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I decided (somewhat as a joke) to show the picture of this modest antenna in my Antenna-restricted neighborhood both to show what can be done with very modest little antenna, and as a contrast to some of the mega-antenna towers and antenna-farms that some of my fellow hams are fortunate enough to have!! How I envy them! Laugh at the vertical antenna's modesty if you will, but it does seem to get out, if I am not crushed by competetors with better antennas, notwithstanding palm trees just 1 to 2 meters from the vertical antenna! In July 2008 I qualified and was awarded DXCC (mixed) using only this antenna, and only confirmations from LoTW--pretty much at the bottom of the sunspot cycle for the most part.

By February 2014 I had 280 DXCC entities, with 256 CW and 243 SSB, and 187 Digital confirmed. Additionally, I qualified for, and was awarded, the "CQ WPX Award of Excellence in C.W. and SSB" with Digital Endorsement", using just this modest vertical antenna!  It can be done only with a vertical antenna. 

While in my early teen years, my father (later a ham) and I studied to learn the code together. I got my novice license in about 1954 or 1955, while still in high school. The demands of Stanford University as an undergraduate, University of California Medical School in San Francisco, an internship also in San Francisco, and a surgical residency for five years at the University of Utah caused ham radio to slip into the distant past memory--but not forgotten.

Sometime in the early 1970's I was flying an airplane in difficult weather, and had to make multiple identifications of Morse code identifiers. I could not recall many of the letters. That had to change! After all, I had known Morse code at one time!

Having known the code as a teen ager, it only took a few weeks to get back into the 13 wpm range and pass the Amateur Advanced license. I was amazed how fast Morse code was re-learned! Just weeks. The government-required year later, and being well past the 20 wpm, I successfully passed the F.C.C. Extra class license. A day later I passed the U.S. Second Class Commercial Radiotelephone Operator License. If you were ready for the Amateur Extra exam, I found out you were also ready for the Commercial exam. The cross studying for both exams was helpful, each for the other. A few years later I changed my call to the present vanity call K7LV--Kilowatt 7 Las Vegas, which is, of course, my current home town.

Sometime in the early seventies, before the city fathers put in antenna restrictions at my previous house, I put up a 50 foot tribander, the classic TH6DXX, ran some lower frequency slopers, built a nice Heathkit SB220 linear amp and off I went.

Along the way, with encouragement and teaching,I was fortunate enough to have the completely necessary and unselfish help of Don Bricky W7OK, my "Elmer,"now a silent key. Every young ham absolutely needs a mentor, and he was mine. The entire library of the ARRL is not worth a few months with a seasoned ham friend who guides you through the hobby. He had a 120 foot tower and massive antennas. He had a room, the walls of which were completely lined with file cabinets full of QSL cards. I have never seen--or heard of--an equivalent QSL card collection.

As a physician, I took care of him and his wife, (also a ham). I actually increased his longevity through crisis medical intervention. W7OK took care of me in the necessary education of a young ham. In doing so, he greatly enriched my life, helping me learn the ropes of a hobby that I have truly come to love.

In the year 2000 my wife absolutely insisted that we move to a grander house. There was no stopping her. The problem was that the house she chose was in an ANTENNA RESTRICTED NEIGHBORHOOD! What a shame. The big antennas, or my wife! Now, that is not a fair choice for a ham!

Notwithstanding the restrictions I managed to sneek up a vertical antenna, the GAP device, moderately hidden in a group of palm and other trees. There is a picture of this "stealth" antenna above. I painted the top blue, and the bottom green, using latex paint. It is within a few feet of 2 palm trees that must be trimmed to keep from touching the antenna, and additionally a Privit tree, hedges, and a reinforced wall also a similar small number of feet. The palm trees sort of gave the vertical antenna some cammoflage. When the wind blows, and palm fronds blow around, you can see the SWR changesignificantly. Great.

The house has a stucco coating, which means small mesh wire grating 20 feet (7 meters) from the house. Effectively, it is a steel wall, fairly close to the antenna! While there are huge negatives to the antenna, at least I HAVE and antenna! While the neighbors have noted it, and mentioned it to me, they seemed to have acquiesced, and are allowing the antenna to stand, knowing how much I love the hobby. They have not forced the issue. I'm very lucky. The deed restrictions are so tight that they don't even allow a wire to leave the house! My quasi-legal antenna might not last forever. It just takes one vociferous neighbor going down to city hall. Then, I might have to load up the bedsprings inside the wire cage that covers the house!

The rig here is a software defined radio, the Flex-Radio 5000A and the new Flex Radio 6700 "software defined" radio, and an Alpha 9500 linear amplifier. The GAP vertical is at the opposite corner of the house from the second floor "shack", and requires 250 ft (about 80 meters) coax feedline just to get to the antenna.

I love Morse code,and am quite comfortable at 35 wpm (struggling at 40 wpm) and greatly enjoy the digital modes, where little pistols like me with modest antennas in the trees "have a chance."

In addition to the M.D degree., I am a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a Diplomate of the American Board of Otolaryngology. For a time I was Chief of Staff of then one of the larger private proprietary hospitals in the United States, a 650 bed hospital here in Las Vegas. I was a Major in the US Army Reserve Medical Corps in the late 1960s and early 1970's.

Flying has been a parallel hobby: I have an Airline Transport Pilot Rating. I fly a Cessna 414A a cabin class pressurized turbocharded twin engined aircraft (full of wonderful radios of all types!) that we use for personal use only. I've skied a great deal for many years; Iwas on a ski patrol for several years in the late '60s. I still love the ski-slopes at 74 years old at our place in Aspen, Colorado.

I have done a great deal of big game hunting on several continents. I have spent over 7 months hunting in numerous countries in Africa. I have shot four of the so-called big five animals. Additionally, I have hunted big game in numerous other diverse places all over the world. I am also fond of bird hunting, also world-wide. I have an open-water scuba diving rating, and have dived in many places all over the world.

Now, however, it is the time to hunt DX! So, 73--and hope to hear you on the bands. Oh, if able please QSL! Tnx. At 76 years old, I'm getting a late start in the awards game. (The manditory antenna-restricted-neighborhood antenna restriction is no help either.) The harder that I work on DXCC, with the help of DX spots recently, the more engaging it gets! Software defined radios are technicaly fascinating and have added new interest and excitement.

I may be seeing the rather feble upswing in the sunspot cycle--that is likely the last that I shall ever see in what's left of my life. So I intend to make the most of the opportunity! Let's go work some new ones!" I wish you the best 73 and good DX!

Written by George M. Hemmeter K7LV --14 February 2014.


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