N4DDP and Shack

N4DDP and Shack
N4DDP in native habitat

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Challenges

After a 20-year hiatus I am trying to get back into Ham radio. I am amazed at how much it has changed. Surprised that my prize transceiver is now considered a “classic” - or even worse - “antique” radio. Perhaps I would appreciate it more if the title “boat-anchor” were used.

Perhaps my biggest challenge is the dreaded CC&R's which are attached to my property, along with the included HOA (Home Owners Association.) When we were looking for our home, we found it impossible to find a home that we could afford, that was in a decent neighborhood with decent schools that did not include CC&R's. It seems that developers and the city love them as a means of helping to sell homes and as “free and easy” code enforcement.

Along with the HOA and CC&Rs, I also am married to a wonderful wife, who unfortunately does not share my aesthetic appreciation for antennas. To me, few things are so inherently symmetrically beautiful as a four element multi-band beam on a 60 foot tower. Except, of course, the aforementioned wife. Even a dipole has a certain simple elegance and no-nonsense visually clear purposefulness. To my wife (and to my HOA) they destroy the beautiful clean uncluttered roof lines. They clutter up the yard . . .

So where do I stand? How do I get on the air?

A wire run under the eave shows promise, except that the noise is well over S8 – S9 . . . not so useful. One day when no one is home, I plan to turn off / unplug everything to see if I can localize the noise. My portable antique short wave radio shows that the AC wiring in my walls is where it's coming from. In fact, I can trace the wiring with the radio! A spectrum analyzer would be handy, then I could watch what EMI disappears when I unplug, say, the wireless phone base station (another one of my offenders.)

I have been playing with the mag-loop; I think that will be my answer. I have a 16-foot circumference square loop that listens great! I am still working out the kinks with the trombone cap. I can get 40 and 30, or 30 and 20; I can't quite get 40 – 20 meters. I am close to making the darn thing a 40 and 30 meter antenna, and then make another one for 20 – 15 ( or maybe even 10.)

I would be in a bigger hurry to get back on 2 meters, except that 2 meters is fairly quiet compared to where I used to live (in K6 land.)

I also used to have a whole bedroom dedicated to my hobbies; now I have an entertainment Armoire! But, I think I can make it work. The first project I really want to share is the insert I made for it. See, the ground rules are that I can make no irreversible mods to the furniture. Now the biggest problem so far is what to do with the computer monitor. You see, this amoire also contains my computer. I think I got that solved and will share that as soon as I work out the kinks.

Enough for my first post here. More to follow.

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