Antenna for Drake sw-8

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DaddyHam

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Hello all,

I passed my technician last week and will be using 2 meter mostly for a while. But eventually I want to do HF and will get my general in a month or two. Until then, I have a drake sw8 receiver Drake SW8 Radio Receiver (100KHz - 30MHz). I live in suburbia and have mast height restrictions. So I'm looking for recommendations for an antenna and what bands might be good for listening across the country or even from other countries. I live in Richmond, VA. For now just voice.

Once I get some experience I will get a HF transceiver.
 

ka3jjz

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This is a very large question, Daddy. Much depends on the time of day, what you are interested in listening and what the Sun is up to.

Let's break this down into parts - and do the easy (well, maybe not so easy) part first. HF propagation is greatly influenced by solar activity - and recently things have been a little jumpy due to several flares sending highly ionized clouds of gas in our direction. These Coronal Mass Ejections, or CMEs, are one of the mechanisms that cause the Aurora Borealis (or for our friends below the equator, the Aurora Australis).

This article from our wiki has a lot of information on the subject. I would start by viewing the excellent website AE4RV put together - note that you will need the Flash software to be active to view it. The link for this website is in the preamble of...

HF Propagation - The RadioReference Wiki

Spaceweather.com is another good website to keep handy for current conditions. Not too technical, but you also get enough detail to make you start thinking about how the sun and Earth interact.

Also keep in mind that daylight and darkness play a major role here. In general, stick above 10 Mhz during the day, below that at night.

Now to a much broader question, and one that frankly deserves a whole 'nother discussion, and that's antennas. While the height restrictions are an issue, that's not necessarily a real concern right now. A better set of questions would relate to what you want to hear, and how much area outdoors do you have to play with. We hams only occupy a very small section of the HF spectrum. We have LOTS of links on HF antennas here....

HF Antennas - The RadioReference Wiki

Learn this as you go, Daddy - when you go for your General, what you learn here will play a role later...

I should also note that we have separate forums for both these questions - propagation questions can go to the HF/MW/LW General forum, while HF listening antennas go to our Receive Antennas forum (where this thread will eventually be moved). You really have 2 (related, granted) questions here - and we'll be glad to take you through them as you learn.

HTH...Mike
 
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DaddyHam

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Thanks

I figured this was complicated. I will study the material and will measure my usable yard space.

Thanks again
Eric
 

k9rzz

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You don't have to go over the top to get started. String up some wire as high as you can. Giddyup. Have at it.

Ask any ham that's grown long in the tooth and they'll tell 'ya that the most hastily put together antenna that went up in the dark/rain/snow/bugs worked better than anything else.

You don't have to PAY for an antenna to get one that works well.
 
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ka3jjz

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One of our local hams (W3GXT) had exactly the same rule - it was true so often that we simply called it the 'GXT rule' as a memorium. Funny that someone else had the same idea :.>>

Mike
 

nanZor

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The other rule is don't hastily evaluate the antenna in only one day's worth of listening. Depending on solar conditions, you may have nothing no matter how good your antenna is, or if conditions are great, an 8 foot random wire is a world beater.

One thing I do know, is that I seem personally responsible for solar outages. Any time I do work on my antennas, or put a new one up, I have to wait a week for all the solar disruptions to stop. I'd swear the sun knows what I'm up to. :)
 

LtDoc

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Another option for a 'make-do' antenna, a cheap and simple one, is to just throw a wire over your roof, doesn't really make a huge difference how long or what kind of wire. It won't be the 'best' in the world, but it'll at least give you something to make comparisons with. You might be surprised at how well it will work. This would only be for listening, and receivers just aren't that 'picky', sort of.
- 'Doc
 
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