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Author Topic: Starting up again... looking for ideas  (Read 1598 times)
KD5EZK
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Posts: 8




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« on: October 31, 2012, 07:41:51 AM »

I have been mostly inactive for the last few years and am essentially starting again in a somewhat new environment.  I’ve previously run a mobile station (Yaesu FT-100D, ATAS), a decent base station (Yaesu FT-920, SGC coupler with wire antennas) and a portable station (Yaesu FT-817, SuperAntenna MP-1).  Now, I live in a 12-story apartment building in downtown Washington DC.  I have no balcony, but there is an easily-accessible rooftop deck area with lots of furniture, so I’ve been considering a portable HF operation – something that I can carry up and get running quickly.  I’d also like to maintain enough flexibility to operate portable elsewhere.  I’m okay with 10 watts or less, but I’d be looking for a better antenna option than the MP-1, which never really worked well for me.  It also appears that my building has a network of lightning rods along the edge of the rooftop deck that are all tied together with a large (~1/2”) braided cable.  I’m not actually sure if there are any outlets up there (I assume there are… I’ve just never used one for anything).  I have a building next door to the south that has quite a few vertical antennas on its roof (probably in the VHF range).  Does anyone have suggestions for a new rig/antenna combo for this operating environment?
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KJ4FUU
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Posts: 162




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« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2012, 10:57:27 AM »

What mode do you want to operate in? CW is a lot more forgiving of compromise antennas than SSB.

Antenna-wise, you may try a hamstick dipole. Just about anything else, other than a portable vertical, which you already said you didn't have good results with, would require being able to fasten on to something. If you want to minimize lugging around big batteries, you are probably going to have to stick to QRP, or VERY short sessions with more power. As far as rigs go, I love my FT817ND. With that, an Emtech ZM-2 tuner, and a bunch of wire, I've currently got 65 DX entities with SSB, and I'm 4 states short of WAS.

I plan on doing CW, but I need practice time (both sending and receiving).

BTW, I'm in Alexandria, VA, so I'm not too far away.

73,

-- Tom
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KD5EZK
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« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2012, 11:20:25 AM »

Ah, yes... I did leave that out, didn't I.  I never did operate CW in the past.. mainly SSB or PSK31 (and occasionally RTTY).  I considered just going back to an FT-817, or possibly a KX3.
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WX7G
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« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2012, 11:39:46 AM »

I operated from an apartment patio that is similar to yours. My setup consisted of a 100 watt transceiver, a whip antenna/coil/radials and a 20 amp-hour battery in a soft sided cooler. The whip was a 6' whip and a homebrew coil. I placed the radio on a table and extended two radial wires from the cooler. It worked quite well.

The MFJ-1621 ($99) is a similar antenna, or your can homebrew one. MJF has telescoping whips to 17' and that would get you on 20-10 meters with no loading coil. Or use an MFJ HF Stick (Hamsticks are no longer made).
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VE3FMC
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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2012, 12:52:37 PM »

You might want to consider operating JT65. You mentioned PSK31 so I assume you have an interface already in place.

JT65 is a low power mode, and you can make 1000's of contacts all around the world with that mode. As mentioned a Hamstick dipole setup would be ideal up on that roof. 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters. Nice simple to use antenna setup.

I have worked VK's from south west Ontario on 40 meters with 5-15 watts on 40 meter JT65. Antenna is a 40 M dipole with the apex at 30 feet. So with the height of the building you are located in you should be able to do the same thing while using the hamstick horizontal dipole setup.

Good Luck. 73, Rick VE3FMC
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KD5EZK
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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2012, 10:12:55 AM »

I ended up going with an Icom IC-7200.  Got it talking to CocoaModem on my MacBook Pro.  Big weaknesses in the antenna department, though.  I planned to take it up on the roof and try it with a larger wire antenna, but trying it out with a wire antenna out the apartment window (which was admittedly hacked together from what little I had on hand) produced almost no results at all.  I ordered a few items to assist in both operating environments:  a Buddistick for the window, a PAR Electronics (LNR Precision) EF-40/20 for the roof, and a RigExpert AA-54 to remove all the guesswork.  Hopefully I’ll have a better report in the next few days.
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N6AJR
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2012, 02:03:04 PM »

see if you can stick a roof top antenna up there like a hustler 5BTV and set it on a non penetrating roof mount ( glen martin  has some ) and run the coax  down the side of the building and into your window, or kitchen vent or something.  then sit in the  house and play radio.
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KD5EZK
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« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2012, 05:27:04 AM »

I'd love to be able to do that, but it would require my building management's approval (which, I have to admit, I have not sought; maybe I should just ask...).
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NK7Z
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« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2012, 06:51:50 AM »


JT65 is a low power mode, and you can make 1000's of contacts all around the world with that mode. As mentioned a Hamstick dipole setup would be ideal up on that roof. 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters. Nice simple to use antenna setup.


You can load a bed-spring and make good DX contacts with JT65.  It really works well in marginal signal conditions...  Really, Really well!

73's
Dave
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Thanks,
Dave
For reviews and setups see: http://www.nk7z.net
N4KZ
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Posts: 594




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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2012, 01:07:06 PM »

I've been operating JT-65 HF for a while now and really love its low-power, modest antenna capabilities. It's amazing. But for those folks not familiar with it, know that JT-65 is not a rag-chew mode. It's highly formatted and you can only exchange the minimal amount of information for a legitimate 2-way QSO: callsigns, signal report, grid squares and confirmation. Personally, that doesn't bother me because I do a lot of rag-chewing on other modes but some might be disappointed with this restriction. BTW, the mode was originally designed for VHF/UHF moonbounce and typically, out of necessity, EME contacts only exchange the barest of info, just enough for it to be a bona fide QSO. It's because of its VHF/UHF heritage that grid squares are used in the exchange. They are not required for legit QSOs.

JT-65 can dig out signals so weak that you sometimes cannot hear them by ear. But you can usually see them in the waterfall -- very faint little traces that just hint at the presence of a weak signal. I started using JT-65 when I had bronchitis and couldn't talk on SSB without getting into a bad coughing spell. So I began playing with it and loved it. No talking required -- just mouse clicks.

73, N4KZ
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W1JKA
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Posts: 1619




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« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2012, 02:33:19 PM »

Re: KD5EZK

                 Excellent choice of your IC-7200 and Par end fedz antenna,from personal experience with both you won't be dissapointed.Be sure to try out all the configurations possible with the Par,with your roof top height above ground advantage you will be pleasantly surprised,plus you don't have to mess with a tuner.Good luck  Jim
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