In my hiatus from Hive, I've been meeting new folks and making new friends. Stupid pandemic lockdown can't keep a guy down. There's things to accomplish with seven weeks off work!
I got plugged in with a group of guys that are interested in developing skills for networking, usefulness, and survival. Things like gardening, knife throwing, bushcraft, natural medicines, first aid, shooting, and the like. Since I have my amateur radio license and some basic knowledge on the subject, I'm the radio communication guy.
As such, I'm developing a comms program for us and encouraging the other guys to get their licenses and develop some basic understanding of radio.
Did you know there's ways to plug your phone into a radio and use it to send texts and data packets if the cell grid goes down?
I got my radio license some years ago, and haven't done much with it since. I'm glad to have a reason now to get into it, as it is a good skill and a fun hobby to get into. My first project with my new network is to build an antenna for myself and my closest brother. The radios we have, Baofeng UV82's, operate on the 70cm UHF and 2m VHF bands. Between the two, 2m has the best range, so that's what I'm basing our antennas on. We have a local ham radio repeater about a mile and a half away that I can probably hit with my stock antenna to communicate with my friend, but that would be too easy and I wouldn't have a project. Not having a project isn't an option.
So after a little research and a birthday gift from my mother in law of $50, parts were ordered!
For materials, I ordered:
- Two SO-239 chassis mount connectors ($8)
- Two 20' (7m) lengths of RG8X coaxial cable with male PL-259 connectors ($33)
- Two SMA female to SO-239 female adapters ($8)
SO-239 connector on the RG8X coaxial cable
At my local hardware store, I picked up:
- Solder ($10)
- A soldering iron ($20)
- some # 6-32 screws and nylock nuts ($3)
I already had some 3/32" aluminum welding wire to use for the radials and radiator, so I opted to use that instead of copper or brass. That saves money and time. You can even use a wire coat hanger for these, just scrape off any paint so you get a good electrical connection.
The hardest part was soldering the radiator into the chassis mount adapter. It wasn't hard when I got Sam, my oldest, to hold the wire on the pin while I did the soldering. When I tried the first time, I found out fast that my late father in law's old soldering iron just didn't get hot enough for that big of a project. I had to buy another one, which is fine. It'll come in handy for a lot more projects in the future.
SO-239 connector with a mock-up aluminum wire radiator
After the parts cooled, I twisted the ends on four more wires to accommodate screwing them to the holes in the chassis mount. When they were screwed on, I used my phone to calculate that the radials and radiator needed to be 19.23" to resonate on the 2m band. Sam and I measured the wires and snipped them all on both antennas and they were done!
I'm waiting on the adapters to come in so I can test the antennas, and they'll be set up at our houses this weekend! A fun little project that's helping me connect, network, and build skills with like minded folks during this dumb lockdown.
Close-up of the completed assembly
I hope someone finds this useful and empowering. The prices I gave are not at all the cheapest route for an effective ground plane antenna. I'm going to be posting more of these types of projects too for more applications and situations. Thanks for reading, I hope you can benefit from it!