Is It Band Conditions? Or Do I Just Have Crappy Antennas?

Discussion in 'Chat' started by K4TQF, Sep 5, 2015.

  1. K4TQF

    K4TQF Member

    Having just recently come back to ham radio after a 50 year absence... I find the conditions on the bands somewhat abysmal. Or, maybe it's just my antennas, or lack thereof. 20 was always my favorite band back in the day, so I built a simple 20M "bobtail curtain", and hung it in some trees. Folks have reported good things about this antenna at about 20 ft above ground with screens on the ground under the vertical sections. Until a couple of months ago all I had for receiving was an old WW2 Navy RBC. I blamed the receiver. Then, during a momentary lapse of judgment, I bought a new factory made KX3. Oh boy... I'm back in the game now! NOT ! The KX3 receives no better than it's 70 year old neighbor. In fact I can hear CW on 20M in the middle of the day with the 75 year old RBC that I cannot hear on the KX3. How can this be?

    I had come by an old Cushcraft R-7 vertical in the meantime, so I tried that. Not much difference on receive. The noise is somewhat lower when switching to the vertical. I dug out my trusty AEA antenna analyzer and noticed some weird readings across the bands, but the vertical would at least resonate somewhere within each band albeit, a little higher SWR than I would like. I can't really measure the Bobtail curtian, as it is center-fed against ground, no coax. The analyzer likes to see a coaxial feed.

    Funny thing is, both antennas perform across the bands equally well, or poorly, whichever way you want to look at it. I figured sitting on top of a hill at 1300+ ft elevation would help... not so. I only hear one or two QSO's on any given day or night. And, they were so "down in the noise" that I haven't bothered to call anyone. I figured I would wait until I move
    next month (10-12-15), by then, maybe band condx would improve and I could get an antenna on the roof or hang an inverted V in a tree, at least. That, and the fact that I will be sitting on coastal plain about 2 miles from the north Atlantic @ 50 ft ASL, may improve my chances somewhat.

    I think I may have an old 30 foot "push-up" laying around. I may attach it to the house tomorrow, to get the vertical a little higher and see if that helps.

    PS: as an example, it is now 11:00PM CDT. I just tuned thru 80, 40 & 20 and heard exactly 1 QSO on 80 (SSB no CW at all ) that was down in the S3 noise. 10MHZ is quiet, but WWV is barely readable... 15MHZ is quiet and WWV is non existant.
     
  2. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    It's because it's still summer or at the end of it. Things should start to pick up a little next month.
     
  3. K4TQF

    K4TQF Member

    Well... I finally got my vertical moved from the shack to the main house. The house is about 20 feet higher than the shack & I now have the R7 on top of a 30 ft push-up. Much improved reception overall. :icon_thumbup:
     
  4. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    The bands will start opening up soon anyway. Next month should be much better so when you get setup in Maine you will be all ready to go...

    Those R7 verticals work pretty good for getting on the air quickly, but don't forget to do the modifications mentioned in the other thread. If you fire up on AM and start making longer transmissions it will probably die.
     
  5. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    P.S. Don't forget to make sure that R7 is up high enough and to reinforce it. You don't want it getting buried like your shack will be or for it to bend over due to the extra weight :lol:

    shack_under_snow_1.jpg
    shack_under_snow_2.jpg
     
  6. KC9UDX

    KC9UDX Member

    That's beautiful!
     
  7. K4TQF

    K4TQF Member

    It will probably wind up on top of the 30' push-up strapped to the lawnmower storage bldg just outside the shack .(about 20 feet from the house ) That way, I can be sure to load up the Oak tree at the same time :icon_problem: The cold fronts from the NW will bend it toward the north Atlantic... the Nor'easters will bend it back to the NW. So, it will be straight vertical & plumb 50% of the time.:icon_crazy: