HamRadio 360 Workbench – Antenna Analyzer
Antennas , Design , Microcontrollers / August 6, 2016

Welcome to the HamRadio 360 Workbench Antenna Analyzer project page ! This is a quick glimpse at our first Workbench community build project.  This antenna analyzer was designed by our good friend Beric, K6BEZ.  The idea is to make a low cost antenna analyzer that can be battery operated and used in the field or plugged into a PC to extend it’s functionality.  This picture is the rev 1 prototype board which was designed in Cadsoft’s Eagle PCB design tool. This is a partially build board.  The upper left solder pads are for the right angle BNC connector.  The blue daughter board on the top left is the DDS (direct digital synthesis) board which generates the signal.  The little blue board to it’s right is an Arduino Pro Micro which has a micro USB jack.  To the right of that is the DC power input jack.  The big dark rectangle is the 2 line x 16 character LCD display and there are three push buttons to the right. The final version of the board will look pretty much like this. The whole design including the hardware schematics, layout, firmware and optional PC software will all be open source. Stay tuned to…

KX2 Portable Case
Antennas , Design , Operating , Radios / August 6, 2016

For storage and travel, I put my KX2 and all essential accessories into a B&W case.  The Elecraft Lowe padded case fits nicely as well.  Inside the Lowe case is the KX2 radio, paddle, earbuds, and microphone.  The other trail essentials in the rest of the plastic case are the paracord guys, guy rings, stakes, notebook / log, PackTenna Mini 9:1 UNUN and wire antenna, 10′ RG316 or RG174 coax with BNC connectors, 13′ counterpoise wire, PowerPole to 2.1mm DC power cable, and extra paracord and S-clips. I like using the hard plastic box to store everything at home or toss it into the car for a trip.  When on the trail, I ditch the plastic box and put accessories into a zippered case.  Then I throw the Lowe soft case with the radio and the accessory case in the backpack along with a 32-1/2′ PackTenna telescoping fiberglass mast.  The mast collapses down to only 26″ so it’s easy to strap to the side of the pack. Watch the video Get a PackTenna

Portable HF Antennas – Think Like a Backpacker
Antennas , Operating / May 26, 2016

At this year’s Dayton Hamvention, my talk was about building simple end-fed wire antennas for portable HF ops.  These antenna designs have been around for decades and my focus is on coming up with a compact form factor that makes it easy to toss it into your backpack and hit the trail.\ You can download my presentation here… kj6vu_portable_hf_antennas

PackTenna Mini – SOTA Friendly Antenna
Antennas / March 22, 2016

Last year I designed the PackTenna portable HF antenna system and showed it off at Dayton.  Nick, N3WG, and I made a bunch of antennas and they all sold out.  We got a lot of feedback from users and it was all very positive.  Given all that, we may make another batch later this year.  In the mean time…  we wanted to make an even smaller, SOTA friendly antenna so we came up with the idea of a “PackTenna Mini”. 20 Meter End-Fed Version The design is a combination wire winder + matching circuit + antenna wire all in one little package you can toss into your backpack.  When I operate in the field, I want something that is quick to set up and quick to put away that is also fairly robust.  The PackTenna Mini fits the bill. The antenna wire is 26 AWG copper clad steel wire with a great “silky” jacket.  This makes keeps the weight and bulk down while delivering a very strong antenna element. There are two versions of the “Mini”.  There is a 9:1 UNUN version that is designed for use with radios that have an internal antenna tuner, like the KX3.  This version would use…