Posts Tagged ‘Antenna projects’

It’s antenna farm time.

Before I purchased my Hustler 4BTV vertical antenna I was using a 45 foot End-fed antenna. I have kept the End-fed antenna coiled up and ready to go along with the coax still attached. The Hustler vertical only gives me 40, 20, 15 and 10m which is great for contesting BUT if I wanted to venture on to other bands it would mean using the End-fed antenna. Also during high wind storms or freezing rain, I have taken the Hustler vertical down and left with no antenna. I have been thinking of bringing the End-fed antenna back to life and using it when the Hustler is down due to weather and to venture on the bands the Hustler does not cover. 

I rehung the End-fed antenna recently to run it through the paces with my antenna analyzer to make sure after sitting unused for so long there were no issues. It checked out just fine and the SWR was decent and where it was a bit high my trusty LDG AT-200pro II would look after it. The main obstetrical for me is the proximity of the two antennas when they are both up at the same time. My next test was to connect my End-fed antenna to my Daiwa CN-901 antenna port and a 50-ohm dummy load to the radio port. I then wanted to transmit 100 watts into my Hustler 4BTV antenna and see what type of reflected power the Daiwa CN-901 SWR meter was showing. Below are the results for 40, 20, 15 and 20m on the 20 watts scale.


40 Meters

20 Meters

15 Meters

10 Meters

The reflected power was not significant and 10m was the highest. I plan to disconnect whichever antenna I am not using and connect it to a 50-ohm dummy load. In the future, I may prefab a 12-volt relay to switch between each antenna and use the relay contacts as the isolation point. For now, it is going to be the dummy load solution.

Part one: HOA antenna challenges.


Alpha Delta DX-EE

 Many Amateur radio ops now find themselves in a neighbourhood, downsizing to a condo or moving to an assisted living complex that is ham radio antenna unfriendly. I have lived in many antenna challenged, HOA and condo rules that outlaw antennas. But I have always managed to get on the air using HF and enjoy the hobby. Over the next few posts, I am going to share how I accepted the antenna challenge and kept the HOA hounds or condo cops from having their heads spin backwards. Today let's look at a situation that involves home HOA hounds or townhouse condo cops. 

In the neighbourhoods I have moved to I always get a copy of the rules. (HOAs and condos have more pleasant words than rules) But let me start by saying I am not against having common understandings (rules) as it can control some funny things that can pop up in uncontrolled neighbourhoods or condos. In most of the rules I have read regarding antennas, it boils down to you can't have them due to safety, how they look and the size. The way I see it is if it's safe, no one see's it and it's small then we are good to go with an antenna! 

The first big hurdle is out of sight, as with amateur radio an HF antenna can be a tough one. For 16 years I lived in a townhouse which was not antenna friendly. I found we had a very large attic and then the next challenge was what to put up there for HF operations. What I tried was 2 mobile whips configured into a dipole. This had a very narrow bandwidth and only a single band as I could not set up more than one due to space and interaction. A band change meant getting up in the attic and doing the whip change. That idea was deleted due to attic heat in the summer and just getting up and down from the attic. 

Electric fence stand-offs

My goal was a multiband antenna that was small and could be left in the attic and forgot about. I committed to a dipole antenna from Alpha Delta the DX-EE model. This was a 10-40m antenna that was 40 feet long. Now my attic is nowhere close to being 40 feet long but I ended up installing it in a "Z" configuration. To secure the antenna in the "Z" configuration I used electric fence standoffs. Also, I added a 1:1 choke balun at the antenna feed point. This antenna served me without issue for years and it was out of the elements from the weather, out of sight and got me on the air. As a sidebar, I only transmitted at QRP levels as I did not want to have any issues with those on either side of us in the townhouse.






Some of the challenges were:
The antenna had a narrow bandwidth on 40m but the Elecraft K3 tuner looked after that. As well using the Elecraft K3 tuner I was able to also use the WARC bands as well.
I picked up very bad band noise from a Plasma TV but that was fixed with an MFJ noise-cancelling unit.
Getting the coax from the attic to the radio room. The room was on the second floor and I ended up putting the coax in the wall and out in the radio room.
Securing the antenna for a "Z" configuration. As mentioned I used electric fence stand-offs. 

Getting the best bang for each watt of power meant CW and not SSB. That began my journey of re-learning CW. Also fast forward to now there is also the digital modes you can use. 

 The next post (part 2) will be dealing with my condo apartment antenna challenges.

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Hustler 4BTV base cover.


Lower section before balun install.

Autumn is here along with the leaves all over the lawn, once or twice a week I take the lawn mower out with the grass catcher on and vacuum the lawn of leaves. Doing this got me thinking of winter and my Hustler 4BTV antenna regarding the snow. I did some internet searches and some left the base alone while others covered it. The conscience was that snow does not bother the vertical with regards to performance but I was concerned about the connections and isolation balun.
I decided to make a box to cover the base section of the antenna but one that could easily come off in case of a storm and I had to lower the antenna. I wanted something simple, that would stand up to the weather and remove without issue. I came up with a cover made of wood and only 4 deck screws had to be removed to remove the box cover from the antenna for storage. The top also has 4 deck screws it can be removed for access to the antenna if it has to be taken down due to high winter winds.

I also made the box with room on the side as I knew I would be adding the choke balun to the mix. It's going to be painted white to mix in with the snow when it comes and I will keep on top of shovelling the snow on and around it just in case the antenna has to come down due to windy weather.
As said before to remove the box ultimately all that has to be done is 4 deck screws removed and the side cover and half of the top cover comes off and the box can be removed and stored for the summer. In case of poor winter weather, 2 deck screws are removed and half of the top cover is removed and the antenna base is exposed. 

Room for the Balun

 Completed box to be painted
To take the antenna down I was going to purchase a tilt base but to tilt the antenna because of its length there were obstacles in all directions. What I do (as I did this during hurricane Fiona over the summer) is the loosen the lower section screw clamp then the complete antenna can be removed from the base section. I then loosen the screw clamp at the top of the 20m trap and separate the antenna. This splits the antenna in half and can be stored in the shed until the storm has passed. As with any vertical antenna you have to fine-tune the SWR by adjusting the tubing. This can get very fussy and time-consuming and once done it's best not to tweak it. The tubing section at the top of the 20m trap just bottoms out and is not meant to be adjusted. Therefore when the antenna goes back together this section bottoms out and the SWR on all bands is not affected. This was proven during Fiona when the antenna came down and went back up again without SWR changes. 

The final picture shows 1/2 of the top cover removed and the lower screw clamp is exposed and can be loosened for the antenna to be removed. The cover goes back in place.

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New Antenna: The Following Footprints Are of My CW Signals (2021-March-14 @ 04:00 to 04:20 UTC).

The following footprints are of my CW signals on 2021-March-14 at about 04:00 to 04:20 UTC.

Click on this image to see a larger version of this image:
Footprint of NW7US Test CW Transmissions, Using New OCF Antenna

Location: EM89ad – Ohio
Antenna: OCD (Off-center Dipole)

Description of Antenna:

This is an off-center dipole, with the two legs running East-East-South (approximately 125 degrees of North), and West-West-North (about 306 degrees on the compass). The westward wire (leg) is approximately 107 feet in length, while the eastward leg is about 95 feet in length.

These legs (an off-center-fed dipole) is directly connected to about 90 feet of 450-ohm ladder line, which is hanging directly below, vertically, the feed point. The feed point is 50 feet above the ground.

The ladder line terminates (at the 12-feet-above-ground point) to a 4:1 current balun. This current balun then connects to a 100-foot LMR 50-ohm coax, which is running into the radio shack. It is connected via an antenna switch to my Icom IC-7610 transceiver. I am transmitting a 100-watt CW signal using an Icom IC-7610, in the following format:


The Reverse Beacon Network reports any spotting of this test transmission. The beta mapping interface, at, then maps the resulting spots. To learn more about the RBN, visit, or,

I show the 20-, 30-, 40-, 60-, 80-, and 160-Meter band footprints.

I’ve been capturing these CW transmission spots, at different times of the day, today. I’ll get data from several days, at regular intervals, and create a overview of how the antenna appears to be working during this month and under these propagation conditions.

73 de NW7US dit dit


Tweaking the Endfed antenna.

I have been doing some reading regarding Endfed antennas and the length of 44 feet kept coming up as the length for a short Endfed antenna in small lots. My Endfed was just extended from 34 feet to 41 feet which I spoke about in my last post.   My plan now was to try the 44-foot length of wire and see what the results were both using a counterpoise and not using one. This was going to be a trial project so the extra 3 feet of wire I am to add is not at this point going to be permanent. 
I cut a 3-foot piece of wire and placed soldered terminal ring connectors at each end. My plan was to remove the antenna wire from the balun end which already had a terminal ring connector on it. Then bolt antenna ring connector to the 3-foot piece and the other end of the 3-foot extension that was to be connected to the balun connector. This would give me the extra 3 feet needed to extend things to 44 feet. Once the 44 feet was stretch out I found out very quickly that 44 feet is the maximum length I can use between my shed and tree.
Three feet of wire

With the counterpoise attached, I went into the shack and ran through the bands using my MFJ 259B antenna analyzer and recorded the results and then once again with the counterpose removed. As a side note, one of the best purchases I made was the antenna analyzer, it makes short work of most antenna testing tasks. I do have a second antenna analyzer which is the Funk FA-VA4  its a nice unit but because its menu-driven I find it to be a bit cumbersome.  With the MFJ unit, you select the band range with one knob and with the other knob spin to your desired frequency and then read the LED readout. 
Well back to the Endfed experiment and below are the results with the added 3 feet of wire.

Results without a counterpoise:
     Band              Freq               SWR

  1. 80.              4.000.             7.5
  2. 80.              3.500.             6.7
  3. 40.              7.001.            3.2
    40.              7.070.            3.3
    30.              10.100.          5.0
    30.              10.150.          5.0
    20.              14.001.          1.8
    20.              14.070.         1.7
    17.              18.068.         1.6
    17.              18.168.         1.6
    21.              21.001.         2.6
    21.              21.070.         2.6

Results with a counterpoise:
         Band              Freq           SWR

  1. 80.              4.000.            9.1
  2. 80.              3.500.            9.6            
  3. 40.              7.001.            4.4
    40.              7.070.            4.4
    30.             10.100.           5.0
    30.             10.150.           5.0
    20.              14.001.          2.4
    20.              14.070.          2.3
    17.             18.068.           2.0
    17.             18.168.           2.0
    21.             21.001.           2.6
    21.             21.070.           2.7
As you can see from the above results (not sure where the 1,2,3 numbers came from but I just can't seem to remove them without screwing up the chart) the counterpoise only made things worse again. The results without the counterpoise were decent on some bands (80m and 20m) but overall when the Endfed was at 41 feet it was not that different from 44 feet. The one deciding factor for going back to 41 feet was when at 44 the wire was directly connected to the tree. I was not able to add my bungee cord to allow the antenna to have some flex in it when the winds picked up and the tree started to sway. I was not able to add a bungee cord either as this made the antenna wire hang really low. 
bungee allowing for flex when 41 feet long. 
As you can see in the picture the bungee cord allows the tree to sway in the wind but not affect the antenna with the stress of stretching. The red parachute cord you see is there as a backup if the bungee snaps. It was a nice experiment trying the 44 foot but the results were not drastic enough for me to keep with the 44-foot length. The antenna is not back to 41 feet and my curiosity has been solved. 

The Ultimax DXtreme

The retired W1SFR
For the past few days, our weather here on the East coast has been excellent nice warm weather (up to +10) with no rain and just great sunny skies. On the second day of this great weather, I decided it was time to put up my new Ultimax DXtreme EndFed antenna. The antenna I have at present is the W1SFR KX3 helper EndFed antenna.  As I have said past posts this is a fantastic antenna, very well built and works as advertised. So why am I replacing this antenna with yet another EndFed antenna, this is a very good question and was answered in this post.
Ultimax size difference
When I took the KX3 helper down I was pleasantly surprised how great the balun enclosure looked. It has been up for over 6 months exposed all kinds of weather and looked as new as the first day it went up. The first step to get the new antenna up was to install the counterpoise that I ordered with the Ultimax antenna. The configuration for my EndFed antenna is the Balun end is in a tree about 25 feet high with the wire extending down to my shed and is terminated about 8 feet above the ground. This is the same configuration I am going to use for the Ultimax antenna as well. The counterpoise from Ultimax antennas consists of a single wire for about 6 feet and then it splits into 2 separate wires. I used a staple gun to secure the counterpoise to the tree trunk.  The only choice I had was to place one counterpoise leg on one side of the tree trunk and the other one on the opposite side. The tree is only about 1.5 feet around so the counterpoise wires are not that far apart. At the bottom of the tree, each counterpoise goes along the ground in opposite directions for about 15 feet.
The Ultimax antenna is rated at 2KW SSB with 14 gauge wire along with a hefty insulator. Since my max output will be 100 watts CW and tops 80 watts DATA the insulator and wire on the Ultimax is a bit too heavy duty. Plus my support at the wire end is a wooden pole that is not meant for heavy-duty support.
Ultimax is up. 
The idea was to use the wire from the W1SFR KX3 helper as so I thought at the time it was only 2 feet longer than the Ultimax antenna wire but very light. I folded over the wire to bring it down to 33 feet to match the Ultimax wire length and check the SWR on 80, 40, 30, 20 17 and 15m both with and without a counterpoise. The results show when using a counterpoise the SWR was not as good as without. I am guessing this is because of the position of the counterpoise, I was running out of time and not able to play too much with the counterpoise. We are expecting a very large snowstorm tomorrow so the antenna play is done for now. I am going to leave the antenna up without the counterpoise attached. BUT having said that the counterpoise is very easy to attach if need be.

Results without a counterpoise:
     Band              Freq           SWR
    80.              4.000.        7.0
    80.              3.500.        8.1
    40.              7.001.        1.8
    40.              7.070.        1.8
    30.              10.100.     3.3
    30.              10.150.     3.3
    20.              14.001.     4.6
    20.              14.070.     4.6
    17.              18.068.     2.5
    17.              18.168.     2.5
    21.              21.001.     1.5
    21.              21.070.     1.5
Results with a counterpoise:
         Band              Freq           SWR
    80.              4.000.        6.5
    80.              3.500.       9.1
    40.              7.001.       5.2
    40.              7.070.       5.2
    30.              10.100.     2.2
    30.              10.150.     2.2
    20.              14.001.     4.9
    20.              14.070.     4.9
    17.              18.068.     2.7
    17.              18.168.     2.6
    21.              21.001.     1.6
    21.              21.070.     1.5
Results from W1SFR EndFed:
         Band              Freq           SWR
    40.              7.001.        1.9
    40.              7.070.        2.5
    30.              10.100.     4.4
    30.              10.150.     4.5
    20.              14.001.     4.5
    20.              14.070.     4.3
    17.              18.068.     1.5
    17.              18.168.     1.5
    21.              21.001.     1.8
    21.              21.070.     1.8

Part 3 of ham radio and condo life

Failed Hy-gain tape dipole
Good Saturday afternoon readers and sorry for the tardiness with regards to finally getting around to part 3. Work has been very busy and not much computer or radio time! In this part I am going to look at the antennas I have used and I have used a lot of different configurations. I had some responses from those who live in condo townhouses I too have lived in a condo townhouse and had great success. Most townhouses up this way are of wood construction which is good news for the indoor antennas. If you have a multilevel townhouse you most likely have access to an attic. There may also be a back deck and or a small to medium backyard.
Let me begin by saying this segment on antennas assumes you are looking for something that is either hidden or looks like something it's not.
Most (but not mine) town homes have a garage and driveway to-which you park a car in. I have found a very simple way to get on the air is to put an antenna on your car and run coax out to it. Now having said that you don't want to run around town with a huge antenna on your car (maybe you ...but not me) There are many fast connect/disconnect mounts on the market. As for the antenna I have seen and did have a multi-band HF antenna. I did operate my home HF radio with a multi-band antenna.....yes I did say I had no driveway or garage but more on that in a minute. The antenna I used was something similar to the Comet UHV-6 mounted on my car. There is also the Hustler triband adapter to allow 3 Hustler resonators to be used at the same time. With these types of antennas or similar ones you can run coax out to your car in the driveway connect to the antenna and your on the air.
In my case my townhouse at the time did not have a driveway or garage it was a common car parking lot. So what I did was I buried LMR 400 in plastic tubing out to where my car was. I terminated the coax to an SO-239 in a small plastic box. The box was in a small bush and unseen. When I wanted to go on the air I connected a small jumper of coax from the box to my car antenna. I was able to use this for about 3 years.
Attic DX-EE
If you have an attic and I did in one of my town homes the best antenna for me was the Alpha Delta DX-EE. I mounted this antenna in my attic is a "Z" configuration. To mount it I used stand off's for electric fences. This antenna was very close to the roof and other wood 2x4 rafters but surprisingly I had no real issues with SWR. My Elecraft K3 radio has a great tuner in it when needed.
DX-EE stand offs
Another antenna configuration I tried in my attic was two mono band whip antennas set up as a dipole. This antenna was tricking to mount in the attic as it was very rigid and required room. It worked well but do to the space this antenna needed I was only able to get two separate
Weaving between rafters
antennas of this kind in the attic.
Backyard side kick
One antenna I had and tried in the attic but could not get it to work was the High Sierra sidekick antenna. I tried various ground radial configurations but could not get it to tune at all.
I did end up mounting the High Sierra sidekick antenna in the backyard close to our deck. It was in a very hard spot to see and I was able to remove the antenna when not in use and bring it in the house. I was able to conspicuously bury some radials and was able to get a decent SWR.
High Sierra attic attempt
Because our condo town home was mainly wood construction I was also able to setup my Alex Loop in the living room by the patio sliding glass door and make some decent contacts. 
Mobile whip dipole

Alex loop in living room
Another failed antenna for me was the Hy-gain  tape dipole and I am not sure why it did work and the DX-EE did but it was worth a try. I had this antenna for some time so there was no money outlay but it just did not want to tune. Part 4 will be dealing with Ham radio in a condo apartment building and how I have successfully gotten on the air for the past 6 years.

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