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Author Topic: Portable set up  (Read 8105 times)

Posts: 80

« on: March 25, 2012, 03:59:07 PM »

  I have done some field/portable radio work and "really" enjoy HF in the outdoors.  I have used mono dipoles, fan dipoles, verticals, wild mast configurations, all home made.   I am like a junkie and want more and more performance in the field.  I have an old A-3s I want to convert to a 2 element yagi for ease of transport and field assembly.  What are some antenna solutions that are practical and effective some of you may have used? Any good commercial products that do more than a dummy load? I am not limited on ambition, resources, or mechanical inclination.   

Posts: 2100

« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2012, 04:35:10 PM »

     Glad to hear that your into the real fun part of the hobby.I can not remember the thread but on you tube, if you type in"homebrew portable yagi"there is an excellent video of a young man making one out of easily found parts.Hope you can find it.  73  Jim

Posts: 80

« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2012, 05:10:38 PM »

Thank you, went to You Tube, also looked at field day set ups.  I have some work to do!

Posts: 514

« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2012, 06:16:28 PM »

Having the right firepower always helps Cheesy

Posts: 17483

« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2012, 07:01:31 PM »

For backpacking and general use my standard is a set of dipole wires that I can
connect to the feedline in any combination as the need arises.  The wires can
also be pressed into service in other ways - a 40m quarter wave wire makes a
full wave loop for 10m for example (add one 18" clip-lead for phone, two for CW.)

When I worked in the logging camps in Alaska I carried my Argonaut and a zepp
fed 135' wire using 300 ohm twinlead (all that I could find in town on short notice.)
Probably the best portable antenna I've ever used was when I hoisted the feedpoint
up 40' in a spruce tree and walked out onto the tide flats at low tide to tie off the
far end to an improvised mast.  When the tide came I had a sloping long wire over
salt water pointing Stateside, and I broke pileups on KG4 and KZ5 with my Argonaut.

For Field Day and other times when I want particularly good performance, I've used
2- and 3-element quads for 40m, a sloping vee beam with 185' legs (in a large clear
area, allowing me to rotate each wire individually by moving the tie-off points.)

A 40m bobtail curtain works pretty well on 20m also when you have good ground
conductivity.  (A beach in a cove allows you to string it from the cliffs on either
side.)  For a multi-band antenna you can make a bobtail curtain in the form of a
center-fed dipole - each side forming one vertical element plus the attached
horizontal section connected to the feedline in the center.  That allows you to
feed both wires in parallel against ground for a standard Bobtail curtain, or
connected as a transmission line in doublet mode, giving two very different
patterns on each band.

I've also had good results with a 15m J-pole, which sometimes outperformed my
long wire.

While I have a TA-33jr that I take out to Field Day, I usually loan it out to the
QRP phone station (who needs it more than I do on CW), but am looking at some
simple wire beams hanging from a crossbar that will give me directivity.  Normally
I use a full wave 80m loop, which works well up through 20m, but above that
the lobes are too narrow so I'm looking for improvement.  From here in Oregon
we just have to point our antennas East, and most stations are 1000 miles or
more, so fixed beams work out well.

Posts: 80

« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2012, 03:52:27 PM »

    Thanks for the ideas,  The curtain sounds very interesting.  I wish I understood all this "stuff" more, I read up some on the Bobtail Curtain.  I build large stuff for a living.  I made from scratch, my own tower for my-used $275  A-4s at home.  I can build anything, I just need to understand and learn how all this antenna stuff REALLY works.  Thanks again.

Posts: 17483

« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2012, 09:59:41 AM »

The website of the late W4RNL is a good place to start reading:

Yes, you have to register for free, but it goes into a lot of detail on many
antenna designs, including some portable yagis, loops, etc.  His Moxon
design has become a standard for light-weight beams with good performance.

DK7ZB also has some designs for portable yagis:

The HexBeam can be built to fold up like an umbrella:

What works for portable operation depends on your constraints - certainly
it is different for backpacking vs. Field Day vs. a week in a vacation condo.
You really have to define your parameters and limitations - weight, size,
setup time, favorite bands, available supports, ground characteristics, and
whether you are interested in random contacts or DX, etc. - before choosing
the antenna that best fits your needs.

For myself that has usually meant wire antennas because they are easy to
transport and cheap to make, and I often have trees for supports.  (Otherwise
I use the 4' military mast sections, which I can stack to 40' by myself.)  But
other than Field Day much of my portable operation is on 40/80m, where simple
dipoles are quite adequate in most cases.

If you look around the web you should find instructions on how to modify a
tri-band yagi so the pieces fit in a golf club carrier for DXpeditions.  Basically
the elements are cut and short pieces of thinner tubing added inside to make
additional joints where the elements can be disassembled.  Rather than hose
clamps, aluminum pop rivets are used to assemble it, then drilled out when it
is time to leave.  I haven't done this to my TA-33jr because I can manage the
boom and elements in my van, even if they have to stick out the window.
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