A Ton of Updates from the Ham Shack

I have totally missed having a decent 100 watt station at home. Several months ago I tore down all of my HF antennas in preparation for a move that...

I have totally missed having a decent 100 watt station at home. Several months ago I tore down all of my HF antennas in preparation for a move that didn’t happen because our deal didn’t go through. Long story short, we’ll probably be here another year or so, so there’s no way I wasn’t putting my antennas back up! I didn’t want to deploy the remotely tuned sky loop again. I’m not very fond of having to tune the antenna every time I move frequencies. This type of antenna does not pair well with SDRs, because simply you don’t have the ability to ‘tune’ the antenna with a ‘receive-only’ SDR because you have no ability to send a tone to the tuner. Though I had great performance from the LDG RT-100 – it’s probably still something I’m going to keep in my arsenal for a future antenna deployment. The weatherized box didn’t hold up very well, so I’d suggest putting it in an additional enclosure if you’ll have it exposed to the elements!

I had this bright idea of moving my entire ham shack from the second story to the first story last week, and to the dining room! lol I realized quickly that wasn’t going to be the best spot for the shack. My intention was to run some proper grounding, but I realized quickly that having a dedicated room for a shack was a must-have. So back up everything went, lol. My station will forego an earth ground. I refuse to run an earth ground that long, it would only present more problems. It would be impossible for me to interconnect the grounding system with the house electrical system which is required per NEC code. So the best I can do is disconnect my antennas when not in use (though not the best option – and not necessarily a good form of insurance!). Sometimes you just have to work with what you have. Eventually I’ll have a more suitable location, but until then I will have to practice extra caution. I’ve gone without a ground up until now, but I’d still like to have a proper station. The other option I have is to forego having an ‘always deployed’ antenna @ my QTH, and keep the vertical as a fold-over antenna – I’m sure my risks could be mitigated that way, but then I’d lose out on having an antenna that performs excellent for stateside contacts. I’d also have to take the VHF/UHF omni antenna down. I had to look on the bright side though, it made me completely rearrange my shack when I put everything back. It’s much more functional now! A work in progress & more pictures to come! The idea was to create a space that would allow me to remove & add equipment easily as I decided to go operate portable with my radios. It was a complete PITA the way I had things before up against the wall.


Rearranging the Shack!


More workspace!


I’ll be deploying the Hustler 6BTV again on its DX Engineering fold over mount in a much improved install! This time on a galvanized pipe. First I’ll try pounding in the pipe directly to the ground, but if that doesn’t work, then some quick set concrete will have to do. I’m expecting to have to use concrete based on my past results with the soil around here. This time I’m documenting the whole experience to share with you on YouTube! I know that most hams forego installing a vertical because it’s not as simple as throwing up a dipole. My aim is to show that the process is fairly simple. Even on my small city lot (41′ x 41′), with a decent number of radials laid out (32 in my case), you can have a decent performing DX antenna. (After all my most distant contacts have come from this antenna!). This antenna is also located about 15-20 feet further away from my house than my OCF is, though resulting in a bit longer run of coax.


Prepping for the Hustler 6BTV YouTube Video!



Yellow – landscape changes, Orange – conduit, Green – antenna & radials


As you can see from the above picture, I have quite a bit of work cut out in my particular situation, because I’m going to improve my install this time around. I have to change up some landscaping that the previous owners did in the backyard by removing the large rock retaining wall, and red granite rock/sand. I’ll replace with a proper retaining wall, fill with dirt, and top with sod, but not before I lay out the southern section of radials & run the coax in some conduit. I think I’ve just been waiting for some cooler weather!


I removed the Ameritron RCS-4 coax switch from the attic – not sure why I put it in there to begin with – as it’s already weather protected. (You don’t want to know how many times I’ve climbed into the attic to connect something!) This switch box will allow me to easily connect antennas that I make or experiment with on the two unused ports that i’ll have left. A bias-t box is used inside the shack to switch between the different antennas. I had about 15-20 ft of leftover LMR-400 and researched online that as long as the coil is kept larger than 12″, then coiling it up is perfectly fine. I haven’t been able to justify purchasing a coax tool kit yet, the loss is pretty small with LMR-400. I have a 75′ run going to the switch box from the shack, and then another 12′ run to the OCF dipole, & another 50′ run to the vertical antenna.


I did install the off-center fed again, but I’m not satisfied with where its resonating after adjustments. I think something is possibly amiss with the balun which I forgot to put a ‘weep hole’ in when I purchased it from Balun Designs. So I’ve ordered a new 4 band off-center fed dipole from NI4L. I also finally tidied up the cables, and used a ‘Slotted Cover Plate’ from KF7P metalwerks, which looks like the below picture up close. When it comes time to move, i’ll either replace with a solid cover plate, or drill a bigger hole & place a soffit vent here.


Thanks to everyone who has signed up for the antenna giveaway! Only 11 days left until the drawing during the Solar Eclipse QSO Party! Stay tuned for the finished & polished up shack pics & for the Hustler 6BTV Installation Video!

73 de K5ACL

Ham RadioHF AntennasHustler AntennaLDGRemote Tuners
5 Comments on this post.
  • Bruce Malo
    10 August 2017 at 3:49 PM

    damm…. can I rent you to come to FL and take care of my antenna, coax and grounding needs? 😃

    • K5ACL
      10 August 2017 at 10:54 PM

      With triple digits this entire week… It may not happen soon, lol

  • Jeff
    10 August 2017 at 3:36 PM

    Im in the same boat with my homebrew 40-meter vertical that I took down a few years ago went I went overseas. I want to get it back up before the end of this year. Looking forward to your video! 73 de Jeff, KF5KWO

    • Paul Passman
      10 August 2017 at 6:53 PM

      Your 6BTV will work great with the DXE tilt base and radial plate. Read and follow the instructions well. I’ve noted that the resonance is a bit low with the tilt base and radials, but it can be easily adjusted after the installation. You may not need to use the tuner with the vertical. Use a good antenna analyzer and you’ll be done before September ends.

      Keep posting photos and details!


      – Paul

      • K5ACL
        10 August 2017 at 10:53 PM

        Thanks Paul… I did have one issue I failed to mention before… I could NEVER get the antenna to resonate on 10 meters! SWR curve just said ‘i don’t think so!’. I tried trap adjustments, lowering the tilt base as far as I could, everything… no dice. I’m hoping this time around I’ll have caught my own error?