Tag Archives: End fed antenna

First trip with the KX2

We just returned from another fine camping trip, this time with the KX2, its first trip to the great outdoors. First observation, they ought to out put warning labels on these things. They are very nice radios and you will want to operate them very often. Second, they sip power. I brought along my a Bioenno Power BLF 1209A battery (9 Ah), and used it without recharging, operating for a bit each day for the entire four day trip. No more hauling a trolling motor battery with the obligatory follow-on chiropractor trips for me.

KX2 at Camp

Yes, 10 W isn’t 100 W and given the current conditions 10 w SSB won’t always get the job done but many times it does. I made some good contacts over the period of the trip including some time at Rawley Point Lighthouse, with some especially nice QSO’s with WA0HHX and WR2D with good signal reports. I heard plenty of European DX stations, usually late in the afternoon on 20m but wasn’t able to make any contacts. (I take my TS-480SAT along and run it off the camper house battery or my Samlex 1223-BBM when I need 100 W.) At some point conditions will be such that I’ll get some DX from camp with the KX2.

For this trip the only antenna I used was my  LNR EFT-10/20/40 Trail-Friendly end fed. It’s very easy to toss my throw line up into a tree and pull up the antenna. I can be up and running in maybe 5-10 minutes.

My XYL and I saw a lot of White Pelicans on this trip. We’ve seen a few on occasion in years past but on this trip there were quite a large number of them flying about, swimming, and fishing in Lake Michigan. They are fun to watch and were quite entertaining while waiting for responses to my CQ calls at the lighthouse.

White Pelican

Butterfly’s were out in abundance on the beach as well including a bunch of Pearl Crescents and quite a few Red spotted Purples.

Pearl Crescent and Red spotted Purple

Next up for the KX2 portable station is a linked dipole for camp, the internal battery pack, and sorting out portable digital modes. We have several more camping trips scheduled for the year and there will be some other outdoor operation as well. The KX2 packs a lot of features into a small package and is a joy to operate. I’m as happy as a canary with a new beak!

Happy Camper with a KX2

Advertisements

Rig Expert @ Rawley Point Lighthouse

While on the first camping trip of the year I once again activated the Rawley Point Lighthouse (USA-689.) This time I chose to operate from the parking lot just to the north of the lighthouse. I used my Kenwood TS-480SAT and instead of my Alpha Antenna Alpha DX Sr I chose to use my LNR EF-Quad.

The parking lot just to the north of the lighthouse is located behind a very large dune at the top of which is a rather tall tree perfectly suited as support for one end of an end fed wire antenna. Using my arborists throw bag and line I quickly placed the line over a limb about halfway up the tree. I hoisted one end of the EF-Quad into the tree and ran the feed end back to my truck.

EF-Quad @ Rawley Point (light red line highlights antenna)

EF-Quad

I used my RigExpert AA-55 Zoom to quickly check the antenna and obtained the following readings:

Frequency SWR
7180 1.35
14250 1.27
21325 1.29
29000 3.1

AA-55 Zoom @ Rawley Point Lighthouse

AA-55 Zoom – Outstanding in its field

The RigExpert AA-55 Zoom continues to be outstanding in its field (pun intended.)

Due to the fact that it was a very windy, and somewhat cold day, I chose to setup the radio in the back of my truck. Once the antenna was up and checked I was able to start making some contacts on 20m. Even though band conditions weren’t great I was able to make a number of contacts in the time that I had for operation. The EF-Quad is a very nice antenna for portable operation and is a great option for windy days where I would have had to guy a vertical antenna like my Alpha Antenna Alpha DX Sr.

Some day this summer I’ll tune the EF-Quad to get 10m closer to what is spec’d. Now that I have the AA-55 Zoom it will be much easier to tune this multi-band wire antenna than with the old MFJ-259B.

 

NPOTA activations

It’s September which means there are only four months left for the NPOTA event. As I write this there have been over 612,000 QSOs with over 11,000 activations of the 489 units. If you look at the stats you’ll see that there are only 40 units that haven’t been activated. This means that over 90% of the 489 units have been activated at least once, with many of those activated a number of times. I wonder if anyone at the ARRL and the NPS thought that this event would generate this level of interest.

Some significant portion of those 11,000 activations involved Amateur Radio in the view of the public at the units. What a great promotion for the hobby. My activations have drawn interest from people at the units that I’ve activated with the first question usually something like “what are you doing?” followed by the typical responses of either “people still do that?” or “my <fill in the blank family member> used to be an Amateur Radio operator.” All the interest I’ve seen has been very positive. I’ve enjoyed doing activations as it’s fun to be on the other end of the pile-up. It’s not like being some ultra rare DX such as Outer Swobovia but I’m not likely to travel there anytime soon so a pile-up in Wisconsin will serve. I’ve also enjoyed the chase as well. As of this moment I’ve done nine activations and have 107 units confirmed.

Wisconsin doesn’t have any National Parks but we do have five units on the list:

  • Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – LK01
  • Ice Age National Scenic Trail – TR05
  • Ice Age National Scientific Reserve – AA11
  • Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway – WR09
  • North Country National Scenic Trail – TR04

Of which two, Ice Age National Scenic Trail – TR05 and Ice Age National Scientific Reserve – AA11 have multiple locations throughout the state, many of which are very near my home or where my XYL and I camp.

Ice Age Trail - Point Beach Segment

Ice Age Trail – Point Beach Segment

NPOTA TR05 portable station

NPOTA TR05 portable station

At one activation I had some assistance from a dragonfly:

Dragonfly counterpoise

and an odd little bee that spent about 20 minutes flying around and walking about my portable station:

QRB???

QRB???

For all of the activations I’ve used my Kenwood TS-480SAT @100 Watts powered by a trolling motor battery and either my Alpha Antenna DX Sr, EARCHI end fed, or LNR EF-Quad end fed, all with good results.

NPOTA portable station

NPOTA portable station

On occasion I’ve used my folding wagon to transport the station equipment:

Portable station transport

And other times I’ve worked largely out of the back of my truck:

Ice Age Trail - Northern Kettle Moraine

Ice Age Trail – Northern Kettle Moraine

NPOTA station @ TR05 and AA11

NPOTA station @ TR05 and AA11

The current run rate is about 76,000 QSOs per month so with four months to go the final tally will probably be just over 900,000 QSOs. Maybe there will be a push through the fall and we’ll break one million QSOs for the year. Who knows.

I’ve visited a number of the units over the years and it’s been fun to work them in this event, recalling the times that I’ve visited the unit in the past. With the popularity of this event, and the interest that it has generated I wonder what the ARRL is going to come up with next. I know that I’ve enjoyed it immensely.

 

 

EARCHI antenna test

With the matchbox completed the next step was to attach the antenna wire and perform some further testing in addition to some operating.

The recommended antenna wire length is 30 feet. I chose to use Wireman 532. I also chose to use a counterpoise of 16 feet of Wireman 532. The coax feedline can also serve as a counterpoise but I read varying reports of improved results with a wire counterpoise so I choose to experiment with and without one.

The antenna was supported by a Spiderbeam 12m fiberglass pole. I taped the end of the antenna to the tip of the Spiderbeam pole and stood it up, bungee corded to a picnic table.

For the first day of testing I had assistance from a friend of the  family, Ross, who is interested in Amateur Radio. It was nice to be able to show him that antennas can be as simple as a piece of wire in the air. The first day of testing I simply used my TS-480SAT, a Welz SP-220 SWR meter, and a Dentron JR Monitor antenna tuner. Power was provided by a trolling motor battery.

Portable radio setup

Portable radio setup

I hooked up the antenna, went to 20m, and checked the tune of the antenna. After a few tweeks to the Dentron I was able to work W3US, an NPOTA station at NP52, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. A wee bit later I attempted to break a giant pile-up with IZ5HZO and IU5DBS to no avail. Ross was suitably impressed that I could sit in my backyard in Jackson, WI and communicate with people with a piece of wire.

The first day of testing it was nice and calm. The second day that I tested it was quite a bit more windy and warm. The Spiderbeam pole collapsed on itself three times so I added some masking tape to the joints and there were no further problems.

On the second day of testing I had help from a friend and fellow operator, Josh KD9DZP who’s a newly minted General class ticket holder. Josh recently bought a used Kenwood TS-590S that we were going to A\B test with my TS-480 but we ran out of time. We’ll get to it another day.

EARCHI antenna on a Spiderbeam pole

EARCHI antenna on a Spiderbeam pole

The matchbox was dangling in mid-air about 9-10 feet from the ground. The feedline was 20 feet of RG-8X.

Matchbox

Matchbox

The cat took a well earned nap after chasing the antenna wire and walking on the feedline while putting the antenna up. He’s a big help.

Cat nap in action

Cat nap in action

Testing with the MFJ-259B directly (no tuner) both with and without a counterpoise gave the following results:

20m SWR readings
(Direct – no tuner)
Feedline – 20 ft, RG-8X
Counterpoise (cp) – 16 ft. Wireman 532

Frequency w/ cp w/o cp
14.150 7.9 6.3
14.200 7.7 6.5
14.250 7.7 6.5
14.300 7.7 6.5
14.350 7.6 6.6

40m SWR readings
(Direct – no tuner)
Feedline – 20 ft, RG-8X
Counterpoise (cp) – 16 ft. Wireman 532

Frequency w/ cp w/o cp
7.125 3.5 5.7
7.225 4.4 5.7
7.300 3.5 5.7

10m SWR readings
(Direct – no tuner)
Feedline – 20 ft, RG-8X
Counterpoise (cp) – 16 ft. Wireman 532 (I didn’t test 10m w/o counterpoise)

Frequency w/ cp w/o cp
28.300 1.5 x
28.500 1.6 x
28.700 1.7 x
28.900 1.7 x
29.100 1.8 x
29.300 2.0 x
29.500 1.8 x
29.700 2.0 x

6m SWR readings
(Direct – no tuner)
Feedline – 20 ft, RG-8X
Counterpoise (cp) – 16 ft. Wireman 532

Frequency w/ cp w/o cp
50 4.8 4.6
52 4.3 3.7
53 3.6 3.1
54 4.3 3.7

So far the antenna appears to be working well enough to add it to my portable operation. I have some more experimenting to do with the counterpoise and varying it’s length in addition to varying the length of the antenna itself.

There are a lot of resources for EARCHI antennas specifically and end fed antennas in general and I found these two blog posts helpful:

Portable Antennas: The EARCHI End Fed

Fine Tuning the End Fed Antenna