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EFHW Experiment Part5

Adding 40M

Adding a linked in tail to the 20m/30m EFHW turned out to be about as easy as you might expect.  The 40m EFHW was tuned for 7.100.  The other bands could be easily matched by selecting the best match via moving the transformer tap. 

The links at 20m and 30m will allow a lot of versatility at the cost of lowering the antenna to connect or disconnect the links.  Likewise with the transformer taps.  So a bit of footwork is the tradeoff for multi-banding.  But its not just the band changes.  Judicious configuration choices allow the possibility of multiple choices of radiation patterns.

BAND TAP Best SWR SWR range to expect
40m 8.5:1 7.1(1:1) Entire band, (1.3–>1.6)
30m(j) 8.5:1 10.25(1.6:1) Entire band, 1.6:1 with wire drooping
30m(j) 8.5:1 10.1(1.3) Entire band, 1.3:1 with wire pulled taut
30m(j) 7.5:1 10.3(1.4) Alternate tap,1.4:1 with wire pulled taut
20m(40m-tail) 6.5:1 14(1.4) Entire band 1.4–>1.6)
20m(no 30m/40m tails) 8.5:1 14.025(1.4) Entire band favoring CW section
15m(40m tail) 4.5:1 21(1.1) Entire band 1.1–>1.8
15m(j) 4.5:1 21.010(1.4) Entire band under 2:1(wire drooping)
15m(j) 4.5:1 21.010(1.0) Entire band flat with wire pulled taut
10m(40m tail) 6.5:1 28.0-29 Entire band with tap 3 , 2 or 1
10m 6.5:1 28.000-29.25 28.00 thru 28.800 under 2:1(swr 1.2:1 on CW)
10m 8.5:1 28.00(1.4) 28.00 thru 28.75 < 2:1(swr 1.4:1 on CW)

*note1: “40m tail” implies both 40m and 30m links are attached, other settings are for the 20m/10m as 20m efhw or 30m/15m as 30m efhw.

note2: The transformer taps are numbered 1-5, where tap 1=4.5:1, 2=5.5:1, 3=6.5:1, 4=7.5:1, and tap 5=8.5:1 turns ratios.  corresponding impedance values would be 1013, 1513, 2113, 2813, and 3613 ohms.

note3: -right click and “view image” to see full size images below

Model Radiation patterns-10m

For the 10m images above, on the left is the modeled current and radiation patterns for the 40m EFHW when used on 10m.  The right is the current and radiation pattern for the 20m EFHW used on 10m.  Switching requires lowering the antenna to either detach or reattach the link at 20m.

Given the lengths of the wire using a 30 foot(~9 meter) support, either configuration will have a considerable vertical component.  The 40m version will add a substantial horizontal component.  The vertical components will mimic the horizontal patterns to some extent.  But the patterns will likely favor different directions.  The differences will surely be modest – maybe enough to be worth testing as options.  If nothing else, it may help reduce QRN in some circumstances.

Radiation patterns-20m

For 20m, the radiation patterns might actually be more interesting.  The full wave version(from 40m configuration) will present a compressed combination of horizontal and vertical components.  The half wave version(20m) configured with most of the antenna vertical will have a mostly vertical component with the 30ft/9m support.  This may be a fun experiment in a field day operation.  maybe worth the effort of switching the links

Addendums

HA5KDR, similar implementation.

*

End Fed Half Wave Experiment – Part 4

EFHW Experiment Part 1
EFHW Experiment Part 2
EFHW Experiment Part 3
UPDATED 2021-04-08
Transformers???

On a whim I decided to wind a transformer using two FT-140-43 cores.  I went with the same 2:1 ratio as the first transformer.  SWR testing using this second version showed that all transformers are not equal.  The SWR readings taken using the new transformer with the antenna wire as it was trimmed with the larger transformer did not have similar results.  It turns out the new transformer would require re-trimming the wire lengths to bring the 40m band into the same SWR curve.  Since I had the 80m coil&tail attached using .250 quick connects, it was easy to add wire.  Doing that allowed bringing 15m and 10m to good matches.  20m also found a sweet spot but only on the 6.5:1 tap.

New Version?

Without re-tuning the wire no good matches were obtainable on 40m.  Instead of making any permanent changes to the working 40m loaded antenna/transformer combo I am making a different wire based on a 30m wire length.  It will include a quick connect to allow the antenna to cover 20m by detaching the section of wire beyond the ~34 foot 20m wire length.  That will provide an antenna capable of 30m/20m/15m/10m.  This may become a simple way to add a permanent 30m antenna in the w4kaz antenna farm. 

Maybe I get ambitious and add a second link to include 17m, just for grins.  Does an easy tune 30m/20m/17m/15m/10m antenna sound good?  One could just as easily add quick links for each band.  Using the antenna as a full wave on the 2nd harmonic provides radiation patterns that might be more useful, but either choice provides a method to cover each band.  The initial lost opportunity cost is the need for the transformer.  For quick and dirty field construction a simple wire dipole or vertical would still be easiest – but mostly monoband, as fan dipoles can sometimes be difficult to tune.

Future ideas

Thinking about trying a different twist on using the FT-140-43 size cores by pasting three of them together for a transformer, and trying the transformers out with 3:1 turns ratios.  I have enough of the FT-140 size on hand to do this but used my last two of the FT-240 size.  My first test antenna seems to be a success, so it just need to be put on the air some to get an idea of how it fits in.  It is always good to have the option available.

20m/30m Constructed and Trimmed

Using the transformer built from a pair of ft-140-43 toroids sandwiched together, an antenna for 20m/10m is now built.  It includes a simple wire tail that can be attached as a link to extend for use on 30m/15m.  It should be a simple matter to prepare a wire for adding 40m use.  With the 40m wire 15m should be use-able with two configurations, either 30m or 40m.  If 15m is open that might add some interesting changes in radiation pattern when switching from a full wave to a 3/2 wave.  May as well add a jumper for 17m too(later-much later). 

TAP Cheat Sheet, 30m/20m/15m/10m

Taps 20m/30m linked EFHW (jumper to attach 30m/15m)

BAND TAP Best SWR  SWR range to expect
30m(j) 8.5:1 10.25(1.6:1) Entire band, 1.6:1 with wire drooping
30m(j) 8.5:1 10.1(1.3) Entire band, 1.3:1 with wire pulled taut
30m(j) 7.5:1 10.3(1.4) Alternate tap,1.4:1 with wire pulled taut
20m 8.5:1 14.025(1.4) Entire band favoring CW section
15m(j) 4.5:1 21.010(1.4) Entire band under 2:1(wire drooping)
15m(j) 4.5:1 21.010(1.0) Entire band flat with wire pulled taut
10m 6.5:1 28.000-29.25 28.00 thru 28.800 under 2:1(swr 1.2:1 on CW)
10m 8.5:1 28.00(1.4) 28.00 thru 28.75 < 2:1(swr 1.4:1 on CW)

*(j)= jumper attached for 30m/15m

Other ideas and observations

LINKING – Thinking about creating a “linked EFHW” out of curiosity.  If 10m were reliably open I would pursue the idea seriously.  The different patterns of radiation going from 1/2, fullwave, 3/2, 2xfullwave would be fun to work through.

Using taps on the transformer —-After testing with two different tapped transformers, using the taps makes it simple to obtain a good match.  More on the air testing is needed, but at this point trying to obtain good matches using a single transformer ratio seems futile.

Different cores = different wire  With both transformers I found that the length of wire needed was unique to each configuration.  The lesson is to build the transformer and tune the wire to the actual transformer being used.  The ft-240-43 transformer pair would not match the wire cut for the ft-140-43 transformer pair.  Need to build more transformers to see if a pair of identically built transformers(size and number) will both match the same wire.  Best guess is that will work.  But don’t expect transformers with different toroid sizes, or different number of toroids sandwiched together to all work with a set size of wire.  Be prepared to test or trim.

Wire droop not ideal   Pulling the wire as taut as possible not only shifted resonance slightly, but improved the SWR match on every band.

 

 

It Is Alive. W4KAZ Skimmer Back In Service

After a couple of months of dead air time, the W4KAZ skimmer returned to service on 2021/4/1.  The basement area housing the skimmer station required overhauling in order to replace the leaky old water heater.  After repairs, the project to return the skimmer system to service was delayed by other issues.  Foremost issue was lack of ambition to tackle the organization project spawned by tearing apart the shack.  Oiy.

Re-Organizing

Part of the re-org was to add in a new shelf rack, and put all of the shelving on casters.  The area is also used for general storage. Being able to wheel all of the shelving out into the garage will make access easier all-around.

The skimmer SDR was also found to have a dying cooling fan, so there was some delay acquiring the replacement.  Also some of the old input feedline system was replaced. 

This was also a good chance to downsize the computer system used to run the SDR.   A “new” micro form factor system was acquired, a refurbished Dell i5 in a teeny 8x10x2 box.  That’s a huge improvement over the desktop tower sized system previously in use, and the space savings  will be appreciated.  The new system has a slew of USB ports, but little else.  The desktop box will be stored and can be swapped in if needed as a backup.

Skimming System

The skimmer as currently being run still consists of the Red Pitaya used as an SDR, with the 160m inv-L over FCP antenna system.  The new Dell system is a Dell Optiplex 3020 micro form factor equipped with a 4th generation i5-4590T processor, 12gb ram, on a win8.1 pro OS platform.   This processor is 4-core/4-threads and runs somewhat faster than the previous platform.  On a lightly used band the skimmer is humming along using about 5% of capacity.  On a heavy contest this will probably max out at about 20% CPU.  Good enough for CW skimming, but probably not too hot for RTTY.  Other SDR software has not yet been migrated to the new CPU.

The main reason for the CPU  parallel “upgrade” was the micro form factor of the acquired system.  Having the computer be the size of a SMALL cigar box is a huge convenience for a cramped shack location.  It also sports a solid state drive, which has been the single most likely point of failure for previous CPU’s installed in a somewhat humid non-climate-controlled location.  But the size is most important.  (That’s what SHE said….)

Whazzup Wit All Dat?

So now that the system is up and running, more shack clean-up and resurrection is coming.  Organizing mediocrity out of the mayhem is the plan.  But can the plan survive contact with the mayhem?  heh – probably not.

Update-20210406

  • Unexpected crash of CW skimmer ~0800Z 20210406
  • Unexected crash of skimmrsrv `0800z 20210407 (???)

 

End Fed Half Wave Experiment – Part 3

 End Fed Half Wave Experiment – Part 1End Fed Half Wave Experiment – Part 2 
The “Tune-up-ening”

The first attempts to tune up the real antenna did not go well.  I found from the trap dipole project attaching the wires beyond the trap was needed to get the higher bands tuned properly.  This worked against me here.  With the high impedance on the end fed I was better off tuning the 40m antenna segment without the coil and 80m tail attached.  Unfortunately, I wasted a lot of time experimenting/snipping before I decided to detach the inner antenna from the coil.

Once taking that step, I found I had probably trimmed too much off.  Tuning for 40m without the coil proved simple enough.  After that the other bands were easier too.  I was also able to re-attach the coil and 80m tail, and find tap settings and tail lengths to allow operation with good matches on 80m and 20m.  With the 20m tails attached 40m operation on the upper edge is possible.  With tails 40m SWR was a bit high on CW segment, although possible with a tuner.  10m seemed unaffected by the coil and tail.  15m provided low SWR only with the coil and tail detached, but SWR of 2:1 up to 3:1 with 80m coil and tail.

Antenna Stuff

The coil as wound measured out to 77.5uh, resonant at 3.85Mhz with 22pf of capacitance.  It is ~63 close-wound turns on a mystery plastic coil form of ~2 inch diameter, wound with 16ga solid insulated wire.  The final wire length in the 40m section is xxft(zz.zm).  The 80m tail is xxft(zz.zzm) in length and the portion for ssb(75m) is xxft(zz.zm).  To make the choices more flexible for POTA or other portable uses, I have a series of jumpers in several key places.

The first of the jumpers is installed near the feed point.  The antenna was trimmed at the feed point for ease-of-access reasons.  Since I ultimately decided I had over-trimmed before detaching the 80m coil&tail, it seemed easier to insert a jumper there.  This will also allow  having an easy method of re-tuning on the fly if it seems necessary in different deployment configurations. 

The next set of jumpers comes at the junction between the 40m antenna and the 80m coil&tail.  There are two more jumpers on the 80m tail itself, positioned to allow choosing between a mid-band SSB section centered at around 3.8Mhz or a CW section centered at about 3.575Mhz.  The lower section will allow use on both CW and in the lower 3.600Mhz SSB segment.

The antenna can be deployed with or without the 80m coil&tail.  I found that the matches in the 40m and higher segments are much with the tail removed/detached. 

All Taps NOT Ideal

As described in previous posts, the transformer brewed up for this project has multiple taps, not the fashionable 49:1 single solution.  It turned out having the choices of taps gave better SWR matches than any single tap.  In fact, only one of the taps worked well for the 15m/10m bands, the lowest impedance 4.5:1 tap.  For 40m and 80m, the 8.5:1 tap proved the best choice.  20m SWR curves favored the 7.5:1 tap, although the 6.5:1 tap proved useful with the 80m cw configuration.  When configured for 80m CW the 6.5:1 tap provides better than a 1.5:1 SWR across all of 20m.  

TAP Cheat Sheet

Taps 40m and up, bare wire,  NO 80m coil&tail

BAND TAP Best SWR  SWR range to expect
40m 8.5:1 7.15Mhz@ 1.2:1swr Entire band, 1.8:1 up to 2:1  centered on 7.15
20m_1 7.5:1 14.15 Entire band good favoring CW section
20m_2 6.5:1 14.275 Entire band good favoring SSB section
15m 4.5:1 21.3 Entire band under 2:1
10m 4.5:1 28.2 28.00 thru 28.800 under 2:1

Taps with 80m SSB section

BAND TAP Best SWR  SWR range to expect
80m 8.5:1 3.825Mhz@ 1.2:1swr 3.7 thru 3.9Mhz , ?tuner at edges?
40m 8.5:1 7.3Mhz, 2:1 7.2 to 7.3Mhz, tuner needed
20m_1 7.5:1 14.1 14 to 14.35 under 2:1
20m_2 6.5:1 14.225 Best choice, entire band good favoring SSB section
15m 4.5:1 21.05 @ 2:1 21.0 to 21.35, SWR over 3:1 above 21.35
10m 4.5:1 28.2 28.00 thru 28.800 under 2:1

Taps with 80m CW section

BAND TAP Best SWR SWR Range to expect
80m 8.5:1   3.525 to 3.75 <2:1
40m 8.5:1   7.2 up under 2:1
40m_2 8.5:1 1.3:1@7.3 40m jumper ins, useable on cw
20m 7.5:1 14.0 14 up to 14.275 < 2:1
20m_2 6.5:1 1.5 40m jumper ins, all band
15m 4.5:1 21.245 @ 2:1  
10m 4.5:1 28.1 28.0 to 28.7 < 2:1

 Test Deploy

All tuning was done with the antenna strung up using two Jackite telescoping poles as supports.  A 31 footer is used for the vertical portion, and the feed point is at about 4 feet off the ground.  The horizontal runs out about 40 feet to the second mast, a 28 footer.  The second mast supports the weight of the wire and the loading coil, probably the heaviest portion of the antenna if used.   I ran a 7 foot long counterpoise wire, and a six foot long coax jumper angles down to ground level from the feedpoint to the first choke, eight turns of coax wound on a ft-240-31 ferrite(another 6 foot jumper for that). 

The short section of straight coax jumper will likely be a second counterpoise for the antenna.  The first choke plugs into a second choke constructed of 10 turns of a 14ga wire pair wound on a second ft-240-31 ferrite and mounted in an enclosure.  From the chokes a fifty foot long lmr 240 feedline is attached, and all testing was done at the end of the feedline.  That simulates the most likely portable deployment.

FWIW, SWR results did not change when the fifty foot section of coax was removed.  Will be a curiosity to find out if altering the shape of the deployed antenna changes SWR. 

Additionally, I toyed around with inserting pieces of wire as jumpers to lengthen the 40m section.  These jumpers are inserted close to the feedpoint on the vertical section.  I inserted them to try to improve 40m SWR when the 80m loading coil&tail were linked in, as 40m SWR was too high for CW operation without tuner with tail attached.  This turns out to be a useful compromise solution.  It will allow using either 40m or 80m without adjustment, and 20m/10m can be used with tap change.  15m is the odd man out in this configuration, but could maybe be used with a tuner.

Stress Test Awaiting

Following are some key down stress tests to gauge how well the RBN can hear and to see if there will be any heating in the ferrite cores when at 100w levels.  Perhaps a POTA operation would be better.   No “SWR creep” was found when I did 60 second key down tests on the dead bands at 1800Z.  Both extreme ends were tested at 60 second key down, 80m and 10m.  Then a series of test transmissions that consisted of three repetitions of the test string: “V V V TEST W4KAZ W4KAZ W4KAZ V V V”. 

RBN Spots from 40m EFHW at 1800Z on 2021-03-11

RBN Spots from 40m EFHW at 1800Z on 2021-03-11

The RBN spots from 1800Z show decent results, not too dissimilar from what I am accustomed to seeing from the permanent wire dipole antennas.  The test antenna is deployed in a much-less-than-ideal location.  The test EFHW horizontal section is running parallel to the horizontal tail of my permanent 160m inverted L, and it is only about 20 feet away.  So I’m not too concerned with the locations of spotting stations.  I expect to try a POTA activation soon, which will maybe be more interesting.

RBN Spots from 40m EFHW at 2345Z on 2021-03-11

RBN Spots from 40m EFHW at 2345Z on 2021-03-11 

Likewise the above set of RBN tests run later, near to and just after local sunset  @2330Z, show fairly typical results. 

80m RBN Spots from 40m EFHW at 2345Z on 2021-03-11

RBN Spots from 40m EFHW at 2345Z on 2021-03-11   *

I expected 80m results to be poor but they were maybe better than my low expectations.  Nothing great, but certainly good enough for an easy to deploy portable antenna.  Better to have some 80m capability than zero capability. 

Next Question:  What happens if I use a different transformer?

see part4   EFHW Experiment – Part 4

*

End Fed Half Wave Experiment – Part 2

End Fed Half Wave Experiment – Part 1

Construction
The Antenna as constructed before tuning.

The Initial cut of the antenna and the completed feedpoint enclosure.

Having looked at many of the articles available on the WWW, I wound up favoring the design well documented by G0KYA, Steve Nichols.  When modeling the antenna I started out using a coil value of 67.5uh.  Then I ran the model using the appropriate value of impedance at each given frequency.  The coil as shown above is about 63 turns of 16ga solid insulated wire on a plastic coil form of just over 2 inch diameter.  That was right at the limit of the amount of wire I could lay down on the available form.  The completed coil resonated with a handy 22pf capacitor at 3.855Mhz, which calculates out to an actual inductance of close to 77.5uh.  With the coil value known, I re-ran the model to tweak the initial guestimates with actual values of XL for the model’s load.    Then cut wire for the 40m leg as well as the 80m tag end.  BEFORE tuning wire lengths are long, 71 feet and 15 feet(about 21.6 meters and 4.5 meters). 

Inductor
77.5uh inductor, ~63 turns of 16ga insulated wire wound on a 2 inch plastic form.

77.5uh inductor, ~63 turns of 16ga insulated wire wound on a 2 inch plastic form.

The coil form used seems better for RF than PVC pipe, and is a one-off that happened to be in the parts bin, original source un-remembered.  I gave it a run in the microwave, and it showed little heating.  It’s other quality is it is 1/16 wall thickness, so most of the weight is the winding.  The coil is just over 6 inches in length.  The second choice for a coil form was going to be fabricated with a few layers of fiberglass and epoxy laid up on some sort of removable former.    The measured  value is only about 2/3 of the specified 110uh from the G0KYA document(original designer-????), but it comes down to the trade-off question again.  This 77.5uh coil should provide 3400 ohms XL at 7Mhz.  Hopefully that will be sufficient to isolate the tail.  Actual testing should be interesting.  

Step-up transformer in terminal box

This is the completed transformer installed in terminal box. 

It has two ft-240-43 toroids together with a two layer cover of teflon tape to make it more slippery for winding.  It is wound with a 2 turn primary and 20 turn secondary.  Taps are placed on turns #9, #11, #13, #15, #17 and #20.  For the capacitor I used three TDK 330pf 3kV 5% ceramic caps in series.  I went that route simply because I had more of that value cap handy than either 220pf or an actual 100pf.  There are no crossover turns – that seemed counter productive for multi taps.  I would have wound the secondary turns more tightly but needed to loosen the turns up some just to fit it in the box and attach the taps.

Closed box showing tap wire.

Closed box showing tap wire on top and counterpoise on lower right.

The feed point box is an ordinary Carlon 4x4x2 terminal box. Feed thru studs are all 1/4 stainless hex bolts.  I expect to attach the antenna to the 10:1 tap(located top center) and use a jumper to short down to the lower impedance taps as needed for best match rather than have the high impedance taps float.  The stud on the bottom right is the ground/counterpoise attach point.  If nothing else, the multiple taps provide handy places for extra hardware to replace wing nuts fumbled into the sand.

References:

End Fed Half Wave-Experiment du’Jour : Part 1

Just about the only wire antenna in common use I had not experimented with is the End Fed Half Wave(EFHW).  So WTF.  May as well give it a go. 

2021 planning had me booking a stay on Cape Lookout National Seashore(CALO) for the end of June rather than the end of July.  I tried unsuccessfully to make the reservation in 2020, but could not.  Success for 2021.  So my FD 2021 will be from Cape Lookout. 

Given the layout of the cabin I prefer at CALO campground I decided to tinker with the EFHW as a possible solution for allowing multi bands with least effort.  The “least effort” factor is growing more important with each passing year.  But the EFHW itself piqued my curiosity as well, and it seems it my provide a solution to the “least effort” vs. “works well”  conundrum.   

So, here lies the experimental portion.   NUMEROUS versions of the classic 49:1 transformer are documented on WWW and in the now ubiquitous scrootoobe video.  Version guidelines exist for either 80m or 40m multi band versions.  Quite typically I chucked some of that and decided to re-invent the wheel – because what is the fun of experimenting if you are just going to follow the cookbook?  Wellll…..not quite that either.

Where to start

Looking for a 40m size and decided to try modeling out a 40m EFHW fit out with a loading coil and tag end to allow 80m or 75m.  The idea is to have an antenna that the floppy fiberglass masts would be able to support easily in the normal 20 knot winds typical on CALO.  The feed point will be at about 4 feet high as I expect to deploy it.  The mast will support the wire vertically to about 30 or 35 feet, depending on which mast is used(Spiderpole or Jackite or K4TMC).  The rest of the wire will be stretched out horizontally with the coil supported by a second mast.

This deployment will have 80m or 40m basically functioning as half wave in an L configuration.  20m will probably have a larger horizontal component than the vertical section, and if it works there 15m/10m will provide who-knows-what.  i.e., “PERFECT!” – for values of “perfect” where whatever happens is perfect.

Modeling showed best result with the wire between the feed and the load at a longer length than I expected at 70+ feet.   Using insulated wire for actual construction, I expect that to be shorter in real life.   I plan to test with a .05wave counterpoise, and use a 6 foot coax jumper at feedpoint.  The real feedpoint will be a current choke at the end of the coax jumper.  It seems likely the shield of the coax jumper will act as another counterpoise.  Maybe another choke at the radio end.

Transformer Conundrums

The item I had more questions about was the step-up transformer.  A lot of conventional wizzdom surrounding the 7:1 turns ratio versions.  I chose to give myself more options and provide multiple taps, and use the larger ft-240-43 size toroid to allow 100w.   Hopefully this will give less core heating.  Then two turns vs. three turns on the primary was considered.  Initially I favored using three turns on the primary.   I expect 80m to be more useful than 10m going forward.   Physical reality – two turns seemed more practical with the 16ga wire I used. 

The other wildcard I threw into the construction detail was about sticking to the “norms” of putting the taps on nice-and-easy turns ratios.     While waiting on my toroid order to arrive, I stumbled across N8NK’s videos.  I found the playlist on EFHW and UNUN’s interesting viewing.  The main idea I fortified was to tap the toroid in several different places.  That would have been more versatile using 3:1 windings.  Even with 2:1 windings I still liked the range of impedances available by placing “irregular” taps, i.e not on the even multiple windings.  With 3:1 I had expected to place the taps on every 4th turn.  With 2:1 windings I thought maybe every 3rd turn but with 6 taps every 2nd turn was “good enough”.

The only genuine benefit that conventional “even numbered taps” provides is ease in predicting  the transformation factor(i.e., 7:1 turns gives 49:1 step up).  To switch the flip I decided to tap the transformer at 4.5:1, 5.5:1, 6.5:1, 7.5:1, 8.5:1 and 10:1.  (FWIW, that should be stepping 50 ohms up to about: 1013, 1513, 2113, 2813, 3613 or 5000 ohms.)  Just for grins, it is easy to test with the ordinary antenna analyzers and a resistor test box(or well stocked junk box).  

If it is important to your thought process, measure the damn unun to be sure.  To simplify, the secondary is actually tapped on turn #9,#11,#13,#15,#17, and #20.  With 2 primary turns and just 5 taps on secondary, tapping every 3 turns at #8, #11, #14, #17 and #20 should allow matching impedances of 750, 1513, 2450, 3616, or 5000 ohms.  That includes the obligatory 7:1 ratio for purists.  I only chose to use the odd taps as an appeasement to my increasingly contrarian curmudgeonly nature.

Precision Optional

 I figure to just use the antenna with the tap that provides the best SWR. I can then produce a cheat sheet for each band.  I would like to have a best choice for each band.  If it turns out the same tap works best for all bands – so much the better.   If they are NOT all the same tap I also want compromise choices that will allow one tap to allow operation on several bands without moving the tap.  Another tradeoff option – sometimes moving the tap will be easy, sometimes inconvenient.

Functionally we can call it good if some doing RBN compares to permanent dipoles prove it to perform acceptably.  The truth is I don’t care what the actual step up ratio might be.  I just want the antenna to function, and experimentally finding a good tap is “good enough”.  We are hoping that the taps provide enough options for multi-band operation with a good match.  It will be nice if a single tap is good on all bands.  It is not a deal breaker if changing bands requires moving a tap that can be reached at ground level.

Engineer the possible. Mind the trade-offs, because “best” can be the enemy of “good enough”.

Related Links(updated 2021/03)

End Fed Half Wave Experiment – Part 2
End Fed Half Wave Experiment – Part 3

nonstopsystems.com Multi-Band End Fed Antenna

G0KYA, Steve Nichols.

 

Experimenting With Trap Dipoles- Part Numero Uno

The Project and Situation: After quite a bit of trying over the past 15 years to find the best way to pull dipoles up into the closely packed trees in the yard it is clear the options are limited. Having the dipoles favor the NE/SW directions are the goal, but the arrangement of the best supports make this difficult. To beat this problem a combination of single band and multi band fan dipoles were used. [No, the “chainsaw solution” is not an option – yet.]

The primary supports are now occupied with supporting a 160m inverted L and another with a vee dipole for 80m. These are not high enough for direction to make much difference, but are in convenient locations. So everything else needs to fit around those two primary constraints.

The current problem is that there is really only one support that easily allows stretching out the legs of a 40m dipole in the desired directions while also achieving a good height for 40m(almost 50′). The other high supports will only allow the antenna to be deployed favoring a N/S direction(i.e., legs are stretched out E/W).

Using fan dipoles has come with its own practical problems. The dense tree branch coverage tends to tangle in the multiple wires of the legs. Then the fan legs have become entangled in heavy winds. So it is both a problem deploying the antennas, but also the SWR issues when legs are entangled after bad WX. An ongoing maintenance issue.

Alternate solution: trap dipoles. With dual band trap dipoles, it seems like it may be easier to arrange the antennas in favorable directions AND at good heights. The traps are relatively small compared to the mess of multiple wires on a fan, so also maybe it will be a bit easier to navigate dense branch cover of the biological deciduous antenna support structures. The downside is in the extra effort required in constructing the traps, tuning them to desired frequencies, and tuning the antenna legs for each desired band.

What’s the frequency, Kenneth?!? Using EzNEC 6 I ran models with trap data. Based on those results I initially decided to use traps tuned for just above the top frequencies of any given band(e.g., on 20m tuned for 14.400). I’m willing to live with the trap losses for the advantage of maintenance simplicity. Models showed tuning traps for the top end resulted in wire lengths that are the same as a single band dipole, or slightly longer. I then chose to build antennas with traps above the high end of the band based on the following.

  1. A trap resonant frequency above the band results in the dipole wires being the same length or slightly longer than the single band dipole at the trap frequency
  2. A trap resonant frequency below the band requires the dipole wires to be shorter than a dipole for that band. This might be worth pursuing if trying to reduce the antenna length.
  3. there were already a few spare dipoles laying about, and if the traps project flopped they would still be usable mostly intact if traps designed above band,
  4. I’ll probably be mostly using them on CW so maybe a tad less loss with trap rez at opposite end
  5. the gut feeling that a 20m trap resonated at 13.900 would maybe have more loss than the trap at 14.4 when used at 14.025.
  6. NOTE: SEE Part 2 for notes on how these initial assumptions changed!

Research: The traps will inevitably add unwanted weight to the antennas, and I wished to keep them as lightweight as possible. The reasoning for light weight was to extend the project to portable dipoles deployable on telescoping fiberglass masts. So I ruled out using one of the many coaxial trap designs simply to save weight where possible. For coil forms I chose to use small pieces of 1.5″ plumbing waste pipe cut from small sections of what is sold in the US as a “drain tail piece”. This is thin wall pipe, and much lighter than ordinary schedule 40 PVC. The second form material tried AND ABANDONED is 3.4 inch PVC sched 40.

Excluding the coax trap articles, there are relatively few trap dipole projects written up or documented in places accessible via internet searches. The best[most relevant] source is an ARRL antenna book article on a 2 band trap dipole. W8JI also has some interesting trap info published. Although it does not cover the specifics on the options I chose, it led me to the final result. My choices were made based on materials already on hand(wire, capacitors, and coil form material). Engineer the possible.

Initial Trap Construction: The available values of capacitors also drove the selection of trap resonant frequencies. On this point I made an effort to follow W8JI’s information and make the traps resonant off of the desired operating frequencies to minimize trap losses. Beyond this guideline I could locate nowhere any info to indicate if certain values of inductance vs capacitance were better or worse. A larger inductor will allow the antenna to be shorter overall, but the length of the dipole legs was not a restricting parameter for my project. This was merely about having the dipole resonant on 2 bands. Also, the capacitors are 2KV and 3KV 5% tolerance ceramics from Panasonic that I have used previously in band pass filter projects with great success. (NOTE: MORE ON THIS LATER!!!)

Coil Guidelines????: Guidelines for winding the coils are also a bit of guesswork, beyond W8JI’s testing results that show the highest losses occur on the resonant frequency of the trap. I simply started with the inductors, targeting a value of 6uh, initial turns counts generated by a random calculator found via internet search. Then trial and error on actual coil winding. Calculated inductances are based on trap resonant frequency measurements recorded and on the assumption the 5% caps were the most accurate component. Inductances are then calculated from cap face values and resonant frequency.

Test coils for the traps were close wound with #14 THHN stranded housing wire. They were close wound by hand as tightly as possible onto the forms. Coil Q is probably lower than it could be, but the close winding was a compromise accepted for ease of construction and ease of replication. Four inch lengths of 1.5″ waste pipe and three inch lengths of 3/4 inch PVC were tried. The latter were discarded as unsuitable.

Experimenting With the Coils and Caps: The 5% Panasonic caps on hand typically measure very close to the marked nominal values, much better than any 5% or 10% silver mica caps I have used in similar projects. I found that coils wound with similar technique and the same number of turns would reliably resonate within a range of +/-100 to 200hz. Generally the accuracy and reproducibility is better at 7 and 14 Mhz than at 28Mhz. The coils at the higher frequencies have fewer turns, and smaller differences in inductance and capacitance have a larger effect on resonance.

A group of several capacitor values were used along with an MFJ-259C as a grid dip meter to find the resonant frequencies. Pickup coupling coil was a coax jumper terminated on the business end with gator clips and a short length of #14 wire formed into an adjustable sized loop.

Some initial experimenting with the number of turns on the inductors was based on these available values of fixed capacitors. The first inductor was 12 turns on the 1.5″ forms, then resonance was tested with the values of capacitance that were on hand, or able to be easily derived using series and parallel pairs. It was then relatively simple to find the number of turns needed to be able to produce a trap resonant at a given frequency. I also wound coils on the same form material using 7 and 9 turns, and measured resonance for these.

Experimenting With Trap Dipoles- Part 2

 

Telescoping Fiberglass Mast – Variations On A Theme

I have been using a telescoping fiberglass mast of one sort or another since 2005 or so. Most folks seem to be using these masts mostly as designed, i.e. relying on the friction fit, or using tape or hose clamps to keep the mast extended under load. None of those seemed ideal for my plans to use them with dipoles(inverted V config).

The first pole I obtained was from Henry, K4TMC (tmastco.com).(FWIW, I am acquainted with Henry via our membership in PVRC. Henry also sold me a very nice Elecraft K2 when he upgraded to the K3, and other assorted sections of surplus mast.)

This is the 32 foot pole, which results in about 29-30 foot of usable length once extended. Relying on friction fit, I ran into a couple of problems I think common to ALL of these similar type masts. The first problem is the amount of friction required to keep the poles from collapsing was also enough to make them difficult to collapse in very hot or very cold weather.(38C/98F or 0C/32F) Tape and hose clamps are usually enough to resolve that, but bring their own issues.

Tape tends to leave a lot of residue at the joint at 38C(i.e., ‘sticky mess’), which is a problem on sandy beaches. Sand does not enhance the experience of using one of these masts when it sticks to the joints. I also did not like the amount of pressure hose clamps required, nor the amount of time needed to install them in correct order(at 98F oceanside), or to fasten them without crushing the fiberglass accidentally. Because of “spontaneous collapsing” under certain types of pressure, the friction fit is not ideal for use with dipoles, my preferred antenna for portable ops.

The solution I chose was to drill the mast and use 1/8 or 3/32 cotter pins at the bottom of sections just above where they rest when extended. The pin rests on top of the next lower section, so no problems trying to align holes through two sections. Saving another 1000 words……

A section of mast extended showing position of pin, which goes through only the base of the single section.

Over the past 10 years or so I have acquired a few additional masts. Primarily to have the ability to deploy more than a single antenna, but also as redundant or spare masts. [Two is one, one is none.] These additional masts include the 12m Spiderbeam pole, both a 28 and 32 foot mast from Jackite, a 22 foot mast that was marketed as a flagpole, and several Shakespeare 20 foot Wonderpoles. The Wonderpoles are used mostly to elevate the ends of the dipole legs when it seems appropriate(mostly constricted spaces).

The mast from K4TMC has seen the most use over the last decade. It has a good combination of stiffness and flexibility for its length. I had my doubts about drilling holes for the cotter pins, but the mast has been deployed for extended periods with little signs of anything more than minor cosmetic damage. The Spiderbeam mast seems to be much more flexible, which tends to negate is useful length as a center support for dipoles. Both Jackite masts seem to be the most rigid of the group, but I have used these less than any of the others – they are relatively new buys.

The disappointment of the group for me is the Spiderbeam mast. Its flexibility requires guying to keep it from noodling with the weight of a very light weight 40m dipole made of 18ga wire. Best practice seems to be best to attach the feedline to the mast for any of these type masts, but absolutely essential with the Spiderbeam. My Spiderbeam pole also becomes difficult to extend to its full length the more it bends, although that does help keep it from spontaneous collapse. Also more difficult to deploy in heavy wind at the beach due to flexibility, common to all but more pronounced on the Spiderbeam. The other masts are more self supporting when used with the auger bases. This may indeed have more to do with their overall shorter length, and the spiderbeam masts are indeed intended to be guyed by the manufacturer. I would prefer not to use guys to save time, but in several excursions I was unable to use the full length of the Spiderbeam mast sans guy lines. Even with guys the Spiderbeam pole had excessive droop in high winds oceanside, so the additional time required did not seem worth the effort. Taken all together the Spiderbeam mast was not taking my dipole significantly higher than shorter masts.

Auger Bases? Why didn’t I think of that? : The other divergence from the norm is my use of these auger bases. These auger bases are items I have scrounged from different sources. The first pair of them I obtained from Harbor Freight in the early 2000’s, where they were being marketed as beach umbrella stands. That source disappeared soon after my purchase. A second group of smaller augers[NOT pictured below] are marketed as “Aussie Augers”, but needed modification to use with the fiberglass masts(unless you don’t mind removing the end caps from the bottom).

These augers pictured below were available via Amazon in the US in 2019. They work extremely well in sand. They are heavier gauge material than the Harbor Freight versions. The larger tapered base is my first choice for sand and seems to be the strongest. It would also work anywhere with a deep layer of loam or sandy topsoil. The base with the narrow welded on auger is more useful where the soil is less friendly, with stone or tree roots. I use the narrow base in my home yard, which is chock full of quartz stones and tree roots. It sometimes requires multiple placement attempts, but seldom takes more than a few minutes to install. For areas with no topsoil, shallow stone, or mountains, this solution might be less than ideal. The other caveat is leaving a hole in the deployment area.

Both bases are about 60cm in length(22 inches) and have a 60-61mm throat width(approx 2-3/8 inches). This is just barely wide enough for the Spiderbeam mast to fit without removing the base cap. All of the other masts are a bit smaller at the base and fit in easily. The large base has a depth about 178mm(7 inches) and the larger a depth of 127mm(5 inches). FWIW, with the smaller diameter masts I often insert a section of 2″ PVC into the base as a bushing sleeve, and the mast into the PVC bushing section.
Large tapered base at Amazon [American Ground Screw Model 2]
Narrow welded base at Amazon [American Ground Screw Model 1 with Cap ]

I don’t expect I have been the first to go down this less traveled path but have not seen it documented elsewhere. So some photos above for reference. I drilled 9/64 holes in the bottom of each nested section, just ABOVE the joints, and use 1/8 cotter pins.

My 10+ year old mast from K4TMC has been deployed numerous times. There is still only minor wear to the drilled holes, and zero cracking or vertical splits. YMMV. Caveat Emptor. An additional tip would be to have spare pins, and pins in at least two lengths. The bits of wire are used to keep the pins from vibrating loose in the ocean breeze. The also are used with coax to keep the feedline close to the mast. Generally I tape the feedline when using twinlead.

The choice of feedline is made on deployment depending on the distance from the antenna to the operating position. I use LMR240/RFC240 for the feedline drops when the operating position is close to the antenna, and 300 ohm ladderline from DX engineering for long runs.

FD 2018 with masts deployed

FD 2018 photos

2018 IOTA using single K4TMC mast

2018 IOTA K4Z photos

2018 IOTA K4Z time lapse mast deployment video

Mast Hoisting and IOTA Pages

2015 IOTA W4O at Okracoke with N4YDU

Jackite 21 foot mast from bestnest.com

American Ground Screw Model 1 with Cap
by American Ground Screw Mfg & Supply

American Ground Screw Model 2

??more??

Field Day 2018 – 1B NC de W4KAZ

The normal group of Field Day scalawags were in the wind for 2018.  N4GU was uncertain if the QTH from 2016 and 2017 would be available.  N4YDU took up N9NB’s offer for FD at Ted’s QTH in VA foothills.  I was also kindly invited, but decided that I didn’t want to drive quite that far, despite the nearly ideal location.  I do love me some VA mountains.

Photos from FD2018: http://w4kaz.com/images/fd2018/

For 2018 I took exit ramp #3, and went with the backup backup plan.  Operated 1B at a campground near Wilmington NC.  A nice easy drive, with a couple of easy on/off stops along the way to stretch out the body parts complaining loudest.  That made the drive tolerable.   Also made it into a mini-escape, leaving home QTH on Thursday with a return on Monday morning.

Weather conditions[i.e., heat] soon had me thinking I’d have been better off in the VA mountains, but after acclimatizing to “swamp butt” conditions, it was fine.  When I sweat enough to remind me of living on the South coast – its pretty darn sticky.  Usually not quite so bad in NC, but it happens enough to know to be prepared.  Lots of water and gatorade.  Thursday afternoon was the worst of it though.

Friday morning was spent doing a bit of unrelated recon.  Friday afternoon I laid out the antennas and supports, and some more unrelated area wide explorations.  WX on Saturday dryed out some, and there was a nice breeze that picked up from the start of operations though early evening.  Never a drop of rain, just temps and humidity in the 90’s.  Just like being back in good ole Bigg Swampy(SE Louisiana).

Antennas:

2018 was a time to test some antenna ideas.  I built a 2 band triangular yagi for 20m/15m, based on article by Herb,N4HA as published in June 2018 QST.  I kept to the published dimensions(mostly) but fashioned the driven element(s) from 300ohm ladder line.  For supports I used a mast from Henry, K4TMC as the support for the drive element/apex.  The tails sloped down to connect to the reflectors, and those ends were supported by 2 masts cobbled together by combining a Shakespeare Wonderpole on top of a section of 4 foot mil surplus mast.   Simple, and easier than I expected.  This antenna was fed with 300 ohm ladder line run to a tuner rather than coax.

40m was a simple inverted Vee supported by a Spiderbeam 12m telescoping mast.  Note: Simple does not mean “easy”.

10m was an afterthought.  After struggling with the 40m dipole-that-wouldn’t, I had a relaxing breakfast and gave some thought to 10m.  Had plenty of time, so may as well.  To get on 10m I made a dipole by cutting a couple of equal 8.5 foot lengths of wire and constructed a “FD style” center insulator from a pair of cable ties taped together.  Used a “composite” feedline – a ladderline drop to a 1:1 unun and a short coax run into the tent.  I had a length of ladder line about 25 feet long so the 10m dipole was up about 23 feet.   At the end of the ladder line at ground level I plugged the ladder line into a 1:1 unun, and ran the last 30 feet or so into the station with coax.  From start to finish this antenna took about 30 minutes to put up, including cutting legs and twisting it all together.

No antenna at all on 80m.  Decided I’d have enough business on 20m & 40m to keep occupied, and figured on sleep rather than a night of 80m T-storm QRN.  😮

Now, about that 40m Vee.  The antenna that would NOT.  Still not certain where the problem was, but it had an issue in one of the feedlines somewhere[update-think one of the legs has broken wire].  Far too much time was wasted raising and lowering the antenna trying to debug the issue.  Lesson1: Always have an alternative.   Lesson2:  Don’t dick around debugging when you have the alternative at hand ready to go.  Lesson3: Save debugging for down time.  Lesson4:  Read Lesson1 and Lesson2 until they really sink in.

Operating:

Once the CQ’s started, there were plenty of QSO’s to log.  Saturday was a bit slow at first, but I got a better rhythm in the evening.  Was tired though, and sacked early, including a 45 minute nap at 5pm in the nice cool breeze that came up.  Also got up early Sunday, 5am-ish.   Sunday morning was quite a bit of fun, right up until my keyer interface died around 11am.  So I finished the event with a bit of lackadaisical SSB, mostly S&P.

Camp:

The Cabelas tent goes up easily.  My only regret is not getting one of the larger sizes.  It has room for setting up a table for the station and also for a cot along the opposite side.  But it is a bit cramped.  Next time I do this I think I will use a screen tent for the station and the tent just for snoozing/bad wx.  Also, the ideal site would allow for the tent to use an overhead spike support and avoid the need for the center pole.

Overall a big win.  Keeping the ants away…..the real challenge!

 

 

2017 FD @ N4GU as AA4NC – Still No Will

The 2017 Field Day is in the bag.  Operated with the group as AA4NC at the farm of N4GU’s XYL.  Showing a surprising lack of judgement for a second year in a row, AA4NC again allowed us to use his call, despite a shoebox full of notices from last year’s operation.  Still No Will….but N4GU, N3ND, N4YDU, N9NB, W4BBT and W4KAZ all on the air.

2016’s as-yet-undocumented FD last year was done as class 2A, while for 2017 we rode with class 3A.  Given the improved conditions on 15m/10m/6m, that was quite a bit less boring than I expected.  Gave N4YDU grief for wanting to run that third station for the high bands, but they were maybe the money bands this year.  Great call on N4YDU’s part.  With so much activity on high bands through the evening and mid-watch, 80m under-performed.  Boooo.  Hoooo.

Stations:

2017 FD - 15m/10m and 6m stations

2017 FD – 15m/10m and 6m stations

2017 FD - The REAL Night Shift

2017 FD – The REAL Night Shift

2017 FD - The "40m station"

2017 FD – The “40m station”

We ran 2 stations on N4GU’s 1kw generator, and ran the third station and VHF stations on deep cycle batteries.  The two stations on generator power were Elecraft K3’s, and the battery station was a Kenwood TS-590.  VHF was run on the Kenwood until N9NB arrived with an Icom 703.  Battery power for the 590 was two deep cycle batteries paralleled and connected to a solar cell, and the 703 was on a single deep cycle battery.

Antennas were a Frankenstein ??ta33M?? tribander for 10/15/20@35′(split via triplexer), an OCF mostly for 40m@34′, an 80m dipole@~45′, a 10/15 fan dipole @ 30′,  a 20m vee dipole at 24′ and a hastily erected 40m dipole @ 40′.  VHF station used a 5 element 6m yagi @24′.  Most of the antennas were strung by late Friday afternoon, leaving time on Saturday morning for testing and a last minute wild hair(the 40m dipole.)

Operating:

Given the strange conditions on Sunday morning, the dipoles played quite well as supplements to the tribander on 15m and 20m, with good signals from New England often better on the dipoles.  The tribander won on stations out to the west of 9-land, and about equal in the middle grounds between.

For my part 15m was the best news on the subject of propagation.  20m and 10m were close behind.  All three bands were very productive.  6m even coughed up QSo’s this year, with 160+ Q’s logged.  The night shift on 80m was a bit sluggish, probably many stations stayed on 20m later than normal.

Something must have worked correctly, event with W4KAZ constantly changing the function key settings on every N1MM computer attached to an HF radio.  Despite KAZ’s  best efforts at disabling the dread “Enter Sends Mode”, almost 3500 Q’s were logged across all of the stations.

WX:

Friday afternoon the WX forecast of rain was quite thankfully incorrect.  Instead there were crystal clear blue skies and a slightly gusty wind.  The wind helped keep the insects at bay, and cooled the crew off a bit.  Saturday morning was overcast, but remained dry right up until a 6pm shift change.  As soon as the new shift sat at the stations, the wind began gusting, enough to slide the camp chairs across the cement floor as if of their own volition.  Enough wind to make ops press down on tables to keep them from tossing radios about like so much flotsam.  The rain soon came in buckets, making the nice covered carport seem like luxury FD accommodations.  The nice 30 minute storm cooled things down and brought the insects from hiding for most of the evening.  Things remained cool enough overnight that a light rain jacket was perfect for both staying warm and fending off the creepy-crawlies.

Food and other:

Many thanks to Mike’s XYL Sherry, who kept us stuffed to the gills over the weekend, and caused disputes to break out over a certain blueberry dump cake.  Also many thanks for allowing us to invade her domain for the weekend and play radio geek.  Good QTH, a good crew of ops to work with, and entirely too much fun.