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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Getting Back On The Air:

from Lane Zeitler, ku7i/JH1JCM on August 26, 2012
View comments about this article!

Getting Back On The Air:

Being QRT since the fall of 2000 I was happy to be finally making the transition back into HF operations from the home QTH. Since we are in military housing right now due to an overseas assignment I wanted to keep the antenna as covert as possible. While we do not have HOAs per se' I wanted to be a good neighbor to my fellow shipmates and DOD employees. After all, this is 2012, not the heyday of analog radio circuits of the early 1980s. The last thing I want is to get a letter from the Base Commander ordering me to take down my full size quarter wave 80 meter vertical.

I was concerned about man-made noise so I elected to go with a low horizontal loop. My working area of the back yard is about 23 ft by 36 ft square which gives me 23ft + 23 ft + 36ft + 36ft = ~ 118 ft total length of the loop. This will cover 30 - 10 meters and should give good performance on 40. I knew firsthand that a low horizontal loop would work really well since I had tested one 20 years earlier while stationed at White Sands Missile Range. This earlier test version was a full wave on 40 meters and was a horizontal delta loop only 10 feet off of the ground. It worked VERY well 40 to 10 meters fed with Radio Shack tv twin lead.

I was able to fabricate two supports for the far end of the loop from some heavy duty scrap steel poles 8 ft long and some scrap PVC that were discarded at the base dump. I inserted unused cheap steel flag poles inside the PVC since both the PVC and the flag poles were too flimsy by themselves. I secured the PVC to the heavy steel poles with heavy duty tie wraps. I then covered the entire 12 ft support with black electrical tape so it would blend in with the same colored fencing we have here in housing. It blends in perfectly. These are about 12 ft long and are at the end of the yard.

The other end of the yard closest to the house had "things" I could attach the loop to so I was able to make the whole loop equally high more or less at about 12 feet or so up off of the ground. I decided to feed it with 300 ohm TV twin lead that I bought off of E-bay. For the antenna wire I purchased several 15 foot brown colored extension cords for the Navy Exchange on base. I separated the two conductors which immediately doubled the wire length to 30 feet. After separating four of these extension cords I had my 118 feet of wire for the loop.

I use an outboard MFJ tuner with my current rig which is a Yaesu FT-890. It has only been 24 hours but I have easily worked into Russia, VK, ZL, Washington state, and other parts of Japan all from 40 to 17 meters thus far. I can easily get a flat vswr on 40 to 10 meters with the outboard MFJ tuner. The loop hears very well and it seems if I can hear them they can also hear me. I am currently without a mic for the rig but plan on also enjoying SSB once the recently ordered mic gets here. For cw I am using the built in keyer in the FT-890 with a Bencher paddle and could not be happier.


This pic is looking towards the rear of the yard and the two 12ft poles can be seen.


Close up view of one of the 12ft support poles. Entire assembly wrapped in black electrical tape to blend in with existing fence.


Another view of one of the two home brew support poles.


Looking at the back of the townhouse from the backyard. TV twinlead visible here going through the window.


Nice close up of the 12 ft pole. Bottom 8 ft is heavy galvanized steel fence post, upper 4 feet is thin walled PVC with thin walled flag pole inside for extra support. Whole thing wrapped in black electrical tape to match the fence.


View of one side of the loop closest to the house, tv twin lead feedline visible.


Looking out the shack window to the antenna and feedpoint.

<
Looking out of the shack window into the back yard. Two support poles are visible.


The shack. Simple but fun.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Getting Back On The Air:  
by WD8OQX on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article, it will inspire many.

I'm highly curious, though, as to why you wrapped the mast with tape instead of just spray painting them black. I'm SURE I'm missing SOMETHING here.

 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by M6GOM on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
quote:
I'm highly curious, though, as to why you wrapped the mast with tape instead of just spray painting them black. I'm SURE I'm missing SOMETHING here.


Yes you are.... Obvious solution is usually the last one the person doing it thinks of at the time, LOL.
 
Getting Back On The Air:  
by WV0Q on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Awesome job on the setup! It's solutions like this that make this hobby so much fun.

Hope to catch you on the air someday.

73,

Jim Davis
WV0Q
 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by K9MHZ on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Can't speak for the Navy, but every Ar Force installation where I was stationed either had an active club station or was very willing to provide space for one. The real bonus was that you had access to a lot of surplus hardware MIL SPEC hardware, and might even get some fundage from the base MWR. I remember at one base, we were given exclusive use to an old barracks building, and set up an awesome station.

FWIW.



 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by AD5ZC on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Are those Campbells soup cans holding up the shelf?
Cracking me up.

Awesome.

However, I couldn't help but look longingly at the 2 or 3 houses behind you and imagine getting the loop at roof height across those backyards.

Time to be making some friends.
 
Getting Back On The Air:  
by K0FL on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I know I speak for many as I thank you for your service to our great country.

73 de Tim K0FL
 
Getting Back On The Air:  
by KE4KE on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Hi,

Is that twin lead rather than coax running in the aluminum framed window? If so sometime try getting the lead away from the metal frame, all metal actually, and see if your signals, RX and TX, improve any.

Tim
KE4KE
 
Getting Back On The Air:  
by NU1O on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I don't see a station ground and you are on the second floor which makes it more difficult.

My thanks to you for your service to this wonderful country.

73,

Chris/NU1O
 
Getting Back On The Air:  
by AB9TA on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent Article...
I really enjoy reading about Stealth and/or Semi-Stealth installations like this. It's Ham Radio ingenuity at its finest.

Hope to see you on air sometime (do you run digital modes?), and Thanks for your service!

73!
Bill AB9TA
 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by KU7I on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Good question about painting vs wrapping. I installed all of this on an early sat morning and the store that sells paint onbase is closed on the weekends. I did not think of the black color until too late...but I had 20 rolls of black vinyl electrical tape!!
 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by KU7I on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
K9MHZ: When I first arrived here in AUG of 2011 I investigated what assets were in place. No radio club at all. Okay how about a PLACE to setup a club? NO, we are on fixed 568 acres with NO spare rooms in any buildings anywhere. I tried to work with MWR and another source for just a room, any room, even an old broom closet but no one could provide so I elected to go semi-stealth from the townhouse. I did NOT want to infiltrate another property by tossing ropes or what not on someone elses property. My mindset is that in 2012 we are much less ham radio friendly than we were back in the early 80s.

Lane
 
Getting Back On The Air:  
by AE5QB on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Boy those like pretty nice town homes. No base housing available when I lived in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. I served on the USS Belknap CG-26 and USS John F. Kennedy CV-67 from 73-79. I went back a couple of years ago and the apartments we lived in are now pretty much slum. Too bad!

Anyway, it doesn't look like you need to make too many friends. It appears your yard is about twice as wide as the ones behind you. Just make a couple of friends and run your antenna facia to facia. That would work great and be less obtrusive than the poles sticking up.

Anyway, I run a similar antenna but it is a delta loop. Works pretty well for the states, South America and Canada but not so much into Europe, Africa, or Pacific.

Thanks for what you do. We appreciate every one of you.
 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by K3ANG on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
K9MHZ: I was TDY Homestead AFB (FL) back in 1976. After settling in, I checked the base phone book for anything about a recreation station. Finding none, I asked some of base's permanent party folks about one. It was gone years ago. Guess you were lucky.

Thanks for the article and your service.
Greg
 
Getting Back On The Air:  
by K9ZMD on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Lane, thanks for the article & photos. Great improvisation all the way. There's no denying the unique look of those soup cans in your radio shack, but applying some of that black vinyl tape to them would probably boost the XYL approval rating. :)
 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by WD8OQX on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
QUOTE
"by KU7I on August 26, 2012
Good question about painting vs wrapping. I installed all of this on an early sat morning and the store that sells paint onbase is closed on the weekends. I did not think of the black color until too late...but I had 20 rolls of black vinyl electrical tape!!"
/QUOTE


OK, that explains it.
It threw me, as I figured that in the way you were going with all the OTHER stuff, you could get that too.
Plus all that wrapping just HAD to be a PITA... But from your pix, it appears to have worked.
 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by KU7I on August 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, those are indeed Campbell soup cans in each corner of the "shelf" which was a 'spare' from the kitchen that was not being used. Nothing better than Tomato soup!!

Lane
 
Getting Back On The Air:  
by K1FPV on August 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Looks like a minor variation of the "Loop Skywire." I used one a few years back with much success. It is a very quiet antenna (noise-wise) and gets out quite well.
I'm thinking of putting up another one before the winter snows come!
 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by N6AJR on August 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!







I know perfectly why he used tape instead of paint.



ALL good antenna installations have at least a half of a roll of electrical tape in them. It makes the antenna work better..... :)

have fun and enjoy your toys. as a fellow vet I to salute you my friend, and God bless.
 
Getting Back On The Air:  
by NA0AA on August 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Loops get a surprising amount of wire into a pretty small space. I admit to laughing at the photos - those are some pretty old school base housing.

I agree that you should get friendly with your next door and two across the back neighbors - if you could enlarge that into facia to facia 4 yard square it would be higher and bigger. And actually as noted above, would even show less. But still, this is a great idea. I bet the tape is just a lot cheaper than good rattle can paint.

 
Getting Back On The Air:  
by K4YZ on August 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!

Hi Lane,

Great article!~ Glad to see fellow Sea Service folks writing.

One thing, though...Granted it's been 20 years since I retired from the USMC, but even then, Amateur Radio operations were actually codified into housing regulations and reasonable antenna installations were to be permitted. Granted, there was a procedure to go through, however both private dwelling and barracks installations were addressed. Have they been removed? Your article sounds as if you were having to do this not so much for asthetics purposes, but on the sly.

My last overseas operation was in a barracks at Camp Foster on Okinawa. I had a tribander on the roof and was running a KW Heathkit station (HW-101 and a SB-201 amplifier)

Good luck on the overseas tour, My Friend! If you need something Stateside I can assist with, I am at your service.

Semper Fi

Steven J (Steve) Robeson, LPN, K4YZ
GySgt U.S. Marines (ret'd)
Winchester, TN

 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by K2WH on August 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Never ever use soup cans to hold up shelving. Always use red bricks instead. Gives it that rustic look.

K2WH
 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by WX7G on August 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
A fine antenna built with true ham spirit!
 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by KU7I on August 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
It seems ham radio has more or less gone away along with MARS. Granted, I am in Japan but the folks I talked to onbase were very unsympathetic and offered a tremendous amount of pushback when I tried to establish an onbase club. I found a few other hams who were interested. We had the gear, the money, all we needed was a space but it just was not supported. I think the good old days are gone. I know there used to be a nice club station in San Diego at 32nd ST Naval Station on the dry side and it got dismantled around 1990. They had a nice Drake TR-7, SB-220, big KLM beam on a 60 ft tower. Interest in the hobby is not like it was in the 70s and 80s.
 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by KU7I on August 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Bill, the theory is based on the Loop Sky Wire...cut the loop for the lowest freq of interest and feed with open wire feed. Lane
 
Getting Back On The Air:  
by KT4EP on August 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Good Job, Lane! Do what you gotta do..
Keith
KT4EP
Navy 71' to 81'
 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by W4VR on August 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
A picture is worth a thousand words.
 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by N1BHH on September 18, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I will have to disagree with getting the twin lead away from metal. I have had many antennas that were fed with twin lead that have run through aluminum doors and windows with no adverse affects. There are many people who swear that it's not good practice, for which I say wrong. You take what you have and make it work.

The setup looks great and no matter what people say about why you didn't use paint instead of tape, use whatever is handy, whatever fits the situation. Sometime we can't have kilowatt, then we let out antenna do the talking.
 
Getting Back On The Air:  
by TTOMAS59 on September 24, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Nice setup. Nobody is going to mess with someone who works for the government.
 
RE: Getting Back On The Air:  
by W7MSL on September 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
And another THANK YOU! for your service.

I used a similar antenna in a similar sized back yard about 30 years ago. The yard was on a slope and so was the loop!

Sized for 40 meters, I used a made-from-coax impedance transformer to go from the loop's 110 ohm characteristic Z to 50 ohms on 40 meters. On the other bands, I loaded up via the shield of the coax with a tuner. I had the tuner mounted on the floor joists near the basement window the feedline went out of rather than at the operating location.

The idea, for me, came from a QST article of the time.

73, Mike
 
Getting Back On The Air:  
by W9BIK on September 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Back in the day....

Back in the '70's I was stationed stateside living in base housing and ran a feed wire to the gutter, which ran the entire length of the housing unit (5 apartments). I "tee'd" into it at about 1/3 of its length (Windom!). I was surprised it heard quite well, so I loaded it up using QRP and a homebrew tuner and worked a few stations. I then cranked up the power to 100W and only had one RFI complaint from a neighbor, which was easily fixed with caps across his speaker terminals. Used it that way for a couple of years, making sure my ops were late at night to avoid other RFI and to lessen the chance of someone grabbing the gutter while I was transmitting. Later, I was active at other duty stations in establishing Ham Radio facilities or in using the established facilities, and was quite active in MARS back then. Ham Radio was a great hobby to have throughout my military career.

Chuck, W9BIK
MCPO, CMC, USN Retired
 
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