First contact from the new shack!

Well, it’s finally happened. I got an antenna up for my new shack (which has needed to get done since April…) Because of how our yard is laid out, my antenna options were sort of limited. we have several metal roofed buildings on the property, as well as an overhead power line that runs right down the center of our backyard. Add to this the fact that the new shack is located right under the end of pretty much the only tree that I could use to support the south end of a wire, and well, you can see how it was a little difficult.

My Radio Shack
The New Shack!

I did a TON of research and experimenting with different types before finally settling on one that seems to fit my needs. My first bet was on a extended end fed Zepp – which I did get working. However, my poor little LDG tuner would only load it on 40m and 17m (which I actually thought was pretty good for my first time build any type of end fed!). With propagation heading down the tubes, I figured that limiting myself to these two bands was probably not my best bet for actually making any contacts. I really wanted to be able to get on 20m. So I scrapped the whole end fed idea, and settled on a 40m OCF dipole. I ordered a W2AU 4:1 balun, and then about two weeks ago put the whole shebang up in the trees, around 25-30 feet above ground.

Antenna In Tree

And here’s a close up of the feedpoint balun. I’ve been really happy with it so far, we’ll have to see how it holds up over time. For only $40 bucks, it’s not to much of an investment. Especially considering DX Engineering currently sells exactly what I built for $220. I should go into business 🙂

Close up of antenna in tree

The first chance I had to get on the air was last Saturday, which happened to be the WAE SSB contest weekend. I got on around 8:00 am, and just tuned around to see what I could hear. Plenty of stations booming in from the mid latitudes of Europe – Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Bosnia – all broadside to the dipole. I threw my call out at about 80w, and lo and behold, I bagged the Azores! I was on and off both 20m and 40 during the rest of the day, but I got a few contacts – as far as Hungary (5300 miles). The Arkansas QSO Party and Ohio State Parks on the Air events were going on at the same time, so I got to get some domestic contacts as well. Both were off the end of the dipole, but came in strong and gave good signal reports. Needless to say I’m pretty happy with the performance – and I’m just happy to finally be ON THE AIR!

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