Mar 212011

With an empty house for the next couple of weeks I’ve taken to getting on the radio more. With my current situation I am restricted to indoor antennas and that itself creates a space restriction. The solution was to create a what amounts to an end-fed dipole using some RG-58 coax and stranded copper wire, both relatively random length.

The coax line is fed up the wall and taped up where the coax ends and stranded wire starts. From there the stranded wire is run along the length of the wall and taped up about 2 feet from the end. The end is then angled downward slightly, at say a 15 or 20 degree angle, and then taped again. This creates an inverted L configuration that’s oriented towards the South and while I can’t speak to why angling the end is effective, on 20 meters, I’m able to use a tuner to get about 1:1.3 to 1:1.7 on my SWR meter. Given that the antenna is indoors and fairly close to me I’m only putting out 10 watts, sometimes up to 15, on SSB with my Kenwood TS-50.

In order to get the most enjoyment out of my less than perfect solution I stick to PSK31 and seem to eek out 4 or 5 contacts a day. The furthest I’ve gone with this set up is Central Mexico but more typically I make it to the Southern states. Yesterday my waves landed in Georgia, Mississippi and Texas. I was also able to make a 59 QSO to North Dakota which I was quite pleased about.

I also have an end-fed Zepp that’s made of zip cord which I tested in a similar configuration and to my surprise, it was actually harder to get it to tune, only getting 1:2.0 SWR at best. I think the key here is that in the EF dipole, the coax provides some shielding against various QRM from indoor devices. I’m no expert on the radiation patterns of antennas so any insight would be appreciated.

Some people get deeply saddened by their restrictions, always wishing they could be a ‘top dog’ and blast out 1kW of power. Me too. However, given the circumstances, and as hams often do, I make the best of the situation and do what I can. I’d even hazard to say I get a little more enjoyment making a QSO since they don’t come so easy for me. When the weather turns other cheek finally and offers a few nice days in a row I’ll set up on the deck outside and enjoy the free air and open space.

Until then, you can catch me on 20 meters in the evening, scouring the waterfall for your PSK31 signal.