End Fed Antenna Review

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

Okay, let’s review. By the title you can tell that this is going to be a review of an end fed antenna. Now, the review part. A wise man once said, write what you know about, and me being an advocate of advanced humor, I’m going to try to combine a little bit of knowledge with a little bit of humor. 

A disclaimer. Anywhere on this site, whether it is radio or chickens or pigs, we make no profit off of anything. There has been no gratuity awarded for any product endorsement. For those that do profit off of what they write, great! It is just not our forte.  

It’s been 3 years since I posted any type of article. A lot happens in three years. I have tried some antennas, some radios, I decided to try out heart surgery. I’ve now got one of those zippers from stem to stern. Not literally of course. And not being a person of nautical persuasion, I do not know the difference between stem and stern. But for those of you that are interested, I will share information about the bypass at a later date.

At a radio meeting one night, I heard a guy talking about his new antenna, and he was raving about it. Now all this guy does is CW, or morse code, he doesn’t even have a microphone attached to his radio. Let me back up here a little. This article is not being written at an entry level knowledge base. I’m sorry. So, if we’re speaking of CW and end fed, then you know I’m talking about HF radio. And yes, I know there is some CW on VHF, but that is not what we’re talking about here.

So, continuing. I listened to this guy, and he is a senior operator. So I listened for a while, and this guy learned CW from the United States military. And this guy talks CW all over the world. I’ll get back to this part of the story later.

Okay. The antenna I’m going to review today is made by MyAntennas.com  Yes, that is the name of the company. I will start off by saying I am highly impressed with this product. Are they pricey? Yes. Could you build your own? Probably. And if you would like to do that they will sell you the parts to do so. I bought the EFHW-8010

It is 130 feet long, resonant on 80/40/30/20/17/15/12/10M. It is rated at 1kW maximum. These are the specifications. If you’re not familiar with an end fed, which at the time, I was not, it is basically half of a full wave dipole, in this case, for 80 meters. Because if you remember, the number 468, that is your magic number that you use to figure the length of a half wave dipole. A small example, 468 divided by 3.5 equals 134. 3.5 is the lower end of 80M. So, 468 divided by 3.5 is 134 feet. If you were building an 80 meter dipole, it’s full length would be 134 feet, which would be 67 feet on each leg of the dipole.

Now follow me here. Through the miracle of using a balun, using the end fed half wave length antenna, then you can tune all of the afore mentioned frequencies. Or that’s how it works in theory anyway. Now I’m going to tell you how it works for me in reality.

Equipment used. My power supply is solar. The radio is an IC-718. I have approximately 100 feet of RG-8X from the radio to the end fed antenna. The feed end of the antenna is at 30 feet in the air, it runs approximately 50 feet to an apex of 40 feet and then continues whats left to a 30 foot height. This works okay for me. Your mileage may vary. I have a power transformer from the electric company about 50 feet away, and the apex of the antenna passes over a metal roof that is about 16 feet from ground level. These are the parameters that I have.

Now. This antenna will not transmit on 160M, but it will receive. I did not check for SWR on 30, 15,  or 12 meters because I don’t use those. It did work great on 40M, so 15M should also be good. Here’s what I got. 
All the following readings are SWR. 
80M – lower end 1:1.1
80M/75M – right at the higher end 1:2.5
40M – entire band 1:1.1
20M – entire band 1:1.1
10M – lower end 1:1.8
10M – middle and upper part 1:1.4
60M – the 5 channels 1:2.5
11M/CB – 1:2

As you can see, these are all easily tunable without a tuner. But with a tuner, your radio is happier. So, example. If you have a radio with a built in tuner, it would easily tune these numbers. If you have an external tuner like I do, then for most bands I don’t even use a tuner, and if I do, it just makes my radio a little bit happier.

Because this is a review of an antenna, I’m not going to discuss the theory of SWR. It’s one thing if you’re running 100 watts power, and another if you’re running a 1000 watts. But if you’re looking at this antenna, then you already know the difference.

This company, MyAntenna.com, also provides higher power antennas, just look around. They also sell baluns, RF isolators and other assorted goodies and toys.

Here is a link to eHam.net. I think you will find the reviews impressive.

If you have the space, or the desire, I would highly recommend this antenna. For me, it works. You can also configure it like you would any other dipole. Yes, it is a little pricey and it takes up 130 feet. What do I use it for? I do not contest, nor do I use CW, therefore there is no review of 30 meter. I have made contacts on 80/40/20M, and mostly on 40M. I seldom DX. And I seldom talk, but the reports I receive back are all 5/9, or easily intelligible. 

Again, I have no other end fed experience, I have never used a directional antenna, yes I know these are directional, but you know what I mean. For 10 & 11 meters I primarily use a vertical A99. 


I would appreciate your feedback, how your antennas are configured and what type of results you get. We’re all in this ballgame together, and if we can help out a fellow man, let’s please do so. If you have found mistakes in my writings or calculations, please let me know. This is just my experience. I look forward to hearing from you.

My XYL just reminded me that I need to let you know why I do this. First off, I listen. I want to know what’s coming down the road. As mentioned earlier, I operate from solar, not my whole house, but all of my radios, and that’s what it’s for. The system I use is simple. For me simple works better. The man I mentioned earlier that I learned about this antenna from operates all over the world when conditions permit.

In a future article I will tell you about my IC-7300 experience and why I went back to an IC-718. Thanks for being there.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

Antenna Tower Sneak Peak

Over the last few weeks, Frank has been working on upgrading our antenna towers. We’re still not finished, and hope to raise the last one today. There are many details that Frank will explain in a future article, but for today, you get a pictorial of our progress. Please feel free to ask questions in the comment section. We have learned a lot doing this project and are very pleased with the outcome so far.







Prayer is healthy.

This has been, and continues to be, a big project for us. We are very excited about increasing our ability to communicate via radio, whether it is GMRS, MURS, CB or ham radio. This is a very important part of our survival plans. If at all possible, we want to know what is coming down the road before it gets here, and you should want to know, too. Don’t get on the truck.
Until next time – Fern

Ham Radio & Survival Communications, Volume 2

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, six radio classes and one test day have passed. The radio class is now finished. Or, in the old radio days, we’re over and out, or in the police world, we’re now 10-7, which means out of service or off duty. But the sad fact is, the class is finished. Now, we can let the real learning begin.

As mentioned in the previous post, some folks were not interested in getting their ham radio license, and whatever the reason, it is theirs. Two of the gentlemen that chose not to pursue their license have purchased radios of high quality that can receive, transmit and listen. This is what they wanted and this is what they are doing, therefore, they can contribute to our neighborhood communication network. Both of them are in good locations. Radio is kind of like operating a business. Location, location, location.

You see, my house is a poor location for line-of-sight communications. But if I can reach one of these guys, which I can, they can relay information to me and from me, which is critical. So don’t think that you have to have a ham radio license to be a vital contributing member for a radio communication system. One of these gentlemen is relying on CB radio for two-way communication. He also has a scanner and a shortwave radio, which are for listening. The other gentleman is a little bit more private. I know he has a capable VHF/UHF radio, and both of these gentlemen are in very good locations.

Now onto the ham radio part. I didn’t really teach a lot about ham radio out of the Romanchik manual, but that was the manual we used for our information about what was on the ham radio licensing test. Some of the folks used QRZ.com for free online practice tests, others used Ham Test Online, which is a paid practice test service with tutorials. We spent time on some of the formulas, which are only about three for the Technician, and about the same for the General test. The concept that was taught was read the manual repeatedly, and take as many practice tests as you humanly can. Lots of people are busy right now. Some of the people in this class work a full-time job, go to school at nighttime, and attend school kid’s functions, so as you well know, their time is limited.

The majority of the time we spent just talking about what I call radio. We talked about antennas, radios, power supplies, coax and other associated radio equipment. We talked about a lot of things that normally aren’t covered in licensing classes. We talked about how you push the button and talk into the microphone, how you call somebody else on the radio. If you’re using a handheld, which direction do you face? We talked about simple, practical things when it comes to using a radio. Like, don’t put your antenna on your filing cabinet right next to your head and turn the power up. It’s not cool to fry your brain. Some of us are already operating with diminished capabilities, we certainly don’t need to increase that negative load.

It was a fun class. A couple of the people in there enjoyed my ultra dry humor. I learned a lot from them, too. Some of the questions that came up were things that I had never really thought about. But being a retired, professional teacher, I just made up an answer that sounded somewhat technical. They didn’t know the difference anyway. Ultra dry. That’s the way some people like it. On occasion we talked about the coming war, and most everybody was okay with that, because there is one coming, and it may be here a whole lot sooner than you think.

Back to the ham class. Well, test night came. We had to change location due to a scheduling conflict, and that went well. The people that came out to give the test, it was their first time, too. Our local emergency management office started a testing group. These guys are called VEs, volunteer examiners. They are a group of local ham radio operators that have qualified to be examiners, and volunteer their time, hence the term VE, volunteer examiner. So now our local emergency management office can offer ham radio test sessions without having to ask the help of a local ARRL ham radio club.

So how did test night go? We’ve got the building secured, the VEs showed up early, it is required to have a minimum of three, and there were five. We had nine people test.  Seven were taking their Technician’s license, and I’m happy to say that all seven passed. Of those seven, one gentleman also took his General test which he passed. We had two folks that already had their Technician license that both took the General test, and they both passed. We had one woman in the group that tested. We had one young adult male, I think he is 17. If you’ve been reading along, you will know that everybody that took the test passed. In the mathematical world, that’s 100% success. Now that was a good night.

One of the guys in the group had a concrete truck coming the next day to pour the base for his ‘to be’ future antenna tower. There were a couple of people that couldn’t take the test that night due to a conflict in schedule. They will take the test at a later date. But our area now has seven new Technicians and three new Generals, and that Ladies and Gentlemen, is a good deal. We also have two local folks that chose not to take the test that are actively pursuing communication skills.

Here in a week or so, I’m going to get back in touch with everybody to see if we can start practicing communication between individuals and groups. It will take a week to ten days for the folks that took the tests to get their FCC online approval and call sign. When I said

earlier now the learning begins, that means we’re going to learn to communicate with each other. Different locations, different antennas, different radios, some AM, some FM, some VHF/UHF, some HF, CB which is HF, GMRS which is UHF, MURS which is VHF. We have folks out here that are strung out for miles, and a couple on the other side of a mountain. Without giving locations, if the testing site was the center of the circle, we have folks from the class about 25 miles north, 30 miles south, 20 miles east, and eight miles west. If the electricity is on we will use repeater connections. If the electricity is not on, we will use line-of-sight communications and NVIS (look it up).

So now the work begins. It’s been fun. It’s been challenging. I truly hope that this works, because folks, we have a war coming. Read into that whatever you want to, but it is coming and it can’t be stopped. Some of us have made the choice that we want to be able to communicate. Maybe we can get a few more neighbors or a couple more relatives on board, because right now we cover a large logistical area. We need to be able to warn our neighbors, therefore, we need to be able to communicate.

We’ll talk more later, Frank

Busy Time

Hi Everyone! We haven’t forgotten you or the need for a new article, it’s just that life is really busy right now. I have attended an all day training for a new computer program for the school district I contract with, and now I am preparing to train district personnel to use this new program. This is taking quite a bit of my time.

Frank is preparing for his radio class where he will be demonstrating the use of his ICOM 718, which is an HF rig, the VHF/UHF mobile unit in the car, as well as how to hook up an HT, handy talky, with an adapter to an external antenna. It’s a little complicated to explain, but this demonstration will give his students some ideas about radio set up and operation. Maybe I can get a few pictures with no faces. Next week will be the last class and an opportunity for the students to take their licensing tests to become ham radio operators.

Anyway, life is good and busy, which isn’t a bad thing. It keeps the mind young and encourages the body to keep up. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods. Be vigilant. The time for preparing will soon be past and you need to be ready.

Until next time – Fern

Radio – Are You Listening? A Re-Post

Hello, Frank here.

Many people do not have an interest in getting a ham radio license. Most people want to listen, and by listen, I mean shortwave radio from around our country and around the globe. There is another group of folks that like to listen to a police scanner describing activities that are happening in their immediate area. Remember, it is legal to listen to any radio transmission, and be aware that different states have different laws regarding a scanner in a vehicle. So, for those of you that want to listen, and not transmit, this re-post is a good review. If you need more detailed information, look in Frank’s Radio Communications on the right hand side of the blog. 

It’s been a while since Fern and I have re-posted an article. I was reading through old posts a few days back and this particular post caught my eye. There is also a small rant toward the bottom of this article which was published late December of 2013. Please read it and try to convince yourself that things are actually getting better. And if you can, please share with us how. I hope you enjoy the re-post. And remember, don’t get on the bus.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

Originally posted December 28, 2013
Hello, Frank here.

Whether you’re a listener or a talker, radio has something for you. If you read this site for entertainment, that’s good. If you read it to increase your knowledge base a little, that’s even better. If you read this site because you know and can see what is coming, then that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

We’re going to talk about listening, be it AM/FM commercial radio, shortwave, scanner, ham radio these are all good areas to listen. You’ll

basically need two radios. First, being a scanner. Now some areas signals that you would normally scan are going digital, which means a normal analog scanner will not pick up those signals. But, many, many areas are not going digital. What I am talking about here are police, fire and ambulance, because it just plain and simple costs too much. Along with the increased costs, many municipalities are finding they have increased their

inability to communicate effectively. So, before you buy a digital scanner, which right now, they are somewhat pricey, check and see what your local guys use. You can buy a good, functional analog scanner for around $100 new. A good, functional digital scanner costs around $400 and up, new. Why a scanner? Your newer scanners can pick up CB radio, VHF/UHF ham frequencies, GMRS, FRS, MURS, aircraft traffic, police, fire, rescue, school buses, railroads, Coast Guard, utility vehicles and the list goes on. A handy tool! 

The next radio will be some form of shortwave listening radio, SWL. You can buy a fair SW for around $100 and the price goes up. My recommendation is contact your local ARRL and tell them that you’re

looking for a used HF radio. HF means high frequency. Unlike scanner traffic, SW may be coming from 10 miles to 10,000 miles away. You need a piece of equipment that is a little more sensitive. Even if you can pick up an HF radio from a ham operator that does not transmit, for whatever reason, but it still receives, then you are getting a finer piece of equipment than you will with most shortwave radios. The frequency bands are the same for HF ham and SW listening. And the bonus in this case will be that you can also pick up the ham side bands. Remember, this post is for listening purposes only. 

If you want to improve your reception dramatically, then you will need an outside antenna. For your scanner, a simple discone type antenna will work great. For your shortwave radio, the longer the wire, the better. I will include resources and diagrams. 

Shortwave connectors: This is a part of a dipole antenna. Take the center piece, the coax from here connects to your radio. This center piece needs to be as high as you can get it. Go to any hardware store and buy 12/2 or 14/2 insulated electrical wire. This is standard house wiring. You do not need flexible. Cut the wire to the maximum length that you can have it going outward, the ends connecting to the little insulators need to connect to poles also. The higher the better. In the ham world you need to

be fairly precise with the length for transmitting. It’s also important for receiving, but not critical. Have the ends as high as you can get them also. Avoid going over metal structures, but if you don’t have a choice, go ahead and do it. Connect rope to the end of the insulator, but do not pull it rigid tight.

These next two items apply to your coax connection. One is an exterior tape, the other one is an inside goo type stuff. This will help keep moisture out of your connector. If you need help, contact the folks at ARRL.
Mounted on a single pole, this will give you a more than adequate ability to listen. You will need coax cable running from each antenna to your radios. You will also need a very simple power supply, because it takes very little energy to listen. This would be an excellent place for a small solar panel with a charge controller and a battery. You can put both antennas on the same antenna pole and you can listen to almost any signal being broadcast, be it local or long distance.

A good AM/FM radio will come in handy also. Most SW radios will receive AM radio, but something I have learned along the way, no matter how good your radio or your antenna, if there is not a signal there, you are not going to receive it. At my house, I cannot pick up local AM commercial radio and that means no Rush Limbaugh. I am broken hearted. Okay. Back to reality.

Why do you want to receive radio? News, weather, sports, military movement, dams breaking, local disasters, check point locations, icy roads, where the bus is parked gathering people, what is happening two states over. With this listening radio set up, with a little bit of practice and a little bit of knowledge, you will be able to know what is happening on the

east coast or west coast, and that’s from people on the scene. You will also know what’s happening locally. You can hear CB traffic, and you say, “Why would I want to listen to that foul mouth type talk?” Because we’re talking about an emergency crisis situation. Those ole’ boys running mega watts of power from who knows where will no longer be on the air. And if they are, you might want to know what’s happening five states over, from a simple CB radio. Whatever they’re talking about might be heading in your direction.

You might say here, “Why doesn’t this guy just stick with radio facts and information?” Because there are hundreds of internet sites that will teach you how to get your ham license. This site is to help you get prepared for what is unquestionably coming. If you can’t see it, I am sorry. But there have been way, way too many things happen in the last few years that solidly indicates that significant changes are not just on the horizon, but they are happening as you read this.

A side note here. Yes, I have a ham radio license. I do not contest, and many days I don’t turn my radio on. My wife and I communicate 
around our farm with handheld radios that anybody can buy. Being ham radio operators, we also have radios in our cars. So can you. Our house is also set up with ham radio equipment. And if you could care less about ham radio, you can still listen.

Example. A couple of nights ago, I was listening to my CB radio, and yes, I have a nice CB antenna and a nice CB radio. I was not on SSB, this was regular CB AM channel 28. I listened to a guy in Portland, Oregon from southeast Oklahoma, just as clear as a bell. If you want to be able to communicate with your neighbors, CB radio is the way to   

go. Or, you can use GMRS/FRS. GMRS according to the FCC requires a license. I have never met a person to this day who has one. You don’t know what GMRS is? It’s those little two way walkie talkies that hunters use and children play with. I can’t stress enough the importance of having communications. Whether you want to listen only, which is what most people do. Or you want to go the talking route with CB and GMRS. Or you want to get your ham radio license. You are going to want to be able to communicate when this thing comes upon us.

Okay, what is this thing I am talking about? Religion, church is under attack. Schools, public education has been under attack for years. Now, all of our medical records are going to be under attack, and this little issue is going to extend out in ways we have not even thought of yet. Our military is under attack from the inside out. Agriculture and the agricultural industry

has been under attack for years, imagine GMO foods. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you need to pull your head out of the sand. Look at privacy and security. There are no private phone calls or email messages for that fact. Look at political correctness, what we say and can’t say. Look at the 2nd Amendment. Did you know that there will be no more lead bullets

manufactured in this country? Do you know what NSA is? Do you know what NDAA is? Have you taken your little girl to an airport lately and let some guy feel her chest and put his hand in her crotch? And we stand there as parents and let this happen? And then that same guy does the same thing to your wife? Feels her chest and gropes her crotch? We call this freedom? Do you know what TSA means? These folks are now setting up check points at ballgames, shopping malls and interstate highways. Are you aware that police do not need search warrants anymore? Have you looked at some of the vehicles our local police departments have been given by Homeland Security?

Wake-y! Wake-y! people. Look at our banking system. Try going into a bank and withdrawing a large amount of your money. You will be questioned as to why you want it or need it. If it’s above a certain

amount, you’ll have to fill out a form. Did you know that you cannot pay for a new automobile with cash? When you go to buy a house, you have to provide a financial statement of where your money is coming from. Wall Street. The Federal Reserve Bank is propping up our currency and Wall Street to the tune of approximately $86 BILLION dollars per month. Yes, that’s BILLION with a big ‘B’. PER MONTH. Unemployment is out of control,

but we are told by the government controlled news media that everything is getting better. Example here. A man that used to work 50 hours per week at $20.00 per hour and is now working 30 hours per week at $8.00 per hour is considered gainfully employed. Suicide is now one of the largest killers in this country. Think about that. Pharmaceuticals. A huge percentage of people are taking prescription, mind altering, legal drugs every day. And this is only a partial list with no detail.

Now wasn’t that pleasant? If you can’t see what is coming, or if you choose not to see, then I pray that someday you wake up real soon, because all of the above mentioned topics are occurring while you read this. If you want communications and you have the desire and

financial means, you can still go to the store or go online and buy these items. But one day, you’re not going to be able to. It appears to me, and this is just a personal observation, that there are lots and lots of people that do not want to deal with reality. I really don’t know what’s going to happen to all of these people, but I don’t think it’s going to be pleasant. Folks, all I deal with here is communications. I don’t talk about food storage, beans and bullets, gold or silver, just communications. It’s time to get it done. Go back and read the other posts, there is lots of non-technical information provided. I hope this helps.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

Radio – Adventure with a New Antenna

Hello, Frank here.

Hi Everybody, hope all is well. Once upon a time, before the realization that ham radio was achievable, there were pursuits to communicate 30+ miles by radio. Okay, let me switch to real time here. When Fern and I moved to Oklahoma, we worked about 25 miles from our home. I put a CB radio in each vehicle, and one in the house. Well, I like CB radio, but being the nature of what it is, and living in hill country, CB just would not do the job.

Then I discovered another citizens band radio called MURS, which is around 151 MHz, and by the way CB is around 27 MHz. But, back to MURS. We picked up a few handheld commercial radios, which are programmable, and I put the MURS frequencies in the handhelds. Got a couple of mag mount ham radio antennas, which are built to function between 144 – 148 MHz. I thought, well 148, that’s pretty close to 151, and this little set up worked pretty good. We also use these same handhelds to communicate around the farm here.

But, getting back to the theme of tonight’s post, I decided to go big time. Now, remember, at this time I did not have a ham radio license, and the stuff I’m doing here really had nothing to do with ham radio. So, I devised a little system. I engineered a way to raise and lower an antenna pole, which I’m still using today, by the way. I still think that it was one of my more creative moments. But, on top of this raising and lowering marvel, I put a 16 foot Comet antenna. Except this antenna was not made for ham radio, it was made for 151 MHz, the commercial frequencies, and it worked great for the MURS frequencies. So now Fern and I can communicate from home to work, depending on whether or not the car was in a low spot or a high spot, it worked quite well. But, as fate would have it, our little newspaper had a little, bitty, teeny article about a ham radio class starting. And the rest is history, especially when I found out that you don’t have to learn Morse code at any level of ham radio any longer.

 So I tried this radio, I tried the Alinco mobile VHF/UHF, and it worked more than adequate. Good radio. But it’s a ham radio. What I wanted was a commercial radio, which is 100% legal on the ham frequencies. Now that I am spending more and more time on the ham frequencies, I needed a different antenna. Well, once I discovered the ham world, I put a couple of different antennas on the vehicles, and they work great. Then I decided I would take that same antenna, which is a CA 2×4 SR, CA means Comet. I connected it to a TRAM 1460 ground plane kit. 

Fern and I took the time to put it up on the pole today, and it doesn’t quite work as well as it does on the vehicles. I have two friends that

have this same type of antenna system, each one mounted in a base configuration. With two of my meters, their SWR checks okay, not

great, but okay. Well, here a few days ago I bought a new SWR power meter and mounted it permanently connected to my HF and VHF/UHF radios. It shows my SWR on the VHF to be unacceptable, not horrible, unacceptable, but still usable. And I can’t figure out what the problem is. I have three different SWR meters, these things kind of grow on you after a while, then you forget you have one and buy another one. Here’s the problem. My two portable SWR meters read high, but acceptable. My higher dollar SWR meter reads unacceptable, but still doable. Not the results that I wanted. So is my brand new higher dollar meter just a cute piece of junk? I wish I could tell you.

For you ham folks, my antenna analyzer shows high but acceptable SWR and the antenna tunes perfect at 161 MHz, you know, up by the railroad frequencies. But it shows about a 2 or a 3 from 144 – 156 MHz. I guess I need to reconsider my new high dollar meter, don’t I? But it’s up and it’s in the air, and it’s the first time I’ve done anything really strenuous since my back surgery. And at this time, I’m still walking. 

We started about 2:00 in the afternoon, I guess, and finished at about 6:00pm. Fern took a bunch of pictures. And you might ask yourself, why did it take so long? Well, I had to cut the coax, solder the connectors, doctor the burn from the soldering iron, it never fails me that I will touch that hot tip.



I had to get out my fingernail polish that I use in place of lock tight. 

I put Stuff on the new connections. Stuff, let’s see, it helps keep out moisture, that’s the main reason I use it on the connectors. And I used a new type stretchy tape to help seal the outside connectors.

Attaching ground plane

Putting Stuff on the antenna connection

But what took so long was getting the old antenna off of the pole. And it’s cold, my fingers didn’t want to work at 45 degrees with a cold northwest wind. I know that’s not cold to some of you fellas, but I’m sensitive. I had to move my cell phone booster antenna, and I also removed an 80 meter dipole that I had constructed. I really wish that they would not use metric on these antennas, but that’s another story.

We put the connectors on the ends of the coax in a bucket to keep moisture out.

Stainless steel scrubber blocking coax entry port into the house.

Attaching the new antenna to the pole.

Dusk is fast approaching as we prepare to lift the pole back up.

Wire has been run back into the house and hole blocked with a scrubber.

Finishing up by flashlight

The kitchen was a mess, but the new antenna is up.

Reconnecting all of the antennas

Fern took some pictures along the way. I hope you enjoy them, because here one of these days, if this experiment works okay, I’m going to put up a couple of new towers and try to improve my communication system. The new antenna works fine. I called a buddy down the road to see if we could still contact each other on simplex. You see, he lives closer to the highway than I do, and when the buses come to relocate us they will stop at his house first, and I want to know when the buses are coming. You should, too. Because the buses are going to come someday. Don’t get on the bus.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

P.S. Tuesday, December 30th is book bomb day for James, Wesley Rawles new book, which is a guide to the selection, use, and care of tools. Here is the link for your reading pleasure. We are looking forward to his latest publication.


Radio – To Be or Not To Be

Hello, Frank here.

Recently I received some correspondence that I wanted to share with you. Each one of these notes has a different general theme, and I’d like to talk about each one individually. 

The first is from an experienced ham radio operator. In his original correspondence he included his call sign, which I have removed for his security. He has an Extra class license, which is the highest level of ham radio. According to his comment, he used an antenna

and a ground plane that I have recommended, but his results were sharply different than the results that I received. I wish I could tell you exactly why we got different test results, but I can’t. There are many variables and factors to consider. Since this gentleman is obviously not a beginner, and has significantly more experience than I do, I wish that I could tell you why we got different results. Sometimes there just aren’t immediately obvious answers. Please read his question and my response. When you’re dealing with electronics, it can be a connector, it can be coax, moisture in your connectors, loose connectors, where you’re sitting in relation to power lines or buildings. But this man, being an experienced ham operator, already knows these things. There are sometimes where there just aren’t answers. Again, please read his comment and my response.



I just got done trying out the Comet antenna with the ground plane adapter over the weekend and my SWR on any 2M frequency was 3 or higher! I use these antennas on my vehicles and hardly get above 2. Needless to say, at 3+ SWR, any meaningful distance on 2M is impossible. I am curious if you tested your SWR with the Comet and the ground plane adapter, and if so, what results did you get?

Thanks and 73,
Bill [call sign removed]


 Hi Bill. Here’s what I’ve got. The antenna is the Comet CA 2×4 SR. The ground plane kit is a TRAM1460 UHF.

On my automobile, without the ground plane kit, the SWR was flat. That is using UHF and VHF ham frequencies, UHF using GMRS, and VHF using MURS 151-154 MHz.

Next, I went to a friend’s house that has this system, the antenna and the ground plane kit. On the upper MURS frequencies, around 154 MHz, we had an SWR of 2. All of the other frequencies mentioned above were flat.

At another friend’s house with the same set up, the antenna and ground plane kit, using 2 separate meters, the SWR was flat, straight across. At both test sites we used power ranging from 4 watt HTs to mobile radios with 5 to 50 watts.

Bill, I can see from QRZ that you have a solid knowledge of SWR. I don’t really know what to recommend, except you might want to check your connections and your coax. Because with both of these gentlemen, the SWR readings were good and low, including outside of the ham frequencies. On my automobile, with just the antenna, they were flat straight across the frequencies using a mobile radio from 5 to 50 watts.

I certainly appreciate your observation, and I appreciate your comment.

73s, Frank


This next comment is from a gentleman that I have shared with emails back and forth. He is trying to decide what type of radio he would like to use. The problem here is, there is no perfect radio. Different radios have different features, but as a general rule, features come with a price tag. Some people like a certain brand of radio because that is what their grandpa used. I am on my second set of mobile VHF radios. I thought my first choice was the one I would stay with forever, but after I learned and 

grew more, and my knowledge base expanded sharply, I switched to a commercial radio for my VHF/UHF operations. It’s not that the first radio was poor quality or a bad choice, but my second choice had the features that I desired. It’s true that everybody wants to buy what meets their needs the first time, and if you can achieve that, great. I wasn’t quite so fortunate. In relation to HF radios, I am more than happy with my first choice, and that’s where I plan to stay. It meets my needs. Do I still look at the features of other radios? You bet. But I’m pretty happy with what I have right now. Just like lots of things in life, you need to decide what you want to do, and make the best choice you can. Read the correspondence with this gentleman and you can probably feel some of his frustration with not being able to choose the perfect radio, because there ain’t no perfect radio. So, if you would, read his email and read my response. I hope in the near future he gets his license, and he picks a good radio that works for him.

On a side note here. A popular country and western singer a number of years back, had out a song referencing “there ain’t no 10’s”. And, you know, there ain’t no 10’s and there ain’t no perfect radio.



Hope all is well with you and the misses!

Since last contact with you I am working toward getting my license,
should take test after the first of the year.

I have studied your “radio setup picture” quite a bit and have some questions. When we last discussed radios it was between the Icom IC-718 or the Yaesu FT-450D, and I thought I had settled on the Yaesu. Now I am not sure???

I have studied your “radio setup picture” quite a bit and have some questions. I see from your picture that you have (3) radios, the Icom, Alinco, and the Ranger. I understand the differences, but was wondering in my choice, should I just get a higher end rig to cover what all 3 of yours does? Is there an advantage ether way? Thanks again!


Hi Todd,

The pictures of my radio shack have changed multiple times. I no longer use the Ranger, it has been replaced with a standard CB radio. The Alinco has been replaced with an Anytone, and the 718 has stayed the same.

No, I do not recommend an all-in-one package. Reason being, unless you get a higher end radio, you will not be able to hear both VHF and HF at the same time. A lot of guys, while they are looking for HF frequencies, talk to their buddies on VHF and share the information they have found. I would recommend a separate UHF/VHF and an HF radio. Even if you get an all-in-one radio, you’ll still need two separate antennas. But this is just my humble opinion.

The Ranger radio that you saw in the pictures, was a 10/12 meter modified to operate on 11 meters, or the CB frequencies. One day it dawned on me that for CB purposes I was using an illegal radio. You can lose your ham license forever for doing this type of activity. So, I replaced the Ranger with a standard unmodified CB/SSB radio.

But, if you choose, you can modify almost any HF radio to transmit and receive on the CB frequencies. Listening on any frequency is legal. Transmitting on the CB frequencies with an HF radio is illegal. Do people do it? Sure they do. Can you lose your ham license doing it? Sure you can. The choice is yours. I listen all over the CB bands with my HF radio, because it has higher quality reception. That’s what I mostly do on my HF radio is listen.

Hope this helps. Good luck on your test.

73, Frank


This next email I received was very interesting. This gentleman has his Technician’s license, and had some questions. One being how to

get young folks in his family interested in radio. Well, I am a retired educator, and if I knew a sure fire way to get kids interested in anything, I would be the most successful educator on the planet. Some kids are interested in some things that other kids could care less about, and that applies for all topics. But, I think the most successful way is by showing enthusiasm for something you are genuinely interested in. Kids pick up on these feelings, and they may not outwardly express it, but if you’re interested, you’ll have a much better chance of getting a young person interested.

He also has a concern about being able to reach his loved ones if there is a break down in society. There are ways that this can be done, I’ve talked about them before, and I mention them in the response to his email. At this time, he lives adjacent to a large metropolitan area in the deep south, and I shared with him some of my feelings about relocating to a part of the country where snow shovels are standard issue. His name and location have also been removed for his security.


Dear Frank and Fern,

Just wanted to thank you for your (old?) posts regarding amateur radio. I copied them as pdfs to my iPhone and took them with me backpacking last week. Reading them in my hammock after sunset, huddled in the sleeping bag and rocking to the occasional cold gusts that blew across the mountaintop, well, they sure turned out to be more accessible and enjoyable to read than the ARRL manuals. So, after taking the technician’s test last summer, I thank you for stirring up enough interest to get my general.

Like you, my interest in ham sprang from a perceived need to have communications ability in case of a grid down situation – mainly to stay in touch with our large family over a few hundred miles. However, I do seem to have been touched by the magic of being able to CW and talk with someone using no more than components from Radio Shack and some wire. Or maybe with my background being chemistry, electronics may simply always be a magical mystery to me.

As for us, we’re Atlanta natives living in [location removed], north of the big city, tolerating the traffic and McMansions that keep moving our way. Think we’re one of the last living on a gravel road, too, but that means we can still have a big garden. Still work at my business at 64, and we just had our first of what I hope will be five marriages and a passel of grandchildren. In daydreams we do think about moving somewhere like Idaho or Wyoming, but it may depend on where the children settle.

Please keep posting your thoughts and recipes. We do enjoy them.



PS – Any suggestions on getting nephews interested in ham? I thought perhaps to give them a Rock-Mite CW kit for Christmas? I know one of them used to use Morse to pass messages during class. Must admit that this latest generation is a tough nut to crack, though.


Hi Cameron,

Let’s take the kids first. The YL and I are both retired teachers and school administrators. I do not know of a solid way to get a kid interested in something. I do not have a relative, period, that I can even get to put

a two way handheld in their house, and there are a lot of us that live within line-of-sight. But, if you could show your young ones what you do, and explain to them what is happening, a few might show an interest. Fern is fascinated that with a little piece of wire and a radio, one can communicate around the globe. Some kids might find it interesting, about adding voice frequency to a carrier wave and bouncing it off of the ionosphere when the conditions are right. Other kids would find it to be worthless and boring, because you can’t reach them all.

About your General. I would encourage you to pursue it soon, because there are ways you can stay in contact with your loved ones within a few hundred mile radius. Check out NVIS. It’s used primarily on 40 & 80 meters, which to use will require you to have your General license. The General test is no more difficult than the Technician, just different information. Check out NVIS. The military discovered it a number of years back, and they still use it today. FEMA uses it currently to stay in contact within approximately a 200 mile radius. If you have line-of-sight, use VHF. If you don’t, use 40 meter NVIS.

Don’t forget your trusty CB radio. It’s just an 11 meter HF radio. And an SSB CB allows you to talk all around the country, and on

occasion, around the world. When you get an HF radio, you will be able to hear the CB frequencies on it. Free banders operate just outside the CB frequencies and they use LSB, lower sideband. I enjoy listening to these guys as much as I do ham radio, because when the collapse occurs, these guys will be a great source of information. This is the reason why I do ham radio, it’s for information. Your HF radio is also a first class shortwave radio. Food for thought.

As far as Idaho goes, as you may be aware, Fern and I spent a number of years in Alaska. There ain’t no way in the world I’m going to move to Idaho. Too cold, too much snow, too short of a growing season. Did I mention snow and shovels? Ain’t no way. And when the utilities go off, and the trucks quit running, and there’s no gasoline to be had, those folks in Idaho are going to freeze. More food for thought.

Hope this helps.

73, Frank


Folks, I believe that most of us have not given serious thought to how important communications are to us. Whether it be your cousin next door, the guy down the road 10 miles, or that relative 150 miles away. In the scenarios   I just mentioned, communications today are taken for granted. But there is a strong likelihood that in the near future, whatever the reason, we’re going to have a shut down of society as we know it. The tools that we rely on today for information, after a couple of days, aren’t going to be there. Nobody is saying that you need to set up a communications post, but it would be real nice to know how your cousin next door is doing, and the information a man 10 miles down the road can share with you could have a major impact on how your day goes. It would be real nice to know how your kids are doing 150 miles away. 

Without this type of information that you are accustomed to daily, almost instantaneously at the push of a button, you are going to feel like you are living in a vacuum. There are times you will want to know what is coming down your road, whether it’s a short road or a very long road, you’ll really want to know what is coming. I know there’s folks out there that think people like me are crazy, but if you will open your eyes and look around, then you’ll see a different picture. My Inspiration right now is communications and this is the post I have been assigned. That is the question.

We’ll talk more later. 73s, Frank