Author Archive

80 Meters Was out of Reach…

80meterswasoutofreachI have a pal who lives a stone’s throw away from me. He kept telling me about a group that he chatted with most nights on 80 meters. The closest I could get was 40 meters with my multiband inverted vee. I could hear those guys clear as anything, all 300 miles away. Try as I might, my 40, which tuned for 80 just couldn’t make the trip with my barefoot 100 watts.

It took me a while to figure out how to get such a long antenna in my rented back yard. I did a lot of measuring and drawing in Autocad to make absolutely sure I could put this up back there. When I was finally convinced, I told my pal Lloyd, that I was going to do it. I told him I’d get it as soon as I ordered and received some more wire. Being the great guy he is, he told me he had wire for me to just come and get it. I was more than appreciative.

Wire in hand, I knew I’d need a balun to bring it in from my 450 ohm line that I would use from the feed point to near my window. I ventured onto the Internet and found an outdoor electronic project box. It was about 3.5×5. Perfect for the toroids I had already purchased. Parts in hand, I began work.

Read the rest of this entry »

A New Paddle for a New Extra

21Since my last article was published, I made my fourth attempt to pass the extra exam. I knew I had done better, but was pleasantly surprised when the VEs congratulated me. I’m still trying to believe that since it was only one week ago. Never mind that anyway, it doesn’t really have anything to do with the new CW paddle I made.

Way back when, after I had been on the air for a few months, I decided I’d give CW a shot. I knew I’d need a key or paddle, but didn’t really know where to start. A simple Internet search for CW paddle brought up a very large number of beautiful paddles that nearly made me drool. What prevented the drooling was the price attached to nearly all of those lovely paddles. I wasn’t about to spend that kind of money on something that I didn’t even know I could operate.

My next Internet search included the word “homebrew” to see if it were even possible to make a CW paddle that would work. Much to my amazement, there are hundreds of different designs for homebrew CW paddles. Altoid tins, hacksaw blades, plastic, wood, all wire, metal, you name it, someone had created one. Seeing all of those wonderful homemade paddles, I knew it was possible, but was it possible for me?

Read the rest of this entry »

A Homebrew Magic Band Beam (With an Update)

21So here I am again. Still young in the amateur radio field. I made that microphone switch and that worked wonderfully. So I decided I’d try my hand at a beam antenna.

I’m not sure what spurred my desire for a 6 meter beam, other than size, maybe. I think my first bits of material didn’t amount to enough to make a 10 meter beam, so a 6 meter would have to suffice.

The start of this project involved deciding where to get my materials. I researched all over the internet and didn’t like the cost of either a complete 6 meter beam, nor the cost of materials to make one. I mulled over materials I may have laying around and found an old deep fringe television antenna, long forgotten in the weed near the fence in the back yard.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Tale of Two Mics

Number 8I’m fairly new to this amateur radio community and I’ve already learned a lot. What excites me about it, beyond making contacts, is the making of parts and equipment. Homemade or homebrew items are sprinkled liberally around the community. I appreciate what I have learned and I’m excited to learn more.

So, here’s my problem:

I went through a couple of radios, mainly mobile radios, until I found suitable base radio for starters. After my young son decided to play with my adjustable power supply, he fried my Yaesu 8900, beyond repair. I took it to a local operator, who, after careful investigation and minor repair, declared the radio dead. He offered his condolences and offered that he might be selling a radio, not that he was trying to force me to buy it. I inquired about this radio. It was a Kenwood TS-2000. Looks nice and has a lot of buttons. He told me he was going to take it to the local ham fest to sell and if it didn’t he’d make it a good deal for me.

As fate would have it, the radio didn’t sell. Indeed, he sold it to me for an undisclosed amount that was more than a good deal for me. He added an HP DPS-1200FB server power supply to avoid the incident to which my Yaesu had succumbed. I was happy and overwhelmed. This radio was more than I ever imagined, and I’m still learning about it after almost a year.

Eventually, I discovered that VOX is very useful for HF work. So, I added a cheap computer studio mic and went to work on HF. Then, there are the local nets on the local repeaters. While not forbidden to use VOX on the repeater, setting things was just a bit tricky. So, I opted to use the supplied Kenwood dynamic push-to-talk mic for repeater work.

Now, the two mics are in play. Any time I switched between the repeaters and HF, I also switched mics. I had to disconnect one and attach the other, which, besides being cumbersome, just made me worried I’d eventually mess up the connectors.

Behold! The idea for a microphone selector switch was born.

Read the rest of this entry »

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

We never share your e-mail address.

Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!

  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor