It's here! The operating event of the year:
If you're in the Lancaster area visit our club W3RRR at the Discover Lancaster Center at 501 Greenfield Rd, Lancaster, PA 17601. The event officially begins today, the 25th, at 18:00 UTC - that's 2:00pm local time for my non-ham readers - and runs 24 hours straight!
I'll use this post today to throw up some pictures as we do our thing...check out the gallery below, which I will keep updated throughout the day as much as possible - watch for pictures to start showing up around mid-day:
Till next time, have fun and be safe!
Are you ready?...........................
I'll be with my club - W3RRR - at the Discover Lancaster Center:
501 Greenfield Rd
Lancaster, PA 17601
Stop by and say hello - tell me that you saw my Club's Field Day location on my blog! I'd love to meet a reader or two!
Before getting started, I have to qualify the title of the post with the fact that I absolutely abhor alliteration.......maybe? Anyway, it has been some time since my last post. I haven't had much chance to play radio in the last several weeks because, as many of you know, most of my operating is mobile. The problem was, I was without my vehicle for a while because it once again started doing the thing where it decides to stop running while I'm going 60mph on the highway...fun. In the middle of that I had to make a trip out of town, so my radio activities were limited HT stuff. It still lets me talk to folks, but doesn't make for as much entertaining reading.
Anyway, to get on with the topic of this post - some of you may remember reading about my gutter antenna in an earlier post. Since my vehicle was going to be gone for a bit getting repaired, I decided to take my radio gear out, so that I could set it up and play with it at home. With 2 little ones in that house, even that is hard to do, but I eventually threw everything back on my desk, and hooked it up to the Gutter-tenna.
So, according to the purists, here's where I tell you the antenna is awful - it has no radials, just a ground rod, which isn't even copper (it's a piece of rebar!) I tune it "in the shack" and not at the base of the antenna, etc. etc. etc. According to all the things you "should" do for an antenna, I might as well be transmitting into a dummy load, but you know what - it works anyway! Which is the whole point here, even this absolutely awful antenna lets me get on the air, make some contacts, and play around. Stop listening to what everyone says you should do, and just throw some metal in the air (or connect a wire to the metal you already have in the air...) and play radio!
So, since my gutters are the most antenna I will have up at home for the immediate future (not because of homeowners covenant, but because of a much more important one...) I decided that I could at least slowly start "upgrading" my gutter-tenna. I'll post here when I get to make my tweaks every now and then, so here's the couple tweaks I just made:
We've been working on mulching, and because of the arrangement of flower beds, where the downspout I connect to is, etc. I realized I could throw down a couple radials, and as we finish mulching, they'll be buried. I only put down 2 for now, but I figure if I plant radials every so often as we work in the gardens, yards, etc. I'll slowly over time build up a proper radial field, and maybe the YL won't even notice it going in (okay...so she already knows the plan...she caught me, in her own words, "skittering around out there" so I was obliged to let her know what I was up to :-)
These first 2 radials I put down are 50 feet long. One runs along the house, and goes around the front corner, so it is tucked in the back of the flower beds. The other runs through a mulched area under a big tree, and then under the play house I built in the back yard a couple years ago. Even though we're not done mulching, I threw mulch down over the radial that runs towards the back, just to hold it down while we mulch the rest of the area. Just do me favor and ignore the dirt on the playhouse porch - we just had a decent wind/rain storm and all the stringy dirty stuff came down from the maple trees and blessed us with it's presence all over our property.
I also changed the feedpoint just slightly - I pulled out the rebar and replaced it with a piece of copper pipe I had in the garage. This is still temporary, but at least it won't rust away while I get the more permanent feedpoint put together. For now the pipe just has a hose clamp making a mechanical connection to the braid of the coax and the two radials.
The connection to the downspout is almost as fancy (and PS...can't last long - copper to aluminum by it's nature is temporary - there's a fancy word for it I forget [ed. Galvanic Corrosion - thanks to the social media community for reminding me!], but the "mismatch" of metal types will eventually make this connection rust a bit, but that's okay - I only need it to last while I "fancy it up" a bit!)
So, at the end of the day, my Absolutely Awful Antenna isn't really that bad! It works, and oh, by the way, has a very tuneable SWR of around 3:1 or less in most of the Amateur Bands (of course, 40 meters is the one that's completely out of wack......oh well....)
So what radio "rules" do you break in order to get on the air and enjoy the hobby? What has worked that surprised you, and what didn't work that by all accounts should have? Leave a comment and let me know!
- N3VEM -
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