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Author Topic: Shack questions (and a few more...)  (Read 945 times)
RUMBLEFISH
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Posts: 7




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« on: February 29, 2008, 05:58:42 PM »

As a new Ham, I REALLY appreciate a spot that I can visit and read tips, suggestions and plain good  'ol advice from experienced folks. I intend to take advantage of it!!..=)
I posted a question about a "slinky " antenna a few weeks ago and got good feedback so here goes Round 2.

I have decided to follow the advice to replace the Slinky. It is in my attic (which can accomodate almost 60' of straight wire)and does NOT work very well. Since I had my antenna in the attic, I located my gear to a separate room off one end of the attic. I feed the slinky with 50' of rg8 coax to a mfj 949e tuner. My radio is a TS-530s btw. The room I am using is insulated, but unheated at the moment (and it is COLD here in Boston!) I could easily heat the room with a small space heater and cool it with a window AC unit in the summer. It has a window.
I have VERY limited space to put up an external antenna. I do have a random wire of about 60-70', end fed with no balun, running between a tree and the house just a bare wire running to a SW receiver in my basement office. The basement office is very comfortable, well lit, nice desks and shelf space, carpeted, etc...but it is very near the furnace and all the ductwork for the house runs overhead in a dropped ceiling and it has lights on a dimmer switch. I like it much more than the attic, but the attic is A.) free of ANY metal ducts or cables, wires, etc.. b.)very spacious and C.)very handy for attic located antennas.
I have NO back yard to speak off. my property falls off a few feet from the house almost straight down for about 30' into a swampy area. I DO have the ability to install a dipole-type antenna up to 100 feet in length (or so)or a smallish vertical attached to the chimney.
My preference from a comfort and conveince perspective is to create a shack in the basement, but will all the ductwork and utilities make it "noisy" also, if I install a smallish vertical (as a "noob" I have no band preferance yet but 20-40 meters will probably be the target) do I need to install radials on my roof? (Wife will spin like a top, it's a new house...=)
Or should I go with a wire dipole (suggestions?)
I really want to play around with PKS31 as I am very comfortable with computers and the whole digital thing sound interesting to me. Does that change the equation?
Well, thats a LOT of stuff tossed out there. Thanks in advance for any help folks...

Thom  KB1PZJ
Maynard, Ma
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N1QOQ
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Posts: 188




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« Reply #1 on: February 29, 2008, 06:16:47 PM »

Do you think you would be able to do a loop style ant?
I use 270' +- of 14ga wire in a loop configuration. It is hard to see(keeps xyl happy) all you need is a couple of well placed trees to support it. I use mine on 160,75,40,20 with a tuner of course. Maybe attach two corners to the eave of the house then what ever you can find in the back the drop off is a bonus. With hf height above ground is important. Be creative and experiment thats what being a ham is all about!!

73
Paul
N1QOQ
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KI9S
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Posts: 12




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« Reply #2 on: February 29, 2008, 08:00:39 PM »

Thom:

There are, no doubt, several valid answers to your questions about shack location and antenna choice. I would point out that the selection of basement over attic may have as much to do with grounding as it does with closeness to antennas. I have always preferred the safety of a shack placed within a few feet of ground, and I would suggest that you consider the implications of an attic station on your ground choices!

Also, using a chimney for a vertical antenna mount is dealt with in many of the eHam forum posts. I'd look at those, and take a long look at safety issues before deciding on this particular method of mounting. Personally, I like your suggestion of a dipole, or Paul's suggestion of a loop antenna. I've tried both over the years, and each has advantages and drawbacks. Why not try both?

Finally, operator compfort is more important, especially as you become more -um- mature. If only for that reason, a warm, insulated basement sounds much better than the alternative you describe.

BTW: gotta love the Kenwood!

Stephen KI9S
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KB9CRY
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« Reply #3 on: February 29, 2008, 08:12:38 PM »

My preference from a comfort and conveince perspective is to create a shack in the basement,

Basement is best from a lightning grounding aspect.

 but will all the ductwork and utilities make it "noisy" also,

No

if I install a smallish vertical (as a "noob" I have no band preferance yet but 20-40 meters will probably be the target) do I need to install radials on my roof?

No, not if you install a no-radial antenna


(Wife will spin like a top, it's a new house...=)
Or should I go with a wire dipole (suggestions?)

I'd do this in addition to your little vertical.  One can never have too many antennas.
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KB9CRY
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« Reply #4 on: February 29, 2008, 08:13:48 PM »

Wife will spin like a top, it's a new house...=)

Isn't that what you want?
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K3GM
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« Reply #5 on: February 29, 2008, 08:56:27 PM »

Thom, as a new op, why not try something easy like a dipole?  At 60', your attic is long enough to accomodate a 10-15-20m fan dipole and even 40m with bent ends.  It's balanced, and you won't need a tuner. You can get on, make contacts, upgrade your license, and move forward with something more elaborate later on.
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K5YF
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Posts: 77




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« Reply #6 on: February 29, 2008, 11:36:54 PM »

I also suggest using the basement for reasons already mentioned.

Install as many antennas as you can. No matter what you start with, plan to install others and leave them all in place so you can switch between them. They all have
strengths and weaknesses.

>>>Tell your neighbors they are HDTV antennas<<<

Black and brown wire is much more stealthy than red, yellow, and white. The darker colors are difficult
to see even with binoculars.

A ground mounted vertical for 40m and up is only 33 feet tall. You could make it out of a "push-up" tv antenna mast or buy aluminum tubing from a local vendor and make it yourself. 16 radials of the cheapest and smallest wire tucked under the turf will give you close to a 50 ohm match on 40m. You will need that tuner for the other bands (understanding that a tuner like the AH-4 and similar at the feed point of the antenna is a good solution). The vertical can be spray painted after final assembly to conceal it more. If you have a tree with a trunk that is tall enough, just use a straight-ish wire running up the trunk in lieu of the
tubing or mast. It will work fine. (Note: some folks swear a ground rod at the bottom of a vertical monopole
of this type is required)(Note 2: ground radials of this type are NOT tuned. Longer is better to a point. More short radials is better than a few long radials, but a few long ones does work, just not nearly as efficiently.)

Put a nice 8 foot ground rod as close to your operating position as possible. Don't use the AC, Telephone, or CATV ground.

Since you have a tuner, don't sweat the exact length of a the dipole you put up, just make it as long as possible. A dipole doesn't HAVE to be fed
in the center. About 70 feet above average terrain is as high as a dipole ever needs to be for HF work, so you are good to go at 60 feet.

PSK31, CW, and the other narrow-band digital modes are easily workable with QRP level ERP. Your going to be well above that with anything approaching a 1/4 wave antenna.

Best of luck and best 73!

-Brandon
-N5JYK

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W8JI
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« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2008, 03:45:17 AM »

Thom,

The only real reason to have a ground is safety. The ONLY exceptions to that and the only reasons to have an RF ground or worry about noise in the area of the equipment is if something is wrong with the feedline system or if you are using an end fed antenna brought into the shack.

Other than the exceptions of the feedline radiating through some sort of intentional or unintentional error, neither grounding or modest noise around the equipment or the ductwork will matter from an RF standpoint. It would really never be a consideration I would have for myself!

Grounding is necessary for a safety standpoint, but if you have a need for a RF ground it is generally easy to solve the real problem and not use a ground to band-aid or patch the problem.

From what you describe since you can put a dipole up, I might opt for a dipole of some form. You probably should read some books and look at what you can actually do, but it's often tough to avoid getting caught up in rumors or fairy tales that surround many antennas.

Try reading this link and see what you think....

http://www.w8ji.com/g5rv_facts.htm

that's a simple and effective antenna that will get you at least on 80 40 and 20 with a good signal, although you will need to use a tuner.

73 Tom


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RUMBLEFISH
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Posts: 7




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« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2008, 09:01:54 AM »

lol...that one made my day...=)
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RUMBLEFISH
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« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2008, 09:04:31 AM »

I meant the "isn't that what you want" comment...=)
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AD5VM
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Posts: 26




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« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2008, 02:03:54 PM »

http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/hamwire/4456.html

Buy the 17 meter version and stick it up in place of your longwire (highest rating of any antenna review on eham)

Then, buy this 20/40 meter dipole to put in your attic (its only 44 feet long)

http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/hamwire/1285.html

Then maybe add an isotron for 80 meters and a homebrew 17 foot dipole (10 meter) to the attic.

Then you'll have 10/17/20/40/80

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