Fiberglass Balcony Stealth Antenna for 40 m

In Singapore space is limited, and in our appartment it is difficult to setup any HF antenna. Our balcony is the only place where I have a space to mount something. Even there, officially nothing is allowed to extend out from the building.

I decided to setup a simple vertical, using a telescopic fiberglass pole, which I can pull out temporarly, when it is getting dark.  The pole has a total length of 10 m, approx. 1 m (the lowest segment) safely mounted to the balcony railing and sidewall.

vertical410 m fiberglass pole mounted to the balcony railing in the 17th floor.

holder1holder2Mounting

vertical1The actual antenna wire is fixed to the pole using Velcro strips. The horizontal wires on the picture are part of my short linear loaded dipole for 15 m and 17 m.

vertical2Antenna extended to 10 m

pipeclampsRubber protected pipe clamps to secure the segments and Velcro strips to attach the antenna wire to my telescope fiberglass pole. Allows quick extension and retracting of the antenna.

verk__00VSWR of 1.2 at resonance frequency 7.050 MHz, using only one radial around the outer wall of our appartment

IC-7300 and Fldigi

For digital modes I am using fldigi on a MacBook and the IC-7300 built-in USB interface. This is my running configuration:

IC-7300

20160706_093338
On the IC-7300 press Menu -> Set -> Connectors

20160706_093353
ACC/USB AF Output Level to 75%

20160706_093357
USB MOD Level to 25%

20160706_093424
DATA MOD: USB
Under CI-V CI-V Baud Rate is set to Auto.

20160706_093435
CI-V USB Port: Unling from [REMOTE] and
CI-V USB Echo Back: ON

Fldigi

You need to get the IC-7300.xml file written by W1HJK to use the CAT.
After Installation start fldigi and go to
Configure -> Rig ->RigCat
Select the downloaded xml file. Under Device select “SLAB_USBtoUART” (driver name).
Set Baud rate to 19200.
Tick CAT command for PTT
Audio Port: Audio USB Audio CODEC
The “sweet spot” for the IC-7300 in data mode is 1500 Hz.
Configure -> Misc -> Sweet Spot PSK et al.: 1500

Operation

Reduce the output power to 20% … 35%. When you click on “Tune”, ALC should be at zero. In my station setup I can “hear” the computer on 15 m. Levels vary depending on the USB connection cable. I still need to experiment with some ferrite to reduce interference.
The same configuration can be used for JT-65 (WSJT-X). I changed the IC-7300 CI-V address to  88h and select IC-7100 as transceiver.

ICOM IC-7300 – SDR radio in a box

Finally the new IC-7300 arrived, and I am still in the process to get familiar with it. I could not resist, as my IC-718, though reliable, is quite “outdated” in its technology, developed more than a decade ago.

Unfortunately, the first IC-7300 unit I picked up from the retailer in Singapore, had a DOA (defect on arrival): the CW keyer always sending dashes. Luckily, there was a second unit available, and it was exchanged without any problems.

Now the new unit is in operation for a week and doing its job without any problems. Size and weight are the same as my IC-718, but the features are not comparable, and it is a real advance in technology. The menus are intuitive and signal reception is excellent, as I can adjust all parameters – gain, filter bandwidth and response, audio processing etc. – according to the actual band conditions.

IC-7300

Two days ago, I setup the configuration for digital modes, connecting my Apple MacBook via USB, using fldigi and the IC-7300 built-in USB sound interface and serial control. So there is no need for any additional interface box, just one USB connection between computer and radio. It works fine, and I was able to make my first contacts in PSK-31.

Minami-Tori-shima JD/M and Ogasawara JD/O

Minami-Tori-shima, also known as Marcus Island belong to the easternmost territory of Japan on the pacific plate past the Japan trench. It is an isolated Japanese coral atoll in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, located some 1,848 km southeast of Tokyo and 1,267 km east of the closest Japanese island, South Iwo Jima of the Ogasawara Islands, and nearly on a straight line between mainland Tokyo and the United States’ Wake Island, 1,415 km further to the east-southeast. (Source: Wikipedia)

Before my first radio contacts with JD1BOW and JG8NQJ/JD1, I even didn’t know that Japan has a couple of small island so remote from the main island.

MinamitoriDistance from Singapore approx 6000 km.

Linear loaded short dipole

For my amateur radio activities on the HF bands I only have a 3.6 m wide balcony available for antennas. After some study I decided to experiment with a shortened dipole for the 15 m band. The full size 21 MHz half wave dipole would require a span of approx 7 m, therefore I searched for a solution to shorten the full size length by 50 percent.

Finally I decided for a linear loaded dipole; the layout and resulting dimensions are shown below.

loaded-dipole

First measurements at the resonance frequency showed a low input impedance at the dipole’s feed point with values around 10 Ohm. The theoretical radiation resistance of a 2 x 1.6 m short dipole would be 10 Ohm, so it is an indication of low losses in the system. In order to match the antenna to the 50 Ohm of the transceiver, I use a quarter wave transmission line transformer consisting of two parallel connected 50 Ohm coaxial cables.

50ohms_12ohms

After fine tuning the length of the antenna wires, I achieved an SWR below 1.5 for the CW segment of the 15 m band.

2016-03-26-1

The antenna’s bandwidth is around 200 kHz; I could already work DX stations around the world.

dipole-feed balun-1-1

Dipole feed point and 1:1 balun

9V1KG

In Dec 2015 I received my amateur radio licence with the call sign 9V1KG for Singapore from the IDA. After 15 years inactivity I am back on the air.

FullSizeRender_4
First version of my shortened 15 m dipole. Latest version see here.

FullSizeRender_5 IMG_1559
Telescopic whip antenna