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.