Saturday, February 23, 2013

Optimizing equipment

So, as mentioned in my previous blog entry, I have a magnetic mount antenna. I've been trying to figure out how to best use it. I thought I'd share what I figured out.

My first attempts were to just give my call sign. I was able to make contact some of the time, but usually only with a very powerful signal, usually in the 30W range. To make a contact with a repeater less than 10 miles away, that's just too much, especially without any major obstacles in the way...

I played with moving my antenna around, without much luck. Then I remembered something the guys told me when I bought my antenna. Stick it on a metal filing cabinet. I started to research antennas, and realized they need to be grounded. I wondered if that was what was going on. Finally, I was able to make contact with someone on the air, who informed me, yet, I did need to ground it. He suggested a pizza pan. I found a metal bowl, placed face down, and suddenly, my signal got much better. I was able to talk with 5W unintelligibly, and easily with 10W. Yeah!

So, the bottom line is, grounding antennas helps. Even if it is just a fairly large piece of metal, that will make a world of a difference!

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