Stuart Gets on the Air

After several months, we finally got Stuart, KD8LWR, on HF from his home. The first hurdle was deciding on what antenna to put up. This choice was complicated by two factors:

  • Stuart’s family lives in a relatively new subdivision carved out from a farm field, with absolutely no trees to hang an antenna from.
  • The homeowner’s association had some antenna restrictions.

Jack, Stuart’s father, met with the homeowner’s association and got them to agree to let him put up a trap vertical, and after some back and forth, we decided to put it towards the back of his lot near some pine trees. In that spot, it’s away from the house, and the pine trees hide it from plain view.

The antenna they purchased was a Hustler 4BTV, and we put it up Sunday afternoon. It took us about two and a half hours to construct the antenna, cut and lay the radials, and run the coax in a shallow trench from the antenna to the house. We started at 3 pm and finished just as it was getting dark. I was hoping that we wouldn’t have to do much in the way of tuning, as this would be pretty much impossible in the dark.

I used the dimensions called out in the instructions, and was kind of surprised to find that the resonant point on 40m was actually around 7150 kHz. The SWR at 7030 kHz was about 1.5:1, meaning that Stuart could work pretty much the entire CW portion of 40m. I didn’t get a chance to check the SWR on any of the other bands.

The rig Stuart’s using is a Kenwood TS-140 that had been donated to the museum. We connected the antenna to the rig, and it came to life. Unfortunately, the band had gone out by this time, and there was very little activity. We did copy a PA5 around 7026, and that was exciting, but there were very few stations on.

Actually, it didn’t matter. We couldn’t transmit anyway. It slipped my mind that the TS-140 didn’t have a built-in keyer, and I didn’t make a cable to connect Stuart’s old MFJ keyer to the rig. Transmitting would have to wait until Monday.

Monday evening, around 7:30, I returned with the cable. We tuned around a bit, but again the band had gone out, and we could hear only a very few weak stations. Stuart called CQ a couple of times, but without any success. I then suggested that I go home and we work a little ground wave.

It took me about twenty minutes to get home, and Stuart was waiting for me. We got coordinated using one of the local repeaters, and soon we were having our first CW QSO. After a nice 20-minute contact, it was time for Stuart to hit the sack, so we said 73.

I’m sure that will be the first of many contacts. I still need to get over there and tune up the antenna a bit more, but I think it’s going to work out very well. So, be listening for him, especially on 40m CW, and when you do contact him, tell him that you read all about it on this blog. :)


  1. Chuck Broadwell says:

    Stuart called me on 7030 this evening (out of the blue, when I finished a prior contact) and I was probably more excited than he has been once I learned that he is only age 13 and doing such a great job. (This from a CW only, QRQ addict, licensed 49 years.)

    It is great that Stuart and Dan met up and that even with the HOA, Dan was able to get the antenna up.

    Stuart called me at about 28 wpm, and there is no way on earth anyone could have imagined he only just started operating this week! (I was his 9th qso.)

    Chuck, W5UXH

  2. Stuart, KD8LWR says:

    Hi all,

    I am posting this on New Year’s Day of 2010, and after 2 months of HF operation, and 4 and 3/4 months of repeater and Echolink operation, I have probably made over 600 contacts (at least)! On HF, I participated in the CW SS contest with 79 contacts, the CQWW CW contest with 100 contacts, the 10m contest, on both CW and SSB, with about 30 contacts, and the RAC contest with 12 contacts.

    I also regularly participate in RF and Echolink nets, including the U of M net, on 145.230- 100 Hz PL, and on Echolink callsign W8UM-R. I also communicate with Dan, KB6NU, regularly on 7100 CW right after the net, which is conducted on Sundays at 8PM Eastern time.

    73, and happy new year to all,

    Stuart, KD8LWR

    -.. . / -.- -.. —.. .-.. .– .-. / …-.- . .

    …. . .

  3. Stuart, KD8LWR says:

    Now I have an Icom IC-718 with a built-in keyer that I can operate! For quite a while, I probably will be using this rig for HF operation. That is really cool, because it does nearly everything my other rig can do… and much more.

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