Operating Notes: 40m Dead,no 80m Antenna, Landscaping Work, and Other Projects

Sad to say, I haven’t been actually operating all that much lately. I don’t know how 40m is where you are, but here in Michigan, it’s been dead in the evenings. I guess the band goes way long, and wherever the skip goes, there are no hams there that I can hear.

I should have gotten my 80m antenna–or some kind of 80m antenna– back in the air by this time. I’ve been really busy, though, with various and sundry things, including:

  • working on the antenna project down at the museum, which is a whole ‘nother story,
  • holiday parties, and
  • the extensive landscaping project I’ve undertaken at my house.

The landscaping project is yet another very long story, but the latest episode in this story is the drain that a friend and I installed last weekend.

You see, my house is on a hill. The lowest part of the property is at the street, and goes uphill until you reach the furthest part of my backyard. (It actually continues uphill into my neighbor’s yard.) To give ¬†you some idea of the grade, when you stand at my back fence, you can see over the two-story house.

At any rate, a lot of the rain that falls on the backyard drains down the hill just to the south of the house. Before the landscaping started, I had a little problem with erosion from that drain off, but because the lawn was established, it wasn’t too bad.

Well, the landscaping work destroyed that lawn (and coincidentally, the counterpoise for my 80m antenna), and when they reseeded, they didn’t take any measures to prevent the erosion and quite a bit of topsoil and seeding washed away.

At that point, I decided to install a drain that would catch that runoff and also the output of a downspout at the south end of the house, and then run a pipe down to the street. I enlisted the help of my friend, Harold, and we dug a trench nearly 100-ft. long and installed a 4-in. PVC pipe to drain off the water. Man…that was a real job.

That was a long-winded excuse for why I didn’t get to put up my 80m antenna last weekend. Even so, I did manage to play around a little in the CQ WW DX contest. While waiting for my friend to arrive on Saturday, I tuned around on 15m and worked some African stations. The signals were really booming in. That was fun at least.

Other Projects
Even though I haven’t been getting on the air a whole lot, I have been working on some other projects:

  • Tech Class. The next One-Day Tech Class will take place on Saturday, January 8, 2011. It takes a fair bit of work to publicize the class, but this time, the work is paying off. I normally try to limit the number of students to 20, and already the class is half full.
  • Leadership training. My other big avocation is Rotary, which is a community-service organization. One of the things I’m doing in Rotary is taking the Rotary Leadership Institute’s (RLI) course, which provides both generic leadership training and training in how to get the most out of Rotary. What I’m doing now is condensing the three-day RLI course into a single-day leadership class for amateur radio club leaders. I’m hoping to offer the first class sometime late this winter or early spring. I think this could be a great thing for ham radio clubs, and I’ll be writing more about this later.
  • WA2HOM. As noted above, we’re still working on getting the tower and beam up in the air at the Hands-On Museum.


  1. Ronny, KC5EES says:

    These days, it seems that everyone is “overwhelmed.” Hopefully, it is just the initial onset of Winter SAD.

    As I finish up another semester of my high school Amateur Radio course (K5LBJ in Austin, TX), I thought I’d pick your brain on simple electronic projects to build. I have a bunch of Trainer Kits (breadboards with built-in power supplies) that I teach kids with. Right now, I have them build a Code oscillator (a practical ham-radio device) followed by a LED blinker (sequential Off, so the “moving” light is the off one). The kids like playing with the LEDs and it is a somewhat simple circuit to have fun with. Now, I’m looking to have them build other things. Specifically, I was wondering if there is a simple CW transmitter circuit that they might build from components using the breadboard? Any other ideas that might interest a teenager? Thanks for your input.


    Ronny Risinger, KC5EES
    Austin, TX

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