Fixed the 20M 3L Yagi Balun

September 21, 2014


I blew a capacitor in my balun, so replaced the balun with another balun that uses a better circuit, but also know why I blew the balun in the first place – it was operator error.

One thing about full legal power – you sure end up testing everything in the antenna chain. My operator error was trying to use 1500 watts on 12M with a 20M mono band yagi. In retrospect it was stupid – and so I went back and re-read Dean Straws 2013 Pacificon Antenna Forum presentation – where he goes over the scenario, and so now I will correct my evil ways.

What this means is that I have these mono band antennas, and if I run high power, I have to stay on the antennas band:






I can go on other bands – but need to do it with no more than say 500 watts (which my KPA-500 used to run without any issues like burning up baluns. But when you try to use a tuner on an antenna designed for one frequency and you are trying to use it on the next harmonic up – you will have great loss – even if you don’t burn up your balun!

I’m learning the rules of engagement when running full legal limit.

I’m also going to continue using my present antenna farm – it really is the best I have ever had – one day I will try that “one antenna for all bands idea” – but that will be when I no longer care about working ATNO’s – and when I am 100% just doing it for fun and goofing around – not chasing any specific entities as I am doing now.

Autumnal Equinox!

September 20, 2014


Ahhhhh Fall is here – well as 0000 utc tonight – it will be!


The sunlight looks great now – side lighting, which can take ordinary trees and make them look better than at any other time of the year.


This is just a basic maple that grows in the creek beds – which have been “arroyos” since the last real rain storm – which seems years ago now.


And on the radio – we seem to still be riding the top of the last peak of Sunspot Cycle 24 – before we start sliding back down the “other half” of the 11 – ish year cycle.


I’m doing some “winterizing” maintenance on my 20M yagi – its been up for 6 months and I have it down and all hardware has stayed tight and solid – this is where my ham radio “pride” is – in how I’ve become a really good builder / maker if you will with things that are mechanical and electrical.

I’m improving the balun and connectors, running new LMR-400 and running a new rotator cable.

I do have a crazy idea – to replace the yagi with a 40M end hatted rotatable dipole – and get it up 70′, and use this antenna from 160M – 10M. Its not as rediculous as it sounds – and here is why:

  1. I can replace all antennas with just this one. I can feed it with ladder line for a 70′ run and tie the ends together to make it a “Marconi” style antenna and feed it against both radial fields – which would end up being 144 radials. It would be a hatted 160M antenna and a 1/4 wl antenna on 80M – no coil needed at the top – but probably still need the LC base matching circuit. It would be a better antenna than what I have now on 160 and 80M  – especially in terms of efficiency and bandwidth.
  2. On 40M it would be a better antenna – by an average of 3 dB at all DX angles
  3. On 30M it would be a much better antenna – by an average of 6 dB at all DX angles
  4. On 20M I take a nosedive in the gain department, from 13 dBi down to 8 dBi at 15 degrees take off angle. the crux of this silly idea is that I will trade the “money band” gain for better all band operation. And since I like the low bands the best – maybe this is what I really want.
  5. On 17 – 10M I get 8 dBi – 10 dBi on 17M. The 17M Moxon – just above the roof by 15′ or so is really sub-optimal because of the roof below. Its simply not “high and in the clear” – even though the models say at 30′ it should be a good antenna. The driver on my 20M yagi at 55′ either equals or beats it every time. The driver on the 20M yagi is also much quieter.

Its very tempting!


We have two cars and no kids living at home – so I am seriously considering selling my aging car and picking up one of these guys.

I have been using my bike more than my car now for many months, and of course, with winter coming up – if it actually rains, having this ELF – which is a “recumbent” bike with battery powered assist and which has a solar battery charger on its roof would work just fine – and force me to get in even better shape.

I’ve lost 30 pounds, but have 16 more to go – I’m guessing I would purposely want to go on trips with this little guy – its a blast when you sit in it – I want one!


E30FB – Eritrea

September 18, 2014


Zorro, E30FB is there and was working EU and East Coast plus a few Central stations with 100 watts to a vertical, but just came back on with full power. Several in the Denver area have worked him, and I can only hope his signal “marches out west” as ZS8M did back on 16-SEP-2010 at 0409 UTC. In just a little while, we will see the grey line over both of us:


Others in the SF Bay Area say they just hear noise – so we shall see. That area of the world is the hardest for me – but last October, 7O2A was very clear – and I worked him much easier (20M) than I did 7O6T on 17M. And that was with my Moxon at 55′ – my new yagi at 55′ is quite a bit better.


I am hearing him barely bobbing in the noise. Its 0249 utc, so lets see if we get the “enhancement” ……

We are, but its weak. I can hear his voice and hear who he is calling – most of the characters. The noise has dropped down. With the noise drop, I can call him now – but the competition is insane. I gave a few good tries anyway.

I think that “enhancement” lasted 10 – 15 minutes – so it was like ZS8M, except this time – the rest of the country was still calling him. With ZS8M – his signal “marched across the country” with the grey line – favoring each part of the country as it progressed.

The problem right now is he is soooo weak, and anything east of the Mississippi says he is S9.

Its 0323 UTC and I no longer hear him. The prediction was very much nailing the grey line.

Several recent postings have mentioned a full on DX-pedition coming up “soon”. Lets say its November, 2014 – for the SF Bay Area, 20M looks awesome on the morning grey line:


In fact – look how this path and time actually favors the West Coast – WOW!

Here is what DX Atlas says 1600 utc looks like on November 20th:


Fingers crossed – this would be something to really to be Thankful for this Thanksgiving!



The Best DX-pedition Leader EVER, is the last leader (and team) who gave me an ATNO. PERIOD.

When you read the eHam DX Forum, you will see that the one theme that the denizens of that fine lounge agree on – is an ATNO is revered – no matter who or how it was worked. That’s the only thing that breaks the usual din and drone and banter – its the one time everyone seems genuinely happy there. Lots of high fives – the most recent “biggie” being FT5ZM.

When I look through my DX Honor Roll QSL Binder – it reminds me who I need to be thankful for – and as far as I am concerned, anyone who gave me an ATNO deserves to be in the CQ DX Hall of Fame.

I started DX-ing in July 2001 – so missed many “legends” – even though these legends were out there activating places after I went inactive (1977) and before I returned to the hobby – as a DX-er.

I was surprised at how many have been chastized for this that or another thing. For example, I worked Desecheo (K3LP/KP5) BEFORE K5D, and that activation had to end abruptly, but those two guys (Dave and Kam) were my absolute heroes at the time because they went and activated an ultra rare entity and did it with a huge surprise. ZL9HR was one of my all time favorites – even with the ensuing controversy. Same with 7O6T (no controversy) – but – huge surprise. Vlad, UA4WHX – way too many ATNO’s to count. Mike and Jan, George and Tomi, Nigel and Roger, Chuck – N4BQW, scientists at Franz Josef and Antarctica and Macquarie, etc, Cordell Bob – San Felix and Kure especially, Five Star – 3B’s especially, Hrane – Baker especially, Siggi, Pierre (working as ZS8M), Microlite Penguins – FT5XO especially, Ed – P5/4L4FN, Ralph and Bob – too many to list just one, all those activating Andaman and Lakshwadweep, Pooyan – EP3PK, Diya – Z81D, Team Vertical, Monk Apollo, Elmo and Friends, Dietmar, Franz, Zorro, Joe and Friends, The guys who activated TO4E, Silvano and his crew, Martti and Wayne – too many to list, W6RGG with BS7 – see what I mean?

Some are at the top of my list because of what they did antenna wise (Team Vertical) – or propagation wise – independent of the “number of Q’s” made.

Now – this is coming from an “Armchair DX-er” – the guy who donates $100 for ATNO’s. I happen to donate ahead of time – and then donate more when I apply for the card on OQRS. I feel like I am a cheap skate – I know how much these activations cost . . . so I try to support at what I think is a “reasonable” level. But the League of Armchair DX-ers are “the customers” in this game. Are the customers always right?

Home Shack Home

Many, many DX-pedition Leaders and teams would qualify – way too many to count. I know I have missed some – but all of these people are special to me – when I look at my QSL book – these are the people I remember and hold high in esteem. And the DX-ing hobby would be boring without all of these different people and their different approaches and styles. And controversies. Its part of the “fabric” that gives the DXCC program its “mystique” – because if it were just a logical award with technically expert / precision DX-peditions I’d be collecting stamps instead.

Pacificon Presentation

September 13, 2014


I will be presenting in the Friday Antenna Forum at Pacificon 2014. Here is the link to their web site:

Look at the Forums section, and then the Antenna Forum section. In case you can’t make it, here is the presentation:



















160M DXCC Count Recorded

September 12, 2014


My submissions to the DXCC program have dwindled down to next to nothing. 160M DXCC is a sloooooow slog – but I like the fact that it is “throttled” by the lack of people on 160M from the various entitities – because this way I will have something to chase after every “DX Season” for the next few years or so.

I am predicting that it will take 2 to 3 more Winters to get to 100 on 160M.


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