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"Shelter at Home" -- A Tinkering Nerd's Dream!


Gary DeBock
 

While the Governor of the state of Washington has decreed that all "non-essential" businesses must shut down (marijuana sellers excluded, of course) and all state parks and most ocean beaches are off limits, the "Shelter at Home" situation is actually an experimental bonanza for someone who has always had dreams of many fanatical new antennas-- but never enough time to complete them. Our Maui vacation went up in smoke when Hawaii decreed that all tourists must stay away for 2 weeks, but despite Costco Travel's reluctance to issue a full refund (a common practice in the collapsing travel industry, I understand), weird new FSL antennas that never had a chance of existence are coming out of the woodwork, augmented by funding from the now-aborted Maui vacation (see photo). In addition, the crash course in SDR-DXing that was planned for this month in preparation for Maui has now been replaced by a deliberate, thorough investigation and testing program, so that future sunsets in Hawaii should be fully exploited with spectrum capture of African, South American and Caribbean signals.

My advice to all DXers with a sudden surplus of time is to use the time productively, exercising both your body and mind to keep both in top shape, eager for the opportunities that are sure to come in the future. Nobody has control over the current pandemic, but we certainly have control over our psychological reaction to it. It's kind of similar to what many American DXers faced as teenagers, with the Vietnam War raging, and the draft breathing down our necks. Worrying about a situation beyond our control accomplishes nothing. Use the time productively, and prepare for the future by continually exercising both your mind and body in creative ways, complete with a mindset of determination and optimism. Even though the current situation might seem dire, things will surely turn around, and the future will belong to those who are excited about it!


Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)


Paul Blundell
 

So very true Gary and something I am trying to get across to those around me, this too will pass and we need to be ready for what is on the other side. 

Based on that photos, do you think you have a problem? :)

Paul


On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 7:15 PM Gary DeBock via Groups.Io <D1028Gary=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:
While the Governor of the state of Washington has decreed that all "non-essential" businesses must shut down (marijuana sellers excluded, of course) and all state parks and most ocean beaches are off limits, the "Shelter at Home" situation is actually an experimental bonanza for someone who has always had dreams of many fanatical new antennas-- but never enough time to complete them. Our Maui vacation went up in smoke when Hawaii decreed that all tourists must stay away for 2 weeks, but despite Costco Travel's reluctance to issue a full refund (a common practice in the collapsing travel industry, I understand), weird new FSL antennas that never had a chance of existence are coming out of the woodwork, augmented by funding from the now-aborted Maui vacation (see photo). In addition, the crash course in SDR-DXing that was planned for this month in preparation for Maui has now been replaced by a deliberate, thorough investigation and testing program, so that future sunsets in Hawaii should be fully exploited with spectrum capture of African, South American and Caribbean signals.

My advice to all DXers with a sudden surplus of time is to use the time productively, exercising both your body and mind to keep both in top shape, eager for the opportunities that are sure to come in the future. Nobody has control over the current pandemic, but we certainly have control over our psychological reaction to it. It's kind of similar to what many American DXers faced as teenagers, with the Vietnam War raging, and the draft breathing down our necks. Worrying about a situation beyond our control accomplishes nothing. Use the time productively, and prepare for the future by continually exercising both your mind and body in creative ways, complete with a mindset of determination and optimism. Even though the current situation might seem dire, things will surely turn around, and the future will belong to those who are excited about it!


Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)



--
Paul


--
Paul - Moderator
UltralightDX


keith beesley
 

Thanks, Gary, good advice. Look forward to hearing about your latest antenna creations. 

Keith Beesley
(Skyway/Seattle, WA)

On Sunday, March 29, 2020, 01:16:00 AM PDT, Gary DeBock via Groups.Io <d1028gary@...> wrote:


While the Governor of the state of Washington has decreed that all "non-essential" businesses must shut down (marijuana sellers excluded, of course) and all state parks and most ocean beaches are off limits, the "Shelter at Home" situation is actually an experimental bonanza for someone who has always had dreams of many fanatical new antennas-- but never enough time to complete them. Our Maui vacation went up in smoke when Hawaii decreed that all tourists must stay away for 2 weeks, but despite Costco Travel's reluctance to issue a full refund (a common practice in the collapsing travel industry, I understand), weird new FSL antennas that never had a chance of existence are coming out of the woodwork, augmented by funding from the now-aborted Maui vacation (see photo). In addition, the crash course in SDR-DXing that was planned for this month in preparation for Maui has now been replaced by a deliberate, thorough investigation and testing program, so that future sunsets in Hawaii should be fully exploited with spectrum capture of African, South American and Caribbean signals.

My advice to all DXers with a sudden surplus of time is to use the time productively, exercising both your body and mind to keep both in top shape, eager for the opportunities that are sure to come in the future. Nobody has control over the current pandemic, but we certainly have control over our psychological reaction to it. It's kind of similar to what many American DXers faced as teenagers, with the Vietnam War raging, and the draft breathing down our necks. Worrying about a situation beyond our control accomplishes nothing. Use the time productively, and prepare for the future by continually exercising both your mind and body in creative ways, complete with a mindset of determination and optimism. Even though the current situation might seem dire, things will surely turn around, and the future will belong to those who are excited about it!


Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)


Gary DeBock
 

On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 01:21 AM, Paul Blundell wrote:
Based on that photos, do you think you have a problem? :)
Thanks Paul,

I've always figured that the best way to keep excited about the radio hobby (and DXing in general) is to constantly push the limits in weird antenna construction, repeatedly attempting to construct something that others think is impossible. 99% of the time "the others" end up being correct, but about 1% of the projects end up being raging DXing successes, proving to be technical breakthroughs that provide a lot of fun and excitement for others. A couple of recent examples are the 7.5" loopstick transplant projects in portable radios, and the lightweight "Frequent Flyer" FSL antennas, designed for astonishing performance during overseas air travel. A similar mindset in exploring ocean coast sites led to the discovery of enhanced transoceanic propagation at plunging ocean cliff sites, demonstrated by exceptional reception of New Zealand MW signals every summer at the Rockwork Cliff in Oregon, and similar exploration at Japan's Cape Taitosaki.


Anybody that really wants to have exceptional fun in this hobby needs to get out of his comfort zone, and try something really new and challenging. DXing with the same antennas at the same place(s) for decades will make anyone feel bored. Constantly pushing the limits in weird new antennas, DXing sites and receiver modification is wild, wacky and thrilling-- but never boring!

Gary


     


Paul Blundell
 

I can not agree more. I love trying the different areas of the radio hobby and seeing what I can hear. You are an asset to the hobby and always bring new ideas.


On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 7:58 PM Gary DeBock via Groups.Io <D1028Gary=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:
On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 01:21 AM, Paul Blundell wrote:
Based on that photos, do you think you have a problem? :)
Thanks Paul,

I've always figured that the best way to keep excited about the radio hobby (and DXing in general) is to constantly push the limits in weird antenna construction, repeatedly attempting to construct something that others think is impossible. 99% of the time "the others" end up being correct, but about 1% of the projects end up being raging DXing successes, proving to be technical breakthroughs that provide a lot of fun and excitement for others. A couple of recent examples are the 7.5" loopstick transplant projects in portable radios, and the lightweight "Frequent Flyer" FSL antennas, designed for astonishing performance during overseas air travel. A similar mindset in exploring ocean coast sites led to the discovery of enhanced transoceanic propagation at plunging ocean cliff sites, demonstrated by exceptional reception of New Zealand MW signals every summer at the Rockwork Cliff in Oregon, and similar exploration at Japan's Cape Taitosaki.


Anybody that really wants to have exceptional fun in this hobby needs to get out of his comfort zone, and try something really new and challenging. DXing with the same antennas at the same place(s) for decades will make anyone feel bored. Constantly pushing the limits in weird new antennas, DXing sites and receiver modification is wild, wacky and thrilling-- but never boring!

Gary


     



--
Paul


--
Paul - Moderator
UltralightDX


 

I'm really interested in any "exotic" antenna that will work with my PL-600. Any ideas? Whats a ballpark price for the construction of one of the small FSL and are the materials readily available? 73's


Todd
 

Hi Gary,

I never knew how many MW FSL antennas you have stored at home. The development process seems to have gone through multiple iterations. There are enough FSLs to sell online as a business.

I am still using a 40 inch side length table-top 4-leg style PVC tunable air core box loop with 9 turns. What would be the equivalent size FSL antenna that would offer comparable MW DX gain?

One possible drawback with the current COVID-19 stay at home guidelines, is increased local QRM. More people staying at home translates to more electrical devices operating. So far there hasn't been a notable increase in MW noise. If anything, electrical storm static last night rendered 558 KHz 6WA Wagin almost unlistenable.

The Australian government today announced a new maximum two person gathering rule. This effectively puts a lid on club DX gatherings. I've been using Zoom software for my local Cong bi-weekly meetings. This software could also be used for DXer meetings. Any large DX club or local DX group could set up a meeting by using an assigned Zoom software log-in number. The audio and video quality is surprisingly good.

Regards,

Todd
Sydney, Australia


Michael.2E0IHW
 

Now we know why many of us are receiving weak signals :
Gary's FSL array is sucking in most of the RF energy :-)

Michael UK

On 30/03/2020 03:45, Todd via Groups.Io wrote:
Hi Gary,
I never knew how many MW FSL antennas you have stored at home. The development process seems to have gone through multiple iterations. There are enough FSLs to sell online as a business.
...
Regards,
Todd
Sydney, Australia


Gary DeBock
 

<<<   I'm really interested in any "exotic" antenna that will work with my PL-600. Any ideas? Whats a ballpark price for the construction of one of the small FSL and are the materials readily available? 73's   >>>

Hi Ron,

There have been several "full construction" articles published for small FSL antennas, with all of them using the Russian surplus 140mm and 160mm ferrite rods (which are still available on eBay).
 
A 5 inch diameter FSL model with a "design price" of $95 (construction parts only) was published in 2012, and is linked at http://www.mediafire.com/file/9ze98h293s85p86/5_inch_FSL.doc/file
That particular model is being upgraded as one of the current design projects, with 1062/46 Litz wire (significantly more sensitive) and a "384P" variable cap from Mike's Electronic Parts (significantly higher Q). Together, the two upgrades provide a big difference in performance.

A 3.5 inch "Frequent Flyer" FSL model was designed (and a full construction article was published) in 2017. It is essentially a shrunken-down 5" FSL with slightly longer ferrite rods and more sensitive Litz wire-- resulting in exactly the same gain. It is a TSA-friendly model designed for overseas air travel in hand carry luggage, and the full construction article is posted at  http://www.mediafire.com/file/pnfm8909c77zjoy/3.5inch-FF-FSL.doc/file
Because of the increased component costs that model will run about $150 in construction parts.

The 5 inch "Frequent Flyer" FSL models that Craig Barnes and I use for Hawaii DXpeditions are built with the lightweight Russian surplus 100mm x 20mm x 3mm ferrite bars, which unfortunately have not been available commercially since 2012. There are very scarce (even among experimenters), so no more articles using them have been published recently. 

73, Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)
 


Gary DeBock
 

Hi Todd (and Michael),

<<<   I never knew how many MW FSL antennas you have stored at home. The development process seems to have gone through multiple iterations. There are enough FSLs to sell online as a business.   >>>

Well, you are probably correct, Todd, but since it's a labor of love I've certainly given away far more FSL's than I've ever sold. Financially there doesn't seem to be a need to do so, although my wife (in her zeal to free up more space) would be the first to agree with you!

<<<   I am still using a 40 inch side length table-top 4-leg style PVC tunable air core box loop with 9 turns. What would be the equivalent size FSL antenna that would offer comparable MW DX gain?   >>>

The 5" FSL antenna full construction project (posted at the link in the previous message) was extensively tested against a 4 foot (48") air core box loop here, and demonstrated equivalent gain, with a slightly better S/N ratio. However, the 5" FSL has much sharper tuning than an air core loop, and takes some DXing practice in order to get the best performance out of it. The new, razor-sharp "384P" variable caps transform the 5" FSL into a tiny little DXing firecracker, but without serious practice most DXers will probably be left longing for a broader-tuning air core loop. The latest 5" FSL antennas will provide exception gain once you carefully tune in the DX, but without practice you will find it tough to even locate the gain peak.

<<<   One possible drawback with the current COVID-19 stay at home guidelines, is increased local QRM. More people staying at home translates to more electrical devices operating. So far there hasn't been a notable increase in MW noise. If anything, electrical storm static last night rendered 558 KHz 6WA Wagin almost unlistenable.   >>>

Definitely true, even here, Todd. With so many families "sheltering at home" there has been an explosion of RFI of all types, as families try anything and everything to entertain themselves... indefinitely. To make matters worse, the Governor has placed all ocean beach state parks off limits-- pretty much locking you into the RFI at your home location.

558-6WA is one of our annual targets at the plunging Rockwork Cliff each August, so I certainly hope the virus will wrap up before then!

<<<   The Australian government today announced a new maximum two person gathering rule. This effectively puts a lid on club DX gatherings. I've been using Zoom software for my local Cong bi-weekly meetings. This software could also be used for DXer meetings. Any large DX club or local DX group could set up a meeting by using an assigned Zoom software log-in number. The audio and video quality is surprisingly good.   >>>

Well, Oz DXer Chris Rogers and I were very fortunate to have our Hawaii DXpedition in November-- before the entire world went into a pandemic meltdown! Come to think of it, my wife was trying to talk me into a luxury cruise about now-- but somehow she never mentions that idea any more.

73, Gary

   
 


 

Thanks for the info, Gary. I just got a very good deal on a GE Super Radio 1 so I'm hoping to get some good DX with it. I know its not UL, but at this point I can't afford to put a lot of money into ferrite and litz wire. I have a PL-600, again, not UL that works fairly well with my home made milk crate loop. My only UL radios are a PL-380 and a Kaito WRX-911. I built a 7.5" ferrite rod antenna and it really pulls in stations with the WRX-911. I'll read your articles on FSL construction and maybe someday bite the bullet and order Litz and rods. Thanks again.