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Meeting Recap: July 2011

As might be expected during the summer this meeting was lightly attended but many of the regulars were able to make it. The general theme was installation of effective vertical antennas.

George N2APB, discussed recent efforts to install a Butternut HF9VX antenna for Nancy Feeny NJ8B. The job was hampered somewhat by rocky West Virginia soil so that even digging a 2-1/2 foot or so deep hole was quite a chore. Since Nancy lives in a neighborhood where visible antennas are discouraged, he built a galvanized iron pipe tilt-over base to disguise the structure when not in use. For installation integrity the base hole was filled with quick set concrete and several diagonal lengths of rebar. To get optimum performance particular care was taken with the ground radial system. It consists of more than 30 radials 20 to 60 feet in length attached to a stainless steel DX Engineering radial plate. Radial wires were stretched over the ground and through a flower bed and held firmly in place with wire staples.

Ken N2CQ, brought along his Black Widow Vertical antenna which has proved quite effective for him in portable use. It uses a Black Widow fiberglass fishing pole for support and tunes the 20, 30 and 40 meter bands. It is designed for quick setup and teardown and great performance for a light portable skywire. Details can be found at WA3WSJ's web site. Look on the left menu for links to see how to make one and the cost etc.

Ken also talked about his recent extensive use of PSK31 both at his home location and while vacationing. He has worked quite a bit of DX and wow'ed us all with certificates he has received for numerous DX contacts. The certificates are available on the net from the European PSK Club to recognize various levels of contacts with its members. The artwork on these e-certificates is quite well done. The large numbers of QSO's Ken has made mean that lack of sunspots is not a great detriment to working DX.

George also discussed Loop antennas, here are the references he mentioned at the meeting:

  1. His loop from Pixel Technologies
  2. Homebrew active shielded loop antenna
  3. Homebrew active shielded loop antenna - Part 2

After the meeting, George told us about this Homebrew SDR tutorial:

"For those among us who combine a technical curiosity with an occasional urge to grab a soldering iron, you will find very interesting a series of YouTube videos made by Jeri Ellsworth, an amazing young lady would would fit so well into the homebrewing model that many of us have followed all our ham careers. Of particular interest this time is one of Jeri's experiments concerning Software Defined Radio (SDR), wherein she builds from scratch, and explains in her video logs, what turns out to be a Softrock-like RF front end (Tayloe mixer and phase-matched audio amp stage) coupled with an FPGA-based signal processor (similar to our project for the standalone Ensemble receiver.) So, she explains in a 7-part video series how she did it, demonstrates incremental achievements over a several week period, and generally uses many of the homebrewing techniques that we regularly discuss in our ham radio forums. The video segments average perhaps about 5 minutes in length, so the group of them is not overwhelming ... You will definitely enjoy them!

Start with this video and then look for the rest of the series on the right. PS: If you find this interesting, search YouTube for more of her videos - I guarantee you will be impressed and entertained in a way that only a homebrewer can be - she does things like home-made production of a silicon transistor, robotics... For example: check out this video (Be sure to have patience as she goes through her usual cutesy intro - but it quickly drops to a good technical level)."

Joe N2CX &
George N2APB