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.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! I am studying for HAM basic + (I'm in Canada) and have been looking for a decent small station. Thank you for posting this!