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Author Topic: Portable QRP Antenna for a Ten Tec Argonaut VI, plus more.  (Read 407 times)

Posts: 10

« on: August 26, 2019, 10:43:59 PM »

Dear Forum Members.  This my first post here as I have used other Yahoo and such forth forums.  Please be kind as I know you will.

Portable operations with a 17' caravan with the XYL and her three dogs, 1 thirteen yearly English Bulldog, 1 seven year old pug and a 2 year old French Bulldog.  The caravan was intended to be our dark sky escape away from the bright lights of the country town to some where dark for the 8" Celestron Edge HD Evolution.  With our lives lived beneath clouds it has yet to have its first calibration.

Hence I am thinking of taking a few radios on holiday when we trip around Australia.  Though I do not know how practical this will be.  The Ham radio is a Ten Tec Argonaut VI and I will eventually purchase the Elecraft T1 Tuner.  It appears to be a good match.

As we will be mostly stopping in caravan parks and cattle stations and State Forest Parks where dogs are allowed.  I am after a quick set-up and pack-up antenna.  I am still at odds for transmitting as we have two receivers which may supply just as much fun.

1.  Sony ICF-SW7600GR for everyday around town and a bit of DX if I am so inclined with a PK Loop from Paul at PK Loops.  This antenna operates between 3.5MHz and 16MHz when applied with 12VDC.

2.  For shortwave listening I was thinking of the MFJ-1886 amplified loop.

3.  I also own a Palstar R30A and am in the position to purchase another one of a fellow Ham in Queensland for $500 AUD.  The brand new one in the shack can stay there whilst I take the other one bush in the caravan.  The Palstar Range come with so many accessory products that seem to fit the bill.  Though the may be acceptable in the Goodo'l USA with higher population densities,  though out in the Never Never where whole Continents could fit in.  I do not know which path to go down.  I do have a IC-7410 in the car via a nine foot stainless whip.  Though I prefer to be outside withe mozzies and a cold can of beer.

Yes I know.  Spoilt for choices.

Warm regards,

Paul, VK3ZT

Posts: 10

« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2019, 09:59:58 PM »

I have had some more thought on the subject and some local advice.  For the time being it is out with the loop antennas and the plan now is to:

1.  Ten Tec Argonaut VI connected to T1 Elecraft Tuner and that to a Fan Dipole for 40, 30 and 20 metres up 15 metres as a possible inverted V.  This is for TX/RX on the ham bands.

2.  For SWL listening.  I was going to use the Palstar R30A for with an amplified loop.  I am now looking at a 15 metre vertical endfed via a 9:1 balun and an earth stake whilst we are out bush clamping in our 17' caravan.  A Long and Lat that I will save for future reference some can come back to the same spot for the earth stake.

There is also the option of purchasing a more modern receiver than that of the Palstar R30A which must also have a low drain on the batteries.

3.  By keeping radios small may also allow us when the clouds break to open our telescope to view the nights heavens.  The telescope which we purchased last Christmas has yet to see first light.  (It is a long story).

4.  Possibly replacing the Sony ICFSW-7600GR with a Sangean ATS909x.

I find it helps to type, write things down for my own mind and also to allow others to have a read to add their two bits.

Warm regards,

Paul in OZ.

Posts: 18459

« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2019, 08:47:03 PM »

I did something quite similar years ago, hauling my original Argonaut 505 in my
backpack and setting up from campsites while hitchhiking around OZ.  It was
great fun, though I'll admit I was a bit younger then...

I used multiple dipoles on a common feedpoint (I reserve the term "fan dipole" for
a much older antenna by that name) and didn't even take a tuner with me - it wasn't
needed, even though the dipoles got installed in all sorts of odd ways depending
on available supports (it wasn't practical to carry my own).  But then, the 505
didn't shutdown power at high SWR.

I build my dipole center insulators with the feedline attached, holes for tying the wire
elements to for strain relief, and wing nuts to secure the ends.  I choose which
bands I want to attach each time I set it up, giving more flexibility (I've used a
40m dipole as a full wave loop on 10, for example).  The original used RG-174
coax and a slice of radiator hose for the insulator to save weight, while newer
ones to be transported by car use a chunk of PVC lattice (because it was available)
and RG-58 coax.  The exact materials aren't critical:  basically it needs to provide
strain relief for the wires and coax, and a convenient wat to connect them together.

Such an antenna should work fine for SWL use, even if it isn't resonant at the
specific frequency.  If you want something smaller for that purpose, consider
an "active antenna", basic a 1m or so whip with a built-in amplifier.  No need
to bother with an earth stake.  If it has a telescoping whip it takes little space
to store, and you can just set it on top of the caravan, so installation is simple.

I mostly hung my dipoles from trees, which isn't difficult, especially with a
throwing bucket, though I did disturb some roosting bats at one point.  Camped
on a rock ledge over the ocean near Cape York I had to prop the feedpoint up
a metre off the ground with a stick.  At Lake St. Clair I strung up dipoles for
all 5 bands in a tree in half an hour - in the dark, while holding a trout in one hand.
In fact, the only time I had time to operate but couldn't figure out how to
put up an antenna was riding the Indian Pacific back from Kalgoorlie.

However, I'd suggest carrying a 6-9m squid pole with you for those times
when you don't have a tree handy.  The tip section is often too weak to support
an antenna, but just leave it off.

I found 80m SSB great for meeting locals in the evenings (resulting in a nice lunch
on my way through Woolgoolga).  Even in a campground there was room to
string up an 80m dipole (at least in the area set aside for tents).  It's just another
set of wires you can carry and add to the feedpoint when appropriate.

One of the keys for fast set-up and take-down is to use small wire and learn to
wind it and your ropes so they don't tangle.  I wind them in a figure-of-8 across
my palm between thumb and little finger, though commercial winders and/or
reels are also available.  Practice everything before you go and find what
works best for you.  We are currently working on a better way to attach the
wires to the insulator without needing to tie knots, as that appears to be a
disappearing art.

Good luck!

      - Dale WB6BYU ex-VK2DJW
« Last Edit: August 29, 2019, 08:49:36 PM by WB6BYU » Logged

Posts: 10

« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2019, 01:39:30 AM »

Dear Dale,

You have given me something to think about.  A dipole for the 80 metre band.  Sounds like more fun.

Warm regards,



Posts: 18459

« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2019, 07:52:18 AM »

That is what I like about being able to attach whatever set of dipole wires
I want each time I set it up:  at a lunch stop in the middle of the day I might
only set up 10m or 20m, while overnight it might be 40m and 80m, without
the longer wires getting in the way at other times.  Then each additional
band simply requires an extra pair of wires.

I use stranded, insulated hookup wire, perhaps 22 AWG or so.  0.5 to 0.8mm
is probably a good range, though you can go somewhat smaller for backpacking.
My whole antenna kit, with coax, dipoles for 5 bands, and rope to install it,
fits in a small pouch and weighs less than 1 kg.

I should note that some of the local 80m SSB activity may have shifted to
2m repeaters in the ensuing ~40 years since I was there, but the point is
that there is no need to limit yourself to a small number of HF bands.
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