W5CAL

East Palo Alto, California, USA

This page describes my old HF station, which was active from 2018 through 2019.

Quick Links

  1. Non-Resonant HF Dipole
  2. 3-Element 10m Yagi

Old station

Non-resonant HF Dipole Antenna

Non-resonant HF Dipole

For my first couple years on HF, I used an "all-band" 102ft (31m) horizontal dipole antenna, which was strung North-South with the North end pointed about five degrees West of North. The North end was 17ft (5m) off the ground, and the South end was at 25ft (8m). The wire was #14 (1.6mm) uninsulated copper.

Totals:

  622 QSOs, 503 Confirmed (80.9%)

Confirmed DXCC Countries (41):

  ALASKA (5)
  ANTARCTICA 
  ARGENTINA (3)
  ASIATIC RUSSIA (3)
  AUSTRALIA (2)
  BALEARIC ISLANDS 
  BELIZE 
  BOLIVIA 
  BRAZIL (4)
  CANADA (17)
  CANARY ISLANDS 
  CHILE (3)
  CHINA 
  COLOMBIA (2)
  COSTA RICA 
  CUBA (2)
  ENGLAND 
  FINLAND 
  FRANCE 
  GUATEMALA 
  HAWAII (8)
  HONG KONG 
  INDONESIA (14)
  JAMAICA 
  JAPAN (60)
  MAURITANIA 
  MEXICO (2)
  NEW CALEDONIA 
  NEW ZEALAND (8)
  NICARAGUA 
  NORWAY 
  PARAGUAY 
  PUERTO RICO 
  REPUBLIC OF KOREA (3)
  REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA 
  SPAIN 
  SWEDEN 
  TAIWAN (2)
  UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (341)
  VENEZUELA 
  WEST MALAYSIA 

Confirmed US States:

AK(05) AL(08) AR(03) AZ(16) CA(51) 
CO(13) CT(02) DE(02) FL(10) GA(08) 
HI(08) IA(05) ID(08) IL(15) IN(05) 
KS(06) KY(07) LA(01) MA(05) MD(03) 
ME(01) MI(05) MN(09) MO(04) MS(04) 
MT(02) NC(08) ND(06) NE(03) NH(01) 
NJ(06) NM(07) NY(01) OH(11) OK(04) 
OR(10) PA(04) SC(03) SD(01) TN(08) 
TX(31) UT(09) VA(06) WA(19) WI(07) 
WV(02) WY(01) 


HF Non-Resonant Dipole: Most Distant Confirmed QSLs (from CM87WL)
CallsignGridDate UTCHdgDistBandRST TX/RXDXCC
ZS1CFJF962018-09-22E10187mi40m-13/-18R.O. SOUTH AFRICA
DP1POLIB592018-01-28SE9179mi20m-20/-13ANTARCTICA
YC6RMTNJ812018-12-23WNW8751mi40m-09/-13INDONESIA
YG0TUROI332018-01-12W8690mi40m-10/-13INDONESIA
YD1WCKOI332018-12-25W8684mi40m-02/-17INDONESIA
YC4KRZOI272018-02-25WNW8635mi40m-10/-18INDONESIA
YE6YENJ932018-03-05WNW8586mi40m+01/-16INDONESIA
YC6JRTNJ932018-12-25WNW8582mi40m+00/-14INDONESIA
YB6DENJ842018-03-04WNW8561mi40m-17/-18INDONESIA
YC2JPOOI522018-12-25W8541mi40m+01/-13INDONESIA
YB2CTEOI532018-12-22W8507mi40m-07/-06INDONESIA
9M2CNCOJ032018-12-23WNW8470mi40m-08/-09WEST MALAYSIA
YG5TKNOJ202018-03-18WNW8453mi40m-10/-10INDONESIA
YC7CCPOI492018-09-22WNW8271mi40m-03/-17INDONESIA
YG7SPNOI672018-03-04W8144mi40m-06/-12INDONESIA
VK1MAQF442018-04-14SW7581mi17m-11/-11AUSTRALIA
YB8RWPJ212018-03-18W7386mi40m+05/-13INDONESIA
VK2AHEQF572019-06-23SW7343mi40m-15/-14AUSTRALIA
YD8UXVPJ232018-03-05W7276mi40m-18/-16INDONESIA
ZL4ASRE432018-02-04SSW7153mi15m-21/-18NEW ZEALAND
ZL4TTRE542018-04-14SSW7062mi17m-17/-07NEW ZEALAND
ZL3GAVRE662019-06-23SSW6932mi40m-14/-17NEW ZEALAND
VR2XYLOL722018-02-26WNW6910mi20m-09/-23HONG KONG
ZL2RXRE682018-02-24SSW6796mi20m-19/-21NEW ZEALAND
PY1FIGG872018-01-20ESE6597mi15m-19/-17BRAZIL
ZL2IFBRF802018-04-13SSW6586mi20m-12/-06NEW ZEALAND
ZL1BDRF722018-04-10SSW6553mi20m-14/-03NEW ZEALAND
ZL3TERF732018-02-04SW6531mi17m-11/-09NEW ZEALAND
ZL3CWRF732018-01-21SW6527mi15m-13/-08NEW ZEALAND
BX4ALPL052018-01-13WNW6470mi17m-11/-12TAIWAN
BV1EKPL052018-12-23WNW6447mi40m-10/-12TAIWAN
PY2MRGG662018-02-25ESE6445mi40m-07/-15BRAZIL
LU5CQCGF052018-01-28ESE6434mi20m-24/-17ARGENTINA
LU8EKCGF052018-01-16ESE6428mi30m-07/-20ARGENTINA
PU2LEWGG662018-01-21ESE6423mi15m-16/-11BRAZIL
PY2BEKGG552018-02-26ESE6395mi17m+04/-13BRAZIL
5T2AIIK282018-04-10NE6371mi40m-10/-14MAURITANIA
CE7VPQFE362018-01-21SE6349mi20m-11/-01CHILE
FK8DDRG372018-04-10SW6203mi20m-16/-01NEW CALEDONIA
EA6VQJM192018-01-07NNE6077mi80m-07/-19BALEARIC ISLANDS

Click here for a list of all contacts I made with the old antenna, confirmed and unconfirmed.

80/40/30 Elevation broadside with -3db marks (EZNEC)

You might recognize the length as a G5RV antenna: that length works well because it's "equally bad" for all the amateur radio bands, but it didn't have the correct ground clearance or length of ladder line to really be called a "G5RV".

The full run was about 240ft, with the antenna strung between rope on ceremic insulators. It was tied off to a TV satellite dish on the north end of the roof, and threaded through a pulley in the tree to a hanging cinderblock counterweight on the south end.

I had lots of success all the way up to 15m (21MHz). Beyond that, the radiation pattern starts to distort North due to the slope of the antenna, and that's not where you want to point for success at those high frequencies. I rarely made non-line-of-sight contacts on these bands.

Azimuthal pattern at 15deg 10MHz/14MHz/21MHz with -3db marks (EZNEC)
15deg elevation gain at 28MHz (9dBi gain)

The antenna was fed with ~30ft of 450 Ohm ladder line, which ran down at a 45-degree angle north for 15ft and then just out of reach parallel to the ground into the shack, located under the center of the north leg. The ladder line ran through a knife switch (for grounding it when not in use) to a manual T-network antenna coupler, which had a built-in 1:1 current balun.

The manual antenna coupler was a little silly, but since I generally stuck to FT8 I just had a table of the right settings and it was quick enough. One of the benefits is that you don't have to worry about pushing it as much, since the capacitors will arc before anything else (unlike an L-network coupler where you can ruin the ferrite). It could tune any frequency I ever tried to 2:1 or better.

The ladder line was an important part of making this work: the antenna had extremely high impedence at several of the frequencies I liked to use it on, so the loss in coax would be untenable (and the voltage might actually exceed its tolerance).

This is all a nice demonstration of how resonance doesn't matter much on HF, especially lower HF: if you can hear the noise, it's good enough. The coupler exists only to present the 50 Ohm load the transmitter was designed for.

Center of the dipole, looking East

The below plots show all FT8 contacts made with this old antenna. All distances are in miles, and the colors run through the rainbow from 160m to 6m.

The first set just show the location of contacts at three different "zoom" levels.

Azimuthal plots of all QSO locations

The next set are scatterplots of signal reports on each band: the first shows the signal report I received (e.g. how well they heard me) as a function of distance (log x-axis), and the second shows it as a function of the signal report I sent (e.g. how well I heard them).

Signal Reports (SNR in dB)

The last set show the distance/band of each contact, arranged around the circle by time of day rather than the direction. The really good DX I got on 40m consistently around sunrise sticks out.

Contact band/distance by time of day ("DX Clock")

10m 3-element Yagi

10m Yagi

I had a 3-element 10m Yagi with a rotator, which is about 20ft above ground. The mast is electrical conduit, and the guy wires are 1/8" steel. I set this up mid-July 2019, after I got bored with being to work mostly the same locations with my fixed dipole.

This worked as well as you could expect it to work at the solar minimium: I got very sporadic contacts, but when I did I rarely needed more than 10W on FT8. All in all, it was a fun experiment, but I'm not sure I'll put it up again: the dipole was a lot more practical.