As I was spinning the dial on the lower part of the 40m General portion of the band today and hearing the normal power hungry (2Kw plus) stations sitting around "rag chewing" about the upcoming election as well as passing by the always reliable "zoo" group that uses any and all vile and disgusting bits of foul language that our English language allows while intentionally jamming and acting extremely immature, I stumbled refreshingly upon a young ham calling CQ rather enthusiastically. The call was KM4SII and after looking up his call on QRZ.com I learned that his name was Mason and only 13 years old.
I stayed around and listened for quite a while as he gracefully went from one contact to another, that of a seasoned ham operator. I noticed that his QRZ page had mentioned "I would appreciate it if you would spot me if you hear me calling CQ", so I did just that as I continued read his QRZ page and listen to him operate. I had every intention of working him before he finally went QRT (which I did) but for now I was content just listening and with each and every QSO I felt a sense of pride knowing that the future of ham radio was not dead so long as there were young hams such as Mason out there, staying away from the shenanigans of the worst operators the hobby has to offer.
Then it dawned on me; Just how does a young operator such as this one react when they stumble across 7.188 Mhz or 7.200 Mhz and subjects their ears to that of the truly deserving hams to be considered deplorable? Does it discourage them and eventually cause them to drop the hobby, or far worse does it represent a class of operators that a young man might find as a role model, if there were not a very concerned and attentive parent (who more than likely is also a ham operator) there to guide them in the right direction?
You can listen here to a brief excerpt of Mason operating and decide for yourself. I have a strong enough feeling that a young operator such as Mason will not be "lured to the dark side" and that the hobby will continue to produce hams that are exemplary role models for not only the future of Ham Radio but for the current operators such as myself that tend to occasionally forget that this hobby is supposed to be fun!
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To the left is a photo of a "gift" that Jackson EMC (my local electrical membership corporation) was kind enough to have given me about 6 or 7 years ago. They relocated the power pole from the property boundary to right in the center of my front yard while remaining in the right of way. They did not do this out of spite (although I sometimes wonder), rather it was conveyed to me as being necessary when they were widening the dirt road for what we all thought was the first step towards a paved road.
They eventually did (about 3 to 4 years later) pave the road and for that I am very thankful, however this power pole has been the source of some quite intense RFI at various times during the day. At the time they relocated the pole I was inactive in amateur radio however once I got back into the hobby I was going crazy trying to locate the source. I tried many different approaches:
- Turned of the mains to the house and ran the HF rig on battery power to ensure that it was not emanating from something inside the home - result was negative.
- I used a beam antenna to try to isolate the azimuth where the RFI was the strongest. I had assumed it might have been a neighbors electric fence based on the direction however that has since turned out to be false.
- I used my HT in AM mode and this resulted in interference when close to the power pole.
- The final confirmation of the source came from using a 5 pound shop hammer and beating on the power pole while recording the results on my iPad next to the rig. The difference was remarkable. This is the recording of those results.
After identifying the likely source, I contacted Jackson EMC and notified them about the RFI and the power pole being right in my front yard. A great amount of time passed without ever receiving any contact about the issue. Finally about 8 months ago I was trying to work a semi rare DX station on a Sunday when the RFI was just too much for me to take any longer. I called the emergency power outage number and claimed my power was out so I could get someone out here and actually put this issue back on the radar.
Apparently the engineer/tech that handled RFI problems was retiring and I somehow got lost in the cracks. I gave them 8 months as previously stated and finally I called in to the local corporate office and found that a new technician was in that position and he was very attentive and came right out the next morning. Although he did not have the exact gear he needed (he is waiting for it to arrive) he was able to confirm that there was a problem up on the pole but if he were to just send out a lineman to start tightening any and everything that it could possibly make it worse and that if I could give him a couple of weeks until his new gear arrived that he would return and isolate the emission right down to a tack, bolt, insulator, etc.... I agreed with him that a couple more weeks would be nothing compared to the amount of time I have been waiting for action up till now.
Now I feel confident that this will get taken care of and once isolated and corrected I will be hoping to experience some fantastic receive out here in the country and no more constant "bacon sizzling". I will update this during the course of action. For now, I am keeping my fingers crossed.
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After Modeling This Antenna I Have Came To The Conclusion That It Would Be A Massive Waste Of time And Energy - Will Upload EZNEC Data Later
I have been reading and studying the article - "The Long Wire Loop: an Omni Directional, Multiband, Low Angle Radiator Wire Loop Antenna" by Steve Cerwin, WA5FRF which I have uploaded here for all to be able to learn from and have decided to make my next antenna project the 1,100 foot +/- 160m long wire loop in a 40° triangle configuration. Based on the EZNEC performance data presented by Steve I can clearly see why the 500 foot 1 wave length 160m sky loop that I had up once before was not the performer I thought it would have been.
The problem I experienced with my previous attempt at a loop antenna stemmed from the lack of the harmonic properties the loop would have exhibited at twice the wave length to create a null above the radiated signal, thus lowering the take off angle immensely, making it a much better DX performer as well as not being the "cloud warmer" that the 1 wavelength version exhibited even when rag chewing locally (600 to 800 miles or so). I eventually took the loop down and focused on my 160m doublet dipole which was reported to me as being a much better performer.
Today I am still using the 160m doublet at about 75' to 80' at the apex and being fed with 150 feet of 600 ohm ladder line all the way into the shack and terminating at the tuner. It works reasonable well but the data shows that the harmonic loop will outperform the dipole with even lower angles of radiation, and the impedance match will be a comfortable 20 to 200 ohm (easily tuned by either the Dentron Super Tuner or the Palstar AT2K).
The photo above is a depiction of the 160m doublet dipole that I already have up as well as my planned path for the 1,100' loop in the (approx) 40° triangular formation. Although I have 5.56 acres of land to play with, the tract is relatively narrow so making it fit within the confines of the property boundary might be a bit tricky however it is also heavily wooded which should hide it from even the most eagle eyed.
Hopefully I can get this done before winter rears its ugly head .....
Results from EZNEC with the 1100 feet delta loop (sort of) vs my existing 160m Inverted V at 75' height and 240' long
Side by side comparrison of the model and then graph
By the models presented above it seems to show that although the doublet in an inverted v configuration at 75' seems to show a slightly better low take off angle although it falls short of the delta's purported 6.14 gain by just a little over 2db. You may also notice that looking at the graph on the horisontal plane (red) the doublet creates quite a larger overall radius in pattern as well as a more uniform current prediction with the highest current being towards the middle two thirds just as I have read about before. The model seem to have proved that right.
In order for me to create any extremely good low angle of radiation from the doublet I had to raise the apex to approx 240' (1/2λ), a height that is simply prohibitive in the real world and in my case. I should also note that any and all tests that I did with radials below the apex of the doublet (no matter how many or how long) did not alter the pattern save for the least little bit. An absolutely out of the question endeavor considering nothing to be gained.
Corrected Model For 1100' Loop
Any corrections would be most appreciated.
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Starts 0000 GMT Saturday -- Ends 2400 GMT Sunday
After getting my feet wet in a RTTY Sprint (4 hrs) I am looking forward to the upcoming 2016 CQ World-Wide DX RTTY Contest. One major difference in this contest vs the Sprint is that you are not constrained to S&P and then what I refer to as "semi run" operation. In the Sprint contests you are able to call CQ and once working any station you must move off frequency and either work another station calling CQ or once QSY you can then call CQ again.
In the previous RTTY Sprint contest I participated in, I experienced some technical difficulties and lost 53 minutes of the 4 hour total operating time by not being able to get FliDigi to interface with the N1MM+ contest logging program correctly. I have since did what most tend to do last and that being; "if all else fails - read the directions" ...
Hopefully I have all the kinks worked out and the operation works smoothly which may allow me to rack up some respectable scoring which may help the SECC's bottom line. Placing in the top ten (either in the overall or regional) would be a major plus as well however it is extremely difficult to keep up with the "big gun" contesting stations. That not being meant as a complaint but more so as a reality but if I can plan my approach properly and strategically then that will definitely help my bottom line.
Hope to hear you on the bands and work you for the benefit of both you and I.
Bill - K4WDR
Wow! What an extremely hectic and draining contest. With the arrival of the last 12 hours remaining in the contest, I was spent. I decided that in order to reach my goal of at least placing in the top 25 listed on the Score Server I would just have to set my alarm and get about 4 to 6 hours sleep which would then leave me 6 to 8 hours during the "prime time" on 20m to make up for what I was knowing to be lacking in points. When the alarm went off, I made only one comment to my wife; "Screw It" ... and went back to sleep.
How others are able to persevere and obtain points in the upper 6 and lower 7 digit figures I have not a single clue. They must have some really amazing listening capabilities with their respective stations as well as the fortitude of the average Army Ranger! I know it is a ridiculous statement to make (as well as having been many years since passed) but I don't recall even basic training in the Army being this tough both mentally and physically. Ouch ... I am getting old it would seem.
|Flex Image Of Band Activity During Contest - Courtesy Of KK4YDR - Eric|
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