ButterNut HF9V / Isopole 440

Today I went to the MTARA’s Hamfest located in Springfield MA looking for Anderson power pole items. Since I have not been to a “Hamfest” in 6 years or so, It looked rather small. Last one I went to was MTARA’s fest when It was in Amherst and It was 4 times the size. After talking with some people they told me that this “Small size” fest is actually bigger compared to the past couple of  years. That’s a good sign that there is more interest in Ham Radio in the Western Mass area. Hopefully it grew.  While at the fest I saw a box with some aluminum tubing and aluminum coils sticking out the top and thought it was a butternut antenna. After talking with the seller it was indeed a Butternut but That’s all he knew. He didn’t even know if it was a complete set. He was asking $60 I talked him down a tad because of the uncertainty of it being complete.  After getting it home and doing a quick assembly, It’s a complete used ButterNut HF9V with the 75Ohm matching cable and manual. So I am quite pleased and I hope this antenna performs better than what I was originally going to purchase (S9’s 43ft Verticle W/ 4:1 unun).

ButterNut HF9V
ButterNut HF9V

Can’t wait to get this project going.  Hopefully the 90Ft of RG-8x will reach. The only fabrication I plan on doing to this is making a Stainless Ground Radial plate to mount the ground radials onto.
At the MTARA’s Hamfest I also picked up a ISOPOLE for 440mhz. I purchased to see If I can duplicate the antenna. It appears to be either a 1/2″ or 5/8″ Solid Aluminum Rod with a couple of 0.030 aluminum cones with a small lock seam (Pittsburgh lock?), Fiberglass insulator, Hose clamps and N-Type connector. I have not really looked at it other than putting in my attic just to see how it performs compared to my other 440mhz Antennas.  Quick test shows that it performs a little bit better than the Copper cactus and my Dual band OSJ-Pole.  Once the weather get’s nice it might end up on the roof.

IsoPole 440
IsoPole 440

Last stop I made to the Hamfest was to HCRA table and purchased a membership. I like to support the local ham clubs so this was the day to do it.

Back on The AIR

N1BMX is now back on the air. I went out and purchased 92ft of Jetstream JT2015F Coax that replaced my mutilated Belden RG-58A/U.  I guess the JT2015F is supposed to be  a knockoff of the Belden 9913F. So far I am liking it. Not really noticing a major difference compared to the much thinner RG-58 but it’s better than having none.

Since last night I managed to make some contacts with the following people

KC9ISJ (PSK 31 40m) – Randy – IN, US
OK1VPO (PSK 31 40m) – Milos – Czech Republic
P43E (USB 20m) – Emily – Aruba
W4HOZ (USB 20m) – Noel – MS QSO PARTY
K5DWI (USB 20m) – Bob – MS QSO PARTY
N7QU (JT65 20m) – George – OR, US
EA1HQN (PSK 31 20m) – Jose – Spain
LA8WRA (PSK 31 20m) – Arnfinn – Norway (First Norway Contact!)
RA4AJK (PSK 31 20m) – Alexander – Russia
DL8UFO (PSK 31 20m) – Fritz – Germany
OK2UYU (PSK 31 20m) – Jaro – Czech Rep.
DL1BA (PSK 31 20m) – Vasily- Germany.

I plan on getting a Vertical antenna to place in the back yard.

W1AW

Since I live about a half hour away from W1AW and I was in the area I decided to stop and see what the ARRL headquarters looked like. Since it’s Saturday the place was pretty much closed. Wish I had the antenna farm that they on their front lawn. Someday I will have to go back when they are in operation.

Snow blowers And Feedlines don’t Mix

Since New England is having a horrible winter I have not been able to do much HF work.
Last week while snow blowing a path in my backyard I accidentally hit the feedline going to my G5RV with my snow blower and will no longer be able to get on the air until it’s fixed. I am going to take my time and replace the RG-58 cable with LMR400uf cable and possibly add a S9-Antennas 43′ vertical in the back of my yard with a remote tuner.

Hope to make more contacts soon But it looks to be at the end of April with the 50″ of snow in my backyard.

Copper 440Mhz J-Pole – Done (Well, Sort of)

I wanted a cheap decent 70cm Antenna that I can put on the stink pipe on the roof without the neighbors noticing another antenna. I the copper J-pole and thought it would be a great idea. After finding out the parts I need I went to home depot then radio shack and after $15, I had what I needed to make 2 antennas (already had elbows and Tee’s). Cutting and assembly was easy up until I tried to mount a SO-239 connector and solder the center. I have a blow torch and a pencil iron. Nothing in-between so I had a hell of a time getting the solder to stick.

Here is a picture

70cm Copper J-Pole
70cm Copper J-Pole

It took a bit to tune. I thought I needed to be much lower for 440Mhz but I guess I was wrong. I’m getting 1.1 to 1.5 throughout the 70cm band. I hooked it up to HT and with the antenna perched on my desk I was able to work repeaters that I’ve couldn’t with just the HT and it’s antenna. So far impressed. I might paint it black to blend in with the vent pipe on my roof.

I also got ideas to improve the J-pole by fabricating a mount that I I will be able to rivet and solder on the SO-239 connector and also solder it to the pipe with ease.

Now I want to try 146mhz, dual band (144/440) and possibly a 6 meter. I have enough material to make one more UHF antenna.

Open Stub J-Pole Project – Completed (Many times)

I’ve constructed a 144/440 Dual band Open Stub J-Pole Antenna.

Assembled Open Stub J-Pole

I saw the plans for this on the internet (link to plans) by Allen Lowe (N0IMW). Since I had a Metal Fabrication background, I thought this would be an easy build.

Plans for Dual Band J-Pole 1
Plans for Dual Band J-Pole 2

I understand that everyone else in the world uses Metric, You can convert these numbers to MM and use 10mm aluminum rod and thread for the elements.

However I am not sure about the SO-239 adapter. I’ve read that it can be difficult to obtain the adapter in Europe.  Any EU/Metric users, please help me out and give me details on what you did.

(Update 12/2018) Radio-Shack has since closed and the SO-239 adapter I listed on my blueprints are no longer in stock. You can find equivalents on ebay, amazon and other amateur radio or CB supply shops. It’s known as a “SO-239 to 3/8″-24 Adapter”. There are some variants so please make sure it appears the same as the one in my blueprint. You will need to check the diameter of shoulder on the insulation washer and adjust the size of the large to to make sure it fits.

Here is a Step-By-Step video with me stammering on. Getting a little bit better every time I make a video.

I did some minor changes from the above. Instead of using nuts I used pressed “PEM” nut on the underside and used thread protecting vinyl caps on the tips

Aluminum J-Pole Base 2nd View

It was a really fun and quick build. Plus it works okay. It’s no Diamond X510. What else do you expect for around $20 in parts? I love it.

If for whatever reason you can not build this. It is manufactured by the designer of this antenna and has them for sale on his website for a reasonable price. So check out ARROWANTENNAS.COM for the OSJ and other quality crafted antennas.

Due to many e-mails, I just want to state that I do not and will not manufacture these antennas for sale. I think those sold at Arrow Antennas are well worth price.

Antenna Gain, Pattern and NEC data

Some people were curious as to what the gain and pattern is of this antenna is.  Arrow Antenna basically said they weren’t posting figures as competitors use gain as a marketing ploy and inflate numbers. However they did publish the patterns. I’ve tried to model the antenna in 4NEC2 without much luck. What I was inputting into NEC was nothing near comparable to what I and some others have measured. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one who was having issues modeling a J-Pole. C Bronson Crothers (AA1ZB) has talked about modeling the J-Pole and wrote quite a bit about it. Carol Milazzo (KP4MD) took it a step further and modeled the Open stub J-pole.
She modeled the antenna in various situations (mounted to mast, free space, free space with ground) and even published the NEC files for all to see. I’d strongly suggest to check out her website for the NEC files and other information that has helped me along in the hobby.

I took the files and messed around to see what happens.

OSJNECplot1

Depending on the height about ground, your looking at anywhere between 3-7dBi (or .85dbd-4.85dBd) gain according to NEC Data. In the perfect world, if that antenna was fed with 50 watts, it would effectively radiate anywhere from 60 to 150watts. But that is in the perfect world which we are not in. Things like the type and length of coax used, connectors used, nearby structures, type of ground and a bunch of many other variables factor into how well an antenna performs.

In the antenna gain world you will see dBi and dBd depending on the manufacturer. You just don’t measure Decibels.  In this case it’s used as a reference against either an isotropic antenna (dBi) or against a dipole (dBd). So if you see antenna readings in dBi, it’s in reference to a theoretical perfect antenna that radiates evenly in every direction. If you see dBd, the antenna is being compared against a half-wave dipole antenna.  The difference between dBi and dBd is 2.15. dBd is comparison against an actual antenna. Some hams confuse dBi and dBd and some manufacturers confuse the buyer by not telling you the reference (It has 9dB of gain!!). Most manufacturers use dBi as it’s a bigger looking number. Just subtract 2.15 and you will know the gain compared to a half-wave dipole.

I bring up dBi vs. dBd gain for the reasons why Arrow Antenna doesn’t want to talk about it. An antenna shouldn’t be just about gain. It should factor in your shopping but you honestly won’t really know how an antenna will perform until you get it in the at. There are times I hear that the J-pole is no different than a dipole or even a ground plane which is not true. This particular antenna has some gain. It’s not as high when compared to the claims of large scale antenna manufacturers but considering the materials used, ease of assembly and use, I think this is a really good antenna. Okay, now that I am done ranting… let’s look at the pattern

OSJ-NEC3
This is a 3-d wireframe of the pattern (in gray) with an outline of the vertical polarization. The antenna is pretty much Omni-directional Horizontally. Vertically, the focus of energy is between 15 and 85 degrees.  It would be ideal to mount the antenna above the roof line or at least 10ft off the ground as the signal radiates more from the side. This antenna wouldn’t really be ideal for Sat use as there is a huge null and less gain when looking towards the sky.

SWR and analyzer results

SWR plays an important role as well. If the antenna is not correct, some of the power sent to the antenna will come back to the radio. Modern rigs can see this and if too much power is coming back, the rig will step down in power to prevent damage to the finals. This usually happens if the SWR is above 2:1 or 3:1 depending on the rig. We need to get the SWR of this antenna down to 1:0 as possible. If this antenna is fabricated and assembled correctly, there should be little concern about SWR but it’s safe to make sure and check before using or even installing it

OSJ-NEC4

Here is what 4NEC2 Predicted On the VHF Side. By looking at the blue line towards the top of the image, you will see that it has excellent SWR throughout the 2M band. Looking at the green line, you will see that the impedance is also decent.

OSJ-NEC5

The UHF Side of the antenna doesn’t look so great when compared to the VHF side of the antenna. But it’s still useable. Once again these are predictions from the software. It’s doesn’t mean that’s how the antenna is going to exactly perform. But it will give you an idea of what’s going to happen. Let’s do some real measurements.

Someone let me borrow their Antenna Analyzer a few years back. You will see at 145.98Mhz I got a reading of 1.0SWR with a 51ohm impedance. The antenna was resting on a wooden chair so I am not sure what the value would be when fully installed but I don’t think it would change that much since it doesn’t need grounding. But coupling to nearby fixtures

After making various antennas, I felt I needed some kind of analyzer of my own. I purchased a mRS MiniVNA PRO. It covers HF/VHF only but it give me a better idea of how the antenna is performing throughout the band.

NT1K-Jpole

NT1K-Jpole-page-001

Here is a plot of the antenna installed. You will see that the antenna is usable from 135MHz to around 155MHz. It’s a nice wide band antenna and you will see how it differs from what 4NEC2 Predicted. But it’s not far off

Thanks to Jon (KI6RT), he provided some SWR plots from the VNA. What’s great is that he measured the UHF side of the antenna which I’m un-able to measure with the equipment I have. According to Jon, this was measure with the antenna installed at height

JPOL144

VHF Side

JPOL440

UHF Side.

 Known Issues:

Even though I did not design this antenna, I often get e-mails from people who had trouble with this particular antenna. I helped troubleshoot a lot of the issues and found out that the majority of problems were in result of the person not following the instructions as listed on either my or Mr. Lowe’s prints. Most common mistakes were people cutting the lengths short or people substituting the  materials called with others. For those living in the rest of the world, I know you might have trouble trying to find SAE/Imperial material and will substitute 3/8″ with 10mm rod and hardware. I am not sure if they make a Metric SO-239 to 10MM adapter. But I’ve heard from multiple people that it work with 10mm.

Another common mistake is when it comes to testing. Testing should be done with the antenna installed or at least mounted to a pole to simulate an installation. Some people were laying the antenna on the ground, holding it with their hand or placing it against large metallic items  (like a car) which will produce different readings. You won’t know how it performs SWR wise until you have it installed. Even though it’s rare, be prepared to install and remove the antenna multiple times while taking readings.

There is an issue which I haven’t touched on. Much care should be taken to prevent water from getting into the threads of the SO-239 adapter or in the adapter itself. Even more so if you live in colder climates where water can freeze and expand.

If you are unsure about cutting the elements to the proper length, it’s best to cut it a little longer and grind or re-cut the elements. It’s better to have elements that are too long instead of being too short. If you happened to cut it too short, it’s possible to use a coupler to adjust the length of the antenna but I would suggest re-making the element in question.

Others who built the OSJ-Pole

I like when people send me their creations. Some follow instructions exactly while others are creative and use what they have to make a working antenna. Here are some links to those who also made the antenna. Maybe they can provide some insight into things I forgot.

F6FZU’s OSJ-Pole – French reader who managed to make the antenna using metric tubing as well as different materials while getting decent results on the analyzer. The one thing that stands out is that the angle he using to mount the elements is made from Galvanized dipped steal. I would avoid using steel at all costs. It appears he is taking steps to weather proof the steel.

Michigan Amateur Radio Alliance (MARA) – Couple of their club members (KD8PVS &  KD8UCP) decided to build the OSJ-Pole using my prints. They did a very nice job and they also found another source for the vinyl caps and provided clamping and installation photos of their antenna. Nice job!

KI6RT’s QRZ.com Profile – In Jon’s profile, he built the OSJ-Pole. He manged to run the antenna through a high end analyzer showing SWR results of both the VHF and UHF portions of the antenna. It shows that at least the SWR is decent in both the bands.

Home Brew G5RV

I found my small camera and Had some pictures of when I built my G5RV.

G5RV Center insulator

This is the center insulator of my G5RV. I designed this using Autocad so it can used as a diople or inverted “V”. I will post the DXF later on if there is any interest.
I had a piece of Lexan (Plexiglass). I was cut using a CNC 4000w laser. I know many people do not have access to a cutting laser so I saw and drill press will do just as well. I then heated the edges with a blow torch just to clean up the piece and get rid of any sharp corners.

Half Done G5RV

Here is the G5RV Half done.  I used 12ga stranded 300ohm twin lead wire. I prefer stranded wire even though it cost a little more than the solid cord. After whipping around in the wind I would be afraid that the solid core would break in places and render the antenna useless. I also used 12ga stranded wire for the antenna. I managed to get 500ft of it but it was insulated so I spent a couple of hours stripping 100+ ft of copper wire.

G5RV In The Tree

I know it’s hard to make out but it’s done and in the tree.  I was using a g5rv jr. kit that I bought before and this antenna took up the entire length from my house to the tree with a couple of inches to spare. It’s 40 ft high up and after months and hundreds of contacts later. It’s still performing well.

New Radio (Hand Held) – Wouxun KG-UVD1P

Wouxun KG-UVD1P
New Radio

Today I gave my self a Christmas present.   Before this purchase I did not own a working VHF/UHF Radio. I have a Kenwood TH-78a that I love. It just needs a new battery pack to get me going. I went out following a snow storm and drove 40mi to Lentini Communcations in Berlin CT. which is my nearest “HAM” radio store and purchased the WOUXUN KG-UVD1P Dual Band  (144/440) Transceiver. I was a bit skeptical about buying a Chinese branded ham radio that is not one of the big three (Yaesu, Kenwood and ICOM), but I figured the price is right ($130 w/ programing cable) and QST magazine gave it a good review.

First impression was not bad. The box looks nice and everything was neatly packaged. If I were to be over critical, I would say that the programing/usb driver CD’s should be regular sized instead of the Mini-CD that was given to me. I like that the battery is fully charged and it includes a drop in charger which I think should be a standard with any handheld that is purchased.  The manual just gives the basics and has a lot of engrish so for those who depend on reading a manual rather than trial and error to operate a radio will find it a tad difficult to follow. You can also tell the radio is designed for general public use and not for amateur radio but that doesn’t phase me considering I’ve owned Motorola radios which I think they are harder to program.
After attaching the battery pack and the antenna, I powered on the unit to hear a voice speaking to me. It took me around 5min to look around, input a frequency, input a tone, set the offset, assign a offset and start talking on a  repeater 50 Miles away. I wasn’t crystal clear but I can hear the other station and the other station could make me out.

I am going to start off with the cons

CONS
– Antenna connection is reversed (SMA FEMALE ON THE ANTENNA, SMA MALE ON THE RADIO)
– Not true Dual VFO. You can monitor two freq’s but locks out the other on activity.
– Hard to program through keypad
– S-Meter doesn’t seem accurate. I was barley getting a repeater and the S-Meter was showing full bars
– Can’t program both side keys

PROS
– PRICE PRICE PRICE!!! $130.00 US for everything
– Desktop Charger!
– Great receive
– Great Transmit
– Long lasting battery (7.4v 1300 mAh Li-Ion)
– Decent Size  (2-1/4″ Wide X  4-1/8″ Tall X 1-1/2″ Thick)

As of right now I would recommend this to anyone. However I strongly suggest if you purchase this radio to also get the programing cable and software (you can download the software from their website) .

First & Second Africa/South Africa Contact

As I’ve been mostly getting European and South American DX contacts, I’ve been hoping to get some Asian, African or Australian contacts. Today I finally made contact with ZS2DK (Mitch, Port Elizabeth SA) on 20M PSK31. I was excited and he had a very legible copy. I decided to look it up on PSK Reporter and I saw that there was another SA station using JT65 on 40m so I figured to give it a try. Sure enough I made contact with ZS1LS (Allen, Cape Town SA) on 14.076 using JT65.
Not Too bad.

Change Of Address… Grr.

My New Address Follows

Jeffrey Bail – N1BMX
P.O. Box 484
W. Springfield MA, 01090-0484

When I first purchased a P.O. box using USPS online in January 2010. I went to my local post office and they assigned me Box 722. They gave me a key and made sure that the box worked. I changed my address with the FCC and a lot of other places to my new box so I can avoid stuff being sent to my home. I got some mail every once in awhile and I thought it was ok. Last weekend I went to check my mail and notice that someone else’s mail was in the box address to 722. I took the mail to the counter and the lady told me that my box was really 484 and that the box has been overflowing with mail. I was never aware or made aware of that my box has been re-assigned and I never knew that my mail was going to this new mystery box. I guess that this took place in February because I purchased a size 2 box and they assigned me a size 1 box.

In that mail I received some QSL cards from KD8FIP (Frank) JT65, KD8FKD (Len) CW contact, KD0JHW (Bill) PSK31 and KG4AZN (Chris) Feld Hell. Thank you guys for the cards and when I get my printed you’ll be the first reply.

73’s
– Bail, N1BMX