Hello everybody and welcome back to the Everything Ham Radio Podcast! In this episode we are going to talk about Stealth Antennas, we talk about some upcoming events/contests and hamfests over the next two weeks and wrap it up with some news from around the hobby!
Please let me know what you think about my podcast by taking my short survey. It really has given me some insight as to what y’all think, what I could change or do better even though I have only had 6 people take it so far.
Episode 50 Winners:
- $100 gift certificate to Packtenna.com – Curtis Abma, AB4MA – Prize Claimed
- Any/all ebooks written by Dan, KB6NU on kb6nu.com – 69 – Frank Gonzalez, K7PGP
- N3FJP Software Package 15 – Ron Bauer, N8IKG
- Custom call sign desk plate made by me…:)
- Larry Nutt, N4NXX
- Travis Pederson, N5TP – Prize Claimed
I have heard back from two of the five winners from my episode 50 giveaway. If by next episode there is some items that have not been claimed, I will pick new winners on January 30th.
Tech Corner – Stealth Antennas
Here are KC8VWM’s top 10 ultra stealth antenna designs….
Weather Instrument Antenna:
Another ground mounted vertical inside PVC pipe. The weather vane should be constructed out of plastic. Attach a cheap plastic thermometer and a fake homemade rain gauge to the side of the PVC for maximum effect. Alternatively if horizontal orientation is your preference, you can use “guy” wires to support the PVC “weather instrument pole.” It is these so called supports that hold up the “weather instrument pole” that are used as the actual inverted V antenna. This way you will know exactly what the temperature of your antenna is at all times.
Solar Powered Light Pole Antenna:
With advancements in low cost solar powered portable L.E.D. lighting technologies now available, It’s easy to employ portable security lighting anywhere on your property without the need for any additional electrical work and you will have no ongoing electricity costs. Similar in concept to installing antennas in restricted communities, a solar light is ideal for situations where lighting may be restricted or challenging to install.Radio opaque poles with low cost solar powered light fixtures attached on them can be installed virtually anywhere for an added sense of security and can be specifically designed and adapted for your radio operating needs.
If a big signal on 20m is your objective, try properly spacing and co phasing two security lights.
Satellite TV Dish Antenna:
People will often throw these away so there free for the taking in many cases. These make an excellent prop for installing a ham radio antenna because people are used to the idea of homes using satellite dishes so seeing one installed in the backyard is not unusual.
To start the antenna installation, place a 10 foot steel pole in the ground with a satellite dish mounted on top at the furthest point of the property in the backyard such as along the fence line. Run a “feed line” from any corner of the house extending over the back yard running to this satellite dish. The “feed line” is actually not a feedline at all. Rather it’s an End Fed Zep” wire antenna which is now supported by a TV satellite dish pole. Gud DX!
If any neighbor asks why the “satellite dish feed line” is extended over the backyard to the dish mounted on the pole, simply explain that running it along the ground means it would get all tangled up in the lawnmower. All you need to do at this point is simply observe the dumbfounded look on their face as such an explanation makes perfect sense. That is, if they should even bother to ask at all. This design should work well for many hours of SSTV viewing enjoyment or the operation of any other mode for that matter.
Disguised Portable AM/FM Radio Dipole:
The fake and non functional “patio radio” should be purchased at a yard sale for 2 bucks and is hopefully not working at all. The design chosen should have detachable speakers which will actually function as the dipole antenna when the speakers are stretched out from the radio and “mounted” in a location such as below an awning or on the railing of an outdoor patio deck at a condo community, or even outside on the apartment balcony etc.
The extending detachable speakers and are just empty plastic shells with no speakers actually installed inside them. The “power cord” leading to the radio prop is removed and replaced with coaxial feed line. Now the coaxial cable feed line serves to resemble an ordinary power cord. This power cord is used to connect your rig to the dipole antenna. The so called speaker wires are attached to the coaxial feed line on the inside of the radio. Feel free to become creative and gut the inside of the radio and install a remote antenna tuner or matching network inside the radio instead. Some of the knobs on the outside of this radio could be redesigned to function with variable capacitors installed inside and serve to function as an antenna tuner. Just remember that the controls labeled on the AM/FM radio as “tone” now means “tune” instead.
Mount the speakers, and “plug in” the stereo “power cord” with the pl259 connector attached on the end into the back of your rig. You are now on the air in full dipole stereo but this portable AM/FM radio will never bother any of your neighbors with any loud music.
Purple Martin Birdhouse Antenna:
Not so uncommon is the ground mounted vertical wire antenna design installed inside PVC pipe. In this case, the PVC pipe holds up the birdhouse. If installing two antenna’s are better than one, you may choose to install a separate horizontal antenna using “guy” wires to support the PVC pole. It is these so called supports that hold up the birdhouse pole that we will use as an actual inverted V antenna system. If you should ever be questioned about its existence, be sure to babble on about how much you love bird watching. I would suggest you break out a bird species identification book and start flipping through pages while showing them pictures of birds. I would even start emulating a few bird call sounds during the conversation just for fun. For example, making dove bird call sounds into your closed hands will be particularly humorous. Observe how quickly they will go away and never bring up the “birdhouse” subject ever again.
Fishing Rod Prop antenna:
This is just a simple 20 foot crappie pole propped up against the house, patio, fence, deck or on a balcony etc. To disguise your antenna, you simply surround the bottom of the crappie pole with an old fishing tackle box, portable cooler and fishing net to provide your new stealth antenna with maximized visual effect. Of course, only you will know the black “fishing line” on the pole “is” actually the wire used for this vertical antenna design. Multiband operation can be achieved simply by installing a remote antenna tuner or matching network hidden inside the cooler which is placed beside the antenna.
Feel free to install a real nice fishing lure and hook on the end of your antenna too as I suspect this design will catch the really big fish in the DX pileups.
The Tire Swing Vertical
This is simply a regular rope and tire hanging down from a high location in the tree.
Go ahead and attach the rope to a small tire so it just looks and functions like an ordinary tire swing. Try to locate the tire close to the ground as your feedline will need to enter through a hole drilled into the bottom of the tire and connect to your vertical antenna wire.
The vertical antenna wire should be the same color as the rope if possible (black rope and wire is a good choice) The antenna should be somewhat woven into the rope strands before installation. A matching network or remote antenna tuner can be built right into the tire itself if desired. Don’t forget to bury some radials below the ground around the tire swing vertical and use bury flex feed line running to the house. This design is particularly effective if you have a 30’ tree and are seeking to install a long vertical monopole antenna for operating in the 40m and 80m frequency range but it also works well in others.
Now stand back, take a good look at the tire swing hanging from the tree in the backyard and please tell me where the “antenna” is located exactly?
The Badminton Net Antenna.
The dipole is weaved into the netting. The feed line connects to the center of the dipole antenna which is built directly into the net. Feedline goes directly into the ground below. (The feed line can run on the inside one of the metal rod supports to hide it.) Alternatively, an inverted V antenna is used as supports for the poles.
Besides the idea you are now always going to operating “net control”, this badminton net is actually fully functional as an antenna too. So be sure to invite some people over from the HOA to help improve your score. They will never know it’s an antenna.
The Bicycle Prop Antenna.
This is a good antenna situation especially for apartment dwellers with balconies or condo dwellers with small outdoor patios. However, it also works well in other situations too such as urban family dwellings in HOA’s. You can attach your favorite screwdriver antenna (or even a 20 foot telescopic crappie pole) to a bicycle but be sure it has a nice orange flag on top.
Since this antenna is actually mounted on the bicycle itself, it’s not really considered to be an antenna installed on the house by the HOA, so no one will actually care about it being installed on your bicycle. The bicycle should be placed (permanently stored?) in a desirable location like up against a wooden fence, (a metal fence makes a nice ground plane) beside a tree or even resting up against a patio deck, patio furniture etc. …Geez, those darn kids are always parking their bikes just about anywhere huh?
Chain it up wherever you decide to leave this bicycle in permanent storage and run some bury flex feed line underground. Attach buried radials around the base of the bicycle if you like and take your bicycle antenna for a spin around the bands.
10.Patio Umbrella Loop
Seems patio furniture is not uncommon to use at condos with backyard patios, apartment dwellers with balconies or even the HOA homeowners with attached decks. Therefore while a protruding vertical may not always prove to be a viable option, we may consider using a horizontal loop carefully woven into the covering material on the outside overhanging edge of the patio umbrella.
First we need to consider most of the patio umbrellas that are commonly sold and included with patio furniture in “sets” will not do as they are not very large enough in terms of outside diameter to accommodate an antenna loop. However, some patio umbrellas can be separately acquired and these are quite large when fully deployed. These one’s are typically found available at home supply stores for around $100 or so. These will come with a very sturdy pole and are sometimes attached to large “Y” shaped steel tubes which sit directly on the ground below which offer the umbrella its own independent support. This means the umbrella can be moved around the yard in a portable manner which has some advantages in some instances in terms of operating the antenna loop away and in lesser proximity from the operating dwelling. Some of these umbrellas can be permanently mounted directly to a wooden deck structure at the base using bolts. The deck mounted pole option would serve to place the antenna loop higher off the ground. Others may utilize other mounting or support methods. These umbrellas will usually have a cranking winch arrangement which serves to deploy the horizontal loop and with some umbrellas it’s even possible to tilt the loop antenna at different angles using the umbrella’s tilt function.
- ARRL Small Antennas for Small Spaces
- The ARRL Antenna Book for Radio Communications Softcover
- ARRL Portable Antenna Classics
- Stealth Amateur Radio: Operate From Anywhere by Kirk A. Kleinschmidt
- Stealth Antennas Sample by Steve Nichols, G0KYA
West Mountain Radio
I would like to welcome my first podcast sponsor, West Mountain Radio! For those of you that don’t know who they are, they make some awesome equipment that I have had the pleasure of using over the past 15 or so years. They make several pieces of equipment that are so well built and are so useful. Things like the RIGBlaster, RIGrunner and the DC-to-Go Boxes. I talked a little bit about the RIGblaster in my last episode and I’ve talked about the RIGrunner several times in previous episode but today I wanted to tell y’all about their DC-to-Go Boxes.
These are neat cases that you can put a battery in to protect your station’s floor from an unfortunate battery accident, however, they are so much more than that as well. These boxes have a Super PWRgate PG40 and a RIGrunner 4007U or 4008 built into them as well.
The PWRgate provides you an uninterruptible power supply in case you lose AC power it will automatically switch to the battery in the box. This is a perfect solution for a repeater backup and/or event like the upcoming Winter Field Day!
The RIGrunner 4008 provides you with 40 amps of D.C. Power plug over 8 slots while the 4007u gives you 40 amps across 7 slots but it has some extra feature like a digital load meter and USB charging port as well as a solid state push button on/off switch and an automatic shutoff for high or low voltages!
Both of these are mounted to the side of the battery box. All you have to do is drop a battery inside and hook up the leads and you are ready to roll!!
Here are the links for the premade versions of the DC-to-Go boxes. It you can also Custom make one to your own choices!
- DC-to-GO Battery Box w/RIGrunner & Super PWRgate (sku#58513-1381), $249.95
- DC-to-GO Battery Box w/RR4007U & Super PWRgate (sku#58513-1577), $269.95
- Custom make your own!
|CQ 160-Meter Contest, CW||2200Z, Jan 27 to 2200Z, Jan 29|
|Montana QSO Party||0000Z-2400Z, Jan 28|
|REF Contest, CW||0600Z, Jan 28 to 1800Z, Jan 29|
|BARTG RTTY Sprint||1200Z, Jan 28 to 1200Z, Jan 29|
|UBA DX Contest, SSB||1300Z, Jan 28 to 1300Z, Jan 29|
|Winter Field Day||1900Z, Jan 28 to 1900Z, Jan 29|
|NRAU 10m Activity Contest||1800Z-1900Z, Feb 2 (CW) and 1900Z-2000Z, Feb 2 (SSB) and 2000Z-2100Z, Feb 2 (FM) and 2100Z-2200Z, Feb 2 (Dig)|
|YLRL YL-OM Contest||1400Z, Feb 3 to 0200Z, Feb 5|
|Triathlon DX Contest||0000Z-0759Z, Feb 4 (CW) and
0800Z-1559Z, Feb 4 (SSB) and
1600Z-2359Z, Feb 4 (RTTY)
|Vermont QSO Party||0000Z, Feb 4 to 2400Z, Feb 5|
|10-10 Int. Winter Contest, SSB||0001Z, Feb 4 to 2359Z, Feb 5|
|F9AA Cup, CW||1200Z, Feb 4 to 1200Z, Feb 5|
|Black Sea Cup International||1200Z, Feb 4 to 1159Z, Feb 5|
|Minnesota QSO Party||1400Z-2400Z, Feb 4|
|FYBO Winter QRP Sprint||1400Z-2400Z, Feb 4|
|British Columbia QSO Party||1600Z, Feb 4 to 0400Z, Feb 5|
|AGCW Straight Key Party||1600Z-1900Z, Feb 4|
|FISTS Winter Slow Speed Sprint||1700Z-2100Z, Feb 4|
|Mexico RTTY International Contest||1800Z, Feb 4 to 1759Z, Feb 5|
|North American Sprint, CW||0000Z-0400Z, Feb 5|
|RSGB 80m Club Championship, SSB||2000Z-2130Z, Feb 6|
|ARS Spartan Sprint||0200Z-0400Z, Feb 7|
*Information taken from the WA7BNM Contest Calendar
- Mississippi State Convention (Capital City Hamfest) – Jackson, MS
- Puerto Rico State Convention – Hatillo, PR
- 2017 Albuquerque Winter Tailgate – Albuquerque, NM-
- DeSoto County Hamfest – Arcadia, FL
- Lockport Amateur Radio Hamfest – Lockport, NY
- SARC Winter’fest – Marathon, NY
- Winterfest – Collinsville, IL
- HPARC Swap – Madison Heights, MI
- MMARC Post Holiday Hamfest – Odenton, MD
- TUSCO AMATEUR RADIO CLUB HAMFEST – Strasburg, OH
- HPARC Swap – Madison Heights, MI
- MMARC Post Holiday Hamfest – Odenton, MD
- TUSCO AMATEUR RADIO CLUB HAMFEST – Strasburg, OH
- Southern Florida Section Convention (Tropical Hamboree’s 50th Anniversary) – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
- Desert R.A.T.S. Hamfest – Palm Springs, CA
- Hiawatha Amateur Radio Association Shop and Swap – Negaunee, MI
- Mine Creek Winterfest – LaCygne, KS
- South Carolina State Convention (Charleston Hamfest) – North Charleston, SC
- Virginia State Convention (FrostFest) – Richmond, VA
*Information taken from the ARRL Hamfest Calendar
Hamvention Ready to Deal with Anticipated Traffic Flow at New Venue
Hamvention® is ready to deal with the anticipated heavy traffic flow when the event opens on May 19 at its new location, the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Xenia, Ohio. Mike Kalter, W8CI, said the all-volunteer Hamvention organizers have turned to professionals to address this aspect of the event. Kalter, who is treasurer of the sponsoring Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA), was interviewed last week by DX Engineering’s Tim Duffy, K3LR.
“We recognized that we needed to reach out to a professional engineering firm that does this all over the country to help us to work with the local government officials, so that we can have a good solid plan to keep the people flowing in,” Kalter told Duffy.
Kalter said arrangements have been made to have staging areas for those needing to either offload or load equipment from the indoor exhibit areas or the flea market.
He also pointed out that on-site parking would be free, and that no one will have to park in the mud. Kalter said areas set aside for parking are well drained, and he doesn’t anticipate any problems, even if it rains during Hamvention. That goes for the flea market area as well, he said, noting that the arena infield area gets used events in good and bad weather alike.
Kalter said Hamvention expects to be able to post the plan for flea market spaces on its website soon. The layout for indoor vendor and exhibitor booths is already available on the Hamvention website. Kalter said that if everyone who attended Hamvention 2016 at Hara Arena shows up again this year, they will find plenty of room at the new venue. Maps are available on the website.
Turning to traffic of a different sort, Kalter noted that Greene County has brought in a high-speed Internet “pipe” to the new venue, and AT&T will drop telephone lines wherever they’re needed.
Duffy asked whether the new venue would have an area similar to that outside Hara Arena, where those attending Hamvention could sit down with friends for a bite to eat or a drink. Kalter said there will be plenty of picnic tables as well as a temporary structure dedicated for socializing. He also promised that Hamvention 2017 will offer “a wide variety of great things to eat.” That will include food vendors and food trucks.
Kalter said some 600 volunteers in all are required to make Hamvention happen each year, and the leadership team consists of 86 individuals.
Reflecting its new venue, “Hamvention — Same Friends, New Home” will be the theme for the 2017 event. Last summer’s closure of Hara Arena forced the move to the new location more than 20 miles to the southeast.
The price of admission to Hamvention has gone up slightly; tickets will now cost $22 for all 3 days ($27 at the door). Accompanied minors 12 or younger may attend free. Online ordering is not yet available, but those planning to attend can order tickets by mail. Hamvention runs from Friday, May 19, until Sunday, May 21.
Several CubeSats with Amateur Radio Payloads Deployed from ISS
Several CubeSats carrying Amateur Radio payloads were placed into orbit on January 16 from the International Space Station (ISS). Six CubeSats delivered to the ISS in December were deployed from the Kibo airlock using the new JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD).
Satellites carrying Amateur Radio payloads included ITF-2, Waseda-Sat-3, AOBA-Velox-3, and TuPOD (including Tancredo-1). University of Tsukuba designed and built ITF-2, with a downlink of 437.525 MHz. Waseda-Sat-3, a project of Waseda University, downlinks CW and FM telemetry on 437.29 MHz. AOBA-Velox-3 downlinks GMSK telemetry on 437.225 MHz. Tancredo-1, a Brazil middle school project, will transmit AFSK on 437.200 MHz.
Meshnet In Action
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Until next time…
73 de Curtis, K5CLM