VE3NCQ Home Shack On The Air

After spending the hot summer months working HF as a portable at the summer cottage on the shore of Lake Erie, I have finally installed an antenna at my house.

During the summer heat, Erie Beach was ideal for portable operation. The temperature was always cool, and the good grounding system under the antenna, with wide open water and low noise levels were perfect for working the world. The antenna system consisted of a galvanized plate bolted to the steel seawall, taken down when not in use. A plastic pipe fitting provided insulation, and a 2 foot galvanized pipe was attached. Then there’s 9 feet of 3/4 inch copper pipe, 2 feet of 1/2 inch copper pipe, and a custom top hat. The coax fed the bottom of the pole directly. The antenna has proven to be very efficient on multiple bands with no tuner needed on 10 and 20 meters.

The new antenna is my “Procrastinator’s Special.” It consists of some steel wire that I found in my garage. As I measured it out, it was the exact length needed for a 40 meter dipole. Originally, I was going to build a multi-band dipole, but cold temperatures and an uncooperative spacing system led me to construct for a single band.

I fastened each end into a short PVC pipe for insulation, and cut the centre to make the feed point spaced by more PVC. Coax was coiled into a balun and soldered to short copper wires which fed the steel dipole wires. The street side of the dipole was fastened to another wire strung from a tree. The other end was streched over a backyard tree, and the entire dipole was pulled tight. It barely cleared the roof, so I used a notched 5′ PVC pipe to provide extra clearance. Then I drilled a hole and threaded the coax over to my radio room. The height slopes from about 20′ to 30′ above the ground.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work. There was a dead short somewhere, and tests proved the problem was at the top. So the next day, in the freezing cold and strong wind, I put the ladder up over the fresh snow and headed up the roof. Untaping the junction, it became obvious that I used too much heat to solder the wires. As I was fixing that, I heard a terrible crash made by the wind blowing the ladder to the driveway below, leaving me stuck on the cold, snowy roof. I finished my repairs, then carefully walked over to my TV tower to get down.

The analyzer showed a perfect match for 40m. Then I connected the Versa tuner and made a chart showing the settings for each band. On the other bands, the bandwidth was very narrow, making tuning quite critical. With the initial positions charted out, it is very easy to tune the antenna by peaking the receive noise level without the need to transmit a carrier.

So far, using about 40 watts, I’ve had great signal reports on every band I’ve tried. New countries include the Bahamas and the Azores Islands, and some new states are in the log now too. Soon, I’ll try it on 160m for my first contacts on that band, which will leave 30m and 12m as the only bands missing from my logs.