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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Simple Ham Radio Antennas--Antenna Resolutions for the New Year. Post #251

The Year 2013 has been an exciting and challenging year for amateur radio operators worldwide.  From earthquakes to tornadoes and from typhoons to floods, the amateur radio community has rendered valuable aid to those in distress.  A special thank you to the "hams" in India and the Philippines who struggled to maintain communications with officials and aid agencies, often without rest and relief.  You have served in the highest tradition of the amateur service.  I also commend my fellow amateurs who kept emergency frequencies free for health and welfare traffic.  I am proud of all of you.  Yes, this past year has been far from dull.

With this in mind, I decided to review my own year in amateur radio to see where I could improve my commitment to my community, maintain a safe, efficient station, and pursue my antenna interests with a minimum of cost.  So, I started making a list of things accomplished and areas where I could do better.

Perhaps my introspective analysis will encourage you to do the same.

First, I thank all those who have responded to my antenna projects.  Your encouragement, corrections, and guidance have proven invaluable in expanding my understanding of "homebrewed" antennas.  Like many of you, my imagination is limitless, but my finances are finite.  Being retired has been a mixed blessing.  I enjoy life a lot more than in my "working" past, especially when my xyl and I continue to find enrichment in our substitute teaching positions at the Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School.  For the first time in our lives, we have a home in progress on an acre of land--plenty of space for a garden and an "antenna farm." All my years of frugality are finally paying off.  Your tips and suggestions have enabled me to assemble a "ham" station and a set of modest antennas at a relatively modest cost.

Second, a good year from the amateur radio standpoint comes from a rededication to the original "Amateur's Code" conceived by Paul Segal (W9EEA) back in 1929.  The code embodies all that an amateur radio operator should stand for:  An amateur radio operator should be considerate, loyal, progressive, friendly, balanced, and patriotic.  These ideals, while difficult to attain, are at the core of a civilized society.  These are goals worth striving for, no matter what part of the world you call home.  I will try my best to implement these guideposts in my daily life, whether or not I'm on the air.

Third, safety will be a guiding principal of my amateur radio activities, both in my home and at the rig.  Every year I make sure that all safety devices at my qth and in the radio room are working and well-maintained, including the smoke/fire alarms, fire extinguishers, house wiring, and security systems.  At least twice a year, I make sure tree limbs and other debris are clear of utility lines.  On Hawaii Island, the Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) will come to island homes and clear away dangerous limbs from utility lines.  All one has to do is call for help.  In the radio room, I make sure all equipment is clean, dust-free, and maintained to the best of my ability.  I also make certain that there is both an electrical and rf ground system in place.  All electronic equipment, including transceivers, general purpose receivers, television set, stereos, DVD/CD players, and personal computers are hooked up to surge protectors.  When the xyl and I leave the house, we unplug all equipment not in use.

Fourth, all antennas used at the current qth and at the new home site will be better protected against lightning and other storm-related events.  When I finish operating for the day, I disconnect all antennas from the rig and ground the feed lines (coax and ladder line) outside.  My vertical antennas are nested to the ground after use to lessen both the danger of lightning strikes and the discovery by neighbors.  In January, all of my antennas will have a static discharge system in place to lessen inadvertent damage to my solid state equipment.

Fifth, I will expand my alternative power supply for my amateur radio equipment.  Presently, I can operate off the regular electric mains and a backup solar- charged (PV) deep cycle marine battery.  I will convert to a complete "off-grid" power system early next year.  I have enough money to buy some more solar panels, a new deep cycle marine battery, a new trickle charger (if needed), and an inverter.  Also in the works is the purchase of a small Honda generator for additional backup power.

Sixth, I plan to renew my American Red Cross CPR and First Aid Certificates.  I'm also considering taking some CERT or FEMA courses to sharpen my emergency communications skills.  Because of past work requirements and other demands, I was unable to help my community as fully as I wished.  Now, in retirement, I've got the time to become proficient in vital skills and, therefore, a better asset to the local civil defense agency.

Seventh, I will help more people get licensed as amateur radio operators.  I'm a current W5YI Volunteer Examiner and have helped monitor a few amateur license exams.  I plan to do more in this area during 2014.

Finally, I will get on the air more than I have in 2013.  With the house move underway and my teaching commitments, it's been difficult checking into nets and going to Big Island Amateur Radio Club meetings.  That will change now that my teaching schedule is more predictable.  Hawaii Island is fortunate to have several ham radio clubs that are active in ARES and other community-related programs.

For me, and perhaps for you, amateur radio is not a destination.  It's a journey to an expanding universe of knowledge.  Our license is only the first step in seeing the future.  Good luck in the coming year and may the winds of DX blow your way.

Listed below are some of the places where you can get some ideas for 2014:

The Amateur's Code may be found by visiting http://www/qcwa/prg/amateur-code.htm.
http://www.techpodcasts.com/myamateurradio/127182/parp-65-amateur-radio-goals-for-the-new-year.
http://www.arrl.org/Groups-Nebraska.
http://www.humanresources.about.com/od/motivationsuccess3/a/new_resolutions_2htm.
http://www.forums.qrz.com/shorsthread.php?417314-New-Year-s-Resolutions-Become-a-CERT-Leader.

Thanks for joining us today!

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Aloha es 73 de Russ (KH6JRM)

BK29jx15

Along the beautiful Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island.