Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shortwave and Ham antenna up and working

Shortwave listening in the Atlanta suburbs has been a disappointment since I returned to the hobby several years ago. No BBC, no VOA, or so it seemed. Sure, Radio Havana can still be heard with the cheapest portable. Yes, with the right antenna, I could hear some European broadcasters, and some of the shortwave giants coming out of the Middle East. But what I mostly heard was a bunch of U.S. based broadcasters pumping out religious programming or acting as translators for Radio China International and other foreign outlets who used to depend on transmitters of their own.

Gotta say, I'm pleasantly surprised at the reception I've had the past 24 hours up here in a more rural mountain setting.

I strung a 72-foot end-fed wire antenna between a couple of trees, and suddenly found the shortwave bands packed with stations obscured by electrical interference encountered in my usual suburban surroundings.

Within minutes of connecting the antenna to an old no-frills Kenwood radio, I had a clear copy on Voice of America, presumably a transmission targeting Europe. Radio Australia, loud and clear. Vatican Radio. Tehran. And a host of others come booming in, day and night (depending on the band, and the time the stations are operating).

The antenna itself was preassembled, and purchased off eBay. With a 90 foot cable run, I used low-loss RG-213 coax to make the run to the cabin. An  Alpha-Delta surge suppressor was inserted where the antenna feed comes inside, with #6 copper wire connecting the suppressor to the cabin ground rod. In time, I'll likely add an additional rod or rods to the grounding configuration.

I wouldn't have spent so much time and effort if I was just planning to listen, but the configuration, when using an antenna tuner, should also be good for transmission on HF ham bands.  Using an old Yaesu tuner (bought for cheap on eBay), the antenna tunes perfectly for transmission on 10 meters (No contacts yet, but 10 meter propagation's been terrible). Haven't tried tuning other bands, as I'm presently limited by a Technician class license.

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