Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rockwell-Collins Follow Up

The latest newsletter from the Rockwell-Collins radio club, mentioned me and my Slinky presentation that I did for them last month. I got a kick out of the article above and excited that someone else wanted to try the antenna. I really enjoyed my visit to their club and hope I can join them again.

To see the full newsletter, go to:

Today I got back in town just in time to try to make a 10 meter contact with the contest going on. I have not been able to even hear anything on 10 meters with the Slinky Antenna so I fired up the radio this afternoon and scanned around for a station. I heard a very strong signal running a contest station in Ohio. I gave him a call and he came back with a 59 report on my first try. I did not hear anything else on the band with my antenna, but happy I was able to make at least one contact on 10 meters.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Radio Programming Software

Ok a post that is not about Slinky Antennas. :-)

When I purchased my Yaesu FT-857D, I decided that a must accessory for that radio was programming software. After owning the IC-706mkiig, I had several occasions where I had to completely reset the radio, losing all my programming frequency's. Living in the Dallas Ft. Worth area, there are lots of repeaters to program. With my dual band J-Pole antenna, I can hit over 40 repeaters from my house. I purchased the programming software from Yaesu and it worked like a dream. So if it works so well with that radio, why not get software for my HT, Yaesu VX-3? I purchased the USB cable off of Ebay and after a month of waiting, it finally came (shipped from China). So now for the programming software. The place I bought the cable from said they would give me the programming software, so after downloading it, I found out it was not compatible with my radio, only the VX-2. So I researched the other software options and I found two. One was by the same company who makes the ADMS software for Yaesu at $25 and one from a Ham in Great Britain for $15. Since I could download the last one for free to try it out, I opted with that one. It connected to my HT and pulled all the frequency's I had already programmed in. If you are familiar with the "banks" feature in the VX-3, you know how cool but a pain it is to program. This software makes that easy to do. I love this software and would recommend any of this programming software for the radios if has. Check out his website at:

---Click on the images to see the screen shots better.

Update to attic slinky antenna

When I tell other Ham's what kind of antenna I have in my attic for HF and how it is configured, everyone says the same thing..... "That won't work!" Well I have proved that it does. However, I know there are some things I can do to improve the design. While cleaning my office/Ham station today, I ran across my LDG 4:1 balun that I had connected to a long wire. I got to thinking about the group on Ebay that sells Slinky Dipoles and how they have baluns on their design. So with my LDG Z100 auto tuner, why not try it with the slinky antenna I have in the attic? It was really easy to put up with a piece of wire connected to each side of the slinky antenna. After I did, I noticed less noise on the bands and receiving more stations, or at least I was able to hear more stations with the reduction in noise. I even noticed I could hear WWV on 15 MHz which I never noticed being able to do before. The biggest difference I noticed was the reception on 40 meters. At 2:30 in the afternoon when I usually do not hear anything on the band, I heard several stations on. Mostly all in Texas including a mobile station in Amarillo. Could be band conditions, but for my set up here it was unusual. May not be a big change in the performance, but every little bit counts I think.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Tonight I was asked to speak to the Rockwell-Collins Amateur Radio Club about Slinky antennas. It was a great privilege for me. A member of the Rockwell-Collins club was at ham radio in the park and asked me to come talk about it. I had a great time putting together the presentation and speaking to their club. I equally enjoyed meeting and visiting with the members of the RCARC club and appreciate their receptiveness to my presentation. I really enjoyed chatting with Bob Kirby (K3NT) and appreciate him giving me a tour of the ham shack they have there. It is a very nice set up. And yes, I was in awe of the 50th anniversary Rockwell-Collins S-Line radio there. Thanks again to all who were there and I look forward to seeing you again.


Guest Speaker

I have the privilege to speak about Slinky Antennas at the Rockwell-Collins radio club tonight. I look forward to it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ham Radio in the Park - Rockwall

Saturday was a full and busy day for me. To start the day, I helped with communications along with other ham's for the CASA Fun Run in Rockwall. It was similar to other events the club participates with here locally. A good way to test out the radios to see if they are working and training for R.A.C.E.S.

After that, I met up with my Dad and we went to the RARC sponsored Ham Radio in the Park. Several hams from around the area came to Harry Myers Park in Rockwall for this event. And you couldn't ask for better weather especially in November except for a little wind. It was fun to see what other hams had to bring and set up for mobile stations. Along with the Buddipole that Les Darlington brought (K5RXQ), there was all kinds of attempts at antennas. With the wind, Les put up a kite and the idea came to put an antenna on it. Just as the antenna was attached, the wind died down enough not to support the antenna. Good try though. We brought our new antenna that we just created this week, the Slinky J-Pole. It worked OK, but not like I had hoped. We tried some other configurations with the Slinky's and had some success. We took the long 20' pole and made a 40 meter vertical dipole and made a couple of state side contacts and even heard a station in Spain. We also trying a 40 meter inverted V that worked well also. Have to do some more work with the j-pole idea, but we are convinced it will work very well once we get it logistics of it tweaked a little better.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Slinky J-Pole?

When my Dad and I were playing with the slinky Buddipole, we started to talk about other possibilities. We talked about doing a j-pole for HF with regular size Slinky's. I have a j-pole that Ed Fong (WB6IQN) made for me off his design and article in QST. It works great for 2 meters and 440. I have that j-pole inside my chimney at the top of my house so no one can see it. From here I can hit repeaters in Arlington, Ft. Worth, Denton, Waxahachie, and even Commerce Texas. I had plenty of Slinky's so why not give it a try. I found this really good j-pole calculator ( and figured that it might be possible. Since a 40 meter j-pole would require a long side of almost 100 feet of wire, why wouldn't a slinky work since one slinky is 65 feet of wire. So off I went to Lowe's and Home Depot to find materials. PVC is easy to work with, but is really wobbly the taller you make it. I found some electrical conduit PVC pipe that was 1.5" in diameter. I picked this type because it had a built in coupler to join another piece. The 1.5" by 10' pipe should be sturdy enough for one 20' pole. I also found a 6' piece of re-barb. These three pieces cost me $7. I put the re-barb into the ground about 18"-24" and slipped the PVC over it. To my surprise, it did not tip over as I was sure it would. I tried to knock it over but is stayed up right. Must be the hard clay we have in the ground in Rockwall. I tried once to put a 20'-25' PVC pole up using 3/4" and 1" pipe, it would not stay up. I used what I already had in 1" pvc to make the short side of the j-pole at 10'. I joined two Slinky's together for the 20' pole and just one on the 10' pole. I heard several stations on 40 meters which I thought was a good sign since it was during the week and during the day. I heard a CQ from WA4PUB in Marietta Georgia. He and I talked for several minutes. So yes this antenna works. This is a quick set up and really cheap to make. This antenna would be great for Field Day or just hanging out in the back yard on a nice Saturday afternoon. Without modifying this antenna for 20 meters, I heard several stations as well, including one in Hawaii, Ecuador, and Chile. A 20 meter j-pole would be easier than 40 meters since it is about half the height on both legs. Next is to try this antenna at our club outing this Saturday. RARC's first Ham Radio in the Park. Should be really nice weather and a good time. Can't wait to try this antenna there.

The cost of the items for this antenna (40 meters):
3 Slinky's at $2.99 each at Target
3 10' PVC or PVC electrical conduit at $2.70 each
2 6' re-barb at $1.30 each

Total is about $20

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Today, my dad (N5ME) was in town and for some time we have talked about making our own Buddipole. I have been very impressed with the design of the Buddipole and since they are out of my budget right now, I thought why not build one. So today my dad and I constructed one. We used four mini Slinky's (much smaller than the original slinky) and two whips from an old TV (rabbit ears) set. As seen in the picture we also used PVC pipe to hold it all up. We used my dad's antenna analyzer and found after some tweaking, we were resonate close to the 40 meter band. So I grabbed my radio and we gave it a test. We heard several stations on 40 meters and then I heard W0O calling CQ. I called and he came back. Kent was working a special event station in Frankenstein, Missouri for Halloween. What a great name for a town on Halloween. So it worked! I also heard several stations on 20 meters as well all over including Michigan, California, and Florida. So not bad for a cheap quickly constructed Buddipole. Now we have to decide if it works well enough to construct something more stable or try another design. Hopefully we will have something together for Ham Radio in the Park in Rockwall next Saturday.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Compared to many hams out there, my ham station is pretty small. I have the Yaesu FT-857D all mode HF/UHF/VHF mobile radio and the Yaesu VX-3 dual band hand held radio. My first HF rig was the Icom 706. I actually owned two of these. First was the first model that came out with just 2 meters and HF in it. Then the most recent one that came out which was the 706 MKIIG and it had 440 in it. I liked that radio a lot, but seemed to have issues with it and it was in for repair more than I had it. So I decided to sell it after getting it back from Icom service and got the Yaesu. I really like this radio. The size and features are more than I could want or need in an all mode radio. I put this radio in the car on long trips and use it as my base station radio.

After I bought the FT-857D, I did not have any money left for an antenna. So I did many things to try to get an antenna to get on the air. My first attempt was connecting my rain gutter and it did pretty well. I also had a long wire that my Dad gave me that never really performed very well. My most recent antenna took four Slinky's that I bought from Target. My first configuration was in an "L" shape in my attic. It did ok, but never really performed any better than the rain gutter. A couple of weekends ago, I decided to change that configuration. As seen in the picture, I took the two long Slinky's and put them parallel along the top of my attic. They are stretched out about 17' and have about 12"-18" of gap between them. What a difference that made! I did this on the Saturday of the PA and AZ QSO party contest. Before I changed anything, I heard only two stations on 20 meters. After the change, I could hear stations all over the place. It was like activity I am used to hearing on Field Day. I made several contacts to PA and AZ in minutes. Later in the week I talked to Mexico City and Ontario. Not to mention I could hear stations in Bulgaria and Croatia. Not bad for a $2.99 toy.

I cannot take credit for the Slinky idea. My Dad had been using Slinky's in his attic for a couple of years. He has had success with Slinky's in a vertical formation with some radials and has made several cw contacts as well as phone contacts. We still have not been able to get a QSO between the two of us with any antenna we have tried,but maybe one day we will. He will be coming for a visit next week and we are going to try to build a buddipole from some mini-slinky's I found on Ebay. That should be fun.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

R.A.C.E.S Drill

Today I participated in a emergency management simulation with Rockwall County (Texas) Emergency Management and Amateur Radio operators. The exercise was to simulate emergency situations that could come about from any kind of natural or terrorist disaster in Rockwall. HAM Radio operators put together and set up a station for HF and VHF/UHF. This was my first simulation drill since becoming a R.A.C.E.S member and will probably take part in another one next year. The experience gave me the itch to get my HF Station and go out into the woods to see what I could do. So as a result I took my station and my family to Lake Tawakoni to see if I could make contact with anyone. I figured I could just go to one of the campsites and plug in for a few minutes, however once we arrived EVERY campsite was occupied by a cub scout troop. So instead it gave my wife an opportunity to do a photo op of me and my HAM set up. Notice my Slinky Dipole set up behind me.