Saturday, I actually spent most of the day out of the shack attending a meeting of the ARRL Michigan Section leadership. Being the state’s Affiliated Club Coordinator, I am a member of that team. Attendees at this year’s meeting included the:
- Section Manager (SM),
- Asst. Section Manager (ASM),
- Section Traffic Manager (STM),
- Section Technical Coordinator (STC),
- Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC),
- Public Information Officer (PIO), and
- Affiliated Club Coordinator (yours truly).
Overall, it was a great meeting. It’s good to get together as we did, swap ideas, and discuss how we can help one another. For example, we discussed how we could hook up the STM with the clubs to help him recruit more traffic handlers.
One thing we all agreed on is that we’re going to have to work on getting more volunteers to help us in our efforts. Michigan is one of the largest sections, and it’s really impossible for us to keep up with everything going on in the state. For example, the idea of finding and appointing Assistant ACCs came up again. This is an idea I am going to pursue.
Making Way for a New Antenna
Sunday afternoon I cleared away all the branches that fell during the ice storm two weeks ago. That was a lot of work. After sawing up branches and hauling them out of the yard for two hours I was too pooped to do any antenna work, but I should be able to get something back up in the air next weekend.
Back on the Air
Sunday night, I actually applied some power to the W3EDP antenna I strung up a couple weeks ago. I had some funny results, but I actually made a contact. First of all, I set up the tuner on a window sill, and brought the random wire in directly to the tuner. I then connected the 17-ft. counterpoise to the tuner’s ground terminal and laid it out on the ground. I then connected my antenna analyzer and adjusted the tuner for minimum SWR at 3530 kHz. I was able to get it down to about 1.20:1.
Next, I connected the coax to the IC-746PRO and cracked the power down to about 20W. WHOA!! The rig said the SWR was more than 3:1! I switched in the rig’s tuner, which brought the SWR down to 1.1:1, but I didn’t think that I’d have to use the 746′s internal tuner.
I wasn’t sure that I should try to operate with this configuration, but I figured I’d give it a go. I tuned around and heard K2PMC calling CQ. He was 599, so I called him back. He copied me, and said I was S5-6. We had a nice QSO, but I cut it short, as I was still not very comfortable operating this way.
The source of my unease is that never before has the SWR measured with the antenna analyzer disagreed so wildly with what the SWR measured by the radio. I’m not really sure what to make of it. One thing I’m going to try is to use a 66-ft. counterpoise, and if I get similar results, then connect the counterpoise to the 8-ft. ground rod I have just outside the shack window. As always, I’ll report on it here.
Monday night, while gabbing with the guys on our club’s 2m net, I measured out 66 feet of wire and crimped a spade lug on it. Tonight, I ran outside, laid it out on the ground, and poked the lug through the hole in the window where I have my antenna tuner.
What a difference this new counterpoise makes! The settings for lowest SWR are quite different than when I had the 17-ft. counterpoise connected, but this time, the SWR that I measure with the antenna analyzer agrees with the SWR measurement that the rig is making.
At 3530 kHz, I was able to tune the wire so that the SWR was 1.1:1 and below 1.5:1 from 3500 to 3560 kHz.
I made two contacts tonights. Both responded to my call of CQ. The first was with K1ARO in CT, running less than 20W. He was 599, and he gave me a 589 report.
The second was with N8DJ in Edgarton, WV. He was 459, and he gave me a 559 report. Both QSOs were around 3530 kHz, and during both contacts the SWR measured by the rig was solidly 1.1:1 with the IC-746PRO’s internal tuner off.
I don’t think this antenna is the world’s best performer—it’s kind of noisy, for one thing—but it’s very cool that I can get on the air again. It’s also very cool that I was able to use this antenna tuner that I’ve had kicking around my junk boxes for decades.