Posts Tagged ‘Antenna projects’

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.

In the park with 5 watts, KX3 and new Endfed antenna

My outdoor shack 
I had this past Thursday off work and it was time to take my KX3 out on the trail again. In my last outing I used mono band whip antenna that was mounted on my bike along with a counterpoise. After giving this setup several tries I came to the conclusion that it was time to look at another setup option. I ordered the Endfed 40-6m antenna and it came in last week and it was now time to give it a go. To get the Endfed 40-6m antenna up on a tree branch I used an idea that was emailed to me by a fellow ham. I purchased some golfballs, closed ended "eye" hooks that are threaded on one end,  carabiners and rope. The "Eye hook is screwed into the golfball, one side of the carabiner is hooked onto the eye  and the rope is loop knotted and the other side of the carabiner is hooked onto the rope loop. I chose to use  a double sided carabiner at both ends of the antenna as it allows me to fast connect and disconnect without playing around with knots. I think using the golf ball is great as it has some
Golfball setup 
weight to it and is smooth on all sides allowing it pass through leaves and not getting hung up on branches. This method worked great for me and I was able to have good control with regards to placing the golfball in the tree right where I wanted it. Once the rope was in the tree I pulled the Endfed antenna up into the tree and got down to working the bands. When using this style of antenna I was informed that an antenna tuner is a must but I wanted to check out the SWR without using my tuner.
10m                    Frequency                    SWR
                           28.020                          3.8
                           28.060                          3.8
15m
                           21.020                          2.9
                           21.060                          2.9
20m
                           14.020                         3.8
                           14.060                         3.8
40m
                           7.020                           8.4
                           7.040                           8.4
The antenna was mounted in a sloper configuration the high end at about 20 feet off the ground and the other end ground mounted. The tuner in the KX3 was able to bring all bands but 40m to a flat match, I was able to get 40m down to 1.5. The bands were very quite but I did spend some time
Anchor point 
calling CQ with the goal of checking the Reverse Beacon Network when I got home to see how my signal faired. I was not heard by any European stations but I was spotted on all bands by stations south of the boarder. The Solar conditions have not been all that great lately so I was very pleased with these results. I plan on heading out again on Saturday morning and this time my plan is to try to get the antenna higher up so a portion of my antenna is not at ground level. Since the weekend is here and I hope the bands will be more busy maybe a contact or two would be nice as well.

In the park with 5 watts, KX3 and new Endfed antenna

My outdoor shack 
I had this past Thursday off work and it was time to take my KX3 out on the trail again. In my last outing I used mono band whip antenna that was mounted on my bike along with a counterpoise. After giving this setup several tries I came to the conclusion that it was time to look at another setup option. I ordered the Endfed 40-6m antenna and it came in last week and it was now time to give it a go. To get the Endfed 40-6m antenna up on a tree branch I used an idea that was emailed to me by a fellow ham. I purchased some golfballs, closed ended "eye" hooks that are threaded on one end,  carabiners and rope. The "Eye hook is screwed into the golfball, one side of the carabiner is hooked onto the eye  and the rope is loop knotted and the other side of the carabiner is hooked onto the rope loop. I chose to use  a double sided carabiner at both ends of the antenna as it allows me to fast connect and disconnect without playing around with knots. I think using the golf ball is great as it has some
Golfball setup 
weight to it and is smooth on all sides allowing it pass through leaves and not getting hung up on branches. This method worked great for me and I was able to have good control with regards to placing the golfball in the tree right where I wanted it. Once the rope was in the tree I pulled the Endfed antenna up into the tree and got down to working the bands. When using this style of antenna I was informed that an antenna tuner is a must but I wanted to check out the SWR without using my tuner.
10m                    Frequency                    SWR
                           28.020                          3.8
                           28.060                          3.8
15m
                           21.020                          2.9
                           21.060                          2.9
20m
                           14.020                         3.8
                           14.060                         3.8
40m
                           7.020                           8.4
                           7.040                           8.4
The antenna was mounted in a sloper configuration the high end at about 20 feet off the ground and the other end ground mounted. The tuner in the KX3 was able to bring all bands but 40m to a flat match, I was able to get 40m down to 1.5. The bands were very quite but I did spend some time
Anchor point 
calling CQ with the goal of checking the Reverse Beacon Network when I got home to see how my signal faired. I was not heard by any European stations but I was spotted on all bands by stations south of the boarder. The Solar conditions have not been all that great lately so I was very pleased with these results. I plan on heading out again on Saturday morning and this time my plan is to try to get the antenna higher up so a portion of my antenna is not at ground level. Since the weekend is here and I hope the bands will be more busy maybe a contact or two would be nice as well.

If at first you don’t succeed try try again!

Well, here we are once again trying to get the portable ham radio setup going.

My first attempt was to place one of my mono band whips on my bike and set out a counter poise. It was with mixed results, the SWR was sometimes all over, there was a TX error message now and again on my KX3 and basically frustration trying to get it to work. So if at first you don’t succeed try try again.

Last week I was online searching again for another way to get my portable op’s on the air. I was looking for something that was easy to deploy, was portable and worked!

My interest has gone toward the Endfed  antennas. I was looking at LNR’s antennas and then I came across the Endfed 40-6m antenna by Steve W1SFR. I shot him some questions regarding the antenna and he got back to me right away with the answers. His Endfed seems to be very well built using Wireman “silky” 18 gauge wire which I have used in the past and been very happy with. There was a nice noticeable quality in both the wire connections and the 9:1 unUn.

The antenna is only 35 feet but you do need about 25 feet of coax to act as a counter poise. Also your rig needs to have an antenna tuner (mine does) to get the benefit of 6m-40m with only a 35′ antenna and no traps. Also it was nice to see on his web site a link to purchase his antenna including shipping to VE3 land.

The shipping was super reasonable the total came to 67.00 U.S. Steve also mentions that his price includes handling as well. Other sites I had gone to being very interested in their antenna to only find out the shipping at times was either 1/2 or more of the price of the antenna.

There was lots of positive reviews on Eham about Steve’s antenna  as well. I put some items I am not using in the shack sold them very fast and the funds were in place so I have placed my order and waiting for it to arrive.

I have the 25′ of coax on hand but I do have to head out to the hardware store for some rope 1/8″ nylon rope. Then I’m thinking of placing a water bottle with some sand it it as a weight to get the rope up and over a tree branch…..that is going to take some practice!

A slight change of plans…..

The test setup 
I was out today once again with my portable operations but this time there was no on air time it was time to test and decide. I went out with my MFJ antenna analyzer, mobile whip antennas and various lengths of counter poise. I wanted to see where my 20m mobile whip antenna was resonant and using the MFJ analyzer was the easiest way of doing this. The counter poise for 20m I started with was 17.5 feet long and the SWR was not showing it was resonant in the CW portion of the band but in the SSB section. So I found I have to lengthen the counter poise to 30 feet to get the SWR to 1.2:1 in the CW portion of 20m. This got me to thinking if the mobile whip was the way to go, I did have these antennas hanging around and I wanted to give them a go to see what results I would get. They are still very useful to me when I operate portable mobile from the car and they preform very well in that situation. I wanted to try the whip  antenna as I felt it would be a very small footprint of an antenna but with a counter poise of 30 feet the footprint is larger than I would like. From most of my blog reading about portable trail operation, NPOTA operations and just plan old out in the park for the day operation hands down most of the time the antenna of choice was one of LNR's par end fed antenna's.   I have looked over the antennas at LNR Precisions site and not sure yet which antenna to get, I am leaning toward the EF-20 as it's not as long (33') as say the other models. I'm really not going to use 40m and I figure (but not sure) I can use the Elecraft KX3's tuner to operate 15 and 10M?? Any feedback about this antenna or others would be appreciated.

A brief overview of my MFJ 1788 loop antenna.

The antenna
Overall I have been very pleased with the purchase of the MFJ 1788 loop antenna. Considering the location I am in and the restrictions of a condo such as.....concrete all around you, other buildings blocking your signal, very small space to put an antenna and power level must be kept low as to not affect the neighbors. After doing considerable searching for the right antenna for this location it boiled down to this antenna. The power I run is 5 watts max and this is not new for me as I have been a QRP op for years now. Below are the reasons why I am pleased with this antenna to be followed by some of the not pleasing things about the antenna.
1. Very small foot print for an antenna that will give you 15m to 40m.
2. The antenna can be used mounted horizontally or vertically.
3. Once you get used to the tuning it's very fast and easy to tune.
4. I covered my antenna with as to keep it low profile and it works no problem with the cover.
5. The antenna remote control can operate either on AC or batteries.
6. Can be mounted on a simple tri-pod.

Some of the draw backs
1. The quality of the antenna is low, I had to make some adjustments to make it work as it should.
2. The band width is narrow and retuning has to be down often.
3. The SWR meter in the remote control unit is not very reliable.
4. Buzzer used to tell you the coarse tuning has finished is VERY hard to hear.
Repairing Cap spacing

On air results with this antenna have been good, with regards to receiving I have been able to hear the Middle East, South Pacific, Europe, South America and of coarse North America. Now hearing a station and contacting the station is another ball of wax. With my power restrictions I have made some very satisfying contacts. My modest signal has made it into South America, all parts of Europe, Iceland and Africa so far. There are two Loop antennas that MFJ makes and if I was to make the choice again I would had gone with the MFJ 1786 as it covers 10m to 30m. I have found with this antenna there is no way to tune it below 15m. The characteristic of the tuning capacitor will not allow it. I have read the MFJ 1788 is like a wet noodle on 40m and it's true I have not been able to make it into the U.S. The MFJ 1786 would had been a better choice with more band opportunities.   

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