Whilst tidying up, I found an unknown dipole that was looking rather sorry for itself. All I needed was some good weather and I’ll be able to test it out – and today was to be that day, with plenty of glorious sunshine I was able to do some other work around the QTH and also then test out the ‘unknown dipole’.
I purchased a ‘christmas string light reel organiser’ to wind the dipole onto once I had de-tangled it all. This worked well in keeping the antenna and insulators tidy. I then set about testing the mast having never used it before.
I was impressed how easy it was to get this ‘little’ mast setup, at just over 4m its a reasonable height off the ground, and very easy to pack away. I had the dipole attached and the wires attached to end-points in no time at all.
The SWR of the antenna wasnt spot on 1:1 but at least in the range of being tunable for at least the 40m and 15m bands. I setup my laptop to try testing WSPR with 0.1W of power to see how the antenna would do without any tuner to start with.
I picked up serveral signals, so the antenna and 705 worked well together, I wasn’t to be disappointed with the reach on the 705 with just .1W (milliwat) of power.
Having proved the antenna, I then wanted to test FT8, but encountered the same issues I had when using the whip antenna, the radio would cause the laptop to cut out. Thankfully with testing at home, I was able to return to the ‘shack’ and pick up a common mode choke to insert into the feed line between the antenna and the MAT 705 tuner. This did require a few adaptors on the choke, but it worked excellently with WSJTX working perfectly on the dipole antenna.
I was soon getting out on FT8 with no problems at all, using 5 and 10W into the dipole, the MAT Tuner, doing an excellent job whilst I hopped between bands, this was a distinct advantage to the AlexLoop which would require tuning each time, where as the MAT tuner coupled to the 705 took care of the tuning itself every time, which results being between good (<1.5) to acceptable (<2.5 SWR).
I was able to have several FT8 qso’s across the bands, and was really greatful for those that persisted in completing the contact with signal reports and 73. The bands, esp 20m, was very busy and getting out QRP it a challenge ! In a short period of time in ‘noisy’ RF environment I was able to make 5 contacts all across Europe and into the UK.
I was able to pack down the antenna and mast easily, whilst taking slightly longer than the Alex Loop, it did make for an antenna I can easily setup and use to jump between bands and seemingly do well having made several FT8 contacts. I was able to get the choek into the accessories bag, so its looking like I can take two antennas out with me when packing the dipole along with the alexloop.
I think I will always carry this antenna and mast with me, its so light and easy to setup/use, it gives the flexibility to operate around the bands without having to re-tune the antenna each time manually. I think it will feature on some PoTA activations soon !
Until then, 73s and hope to see you on the airwaves.