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     Like many amateur radio operators my age, my interest in radio began as a short wave listener. I built a Heathkit crystal radio and then an AR-3. That was followed by a Knight Kit R-100. When I got my novice license in 1962, I scratch built a crystal controlled 6AG7 oscillator with a 6L6 amplifier for a 75 Watt transmitter on 40 and 80 meters.

     Amateur radio was my gateway to getting degrees in electrical engineering and a professional career as an RF communications systems engineer.

     My QTH is a 100+ acre farm in Lewiston, Utah. Lewiston is a small population farming community in the Cache Valley of northern Utah. My house and antennas are located 1.5 miles south of the Idaho border. As you can see from the photos, my farm is flat ground at about 4508' MSL, but the Bear River Range mountain peaks 10 miles to the east are nearly 10,000' tall.

    Until I moved here in 1998, my experience was primarily with horizontally polarized antennas. Because of the lack of tall trees, dipoles were not a good option here. I began experimenting with vertical antennas and was pleasantly surprised by the results, especially on the low bands - 40, 80, and 160 meters. ON4UN's Low Band DXing book has been particularly helpful as I have learned about, designed, and built my irrigation pipe vertical antennas. I think a good part of my success can be attributed to the high water table on my irrigated farm and the resultant good earth conductivity.

     My antenna farm currently consists of a SteppIR, 3-element Yagi at 52' for 10 through 20 meters; a SteppIR BiggIR vertical that I primarily use on 30 meters; a 40 meter 4-square array; an 80 meter 4-square array; and an 80' mast with 73' top wire, inverted L on 160 meters. For receiving antennas I have an 800' Beverage aimed NE toward Europe and a shared apex loop array (SAL-30) which can be remotely switched to 8 positions. My friend Don - N5LZ - used his snazzy quad-copter with a stabilized, 4K video camera to make a neat video of my antenna farm. If you would like to take the tour, please click on the video/picture below.


     My tall masts (160 and 80 meter antennas) are made with 4" diameter "torque tube". This is a very strong, aluminum alloy pipe that comes in 40' lengths and is used for irrigation "wheel lines". It is a thicker walled pipe than what is used for irrigation "hand lines". The taller masts are too tall and heavy to "walk up". Over time I developed (what I call) a pivoting gin pole technique to raise these masts. I have since learned that the proper term is "falling derick". The video below shows the raising of one of my masts. (This video runs for 2 min 22 sec.)

     If you liked the mast raising video and would like to see a longer version taken of a different mast, please watch the video below. (This video runs for 3 min. 58 sec.)    

     And if you would like to see still another video of a mast raising, please watch the video below. (This video runs for 6 min. 41 sec.) 

    In 2004 I built an Elecraft K2 and operated exclusively QRP until 2010 when I put together my Elecraft K3. With the K3 I began running 100 Watts most of the time. In 2011 I got a KPA500 and began running 500 Watts most of the time. Since I acquired an Alpha 91b in August 2013 I have operated QRO most of the time. I have the ARRL's 5 Band DXCC award with endorsements for 160, 30, 17, and 12 meters. My current goal is to work and confirm at least 200 entities on each of the five 5B-DXCC award bands. I need about 15 more on 80 meters to do that. After that I hope to work and confirm at least 200 entities on each of the 9 HF DXCC bands. I have 200+ on 12 and 17 meters now, but with 129 confirmed (135 worked) on 160 and 116 confirmed on 30 meters, that may take a few more years on those bands. 160 meters is my favorite band, probably because it is more difficult to work DX. I think my most memorable QSOs have both been on 160 meters: FT5ZM (Amsterdam Island) and VP8STI (South Sandwich Islands).

     With that, I will say 73;

George - WF4U

PS I have taken many photos of my irrigation pipe antennas. If you are interested in building similar antennas and have questions about their design and construction, please e-mail me. I will be happy to try and answer your questions and e-mail you .pdf photos that may help you understand what I have done.

Above photo of me taken by my friend Andres - TF3AM

8026064 Last modified: 2017-04-11 15:56:54, 6022 bytes

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