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Author Topic: New HAM setting up rig - need to know things to be  (Read 784 times)
KG6FOV
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Posts: 8




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« on: July 20, 2001, 09:43:07 PM »

Hello elmers,

I am a 15 yr old who has posted a few messages in the past. I was given a Kenwood TS-440S that I will be using with the Gap Titan DX. I was wondering before I set it up what I need to know (safety issues, things that would break the rig/antenna, etc.) before I set it up. Also, am I ok with this antenna on the corner of my house no higher than roof-level. What do I need to be aware of there?

Thanks, 73,
KG6FOV
Johnathan
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N8TEV
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Posts: 18




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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2001, 11:06:04 PM »

Hello,

First of all, make sure there are no nearby powerlines that may make contact with your antenna if it falls over. Of course, make sure your SWR is a good match, or otherwise u might burn up your finals in your radio, so an antenna tuner, I feel is a must in any antenna hf application.
To your question about your antenna setup, make sure your antenna is high enough so noyone can touch it while your transmitting, don't want to get a
burn from the Rf. And the higher the antenna the better it will perform, but i know some operator that do just fine, with a similiar setup like yours.
Make sure your radio and any accessories(tuner, swr meter, amplifier, power supply) is properly grounded of some sort of water pipe in your home,also make sure that your antenna is properly grounded. Usually an 8 ft. piece of copper rod pounded into the ground around the 8ft level will work, with some sort of wire going from the copper rod to the antenna or mast. Be cautious, make sure there are no underground wire, pipes etc. in that area.
If your area is expecting a thunderstorm in your area, I would suggest unplugging your antenna from your radio, u never know if it will hit your antenna or strike close to you.
I'm sure I didnt get everything, but this should help and congrates on getting your ticket

73, Eric  N8TEV
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N3DFV
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Posts: 6




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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2001, 09:34:50 AM »

Johnathan,

Per the response from N8TEV grounding is very important.  I would suggest using a copper ground rod to ground your equipment.  A water pipe ground isn't always a good ground point.  With all the PVC pipes these days you may not have a steel pipe to go to.  Make the run to the ground rod as short as possible.  A ground bus in the shack is a good idea.  Run a ground braid to it from each piece of equipment and then go from the bus to your ground rod.  Knowing the basics about the Gap antenna you have, just follow their instructions on installation. I have a Gap Challenger and Higher is not Better.  It may play better as a ground mount.  There is always a bit of magic in every antenna installation.  Again keeping in mind the power line safety aspects of the installation.  I would also suggest a HF rated lightning arrestor in the coax line grounded to your ground rod keeping the ground run less that a foot if possible.  You can't always be around when a storm pops up.  You may want to ask your parents if they have 100% replacement homeowners insurance.  It only cost a few bucks extra a year over a policy without that coverage and gives you new replacement on un-repairable ham gear as well as all the other electrical devices in your home. If your TS-440 has an internal antenna tuner your are all set in that department.  If not, then you will find an external tuner a big asset.  One note on internal tuners.  They do not tune everything you can throw at them.  If the swr is too high it will damage the internal tuner.  Generally anything below 3.0 to 1.0 is their usable limit.

Good Luck  
CU on the air sometime

73  Sam  N3DFV
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KA4WJA
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Posts: 703




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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2001, 10:52:08 AM »

Johnathan,
First (and MOST importantly) DO NOT put any antenna near power lines!!!! AND make sure that you have enough
people to help install/mount the antenna safely.....
If you don't have enough people handy, then host an antenna party ~~~~ invite over some friends or local hams to help you, and order some pizza or have a back yard cook-out.....

Second, DO NOT worry about SWR!!!!!  Do NOT worry about "damaging your finals"!!!!!  (The TS-440S, like all modern solid-state rigs, has a protection circuit
that automatically adjusts your power output, when a higher swr is detected!!!!)  There is VERY little chance that you'll ever have any problem like that...
{many radios have such a stout PA section that "some"
hams disconnect this "protection circuit", but I'd say
just leave it alone, and you'll not have any troubles}

{someday we'll have a discussion centering on the "myths" of swr, but not today, not for a new ham..)

Also, although an antenna tuner is a nice accessory to have, it is NOT a necessary component for YOU.......
(at least not now)......   Sometimes we ("radio junkies") just want more things to play with and more knobs to turn, etc.... but, you need to learn the basics first....

Third, you'll find many, many discussions about "grounding" just about everywhere you look...
 {Look at the wonderful discussion here at eham/elmers, just in the past 2 days!!!!}
And I agree with most of the advice!

Before I forget, one VERY IMPORTANT piece of advise,
buy some good amateur radio books... such as the ARRL Handbook, and the ARRL Antenna Book, etc.. (www.arrl.org)  these will help you out a lot!  (especially when you can't get "online",   hi, hi...)

Fourth, DISCONNECT all antenna feedlines from your radio, when you're not using them.... it is "a pain in the neck", but even if you don't live in the "lightning
capital of the world" (central Florida), as I do, it would still be good practice!!!(lightning arrestors are
okay, but not perfect)

As far as specifics related to the GAP, I'd say check with GAP themselves, but I also agree that ground mounting of that antenna is probably best...Huh?

Johnathan, Please enjoy ham radio and WELCOME!!!!
And remember, just because we're called OM's doesn't mean we're OF's ....

Good Luck,
73,
John,   KA4WJA

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KG6FOV
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Posts: 8




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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2001, 12:16:32 PM »

Everyone says ground mounting is best. Its a lot more convienient to mount it on a 20+ ft. pole on the corner of my house starting roof level of a 24' house. Will this be ok? Will there be a major difference between up there and ground mounting?

Thanks,
KG6FOV
Johnathan
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KA4WJA
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Posts: 703




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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2001, 01:17:27 PM »

Johnathan,
You can mount the GAP Titan on a mast 20' high (or more), but assemble and check out the operation of it while mounted close to the ground BEFORE you mount it on a tall mast, pole, etc....
(you may find that moving a perfectly assembled and
tested antenna to a tall mast, will affect some of the "tuning".... although I've never put a GAP up on a tall mast/pole/tower.... I think you'll find GAP will give you a "disclaimer" ~~~ as in "you might find reduced bandwidth" or "be careful of either the house or the mast itself as it may 'de-tune' the antenna"..
I'm not sure, but I'd bet that GAP will cover their butt on that one....)

Also, I'd reccommend using some non-conductive (dacron, etc.) guys ON the antenna.... I believe you'll find that GAP will agree as well...
Please call them BEFORE you decide on a permanemt mounting location....

The GAP antennas are different from many others, in that they are actually shortened (loaded) center-fed
vertical dipoles, BUT they (GAP) use some "interesting"
ways of doing "all-band vertical" operation...
with "tuning rods" and "counterpoises", etc...
Do NOT be mislead by "double talk"!!! Think about the fundamentals and things usually will make sense..
(Get an ARRL Handbook and ARRL Antenna Book!!!)

If you have the instruction manual, READ IT cover to cover, BEFORE you start... If you don't have it, get form GAP   www.gapantenna.com   or 561-571-9922

As the GAP antennas are somewhat complex in design, (there is a good deal of "tweaking" in the design to get "all-band" operation from such a short antenna,
using the GAP cirteria of "no-traps" and "no ground radials needed"... ) I CANNOT give you an answer to the question of "performance" of ground mounted vs.
20'+ high mast mounted GAP Titan....
Best answer is to call GAP!

I know that we didn't exactly give you a "answer" BUT....... oh well.....

Good luck,
73,
John,    KA4WJA



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KA4WJA
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Posts: 703




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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2001, 01:54:42 PM »

Johnathan,
To be precise, it is generally accepted that if you take a center-fed vertical dipole and move it from a ground mounted position (a foot high) to a higher position, you can expect a lower angle of radiation...
depending on soil type, surrounding structures, etc...

The angle may go from say 15 - 20 degrees down to 10 - 15 degrees... depending on how high (in wavelengths)
you mount the antenna, and depending on soil type, and depending on surrounding structures.....

IF you were a DX'er with an "antenna farm" to build, that small (5 degree) reduction in radiation angle with a vertical dipole might be important BUT for a GAP
multi-band vertical with all of its compromises AND being that this will probably be your primary antenna (for a while), I doubt that there would be any "performance" difference worth worrying about....

Please note that I'm NOT talking about "swr bandwidth"
nor the "tuning" of the antenna, as I covered that in a previous post....

Good luck,
73,
John,   KA4WJA

P.S.   I don't want to scare you but, many new hams get a vertical up and find they don't have too much fun on the low bands... verticals are GREAT antennas for transmitting long distances on the low bands!!!
BUT they are lousy for "local" (100 - 400 miles) rag chewing on 40m or 80m!!!! So, if you got some friends who you want to talk to across the state, you might want to try a simple dipole strung between a couple of trees...  Also note that verticals CAN be a "noisy" antenna for RECEIVING signals... They DO work okay, but if you find yourself wondering, just use an antenna
switch to "click" between the GAP and a dipole and listen to what happens...
On 10m - 20m I think the GAP will work out fine! (just don't forget about a dipole...)

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NB6Z
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Posts: 550


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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2001, 01:57:20 PM »

If your vertical is designed for ground mounting, then you may need to add 1/4 radials if you elevate it more than a few feet. The owner's manual should describe this...?
Also, if the SWR is high enough that the rig starts to protect itself, you should be concerned about this! It is bad practice to load and operate a mis-matched antenna to your rig. One problem you can run into is bad intermodulation problems on SSB voice and TNC/sound card digital operation.
If worse comes to worse, you can put a little cheap MFJ tuner on the output of the rig to prevent IMD problems, but that will shift the problem to your coax if you run higher power (over 50 watts). Also your family may notice even more TVI... :-(
You have a great opertunity to learn some good lessons in radio work here! So go for it! ;-)

73 Griff.
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KA4WJA
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Posts: 703




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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2001, 02:49:24 PM »

Johnathan,
Although I agree with NB6Z, that some swr protection circuits CAN cause non-linearities.... I think it is a mistake for you to concern yourself with that NOW.

You are going to use a 50 ohm coax fed reasonant antenna, which the manufacture claims will show an swr of less than 2:1 over the entire band (10m - 40m) and over a 100khz portion of 80m.... If you assemble and tune the GAP antenna correctly you should not experience any non-liearity difficulties with your TS-440S....

{Please let's not get into the "swr" debate here...
Johnathan doesn't need to hear the "experts",  hi, hi
(myself included) ranting about that now.... and about feedline radiation, etc.....
We'll save that for another day,  hi, hi.....}

Also, the GAP Titan is supposed to be "ground independent"... so there should be NO need for any "radials".... They may even worsen preformance...
Just call and ask GAP themselves....
{note: check out the Butternut Verticals web site for some comments on "elevated feed-point" and "ground independent" etc. etc...)

73,
John,   KA4WJA
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N9CYS
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Posts: 35




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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2001, 03:58:40 PM »

Johnathan,

I have a Gap Titan DX tripod-mounted on my garage at about 18’.  It performs much better now than when it did when it was ground-mounted.  However, take care to securely guy it (just above the gap).  It will stand up better to the wind and will reduce the stress on the mounting system and the antenna too.

Ditto on all of the safety issues already covered.

Have fun and 73!

Jim, N9CYS
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AG4DG
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« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2001, 09:24:00 PM »

I have written some material at:
http://www.jasonhsu.com/ham_radio-technical.html

Some quick thoughts:
1.  The ground prong in the power cord for the power supply gives you a DC ground.  So you may not need the buried 8-foot ground rod connected to the grounding screws of your transceiver.
2.  You do NOT need an RF ground.  I have written more about this on my web site.  The above URL has the link.
3.  See my ham radio parodies of Britney and Christina at:
http://www.jasonhsu.com/humor.html
(Sorry, I couldn't resist.  My ham radio parodies of bubblegum pop songs are the ultimate inside joke.)
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W5HTW
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« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2001, 11:31:06 PM »


Good advice on here.  However, most newer homes use PVC ( or other nonconductive)  type water supply pipe at some point in the installation, hence a water pipe ground is probably ineffective except in older homes built 40 years or so ago and not upgraded in plumbing.   An external ground wire to a good solid copper rod driven into the ground at least 8 feet is best.  Leave just four or so inches of the rod above ground and use strong, corrosion-resistant clamps to fasten your ground wire to the rod.  I use two stainless hose clamps.   Use a single wire for ground, not two or three different ones from like your tuner and your transceiver and other items.  Ground the items together, then run a single wire, preferably a good copper or steel braid, to the ground rod.  Multiple wires tend to create ground loops with stray RF on them.   Though I don't advise it as the best of choices,  I've used steel, stranded clothesline wire, the heavy stuff, for a ground cable.  It works fine, as long as the run is short and you are able to fasten it solidly to the rod and to the radio.  The aluminum stuff - clothesline wire - is not recommended, even though it comes in non-stranded style.

Also because power companies use a neutral that may be resistive to real ground, the ground pin in your wall socket is NOT a dependable ground for RF operations, though it may be fine for standard AC operations at 60 Hertz.    One place I lived I had an outside ground and hooked my outside ground to the wall socket's ground, and behold - major ground loop!  Interfered with phones, answering machine, computer, and other devices in my house.  With the radio grounded to the copper rod only, I had no problem.

The Titan DX is a good antenna.  I have had one for several years, mounted on a 3-foot pipe stuck in rather coarse desert soil.   If it is working properly you do not need, and should not use, a matching device with it, such as an antenna tuner.  It covers all HF bands, including WARC bands with excellent bandwidth except on 80 meters.   You can specify your preferred operating frequency and GAP will supply you with the proper tuning cap (mounted in the top of the antenna) for that range.  No, not free, but  you can actually change the 80 meter coverage by taking the antenna down and inserting a different top capacitor.   That isn't something you want to do very often, but it is possible.  I have four of them allowing me reasonable SWR in the low end of 80 meters, as well as -- if I want to take it down - in the upper end of 75 meters.   I use the Titan on 10 meters as well, and have excellent DX luck.  

It is an excellent DX antenna, including on 80 CW, but, as someone points out, it is not the best for regional ground wave communication.  A random wire (and here you do need an antenna matching device) will be better, or a dipole cut for your preferred operating frequency.  Other multiband antennas can work really well, but almost all of them require a matching device.  

Safety first.  Everyone here has warned you about power lines.  You know that by now.  Be warned, there are dangerous voltages inside your rig.  Pay attention to the safety warnings in the manual.  If you don't have a manual, find one.  

Be sure you know how to tune the rig.  I'm not familiar with the TS440 but assume it has tube finals.   Maybe not.  (Yeah, I know, I should know the TS440.  I don't.)   General tuning rules though about any tube based rig apply.  

Disconnect antennas when a storm APPROACHES.  Don't wait for it to get overhead.   If you can hear thunder, your antennas should already be disconnected.  

Lots of good info here, amigo, from a lot of people interested in helping you.  Welcome to the world of ham radio and HF, and good luck
73
Ed W5HTW

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KD5MAW
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Posts: 75




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« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2001, 06:24:44 PM »

Gap recommends the Titan be guyed. They aren't kidding. I made the stupid mistake of allowing one included angle of a 4-rope guying setup to exceed 90 degrees (more like 120). Had a storm here last week, and naturally the wind found the weak spot and blessed me with an artistic 30 degree bend in the center section. So now I get to spend a weekend fixing the sucker rather than operating. {8^( Lesson: when working on antennas, think outside the "electrical box". As others have noted, this is a great DX antenna but not-so-hot for relatively short range work on the low bands.
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KA0AZS
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Posts: 22




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« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2001, 02:52:33 PM »

The one thing I would add to all of the advice about grounding:  DON'T GROUND TO A GAS PIPE FEED!!! If you use an existing pipe, make sure you know where it goes. I followed the line in the celing above my basement shack and found it was natural gas, not a water feed!  Ran to a 10 foot ground rod outside the basement window instead.

Maybe others could tell looking at the pipe it was gas not water, but I play with electrical plumbing, not the other kinds;-)

73 and good luck

Randy, KAØAZS
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VE4HST
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Posts: 88




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« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2001, 09:00:18 PM »

Hi there Jim
I am considering the Gap Titan DX and like the "no radial claim".  I see it uses  "4 rigid counterpoiss 80"  long.  Is that 80" on each sise of the antenna or 40" on each side?  When ground mounted did you use only the counterpoise system or did you install any radials?  Please comment for the same for roof mounting.  I have a shed that is 10feet by 6 feet and 10 feet tall with a strong roof.   How would the Titan mount on that?

Thanks in advance
VE4HST
Harry
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