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Author Topic: antenna as string of outdoor lights  (Read 9871 times)
KF7ZFC
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Posts: 26




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« on: September 25, 2012, 12:24:06 PM »

I recently moved to Gilbert Arizona and my home is in an HOA community. I am planning to put up a flag pole with a 5BTV inside. However I am planning on a 75 foot end fed antenna as my first project using #20 magnet wire and painted insulators.

In driving around I notice that people in the community have lights strung in their back yards. One set I noticed was about 50 feet long or so in a V from their house to a pole on the fence and back to the other side of the house.

Can I use a 75 foot sting of lights as my antenna? I would just jumper all the bulbs so they would not be in the circuit. Would the double wire cause a problem? I am running 100 watts with a IC-718

Thanks
Steve
KC2ICL
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WX7G
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Posts: 5908




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« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2012, 12:37:18 PM »

That is a cool idea!

I have wondered about the 5BTV in PVC flagpole antenna. What is providing the bulk of the strength, the 5BTV or the PVC? If you want to strengthen the 5BTV slip a 6' length of 1.375" O.D. aluminum over the bottom section. This is what I do. The slotted tubing from DX Engineering is ideal for this. The Top Hat "spider" on top of the 20 meter trap does nothing and of course can be removed. Or, use the 6BTV which has no spider and is shorter. Another option is to order the 4BTV and order the RM-80 resonator rather than using the RM-80S that comes with the 5BTV. The RM-80 is slimmer.
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N4UM
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Posts: 440




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« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2012, 01:12:50 PM »

I like the string of lights idea with the bulbs shorted out but wonder whether some neighbors might become suspicious when the lights never seem to go on.  I'd try it with the bulbs intact first just to see if they light up when you key the rig.
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KF6ABU
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Posts: 351




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« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2012, 01:17:47 PM »

Just make a dipole and hang some fake bulbs from it....
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KG6YV
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Posts: 504




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« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2012, 11:03:46 AM »

That is a wonderful idea....  If the HOA nazis don't bother the people with string lights you can use the "loop hole" too.

What a concept!!!

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VE3FMC
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« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2012, 12:33:24 PM »

If this post makes your day then at least I have done something to brighten up someone  Grin

Years ago I used to power a string of out door Christmas lights from inside my shack on a timer. I had 50 feet of lights on the gutter at the front of the house. Roughly 25 feet of extension cord from the lights to the AC outlet in the shack.

Well one night I was bored so I made a coax pigtail up and connected it to the male plug on that extension cord. Hooked it up to the tuner and tuned it up on 40 meters. So basically I had a 40 meter loop, although it was a bit longer than it should have been. If you factor in the double wire on the lights that made that length 100 feet, and another 25 feet of extension cord.

It tuned easily on 40 meters. I was talking to a friend across town on 2 M FM simplex and we went to 40 SSB and had a QSO.

Then I thought "Well might as well fire up the amp and see what happens"  Wink Put about 300 watts into the lights and my friend said my signal came way up!

I wonder if those lights were blinking off and on with the SSB modulation?

So it can be done and you are on the right track by thinking about that idea. Go ahead and try it. As someone said you could hang some fake lights off it and they would not be part of the antenna then.

I doubt that 100 watts would make a 50 foot string of Christmas lights light up but who cares if it does? Your neighbors might enjoy the light show at night!
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KF7ZFC
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« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2012, 02:18:19 PM »

VE3FMC

yes you have made my day!!


Thanks
Steve
KC2ICL
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VE3FMC
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« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2012, 05:18:35 PM »

VE3FMC

yes you have made my day!!


Thanks
Steve
KC2ICL

Hey it is nice to hear that I made someone happy today  Grin

Now string up those Patio Lanterns and make some noise! But do yourself a favor. Cut the male plug off the extension cord and solder the coax to the cord. Makes for a far better RF connection! When I did my experiment I just used some alligator clips to hold the coax to the male plug. Not the best RF connection  Smiley
« Last Edit: September 26, 2012, 05:28:41 PM by VE3FMC » Logged
W2RWJ
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Posts: 173




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« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2012, 04:58:39 AM »

In driving around I notice that people in the community have lights strung in their back yards. One set I noticed was about 50 feet long or so in a V from their house to a pole on the fence and back to the other side of the house.

Steve
Wrap a seperate wire with decent insulation (300V) into the string of lights.  Pick the same color if possible.   Add an RF filter to the AC feed to the string of lights to stop any potential RF transfer to to the house wiring.  Wire the filter with the "line" side facing the lights.

Low profiles and low budget!

Martin
W2RWJ


« Last Edit: September 27, 2012, 05:00:37 AM by W2RWJ » Logged
WN2C
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Posts: 428




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« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2012, 09:53:31 AM »

Steve, I had thought about this also so let us all know how it works out.  The lights I mean, not w/ the HOA. That is a separate issue. I live just across the 60 from you about 3 to 4 miles.  Maybe I'll catch you on the 147.12 (162.2 pl) repeater if you have 2 meter capability.
73 es gud luk de Rick wn2c
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WB6BYU
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Posts: 12978




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« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2012, 03:32:52 PM »

Most strings of Christmas lights have 3 wires:  two of them carry 120VAC though to the
next string plugged into the end of the first, and the third has the lamps in it connected
across the first two.

At least newer strings seem to be this way, with an outlet on the end to extend the set.

In that case, make a special socket with both pins shorted together and plug the string
into that to use as an antenna - no need to short out the lights.  Then you can move
the plug to a standard outlet when you want to use the lights.
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KI4SDY
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Posts: 1452




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« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2012, 06:15:12 AM »

Yes, I would use the existing AC wires and the before mentioned shorted plugs. Keep in mind that these strings have fuses built into the plugs. 100 watts of RF should not blow them. If you run 1500 watts that might be a problem.  Shocked

This is an excellent idea. When the original poster is done experimenting, he should write a short article to share the stealth effort with as many hams as possible. HOA's that have some type of regulation concerning hanging anything outdoors usually allow "holiday lights."  Just in case of a HOA inspection, I would make sure the lights still work and use them on occasion to throw the "condo commandos" off.  Smiley

A homemade insulator between two light strings makes a dipole and long strings plugged into each other makes a loop. How about a light string wire beam? What more could you ask for? A vertical string of lights that's what, with a buried ground plane. The possibilities are endless!  Grin  

Hiding something in plain view is always a good strategy.  Cool

Glad to see the "SnorgTee" ad back!  Wink  
« Last Edit: September 28, 2012, 06:28:54 AM by KI4SDY » Logged
WB2JNA
Member

Posts: 88




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« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2012, 06:32:14 AM »

As W2RWJ suggests, if you wrap a separate wire along the lights and use that wire as the antenna, then you can also turn on the lights from time to time if you like. You may not want to operate while the lights are on if that causes RF problems. Hope it works. It's a good idea.
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KI4SDY
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Posts: 1452




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« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2012, 09:25:21 AM »

Wrapping another wire for an antenna onto the existing wires in the electric light string might cause interaction problems due to the close proximity, in addition to creating more work and expense that is not necessary. No sense in over engineering something, especially if it might create more problems than it would solve.  Wink 
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WX7G
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Posts: 5908




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« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2012, 08:35:04 AM »

There is no need to short the lamps or to run an additional wire. The lamps are connected line-to-line. Feed both wires together and there will be no RF potential across any lamp; they will not light.
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