Below are some photographs & images of my Station and Equipment
Please note that each image on this page is linked to a larger, high-resolution,
image. Smaller images are displayed here to enable faster loading. Clicking on any
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When I was preparing to return to HF operating in 2006, I spent a long, long time
researching various options for antennas. Although I am not faced with severe antenna
restrictions, I do live is a community of single family homes on building lots of
18,000 to 20,000 square feet each. When I stumbled across a discussion of the Hex Beam,
it seemed to fit my needs perfectly:
- Wire elements
- Easy home costruction
- Light Weight
- Full element lengths - No Traps
- Low wind resistance
- Comparable performance to a 2-element Yagi
My first "test" tri-band hex beam was built from crappie fishing poles in 2006.
It worked so well, that I built this improved 6-band Hex Beam in the summer of 2007.
Click Here for a whole page of
details and photographs of the construction of this Hex Beam
Leo Shoemaker, K4KIO, and Steve Hunt, G3TXQ, provided outstanding advice and counseling
throughout both construction projects. Please visit their websites for additional details
on construction, tuning, and performance.
One advantage of Hex Beams is that they are extremely light weight and have very
little wind resistance. Many Hams rotate their Hex Beams with light weight rotators
sold for turning TV antennas.
This mini tower and Yaesu G-450A rotator is a bit of over engineering, but it was
a fun two-weekend project. The stand is constructed from 1-1/4" angle aluminum stock
and 1" flat aluminum bar stock purchased from a local Ace Hardware store.
What really drove me to build this stand was the strong desire I had to use a thrust
bearing to keep the weight of the antenna and mast off the rotator.
Construction became a lot easier after I realized that the sole purpose was to support
the thrust bearing above the rotator. Once I had that realization, construction actually
progressed from top down. The first task was to build a square base to hold the thrust
bearing. Once the bearing base was built, then it was really on-the-fly designing and
construction as the legs were built and braced.
The thrust bearing is roughly 32 inches above ground level and about 16" above the
top of the rotator.
The stand was completely built in my basement and was moved outdoors and mounted on
top of 4"x4" landscaping ties set on level soil.
Shown here is a 5-Band Trap Vertical Antenna (Hustler 5BTV) that covers the 80M,
40M, 20M, 15M, and 10M Ham Bands. There is a top resonator that is attached to add
80M to the antenna, but I seldomly use it.
This vertical antenna was first installed in December, 2006, in an early attempt
to start operating on the lower frequency bands - the bands that are too low for the
I had very limited success with this antenna until June of 2009 when I added a set
of 16 radials - one 10' long, one 15' long, ten 25' long, and four 50' long radials.
I have read several articles about proper vertical radial installation and decided to
try a compromise lay out. All sixteen radials are made from 14 AWG insulated, stranded
wire and are buried 2 to 3 inches in the ground. The twelve shorter radials are arranged
at approximate 30-degree increments around the base of the antenna. The four 50' radials
are arranged as best as the land plot allows
Immediately after adding the radials, I had to slightly adjust the lengths of the
various segments of the trap vertical and could see significant changes in the
antenna's SWR. I could also tell that the antenna was "hearing" much better than
before. After adding the radials, I have had good luck with the vertical on the 40M
band and am using it more now than before.
If you look very close at the bottom left corner of the picture, you can see the
Icom AH-4 ground-mounted random wire matching unit that interfaces to the 110 foot
long random wire discused below. If you zoom on the picture, you can actually see the
wire leaving the top of the AH-4 and going vertical to the roof edge.
As mentioned above, after getting on the air on the 20M through 6M bands with the
Hex Beam, I kept searching for a way to get on the lower frequency bands. The vertical
antenna discussed above was the first attempt, but did not provide the performance I
In the Spring of 2007, I did a lot of reading and decided to try the Icom AH-4
Random Wire Antenna Matcher. The unit interfaces seamlessly with the Icom IC-756ProIII
Transceiver and provides automatic remote tuning of random wire lengths and loops.
My first attempt to use the AH-4 unit was with a closed loop in the attic of the
house. The matcher worked well, but I ended up with a lot of RF in the house - enough
to set off the smoke detectors. So, another configuration was necessary.
After more reading and research, I decided on a 110-foot long random wire. The
radiating wire goes directly up from the AH-4, approximately 25 feet where is passes
through a pulley and then heads close to true North to a tree in the back yard. As a
counterpoise for the antenna, there is a set of four eight-foot length copper clad
ground rods tied together with 1" tinned copper ground strap.
The 1" tinned copper briad also comes into the radio shack and serves to provide a
common electrical ground for the station.
This 110 foot long wire and AH-4 tuner combination has provided superior results for
me and has allowed me to operate on the 160M, 80M, 40M, and 30M bands. The combination
also provides a secondary antenna for 20M through 6M, but is seldom used on those upper
Note: This is actually a "file photo" from Icom - I have found it fairly difficult
to take a real photograph of the front panel.
I purchased an Icom IC-756PROIII HF plus 6M Transceiver from Ham Radio Outlet in
New Castle, Delaware, in July 2006. After more than two years of operating this radio,
I can only say "wow !!!". This radio has so many built-in functions and options that
the only external device I've added is a Logikey K-5 memory keyer.
In over 2-1/2 years of almost daily operation, this rig has developed only one
condition requiring repair. It started displaying symptoms of lower than rated RF power
output on higher amateur bands (17M through 6M). A local Ham (KC3VO) troubleshot to a
defective driver transistor (type 2SC1972). After replacing both driver transistors with
a matched set of replacements from NTE (type NTE343), the radio provides full RF output
power and continues to provide flawless operation.
This is my Elecraft KX1 QRP Transceiver.
This small (1-1/2" H x 5-3/8" W x 3" D) transciver has an internal antenna tuner
and outputs approximately 4 Watts when running from an external 13.8 VDC power supply.
It also runs off 6 "AA" batteries and puts out about 2 Watts when running off the
The radio is designed for backpacking or hiking and provides a light for logging
and writing in poor lighting. The transceiver comes as a build-it-yourself kit with
excellent instructions and is a fun and challengiong project.
Click Here for a whole page of
details and photographs of the construction of the Elecraft KX1 kit
So far, I have made a few contacts on both 20M and 40M with the KX1 and have
thoroughly enjoyed the radio.
With two HF radios (the Icom IC-756ProIII and the Yaesu FT-857D) and four antennas
(Hex Beam, Vertical, Random Wire, and 6M Dipole) it becomes quite a challenge to find
a simple way to switch the antennas between the radios. I constructed this switch
rack to be a convenient and quick way to switch any antenna to either radio.
One anomoly to the whole scheme is how the Icom IC-756ProIII handles the random
wire antenna with the external AH-4 antenna matcher. The IC-756ProIII has two antenna
connectors (ANT-1 and ANT-2) and can use the internal tuner for any antenna on either
connector. However, when using the external AH-4 tuner, the radio requires that the
antenna connected to the tuner be connected to the ANT-1 connector.
So, the random wire on the AH-4 is switched between either the IC-756ProIII's ANT-1
connector or the FT-857's Coax switch. All of the other antennas are switched to
connect to either the FT-857D's Coax Switch or to the IC-756ProIII's Coax Switch.
Each of the top two-way coax switches (except for the AH-4 Switch) route an antenna
feedline to either the left or the right four-way switch in the bottom row. The AH-4
switch connects the Long Wire to either the FT-857 Switch or directly to the Icom's
Each of the bottom row four-way switches select an antenna feedline to route to the
connected HF radio.
As mentioned many other places on this website, I am an avid CW (Morse Code) operator.
A part of the fun of using Morse Code is using different keys. I often change keys from
one QSO (conversation) to another and might even change keys in the middle of the same
QSO. It is often convenient to be able to rapidly switch from a straight key to a
semi-automatic bug, for example.
The Icom IC-756PROIII radio provides two connectors for Morse Code keys. The front
panel key jack can be used for a straight key or a set of paddles for use with the internal
keyer. There is also a rear panel jack for use of a straight key. This home-made junction
box allows me to plug four keys simultaneously into a single jack on the radio.
In October, 2009, I was very pleasantly surprised to receive notification that I
had become a member of the ARRL's A-1 Operator Club. Membership in this club is
attained by being nominated and seconded by two current members of the club.
This was my QSL Card in my Novice class days.
I lived in such a small community that I once received a QSL card addressed to
"Ron, Auburn, NY".
The cards were designed by me and printed by a local printer. I really could've
used an Elmer - Note a few unique things:
- I did not specify a mode -- CW was all that I could do.
- I forgot to have a space for the frequency -- it was the Novice band.
- I didn't know about Greenwich Time. I used either EST or EDST.
This was my QSL Card in my early General class days. Note that the only modes I
used were CW, AM, and SSB.
Actually, I never had a radio with SSB capability until 1973 in Hawaii - It may
have been more wishful thinking than anything else.
This was in a time before Hertz had been defined as a unit of cycles per second.
Frequencies were stated in MegaCycles or Mc.
By this time in my Ham career, I had realized that I could use GMT.
This was my first QSL card after returning to Ham Radio activities in 2006.
It was a very nice card, done by W4MPY. I went through my first 250 of them fairly
At the time I ordered these cards, I was still working to rebuild my CW skills and
speed after 25 years of inactivity. I was already a member of FISTS and wanted a card
that portrayed my interest in Morse Code.
This is my current QSL card.
In this card, I also wanted to convey my interest in Morse Code and also list my
association with SKCC and FISTS.
This card was printed by CheapQSLs. They worked closely with me to get the right
layout and color scheme.