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Origins

Licensed for Amateur Radio in 1993 as N2UJN. License lapsed, then expired.  Re-tested for Tech in October 2012, General in November, 2012, Extra in October, 2013.  Accepted as an ARRL VE for supporting the Amateur Examinations in November, 2013.  

Member: Rochester Amateur Radio Association, Rochester DX Association, American Radio Relay League.

Current Radio System.

Yaesu FT-1000MP (acquired in November of 2012). A pristine previously owned example of Yaesu's fine craftsmanship - a work of visual and RF art from my perspective. This radio is historic for the Yaesu company having been the last radio that was personally championed by the original founder of the company, Sako Hasegawa, JA1MP.

FT1000MP-Review

Yaesu FT-5100 (acquired new in 1993). Tuned back to minimum power after noticing that this little radio gets very hot when running at full power.  

Yeasu FT-10R (acquired new in 1993). They still sell the NiCad batteries for this old radio. It still works like new. I use this radio upstairs with 2.5 Watt output, and, the homebuilt antenna shown in VHF antenna section for many Upstate NY repeaters.

Cobra 148GTL (acquired new in 1992, one of the original 148GTL series). This radio, by Uniden, does everything well, and, this one has never had the cover open to ruin a good design and implementation. I kept my original Radio Shack TRC-30A until 2005 when I moved. I wish I had kept it now. Old radios are like a time machine to take us back to our youth.

Ameritron ALS-600 (acquired used in 2017).   Ameritron's nominal 600W solid state amp.   I run at 50W input, gives 400W on output.   So far, I like the amp.   You do need a higher power Tuner to insure cross band capability, even for nearly resonant antennas.  At the band ends, the amp will start to fault due to high SWR.

Dentron Monitor Tuner 3K  (acquired used at a swap meet 2017).   Looks new inside and out.   Tunes any antenna in my antenna system to an SWR of 1.01. 

 

 

INRAD Roofing Filter Performance on the FT-1000MP

The FT-1000MP has an excellent receiver from my perspective.  However, two aspects of the receive offer opportunity to improve:  1) There is no narrow roofing filter as part of the orignal MP design and build.  2) The FT-1000MP, for low and mid signal strength signals, offers a loud audio hiss that in many cases obscures the readability especially for voice modes.  

After reading about the INRAD roofing filter I ordered one, and, an Elecraft XG3 to test my receiver before and after install.   The graph below shows the FT-1000MP s-meter results without and with the INRAD roofing filter.

  

In short, INRAD roofing filter amplifies the input signal.   INRAD procedure calls for installing the filter and then reducing the IFGAIN by 2.   In my case that moves the IF Gain from 12 to 10.   Upon doing this procedure, the audio hiss is GREATLY reduced enabling much better long time listening and also much better readability.   Also, close by signals are attenuated by the roofing filter skirts.  So, the INRAD roofing filter acts as a highly effective noise filter/mitigation and a roofing filter.   Well done INRAD.

INRAD Roofing Filter-Review

S-Meter-Benchmarking-FT1000MP-w-Elecraft-XG3

Antenna Tuners

Currently using an older Dentron Monitor Tuner 3K.   I found this at a swap meet this past summer (2017) sitting on a table.  It looked brand new.   The gentlemen selling was local, and, so I bought it...took it home and took it apart.  Looks new on the inside as well.   The Inductor switch is solid, capacitors all work well.   Tunes anything I have to an SWR of 1.01 easily.   The thing is a little big, and, for years I have been looking at the Palstar AT2K.....but.....I could just never bring myself hit the purchase button on dxengineering due to cost.   But, for this Dentron tuner, the price was right (less than half an AT2K and no shipping since it was local), and, it works great.  

Prior to obtaining an amp, I used an MFJ-949E to tune the vertical, or, if needed any of my near resonant antennas.  MFJ-949E can be calibrated to a standard reference for both power levels, and, SWR.   I found it to work well, and, having the built in dummy load is a good plus.  

MFJ-949E-Review

MFJ-901B-Review

 

Digital Modes.

Digital Modes via SignaLink USB + FLDIGI, Computer to FT-1000MP Automation with Ham Radio Deluxe

 

Current Audio Chain  

Yamaha CM500 Headset and FT-1000MP EDSP 3 or 4 (setting 4-4, 3)

Yamaha-CM500-Headset-Review

Antenna Analyzer: RigExpert AA-54

I purchased the AA-54 in 2013.   This instrument is the single most powerful data acquisition instrument I have for my antenna and feedline system analysis.   I have provided a comprehensive review on eham with its capabilities...link below.

However, the computer based data acquisition capability is truly amazing with the included AntScope.exe software for plotting and data acquistion via USB.   A link describing that software and its use is below.

RigExpert-AA-54-Review

RigExpert-AA-54-Computer-Data-Acquisition-Capability

Video: Antenna Tuner Adjustment using RigExpert AA-54

 

Antenna System 4NEC2 3D Simulation View

4NEC2 Antenna Software-Review

131' OCF + 40m Dipole + 20m Dipole + Solarcon 24' Vertical on Rohn 9H50 Push Up Mast

Below is a simulation view of the overall antenna system in service.  I built this antenna simulation with the NEC2 card format using notepad and Arie Voors' 4NEC2 so I can explore each system component performance of my system.  

The below system covers 80m, 40m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m and 6m.    The total cost of the system below, including coax runs, was around $550.   The OCF and the dipoles are homemade as is the 4:1 balun used with the OCF.   The Solarcon cost $104 and 95/100 of my DXCC contacts were made with that antenna.  

Since I am fairly new to the hobby, cost effective antenna system was required, and, also, the below system can be fully service by myself and perhaps one other person as I push the mast up.  

 

Antenna System Photographic View

 

Elevated Vertical (Solarcon Max 2000) 10m-17m

An elevated (30ft to base) Solarcon Max 2000 can reasonably function 10m-17m with a mod necessary for 17m SWR reduction.  

Although widely viewed as a CB antenna, the Solarcon is broadbanded.  I managed to get FT5ZM in the log with this antenna, 11,0000 miles away.    It is affected by its surroundings and 17m SWR can be lowered by adding elevated 16' radials (three).   Also, if the vertical is placed above a dipole it changes the SWR response as shown below.  

SWR Response:  Solarcon mounted above 40m Dipole vs 131' OCF (both w elevated radials)

Clearly, from these results coupled with the below reference by W8JI, the Solarcon Max 2000 is a "live" antenna that highly couples with a custom radial field or mast.   A little patience, and, tuning, makes it a good five band antenna (including 11m).

Solarcon Max2000 References

PA5COR_Solarcon-Max2000-Optimized

W5DXP-FavoriteVertical

K3DAV-SolarconMax2000-Design-Detail

W8JI-SolarconMax2000-Simulation

N2UJN_SolarconMax2000_Review

Solarcon Max 2000 4NEC2 Antenna System Far Field Pattern Simulation

4NEC2 (simulator code developer - Arie Voors) simulation of the Solarcon Max 2000 system described above for install height of 30.0 ft to the base for the four supported Amateur bands (10m, 12m, 15m, 17m) are shown below.  Simulation includes vertical, the custom 16.15 foot radials, the OCF and 40m Dipole and 20m Dipole above which the Solarcon is mounted on a metal mast (also in the sim).  3D visual results are below the text descriptions.  Placement of the OCF below the Solarcon was done for convenience and to fit in my backyard.  However, placing the OCF as a big radial under the vertical does have propagation consequences as shown below.  

10m Far Field Propagation

For 10m:  The placement of the 20m Dipole onto the Solarcon vertical's bottom section, about 5 feet up from the bottom of the antenna, greatly influences the vertical radiation pattern.  Stong currents appear on the 20m Dipole and the OCF in addition to the vertical section.   The vertical becomes directional:  max gain 6.7 dBi as shown.  

12m Far Field Propagation

For 12m, again, almost no induced current from the OCF and other horizontal dipoles, but, now, with only two lobes of higher gain.  The first lobe is at 9o and offers 3.15 dBi gain, the second is at 26o and offers 2.8 dBi gain.  Essentially omni directional pattern.   

15m Far Field Propagation

The 15m band again shows the influence of induced OCF current on the propagation pattern, rendering it partially directional, max gain 3.5 dBi.  The lowest angle lobe is around 11o at 3 dBi and the second lobe is at 30o offering 1.8 dBi gain.   

17m Far Field Propagation

For 17m induced current on the other dipoles changes the propagation of the vertical from omni-directional to directional with max gain of 4.1 dBi in a single direction and a null at -0.4 dBi.   The pure omindirectional pattern had a max gain of around 1.8 dBi so the directional aspect is both good (larger max gain) and bad (big nulls orthogonal to the OCF itself).  

 3D Far Field RF Propagation (tot Gain) of Solarcon for 10m, 12m, 15m, 17m 

 

80m OCF: 80m, 40m, 20m, 17m, 12m, 10m, 6m

Custom Built Off Center Fed 88'/43' Dipole at around 30'

Currently placed 3 feet below a 40m Dipole

Matching Network:  Guanella 4:1 custom built dual toroid current balun/common mode choke

June 01, 2014:  I custom built a 4:1 Guanella Balun fed, 2 kw, dual toroid, 131' Off Center Fed Dipole (OCF).  Total cost about $55.   Dual toroid design from N1IW (sk).  Uses two Amidon FT-240-61 toroid cores.   Wire for the antenna and the Balun is 14 Gauge THNN solid, insulated, copper wire from Home Depot.  

 

OCF Measured SWR Results/Band Access 

80m, 40m, 20m, 17m, 12m, 10m Band Edges - Dashed Lines Below

Measured OCF SWR (red line and circles) and simulated OCF SWR (blue line) is below.  Simulation inlcudes 4:1 transformer.   Data and simulation roughly match down to about 12m.   Origin of differences between measured and simulation?  Not known.   OCF has very good SWR even for 6m (not shown).

OCF REFERENCES

W8JI_CaseForDualCoreBalun_forOCF

N1IW_Dual-Toroid-4:1-Balun-Construction

N2UJN-Balun-OCF-Construction-Details

BuckMaster-OCF-SWR-vs-Frequency-300Watt

OCF 4NEC2 Far Field Antenna Pattern Simulation.

131' Off Center Fed Dipole in Context of Antenna System.  

Band access with an 80m OCF, with a good Guanella 4:1 Balun, is excellent via low SWR.  The OCF offers one feed line for 6 Bands, however, the far field propagation is complex.   4NEC2 simulation showing 3D Far Field Patterns for 80, 40, 20, 17, 12, 10 meter bands is below.  Gain numbers do not include transformer loss, if any.  

80m Far Field Propagation.

For 80m there is no surprise, largest gain is straight upward, and, the OCF performs well on 80m both day and night within a 1000 mile or so radius.   Fairly low noise as well.  

40m Far Field Propagation - limited by current null at 80m OCF center.

For 40m, since the OCF is one full wavelength for that band, two propagation lobes split out with a large null in the central region of the antenna.  The large, central NVIS null reduces the OCF capability for local (<700 mi) contacts compared with a center fed, resonant inverted V dipole for 40m.  Also, the lateral, orthogonal null hinders broadside contacts. 

The OCF for 40m is a double edged sword: Although gain is good at the two lobe peaks, the OCF, for 40m, due to the large, central region null, is not nearly as good a performer as a half wave dipole for regional communication. 

20m, 17m, 12m, 10m Far Field Propagation - complex, limited by multiple lobes and current nulls.

As the frequency increases on the 131' wire, the breakup of the lobes continues, and, the far field pattern becomes progressively more complex culminating in significant directionality along some lobes, and very significant nulls, generally, in the orthogonal direction to the antenna.  See 3D views for details.  

 

40m Wire Dipole w Choke - backstopping OCF broadside null.

To overcome the deficit in propation on the 40m Band associated with the OCF, I have attached to the lower section of the Solarcon (see image of antenna system), a center insulator/feed point for a wire dipole and mounted a 40m dipole about 4 feet above the 80m OCF.

The 40m Dipole, placed above the OCF, when used on 40m, does eliminate, completely, the null shown above for the OCF alone.   For me, the broadside null with the OCF points toward much of the south and west, which, is a large swath of the US and Canada.   

Shown below is broadside gain recovery with the 40m Dipole compared with the OCF in its null region.  

Hence, when I operate I use the OCF for 80m, and, the 40m Dipole for 40m.

Propagation of other bands with the OCF (20m, 17m, 12m, 10m) are relatively un-influenced by the placement of the 40m Dipole above the OCF.  

20m Wire Dipole (with gutter, 2 element beam)

In Setember 2017 I added a 20m Dipole to the single mast bringing the total number of antenna's on one mast to four.   Adding the 20m Dipole supports my use of PSK-31 since the propagation on 20m from the OCF is poor toward Europe.   In addition, my house has a 31 foot gutter on it slightly below the elevation of the 20m Dipole.  The distance of the horizontal gutter is such that it does activate with current when transmitting on the dipole making the two interactions into a directional system as shown below.   The radiation angle at peak gain is not low, but, peak gain is better than a simple dipole.   Just serendipity to have a 31' gutter at roughly right height and length.   

 

ROHN 9H50 Push Up Mast

I have acquired, installed and am using the Rohn 9H50 push up mast. The lower 50 inches of mast are wrapped in a very heavy duty plastic bag to keep dirt out of the annular spaces between mast sections. Small puncture holes for drainage right at bottom. Dropped 42 inches into the ground, onto a steel footer, carefully leveled with 3 way guying. Dirt tamped in with a narrow, flat squegee handle.

This in-ground install allows me to walk up to the mast, and, with my hands about chin and chest high, lower and raise the mast from a solid, standing position. Very convenient and beats climbing the roof, a ladder, or a tower. Also, mast is rock solid in the ground, and dacron rope guyed only two places (top, 60% up). Max height after sinking 42" is 30.4 ft.

To keep the sections from slipping under strong winds due to guy rope downward pressure, in addition to the hand tightened screws, I have added steel hose clamps at the bottom of each section butted up against the next lowest steel section. These, when properly tightened (not too much, not too little) are safe and prevent slippage and guy rope slacking. Without these, and without pushing up to max height each section and pinning, high winds result in slippage and rope slackening during the storm.

Both the Solarcon Max 2000, the 131' OCF with Balun, and the custom ground plane for the Solarcon are easily and ably supported by this easy to use mast.

 

Lightning Protection and Grounding

10 Guage Wire runs from the base of the Solarcon aluminum plate, 2/3 way down the steel mast, where it is connected to the mast, then, travels down to to three connected, 4ft, ground rods, one of which is copper bar.  This grounds the Solarcon and the mast itself.  

Additionally, the mast is further grounded with 6 guage wire to a separate 4ft ground rod, connected to the other two rods.

Inside the shack I have an Alpha Delta Switch, grounded with two 50 amp copper straps, to a copper bar, isolated from all desk wood with ceramic tile, that is grounded right outside shack to two 4 foot ground rods.

I keep the Alpha Delta switch in the common position, when not operating, thereby grounding both the coax shield and the antenna transmit line to ground at all times.  

 

For VHF:

Homebrew, SWR adjustable, 2m half wave dipole constructed from two pieces of aluminum tubing slipped over a wooden dowel that was built to fit inside that diameter of tubing. All obtained for $7 from my local hobby shop. I use this with my old FT-10R Yaesu handheld for excellent "anywhere" reception and transmission. I use my FT-5100 with an old 10 Amp power supply with the same antenna mounted in a window for "base" VHF operation. Amazing how well a simple vertical dipole works on 2m. Once in a while I think about actually buying a 5/8 wave vertical, then, see the prices.

Recently acquired a Baofeng UV-5R.  Radio was inexpensive but came with a corrupt image so, to program duplex repeater frequencies, I had to reset all and start by creating a menu programmed image.  Not for the faint hearted but I wrote the procedure down.   Once I programmed one repeater, I uploaded the good image to Chirp and, with that good image update all the local repeaters.   A half a day or so of work for sure.  Procedure to create a good UV-5R image is below

Program-Baofeng-UV5R-for-Duplex-Repeater

Also, a 2m/70 cm dual band quarter wave vertical is utilized outdoors for FT-5100 located in shack.

Thanks to all for the incredible information that has been shared with me since re-entering Amateur Radio in Fall 2012. A wealth of information has been provided to me by various Amateur operators and I do appreciate that information, and the time invested in providing it to me.

 

Video:Antenna Simulation

Carolina Windom vs Dipole: 4NEC2 Reads EZNEC Format

 

Articles

4NEC2-2Element-Shortened-Yagi-vs-Full-Size-Dipole

The Mystery of the Missing States

Building an 80m OCF

 

Professional

Michael-Sanchez-LinkedIn-Profile

 

Awards

I was fortunate to enter HF in 2012 as the admittedly weak solar cycle peaked.   Using my Solarcon vertical, a CB antenna, I managed to acquire 95/100 needed contacts for DXCC on phone.  My other five contacts were obtained with the OCF noted above.   

 

 

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United States Counties Award#6181
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