OK I am lazy.

Even though I have all the parts to build a dipole, I bought a commercially-available G5RV antenna to hang between my trees.  I figure eventually I will string a 160m Marconi with the dipole parts.

So now all I need is some Dacron rope* and some decent coax feedline…and a wrist rocket to throw some fishing line into the trees.

The boy is coming down this weekend so maybe I can get him to help me get this thing hung.


* I actually have a bunch of 3/8″ polyester rope in the garage — never used — that I might use just to get it into the trees for now.  That would probably last a couple of years.  Hell, the trees may not last that long.

Why do hamfests start at 6AM?

Seriously…I got up at 5:30 this morning so I could get out to the Indy Hamfest before the locusts descended on the flea market.  (OK, mixed metaphor.  Sorry.)

It was fun, though.  I bought a tuner to go with my FT-450D and some accoutrements for a dipole antenna. 

And a hat.  Maybe a picture later.

I’d had enough by 9:30 though so I came home and cleared a bunch of old junk electronics out of the garage and took them over to the electronics recycle at the church.  Then I went outside and measured the actual distance between the two trees I mentioned in this post. (The ones that run roughly north to south.) Turns out it’s almost exactly 120 feet! With the halfway mark (thus with any luck, the feed point) right at the peak of the house roof!

So I may be able to get an acceptable dipole up without having to worry about the power lines.  I think I can at least get one up that will tune down to 40 meters, and that would be sufficient for now.

And I checked stock.  I have at least a thousand (maybe 1500) feet of #12 THHN stranded in the shed…

Authentic American Hero

I met one yesterday.  I hate to tease this but I said something down below about writing it up, and I don’t have time right now.  I will do that later.

As it turns out, he was my mother’s boyfriend after she graduated from high school until he enlisted and went off to war.  (She met Dad on the rebound.  And that worked out pretty well, I think.)  Anyway, they’ve met up again after all these years.  And he has stories to tell that three hours yesterday didn’t even begin to cover.

War photographer in the Pacific.  Spoke Japanese but had to hide that fact when he was traveling in post-war Korea with a war crimes unit (he went there the day after the surrender).  Ham radio operator until he developed macular degeneration and couldn’t see to work his rig anymore.  Freemason.  Oil painter (self-taught).

And that barely scrapes the surface.  There will be more to tell.

Owww. (Redux.) And, antennas, or the lack thereof.

A week and a half after the Great Extraction and I still feel like someone punched me in the jaw.  And kept punching.  It would really feel great if that guy would run out of steam.  Which finally he seems to be doing.  I stopped the Vicodin last weekend and have been relying on my industrial-strength naproxens (that I normally take twice a day to relieve arthritis pain) to help me through this recovery.  The bad thing about that is that I really DON’T want to be taking 500mg of naproxen four (or more) times a day — that shit is not good for my kidneys.  But I guess in the very short term it will be OK, particularly if I keep hydrated.

The other thing was that, Friday night into Saturday morning, I seem to have developed a severe case of dysentery.  We still don’t know what the hell I ate, but it ranked right up there with a colonoscopy prep.*  Sorry, TMI.

Anyway that’s why I haven’t been writing much; I just haven’t felt like it.  It’s been kind of a chore just to get through the days at work.  I haven’t even felt like keying up the old 2 meters and yakking with the guys on 700.  And even though my Yaesu FT-450D showed up last Monday, I’ve only gotten to getting it out of the box and hooking it up to the power supply to make sure it wasn’t DOA.  (It wasn’t.)

I really don’t know quite what to do about an antenna.  I could throw a long wire up in the trees, but I have to be careful about that; the path between the two best trees in the yard for that purpose crosses the path of my IPL service drop, so that’s pretty much going to be a non-starter.  I could do a V-shaped dipole of about 120 feet in length between those two trees and a tree in the front yard, but the tree in the front yard will be lucky if it makes it through another winter. 

Id est:


(The graphic is oriented with north at the top.)  In theory I could put a multi-band vertical at the north-east side of the house because I can get above the neighbor’s tree there.  (It’s not obvious from the picture, but those branches aren’t up very high.)  Or I could run a ~120′ wire between the tree in the back and the tree in the front.  Or I could ignore the chance of dropping the wire on the service drop to the house and put a long bent dipole between the tree in the back, the tree on the southwest, and the tree in the front (with the feedline connecting in the SW corner). The latter really doesn’t seem like a good idea to me, though — and not just because as a former electrician I have a strong and healthy respect for electricity.  It’s just a dumb idea to hang wire where it could fall on other wire.

I guess I could ask the neighbor if I could put one end of a dipole up in his tree that’s practically on the property line.  He’s a 25-year-old kid, he probably wouldn’t care.

Ah well.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll write about the 90-year-old WWII vet I met today.

EDIT 7/8:  I just realized that the east leg of that triangle is about 120 feet long, not 60 feet like I was thinking it was.  I really did not feel good last night.  So technically, it looks like there’s enough space there to run something like a Hy-Power 3B4016L multi-band dipole along that line to get 40, 75 and 160 meters (I assume that the 75 meter portion is tunable to 80, but I’m just looking at how long the antennas are, not their technical specs).  Or an Alpha-Delta DX-LB+ trap dipole that gets me 10, 15, 20, 40, 80 and 160 in 100 feet.

Of course Bobbi will probably tell me to throw a piece of #12 copper wire up there, tune it, and stop whining 🙂  And use CW instead of phone while I’m at it 🙂


* Although generally I don’t vomit during a colo prep.

Generally speaking

by 1PM or so I might be upgraded to a General Class Amateur Radio licensee.

Wish me luck.  I am fairly consistently scoring in the low 30s on practice tests, and I only have to answer 26 correctly out of 35 for the upgrade.

And if I pass and they say “Do you want to try the Extra test?” I’m going to say “Not today, thank you.”  I’ve been looking at that book, and my tiny bit of electronics knowledge isn’t anywhere near sufficient.  Not to mention my crap math skillz, which I’ve barely used since high school.

Well, more later.

LATER:  Passed it.  And took the Extra test, against my own better judgement, but what else did I have to do today?  Did not pass the Extra test.  Didn’t even ask for my score; I know I guessed on at least half of the questions 🙂

Outgoing FCC chair calls for new ad-hoc emergency network in Boston

Via people’s wi-fi routers and broadband connections, which allegedly stay up when phones go out.  Yeah, about that:  My wireline phone connection is a lot more robust than my broadband connection, even given that I have a UPS on my cable modem and router.  The broadband flaps all the time.  The phone, not so much.

Oh, but wait.  I have a WIRELINE phone in addition to my cell phone, so this problem doesn’t actually affect me as long as I’m at home.  And unless someone cuts the wire, I don’t think our wireline has been out of service in 50 years.  Even in 1984-ish when we had the ice storm and the tree fell on the wire out back and we had no power for four days except for the little generator out back that was keeping our furnace going, we still had telephone service.  (And natural gas, too.)

Gee, here’s a thought.  Why do we need a whole new non-robust network for this?  Why not just use the existing, in-place network of Amateur Radio operators?  Ever heard of ARES, Mr. Genachowski?  Or RACES?  They’re designed for this kind of thing.

I tell ya.  These government types just want to spend more and more of our money on redundant shit.  They can’t see the forest for the trees.


Sorry, I was off the air for two days (both literally — although I did check into the ARES net last night — and figuratively, while attending fraternal meetings) and I see it’s been longer than that since I posted.

Not that anyone actually reads this tripe.

I’ll try to do better going forward.