Amateur radio is a strong interest of mine and I read a lot on topics of antennas, propagation, and especially the history of radio. I’ve had my FCC license since the early 90’s and my Extra Class was earned sometime around 2007. Despite that, I only managed to put together a “real” HF station in the last year or two. Partly it was space, and partly it was time. I had neither. But a couple of years ago we built a new guest bedroom with an egress window, which gave me the place, and more recently, stepping away from playing out monthly with Rocket 8 gave me the time, almost. I still don’t get much time to hunt for DX contacts, but it’s there when I do get the time, and I’m making slow and steady progress on the station itself. I’m currently able to communicate on the 80m, 40m, 20m, 15m, 10m and 2m bands. My main radio is a Yaesu FT-450D for the HF-6m range and my old trusty Yaesu FT2400 for 2 meter. I have a multi-band Alpha-Delta DXCC up over the house configured as a straight dipole at around 33 feet or so. I also have a Comet 2m 5/8 wave vertical with a radial kit on a small mast up around 22 feet. My grounding system is pretty good, three 8′ rods spaced about 16′ apart, and they are connected via 2″ copper band (18 ga?) to a couple of large lightning arrestors mounted to an IP-sealed box down in the covered egress window well, which sits atop a 1″ hole through the concrete wall that I drilled before the bedroom was finished. It’s a nice setup but it still needs a few things. In particular I want to get a 6m dipole up soon, I have the cables and ropes in place from a previous 10m dipole install, I just need to get some time to make it happen. I repurposed an old table by building a matching shelf system designed to hold the radios I have and still have some space for the laptop.
The station setup includes the 2 aforementioned Yaesu radios, plus an MFJ tuner, an Astron power supply (I really want solar for this station, ASAP), a TenTec HF kit receiver, an oddball SWR meter for 2m antenna, an old drake High Pass filter for the 450D and my newest investment, and a RigExpert portable analyzer that works to 600MHz. The RigExpert is best when used with the PC, so you can do very detailed SWR sweeps across the whole HF spectrum to keep track of the multiband Dipole. This past summer it was reading a little shallow across several bands at once, which led to a rooftop inspection. Sure enough, several crimped connections had worked their way loose and had to be reworked, cleaned and this time, soldered. (Alpha Delta didn’t solder them.) The Rig Expert is a really nice machine and worth the cost. My next step inside will probably be an SDRPlay receiver, which will allow real-time spectrum analysis across all bands, so openings will be easy to identify. On the Wish List, I’d like to investigate the 70cm digital repeater we have here in Holland, but that radio investment is on the back burner for now. In the picture you can see the equipment mentioned above, including a recent plot of the whole HF spectrum with the SWR dips at resonance on the laptop screen. The extra screen up above is showing a real-time graph of communication between North America and Europe at the time the picture was taken. Each curved line is a conversation that was logged within the last 15 minutes. You can click on them to see the details of the people talking. Cool stuff!