Amateur Radio

How high should my dipole be?

In this video, I show you why you shouldn’t worry about height for your wire dipoles and loops.

Unless you can achieve leaps of a quarter-wave in size, just go with the flow (or put up a DX Commander All-Band-Vertical! :)

4-Element Home-Brew Folded Dipole Yagi Dimensions

I’ve recently “made” a 4-element Yagi in software for my YouTube channel which should give a great match to 50 ohms.

If you’re into MMANA software modeling, here’s the file:

NOTE: This is a ZIP file because my Content Management System doesn’t like files ending in MMA. By all means have your Virus Scanner check this Zip file. There is only one file inside this ZIP. Just the MMANA file.

Quick SWR Calculator for Vertical and Dipole Ham Radio Antennas

Here’s a really simple way of double checking how to much to trim your antenna elements.

You only need to type in the numbers in the Cyan boxes.

Just type in where it is resonant right now – then type in where you would like it to be resonant and the spreadsheet will auto-calculate the trimming.

Film: How to use the SWR Adjustment calculator.

TOKYO HY-POWER HL-700B 600 Watt Amplifier purchase

So I have just taken delivery of a very gently used Tokyo Hy-Power HF linear amplifier.

The previous owner (retired communications and instrumentation technician for a large, multi-national organisation) replaced both fans with ultra low noise “Arctic” fluid bearing units. These are installed in 2 speed via voltage regulation manner: Low speed during stand-by (RX) and High speed during TX. Continue reading

Adding 80m to DX Commander All Band Vertical (9-bands 80m through 6m)

Regulars will know about the DX Commanders very cool results which are now filtering through in real world successful contest scenarios.

My own issue is that I needed just one antenna that would deliver an all-band solution, certainly for the contest bands of 40m, 20m, 15m and 10m – but I also needed 80m in the mix too.

My holiday home has a very compact small garden so the option of putting up a dipole for 80m is out the question, but modelling suggested than exchanging the 30m element for an inverted L for 80m should work.

The 80m element therefore starts vertical, like all DX Commander elements and turns a sharp corner at 6.9m above ground and droops down for around 13m or so, hanging over a bush at around 3m off the ground. Probably not perfect but perfectly adequate to score 44 QSOs inside an hour on the Saturday eve of the IOTA contest. That score includes 16 different IOTA multipliers, certainly a wide spread around Europe.

Continue reading

DX Commander Contest Antenna achieves top placed UK IOTA Station

IOTA-graphicI’m absolutely delighted to report that I was placed 4th overall in the world for IOTA-Fixed station, Unassisted, Low Power, 12-hour section. This was from a holiday home and I installed the antenna inside 1-hour.

Results here  – but what makes this more remarkable is that I only used the one antenna from 80m through 10m; DX Commander All-Band-Vertical.

For 80m, I confirgured the DX Commander as an Inverted-L, replacing the 30m element. Of interest, 30m was still achievable (albeit with a 4:1 SWR). Although 17m is not a contest band, I did notice some slight interaction with the new 80m element, however SWR was still acceptable without an ATU.

I logged 300 QSOs however I notice after adjudication, that fell to 289. Pretty good, only dropping 11 QSOs. And I was amazed at how effective the 40m element produced such startling results on 15m, effectively as a 5/8th. Even 10m as a 2.5m long, ground mounted quarter-wave was getting in the action with short skip too.

All in all, I’m extremely delighted that I test-proved this antenna from a holiday location in competition with my peers, who were using genuine fixed-station antennas.

M0MCX Banana Antenna – an end-fed choke sleeve resonant feedline T2LT antenna design

A new document fully documenting the design of the Banana Antenna has now been released entitled, “Banana, a Half Wave End-Fed Choked Coax Antenna”.


Banana Antenna

Antenna can be known as – and is similar to:

Sleeve Dipole / Flowerpot Antenna

The Sleeve dipole has traditionally been used by VHF antenna designers by sliding an external metal sleeve over the coax and connecting the sleeve to the braid of the coax so that the antenna appears to be centre-fed with an outboard “sleeve”. Some commercial CB antennas are also made this way. Continue reading

JT65 UK Band Plan and how to stay within

The 5 MHz band is pretty cool and I’ve written about it before however out the box, JT65 allows you to very easily transmit out of band on 60m band. The segment we’re interested in the UK is the freq block between 5.354 and 5.358. This has taken me a little while to get to grips with this because although the band-police are complaining – and the RSGB has also warned users, nobody is giving a clear instruction on how to achieve staying completely within the band allocated to us.

In the UK therefore, there’s a couple of simple steps to take to make sure you won’t transmit out of band.

If you don’t have JT65 already, get it here:

Run the installer and interface your rig as you would any other piece of software that connects to your computer. If you are after help with that part of the problem, there are other places to hunt solutions down, not this blog.

Go to file > Settings and click the Frequency tab at the top and edit the frequency for the 5 MHz band so it reads 5.356.

File > Settings > Frequencies

File > Settings > Frequencies

Continue reading

Introduction to the 60m Band Plan (5 MHz)

60m is an interesting band. it’s partly channelised into small segments and the propagation is a cross-breed of 40m and 80m.The band was first introduced apparently in 2002. Over the years, various countries have allowed their amateurs radio operators to use the band. All this is negotiated and approved in conjunction with the ITU World Radiocommunication Conference(s). Many countries are now “on air” and can be heard. Be careful though, their frequencies may be different to ours.

In the UK, this boils down to 100 Watts maximum transmitter power and 200 Watts effective radiated power (* see note). Only Advanced licence holders are allowed on 60M band. You used to obtain a NOV however I believe that’s finished now.

To get around remembering everything, it’s probably best just to set up some memories in your HF set. I don’t know about you, but all these fancy rigs come with memories – and we never use them. Well, I didn’t up until now. 60m is ideal for getting up to speed with these Memories (and you can scan the channels too which is something else few of us know how to work!).

The following table should be able to set you up for your HF set memories (as at February 2017).

Frequencies: Upper Side Band (USB)

  • 60m-band-plan5.298.50
  • 5.301.00
  • 5.304.00
  • 5.320.00
  • 5.335.00
  • 5.354.00
  • 5.379.00
  • 5.395.00
  • 5.398.50
  • 5.403.00

Continue reading

5.137 MHz 60m AM transmission test

So I’ve been fooling around on 60m band lately on SSB as well as CW and digital modes.Today I decided to see if using AM might strike it lucky for me.

AM is a mode I remember from my youth. All the original imported CB sets were AM at that time and I seem to recall that I enjoyed the sound quality. Somehow it’s more relaxing than FM. Maybe its because you don’t need squelch, I really don’t know. FM has great clarify but AM just has a roundness to it.

TS990s on AM

TS990s on AM

Most modern radio sets come with the ability to transmit on AM but there’s an element of setting up, for instance with an old fashioned AM CB radio, you probably don’t set up the carrier and then adjust the microphone gain to achieve the modulation.The good news is that out the box, my TS990s seemed to transmit AM pretty well. I have an additional benefit in that the AM carrier on the TS990s is 50 watts, with voice peaks naturally falling at around 100 watts, perfect for maximum juice on the 60m band which limits our power to 100 watts anyway.

Continue reading

Working 15m band on a 40m vertical antenna

Note: This article discusses the merits of a 3/4 (three quarter wave) vertical -vs- a 1/4 (quarter wave) antenna.

You can build a 40m vertical quarter wave antenna and ground mount it with 16 x 4m radials and operate it at the third harmonic; 21MHz.

Actually, all my experimentation has shown that if you multiply the quarter wave resonance by 3.03, you’ll have the next available usable band. In this case, if you tune a 40m vertical to 7.00Mhz, you’ll have the whole of the 15m band to play with with a centre-point of 21.300Mhz. Oh, and you’ll still have the whole of 40m band under 1.3:1.

Now here’s the controversy:

Most people who read antenna publications or the ARRL handbook believe that if you actually make this antenna, you’re creating a cloud-burner on 15m.

Technically correct (sort of) – but for DX, wrong.

On the surface, the 10m long 40m vertical that’s used on 21.225MHz does indeed look like a cloud burner. Here it is. 15m band in green -vs- a pure quarter-wave in red).


(click to expand quarter-wave in red, three-quarter wavelength in green)

Continue reading

CQWW SSB 2014 Example QSO recordings

DSC_0041Had a ball with CQWW this weekend putting just over 1,000 QSOs in the log. 10m was very busy. The band scope on the TS-990s radio was extremely full with hardly a gap from 28.300 to 29.000 (and some!).

A couple of times, I used Audacity (software) to record out the back of my Kenwood TS-990s and caught some interesting sound-tracks.

Mostly, I forgot to hit the record button, particularly when I hit a very fast pile-up to the US but I found time to catch the tail end of this one after it had slowed down a bit.


Here’s a “perfect” example of a CQWW “rubber stamp” contact.   Continue reading

How to build a tilt-over 60 foot antenna mast from scaffolding poles

This job is not for the feint-hearted. You will need a natural tendency for engineering, be accurate and be comfortable with knots. However, there’s no reason that most small teams of keen amateur radio operators can’t build this as a project for field day use.

Let me explain how I built the one shown in the pictures, then I’ll cover the learnings with you later along with my own do’s and don’ts.   Continue reading