Me and Amateur Radio (part three)

Right, let’s get this rather lengthy “introduction” to my amateur radio affairs finished :-) You can read part one and part two in case you missed them.

From the previous part you know I had a G5RV aerial. It was my main aerial for quite some time and was working pretty well. I was just trying to get it higher, so I used longer fishing rods – which on the other hand snapped more easily in strong winds. After some time, my lady boss decided our roof needs to be checked and repaired. At the same time she got worried about excessive load the aerial mast could put on the chimney. I was trying to argue it’s just normal TV aerial mast with a light weight fishing pole, but to no avail and in the end I had to take the aerial down.

Mosley MustangAs I only had simple wire aerials until then I started thinking about a better, directional aerial with gain for higher bands – so called beam. After some time I bought an old 3 band (20, 15 and 10 metres) 3 element beam made by Mosley off eBay. It was pretty cheap, but not in a great condition with some parts missing. Anyway, I was able to fix it and put it up on top of a very light (and flimsy) 8 metre portable aluminium telescopic mast. I used a cheap crappy TV rotator, but it was sort of working :-) You can see how it looked in our tiny garden on the right.

OK, so I had a tribander – but not for long. One day this winter we woke up and everything was lovely white! Unbelievable, we had about 5 centimetres of snow… It was really funny to watch English drivers with summer tyres on in action, struggling even with light slopes ;) Anyway, it lasted only about 4 days – and when the snow got wet, it was quite heavy too. Unfortunately it was too much load for the light mast; it bent and the beam fell down.

After some time without an aerial again I realized that if I want a good one, I will inevitably have to spend some money. When I accepted the fact, spending itself was quite painless :-) I found a very smart aerial design on the Internet – a Spiderbeam. It’s basically a type of yagi aerial, a beam, but instead of traditional straight elements (which then need to be made of aluminium tubing) its base is a fibreglass cross (boom and spreader) supporting wire elements that are bent from their centre on the boom to the end of the spreader. The big advantage is much lower weight and wind loading. Computer modelling also allows for the beam to have full size elements (monoband) – the multiband aerial is in fact a number (in my case 5) of single band5 band Spiderbeam multi-element beams. I have ordered 5 band kit – my Spiderbeam is actually a 3 element beam on 20 metres, 2 el on 17, 3 el on 15, 2 el on 12 and 4 el on 10. With 14 elements in total, this aerial still weighs just about 7 kg (15 lbs)! I ordered much sturdier 15 metre aluminium telescopic mast at the same time and also bought a Yaesu G-650 rotator to swing this beast – it might not look too large in the photo, but the main cross measures 10 x 10 metres :) I’ve had it up for about 4 months now and I must say I’m impressed with its performance! It’s so much easier to work DX with a proper aerial and it’s a great feeling to break through a pile-up with just 100 W. It might sound like a marketing talk, but be sure it’s true. In those 4 months I worked over 100 new DXCC countries! At the moment my logging program says I worked 153 countries and 79 of them are confirmed – 21 to go for my DXCC :-)

Before I finish, a few words about radios. As you know, my first HF radio was Icom IC-706MKIIG. It’s a nice small radio with detacIcom IC-746hable front panel, ideal for mobile/portable operation. However, because it’s small not too many controls fit on the panel and apart from the very basic functions everything else must be set in menu. Also, as it combines HF/6 m/2 m and 70 cm in such a compact case it must inevitably be a design compromise. When I become more active, I naturally started thinking about getting a “bigger”, better radio. First one I found on eBay for a good price was Icom IC-746 (see picture on the left) – according to reviews at it’s a solid performing radio. I must say I was very happy with it – it’s really a lot easier to work wIcom IC-756PROIIIith a proper desktop radio. However, I kept looking and after some time I found my “dream radio” for sale for a reasonable price – Icom IC-756PROIII (on the left). It’s a former Icom’s top-of-the-line radio (now superseded by IC-7800/7700) with large colour LC display, full DSP IF filtering (no additional filters to buy) and real-time spectrum scope. It’s a real pleasure working with it!

If you made it up to this point – congratulations to your patience! I’m sorry for another long post but there is simply so much to write about… Can’t help it, I’m just crazy about amateur radio :)

Let me finish with an amateur radio greeting – VY 73 Petr