Almost every day I hear someone mention how difficult it is to put up an antenna or how bad the bands are with the antenna they have. Quite often these type of complaints are triggered by unrealistic expectations from a less than optimised operating scenario. When we’re stuck with a poor operating environment, we really need to change the way we think, and simply make the best of it.
The image you see in this post is a magnetic loop antenna, mounted on the desk just in front of the window. It’s used with FT8 and JS8Call at 15 watts. We are definitely not going to win any DX contests with this setup. However, it has provided amateur radio communications (with poor propagation), across the continent.
The thing is, there are so many amateur radio operators who have a good operating situation. They have Towers, yagis, enough space for long wire antennas, … but they forget about the person in the apartment, the operator with no attic for a folded wire antenna, the person who only has a balcony, or that operator who, can’t put up any permanent antenna at all. We all hear these stupid suggestions about what the best antenna is, or “you’re not going to work any DX with that contraption”, and have the passive thought to punch that operator in the face. Seriously though, we simply need to change the way we think.
Working DX is certainly a blast. Just the other day I worked a station in the Philippines, which was exciting and very rewarding. Even so, I get the same excitement and reward working a never worked station from France, or Italy, or the Canary Islands. The thing to remember, choose the antenna which actually allows you to get on air. It doesn’t matter if you can work the other side of the planet or not. It only matters that you’re able to get on air. For many years I used and ft-817nd, with a magnetic loop antenna. I used that window mounted antenna, to work stations in Chicago Il, Cherry Hill NJ, Cuba, Japan and many others. Of course these stations were doing most of the heavy lifting with their big yagi antennas. Still, it was no less fun for me.
We can compromise with our home systems, when it’s not possible to put up full size antennas. We should also remember we don’t have those same restrictions when we’re out in the field. If we’re restricted at home, the natural companion to our home stations is getting out in the field from time to time. We can do that from a car, we can do that while hiking=camping, or we can set up some insane Field Station on a frozen beach in the Arctic. That same low power or qrp radio you’re using with a compromise antenna at home, is a solid performer using a full size, quarter wave or half wave antenna out in the field. Combine that with a narrow bandwidth data mode, and you’ll be hopping continents with your modest station, as if there were no tomorrow.
73, Julian oh8stn