NA4L, DAVE "KICKED BACK" IN THE SHACK !
MY RADIO JOURNEY
In 1959, at 11 years old, I got interested in the magic of radio communications. I became a Short Wave Listener, an SWL, and received the call sign WPE4JAM from Popular Electronics magazine. I listened to all the shortwave bands and also the HAM radio bands. I played Citizens Band radio for a few years also but decided this was not the path for me. I was introduced to a REAL HAM RADIO operator (WA4GXQ). His name was Buford Lantern. Buford worked with me and really helped me with the Morse code part of the test. In 1963, I passed the Novice part of the Ham radio exams (5 words per minute for Morse code) and was able to use only c.w. (Morse code) and 75 watts of power to communicate with other hams. You only had a year to upgrade to a higher license or the FCC KICKED you out, so I studied and passed the General part of the Ham radio exams in 1964. This exam included c.w. at 13 words per minute, plus much more radio theory. I stayed a General for several years. Then in 1976, after studying for several months I passed the Amateur Extra ham radio exam. Back in those days, the tests were really tough. You had to draw schematics diagrams, work loads of Math problems, remember lots of radio theory and be able to copy and send c.w. at 20 words per minute etc. However, I have been an Amateur Radio Operator for 54 years and have enjoyed every minute of it.
THE ANTENNA “THANG”
I started building radio antennas, at 11 years old, in 1959 as a SWL. The only reference books I had were the WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA and one Ham radio antenna book from Allied Radio…..How many remember that store…..Most of the antennas I made were of wire and very simple. The best antenna I built in those early days was a long wire. It was about 100 feet of copper wire, electric fence insulators and…Yep!…It was in some trees.
Then came the Ham radio license (WN4UUT). I knew some radio theory and formulas for the different frequencies, so I started to build my first REAL dipole antennas. Even in those days, I had several antennas for the different Ham bands…..Some worked, some did not. However, I learned from my mistakes and started to build some elaborate 1/2 wavelength dipoles and 1/4 wavelength vertical antennas. I found that the verticals worked best for the “far away stations” and low dipoles worked best for ”local contacts.” Many months passed, and I finally received my General class license (WA4UUT) and I was able to get a 3-element tri-bander beam antenna mounted on a phone pole and operate A.M. phone for the first time from my own Ham Shack. But, I still used my wire antennas for 40 and 80 meters.
This thing (the beam) was amazing….I had forward gain, F/B, F/S and I was in DX Heaven.
I received my EXTRA class license (NA4L) in 1976 and was married to a GREAT and understanding wife. We had a new house with much more room to play antennas. This new QTH was on a hill in "beautiful downtown" Galax, Va. I found Low Band Dxing to be very challenging so I started experimenting with 40 and 80 meter wire antennas. This was where I got hooked on building high gain wire antennas. I tried all kinds of different antennas: loops, quads, yagis, Vee beams, verticals, all kinds of different arrays, half squares, ground mounted verticals, ground planes, dipoles, inverted Vees, rhombics, etc. I could go on!But one of the MOST SIGNIFICANT things I learned, if you don’t have the HEIGHT for a yagi or quad on 40 or 80 meters YOU should think about going with a vertical antenna…..Some kind of vertical array….( a four square vertical array ) That way you can “hang in there with the big yagis”….I have done it several times.
And then came another move to a mountain ridge, in Carroll county Virginia, with an elevation of just under 3000 feet here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia plus LOTS of LAND and LOTS of TREES ! !
I FOUND MY SELF IN THE “BOONIES” AND I LOVE IT ! !
No noise, no neighbors and lots of TALL trees. I am very fortunate to have a supportive wife that does not get too excited about my many wires hanging around in the trees. I do keep the antennas away from the front of our home. But the back area of our home and the surrounding woods are full of many wires. I have about 4 acres of land I use for antennas. Most of the land has trees on it, ranging from 60 to 90 feet tall. I have an 80 meter full size wire four square vertical array on the South side of my home and a 40 meter full size wire four square vertical array on the North side of my home. All the other antennas are in the middle of these antenna arrays, except the 2 Beverages that run North and South and East and West that are on the outskirts of this mess of wires.
I will try to have pictures and a short description of each of these wire antennas on my MOSTLY WIRE ANTENNAS page on this site. I do not use a lot of antenna modeling, because working with verticals theres just to many variables…..You have to try the antenna in real life situations ! !
If there are any questions about wire antennas please send me an E-mail and I will try to help.