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Salt Spring YL's Net Antenna Bee September 2021

Bulding antennas is more fun with friends!

If you think you might enjoy building an antenna, plan an antenna bee... it's the ham radio equivalent of a quilting bee. You get together with your friends, share materials and equipment to build antennas. It's my favorite way to hang out with my ham friends, I've been to three of these events over the years, with many cherished memories.

So the chance to introduce some new hams to the joys of antenna building was delightful. The Salt Spring Women Hams - my YL's net - has some new hams who haven't had the chance to go to an antenna bee, so as COVID restrictions lifted we started looking for a chance to get together for an YL's antenna bee.

SO-239 connector for coaxial cable forms the chassis of this 'coat hanger starfish' type antenna I wanted an easy build with inexpensive and easy to source 'around the house' type parts - except for the SO-239 connectors everything else in this project was easily sourced locally. A few hardware store ring end electrical connectors, some coat hanger wire, the chance solder a bit... what's not to love about this project? Technically described as a quarter wave ground plane antenna, I prefer to give it a more descriptive name - I've dubbed it the 'Coat Hanger Starfish' (photos of my first one elsewhere in this website).

soldering at the YL's antenna bee It's mostly coat hanger wire connected to a SO-239 connector, and how you connect it all is open to interpretation. Our group experimented with a few different ways to connect the bits, but you can also muscle the wire directly into the holes on the chassis, or solder directly I suppose. I chose to solder ring end connectors onto my wire 'legs' then attach them to the chassis with a small bolt & nut... mostly because I adore tiny stainless hardware. I also wanted to minimize the soldering directly onto the chassis, for fear of melting the insides of the connector.

The soldering photo (right) shows a different order of operations, but it all worked out the same in the end, we both got an equally impressive antenna testing diagnosis after the build.

Sometimes it's easier to have four hands I really enjoy soldering - not so much the flame torch kind, but small electronic soldering is my favourite. And sharing the practice of soldering with my YL chums was great fun - only about half of us had soldered before I think, and it was nice to see everyone dive in and try it.

And in every project there are times you feel like you need four hands... which is part of why it's more fun to do projects with a group, there's always someone to lend their hands.

While September in the Gulf Islands can be rainy, it ended up being a delightfully sunny afternoon, bundled up to work outside it was very comfortable, and our fantastic host and hostess kept us warm with coffee and lovely snacks too.

VA7DHT and VA7ALG both with our new antenna Some of us had never met in person, only heard each other as voices on the air, and it was lovely to be able to put faces to voices. It's one of the odd novelties of radio, the experience of putting a face to a familiar voice. I never cease to be surprised at how little we look like we sound. Or, to put it another way, voices give away so little about our appearance. I like to imagine that means I sound taller on the air, lol.

In the photo to the right, VA7DHT Quin and I are happily brandishing our newly created, tested and communicated upon coat hanger starfish antennas. This 1/4 wave ground plane design (link below for more build project info) makes a great VHF antenna you can tune for mid band or a specific frequency. As an experiment (and because I had extra coat hanger wire to test with) I tried trimming mine by the smallest amounts of wire I could cut off until I had the best match for 147.320 the VE7RSI Salt Spring Island repeater our club maintains.

Such a delightful day building with friends, I this this particular antenna bee will stand our in my memory for lots of laughter. And also for the joy of watching new hams communicate via an antenna they've just built... that's a special moment of radio empowerment.

I'd like to thank VE7GDH and VE7LSE for help with antenna testing assistance/equipment/connectors and I'd also like to thank our hostess VA7TUF too!


The build project:

SSIARS (Salt Spring Island Amateur Radio Society) -

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Thanks for visiting... hope to meet you on the air! 73
~ Andrea VA7ALG


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