Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Life in the big city


Life in the big city


 As many of you already know, I recently moved from the beautiful outskirts of town, into the big city of Port Angeles. Ok, it really isn't THAT big (pop. 19,000+) but after ten years of living in Joyce 20 miles West of town, that is humongous.
 Well, after a month or so of getting everything in order after a big move across the county, I finally decided to put up an antenna and get on the HF bands. I was getting to the point that I was hearing Morse code in my sleep and dreaming of exotic DX contacts from all over the world, so I figured it was probably time to get back on the HF bands.


The noise is all in your head.


After putting the Cushcraft R5 vertical up on a short 10 ft pole off the balcony I was instantly awarded with a full S9 of signals on EVERY band from 10M to 20M. The bad part was most of it was coming from the power transformer out back in the alleyway. OK, no problem. At least the DVR flipped through channels as I transmitted CW. I can just imagine how happy the neighbors were that I was changing channels for them every second or so. SIGH.

Bigger isn't always better.


OK, time to whip out the 35ft telescoping mast of HF badness. Me and my son Anthony fought with that darn pole most of the afternoon, and was finally able to get most of it to pull apart (28ft) after covering the pole and ourselves with used motor oil. No worries, it is still higher than the power lines out back, and should eliminate a good portion of the RFI my receiver was picking up, right?

Oh heck no. Now when I transmit the house lights blink, and the TV's shut on and off in beautiful Morse code rhythm. I seem to have set up system for the hearing impaired.

When all else fails.


And before you mention all the troubleshooting techniques, rest assured that I have already killed the power to the house from the breaker box and ran the radio on a car battery, with no change in noise. I also went out back into the alley and beat on the power poles till the neighbors called the cops on me. Something about a middle aged man in black, aggressively beating on the poles with a hatchet. The police department has no sense of humor at all...

Time to take it to the wire.


At this point in the game, my options are looking like it is time to break out a multiband dipole of some sort. I had really good luck before with a 20M Extended Double Zepp on 40M to 10M. The biggest issue would be whether the lot my house is on would be big enough. The other issue would be getting both ends of the antenna up high enough for it to be effective. Another option would be to set up a separate receive antenna of some sort. The K9AY array is supposed to be an excellent choice, and I have all the switching equipment here already. Just a matter of getting that damn telescoping pole to pull apart the other 7 feet that I need to set it up.

Sure, I could call and whine to the power company, but not sure how far I would get with that.