I'm not much of a homebrewer. Well, maybe I need to rephrase that...i'm always trying to build stuff but it rarely works by design (see the seemingly endless mounds of unfinished projects in my junk box), if at all. I've had some pretty nasty burns due to miscalculation.
Until yesterday. I got it in my head that I was going to build an eggbeater to use with my VX-5R in the pursuit of the birds, and some occasional repeater work. I wanted the antenna to meet some basic requirements: small and portable, and the capability to hit local repeaters on VHF for some ragchewing.
I had some 1/2" PVC conduit laying around from yet another project (6-el VHF yagi, condemned to the heap), and some 1/8" aluminum rod. After taking some measurements I started building. After cutting two pieces the rod to approximately 30", I taped them into a circle and measured the diameter, then drilled holes in the conduit to match so the two wire circles would be at 90 degrees to each other. I also used a piece of 3/8" fiberglass rod as an extension because I goofed and cut the conduit too short, shimmed with duct tape and stuffed into the conduit. I drilled holes in the very tip of this rod for the aluminum wire to go through as well, serving as an additional support. Ta-Da, instant eggbeater. The conduit would serve as both the handle and the main beam of the antenna. Then came the hard part.
I saw the layout for the phasing hookup, which looked to me like Swahili; I could see the layout, but didn't understand the logic (I'm oilfield trash, not an electrician) behind it. So I just put it together the way I saw it, hoping it would work anyway. When I finished, the whole works was about 36" long, approximately 30" in diameter, and weighs a whopping 1.5lb. Ugly as a mud fence, but who cares about that?
So it took me a total of about two hours in my kitchen (XYL just loved that) and some stuff I had laying around, and I had my eggbeater.
The results? Well I was able to hit not only my local repeater, but another one about 30 miles away. When I made a contact I was told that I had a full quieting signal and that I sounded lima charlie. Good, that was part of what I wanted, But would it work for satellites?
I took my new antenna outside and taped it to a fence post so I would have my hands free. I was making my final connections and realized I had overlooked one teeny little detail: this thing was designed for VHF and the upcoming downlink was 436.775...UHF! How could I overlook that? Oh well, try it anyway.
Long story short, SO-41 flew over at a height of about 650km and 20-or-so degrees and I caught the downlink.
So for $0 and a little time I build an antenna that is both portable and versatile, seems to do what I want.