This page describes my old HF station, which was active from 2018 through 2019.
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)
|Callsign||Grid||Date UTC||Hdg||Dist||Band||RST TX/RX||DXCC|
|ZS1CF||JF96||2018-09-22||E||10187mi||40m||-13/-18||R.O. SOUTH AFRICA|
Click here for a list of all contacts I made with the old antenna, confirmed and unconfirmed.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.