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Author Topic: Help with First HF Shack  (Read 4102 times)
KC2KMJ
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Posts: 89




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« on: June 02, 2011, 11:40:35 AM »

Hello folks. Need some help here. I'm currently a Tech studying to upgrade to General. I'm getting my first HF gear together, which will (probably) consist of either a Yeaesu FT-450D or FT-950, with the antenna being a Par EndFedz EF-40/20. I have a 2-floor house with my bedroom on the upper floor. Ideally, I'd like to have the station there but this could present problems. I could have the station in the basement but this also presents problems(maybe).  I'll break this message up into ground and antenna sections, please.

I could run a separate equipment ground outside but it'd be a long one (20'-25') from the 2nd floor down to the ground. Or... I could have the station in my dry basement where a ground run would be a lot shorter.

If I have the station upstairs I could mount the Par Endfedz sloper-like, one end from outside the window running down to a pole about 10' above ground. I might have to extend a short length of pvc away from the house to mount the end of the antenna away from the gutters and transceiver. The coax would be a short run from the transceiver to the Endfedz. If the station is in the basement I'd still have to mount the antenna the same way as if the station was in the 2nd floor, which means the coax run would be long (25'-28').

Which way would you go, or would you do it differently... or what? Smiley  I'd appreciate any help, tips, or corrections to my little adventure here.
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N4KZ
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2011, 04:59:06 PM »

I would put the shack in the basement.

Here's why:

1. Getting an RF ground -- or DC ground for that matter -- will be hard on the second floor. Running a long ground wire up to the second floor could cause more problems than it would solve. I speak from experience.

2. Having your gear and antenna in close proximity also could create RFI issues. The likelihood of getting RF in your gear is high if you have a second floor shack with the end of the dipole nearby. Again, the voice of experience here.

3. Putting your shack in the basement gives you easier access to ground and removes your gear from the close field of your antenna anchored to the side of the house at the second floor. And any coax running from your basement up to the end of the 2nd floor dipole would still be considered a short run at HF, not a long run as you mentioned.

In 42 years of ham radio, I have lived in 14 residences since getting on the air. I've had ham shacks in the basement, main floor and second floor. I'd take a basement shack every time. Prevents grounding issues, RF in the rig issues and gives more privacy if you want to ham while others want to sleep.

73, N4KZ
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KC2KMJ
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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2011, 05:19:33 PM »

Thanks for replying, Dave.  I was hoping the basement wouldn't be the answer.  ;-)   Looks like I have some cleaning and moving to do.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2011, 05:41:48 PM by KC2KMJ » Logged
K1CJS
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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2011, 06:36:39 AM »

Basement, most definitely.  The reason is that an overly long ground wire just may act as a resonant antenna and give you interference on some bands.  The loss from a thirty foot length of coax is not all that much greater at all than the loss from a ten foot length at HF frequencies.

Another benefit is that if you intend to use your station for weather reporting or emergency comms, you may well prefer to be in the basement instead of on the second floor if adverse weather conditions (hurricanes, tornadoes) were present in your area.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2011, 11:11:53 AM »

I wouldn't suggest the basement without seeing your basement. It's great for grounding but some basements are cold and damp and not very good for electronics or creature comforts.

The first thing I'd recommend is dropping the end-fed antenna idea. End fed antennas all cause RF on the outside of the coax shield which can cause RFI problems if you don't have a good RF ground, especially if you have a short run of coax. I've always found that a balanced antenna like a center fed dipole or doublet causes a lot less problems, especially if you can mount it some distance from the radio and the house. Half-wave dipoles are pretty inexpensive to build. A fan dipole or trapped dipole can be used to cover several bands and if space is an issue then a shortened dipole (with a loading coil on each side) can perform quite well (as long as you don't shorten it by more than 50%).

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KC2KMJ
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2011, 07:15:08 PM »

I realize a picture might help so tomorrow I'll post a few shots of the backyard. I would love to do a 1/2wave dipole but I'm unsure if I have the room. My backyard at its longest and widest spot is roughly 90' long and 60' wide with galv fencing on the ends. I'd love to get a 80-10 multi bander but I don't think I have the room. I could do a 1/2wave vertical mounted to my garage.  If I go to the garage the coax run would be about 50'-60'. I've been mulling this over all day today and thought maybe an off-center dipole would do the trick.....  or the vertical on the garage.  I just don't know...
« Last Edit: June 03, 2011, 07:18:10 PM by KC2KMJ » Logged
K1CJS
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« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2011, 07:43:22 AM »

Bob, He did say his basement was dry.  That is why, I believe, that the majority of us suggested the basement.
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KC2KMJ
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« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2011, 10:07:34 AM »

Well guys, I think the basement may be a bit damp afterall, and I'm not going to run a dehumidifier all day. I guess a first floor or 2nd floor shack is going to happen, afterall.  I've been thinking that I may be better off saving up for a TS-590S. I read thru the manual and it
was easier to understand the flow of things and I liked the layout of the radio more than the 450, 950.

Regarding the antenna....  I've got 60'x27' to play with. This would be all the way at the back of the yard though, so I'd need about 65'-70' of feedline from shack to antenna. I was thinking of doing a multi-band loop...or rather rectangle.  I figure I could safely do a 60m or maybe an 80m if I can configure it somehow. Any thoughts, suggestions, etc., are appreciated.
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KG6YV
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2011, 01:16:56 PM »

If you choose to do a loop just make sure you keep the house and shack outside the loop.  Bad Karma exists if you are
located inside a loop antenna when transmitting, no joke.

Greg
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KC2KMJ
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« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2011, 06:15:43 PM »

Well, after doing some measuring methinks I can do a multi-band loop thusly: http://www.divshare.com/img/15035260-965.jpg

I like the idea of the loop because one can use it with a balanced tuner and it should work 60m to 10m.  I'm still wondering if it'd be easier to use an EndFedz, going from back of house to end of the yard....   Any thoughts? Thanks.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2011, 07:02:04 PM by KC2KMJ » Logged
KD4LLA
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« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2011, 07:50:33 PM »

Most of the comments said use the basement (close ground) and a dipole antenna.  You asked the question, yet it seems you don't like the answers you are getting.  I would not put any radios in my basement either.  My dehumidifier is on a timer and shuts off every few hours so the coil can defrost.

Mike
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KC2KMJ
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« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2011, 08:17:19 PM »

Most of the comments said use the basement (close ground) and a dipole antenna.  You asked the question, yet it seems you don't like the answers you are getting.  I would not put any radios in my basement either.  My dehumidifier is on a timer and shuts off every few hours so the coil can defrost.

If it was that easy, Mike, I'd do it. I have some electronics laying around in the basement. Today I cracked them open and to my displeasure, but not surprise, I did see oxidation. I didn't think it was that damp down there but I'm not feeling so good about leaving $1K piece of gear down there. It looks like I might be able to swing my s/o over to the idea of having the shack in the end room...which is our ironing room. It'll be tight but I think we'll be ok.
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KB4MB
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« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2011, 07:17:31 AM »

Don't do the basement - you will never want to operate.

The loop will be the way to go, you won't have to worry about a ground/ground wire (or at least yet).  You will be happy.

Get the biggest tuner you can if you go manual (you will be able to tune things easier, and you are ready if you ever do increase power - plus they hold their value and never go bad if you operate them properly).

Feed with twinlead/ladder line, and you will be set for a long time.  You will probably be able to get out on 80m, but if not, down the line you can put down some radials and pull up a 66ft wire over a tree (part of it may be on the other side), and you will then be set for 80m as well.
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W8JX
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« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2011, 11:19:06 AM »

I have some electronics laying around in the basement. Today I cracked them open and to my displeasure, but not surprise, I did see oxidation. I didn't think it was that damp down there but I'm not feeling so good about leaving $1K piece of gear down there.

I have had my gear in a finished basement for years with no problems. When humidity seems high I will use a dehumidifier but generally normal heating and cooling takes care of the potential problem over 90% of time. A good dehumidifier can turn even the dampest basement into a pleasant area.
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KC2KMJ
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Posts: 89




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« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2011, 05:19:21 PM »

Well, my neighbour (cousin of mine) came over today to nix the idea of using her tree for one corner/support of the loop. This means I'll lose roughly 20' off the total length, but I think I can still do 40m. Still looking into other types of antennas. It really is an adventure! Smiley
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