Entry - 2005
Recently I have had an increasing interest in working lower frequency DX,
and have been considering additional antennas for 40-80-160.
I have just begun to experiment with a modified Gieskieng antenna,
a modified vertical built for forty metres.
I plan to use it during the fall and winter months
as I evaluate it and compare it with my dipole antenna.
New entry - March 2006:
I have used the antenna a few times over the winter months.
It tunes and loads very well. However, I have not been overly impressed
with its performance compared to an ordinary dipole.
I found this a bit surprising, since I was expecting its lower angle of radiation
to outperform my dipole on DX contacts. It didn't seem to work out that way.
Also, during 2008, I worked at upgrading and rebuilding our "Studio"
that is nestled in the lower reaches of a basement corner.
Below is a recent photo of our station (circa 2008 - 2009).
Some of the main radio gear includes two Kenwood TS-850SAT transceivers,
Alpha 91B linear amplifier, Vectronics HFT1500 coupler,
a computer with quite a bit of ham radio related software, including
soundcard operation of PSK31, RTTY, Hellschreiber, SSTV, and so on,
as well as logging software which includes radio control functions.
Of course, we have an Alfa Spid rotator on a fifty foot Delhi tower,
turning a four element monobander yagi on twenty metres.
A Ham II rotator turns a hombrew two-element three band quad for 17 - 15 - 10 metres.
Also a few two metres rigs for packet cluster, and for use in the vehicles.
Just for fun, and since I had two radios, I designed and built an SO2R switch,
including designing and etching the double-sided circuit board,
fitting it into a metal enclosure. I call it my "seven-pack",
since there are seven possible antenna choices for each radio.
It resides in between the ceiling stringers of my basement shack,
very close to the exterior wall. Six feedlines currently come through
the wall to this switch. I can have one rig using one antenna,
while at the same time be monitoring activity on a different band
with one of the other antennas. Wiring is such that both rigs
can never be switched to the same antenna.
First rig to an antenna locks the other rig out of that choice of antenna.
It works well while running low power. If I am running the amplifier,
I usually do not have the second radio operational,
lacking the appropriate filtering for full SO2R.
During the summer of 2009, after parting with one of my treasured TS850s,
I just had to fill the vacant space with another rig.
With the recommendation of a couple of my close "ham radio friends"
I chose an ELECRAFT K3.
This is the first rig I have owned that has DSP (digital signal processing).
All I can say is WOW. What a great receiver this rig has.
It fits right into my station beautifully.
Then, in late November 2010, to replace the second 850, I made another
addition to the station. The newly released Kenwood TS590SAT.
Every time I turn this radio on, I am almost amazed with its capabilities.
Although not considered a "competition grade" rig, it certainly
can hold its own against most of the rigs out there.
Recently, I have added an Elecraft KAT500 auto-tuner to the lineup of equipment.
This makes it very much easier for Heather, VE3HQH, to change bands as needed
to work other CLARA contacts, or to do some general operating.
The manual tuner that I also have in the station was not very convenient for her.
Below is a snapshot of the station console circa February 2015.
While doing some other improvements to the console, I also built
a more integrated antenna switching unit. It is the large panel
on the right-hand side of the middle shelf of the console.
With two transceivers, I can readily select the transceivers to be
on different antennas on any two bands at the same time....
I can also select either amplifier, with easy switching.
This is still a manual arrangement, but I may automate much of that in the future.