Simple Ham Radio Antennas. Improvised Field Day Antennas. Post #283.


The 2014 ARRL Field Day is just about history as more than 35,000 amateur radio operators transmitting from 2,500 emergency sites finish the last action-packed hours in this annual communications exercise designed to test communications capabilities during man-made or natural disasters.

I always enjoy Field Day activity, whether I spend a few hours operating, logging contacts, or even taking down the rapidly assembled antennas used for this part training exercise and part contest.

Over the past few years, I’ve used some impressive rigs (Elecraft K3) and neatly fashioned antennas, both commercial and homemade.  

This year was no exception.  As usual, I put in a few hours working for my former radio station at a “Moku O Hawaii” outrigger canoe regatta on Hilo Bay before I slipped briefly over to the Field Day site of the Big Island Amateur Radio Club at the Wailoa Visitor Center in Hilo.  I’m on a retainer to work various remote broadcasts and a few sporting events when regular on-air staff is on vacation.  This was one of those weekends.  I can’t complain, since the radio station pays me well for a few hours work.

When I finished my announcing chores, I dropped into the Field Day site and remarked how simple and totally functional the arrangement was.  Most of the club members were spending the afternoon at the Hilo Walmart store manning an amateur radio display and inviting residents to visit our emergency radio site at the visitor center.

As is our club’s practice, all of the equipment was borrowed from nearby hams and included mostly older gear and handmade antennas…just the sort of stuff I use around my shack.  While I thoroughly enjoy all of the modern equipment and well-machined towers and yagis, there’s something intriguingly comfortable about older rigs and wire antennas.  Perhaps, I’m just cheap as I enter my “sunset” years.  Anyway, here’s what the Big Island Amateur Radio Club was using around 1500W on Saturday, 28 June 2014:

Rigs:  The club was entered as “2A Pacific”, but only one rig was available when I showed up.  The other rig was being shown at the Hilo Walmart Store as a promotional tool for amateur radio.  That rig will be part of the night-time operation on 40 meters.  The rig available during my all-too brief appearance was an old, but dependable Yaesu FT-857, vintage 2005 I believe.  The rig does alright for its age.  In addition to the stock microphone, a straight key and a keyer were available for the CW operator.

Power:  A small Honda generator and solar-charged deep cycle marine batteries.

Antennas:  Most of the afternoon was spent on 15 and 20 meters using one of our member’s 20 meter hex beam.  The antenna worked well and many contacts were made.  A homemade, 2-element 10 meter beam was mounted on a pvc mast.  Ten meters was pretty dead at our location on Hawaii Island.  For 40 and 80 meters, the club used inverted vee antennas strung from the top of the mast supporting the 10 meter beam.  The pvc mast was approximately 40 feet/12.19 meters tall.  

Logging:  The club had access to a member’s laptop which had a logging program installed (I didn’t pay attention to the vendor).  A paper log was also maintained.

So, there it is…a very basic, simple emergency station that works with a minimum of fuss and expense.  I have to admit that it was fun operating this “no frills” station.  Sort of reminds me of my home station–older rigs (Ten-Tec Argosy II, Swan 100-MX, Kenwood TS-520) and easily erected and portable antennas (inverted vees, delta loops, and horizontal dipoles fed with ladder line).  Most of my antennas can be stored in my Odyssey van for emergency or portable use.  Nothing fancy…they just work.

I hope your Field Day was enjoyable, instructive, and challenging.

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Until next time,

Russ Roberts (KH6JRM)
BK29jx15–along the beautiful Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island.
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