Thursday, October 27, 2011

G5RV Antenna

The next part of my antenna erecting project was to look at an antenna for HF, particularly for 10 metres with the sunspot maximum. Now my history of HF antennas has been very limited. The present antenna is a very short long wire which doubles back on itself fed with a long piece of coax. Last week I did a lot of research on dipoles and baluns, I also did some measuring in the back garden to see what length of antenna I could get away with. When I did the measurements I realised that I could just fit a half-size G5RV antenna. The half-size G5RV is a dipole with two 26.5 feet top and fed with 16 feet of 300 ohm ribbon cable. This then connects with a so-239 socket to any length of 50 ohm coax. I decided to try it out and take down the old antenna!

I sent for the G5RV kit from e-bay which arrived almost the next day! First a trip to Modern Radio to get some RG58u coax and some pl-259 plugs then out came the ladders!

So, after putting up the new antenna the question going around in my head was 'Will it work on all bands?' This antenna is only designed to use from 40m - 10m bands, maybe it will be useless on 80m and 160m. I also read about other people having problems tuning this antenna.

When I finally wired it up and connected it to the Yaesu FT-817 through the MFJ-945E tuner I was totally blown away!!

I could hear things that I could only dream of with the old longwire!

The dipole centre with the ribbon cable attached.

The ATU (Aerial Tuning Unit) did it's stuff perfectly giving me an almost 1:1 SWR on all the bands including 160m and 80m. On some bands it didn't even need the ATU, it was aready resonant, particularly the 40m band. I am very pleased with I want to try to work some stuff on 10 metres.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

28Mhz Opening!

This week has been amazing on 10m!

The band has been open during the day and I have heard stations from North and South America sounding like locals. lots of Italian and Russian stations and today I heard Brazil, Malta and Greece at incredible signal strengths.

I have decided that now is the time to change my HF antenna. If I can hear these stations with a (short) longwire and a lot of noise, I wondered what I may hear with a dipole or G5RV antenna.

After a lot of thinking and research, I have decided to replace the very poor longwire with a half-size G5RV antenna, so now I have ordered one from ebay. I am on holiday this week, so I will put up the new aerial and try it on 10 metres. Trouble is that because it is a half size G5RV, it may not work well on 80m and 160m, but maybe my tuner or Z-match with compensate for that.

I am still amazed at the discone antenna. It seems to work well to receive stations on 10m as a vertical without all the noise and this morning it did the same on 160m when I listened to the 1963 net. Transmitting is not good though, very high SWR!

It is difficult to imagine how the sunspots affect the 10m band. For 10 years the band is dead with very few stations, but now it is jam packed with stations from all over the world. What a wonderful phenomena!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Power to the people!

Am I just thick and not very intelligent or am I missing something?

Electricity comes from a generator at a power station, whether it be standard, nuclear or green?

It comes down the National Grid to our substations and then through the wires into our houses...right?

Gas comes from the North Sea or via pipelines from Europe?

It is then piped to our houses from the same source...right?

So why on earth do we have 'Power Suppliers' like E-on, PowerGen, Scottish Power and other hangers on! How is it possible to 'buy' your power from a supplier when it all comes from the same place and down the same wires and pipes. This must be the biggest con ever!!

Surely, if we just had one supplier regulated by OFGEN and a simple pricing tariff we would all save money!

Instead of constantly competing with each other, why don't they all get together and use some 'muscle' to bring the wholesale prices down instead of lining their own pockets. Now Mr C. wants us to keep changing our suppliers to get a better deal, why the hell should we have to do that!

Does anyone REALLY understand how this industry works...because I don't!!

Simple a wind generator!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Beam me up Scotty!

A great weekend for erecting some aerials!

At last I managed to get all the antennas together. I now seem to have more than expected, I ordered a 4m, 2 element beam from Moonraker and got a new 4 element 2 metre antenna! Not quite what I wanted, but they said I could have it at half price if I wanted while they sorted out the correct item. That was good because it would be ideal for portable use on Winter Hill.
So...the correct item came minus some parts! A couple of days later the items missing came through the post and the problem was solved!
I assembled the array in the garden and tuned the 4m HB9CV before putting the array up.

The first part of the project was completed a couple of weeks ago, the rotator and mounting brackets ready for the array to be fitted. This weekend I put together the array and made sure everything was greased with dolops of vaseline! Great stuff Vaseline, if you ever want to take the antennas down, you will find that the bolts are rusted. Vaseline cures that problem.

Now I have been up and down the ladder like a fiddlers elbow, but carrying the completed array up the ladder and fixing it into the rotator is scary! I called on my mate Andy to carry the array up the ladders and fix them to clamps.

It is quite a neat array, considering it is for 4m, 2m, and 70cm, a 6m antenna is too large, so I may go for the halo and mount it underneath the rotator.

Tonight I tested I can hear the Wrotham Beacon in Kent for the first time in over 10 years! I can also hear the Buxton Beacon coming in at 5-9+ on 4m!

Great fun with the perfectly...can't believe I got it on ebay for £19!

I am sooo pleased that I still know how to put up antennas after all this time, putting the array together seemed like second nature, I have done it so many times.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

On the air!

Here I am age 17, this photo was taken just before I got my licence!

I received my licence documents through the post 40 years ago today!

Now I remember this well, I came home from work at teatime while working at Telefusion Ltd. When I came in the letter was waiting, at the same time along come George G3ZQS (in his slippers) As I opened the envelope, George said "Come on...what is the callsign then?" "G4AQB" I replied...."Oooh...A Queer Bugger eh!!" said George with his usual razer sharp wit!

After George had gone I rang up Neil G3ZPL to tell him that I had my callsign! I then called Neil on 160m so that he could be my first (legal) contact.

Here is a section of the very first page in my logbook back in 1971.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

G4AQB - 40 years today!

OMG! Today is a special anniversary! I got my Amateur Radio Licence 40 years ago today!

The wonderful sound of G4AQB...

I was 17 years old then and worked so hard to study for my Radio Amateur Exam. I had been interested in radio since I was 13 years old, and my first radio shack was in a leaky concrete shed. I spent my time there every night building and constructing my own equipment. At 17 years old I was one of the youngest radio amateurs in the country!

Now today after 40 years I am building my new antenna array and continue to listen on the amateur bands. There have been some times when I have not had time for radio being a teacher, it steals all your leisure time. Now as I look towards retirement, radio is such a wonderful hobby even in this digital world. I have never forgotten how to read circuits and build stuff of my own. Maybe when I get more time I will start to do this in a big way again.

The day I passed my Morse Test!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Sunspot Maximum

We are about to reach the peak of the 11 year sunspot cycle!

So what does it mean? Well, today I listened on the 10m band during the day to find the band open with lots of stations coming in from all over the world! America and Brazil coming in at 5-9 with little noise. Fantastic!

There is much more to come as the predicted maximum is between January and May 2013 with a steady build up of sunspot activity.

So what happens at Sunspot maximum? Basically, the 'F' layer of the ionosphere becomes more ionised and is able to reflect radio signals in the upper short wave bands that would normally have passed through into space. So Amateur bands like 28Mhz, 50Mhz and even 70Mhz will be affected causing long distance radio communication across the world. This will tend to happen more during the day and communication can be made even with low power.

I am looking forward to seeing what stations I can hear and work with my Yaesu FT817 and 5 watts. I still have my FT101E which will give me 150w if I need it!

I remember back in 1980 at the sunspot maximum when I had a converted Belcom Liner 2 in my car and a 27Mhz CB antenna. The stations that I worked with just 10 watts was amazing! I talked to America, Russia and even a guy on a ship in the Panama Canal while driving to work!

I also remember driving home from Yorkshire with Kathleen, my wife, who was pregnant at the time watching an amazing sunset with 3 or 4 large visible sunspots, that was in 1980.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Job - digital hero

Sad news today on the death of Steve Job, the Apple guy!
Probably one of the most influential person in modern times, he has written the future of communications and digital technology. His innovations of the Apple Mac, ipod, iphone and ipad set the standards for others to follow. A sad loss for modern digital technology.

"Thousands of people all over the world have also been attending Apple stores to leave flowers, notes, and apples with a bite taken from them to mimic the company's logo.
Apple's leading rivals such as Microsoft, Google, Sony and Samsung all chipped in with glowing tributes.
GS Choi, chief executive of Samsung, which is embroiled in a major court battle with Apple on patents, said Mr Jobs was an "innovative spirit" who "introduced numerous revolutionary changes to the information technology industry".
In his statement, Bill Gates said: "The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it's been an insanely great honour."

Mr Jobs built a reputation as a forthright and demanding leader who could take niche technologies - such as the mouse and graphical user interface, using onscreen icons rather than text - and make them popular with the general public.

He introduced the colourful iMac computer, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad to the world. His death came just a day after Apple unveiled its latest iPhone 4S model.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

144Mhz / 432Mhz dual band yagi

I spotted a cool dual band yagi on Ebay, 5 element 144Mhz and 8 element 432Mhz all on one boom with a single coax feed. This sounds like just the job!

I ordered this antenna along with a 2 element HB9CV yagi for 70Mhz. I wanted to add a 50Mhz yagi as well, but it would be too big. The weather this weekend was fantastic, temperature 27 degrees, a real indian summer. Ideal weather to put up some new antennas!

It has felt like Christmas this week! I ordered some new antennas and a rotator, at last I am going to have my antenna array back again after many years. My first array was put up on the 24th September 1973. I then had an 8 element yagi for 144Mhz and an 18 element parabeam for 432Mhz made by J-Beam. In 1977 I moved them onto the chimney at my present location and they stayed there until about 1999 when I took them down and threw them away!

Would you believe that I bought this rotator from ebay, brand new from Germany, it cost only £19! Deciding on the antennas was not easy, I don't want a huge array of yagis, but I need something small and compact because this is going to be mounted on the side of the house and can be seen clearly from the street.

I was still waiting for the 70Mhz yagi, but I still wanted to make a start on the array, so my first visit was to B&Q to buy the fixings. Having looked on ebay and the internet, the prices at B&Q was quite reasonable for the 6ft aluminium masts and fixing bracket. Next I needed some coax cable, so a trip to Modern Radio was next. I haven't been to Modern Radio for quite a while, I always enjoy going there...lots of memories! I wanted some good quality 50 ohm coax, but not the expensive thick stuff. Diane at MR showed me some 'Mini RG8' coax instead of the cheap RG-58u. Good stuff at a good price (70p per metre) ideal for my set up, so I bought 20 metres and some BNC plugs.

Spent the rest of the afternoon drilling the wall and assembling the new 144Mhz / 432Mhz dual band yagi. This was easy to assemble, all I had to do was put the elements into the coloured numbered holes.

Now i'm all set up just waiting for the 4m yagi.


Sunday afternoon and raining outside, listening to some stations on 2m. Then I came across a strong station and listened for a while, suddenly, I realise that I know this was Arthur G3JJM!

I am amazed at the number of stations that are on the air again from long ago. Today I listened to Gerry G2BTO and John G3EGC on the 1963 net on topband. Earlier this week I listened to Steve G3YTI from Darwen. These guys were my inspiration back in 1971 when I was going for my amateur licence 40 years ago.

G3JJM was the first ever radio amateur that I heard on 160m when I was 13 years old. He was talking with Tom G3XCI on a Sunday afternoon while I was having tea. My father and I listened on my 'Roamer 7' radio that I built. We heard it on the 'Trawler Band' which we later found out was Topband. Arthur G3JJM got my R109 receiver from the guy on Folds Rd, I went with him while he made the deal and got it for £1.50p...a bargain!

Nice to hear you again Arthur after such a long time!

50Mhz Halo

Tuesday night brought the 50Mhz contest, some good conditions on 28Mhz so I thought I would see what is around on 50Mhz. My discone seems to work alright, but has a high SWR on 6m, so I decided to connect my 60ft HF longwire to the FT-817 with the ATU connected.

I was amazed at the result!

I found that I could tune the longwire at 50Mhz and during the contest could hear lots more stations and worked some stations using the longwire.I remember doing this once on 4m years ago and worked a few stations there during a contest.I also got my homemade 50Mhz transverter out with the FT101 and this still works fine.Now I am thinking about a suitable antenna for 6m, I have ordered a 2 element HB9CV for 4m and wonder if this will work on 6m as well. I used to have an old Band 1 TV aerial that worked fine on these bands, but when I took my old antennas down I threw it away!

This got thinking about using a halo for 50Mhz. I have never seen one before, but I did use one on 2m clipped on my car window for mobile use. Now I know that I don't have enough room for a rotatable beam for this band, so this seems like a good alternative.

Type: Folded dipole antenna Frequency: 50-52MHz
Overall square size:
Approx 800mm (30 inches)
VSWR: 1.5:1 or better
Power: 200 Watts Connection:
Direct connection to dipole centre
Omni directional

Sounds good to me!