The Cranky Sysadmin A world of technology, fun, and ignorant rants.

December 27, 2011

What a Nice Hammy Christmas

Filed under: ham radio — Cranky Sysadmin @ 10:50 pm

My wife had asked me not to buy a ham radio before Christmas. It turns out that it was worth the wait. She got me a Yaesu FT-450D. I am having a ton of fun with it.

As an added bonus, my mother-in-law gave me a gift certificate to the Ham Radio Outlet. On that Monday following Christmas, I made haste to HRO in Salem, NH and wasted a pile of money because I couldn’t be bothered to wait to get on the air.

I picked up a power supply ($100). It works, but if I waited few days, Amazon and ebay had them a lot cheaper. I also could have converted a cheap PC power supply. I bought a G5RV lite antenna. I’m currently unpleased with its performance, but part of that is my fault. It is set up incorrectly and I don’t have an external antenna tuner. I also didn’t buy an SWR meter, so my only gauge of SWR is the little bit I can decipher from the FT-450. I guess I should study the manual.

In lieu of an antenna tuner, I built a slinky dipole with a coax choke. Comparing the antennas, I can tune the G5RV on 40 and 20 meters with the internal antenna tuner. I can tune my slinky with choke on all but 6 meters. I set it up in the basement (sub-optimal, I know) as a test since it was raining kittens and puppies outside. I was amazed at the quality of the reception and the ease of tuning it. I’m going to try a coax choke attached to the G5RV and see if it helps that antenna.

So here are some pictures of my current sad station and some commentary.

FT-450D

The sad, sad radio station in the basement

Above is the beginning of a station. The power supply is beneath the workbench with the red light on. The antenna cable dangles up into the rafters from the back of the radio. The ground at the time was 12 gauge solid wire to a cold water pipe. I replaced it later that day with braid to a nice earth ground. At this point, the G5RV was attached and I was a bit frustrated with its performance.

coax choke

coax choke and the support for the slinky dipole

Above is the beginning of my first homebrew antenna. The coax choke is about 20 feet of RG-58 wrapped around some plastic container that I emptied and reappropriated. The T on top is the support for the slinkies.

Slinky supports

This is a close-up of the T which will support the slinky. I used some plastics glue to hold the end caps on and afix the T to the top of the coax choke form. I need to add a nice large hook.

Properly installed slinky antenna

Properly installed slinky antenna

Clearly, the caption is lying, but it is just a test of antenna tuning. This antenna performed better in the basement next to the water pipes then my G5RV did outside. I’m still amazed that I can tune it with the internal antenna tuner on all bands from 160m to 10m. I’ll probably need to build some other solution for 6 meters.

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