Sunday, January 03, 2016

Sometimes you just can't win

I decided I wanted to operate on 160 meters. I constucted a random length dipole. It was as long as the property line and as high as the tower would allow. It required an antenna tuner but the tuner I had did not cover 160. I purchased a MFJ unit that was almost new and at about 1/2 price as a new one. My friend Jerry said I would not like it and he was so correct. I smoked it in about 2 or 3 days. I fixed it just as good as new and sold it for what I paid for it. And don't you know the guy that bought it just loved it, boy was I glad. I then talked to another friend and he recommended a 4k Palstar. I found one used on a Ham Radio swap board. It arrived but it was a lot larger than I had room for on my radio desk. It did work very well on 160  threw 40 meters but stunk on every band above 40. I was not happy with this so I advertised on the internet that I wanted to trade for a 2K Palstar. Right away I got an offer of the 2k and $100 for my 4K. The 2K arrived and was put in line and wow this one worked great and was smaller to boot. Now my antenna was still the random length dipole. After being on the 160 meter band a few nights I soon found I was not hearing nearly as well as the rest of the fellows. I decided to try a sloper antenna, this was an antenna that I had years ago. It was installed but I soon found it was not doing any better than the dipole. Now what ? I then read many antenna articles and decided an off center fed dipole was the one. I could have made one but I found an ad for one that was about the price of the home made one. An order was placed and in a few days it arrived. I installed the antenna, there was no pruning at all, It was to be hang up and that's it. You guessed it, The SWR was out of sight, all the bands were 3 to 1 or even above that. I tried raising the ends, lowering the ends, raising the feed point, nothing worked. I contacted the seller and he agreed to refund the money. Now what? I remembered telling my son that "you have to be smart enough to know when to give up" and that's what I did, no 160 meters for me. I went on an adventure to St. Lucia BWI and found that I really liked the 17 meter band. This was the best band of all while there. I made hundreds of QSOs on 17 while on St Lucia. Back at home I had no antenna for this band. I hurriedly put up an inverted vee on the side of the tower. After trimming the antenna several times it became resonate in the middle of this narrow band. It worked very well but was I satisfied ? No, I had to improve it. I decided to try a delta loop. The calculator came out and the wire was cut to the formula, 55 foot total. A 4 to 1 balen was to be the center insulator but where was it. after digging threw several boxes out in the back yard shed it was found. I measured to the points where the insulators were to be placed and installed them. I just  stood back thinking what a good job I had done. Well I hung the antenna in its place and took a reading, Oh no it was off the scale of the meter. No matter what I tried, cutting, lengthening, raising, lowering nothing helped. After thinking about it for a day or two I thought I would try it with no balun at all. The books tell you to use a 4 to 1 balun or a 75 ohm matching stub, I tried it with neither. After hanging it back up it was put on the meter and I found it was just slightly out of the ball park. After a few inches of wire was added it was just perfect. Now I have a perfect working 17 meter antenna. A home run ! Yes you guessed it again. There was a solar storm and the band was all but dead. I tried 100 watts and calling CQ over and over I received no answers. The 1.5 KW amp was switched on and another string of CQs were tried. I did get two answers but they were so weak I could not even get their call signs correct. I had to give up but the band conditions will get better in a few days. I know the antenna will be a good performer so I just have to wait for the sun to settle down to normal and the band recovers. Look out Europe and the Pacific, I'll be calling you soon ! ....Jack WB9OTX .... UpDate :The band improved a few days later and the antenna as I thought was a winner. Although it is only 30 foot high it works the West coast with +S9 reports. Many very nice QSOs have resulted from this antenna. It is better than the Inverted Vee and quieter to QRN, Yep I'm the winner.
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