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TX_Clint

Ham Radio

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TX_Clint

Hammer, no I don't have an Elmer yet. I'm planning to move to Arizona this spring or summer and I won't be very active until then. I do plan to hook up with a club when I get settled there. I'll likely start with a small cheap HT like a Baofeng BF-F8HP so after I get a good home set I can use it when hiking and camping.

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Hammer

JEEZ!  I just tried to get on our local, Friday night, 10 meter net, but my SWR meter indicated that my SWR was way too high.  I checked a few things, then went outside to check my coaxial cable connections, and I found that the coaxial coax was cut in half.  I don't know if it just broke by itself (we've had really strong winds today), or if some critter ate through it.

 

I just ordered a new coaxial cable (wow have the prices gone up!), and I'm hoping that I will be able to untie my antenna from the two trees that it is attached to, so that I can lower it to attach the new cable.  I guess that I could just attach a connector to each end of the coaxial cables, but I don't have much luck with trying to attach connectors to this type of coaxial cable.   Maybe I'll first try just soldering the ends of the cable back together.  These are the types of problems that you run into when you live in the country and have antenna cables.

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meyery2k

I almost foolishly offered to cut a 2 way radio antenna cable (coax) to help relocate an office in another part of the building.  There would have been way too much slack (in my mind).  I asked a friend about this and was told if I didn't know what I was doing, not to touch.  SWR was referred to.  My contractor license covers low voltage cabling for telecom and data (not radio) so I am not licensed for this class of work and could have earned a stiff fine for my employer.  I also could have had the FCC investigate if the work resulted in interference to neighbors (I was told cutting a cable and disrupting the SWR could result in this).

 

I honestly think this was the best job I never did.

 

I have worked with RG59 which is the thin stuff used in video.  Crimping connectors can be challenging on those.  I imagine the thicker antenna cable is a bit less forgiving.

 

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TX_Clint

If you decide to splice the cable back together. I have done this before and have terminated coax to terminal strips. The biggest key to making this work right is how to handle the shielding. I highly recommend that after stripping back the outer insulation you do not try to unbraid the shielding. Make a hole through the shielding near the outer insulation using a small screwdriver and then pull the insulated conductor out of this hole. This leaves your shielding intact so you can strip and butt splice the center conductor then solder the shields together. Hint, don't forget to put heat shrink over the cable first. Good luck. 

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Hammer

I checked the coax cable today, since I couldn't see it that well last night, and the cable isn't worth splicing back together.  Apparently, from blowing in the wind (the coax drops down from the center connection of the parallel dipole, down to the ground, and then runs along the ground to my house), the outer and inner insulation has cracked in numerous places, so it's just worn out.  There is no way to run the coax any other way, as I need to disconnect it's PL-259 connector from the SO-239 connector at my house, and raise the coax up off of the ground when I mow my lawn.  The parallel dipole is strung up between two trees, and that means that the connection, which is in the center of the dipole, is in the middle of my yard, so there's no way to secure the coax as it drops to the ground, to prevent it from blowing in the wind.

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meyery2k

I am not sure what size coax ham radio uses but I know there is direct burial coax in RG6 and RG11.  

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TX_Clint
17 minutes ago, meyery2k said:

I am not sure what size coax ham radio uses but I know there is direct burial coax in RG6 and RG11.  

Ham radio uses 50 ohm cable such as RG58. I believe RG6 and RG11 are 75 ohm. They would work for radio but would have about 3db signal loss.

 

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Hammer

Well, no, I could not use conduit and bury it underground.  To do that, I would have to bury the conduit, which would not be a problem, but the coax that drops down from the parallel dipole antenna would still swing in the wind, so if I would place it in the conduit, the spot where I placed it in the conduit would rub the coax as it swayed in the wind, and it would eventually break again.  The only way that I could prevent this would be to move the antenna to a different spot, where the center of the antenna, where my coax is connected, would be overtop of a tree, that way, I could secure the coax to the tree as it ran down the tree to the ground.  If I were to do that, then I wouldn't be able to raise the coax up off of the ground to mow my lawn, since there would be no slack in the coax to allow that.  There is also the fact that, to move the antenna to a different spot where the center feed to the antenna would be in front of a tree, I'd need a lot more coax to do that, since I would need to relocate the antenna to two different trees.  There would also be the problem that the squirrels in the trees might just chew on the coax, and destroy it.

 

I typically use RG-58 coax, but there are different types of RG-58.  I used RG-58X, which is okay.  I just ordered RG-58U, which is a better grade of coax, which is why it cost so much.  The coax that I have running to my 2-meter radio from my antenna in my living room, is RG-58X, since it's not swaying in the wind.  There are  better coax cables, like LMR-400, but that is not only more expensive, but it's hard to work with.  It's like  trying to connect soft copper tubing to your antenna and radio...it's very stiff.

 

Since I don't need a very loss coax like LMR-400, as I'm only transmitting to my local repeater, any type of RG-58 coax is fine.  My HF rig is what needs a better coax than the RG-58X that I was using, but since I hardly ever get on the HF bands, I figured that it was good enough, plus, when I put up the parallel dipole antenna, I had the RG-58X on hand, so that's what I used.

 

This is the 2-meter radio that I'm using (I have two of them), and it's no longer being made.  This is the HF radio that I am using, and the company has been bought out a number of times, and this radio isn't in production at this time, but it should be at some point in the future, which is why there is no price listed for it.  This is the parallel dipole that I am using.  This is the microphone for the HF radio, the Ten Tec Eagle radio, that I am using...the Regal TT-707.  

 

I have other ham radios that I am not using at this time, but every ham operator will eventually get more than one radio....it's just in our blood.  I have six ham radios at this time, and I'm trying to stop myself from buying more radios, but, well, I guess it's like a lot of women and shoes...you don't really need them, but you end up buying them anyway, because you want to try them out.  That's the same thing with ham radios...you want to try them out.

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meyery2k

Maybe a crazy idea but what if you sealed the conduit where the cable enters with fire-proofing foam or fire stop putty?.  It becomes quite stiff.  If you don't use too much, it can be removed.

 

Again, probably not knowing the big picture so just going to ask, could you set up a stake, secure the cable to the stake, create a service loop of 5-10', then enter conduit?  Then if there is sway damage you would have slack right there to work with.  The putty or foam might greatly slow the process if not outright stop it.

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Hammer

No, that wouldn't work either.  Remember, where I live, we get temperatures in the single digits during the winter months.  When it's that cold, and the wind is blowing 15-25 mph, the insulation on the coax is being stressed, and that stress will cause it to crack and eventually break.  The only solution that I can think of would be to move the antenna to two different trees, so that the coax cable would be in front of a tree, that way is could be strapped to the tree, and prevented from swaying with the wind, then, once it got to the ground, to run it in buried conduit to my house, that way I wouldn't have to move it when I cut my grass.  The downside of doing that is that I know that, when you bury conduit, it will retain moisture...so much so that it can fill up with water.  If the conduit were to fill up with water, it would affect my transmission patterns, and most likely, not allow any signals to be transmitted.  When transmitting radio signals, there are many things that need to be considered, and the coax is just one of them.  Propagation is just one of them, and I understand that we are beginning to enter a new era of sunspot activity that will finally open up the HF bands again, which means that we can make contacts with people all over the world, which has been a problem in the past number of years.  We also have to consider the antenna, the height that it is above the ground, the type of coax that is being used, how well the antenna matches it's impedance to the radio, the time of day it is, as certain bands begin to slowly close down due to the ionosphere becoming less ionized as the sun goes down.  

 

It's impossible to know all of the variables that can affect one's radio signals, so when you try to install an antenna system, calculating many variables, there are always other variables that you'll miss, and those can make or break your station.  I've seen where one guy was able to make contacts 1,000 miles away by just using 1/10 of a watt, and I'm using 100 watts, and I wasn't able to contact some hams in the next state.  By the same token, many years ago on my way home from work, using my ham radio that was mounted in my car, and it was running 25 watts, I made two contacts in Japan, so you never know what you need to do to make a contact, as the variables are constantly changing.

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