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Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Topics related HAM and Shortwave radio and emergency communication

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Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Postby orangetom1999 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:22 am

Last December my friend of many many years retired and moved to Tennessee way out in the mountains...and far up at the end of a country lane.

He has been moving his household trip by trip as he is no longer on the clock as are so many of us.

We are both Hams and having started so many years ago on the CB bands and once we got our tickets we continued to carry on via radio rather than phones. We are both not phonaholics so to speak.

With all the other complexities of moving and setting up a household...setting up his radio station has not been a priority.

But the last two days he managed to shoot his antenna up high in the trees...a 160 meter dipole...via a home made air cannon.

Last night and for the first time since he moved..we managed to hook up on the 160 meter band on lower sideband.

He is out near Johnson City, Tennessee and we figure the distance is some 400 miles.

Copy was good with some static crashes in there.

His signal was 9 to 10 over and audio quality was good. We were running barefoot with only the 100 watts in the radio.

It was good to know that our systems were so capable...and I am making plans to get my Ameritron 811 H back on line. I'd like to be able to bring my signal up to some 200 watts when the static is thick and get just above the static level.

Also we will be exploring 75 and 60 meters.


He is trying to brush up on his morse code skills to have this option to put into place should conditions get very bad on the airways.


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Re: Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Postby Mountain » Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:36 am

Good story Orangetom.
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Re: Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Postby orangetom1999 » Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:24 pm

my apologies. Double post.

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Re: Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Postby orangetom1999 » Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:27 pm

Thanks Mountain.



Follow up on my OP. Last night we hooked up again on 1.920 MHZ...LSB....or on 160 meters.

What was different this time is that we decided to check out how low we could take the output power and still maintain communication.

We started at 100 watts, the maximum the rig puts out. We wound up and decided on 25 to 30 watts. Any lower and we realized we would occasionally fade back into the noise level or weeds as it is sometimes referred.

I did not think we would be able to keep comms at that low a power setting but that was a very interesting "lessons learned" last night.

Should we switch to Morse Code when the noise level is much much higher....we now have a sort of reference line off which to follow.

160 meters, for now, has turned out to be quite a surprise.

Now we will be checking out other bands....75 and 60 meters and running the same pattern of power tests.

I have ordered some fuses for my Ameritron 811H amplifier. Plans are to try to keep it around 200 Watts if I can get it once again Q5. I've not run it in some years now. I suspect it has a serious case of "Arthritis" from being so long stagnant/dormant.

I discovered that for most of what I want to do 200 Watts is sufficient to get me above the noise level...and that is all I want. And it is plenty for most of the bands using CW or Morse Code.

Thanks,
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Re: Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Postby Mountain » Sun Mar 05, 2017 5:49 pm

My old buddy I grew up with in Nor-Cal have had this plan for awhile ourselves. He was waiting on me to get my General, which I just did. Now I need a radio.
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Re: Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Postby orangetom1999 » Sun Mar 05, 2017 8:45 pm

sorry..double post.

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Re: Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Postby orangetom1999 » Sun Mar 05, 2017 8:45 pm

Mountain wrote:My old buddy I grew up with in Nor-Cal have had this plan for awhile ourselves. He was waiting on me to get my General, which I just did. Now I need a radio.
73
KK6MOE


Yeah..Mountain,

Years ago when I had earned my General and Advanced Ticket at the testing session ...I too did not even have an HF radio. I only had a two meter walkie talkie and a 10/11 meter rig. It took me some 9 more months to scrape up the funds to get a used Yaesu FT 890. I still have the rig but am running a Icom 706 currently.

Looked you up in the book...you are up there in them thar Hills.


I work in a shipyard and my friend to whom I am speaking retired from there. All the big nuclear carriers are born here in this shipyard. Submarines too.

Getting ready now and headed to the radio roomto try to contact my friend again on 160 meters. Perhaps if you have a receiver...shortwave...with SSB..capabilities you can pick us up. We will be operating somewhere in the 1900 to 2.000 MHZ range...wherever we can find a quiet spot...LSB Mode.


Thanks,
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Re: Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Postby orangetom1999 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:34 am

Follow up to the op..from back in February.

My friend out in Tennessee and I have hooked up many many times since and work both the 160 and 80 meter bands. Of current...the 160 meter band tends to have more static crashes that 80 meters and we planned for this.

The last time ...Saturday...for which we worked 80 meters the static crashes and noise level got bad there and we ran a bit of power from our amplifiers. I stuck to about 200 watts..and he to about 400 watts. This got us above the noise level which was all we needed. We have more power but this was sufficient for our needs and we are also working in the lower end of the Phone spectrum in the Extra class portion of the frequency allocation on 80 meters. This gets us away from most of the traffic out there. We are not into bumping heads with other Hams.

It has been great being able to hook up so and not run up our phone bills. I was at first doubtful as to how well it would work but my friend was not.


Thanks,
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Re: Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Postby judgecrater » Thu Oct 05, 2017 3:06 pm

That is what HF is all about. With antennas for the appropriate bands you should be able to keep in contact almost anytime you like.
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Re: Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Postby roger o » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:28 am

Orangetom, good posts. As you know, the power output of your transmitter is not nearly as important as the antenna.

IMHO, if your friend is your major contact, then you both should be constructing directional antennas to maximize the signal between you. A 160 meter dipole (or any dipole for that matter) is more or less omni-directional. You may want to look up directional HF antennas, and make an easy one to try out.

The QRP guys work stations hundreds and sometimes thousands of mile from their QTH with 1 or 2 watts, so getting your setup optimized should allow you to run 50 watts or so easily.

73,
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Re: Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Postby orangetom1999 » Sat Oct 14, 2017 6:10 pm

roger o wrote:Orangetom, good posts. As you know, the power output of your transmitter is not nearly as important as the antenna.

IMHO, if your friend is your major contact, then you both should be constructing directional antennas to maximize the signal between you. A 160 meter dipole (or any dipole for that matter) is more or less omni-directional. You may want to look up directional HF antennas, and make an easy one to try out.

The QRP guys work stations hundreds and sometimes thousands of mile from their QTH with 1 or 2 watts, so getting your setup optimized should allow you to run 50 watts or so easily.

73,
Roger
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Roger O,

First off...I agree with you about publishing your call sign online and for the very same reason.

As to directional antennas yes I agree and have made for myself a four element quad for 2 meters. This antenna has both vertical and horizontal polarity and when we are both in town local..we like to use 2 meter SSB..and with the lowest power we can sustain and still make contact.

However...most of the time I use a home made dual band J pole...and the lowest power setting we can handle..for SSB. We find that we verily like SSB on 2 meters. We are not that fond of 70 CM as that requires a directional for any good distance. But 2 meters works out fine...for us and especially SSB. I also have a Yaesu FT 100 d in my truck and that give me two meter SSB as well.
Back in our 11 meter days SSB thoroughly spoiled us and we kept it up when we got our tickets.

But a directional antenna for 160 or 80 meters would be a big and complex arrangement and both of us no longer want towers and have limited property on which to build.

But your point is noted. We tend to stay away from the shorter wavelength bands....and pretty much use 160, 80, and when he is in town 2 meter SSB.
And yes..indeed...antenna efficiency is the key......not necessarily power output. We began to indirectly realize this back in our 11 meter days. I believe that, even back then, we were being groomed and directed to the ham bands.
We began to slowly learn that it was a waste of time to play those 11 meter games of unzipping to see who has the biggest one. Pardon the crudity but tubes cost monies...and it was just plain stupid to me to be bumping heads in the manner so many are want to do on those bands...when one could have a civilized conversation.
I think that more mature realization is what eventually lead us to get our tickets...and I am glad we did.

And along the way ...we began to learn about antennas and antenna efficiency/design....with the help of some good Elmers.
Even when I was still on 11 meters the Elmers did not give up on me...and gave me tips on how to make my 11 meter station more efficient.
I am grateful to them for their guidance.

Thanks for your post,
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Re: Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Postby orangetom1999 » Tue Oct 24, 2017 9:45 pm

I'm going to list my conditions here on the base station starting with my HF antenna.

The antenna consists of a 500 foot length of wire loop made from a 12 gauge roll of black insulated stranded wire from Lowes. It has been strung up into the tops of my trees with a stiff boat type fishing pole and a 3 oz lead sinker. Once satisfactorily cast..I use it to reel up into the tree a length of 1/8 nylon string to which is attached the 12 gauge wire..thus threading it up through the tops of the trees on this property. At places up in the trees the 12 gauge wire is suspended through pulleys to ease the strain on it.

This antenna is fed by ladder line...and to a MJF 962C tuner. The tuner is fed by an Ameritron 811h amplifier.

From the Amplifier ..the coaxial feed goes back to a Yaesu FT 890 radio and at other times I switch to an Icom 706 MK II G.

UHF/VHF antenna is a home made J pole up about 60 feet in a tree and fed by LMR 400 cable.

The Amplifier I seldom run over 200 to 250 watts.

With the weather cooling we will be using more of 160 meters...but in the heat of the summer static crashes make this band difficult. Sometimes on 80 meters as well..but as the cooler weather arrives the bands quiet down in the noise level.

We operated the other night on 80 meters with less than 50 watts. Out of curiosity we tried about 5 watts by dialing back our power. We cold hear each other but strained at times because of the changing noise levels...we then came up to 50 watts and did fine for about 45 minutes before we called it quits.

It is great to be able to catch up with my friend and not suffer a phone bill.


Thanks and 73,

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Re: Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Postby Vetmike » Fri Oct 27, 2017 8:29 am

Great discussion! I'm getting my Extra soon (fingers crossed) and am setting up a permanent shack. I have nearly a half mile of fence line around the one pasture near the house and my buddy and I have talked about hooking up to it and see if we could broadcast. The 'hot wire' is insulted from the fence posts so we would hook to that (after turning off the fencer!).
During the eclipse we set up two stations, one for digital, the other for voice. Made a lot of contacts from coast to coast and drew a number of the curious asking just what we were doing. Maybe we'll get some new hams out of that.
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Re: Hooking up with my friend via HF radio..

Postby orangetom1999 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:19 am

Good luck to you in the work for getting your extra class Vetmike.

It took me awhile to get my stuff together in making my radio shack but now I need to unclutter it up a bit.


My friend and I meet on the upper end of the 75 meter band and then QSY down to the lower end of the extra class band. This to get away from a lot of the other traffic and heavy hitters.

We have power but try not to run any more than needed to make the trip.

Been able to make it some nights on 50 to 75 watts no problem...a couple of nights on 30 watts but of course all that depends on band conditions....static noise levels etc.

Good luck again in taking your test for Extra Class and 73 to you and your house,

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