Cheap and Easy Yagis anyone Can build

There are lots of yagi design son the Internet for your pleasure.

We had a dozen hams make some antennas and within a few hours we had antennas in the air.

No one drilled into their hand, cut their fingers or blew the finals on their Baefeng radio and all enjoyed working with hand tools.

An excellent Club Project



The PVC Delta Loop is a great antenna and has been modified to fit onto the Buddipole Mast

You could argue these are for Direction Finding but actually they make great portable, field ops and camping antennas.

With campers up in Algonquin Park looking to QSO into the MUS repeater on 2m, the yagi does help and just remember to keep it in a vertical polarization. Your 5 watt hand held is now a 50 watt radio due to its 10 db gain

SFO Marconi Shrine and the PackTenna Mini Antenna

I just had to make some QSO with my FT-817 and pocket friendly PackTenna Mini Antenna configured for 20m EFHW.

I spent an hour trying to find the shrine and its at the bottom of the hill not at the top. BTW the top has wonderful views of Alcatraz and a cool automated bathroom.

I was able to toss my water bottle into the trees to get some elevation and garner 2 5×5 contacts into Colorado and San Diego. I was only running 2.5 watts with the internal battery pack but as they said “your kind of light but the audio is clear and hear you” and “you are qrp at the Marconi shrine? are you in San Francisco?’

I gotta tell ya’ll that antenna needs no tuner and is ideal as a carry along for the FT-817 and Elecraft KX radios. I just need to find a hard sided sunglass case and I am sure it will fit inside.




marconi shrine sfo (1).jpg

Check out George KJ6VU “Dummy’s Guide to Portable HF Antennas” from one of his presentations, I think it was at Baycon 2016? I think Nick N3WG is still involved with the team.

Click to access packtenna.pdf

and a QST Review


PackTenna in The Field – 40m/20m No Tuner Required

I just did a portable op up at Signal Hill and I used the excellent Yaesu FT-891 mobile HF rdio. The problem is that radio does not have a built in tuner and I didnt want to bother lugging the LDG along with its mess of cables.

I just want to hike to the site, Throw the antenna up and make some contacts on 40m and 20m. The way the bands are the 40m/20m mix is perfect for my operating style.

I have two choices:

  1. Hoist antenna up a tree
  2. Use a mast to support the antenna

The antenna configuration I find the most useful is the Inverted Vee Dipole or IVD. The antenna I use that needs no tuner is the Linked Dipole. I have a regular 20m dipole with a link that then connects the remaining leg to resonate on 40m. If tuned while building it I do not need a tuner.

I will let you decide if the mast is on a tripod with guys or just guys or tied to a fence post or tree stump.

In this case I had a clearing so I ran a 20 foot mast up and guyed it with the PackTenna 1:1 balun on top with the 40m/20m lengths. I clipped in the links for 40m and hauled the antenna up using a pulley at the top and some paracord. Bring the legs out to some stakes and 15 mins later I am on 40m SSB tuning around.

I make several contacts with 59 reports using 50 watts with a Bioenno Battery that fits in my ruck sack.

Lets see I can hear stuff on 20m and the midnet is on so lets try that. I lower the pulley, unclip the links and 2 mins later I am on 20m with a 1.2 SWR in the phone band.

I work 4 guys on the west coast before QSB shortens things up dramatically.

I lower the antenna and clip back in for 40m and I am 1.4 on 7.285 2 mins later listening to a bunch of hams yakking away about how great the Icom 7610 is.

I jump in and share some insights on some CW enhancements with a 58 into Ohio.

Sorry guys, running a Yaesu FT-891, 50 watts off a battery and a Linked Inverted Vee Dipole (LIVD). But I own Icoms as well. hihi

Tear is fast and everything gets put into its bag and time to get out of the bush and drive home.

I was thinking that this is a great set up for field ops because the antenna is not a compromise but its the reference dipole so no lossses and NO TUNER NEEDED.

This is an ideal go box set up as well or even for field day.

I could drop hang the balun at 10 feet and keep the 40m legs at that height and go into full NVIS mode.

NVIS ? – ask Calfire they know what that is or read some of my posts



Keep sciencing and never stop exploring

PackTenna 1:1 balun in a LIVD set up


My next antenna set up is to use 2 of these scenarios as a 40m portable beam. Of course, the second set up will be the Reflector and the wore will be longer. Stay Tuned for another view point





SOTA Activation #2 VE3/SO-099

I had planned this activation for some time as #2 based on the fact its 1 hour north of Toronto. I had a death in the family, a rained out date, work commitments and then we had a scheduled ARES Exercise and thought that there would be an ability to possibly also get some 2m contacts in the logbook.

It seems that many hams do not monitor any 2m simplex channels so being able to make contacts and test out 2m coverage would be a bonus. I was trying to make contacts on the designated 2m Simplex channel for the ARES exercise and no luck was had.

The forecast showed the possibility of thunderstorm activity so with the chance of lightning on a high point exposed with high towers in the air could prove to be risky so I made plans to operate for about an hour.

The VE3 database was added to several spotting applications so I could self spot this time and gather interest from the HF chasers this time. I tested my apps in advance so I knew that was resolved.

I brought my manpack radio running 10w, an FT-817 for 2m and as a back up. Batteries, logbook, first aid kit and some antennas.

Based on Terrain I chose to use the Chameleon HYbrid scenario as part of the MPAS kit. It was a 60 foot longwire as a NVIS antenna with a 30 foot elevated radial. The manpack tuned it in a split second.

Band conditions were very QSB but 40m was good.

I knew the ARES folks would be on 40m and 60m so I had a checkin place to test things out if I could nt raise anyone locally.

The bonus was that I could also test out the NVIS set up for the ARES exercise as the NCS was about 70-80 miles away. This is well within the NVIS band. The results were successful with contact made with a 5×6 signal and copying them at 59+.

60M didnt work out as well as I did hear Arpad Va3VAD and Alan VA3AM from Hamilton with good signals but they could not hear me using 2 watts on SSB. I understand they were running high power.

Ok this is SOTA with NVIS and ARES thrown in.

The antenna got launched in less than 10 minutes.

Once I spotted , Jean jumped on almost immediately to claim the first contact with a 3×3 and he was 59+. Again this was a high angle NVIS antenna so I was surprised to get into Montreal area so well.

QRM was difficult because i would find a clear channel and then the QSB would fade up and there was a QSO causing QRM. So it was a bit of sliding around looking for a clear spot.

I was surprised to make a nice contact with Ray in eastern North Carolina on 10m.

I tried the HF pack frequency on 17m but that was dead.

I need to pack bug spray because with the humidity and being in the bush the flies were very hungry.

I expected to only be there an hour but the Thunderstorm didn’t seem to be visible and I was really hoping to get so 2m simplex contacts in but after 20 minutes I gave up.

I did work VA3VTB on the p25 repeater but that doesn’t count for SOTA.

I forgot to pack the portable table which would have made it easier.

I thought that with lots of local ARES teams I could actually make summit contacts all on 40m and get 10 in the log right away then set up a vertical for 20m for some farther work. I was hoping to do a Summit to Summit as well but I forgot.

Thanks to Ben for letting me know my audio was distorted and over-modulated when in fact it was due to laryngitis.

On the way back I was horribly sick and couldn’t speak and suffered some heat exhaustion due to dehydration so the LESSON LEARNED is to pack lots of water and drink after every contact. So ham radio is all about operating in tough conditions even if you end up with bronchitis, laryngitis and heat stroke.

In the end I got my goal of 10 contacts in with a surprise on 10m so the time was well spent.

For those interested in the antenna I used:

I have been using the Chameleon MPAS system for 3 of the activations. It’s the 60 foot longwire with the 30 foot counterpoise. It works well as seen in the log from 60m to 10m. I could hear mostly 59 signals and my reports varied from 33, 51 to 59. This antenna gets out and with the tuner in the manpack radio hitting the low SWR every time makes everything foolproof. I did bring a linked dipole and a 20 foot mast, and my Buddipole set up with the mast and tripod as well.

The MPAS offers a chance to replace the 60 foot wire with a 17 foot vertical very quickly to make a band change.

The drive to the summit is simple and straight forward as the location is a commercial repeater and cell tower location. The actual summit is a short walk into the bush from the parking area. I did not notice any intermod or desense on any channels and was relatively noise free. I didn’t notice any powerline or electrical noise.

The site does not offer any views and is well treed.

All in all, I had fun even if I was sick as dog afterwards and can now look forward to activating my next summit.



Screenshot (577).png




There has been a lot of debate over the 7300 vs the 7610 SDR radios from Icom. I can assure you the 7610 is not 3 7300s as they are very much different radios even if based on similar Icom SDR technology and chip sets.

The Icom 7300 is a mid –tier entry level HF radio, while the Icom 7610 is designed for those active in DX’ing and contesting.

This is the use case that defines which radio is best for you if you can afford the 7610 to begin with.

Like many radio decisions its usually a price point conversation but can also be a technical discussion. Lucky for us, Icom has 2 radiso to choose from.

Let me walk though some basic comparisons:


Icom 7300 – 9.45×3.7×9.37in

Icom 7610 – 13.4 × 4.6 × 10.9 in


Icom 7300 – 9.26 lbs. – handle is an extra purchase

Icom 7610 – 18.7 lbs. with a built in handle

LCD and Knobs

Icom 7300 – 4.3 inches

Icom 7610 – 7 inches

The 7610 is a much larger transceiver, so there’s more room for physical buttons and knobs.

With the Icom 7610 you also get two independent receivers. Yes, true dual independent receivers which can allow diversity reception or multi band monitoring. Unlike the DW Dual watch feature that depending on the Pro version is in band or allows multi band.

Also, 10Db better RMDR which is important for DXers and Contesters. Not so much for casual operators.

The transmitter is as far as I can tell pretty much the same.

One interesting feature is the mic EQ which looks to be the same except the 7610 mic has a dc blocking setting for Heil mics if you have dynamic vs electret headsets or boom mics. I was surprised to see this feature and missed it but as I am trying to configure various Heil mics and headsets I may not need the Icom adapter and can just use the IM adapter. This Heil adapter stuff is sometimes confusing to me.


The 7610 has more features than the 7300 thus worth more $$$

The IC-7610 is superior in the CW mode, QSK (solid state relay), includes APF in CW mode and is 10 dB better in receiver blocking performance. The larger screen is also nice on the eyes.

Two antenna connectors on the rear – useful for having a beam on one jack and a vertical on the other (or loop for 80m)

BNC RX antenna IN/Out on rear – simplifies adding external preamps or using a phaser. I added a Phaser to my antenna kit and with 2 long 1000′ wires the results have been very interesting. However, the 7610 is not a field radio

Solid state T/R switching – great for CW – no clicking

True Dual independent receivers – a must for DXers and contesters

X-VERTER and REF In on the rear – not useful for me

External monitor output – Using the DVI connector the screen can be output to an external monitor – not

Dual clocks – Handy to have an EST and GMT view

DC Mic filter – may prove useful

Left and right speaker outputs on the rear. Main and Sub receiver audio can be split through the headphones. – This is useful to me

Two USB Ports – USB 2.0/ USB 3.0 port

Virtual Serial Com Ports – The USB 2.0 port

LAN port on the rear and RS-BA1 server onboard. – Not set up yet

More knobs and easier to navigate due to the larger size

Let us forget the money for a moment and decide if you are a casual operator or a nervous DXer and Contester?

The nervous ones will get a 7610 for fear of not working a new DX country or missing out on contest points due to interference. CW ops will really love the benefits of the 7610 with extra features.

If you buy an investment radio then the 7610 is the way to go but if you want to also have money for other radios then the 7300 will be great.

Many will find the two radios identical in their casual use as far as performance goes and just base their decision on price.

My initial 7300 vs 991 comparison shows a tossup between the two with the difficulty in comparing two different radios across different use cases. One is better the other is worse the other is better and the other is worse. I will say the antenna tuner is better on the 7300 and the CW  performance and ergonomics as well.

For checking into SSB nets the two are the same.

I enjoy the CW mode extra features and the larger display and the dual –receive is a very important feature for my style of operating. I can be listening on 20m and 15m at the same time in a CQWW contest (I loved that feature on the my FT1000MP) and I cannot do that with the 756pro series using Dual Watch.

Image result for 7300 vs 7610

Hamvention had them out the door for $3000 cash USD but now with the new Yaesu FTDX-101D the arena the 7300 has competition the 7610 does not. The new yaesu appears to not have two independent receivers.

6m Jungle Antenna (Cambodian Jungle)

In Apocalypse Now the LRRP team heads out in search of Kurtz and ends up in Cambodia.

You can see the Collins equipment and various man packs used in the film if you have a sharp eye.

A popular antenna has always been the Vertical to extend the range to the FOB. The army chose this design that has proven to been a working design.

I found bamboo for the spacing sticks at the garden center so I am good to go. Stay Tuned for range test results

I saw a mint RC-292 which is the commercial version at Xenia for $200 USD but one could cobble one up for cheaper. I would use my Clansman mast and then mount a 6m Ground plane on top. Arrow makes a good one and would be a rugged design (GP52) and can be taken apart for transport in a rucksack.

copyscape-banner-white-200x25fig7-13 at-292

rc292 tank.png

“I love the smell of RF in the morning its the smell of Radio”

6m 2 Element Beam for Field Operations

I have been digging through my antenna box of bits and decided to hack out a 2 element 6m beam for the summer Es season and to facilitate NCS for military radios below 50 Mhz.

We had great success for the last military field exercise just using the whips and rubber ducks for short range comms but it was felt a FOB antenna could be fun for the next exercise this summer.

It needs to be compact and transportable in a rucksack.

So I ended up using a Buddipole Versatee for the driven and the Buddipole IT Adapter for the reflector. I then used telescopic whips for the elements. I have the lightweight and more solid ones so I can mix and match as I play this one out in the field.

I used a spacing of 35 inches and the boom is an Arrow brand which I modified slightly to accommodate this set up. Note that the Modification could result in making it no longer suitable for the Arrow Yagi depending on your drilling pattern.

Reflector is 122 inches, and each driven element is 54″. SWR was pegged at 1.2 at 50.100 Mhz on the analyzer with good bandwidth.

I had this up at around 10 feet and an antenna analysis plot shows great F/B at about 11 db and forward about 6db gain. The ability to add some extra punch and coupled with a preamp on the front end made for some interesting results. It was well worth it.

Buddipole does have a published version you can view for an all Buddipole version vs my mix and match version. Both work the same pretty much.

I also used the Buddipole 1:1 Balun but at 2watts of power I am not sure it makes a difference but I will measure RF current next time its up in the air.

It all fits into a 24″ tube and 25′ of coax could fit inside as well.

EAM 65476 click click




Murray D Lampert Silent Key VE3HI

Murray passed unexpectedly on November 19, 2017


This was a shock when I heard this a Murray was still young and very active in his business and hobby pursuits. My condolences go out to Joy his lovely wife. The ham radio and SWL community will  miss him.

My favourite story about Murray shows how big his heart was and how was always helping the ham community grow and prosper.

When I got first licensed I operated a set up similar to the novices back in the day with a separate receiver and transmitter. I used the Yaesu FRG-7 SW receiver (had the Barlow Wadley loop design) and built my own 5 watt crystal controlled transmitter. I used an A/B switch to switch back and forth. I made tons of contacts on 40m cw with this set up with a dipole in the backyard. I knew that after 6 months on the air I could apply for the 10m endorsement and that would get me on SSB. I was working on getting my Advanced ticket with the Metro Ham club. Many hams were using the Yaesu FT-101 as it also had the ability to be used on 11 meters and I was going to go with that radio as well but when I got the new issue of CQ Magazine from Hamtraders one Saturday, I was blown away by the Kenwood TS-820S when I saw its advertisement. I told murray I wanted that radio. Murray told me that I would b get the first radio from his shipment from Kenwood. I was so excited and sad as I need to come up with another $500 to buy it. If I recall it was $1200 plus another $300 for the VFO and maybe $50 for the speaker and another $80 for the desk mic. So I hustled anything and everything from milk bottle returns, another newspaper route, cut grass, wash cars and even sell balloons at the christmas parade.  Note you probably could have bought a Ford Pinto for $3000 in those days.

Every saturday I would bus it up to Murray’s to hang out in the shop and use his demo equipment to make contacts and chat with the local hams. Murray always welcomed hams to hang out in his shop and have a coffee and talk radio. It was a real community.

Then one day Murray told me the shipment would be in during the week and I could come and pick it up.

So right after school, I took the bus to Hamtraders to pick it up with cash in hand.

Murray opened it up and we put it on the bench to test it out and Murray showed me how to tune the 6146 finals for maximum output on the Bird wattmeter and we boxed it back up. I was shaking with excitement through out the whole time. I finally was a real ham with a real radio. I owned the TS-820s and that was a ton better than a FT101E. That radio was really my start with the progression of other Kenwoods until I went Icom when the Icom 735 came out.


Here’s the thing – Murray knew I would not able to carry all the stuff home on the bus because the radio itself was like 40 pounds so he offered if my Mom said it was Ok to drive me home with the stuff. He closed the shop and brought me home and offered to ge me set up but I declined as I knew he should go back to the store, besides I wanted to set it up on my own.

Murray also gave me for free 100 feet of RG-58 coax, a 10 meter Hy-Gain beam, and a Swan SWR bridge. I was blown away by his generosity and had never asked for any discounts or freebies. I was all set up for 10m SSB no doubt. My first SSB contact was with Murray as he operated from the store shack and we had agreed on 28.6Mhz. I had put up a simple dipole in the attic for 10m.

That was not just excellent customer service but it was how Murray was. Always helping others.

The 10M band in those days was like 20m – jammed packed with signals from around the world. I used to work Japanese hams like crazy once I got my beam up and many VK and ZL stations too. I probably spent an hour a week doing QSL cards. I worked DXCC in a weekend during the CQWW SSB and won several 10M band contests. 10M is still my favourite band and I owe it to Murray. That gift of the beam was really a turning point in my hobby because I was really going to be saving money to get a mobile 2m FM radio as my next purchase. Murray taught me the importance of antennas and helped distill a DIY and build your own mentality. He made a very good point “if you can’t hear them you can’t work them” and on HF the antenna is key.

I eventually worked at his shop part-time and also did many cellular telephone installs and mobile 2 way installs.

There were days when the other employee Angelo Meffe (Radioworld) and I would spend the whole Saturday doing back to back installs together. Murray would show up with Pizza or Mr Subs for lunch to keep us happy while we drilled holes in Mercedes and BMWs installing the Alpine cellphones. Those days they usually ran 5 watts and we would use Larsen antennas. To this day the Larsen brand is still my favourite antenna and best performing one. My 2/70 has to be over 30 years old.

Murray ran his shop for the long term gaining loyalty from his customers and was always focussed on real world customer service.

Eventually Murray started Century 21 and became a big Bell Cellular dealer and got out of the ham business. This opened an opportunity for Angelo to start Norham Radio.

Murray as usual was always ahead of the curve and had this very interesting comment to say that is still just as current today as it was 16 years ago.

The last time I talked to Murray was too many years ago as he was interested in doing a charity golf tournament and he knew I had done several with proceeds going to Sick Kids. Murray always always gave back to the community.

My biggest regret was not reaching out to Murray for coffee last spring when he sent me an email in response to a listing for a radio he was selling. We promised to catch up and share family pics and get caught up on the time that passed.


Where have all the hams gone?

Murray Lampert (VE3HI) on July 17, 2001
View comments about this article! 

My XYL and I recently returned to the air after an absence of some 8 or so years, during which we were otherwise occupied raising children and growing a business. We purchased and installed an ICOM IC-706MkIIg into our Windstar along with the most amazing mobile antenna of all-time the High Sierra HS-1500 “screwdriver”. That was in March… and we worked all continents in the first few hours after the installation. We worked 50 plus countries during our month on vacation while mobiling up and down the eastern seaboard. We arrived home at the end of March.

My question or statement of opinion is simply this…. we have noted:

1. Where have all the hams gone? Propagation has simply died. We don’t hear the DX we did in March. Nowhere near what we heard and worked in March. The HF bands appear to be sparsely populated.

2. Where have all the hams gone? I am mobiling almost every morning in Toronto, a city of several MILLION people. Eight years ago it was tough to find a repeater to talk on…. today it is tough to find someone to TALK TO! There is rarely a conversation going on anywhere it would seem.

3. Where have all the hams gone? I remember eight years ago having trouble finding a spot to call CQ or to carry on a QSO. Today, it seems that our bands are thinning out. Very much so.

So… my statement of opinion and my question….. “where have all the hams gone?”.

It is downright scary, to say the least.

Murray VE3HI