Monthly Archives: January 2007

Fishbone Aluminum Wedges – Tennadyne Log Periodic Anntenas in Action

When faced with the decisions on what antennas to install I had a number of things to weigh up:

  • Cost was a consideration
  • Directionality a strong desire
  • Gain a consideration
  • QRO (Higher Power) Capability desired
  • and the big issue – boom & swinging radius a concern
  • The recommendations I was soliciting from other Amateurs led to a wonderful short list of possible antennas, but simple availability first led me to consider the Tennadyne Log Periodic Antenna .

    One of our club retired members had become infirm and wanted someone to buy & take down his antenna & tower. This fellow has a past history of Elmering me in his profession when I was just out of high school, and I made him an offer & worked the deal out of respect for him. I figured I could help him out and either use or trade the tower & antenna for part of what I wanted.

    In the deal I ended up with his year old Tennadyne T-8.

    The short list of antennas I had was huge. I had been offered a very large Mosley 96x but found that it would swing off my property due to tower location.

    With this antenna & that antenna being set aside as too expensive, too big, too long of a wait or for concerns over performance, the research on the Tennadyne T-8 lead to my determination to put it up and see how it works!

    Wanting to have a directional 2m/440cm antenna, I purchased a Tennadyne T-28 (Original Model) which is a 6m to 1.3gHz Log Periodic, and stacked it 11 ft above the T-8.

    Here is the installation (before cables were installed):

    Stacked Logs at K9ZW

    To date I’ve worked 98% of the time with the T-8. I’ve found it’s performance to be much better than I had imagined. Side and back singal rejection is impressive, allowing my listening to focus in the direction the antenna is pointed.

    The measured Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) is 1:1.25 or better across the T-8’s advertised range of 20m to 10m.

    Received signal reports have been excellent, with how many dB over 5-9 usually the only number that changes by the QSO!!

    Listening is exceptional in the direction of the antenna’s focus, though of course it is not Omni Directional in listening. In some situations the T-8 may be well suited to being paired with a “listening antenna”.

    The little bit of experimentation I’ve done with the T-28 has shown great promise for this smaller log periodic, and I am looking forward to putting it to the test down the log.

    It goes without saying that I would highly recommend the T-8. Simple, cost effective, Mil-Spec style build, and great performance make it an antenna worth looking at!



    Just Open Up the Tops of Their Heads and Push All this Ham Stuff Down in there – The HamCram

                    Open Brain - thank you to the unknown artist!

    Developed by  Richard W9PE the HamCram program is a 102 slide power point presentation to teach the Technician License test material.

    W9PE has fully updated the exam for the post July 2006 question pool and very generously made Ham Cram available free for non-commercial use by the amateur community.

    Using HamCram is simple.  The main part takes place in one day, with an overall time line of:

    1. Announcements, PR releases and Sign-Up – Get the word out and sign up candidates.
    2. Pre-HamCram meeting at least two weeks before.  Hand out materials, explain the process and basically pump up the candidates to work through the material BEFORE the HamCram session.
    3. HamCram Event Day – usually a morning 3 hour session, break, afternoon 3 hour session, and then an on-site VE Session.
    4. Follow up, Assigning of an Elmer/Mentor, help preparing for Retesting for anyone who didn’t pass.
    5. Repeat as necessary!  Yeah!

    Remember HamCram is not a full all-topics to great depth sort of course.  It is a skinned-down bare bones “get-through-the-test” program.  It does cover 100% of what the FCC says a prospective new Amateur needs to know to be licensed as a No-Code Technician.

    Some amateurs are puzzled and/or deeply bothered by a course that so sharply focuses on only what the FCC test contains.   HamCram should be considered just the first bit of learning an amateur undertakes, and when those fellow amateurs concerned about HamCram start thinking of HamCram as nothing more than “Step Number One” in a life-long amateur radio learning process they are usually more comfortable.

    Mancorad W9DK ran its first HamCram in 2006.

     The W9DK 2006 HamCram Class

    Our 2006 Ham Cram class and instructors are pictured above.  We licensed 6 new Technicians and several of those who had exam-fright plan to retest during 2007’s first HamCram session.

    Recommendations:  Consider Ham Cram as a tool to get entry level members involved and on the air as Technicians.  Ham Cram as a very focused “teach what is tested” method does not pretend to cover all the things that would be nice for a new ham to know.

    It does get them in the door, licensed and ready to start their real learning.

    Mancorad W9DK awards new licensee’s a one-year club membership in recognition & praise of the work a new amateur put in.  We have been able to grow our club using the Ham Cram Program, our gratis grant of a first year club membership for the new ham, and our ongoing event/elmering efforts for new amateurs.  Your club can do the same!

    The 2007 HamCram at W9DK Mancorad is in planning, with dates for the spring session to be announced in the next few weeks. 

    Again the link for W9PE’s Ham Cram is



    Meter Meter on the Wall, Who has the Fairest PSK Signal of Them All? The Clint Hurd KK7UQ PSK Meter Kit

    This has to be one the most fun kits to build where the finished product is something you just can’t buy easily – the KK7UQ IMD PSK meter.

    Clint KK7UQ is a wonderful person to deal with, and I’ve had the pleasure to work him as well. His meter concept is simple:

    KK7UQ IMD Meter

    The RF signal is picked up by a short whip antenna on the meter, fed into an AGC controlled RF amplifier, the signal is detected, sampled with an A/D converter under the control of a micro controller. The signal is analyzed by firmware on the micro controller and the equivalent IMD is calculated and displayed on a 3 digit LED array built into the IMD Meter. (from Clint KK7UQ’s website)

    Since not all of us are up on the jargon, let’s run it down.

    PSK – Phase Shift Keying – One of the Most Popular Digital Modes (usually PSK31 or PSK63 – the numbers indicate speed) – Full write up at:

    IMD – Intermodulation distortion – The “noise” sub-optimally tuned up PSK transmissions are prone to. – Again a fuller nice write up is at the Wiki:

    A/D – Analog to Digital converter – basically this circuit digitizes for processing an analogue signal – see:

    AGC controlled RF amp – A radio Frequency Amplifier with Automatic Gain Control

    The IMD Meter Building Experience is one of great fun and an outstanding product when you’ve finished.

    The Kit version had been available directly from Clint KK7UQ or the recently added Fully Assembled version from RigExpert

    Either has my Recommendation, and are a welcome addition to any shack with digital operations.


    We’re Here to Help You – Working with City Hall for a Tower Permit

    What I wanted to do seemed simple and ordinary enough. It was only a 54 ft (16-1/2 meter) crank-down/tilt-over tower. Common, ordinary and should be a dawdle to get the permit to install, or so I thought.

    Our QTH is a fantastic Wisconsin Small Town. A quiet place of 35,000 souls on the west shore of Lake Michigan, with excellent access to major metro areas & transport routes.

    Though a small town, it is a community accustomed to good scale projects, and certainly my small tower shouldn’t be any issue, should it?

    Well it was from a single aspect. It was the first antenna permit since our Little Town adopted antenna permitting language copied from a Big Town Model Code, and none of use really knew what this huge chunk of building code language really said or which part of the city was actually responsible for administering my request.

    It was to be a learning experience for all of us.

    The “Code” as explained by Building Inspection Department was simple, any antenna more than 15 ft higher than the tallest surrounding structure or if in any case taller than the height limit for the class of zoning at that spot, had to go through a full formal process, design review, planning commission, public postings… the whole works.

    The “Code” as explained by City Engineering was similar, but some questions about ice loading, wind loading and engineering drawings came up.

    The City Planning Department interpreted the “Code” to allow a taller antenna, but with a conditional use permit, planning approval and some insurance questions.

    I figured it was time to do some studying and see if I could learn why they had different ideas, what the Building Code actually said and try and figure out who I should respond to at the city.

    It is worth pointing out my antenna permit was the first since the new language was adopted, the city building inspector was retiring and the city engineer was in the midst of events leading towards his moving jobs, events that made my project a distraction at best.

    They are all good folk and really were interested in helping.

    I did order Wisconsin engineering drawings for the tower from the original manufacturer and already had a layout schematic drawing prepared for the digger & concrete folks. I wanted to be able to offered a copy to the City if they asked.

    The “Code” actually was worded differently than much of the body of the City Building Code, with an impression that a model code was rolled into our city code. The language isn’t English in the way you & I might speak or right, but had those classic folded-over sentences that government writers employ.

    Careful reading identified that:

    1. Any amateur was allowed one tower or antenna up to 70 ft in height without review, with some special exceptions
    2. no special engineering, public postings, planning review, planning commission approval or other city involvement was mandated
    3. the City Electrical Inspector was the person Amateur Radio Antenna Permits would go through and who’s department would inspect the installation for lightening/grounding safety.
    4. adding more towers after the first one “might” allow for planning review, but as I wasn’t interested in this I left this alone.
    5. Permitting was a typical $5 per $1000, with a $25 minimum.
    6. Standard Building Permit Forms were to be used.

    That is all well and good, but how could I get all these departments to share in understanding the code in time to get the footings in before weather turned?

    As some of the people I spoke to seemed pretty sure of what they told me, how could I help them get by “being incorrect” and get them on my team.

    Thinking it through, I realized that a “Read this to me” exercise might just work, specially if I could spend time with the Department who actually had authority.

    So I arranged to call on the Building Inspector to plead my case, but we ended up chatting instead by phone. I told him I was trying to work my way through the “Government Talk” wording of the code and asked if he could help explain some of the parts to me.

    I had a task list, in order of what I wanted to walk him through.

    At the start of this conversation his department’s understanding was that I was limited to 15 ft about the house, max, without full planning process. His take was that the City Engineer’s approval was also needed.

    We had a great conversation, reading bits of the code, discussing what it said, and all in a sequence I had penciled out ahead. We went through definitions, rules, Amateur exceptions, zoning… the gamut.

    I can’t tell you how pleased when I asked him “After reading through all this, what do you think it says, and couldn’t my tower just go ahead?”, that his response was “What it means is that I will call you back in a couple hours after talking it through here, as it looks like you are good to go.

    He did a fantastic job of working through the material with me and with working with the City Hall team. I’m not certain what all went on, but I was told to get my form in, a check for $25 (minimum) and that an Electrical Permit would be waiting for me when I got there.

    They were as usual absolutely true to their word and I had my Permit in Hand.

    The result, with the permit Issued the Installation went right on immediately. No point in allowing enough time to have anything second guessed.

    The Principles that helps make everyone happy:

    1. Learn what the rules are
    2. Present your request clearly
    3. Help everyone through an issues
    4. Never “tell” them they are wrong, but “ask for clarification” – “does this mean…”
    5. Remember it is better to let the process happen so everyone “saves face” than be right but end up in a fight needlessly.
    6. Have a Plan-B & Plan-C which can include dropping the hammer if needed.

    When you treat people the way you want to be treated, give them time to work through the issues until they can understand the request clearly, and give them the respect you’d like them to show you, things seem to work out.

    On Plan-B and Plan-C I was prepared to spend the time to do a written presentation and try that if my oral hadn’t worked. Plan-C was to go to the Planning Commission and plead my case.

    I did have one other interesting experience out the exercise. Once the tower was up I mounted the two Log Periodic Antennas but did not cable them up.

    So they were on the mast, but without feed lines.

    I left them this way for eight weeks while I planned my grounding, cabling and switching for the tower.

    I had feedback pretty quick on that my Ham Radio was bothering people’s cable TV (specially Channel 2) which I let fester a bit. I then mentioned to one of the folks who expressed an interest and mentioned he had heard that my installation was causing RFI that I’d like to show him the installation, as I wanted his advice on how to run the cables to the tower. The puzzled look on his face grew more pronounced when I mentioned how it seemed silly to have the antennas in the air without any way to use them, even for reception, as they were not yet wired. The RFI question of course went away and hasn’t reappeared.

    Get the city and your neighbors on your team, let them down softly if they have a wrong idea (RFI from unconnected antennas, code interpretations different than the actual text of the code) and you can hopefully introduce them to the best side of Radio Amateurs.



    The Halo Effect – Grounding Around the Tower

    Once the tower base was in and the tower in place, the grounding project was next up.

    With the help of a friend who is a Electrical Contractor the same techniques used to measure the grounding needed at Aircraft Navigation devices was used. Luck was that my soil conditions provided an excellent ground.

    I decided on a “Halo” of several ground rods connected by grounding cable, and that cable brought back to the tower frame.

    The Rods in Place

    First rod holes were dug and the 8 foot copper-clad grounding rods sunk using a hammer drill.

    As the connections would be buried, one-shot Thermonic Welds were used.

    Here is a typical welding kit:

    Exothermic Welding Kit - One-Shot Type

    The theory is that these welds will not loosen up, and are assured electrical contacts.

    Once installed an ignitor was used to fire the weld.

    Fired Exothermic Weld

    You can leave all the mold parts in place, but wanting to inspect each weld mine were broken off.

    Breaking Off the Casing
    Example Weld Cleared of its Mold

    Each Weld was fired and inspected.

    Another Finished Weld

    and the Halo tied back into the tower.

    Future Plans include hooking a radial system back into the tower.

    Measurments with my contractor friend’s gear have confirmed a great safety ground has been acheived, and the grounding Halo is also functioning as excellent basic RF ground.



    Let the Circle Be Unbroken – Thoughts on the Brotherhood of Amateur Radio

    It isn’t that often I write on eHam, specially about non-technical issues.

    eHam Logo

    Fellow Amateur Alan W4LGH has posted an interesting piece on the Fraternal Brotherhood of Hams being a thing of the past.

    All sorts of people have waded in responding with their thoughts. There are a number that in detail lay the blame for society’s woes on Politicians, the Internet, this & that… about the only thing not blamed is Global Warming!

    Here is my contribution to the thread.

    Fraternal Brotherhood of Hams
    by K9ZW on January 28, 2007

    Gentleman and Ladies,

    The issue has absolutely naught to do with politics.

    We, as amateurs cannot so easily displace responsibility, and tag some external factor as the cause.

    Each of us should take a moment of instrospection, not look about for scapegoats, even if just in jest.

    The cause is us.

    Each QSO is a glorious chance to make a new friend, to reach out to someone or somewhere we’ve not contacted before.

    Each fellow amateur is our chance to be an Elemer, even if only in small ways & with just our encouragement and respect.

    Yesterday I spoke with a long retired old time Ham who told me that he was greatly looking forward to taking an Amateur Radio seminar in a couple months. Though he is likely qualified to teach a goodly portion of the classes himself, his thoughts were to quote “you’re never to old to learn.”

    That ideal of continued self-improvement & sharing of respect & of our knowledge should be among the main things we all strive to share.

    It still is magic, and though the Brotherhood may appear to be tarnished at times, it is not broken.

    Now it is up to each of us to put principle before trival issues, to remember first what we all share, and not the secondary things in which we differ, and most of all to take the “Golden Rule” to heart in our amateur operations.



    NOTE: I’ve had some enquiry as to the word “Brotherhood” as being male. I prefer to think that in this use it can be used as if Amateur Radio was a Trade or Profession, that is in a gender neutral aspect reflecting a commonality of experience. The Suggestions to replace “Brotherhood” have included “Fraternity” which though the Latin root is less familar, is also based on the Latin for “Brother”. “Sodality” is perhaps more accurate, but we are not accustomed to hearing this word outside of organized religion. So “Brotherhood” stands, and like many a youngster’s secret club, we’ll include the Ladies as well.73