I finally have the right aluminum to get a 60′ tall vertical (that requires few guy ropes) and then run 70′ of wire as a top hat to a 40’cedar tree. Another possibility is the T hatted vertical:


In either case, the model looks good.


The MA160V fits perfectly into the top of the Spider mast – the O.D of the MA160V and the I.D of the Spider mast is 1 and 3/8″ – so PERFECTO! The taper and quality of the Spider mast is key – I tried earlier to put the MA160V on top of a 33′ Channel Master Steel mast, and its taper schedule was just no good – and I now understand why you want all aluminum and NOT steel.


To double check this idea – because in the past my experiments couldn’t beat the MA160V – today I cut a wire version of this Inverted L and came pretty close:


I will actually have the 60′ mast and run a second wire for 80M. I will use the Stackmatch II as a simple remote switch to switch one or the other – and will not need any coils or capacitors. The loss will be very, very low, and the “capture area” very high. The efficiency will be very good on 80M (90+ percent) and improved significantly on 160M (nearing 70%). The MA160V isn’t even 50% – maybe high 40 percentile at best. I have 96 buried radials at the base of this antenna, and yes, this means one of the three loops will have to come down.


Speaking of phasing two loops – I am selling my Ten Tec Eagle so I can purchase the next version of the DX Engineering NCC-1, the NCC-2. In fact, the NCC-2 will also be outfit with some accessories, most likely a preamp in each channel.

So – I will be selling the MFJ-1025 and the DX Engineering NCC-1 in October – after I get the NCC-2. Any takers?




Quite a few times during the planning of the VK0EK DX-pedition, and through the ups and down and stresses I would ask myself “So THIS is is what its like?” And then I would wonder if the whole thing was some kind of strange male war dance ritual – along the lines of the mania that made several movies very funny:

  1. Its a Mad Mad World (fund raising and hyping up such an expensive project, complete with competition)
  2. The Big Year – this covers me, the consummate “Armchair DX-er” – a manic drive to “collect them all”
  3. The Life Aquatic the very bizarre world of inter-DX-pedition team rivalry – and WOW – I never knew these “goings on” went on behind the scenes!

Anyway, being so involved in every step of the way of the VK0EK project was a serious eye opener. It takes a whole different person than me to pursue not just one of these projects – but to chase after these gold rings for decades as some have. I had a dream last night sort of Mad Max with guys racing shopping carts with big engines – skidding and careening and throwing lots of sand. I woke up laughing out loud. My wife said, “Yeah that’s the kind of dumb things guys do” . . . . That explains DX-pedition “Mania”.

One major DX-pedition where I was so involved is more than enough for me – and I am very glad I did one, and that I chose such a hard one to do. My choosing to be a “Back Office Worker” suit me just fine – and its where I could do the most good for the project. It took many months after the project to come down from what I would call a “Manic High” – and yes – mania is actually involved with these projects.

I’m happy to be able to write (and laugh) about all of this now – and up my donation to projects like 3Y0Z. I have a new appreciation for what it takes.


Spider Mast and Inverted L

August 28, 2016


The recent Spider Mast that found its way to my back yard would act as an “easy up” way to get 60′ of aluminum in the air – if I took the aluminum from my MA160V and inserted it into this:


The post that has one of the three loops would be re-purposed for this, the MA160V moves, and the third loop is either eliminated or moved to the side yard.

images (16)

I have this Comet vacuum variable that can be used to remotely tune the vertical for 160M and 80M if need be, else just use the tuner in the shack. Here is an interesting design that models well both on 160M and 80M:


The delta wires would come down, and things would be a lot cleaner and simpler. Hmmmmmmmm . . . .


Well – I couldn’t have nailed it any better than this! The K6SE diamond loop:


I do believe the pattern of this antenna is also correct:


The RDF is very much the same as a EWE or K9AY Loop.


Here’s how it breaks down:

  • K6SE Optimized Diamond Loop – 7.79 RDF
  • Two small phased loops – 8.23 RDF
  • Three small phased loops – 9.48 RDF
  • Two phased K6SE Optimized Diamonds – almost 10 dB RDF

If there was a way to have two K6SE Optimized and phased loops – that’s what I would do, because two of these K6SE loops phased at 135 degrees is just under 10 dB RDF. HOWEVER, these would be pointed in one direction, so that obviates their effectiveness – regardless of RDF. The three phased loops still is the best ROI in a small lot!

It looks like I’ve just proven that the existing three loops and the old 80M full wave delta and _something_better_ than the MA160V is the path forward.

My plan will be to:

  1. Take down the K6SE Diamond
  2. Phase the two wire verticals on 80M – NOT 160M
  3. Replace the MA160V with a weird “bent vertical”

Bent Vertical:


I will put just the Spydermast with MA160V aluminum on top and then run a wire over to that vertical to my very tall spruce tree. If I wanted, I could put a trap on top at say 60′ for 80M and then run the wire from there, but I think I will still try the phased 80M verts.

Phasing two heavily linear loaded wires on 160M just seemed like it was a stretch. Two phased wires on 80M is within the realm of not just possible – but quite acceptable and even quite good.







There was one moment in the timeline of VK0EK where the project almost died a horrible death. Right before Visalia 2015, the ship and agent that we were just about to sign the contract with – (the Shokalsky) changed several key points in the contract that would have left the team in a precarious situation on Heard Island – they wanted to leave and do some business on Kerguelin – about 200 miles away. The agreement was always that the ship would be nearby the team at all times, so we said “absolutely not” and that ended that deal. Furthermore – we originally even had an agreement that the team could go to Kerguelin and activate it. That all fell through.


Agulhas I

Prior to that ship (the Shokalsky), we actually had gotten far down the road to take what the South African scientists called “The Big Red Taxi” – or The Agulhas I. This ship used to be the ship that took South African researchers to places like Marion Island, and they wanted to start chartering it out. At first we had a great deal – but there were two agents involved to book this ship – and costs rose overnight and we had to cancel that possibility. (Ironically, the day the Braveheart left the port in Capetown with the VK0EK Team aboard, they passed the Agulhas I on their way to sea.)


The Braveheart

We ended up with the Braveheart, a ship I had pushed early on in the project, but when I signed onto the Heard Island project, the initial idea was to have many more scientists along with a full amateur radio DX-pedition team – so  larger ship was needed. When the Shokalsky fell through I told Bob “You better pray that the Braveheart is available”.

Here’s the best part of the story – our good friend, Ted Cheeseman, of Cheeseman’s Ecological Tours in Redwood City just happened to be in Amsterdam at a tour operators convention, and guess who Ted was having dinner with that night? Yes, Nigel Jolly of the Braveheart! We received word that not only was it available, but that it suited Nigel well since he would have to move the ship from the Falklands after the VP8 DX-pedition, and he was “going our way” anyway – on his way back to New Zealand. A classic win – win.

Nigel was a champ and everything fell in place. But there were 24 hours where we were in limbo . . .



Its quite amazing how much the ARRL did for Amateur Radio – not just in the US, but world wide. Basically, the ARRL saved Amateur Radio just after World War I. Hams were about to permanently lose their rights, even after the ARRL and the Amateur Radio community enlisted as radio operators in WWI, and who were pivotal in securing the outcome that resulted. The well equipped and skilled communicators were key to the war.

Before the US became involved, one of my favorite stories was about Charles E. Apgar, 2MN, who lived right next to the town that my Aunt lived in in NJ, Westfield.

Charles invented a contraption that could record signals from his receiver, and he inadvertently recorded espionage signals from a German Telefunken transmitter site on Long Island – which was sending ship positions and other strategic information to the Germans. This helped the US immensely, and Mr. Apgar has been celebrated as a hero.

The September edition of QST will carry the crowning achievement of my ham “career” (Co-organizer of the VK0EK DX-pedition) and so just finishing the 200 Meters and Down chapter – (where QST and the ARRL was fully formed and set in stone) will combine with perhaps the most exciting news I have ever had in Ham Radio. Stay tuned!

Last weekend I met several VK0EK Team members for the first time, and I had a wonderful chat with Ken, NG2H. He said that when he started in ham radio years ago growing up near Buffalo, NY, he was a “Traffic Man”. That’s exactly what I was between 1973 – 1977. I was a kid and had dreams of helping during a natural disaster. I had a Heathkit Phone Patch – never used it – in hopes to provide phone patches for families with loved one’s in the Vietnam War. I was just a few years too young to be drafted (luckily), but the war was on my mind as a young teen.

Anyway, my interest in traffic was late for this world as that amateur radio service was perhaps already an antiquity in the 1970’s, but the book 200 Meters and Down shows just how important “Traffic Men” were before, during and after WWI. This book clearly shows why and how the “Relay League” portion of the ARRL miniker is key (bad pun intended).

Anyway, looking at the ARRL these days – with their tireless advocacy for ham radio – and publications like the ON4UN Low Band Book that I cannot put down – all I can say is Thank You ARRL – you have done so much for Ham Radio.


The dipole – vertical that I modeled yesterday stunk on 80M, but was OK on 160M. It was quieter than the MA160V. I did try to use it to check into the nightly “Mission Trail Net”, and boy did that stink. The EZNec model said it would be pretty good, but it wasn’t locally. In fact the pattern was similar to the above 160M pattern, but with 2 dB of gain. I don’t think so.


Now – the two 160M verticals with just one side fed and the other acting as a parasitic reflector, the pattern (just above) looks quite good, and the azimuthal plot:


It shows 4.54 dB of gain with an F/B of about 5 dB – and on RX, man, it seems even better than the old full wave delta loop – at least locally.

Well, we are starting to really get close to Fall, and I can tell that conditions on the low bands are turning – I am seeing a lot more activity on 160M. If CY9A would only try to work West Coast. Here is the time that an LU and an ON station were trying tonight:


Its been a while since EU and NA were in mutual darkness on Top Band! Yeehaw. I couldn’t hear either making my 3 QSO’s – with ZL, LU and CX that more special from the middle of our NA summer.




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