It's  all  about  the  farm

I've learn from experience over the years how very, very important the antenna farm is. This plays a MAJOR role in ones ability to successfully receive and transmit RF signals. For perspective, here is my outdoor farm, from a distance, as well as from above as photographed by a quad-copter. In sections below I will discuss each antenna in detail.

Scott KB9YUC piloted his DJI Phantom II quad-copter on a beautiful, sunny, calm day to photograph my antenna farm in detail. Here he is flying the copter.

This is a video of my antenna farm from the rooftop.

Here is a video as taken primarily of the AN Wireless tower and antenna systems. The copter reached a height of 72', which is near the very top of my 2M/70cm antenna. You will see me rotating the Force 12 C-3 antenna. That was an afterthought, hence my cameo sprint into the house.


Would you like to watch Flybys of other ham antenna farms? We'll, you are in luck. Please visit my Flyby collection.

Upstairs  Ham  Shack

Here is a view of my primary ham shack, and the three power supplies that run it: Astron RS-35M & RS-7A and a 50 volt Ameritron power supply for my linear amplifier.

Much of the time I am on the air with a Kenwood TS-590S. Here is a view of me on 14.230 MHz for Slow Scan TV. When I use my amplifier, an Ameritron ALS-1300, I normally operate it at 500 watts, or about 40% of its total power output potential.

The heart of my antenna farm is found on a 50' AN Wireless commercial grade antenna tower, and the prime instrument is a seven-element Force 12 C-3 Yagi for 20-15-10 meter operations. I have two IAC Double Bazooka dipole antennas for 75 meters (mounted at 48') and 40 meters (mounted at 35').

I use PolyPhaser lightning suppressors for the four antennas and Hy-Gain Ham V rotor. The tower is carefully designed for strength. The pad has 16 cubic yards of concrete, a sizable substructure and plenty of rebar. You can read more about the planning and construction by visiting the Tower section of my site.

I also have a Kenwood TM-271 2 meter rig which I use primarily as an APRS i-Gate, WinLink and other digital operations. This typically feeds into a Diamond X-700HNA antenna. This 23' antenna can been seen at the very top of the tower. It reaches to a height of 75'. This is my best VHF/UHF antenna with 9.3 dB gain on 2 meters and 13.0 dB gain on 70 centimeters.

In order that I may constantly monitor the local 2 meter repeaters and simplex frequencies, I have a Kenwood TM-V71A on memory scan. I regularly use this rig to check into local nets. Most of the time I am switched to the Diamond X-300NA vertical for 2 meters FM operations. The antenna provides 6.5 dB gain on 2 meters and 9.0 dB gain on 70 centimeters.

Downstairs  Ham  Shack

I use a Kenwood TS-2000 in several ways downstairs.

  • 30m & 20m FT8 most frequently
  • 80m FT8 in the evening
  • 10m FT8 & SSTV
  • 6m FM for the Fox Valley ARC monthly net


On 30m I use a Wolf River Coil dipole. The IAC Double Bazooka is a great antenna for 80 meters.


A Par Electronics Rectangle is deployed on 10m for omni-directional coverage. Above it is a Dominator 6m vertical used for FM work.

Home  VHF+

Here is the station which I use for weak signal VHF+ work from home. On the right is a Go Kit I use when activating as a rover from my car or perhaps from a WI lookout tower.

The picture on the left shows the 2m (Mirage 150W), 125cm (TE Systems 100W) and 70cm (TE Systems 65W) linears. On top of the Mirage is a laptop computer which is used for FT8 & FSQ operation on 2 meters. The ICOM 7100 control head appears in the lower right corner of the table. A Hygain DCU-1 rotor control unit is on the left side.


2m, 125cm & 70cm

I normally use a Create log periodic for 2m, 125cm and 70cm. It is mounted above the Force 12 HF Yagi at 53'. The Create antenna offers about 10-12 dBi gain.

On occasion I use an omni-directional Efactor phased set of halos for 2m and 70cm. These are at 30'. The halos offer about 2 S-units less gain than using the Create LPDA.

For improved feedline efficiency, I use an LMR600-equivalent coax, Messi & Paoloni UltraFlex 13. Attenuation at 1296 MHz is 3.66 dB per 100 feet.


The picture on the left shows the Create LPDA pointed towards Madison, WI at 205 degrees. The other is set to 130 degrees and aimed towards Columbus, OH.


902 & 1296 MHz

DEMI transverters are installed in the garage for 23 & 33cm operation to minimize feedline loss from the transverter to the antennas.

I run 50W on 902 MHz. On 1296 MHz, I use a Gemini linear amp and run that at 150W.

There are Directive Systems loopers at 63'. They provide 18.5 dBi gain on 902 MHz and 20 dBi gain on 1296 MHz.


6m

I monitor 50.313 MHz continuously with an Elecraft KX3 and use with linear amplifier for FT8 work at 40 Watts.

I use the Dominator 6M vertical. This is a excellent 5/8 wavelength vertical with very low SWR over a broad stretch of the band. I can easy work the SSB and FM portions on 6 meters with it. It offers 2.0 dBd gain.

VHF+  Activations

I pursue two types of VHF+ activations:

  1. At specific grid square locations, most notably for Spring and Fall Sprint contests.
  2. From heights, notable operating from a WI lookout tower.

My Go Kit is central to these operations. It consists of:

  • ICOM 7100 with detached head for ease of viewing
  • Bioenno Power LiFePO4 240 Watt-hour battery
  • Battery monitor, especially to watch Watt-hour usage
  • Logitech amplified speaker
  • Palm Radio Mini Paddle & Code Cube
  • Rigblaster for FT8 digital operations


Spring & Fall Sprints

I normally operate as a Rover from EN54 in Killsnake Marsh, EN64 in Collins Marsh, EN63 at Greendale Dairy near St. Nazianz and EN53 along twisted County T near Chilton. When I do, I use a hitch mounted mast which elevates a chosen antenna to a height of 22 feet.


It takes 11-12 minutes to travel from one grid square location to the next. So take-down and set-up time is crucial in order to maximize on-the-air contesting. I can shut down and start up in under two minutes.

I operate SSB and FT8, and a small amount of CW during contests, most often on 2m, 125cm and 70cm.

Shown at Killsnake Marsh is a Directive Systems 70cm Rover with 13.5 dBd gain ready for the Sprint contest. A Directive Systems 2m Rover with 10.1 dBd gain was used in Collins Marsh. Both are great locations with water enhancement with long, clear views to the horizon.

I then move along to EN63 and a spot adjacent to Greendale Dairy. Here is a Directive Systems 125cm Rover with 11.4 dBd gain. My final destination is in EN53 along twisted County T. In this picture I am operating the 50 MHz Sprint with a simple dipole.


FCARC Monthly 6m FM Net

One simple activation takes place when I choose to operate from an elevated vantage point at High Cliff state park for the FCARC monthly 6m FM net. I use a Yaesu 991A and run 100 Watts into a KB9VBR J-pole, pictured here at 22'.


Walk MS

Another activation involves use of the Yaesu 991A from a Bioenno Power LiFePO4 battery as NCS for the annual Walk MS event. We operate on 146.46 MHz simplex FM. Here I am in postion outside the Appleton North high school entrance. After taking check ins for radio tests, I paused and asked if I had missed anyone. Karl WD9BGA responded from Barneveld, WI. That's 117 miles away. I was not positioned for DX. The building was nearby and it was directly in our path. Nonetheless, signals were good.

My operating position is from the front seat. I use a steering wheel table top for convenience. The battery meter is nearby so I can monitor voltage and especially Watt-hour usage. For a 2-hour event as NCS it takes about 150 Watt-hours of energy.


10 GHz

My first 10 GHz activation took place in Columbus, WI. I worked Karl WD9BGA (549 CW), Greg KA9VDU (589 CW) and Lloyd N9LB (S8 SSB).

This self-contained station is composed of:

  • Yaesu 817 2m IF
  • DEMI transverter that produces 1 1/4 Watts
  • GPS Disciplined Oscillator
  • Bioenno Power LiFePO4 battery

  • RF isolator
  • T/R antenna relay switch
  • Directive Systems 5.7 & 10 GHz dual band feed horn (only 10 GHz used)
  • 22 1/2" Directive Systems parabolic dish which produces 2,900 Watts theoretical ERP

I have a Mirage B-34-G linear to amp my 2m SSB backbone signal to 27 Watts.

Sometimes I operate close to home in EN54qg. It takes only 11 minutes to get there and a couple minutes to set up the 10 GHz station. In this picture I have it equipped with a 2m/70cm ELK log periodic antenna with 6.6 dBd gain on 2m and 7.0 dBd gain on 70cm. That is conveniently used for backbone frequency communications, typically on 144.180 MHz.

High Cliff lookout tower is nearby. It is a convenient location to active.


WIPOTA

The WI Parks on the Air (WIPOTA) event occurs the 3rd weekend of September each year. I operate 75 & 40 meter SSB and monitor 146.55 MHz for FM activity from Aztalan state park. This is located east of Madison near Lake Mills.

I use the Hustler G6-144B with 6.0 dBd gain for 2m contacts. I am capable of DX operations using a 150 Watt Mirage linear. Here are my 50- and 75-mile coverage areas. Hams with good antenna systems can contact me from more than 100 miles away.


Lookout towers

As a form of sport radio, I travel to a summit or lookout tower in Wisconsin and operate VHF+ on 2m, 125cm, 70cm, 33cm, 23cm, 13cm or 3cm. That means I need to pack separate antennas and often climb a lookout tower to get above the tree line to improve my chances for contacts via tropo-scatter.

On many occasions I operate well above the tree line with an open view to the distant horizon to minimize radiation takeoff angle and maximize potential troposcatter. This activation took place at the highest summit in Wisconsin, Timms Hill.


At 1296 MHz (23cm), I deploy a 14-element Directive Systems antenna with 12.9 dBd gain, driven by a 2 1/2 Watt SG Laboratory transverter. While at High Cliff State Park I was also using an ELK 2m/70cm log periodic.


Occasionally I operate on 2304 MHz (13cm). To get out I use a Directive Systems 27-element loop Yagi rated for for 18.5 dBi gain. The SG-Labs transverter hangs from the back. It is connected with a short, very low loss coax pigtail and the transverter runs 2 1/2 Watts.


Karl WD9BGA and I made history in August, 2016 with the first North American 2.4 GHz summit-to-summit contact. We completed it with MESH stations running 79 milliwatts, ie, 19 dBm, into 24 dBi grid parablic dish antennas. I was on Gibraltar Rock and he was located 33 miles away at Blue Mounds State Park. We used an IRC data mode with Pidgin sofware to complete the QSO operation. Link Quality at my station was 28%.


From Gibraltar Rock one can see clearly over to Blue Mounds State Park. Here the 23cm loop Yagi is mounted, with transverter situated behind, and a 2m ELK on a mast positioned on rock and supported by a tripod. Off to the side is the case with the ICOM 7100 ready to operate.


On occasion I participate in VHF+ contests. A choice location in my area is at the shoreline of High Cliff State Park. This works because I have a long, clear lake open to me to the south, west and north to help with tropo-scatter propagation. Here I am set up to operate in the 70cm Sprint.

Mobile

In my Chevy Trax I installed a Yaesu FT-991A which covers 160 through 10 meters, plus 6, 2 and 70 cm bands. I am also equipped for Fusion digital voice for 2m and 70cm QSOs.

I have two antennas on the hood with Diamond mounts. For HF, I use a very dependable Wolf River Coil and 102" whip. WSPR tests have shown this to be an effective installation.

I am using a new, innovative design where I can conveniently switch between 20 and 40 meter bands with the flick of a waterproof switch. I operated from Schuyler county New York to give Wolf River Coil owner, Gary KB9AIT, a rare county contact. With that he was just one county short of working all counties in the US!


For VHF/UHF operations I use a Diamond 3-band antenna which covers 2m, 125cm and 70cm.

HT

I use a Kenwood TH-D72A for portable operations. This 5 watt hand-held covers 2 meters & 70 cm. I use it for ARES work. Also, I send packet transmissions via APRS. You can visit the APRS section to see my most recent APRS location.

I also have a Baofeng UV-5R which I use for around-the-home monitoring of 2 meters. It also comes in handy for volunteer work at Triathlons and other local events.

Portable  QSO  Party  Activations

A common location for out-of-state QSO party activations is at the Lake Michigan shoreline in Two Rivers, WI. This affords a large expanse of water to the east and south for states in those directions. I operate an ICOM 7100 using a LiFePO4 battery from the back seat of my car. I log QSOs onto a laptop which lays on a folded down front seat.

A mast which extends 22' upward is placed onto my car hitch using a bicycle mount. I have then devised a quick and convenient way to attach antennas to the mast. Shown here is the Wolf River Odophone dipole which I often tune for 20 or 40 meter operation.

Now I am set up on 20m to work the Alabama QSO party. The system worked well and I had no problem breaking into pile-ups to work stations. Oh, yes, there is one other important reason to work from Two Rivers, as you will read from the notice on the Washington House!

Fox  Hunting

Fox Hunts can be fun. There can also be a serious side when it is necessary to track down a rouge operator, perhaps someone interfering with others. Here is my Byonics MicroFox nesting by my squirrel feeder!

I have a Ramsey DDF1 doppler direction finder. Mounted on top of my car are four telescoping antennas in a quadrilateral array. They are electronically 'spun' by the DDF to create the doppler effect to help pin point the hidden transmitter. This unit is useful when the Fox is a considerable distance away. I typically connect my Baofeng UV-5R for the 2 meter VHF receiver.

Closer in, a world-class VK3YNG Sniffer 4 is exceptionally sensitive. Attenuation is provided automatically in steps of approximately 15dB each time a particular signal strength threshold is reached. For example, a display value of zero indicates maximum sensitivity, where a value of 9 indicates a very strong signal that requires approximately 135dB of attenuation!!

Signal strength indication is provided by an audible tone that increases in pitch with increasing signal level. This is done because the human ear is a much more sensitive to changes in pitch than sound level.

I couple this with a 'tape measure' Yagi, and I am set to find the Fox. This unit is so sensitive that it can sniff out the direction of a hidden transmitter from just a couple feet away!!

This Yagi resonates at 146.250 MHz with a 1.1:1 SWR, and has a 2:1 SWR band width from 143.000 to 148.350 MHz.