OK, it might appear that we are a tad bit nomadic. But, that is not really the case! It took us a year after moving back to Starkville from the Atlanta area for our house there to sell. This is where most of my posts in this blog were made. We had 8.5 acres with lots, and lots of natural towers for antennas. Just before I was to put up a 160 meter loop antenna—custom built for me by Bruce Beckett of Mapleleaf Studios in Missouri—we got an acceptable offer on the house and property.
We moved to the Jackson, MS area as planned but really couldn’t find the right house for us. As a result, we are building! Building in what might be the opposite of a ham friendly neighborhood. But, the loop isn’t for sale yet. Since there are virtually no trees in our soon-to-be neighborhood, my builder is going to mount the Mapleleaf Studios 160M loop along the eaves of our new house. More on antennas in the new place later since it won’t be until next Spring when the house is completed but it’s been both challenging and fun to mentally explore the possibilities!
In the meantime, we live here in a second-floor apartment. See the antennas? Hah hah! Neither do I. We are severely limited. Not only can’t the small DirecTV dish be attached to the balcony bannister, neither can anything else, it seems. Oh, of course, except flower beds or other decorations. Perhaps anything unrelated to antennas of any kind! Pardon my cynicism, but I’m sure you have felt this too.
Here’s what I’ve done thus far. In the picture zoomed into the balcony, you can see a screwdriver mounted on the basement floor. It’s a High Sierra 1800 screwdriver, given to me by Toxie KD5DDY, a fellow member of the Magnolia ARC in Starkville. I bought an MFJ three-magnet base mount which works perfectly. I have for the time being four wires run haphazardly across the wooden flooring on the balcony. I also purchased a remote tuning device from Carlos Aguirre, KD7WJZ via his eBay store. It’s gotten good press on eHam http://www.eham.net/articles/26813) and Carlos has a popular Youtube video demonstration http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v79pP_jStwM) I have a sealed lead acid battery and a trickily charger bought at a local Lowes nearby for power. I am just on the other side of the wall in my shack from this HS 1800. I must say that Carlos’ device works very well! It’s really easy to give the antenna some additional “head room” as my Kenwood TS-450SAT needs it.
One problem that I have is the 102″ SS whip is too “tall” for the ceiling high which is made of a plastic material. I bought a small capacity hat off of eBay ($20) which helps on tuning noticeably. As you can see in the close-up picture on the right, the whip is curled under the ceiling.
I can successfully load the antenna on 20 meters. I may experiment with more radials at the length for this band. In addition, there are two metal gutters nearby, one down from the roof and the other in a U-shape around the ceiling’s eaves. I don’t want to leave damage when we move to our new house in the Spring! However, I’ve got to try!
Although not visible in the picture, I have a J-pole enclosed in a piece of white PVC pipe on the back side of one of the posts. The coax feeding it runs down the bricks into a spare bedroom aka office and radio shack. My Kenwood TM-G707A is monitoring the local 2M and 70cm bands.
I also picked up a portable HF vertical antenna for use in portable activities but tried it mounted on the brick ledge of the window. One of High Sierra’s Claw Mounts was used and it held like a Bulldog. This worked OK but the leaves making contact with the whip detuned it so that the TS-450’s auto tuner had to do it’s thing anew almost every time. I may try the screwdriver mounted this way and chance the “eyes” of maintenance. However, the radials needed for the screwdriver might prove a problem unless a connection to the metal gutter will work some magic. More on those and other experiments later.
I can only get into the MS Phone Net a few times a week, depending on where the person calling the Net is located and their setup. But I try…
It’s not desirable but a lot of hams face similar or worse environs at their QTH. It will teach me some more about being innovative in these circumstances. But I’m on the air and working a few folks, both on 30 and 40 meters. A couple of 10M contacts have come my way too. Hamateur radio is always fun!