Meet the New DBD-2040 Compact Dipole May 29th, 2014
One of the topics that I seem to come back to time and time again is that of the small garden. I make no apologies for this as it is an item that seems to keep cropping up. I recently mentioned that we had introduced the new Watson DBD-4080 which is a compact dual band dipole that can be fitted into around 50ft of space if erected as an inverted V. This has already attracted a lot of interest and enable operators to get onto 80m and 40m from a small garden.
Now we can announce the introduction of the new DBD-2040 which is, as the name suggests, a compact dipole that covers 20m and 40m. These are two of the most popular bands that are generally open for most of the day and night to one part of the world or another. This model has an overall length of 12m and if erected as an inverted V will fit into gardens as short as around 30ft.
Both these models feature traps that do not use capacitors. This means that they are far less likely to fail and are ultra stable. No risk of going off tune. This in turn means that the whole antenna is very stable and very easy to install.
If you have a small garden, then give them a try. Peter G3OJV.
Array Solutions VNA – A First Look May 27th, 2014
n the past I have spent a lot of time working with antennas and making endless measurements. Much of this has proved to be very educational and there is no doubt that work of this nature is never wasted. Even if you prove that something does not work, you have not really wasted your time!
What I have never used is a VNA )Vector Network Analyser), but as we are now handling the Array Solutions products, I had the opportunity of trying out their VNA UHF that actually works from 5kHz to 1.2GHz. Hpwever,I use Apple computers unless I am really stuck and this product requires Windows! In this case I ran the VNA up using my Apple laptop running Windows using Parallels. The software is not demanding and so there was little problem in getting it working. My only problem was sorting out the USB driver and an error in some instructions that suggested i needed to set the bit rate to 4300! In fact it needed to be set to the default rate of 9600.
I have yet to appreciate all the data that can be displayed and recorded. My initial tests was to use the unit as a simple VSWR analyser. Before you can even do this, you need to calibrate the VNA and a set of three plug in “N” modules are provided. These comprise Short circuit, Open circuit and 50 Ohm load modules. The calibration process takes only a few minutes and a file is created which you need to save as this is used next time the program is loaded.
The various perimeters are displayed in graphic format with different colours for the traces. Fortunately, these can be changes to various dotted lines and similar traces which helps me no end as I am colour blind!
The unit is highly accurate and of laboratory grade, so it is not in the MFJ-259 price league. But if you are serious about antennas, this is a heat instrument. The illustration shows only VSWR as I switched the others of to reduce clutter. In fact you can display as many parameters as you like and switch any off. The parameters are also displayed as analogue test data. Allave to do now is to sort my antennas out using the data that I now have!
Oh and one other thing is that the VNA can also be used with a number of Windows based tablets. So with such an arrangement and an external 12v battery, you have a very accurate portable test set up.
Make Hay While The Sun Shines May 26th, 2014
With the advent os Spriing we are heading towards antenna time, which unfortunately coincides with grass cutting time. Those of us with small gardens have the advantage here!
It is always nice to be able to work on the antennas system with a bit of sunshine on your back rather than in the wind and the rain. And as always, many are thinking about what changes that they should, or perhaps could, make. A good first move is to search the internet for ideas or purchase one of the excellent RSGB antenna books. There are many great ideas and designs. And a new antenna is often a great way of exploring a band that perhaps you have not operated on before. I have operated on most bands other than 24MHz. I can honestly say that in my 55 years of ham operation, that is a band that I have never had a contact on. It is also many years since I had a QSO on 160m, which ironically was once my favourite band. The prime reason here is that it is not easy to erect an efficient antenna on 160m within a small garden.
But apart from erecting new antennas, this is also a good time to take a look at what you have already got and perhaps carrying out a bit of maintenance. Over the past months we have experienced some awful weather with very high winds, and I know that many antennas have suffered as a result. It’s alway very easy to leave things, in these calmer and warmer days, until some future date. Just make sure that future dat you promise yourself, does not extend into the next winter when such work is not so easy and the days are much shorter!
A Short Thought On Antennas May 25th, 2014
There are all kinds of problems with choosing an antenna system and more so when you only have a small garden. I can empathise with this problem as I am in exactly that situation. It has not been any real problem for me because I have in the past had the space for much larger antennas than I currently have. But as much of my operation is on CW with low power, I am accustomed to having to work for many of my QSOs. It’s the difference between fishing with a rod and line and casting out a great trawler net. One embraces skill, whilst the other uses brute force. Both have their place.
I have always been interested in antennas and antenna design. Its a subject that was once regularly covered by Pat Hawker, G3VA, in his monthly Technical Topics column. Some of the designs were questionable and others were quite intriguing. But that is the fun of antenna design, there is often an idea that comes up that nobody has ever thought of before. It’s not so much a case of a new invention, but rather the implementation of a technique that has not been done in a particular way before. How many different dipole designs are there?
I recently returned to looking at the problem of small gardens, and indeed, the absence of any garden space at all. Like so many ideas, it began as a thought and then was translated to a sketched design. My next step is to actually transfer the idea into a test antenna. I could try modelling it, but with some designs there is little point. If the idea is sound, then you may as well short circuit the whole business and set to with wire and insulators. This is the route I propose to take. I am looking at two designs, the first an LF antenna covering 80-40-20m around 55ft long and another ,for possible use in an attic, covering 20-15-10m with a length of around 28ft.
As and when I make sme progress I will report further.
Open Day 2014 May 25th, 2014
Today was our annual Open Day that we regularly hold on the Spring Bank Holiday Sunday. The weather was very kind to us and we had a great attendance with many visitors chatting outside in the sunshine where we had our usual junk sale and food tent. Despite preparing large quantities of sandwiches, and sausage rolls, together with cakes and the like, nothing was left at the end of the afternoon! So I think the food was greatly appreciated. Many thanks to the manufacturers who attended the event and donated raffle prizes.
Once again we held a lecture stream and this was also well received. These gave visitors a chance to catch up with all the latest ham radio news and a wilst sittinf down with a drink and plate of food. Not a bad way to enjoy the various talks.
We finally shut the doors at 4pm and then the big clear ups began. And so ended yet another W& Open Day.
You are never too young to appreciate Elecraft.
Never one to miss a photo opportunity, Jeff jumped on this custom Harley in the company car park. The bike owner, Simon from our sales dept, was quite happy to take the shot!
Elecraft KX3 Transverters for 4m and 2m (70MHz & 144MHz) May 22nd, 2014
We are pleased to announce the first public demonstration of these transverters and how they fit inside the KX3. Delivery is expected in September for both the 4m and 2m transporters.
Price around £200. Get your order in now for early delivery.
Be the first to see the video
How Many Antennas do you Need! May 18th, 2014
41 Years with MFJ May 18th, 2014
Yes it is true. We have been trading with MFJ for 41 years. That is an amazing record. Here we are taking a break at the Dayton Show. From left to right, Jeff Stanton, Martin Jue and Peter Waters. As usual there was a lot to talk about and lots of new products to discuss.
Elecraft 4 Metre & 2 Metre Transverter May 17th, 2014
Here is the very first view of the 2m transverter fitted inside the KX3. The 4m converter will look exactly the same. The expected power output will be 3 Watts on all modes. There will be two units delivered to the UK within the next couple of weeks and myself and Justin, G0KSC, will be carrying out tests for Elecraft prior to the production scheduled for delivery in August or September.
We have not got the final prices yet but this will be published as soon as it is finalised.
There will also be a youtube video published shortly.