Antenna Projects Gone Wild

My project last wkend, April 21-22, 2012, was supposed to be to install the new solid-state rotor controller box that was delivered a few wks ago and is just sitting there on the shack table, doing no good at all unconnected.  However, this trumped by the excitement of building and testing a new antenna for portable ops I learned about 2 wks ago from some SOTA operators in NC.  Called the Iditarod portable dipole it is made from speaker wire (I used 22-ga but the one in the instructions was made with even lighter 26-ga).  Sunday I built the first section, for 20m, tuned it up and made a qso.  Then I built another 6′ or so for 30m, tuned and pruned, and qso’d.  Ran out of time and daylight Sunday so I finished it up with another 10′ on each let to make 40m.  This segment tuned up right away without any pruning!  Made a qso with K3JRR, Larry, in Virginia and he gave me 579 on Yaesu 817 at 2.5 watts, so it must be working!

Working on this project caused me to miss my QSO365 string for 4/23/12, the 2nd one I’ve missed this, except for travel when I excuse myself fm QSO365.  I’ve enjoyed qso365; it’s made me improve my operating skills and diligence, and will still try to keep it up, but will no longer be obsessive about it.

My antenna distractions got worse Saturday at our monthly Decatur Hams and Eggs breakfast when Newt, N4EWT loaned me his Buddipole to try out that he happened to have in his trunk.  Doesn’t everyone ride around with Buddipoles in their trunks?

So, I’ve got to try that out before I have to return it so my rotor controller may stay on my desk with its warrantly quietly expiring while I try new things with due dates.  Meanwhile, my tower is pointing due south so I can make good qso’s with Latin America!

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Copper J-Pole for 2m

Am going to build a copper J-Pole antenna for two meters tomorrow at something called Second Sunday Tech Session.  Actually, I’ll build two – one for home and one for cabin QTH.

Question: So what is a J-Pole antenna?  Answer: According to my most-recent (1994) ARRL Antenna Book (I know I am chancing it that physics may have changed in past 17 years), a J-Pole is a “vertical antenna (that) doesn’t have stringent grounding requirements and can be made from easy to find parts.”  I know my parts will be easy to find tomorrow as I have pre-purchased kits from the project organizer Jim Reed, N4BFR, whom I look forward to meeting.

Question: why copper; why not aluminum like normal antennas?  Answer: I dunno.  Copper’s a better conductor than aluminum so maybe it’s a better radiator too?  Maybe it’s because copper is more attractive when it is properly aged and will enhance your property values more than mill-finish aluminum.  Maybe Mr. Reed has a supply of copper tubing left over from a plumbing project he wants to get rid of.  I’ll find out why tomorrow.

This edition of the ARRL Antenna Book was not all that helpful as it had plans for a mobile J-Pole (not for  me; I just bought a trim-looking black dual band whip for my car for almost $100 so now I have to protect my investment) and a maritime J-Pole (only boat I have is a canoe and as we know, there is very little repeater coverage in valleys where you find the rivers), so I looked elsewhere for info.

Aerials by Kurt N. Sterba & Lil Paddle is fun to read but not organized, and has no table of contents nor index so looking up anything is impossible.  W1FB’s Antenna Notebook and the 2011 ARRL Handbook do sport indices and TOC, but neither even mentions J-Poles.  What am I getting into?

Come back later for pics and a report.