Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Getting a fresh footprint on 432 MHz at the Palm HQ

I am in the process of upgrading all of my VHF-UHF antennas here at the Palm HQ and made a nice breakthrough last night on 432 MHz.  For some years now all I've had on that band is a cheesy little 6-element beam.  That's not a lot of gain, so performance wasn't great.

I've been getting emails about a Monday night weekly net on 432 MHz run by Steve, N4PZ down in Mount Morris, IL which is a 130 mile shot from me.  Since I recently acquired a 22-element boomer for 432 I thought last night would be a good time to try things out.

I assembled the yagi, attached it to a 9 foot piece of PVC, lashed it to our clothesline pole, hooked up a feed line and routed that into the house.  The SWR isn't perfect, but not bad -- I can probably tweak that a bit for a better match.

I pointed the antenna in Steve's general direction and waited for the start of the net some hours hence.  But then I noticed that Bob, K2DRH, was on the ON4KST chat so I asked if he could give me a shout on 432.100 MHz.  In the meantime I ran outside and swung the beam to point more or less at Bob.  Sure enough, a few minutes later I heard Bob in there (he's also about 130 miles from me) and we were easily able to make the QSO.  Bob thought it should been stronger but since I just guesstimated his direction it probably could have been optimized.

I swung the antenna back toward N4PZ's QTH and not long after that heard him in there calling me.  There was some fading and, as with K2DRH, I'm sure that the direction needed to be tweaked.  But it was good solid copy both ways, even with my measly 10 watts.

When that antenna gets up to 40 feet and I kick in the amplifier I should be very solid indeed on 70 cm.

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