Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The KI6SN 'Old Man' Mast - Bending all the rules

The January 2010 edition of WorldRadio Online's Trail-Friendly Radio column features the KI6SN "Old Man Mast," an easy-to-carry, lightweight mast that is particularly useful for field operation where antenna supports are few and far between - such as above the treeline on mountain-top excursions.

The antenna derives its name from the Old Man's crooked stature, due to the many PVC joints along its length. The antenna support may suffer from a case of scoliosis, but it's a trusty, solid performer that can get your skywires to where they might not otherwise go.

This illustration above shows the nuts-and-bolts of the "Old Man," even though it's made solely of PVC materials

Several PVC joints connect the short sections of PVC mast material:

The "Old Man" is guyed at two different heights to achieve strength and stability. Here's a shot of the upper guy:

The following three photographs show the method for determining the circumference of the circle that marks where your guying stakes will be placed:

The mast is put up in two phases. Pictured below is what the top of the first phase looks like. The upper portion of the antenna is added to the PVC joint coupling shown here (after the lower portion's guy lines are already staked in place):

For an enlarged view, click on the illustrations.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

WA3ZBJ takes field-based antennas to a new height

As featured in KI6SN's December '09 Trail-Friendly Radio column in WorldRadio Online magazine, Don McBride, WA3ZBJ, operated a newly-completed Hendricks QRP PFR-3, above, “from a great spot near a fire watch tower on a hilltop in Cook Forest State Park in Pennsylvania.” His favorite portable antenna is a jumper dipole “for 20-30-40 suspended in an inverted V configuration from one of the many trees in the area and fed with lightweight coax.”

With a set-up along the St. Johns River in DeLand FL, 'ZBJ used a Wilderness Radio Sierra transceiver portable with an inverted V antenna suspended from 33-foot pole (left).

'ZBJ says that putting an eye-hook into a used golf ball makes for a great launch vehicle when the goal is to get your antenna as high into a tree as possible. Tie lightweight nylon line through the eye and you've got a wonderful projectile for those out-of-reach branches. It's quick and inexpensive to make and lightweight and easy to carry into the field.


(For an enlarged view, click on the images)

Monday, October 19, 2009

A simple, useful tuner for the venerable EFHW

KI6SN's November 2009 Trail-Friendly Radio column in WorldRadio Online magazine focused on a useful, popular and easy-to-manage HF field antenna: the EFHW - or End Fed Half Wave, with a counterpoise.

Above, you'll see the schematic for a simple EFHW tuner for the popular 40- and 20-meter CW bands. Dan Tayloe, N7VE; Charlie Lofgren, W6JJZ; Bill Jones, KD7S; and David Bixler, WØCH; share design credit for the tuner and LED-based SWR bridge.

(For an enlarged view, click on the images.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

High-flying with the Bottle Bag Antenna Launcher

The Trail-Friendly Radio column by KI6SN in the October 2009 edition of WorldRadio Online magazine features a simple antenna launching scheme known as the Bottle Bag. Accompanying photographs show the bag's configuration for both carrying and launching.

Click here to see a video on how to tie a bowline knot, which is useful in using this launching method.

Also, you may want to check out "In the Bag: Throwing Antenna Woes to the Wind" by John Kalotai, N1OLO, which was published in the Adventure Radio Society's ARS Sojourner online magazine in 2005. Click here for the link.

Click here for the latest edition of WorldRadio Online magazine. It's free.

(For an enlarged view, click on the images.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

W6JRY reflections on the PRC-64 'Spy Radio'

The September 2009 Trail-Friendly Radio column in WorldRadio Online magazine features a retrospective on the Vietnam-era PRC-64 "Spy Radio." Jerry Fuller, W6JRY, shared his insights on restoration of this renowned trail-friendly radio and his experiences using it on the air.

Click here to view a military paper dated April 1967 by Stanley D. Peirce of the U.S. Army War Laboratory at Aberdenn Proving Ground, Maryland, that chronicles the research and development of the PRC-64. (Please allow a few minutes for this PDF to download.)

For an UNCLASSIFIED assessment of this famed spy radio, click here.

Below is a photograph of W6JRY at the helm of his Forest Ranch, CA station.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The W5JH Baby Black Widow keyer paddle

The August 2009 edition of WorldRadio Online magazine's Trail-Friendly Radio column, by Richard Fisher, KI6SN, features Jerry Haigwood, W5JH's, new Baby Black Widow keyer paddle that is perfect for trail operations - especially when using the Elecraft KX1 or Hendricks QRP PFR3 transceivers.

Below is a photograph showing how the Baby Black Widow can easily be adapted for use with any transceiver by fashioning an eighth-inch stereo headphone jack (available from Radio Shack) as an attachment to your key line.

Also, there's a photograph showing how a piece of thread can be used as a tether when you're installing the paddle's tension spring during construction. Simply reel off a 10 to 12-inch piece of sewing thread and loop it through the center of the spring. If the spring "decides" to fly off into the wild blue yonder during construction, it'll only go as far as the tether allows. And, after you've successfully installed the spring, simply cut the thread or pull it away from the spring. Voila!

Click here to visit the W5JH Website.

(For enlarged views, click on each image.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Preventing a 'reversal of fortune' in the field

The July 2009 edition of WorldRadio Online magazine's Trail-Friendly Radio column, by Richard Fisher, KI6SN, features details on a simple field-operation accessory that can spare the operator a ton of headaches caused by fried equipment, as well as a ton of embarrassment.

This reverse polarity protector can help you to avoid a reversal of fortune when out on the trail.

All it takes is inadvertently hooking up your battery cables backward: POSITIVE lead to the NEGATIVE battery terminal, and vice versa. The WRO article has full construction details. Pictured here is the circuitry housed in a nice plastic box.

A black power cable with large alligator-style clip leads goes to the battery. An RCA jack with appropriate cable goes from the unit to your transceiver.

With this accessory in line, if you mistakenly get battery polarity reversed, a protecting diode shorts the DC to ground and the fuse blows - saving your equipment.

Two spare fuses are wrapped in white tissue and stored in the box, ready to be called upon if any knuckleheaded battery connections are made.

Here's the circuit's schematic:

Click here to see the latest edition of WorldRadio Online magazine.

(For an enlarged view, click on the image.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Plenty of audio for overcoming sounds in the field

The June edition of WorldRadio Online magazine's Trail-Friendly Radio column by Richard Fisher, KI6SN, focuses on the Four State QRP Group's Enhanced Manhattan Islander Audio Amplifier - an innovative design both electronically and physically.

The kit comes nicely packaged and construction is an interesting - and pleasurable - exercise in both electronics and the arts.

With the low audio levels of many of today's trail-friendly transceivers, this audio amplifier is a perfect solution for overcoming some of Mother Nature's ambient sounds.

Kit developers Jim Kortge, K8IQY; Larry Przyborowski, K3PEG; Terry Fletcher, WA0ITP; and Ron Hege, K3PF, have teamed to manage the Four State QRP Group production run.

Click here to see details on Four State QRP's Enhanced Manhattan Islander Audio Amplifier kit.

Click here for a tutorial on Manhattan-style building techniques written by Chuck Adams, K7QO.

(For an enlarged view, click on the images.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

More feedback on the innovative 'Joule Thief'

Above, three views of the craftsmanship of W7RDP in his version of the "Joule Thief" mini-LED trail-friendly light featured in the February edition of the Trail-Friendly Radio column in WorldRadio Online magazine.

Click here for the link to the 'Joule Thief' by Big Clive, which inspired the YouTube video by Bre Pettis and Wendell H. Oskay.

Click here for links to how the "Joule Thief" does its magic.
Explanation 1
Explanation 2

Click here for the EDN Magazine article that inspired Doug Phillips, W7RDP's version of the "Joule Thief."

Click here for a link to Dan's Small Parts and Kits,
one source for the FT50-61 toroid used in the "Joule Thief."

An inside look at AD7GR's version of the "Joule Thief."

(For an enlarged view, click on the images.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Open mind, open spaces and the W3EDP

As featured in the April 2009 Trail-Friendly Radio column in WorldRadio Online magazine by Richard Fisher, KI6SN, the W3EDP end-fed wire antenna is a great, versatile performer when you're out and about in the field. Spreaders, made of specially cut PVC pipe material, provide lightweight spacing for the antenna and accompanying matching section.

The 84-foot antenna, 17-foot matching section, spreaders and an antenna tuning unit don't add much weight or take up much space in your radio tote bag.

A test set-up in Southern California a few years ago (pictured below) put the W3EDP through its paces on 40- and 20-meter CW during an on-air competition. The antenna is easy to put up and take down, and under field conditions can be used with only one support - a great advantage when you're operating above the tree line.

Here are links to sites with information related to the W3EDP antenna:

Field-Deployable Antennas, by William Eric McFadden, WD8RIF

For enlarged views, click on the images.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Sudden Storm receiver goes to the field

N6GA's TFR transceiver in the 1990s was the inspiration for many trail-friendly radios of today - including the renowned Elecraft KX-1.

As featured in KI6SN's Trail-Friendly Radio column in the March 2009 edition of WorldRadio Online magazine, the QRPme Sudden Storm Receiver kit, designed to fit on top of an empty tuna-fish can with components exposed, is hardly a piece of gear that could withstand the rigors of the trail. But with a few modifications, the homebrewer can easily package this direct-conversion receiver into a unit that is great for listening in the outdoors.

Click on the links here to find several Internet references cited in the March column.

Cam Hartford, N6GA's, winning entry in the Adventure Radio Society's Trail-Friendly Radio competition (pictured above). For an enlarged view, click on the image.

"Anywhere, Anytime HF," the story of the Elecraft KX-1 transceiver, by Wayne Burdick, N6KR

The KX-1 from Elecraft Radio

Hendricks QRP Kits

The Sudden Storm Receiver kit from QRPme
For an enlarged view, click on the images.