryPI, plus several other FM analog HTs,
            TE Sys 200 watt 2m amplifier,2m & 220MHz beams & dual band verticals,
            ID-5100 mobile
HF –    Heil PR-22 Mic, FTdx3000 Rig, ALS-600 Amplifier, AT-1000Pro AutoTuner,
            1,765 foot loop & 195 foot long-wire antennas

I only do antenna farming and archery deer hunting on my 40 acres, plus growing a veggie garden and a wide assortment of berries & fruits for jellies & wines.  The flower gardens belong to my XYL to produce “food for the soul”.  My neighboring dairy farmer works my 7 acres of tillable land; in return, he digs us out of snow drifts during our famous MN winters.  I’ve received lots of questions about my loop; below are some pics of my antenna farm and ham shack with answers to some frequently asked questions.

73 & God bless
Tom

HF Antennas.

In designing B.E.L.A., my goal was to have a single antenna for all bands.  So I put together a spreadsheet to find a length of wire that was an integral number of wavelengths - to within 1/8 wavelength - at all frequencies I wanted to operate.  That's how I got to 1764 feet; my theory has always been:   the bigger the antenna, the more signal it will capture.  For the wire, I used 1/8 inch wire rope -- galvanized steel cable.  It measures 22 ohms around the entire loop, so I lose a bit due to I2R losses, but the gain of the loop makes up for it.

Tuning is another matter.  One antenna for all bands with no traps is always a compromise; I get 2:1 to 3:1 SWR on all bands so a tuner is necessary.  Besides, a loop of this size has high Q, meaning that resonance will be rather sharp.  Changes in ground conductivity will affect resonance so some tuning is needed to compensate for day-to-day changes.  I'm currently using an LDG AT1000Pro auto tuner that sits in my shack.  A remote automatic antenna tuner would be better, but the LDG RT-600 failed after one month of use.  I previously used an SGC 237 tuner, a very nice tuner, but since it only handles 100 watts I had to upgrade to something that would handle more power.

For supports, I use trees.  My oaks and cottonwoods are not as tall as I'd like and I'm limited to anchor points 30 to 40 feet high.  Meanwhile, the ground goes thru hills and valleys beneath the wire.  I'd estimate the average height to be around 30 feet.  The red lines in the picture above are, of course, the antenna wires.  The grey lines are the support wires with egg insulators and pulleys where the support wires meet the antenna wires.  The support wires go thru pulleys at the top of the trees and terminate in a 5-gallon bucket full of concrete to keep tension on the wires.  If I didn't have trees, I'd use 2" dia galvanized pluming pipe with guy wires; I like the supports Nature provided.

The above picture also shows my backup antenna -- a long wire 195 feet in length.  It's anchored half way up my 'vhf tower' at the feed point. (more on that below) The far end once again is supported by a tree.  

For lightning protection and bleeding the static charge, it gets a bit more complicated.  (BTW - bare wire WILL pick up a static charge when the wind blows across it.)  For this, I refer you to the following picture.  I have a relay box to select which antenna I use; it's located about 1/4 of the way up my tower.  Basically, when the antenna is not selected, N.O. relay contacts disconnect the antenna from the radio and N.C. relay contacts connect the antenna to ground.  The relay box also has a 100K ohm bleeder resister to bleed off the static charge when the antenna is in use.  The relays are general purpose ones rated for 10 amps and 600 volts.

The picture of my ham shack (“Studio A”) below shows the equipment and antenna switches.  (The remainder of the room is “Studio B”) Each antenna goes thru a switch to disconnect the antenna from my radios when not in use.  They won't protect the radios from a direct lightning hit, but if that happens, then I'd have lots of other stuff to replace too -- like the house.  But they do provide a bit of confidence that the radios will survive near misses.

I hope the pictures and this little write-up help explain my setup.  If you have any further questions, feel free to drop me a line at my email address at the top of this page.

 

6852268 Last modified: 2015-11-13 17:01:47, 6298 bytes

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