Planning my Home Shack - Help with HF

tweiss3

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So I currently don't have a base-station at home. My home office is going to double as my shack, and is on the 2nd floor of my split level home. I have HF privileges, and keep hearing from the locals that I would enjoy it. At a minimum, I know there is a 10M net and a 6M net I'd like to join.

The office is on the north side of my house. I have a large mature pin oak 20' north of my window, at the edge of my large pond. There is a large mature black walnut approximately 57' N68dE of the oak and a second large black walnut approximately 72' N85dW of the oak. Looking for something "start" at the oak, where the coax will come down the trunk, get buried, to take over to the house, and go into a grounded entry before going up the side of the house and into the shack. The idea is to reserve the peak of my roof for 2M/70CM antenna. I'm still researching what rig I would buy, but its going to be 100W max probably.

I have been looking at DX Engineer's antenna options (I would love to go in, but their showroom is still closed) and am thinking of a wire/multi wire antenna. Primary bands are 6M/10M, would like 20/40 as well. I have the following questions:
1) I have a squirrel problem, that is slowing getting taken care of, but will never disappear. Are squirrels a problem with outdoor coax/wire antennas?
2) Recommendations that will look with these options?
3) I see many of the options have a bauln/transformer base that needs grounded. If the antenna is grounded at the trunk of the tree, is it as important to ground at the house too?

I will probably have more questions as I continue the planning.
 

prcguy

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I would think your local 10m and 6m nets would be vertical polarized, and that is a hard one to satisfy with a single antenna. You could get a 10m ground plane and add a 6m resonant stub to it I suppose.

For wire antennas, a 40 through 10m offset center fed dipole at about 65ft long works well 40 through 10m and should be usable on 6m depending on the balun. The MyAntennas version has a balun spec'd through 6m and may work fine. The coax on this antenna drops down about 12.5ft from one end and you might be able to string it between two trees and have the coax jog over to another tree before dropping to the ground and to the house. Squirrels and other critters love coax and I've had great success running coax in buried PVC conduit, they have not chewed through that yet.

Its best to ground at the entry point to the house and that should tie to the main AC electrical panel according to NEC Article 810. If you put a ground rod out in the yard you would have to bond that to the main AC electrical panel ground with no less than 6ga wire according to the NEC. This type antenna does not need any ground to operate and it will not increase performance, grounding is only to satisfy the NEC.
 

lbashaw

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The cute little rodents (Squirrels) will chew on coax (as will other rodentia). Sounds contrary to logic, but I feed them cob-corn to keep them peroccupied and away from my cable. Seems to work. I would think that burying the cable would help somewhat.
 

AK9R

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At a minimum, I know there is a 10M net and a 6M net I'd like to join.
Assuming you have a Technician class license, you can talk on 6m now. Also, Technicans have 10m SSB privileges on 28.3 to 28.5 MHz. My point is that if your plan is to talk on those nets, you may be able to do so with your current license.

Do you have the frequencies of these nets? That will help us give better answers.
 

tweiss3

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I have my General ticket, but I'm aware Technician has 6M + limited HF.

The 6M is on a set of linked repeaters at 53.170MHz with a -1MHz transmit offset. The 10M is simplex 28.36MHz. Even though these are two specifics I want to enjoy, if I am spending money, I don't want to be limited in bandwidth/bands if I can help it. I didn't think about some of the local stuff being vertically polarized, which may point me in a different direction.

I'm not opposed to doing a flag pole multi and antenna. I wanted to put up a flag pole anyways. I've looked at a few.
1) Greyline DX 20' DX Flagpole Antenna, Stealth HOA Vertical Antenna No Radials 160-6M
2) ZeroFive 20 FOOT 6-30 METER HIGH PERFORMANCE COMMERCIAL DUTY FLAGPOLE ANTENNA | ZEROFIVE-ANTENNAS
Both require a remote tuner at the base. Plus if the Greyline is no ground radials.
 

Wauk620

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A diet of .177 or .22 pellets from a suppressed air rifle cures the critter problem. ;)
 

prcguy

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A flag pole antenna with extensive ground plane and an auto tuner at the base can work very well and also not so good. 20ft tall vertical will work ok on 40, not great but ok. 20 through 10m will work fine. 160m will be dismal, 80m a little better but not that good. Use only a couple of ground radials and it will all go down hill fast. Plus a ground mounted vertical will be heard out to about 50 miles at the most on 40 through 10, then it will be dead until the first skip zone hundreds of miles away. You will loose what I call "regional" comms within your and neighboring states. On the other hand, a horizontal wire antenna can perform well for DX plus the NVIS mode will saturate the 0 to several hundred mile zone that the vertical will miss.

At one location I currently have a DX Engineering 43ft vertical with auto tuner at the base supplemented with a ZS6BKW wire antenna and its an ok compromise. The 43ft vertical works slightly better DX on 40 through about 17m, then the antenna is too long for the higher bands but the horizontal works fine on the higher bands and fills in the local regional areas via NVIS. At my main location I have a 133ft horizontal wire that covers 80 through 10m but supplement that with a Hexbeam for 20 through 6m.

If I could only have one antenna but it could be a vertical or a horizontal wire, I would always choose the wire because the regional couple hundred mile stuff on 40 and 80m is important to me plus the wire will still do DX very well if installed with some forethought. I could always do a small to moderate size vertical on the roof to cover 10m and 6m local stuff.

I have my General ticket, but I'm aware Technician has 6M + limited HF.

The 6M is on a set of linked repeaters at 53.170MHz with a -1MHz transmit offset. The 10M is simplex 28.36MHz. Even though these are two specifics I want to enjoy, if I am spending money, I don't want to be limited in bandwidth/bands if I can help it. I didn't think about some of the local stuff being vertically polarized, which may point me in a different direction.

I'm not opposed to doing a flag pole multi and antenna. I wanted to put up a flag pole anyways. I've looked at a few.
1) Greyline DX 20' DX Flagpole Antenna, Stealth HOA Vertical Antenna No Radials 160-6M
2) ZeroFive 20 FOOT 6-30 METER HIGH PERFORMANCE COMMERCIAL DUTY FLAGPOLE ANTENNA | ZEROFIVE-ANTENNAS
Both require a remote tuner at the base. Plus if the Greyline is no ground radials.
 

sloop

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check out the 'Carolina Windom' antenna at Radio Works. It is an off-center fed dipole that covers 160 thru 6 meters. Current price is $159.95. I used one for years (until a tornado took down some trees and the antenna) on QRP with excellent results.
 

W5lz

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1) I have a squirrel problem, that is slowing getting taken care of, but will never disappear. Are squirrels a problem with outdoor coax/wire antennas?
2) Recommendations that will look with these options?
3) I see many of the options have a bauln/transformer base that needs grounded. If the antenna is grounded at the trunk of the tree, is it as important to ground at the house too?

I will probably have more questions as I continue the planning.

1. I think you have the best solution already (.177/22 cal), there are no 'cures' for tree rats.
2, As already suggested, an antenna for the lowest band of interest. Then a tuner comes in -very- handy! 'Bigger is better' is a fact till it get's totally ridiculous.
3. Personally, I've found that a balun/unun isn't exactly my favorite way of doing things. In most cases they are not necessary, just another point of 'failure', so don't bother with them. All that they do is 'impedance transformation' and they -are- frequency/band sensitive. Ain't no 'one size fits all'. Just another reason why tuners are nice. And that tuner may already have one, you know?
 

cpfinlay

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The 6M is on a set of linked repeaters at 53.170MHz with a -1MHz transmit offset. The 10M is simplex 28.36MHz. Even though these are two specifics I want to enjoy, if I am spending money, I don't want to be limited in bandwidth/bands if I can help it. I didn't think about some of the local stuff being vertically polarized, which may point me in a different direction.
You may want to go a wire & tuner for HF, but it sounds like you need a vertical for your use case on 10m & 6m. Here's a commercial solution: Diamond Antenna CP610 Dual-Band Vertical Antennas CP610
 

prcguy

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A friend bought a Radio Works 40-10m Carolina Windom (OCFD), used it for a few weeks and now it sits in a bag in my basement. He replaced it with a MyAntennas end fed and its totally thrilled with the end fed. The MyAntennas 40-10m OCFD version is light years ahead of Radio Works on balun design and will handle 3kW and has very little RF leakage onto the coax, which the Radio Works can't claim.

The Diamond CP610 as suggested above would be great to supplement a wire antenna for local 10m and 6m nets, plus working DX on those bands.
 

tweiss3

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So I've been doing a lot of reading, and emailing to some of the locals.

RadioWorks is retiring and has no more in his inventory. I did find Buckmaster off-center wire dipole: Buckmaster OCF Dipole Antenna which looks like a great option for a wire antenna.

It appears that I will probably end up with both a vertical AND a horizontal wire (or inverted V) at some point. I like the look of that DIamond CP610, but I also saw the Comet HVU-8 https://www.theantennafarm.com/catalog/comet-hvu-8-1062, which would satisfy the initial need for a vertical HF/50 with the added bonus of including 2m & 70CM, and would make it much easier to reduce/eliminate proximity interference by not having to have a 2m/70CM antenna 32 feet away on the other side of the peak.

I think my plan is 2 phase.
Phase 1: Install the Comet HVU-8 vertical at the peak of my roof and tune at the base connection. Then run cable down the side of the house to a ground level accessible lightening polyphaser mounted to a grounding plate enclosure. Back up the house to the shack with coax and inside where it splits at a MFJ 4916S Duplexer where one goes to the VHF/UHF rig or port, and the other goes to HF rig or port. Get on the air immediately at desired bands and let any internal antenna tuner handle the rest.

Phase 2: Install an end-fed or off-center dipole from Oak just outside the shack to another tree or two. Run coax down the trunk in conduit (blasted rodents). If required, install remote tuner (not needed for myantennas end fed products, bury the coax to the grounding enclosure and new polyphaser. Then up the house to the shack, and connect to a new antenna switch installed between the duplexer and rig.

Grounding will be tied to main house ground and new 2-3 grounding rods installed at the enclosure.

Does this sound reasonable? Any better ideas for the antennas? Looking at the MyAntennas EFHW-8010 if I can figure out a way to string up 130' easily.

The discussion so far has been extremely helpful. Unfortunately its going to take a while to put it all together.
 

cpfinlay

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Does this sound reasonable? Any better ideas for the antennas? Looking at the MyAntennas EFHW-8010 if I can figure out a way to string up 130' easily.
Before you pull the trigger, try to determine which radio you will use and whether you need to use antenna switches/couplers, etc. As an example, I have a radio which has separate HF/6m & 2m/70cm antenna jacks. Some have a single antenna jack. Minor consideration, but still something to think about...
 

AK9R

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I owned a Buckmaster OCFD for a while. It was very well made and seemed to be a rugged antenna. However, it absolutely must be installed with the feed point at least 32 feet above ground as their instructions state. I had very poor luck with it at a lower height.
 

tweiss3

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Before you pull the trigger, try to determine which radio you will use and whether you need to use antenna switches/couplers, etc. As an example, I have a radio which has separate HF/6m & 2m/70cm antenna jacks. Some have a single antenna jack. Minor consideration, but still something to think about...
Thanks. All the radio I have seen have a separate jack for HF/50. I was looking at the IC-7100 to do it all within 1 rig, or G90 for HF and another for UHF/VHF, still undecided, but it looks like IC-7100 would be the best bang for the buck and include all modes on VHF/UHF as well. The Icom software offering is a plus as well.

I owned a Buckmaster OCFD for a while. It was very well made and seemed to be a rugged antenna. However, it absolutely must be installed with the feed point at least 32 feet above ground as their instructions state. I had very poor luck with it at a lower height.
That's what I read, which wouldn't really be a problem. I can get 35' without much issue, though it would be scary to do so (I have a fear of heights).
 

tweiss3

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So, looking into the NEC and reading a ton. My house currently has an outdated (1960s) electrical system with no ground. While it is a long term project to replace the entire house wiring, it appears that won't prohibit the installation of my shack/antenna according to the code. Below is my sketch of what it would take to meet code. Can someone confirm this? Also, do the grounding straps from my transceivers inside get tied to the grounded utility enclosure as well? Thanks!
89284
 

prcguy

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The Comet HVU-8 is a kids toy at best, I would avoid it. For 10m and 6m the Diamond CP610 would be a much better performer.

I have personal experience with Buckmaster OCFDs, Radio Works Carolina Windom OCFDs and MyAntennas OCFDs and MyAntennas is light years ahead in design and overall quality. Danny at MyAntennas is an actual antenna engineer with a degree and designed many antennas for Cushcraft, where the other companies are mostly just hams that make antennas and probably don't know as much as some folks on this forum.

If you can fit a 133ft antenna I would recommend spending a little more on the MyAntennas EFHW7510-2K as it will resonate in the 3.8 to 4MHz phone portion of 75m where the 8010 version resonates more in the CW portion of 80m. You can easily modify an 8010 into a 7510 with the addition of a 250pf capacitor right in the middle of the antenna suspended by an insulator. That antenna gets all bands 80 through 10m including all WARC bands usually without a tuner. The 133ft MyAntennas OCFD version has the coax dropping down from the balun about 25ft from one end and can also take the capacitor mod to bring the low end resonant point into the 3.8 to 4MHz phone portion of 75m.

You would think I worked for MyAntennas the way I am promoting them but I don't work for anyone. I see and play with most antennas out there and time after time MyAntennas just does it right where other companies overlook things or outright fail in their designs. When I'm really impressed and satisfied with a company I let everyone know and I do the same when a product doesn't meet expectations.
 
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