Monday, April 11, 2011

Curing Cabin Fever by Analyzation

Since the bands have been less than optimal this last week or so, I decided to get my portable setup ready to go. We will be camping in another month or two so I wanted to make sure I was ready for that first trip with my annual inspection of my portable antenna (Buddipole) and other hardware. I was experiencing some issues getting my SWR down while using the Buddipole as a vertical. With some experimenting this weekend, I was able to get things lined up and back in business once again. One of the crucial points is the right length of counterpoise. This was my critical issue when I last used this antenna I'm sure. It was very cold outdoors then and I did not have the time nor did wires and feedline become friendly in temperatures below zero. I took advantage of the lower 30 degree temperatures this weekend to work on getting this tuned.

The Buddipole has worked well for me as I was looking for something portable that I could carry along with my IC-703 Plus running portable QRP (low power). Since I am contemplating a new 100 watt portable rig for the camper, I'm also looking for a vertical antenna that would work in a tight place such as a campground, something that requires no radials that I can mount off of the ladder on the rear of our travel trailer. I also need a telescoping pole to about the 30 foot mark that I can hang wire antenna's from. Wanting to chat locally here in Alaska, 75/80 meters is the band of choice. I'm still shopping and the research continues for that magic antenna that does 10, 12, 15, 17 and 20 meters in a vertical format. I want something without radials only because, in a tight campground, I would be limited at the amount of wire I could string out. This won't be a problem when we are camping in the back country but we do anticipate hitting some campgrounds this summer.

My operating recently has been hit and miss as I have been busy doing other things. My activity as of late has been CW and JT65 on HF. I am looking forward to the temperatures warming up another 10 degrees so I can begin the project of putting up my Hex Beam. I'm looking forward to getting on 17 and 12 meters with a beam and of course, I will have another antenna for 20 if needed.

The days are getting longer and the sun is beginning to melt our accumulated snow from this past winter. We will have a few weeks of mud but when things begin to dry up, it will be time to hit the trails and enjoy the best time to be in Alaska. I have already noticed that 20 meters is staying open later. I have plenty of antenna work to accomplish this summer.
Fine Tuning

One of the best investments I have made is my antenna analyzer. A great investment for any ham and it sure takes the ass out of assumption when trying to guess where any HF antenna is resonant. If this was just about 50 percent smaller, it would be perfect. I keep a healthy amount of AA batteries on hand just for this unit. I just wish life was this easy to tune.

My wife keeps telling me I have the knack of tuning her out but if she had one of these, she might be able to see what frequency I'm tuned in to. Little does she know that I am on frequency with her, I just exercise my use of internal filters on a regular basis. Being a CW operator has helped me achieve a natural 250Hz filter. As with any filter, I tell her it's not that I am filtering her out, I just narrowing my focus on what I really want to hear. This natural filter is often used during those times that the TV is airing something I really want to watch. Outside of that, I'm tuned in to most everything that is going on around me. At least, I think so...

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