Friday, January 6, 2012

Setting Up an Antenna to Speak with the World

This last week, my dad got an amateur radio rig, a Kenwood TS450S. This was a rig that my dad had been drooling over in QST back when he got his first amateur radio license, back in 1992. He came home with it and could hardly wait to use it. Unfortunately, the antenna that he had set up on the roof was not good enough to get a signal in the little ditch we call home. My dad had reverted to his boy scout training to make a ground plane antenna, then a Yagi. Both antennas were made out of odd pieces and chunks of wire and metal, duct tape, and cable ties attached to an old extendable pruning saw. We could barely get a standing wave ratio less than 2 with these antennas.

This, clearly, would not work. We needed a better antenna. So, my dad and I disappeared into the garage to devise a suitable plan. After sifting through several boxes of wire and cable, we found about 80 feet of tin-copper shielding. This would do nicely. Soon, the rest of the plan was coalescing around that, two slightly rotting boards, and an oak tree. The eventual result was an antenna that let us listen to people as distant as China. Below are pictures of the resulting antenna.



First, the shielding was threaded through and around a board. The board was then attached to an oak tree.


The shielding was then stretched across our property to the top of out house, where it was attached to another board which was, in turn, attached to the roof.


The end of the shielding was then threaded through our living room window. After a few complaints of the window letting a draft in, my dad stuck some old towels around the cable, closing the gap in the window.

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