(Published in the Gray Line, June, 2011)
One and One-half Milk Carton Crates
Rick Borken KōXB
one-half milk carton crates. Thatís all the space I need to pack my portable
station and bring it with me in our car to
and I moved ďup northĒ to our lake home on
temperature is 65 degrees. People who have lived on
this doesnít have anything to do with ham radio, but you should also know
When the carriers head out to sea and when they return, the air wing flies either to the ship or back home. Itís pretty impressive to hear and see an entire air wing of F/A-18s taking off or landing.
2011 was the 100th anniversary of Naval Aviation. For that
Anyway, back to ham radio.
been an avid DX-er for as long as Iíve been licensed, and thatís a long time.
We rent a small house on
The real key to any ham station is of course the antenna. I have always felt a vertical was the best DX antenna, other than a tower and beam, so I use a vertical configuration. My antenna is based on a High Sierra Sidekick, which is a motorized mobile antenna. I mount the motorized coil on a lightweight tripod in the back yard, and I throw out eight 25 ft. radials on the ground. There is only room for four of the radials to be fully extended, but I figure something is better than nothing, so I use all eight. In place of the short whip which comes with the Sidekick, I use a 12 ft. telescoping whip sold by MFJ. The screw threads match perfectly, so itís an easy modification.
With the whip fully extended, it is resonant at 20 meters. Adjusting the motorized coil with a rocker switch in the shack allows me to easily tune down to 80 meters. And shortening some of the telescoping sections allows me to tune it up to 10 meters.
expected this to work pretty well on 20 through 10 meters, but I have been
pleasantly surprised at how well this works on 40 and 30 meters. When there has
been a DXpedition somewhere in the
not very effective on 80 meters, as you would expect. But I have worked eleven
countries, including the
For the radials, I bought a 100 ft roll of light gauge flexible speaker wire from Radio Shack. I cut that into four 25 ft sections and soldered small clip leads to the ends. Leaving the ends connected to the four clips, I separated the two speaker conductors, which gave me eight radials. The limp, flexible wire is particularly easy to extend and retract without tangles.
Itís certainly not a tower and beam, but itís not a bad antenna at all. The High Sierra Sidekick motorized coil is mounted on a tripod, with eight 25 ft. radials on the ground. The whip is a 12 ft. telescoping unit sold by MFJ.
For my transceiver, I use an Icom IC-7000. That is a wonderful rig, with 100W output and an amazing amount of features contained in a very small package. In addition to that, I use a K-5 keyer and a Bencher paddle, a small Diamond SWR/Power meter, a conventional power supply, and a small dummy load.
I use four milk carton crates as the base for my portable station, with a spare wooden shelf spread across the top. We use the crates to pack our household stuff.
I tried to calculate how many dB difference there was between this setup and my tower, beam and amplifier at home. But I gave up. Itís a lot of dBs!
I expected to be most effective on CW, RTTY and PSK. Thatís certainly true, but I have also had plenty of success on SSB.
this simple setup, I have worked more than 100 countries in the three month
time period weíre in
Currently, my overall totals for SSB, CW and RTTY/PSK are 78, 172 and 118 countries respectively. Iíve worked 139 countries on 20 meters and 113 each on 17 and 15 meters.
to operating in
Compared to operating with a tower, beam and amplifier, you learn to pay much more attention to band openings of course. If the bands are poor, I do something else. But if the bands are hot, I can even break a pileup.