Entries from November 2008 ↓

Antenna Mania

Every year when it gets cold, I get the urge to do antenna work outside. This year I got done early, before the snows came. I am assuming we will have snow this year now that we have discovered we are actually experiencing global cooling.

Got four antennas up now and three of them are wire antennas.

After we got the large trees in the back yard trimmed, we put up a full sized one wavelength loop for 80 meters. It is in the configuration of a square and all four supports are about 25 feet high. The feedpoint is a little lower and I use 300 ohm heavy duty twinlead to bring the feedline to a Z-match antenna tuner. Works on all bands but is particularly effective on 75 meters for comminication out to about 300 miles using an output power level of 500 watts.

The second wire antenna is a 40 meter half square. This thing is half the size of a bobtail and 90 percent as effective. It is made up of two 1/4 wave wire verticals connected at the tops with a 1/2 wavelength wire. So we have two phased verticals for about 6db gain and some very low angle radiation for DX. Feed point is at the bottom of one of the verticals and very high impedance. Using a simple parallel tuned circuit to ground for matching. 50 ohm coax feedline connected between a tap on the coil and ground.

The third antenna is a modified Windom. It has one leg at 44 feet and the other at 89 feet. Fed with 450 ohm window line to a 4:1 balun and then run to the shack with 50 ohm coax. Works on all even harmonically related bands without need for an antenna tuner. This thing is installed as an inverted vee with the center up at 46 feet and the ends at 12 feet. Other than being feed off center, it is just a plain old 80 meter dipole in inverted vee configuration.

The final HF antenna is a 20, 15, 10 meter four element beam up at 50 feet. A KT-34. The finest HF antenna ever made.

Why so many antennas? I have lots of radios. Enough to set up five operating positions. I can’t use them all at the same time but I like to have them ready for use without requiring lots of cable switching. So, I use the Windom with the Drake twins, the beam with the 737 Icom, the loop with the TS-120, and the half square with the Atlas 210X.


It seems that for the last decade or so the irreverent among us come up with new and clever ways of disrespecting traditions. Now that winter is upon us we hear the half witted wishing us happy holidays when we all know it is merry Christmas.

This season it has become popular for some advertisers to use Christmas carols as jingles to push their merchandise. I consider this the height of disrespect for tradition and such misconduct is telling of the true nature of the fools running these companies.

Can you say ‘boycott”?

If not, that is okay too. The products being advertised this way are not things that most people need. Especially not in a recession.

20 percent off with charge card

A well known department store is offering 20 percent off their inflated prices if you use their charge card to make the purchase. At least that is the way they present it and spin it as a good deal. Actually what they are telling me is that they are going to charge me 20 percent more if I pay cash. Not such a good deal now, is it!

I know, I know, it is a matter of is the cup half empty or half full. A am much more interested in what is in the cup than how much is in the cup.

When the department store cup has the same stuff in it as the WalMart cup, I have to go with the lowest priced ‘stuff’. Besides, Walmart is not charging me extra for paying with cash.

Dallas Morning News

For the last month or so we have been getting this morning news paper on Sunday mornings. I guess it is either complimentary or delivered by mistake because we do not subscribe.

Nor do we intend to subscribe.

The folk at the Dallas Morning News would do well to consider our position when it comes to news papers in general. As far as I am concerned, news papers are a waste of time, money, paper, ink, electricity and fuel. I don’t want them littering my lawn. I am not interested in reading the news paper. I get my news from radio, TV, and Internet. I don’t need or want a paper.

So, if you are listening folk at the Dallas Morning News, stop littering my lawn every Sunday morning. While you are at it stop sending me that ad rag too. There is no one here by the name of occupant!

Miles per Gallon

I chuckle when I see current automobile ads where the seller gets all excited about the 30 mpg claimed for a new pint sized automobile.

I have been getting 32 mpg in my 1995 Camry LE for the last 12 years and it is a comfortable full sized car.

Low fuel economy along with outrageous purchase prices are an indication that automobile manufacturers do not understand the automotive market. New cars are averaging around 20K per vehicle. You can save about 25 percent of that by buying the car after it is a year old. You can save 75 percent or more by buying an older gas hog. You can buy a lot of gas for 15K dollars. Cost wise there is no real difference between spending the 15k on gas or spending it on a miniature new car that gets less gpm than it should.

The point is that ‘miles per gallon’ may not be a good measure of cost per mile. We need to consider all factors when considering the cost of owning and operating an automobile.

We are not trying to ‘cheap out’ here. Just trying to make sure we don’t get screwed by sales people who specialize in misleading consumers for profit.

Blue Ray

As a consumer I have to ask, “What is in it for me”? Denser storage. About double what you can store on a normal DVD. Okay, next question is, “Why do I need that”? So you can view HD movies on your HD TV. I don’t have an HD TV. I don’t want to spend significant money on something I really don’t need. I suspect I don’t need blue ray for the same reason. Improving picture quality cannot be appreciated if it is applied to the same mediocre programming. Forcing consumers pay extra for something of questionable value is a very poor business plan. This is particularly true when cost conscious consumers are involved.

My humble opinion is that increased storage and/or higher definition is not justified by its current cost.

The Hoe

Forty years or so ago I purchased my first hoe. It was part of a package including a lawnmower, rake, shovel, and edger. All implements required by a new homeowner to maintain the lawn and garden. About ten years later the hoe broke. It broke at the point where the metal part attached to the wooden handle. The metal part was all rusty and ended up being tossed out with the garbage but I kept the handle.

Recently on our morning walk, my wife and I strolled past a house that had put out a broken hoe for garbage pickup. I noticed that it was in good shape except for the fact that the handle had broken off. It had failed in the same way as my first hoe.

“Don’t you dare”, was my wife’s comment. So I left it there.

On our second pass around the park, I picked up the discarded hoe and took it home.

I found the old handle I had saved and cut the broken end square on the table saw. Then a few minutes of sanding on the large sanding disc had the end tapered down to where the metal sleave fit perfectly. I installed the sleave and drilled a hole up into the handle to attach the new metal part. I filled the hole partway with epoxy and hammered the metal part into the handle. Some of the epoxy came out of the hole and I smoothed it around the wooden end effectively sealing it.

Now I have a new hoe.