Talk around the world on the proverbial “wet string”
In correspondence ( QST June 2007) I read a letter that stated that manufacturers should have a low cost “starter” radio. I wrote the author an e-mail and letter and enclosed some of my QST articles and other items that I used to get started. I started HF for less than $100 invested using a borrowed radio and in the next couple of weeks bought an older used radio and it still cost less than about $350. E.g. the “wet string” a shoe string as it were. See my web site (ad5zo.com) for pictures of my shack and antennas etc.
Here is a combination of the e-mail and letter:
I try to make what I can … I usually have the money to buy the stuff, but it is more fun and rewarding to make it myself … yes sometimes it is a pain to find everything and then to put it all together and then try, try again to get it working, but that is all part of the hobby. I enjoy working with my hands and that includes pressing the PTT, but that is not the only way to use my hands.
I am an amateur blacksmith and weld etc. so lots of my projects are just extensions of blacksmithing to some degree … e.g. I almost always end up welding something.
My station costs:
IC-730 Local Ham $225
MFJ-945C Tuner E-bay 42
Antenna – All this could vary greatly depending on your situation, house, what is you already have etc.
G5RV Homebrew $5
Coax/Connectors Had them from way back $0
Chain Link Fence Rail (~1.5” OD) Home Depot $13
Chimney Mount Radio Shack $28
Misc. Brackets … Home Depot $10
Wire and SO-239 Junk Box $0
Sting for mounting Junk Box $0
I use a $50 car battery charger to top off the battery from time to time or after a field trip.
I had the coax, connectors, solder, tools, wire ties, paint, nuts, bolts, screws for most everything.
The antenna could be mounted on a wooden pole or a piece of pipe etc. that you already have or from or in a tree. The use of the chimney in my case is because I have a hipped roof, there is no high eave to hook a mast to.
The G5RV needs a tuner, but a dipole (single, folder or multi-band) tuned properly or any other antenna would not necessarily need an antenna tuner (trans-match).
For the ½ G5RV (10-40M 52’ long with a 15.6’ ladder line transformer section coax fed with an antenna tuner) (I later added on to this antenna to make it 102’ for 10M-80M)
Conductors from a discarded 14 ga. orange extension cord … Zero Dollars.
Ladder line about $4.
The rest was from the junk box … Zero Dollars.
To Talk Around the World -- Priceless
I enclosed some of the antenna ideas that I have seen and taken from … some that I did not have a file or link for. Also I have included pictures of my shack, antennas and some of my logs … just to show you what can be done for less money … I may never have a FT1000MKIV, 1500KW Amp and a 100’ tower with some big beams etc., but right now I don’t need all that. While I am learning less is better. Note that I have only worked 20, 40 and 80 … right now the sun cycle is in a trough and I have not found much on 17-10 and don’t have a radio to work 160M even if I had an antenna for that. Anyway, for the time being 20-80 has been a great challenge and is very entertaining. I won’t start on 30M or 60M … there is plenty to do, if you can pick a place to start and get started. Read my Blacksmiths philosophy page at kdbbwd.com … it all applies to Ham Radio in some form or other.
I get a real kick out of making a contact
using a discarded extension cord antenna!
Does it work? … You be the judge… See the Ham page for the HF
Scoreboard to see how the cheap station is doing. After about 3 months I lack
ad5zo.com/ham Click on “Get Started - antennas etc. 2 MB” a ZIP file of things that I downloaded.
Here are some web links that helped me:
Slinky and Loaded Beverages - They exhibit improved directivity because wave velocity is slowed, altering phase shift along the length of the antenna. Slinky (helical) and loaded
Slinky antennas www.smeter.net/forums/about406.html
20/40 From 50' of 450-600 Ohm Ladder line
Lost of other ideas ... a good 80 for NVIS or if place higher for DX etc.
There are lots of good projects here www.g3ycc.karoo.net
Very good antenna projects www.ad5x.com
I wound my own loading coils using his instructions.
If you are interested I can [sell] you 4 of the coil strips
(From McMarr re: ad5x.com) you might not want 25 of them.
I am a Windows Server Systems Admin for the government to raise funds for my hobbies.