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Getting that first contact

All my equipment arrived and it was time to get on the air. I had a radio and power source to unbox. Close up picture of a Xiegu G90 Radio

And some transformers and a spool of wire to turn into an antenna.

A truly compromised antenna

They say, just get some wire high up in the air and begin experimenting. So I got right to it.

I measured out 53 feet of wire as recommented by this article, “The “Best” Random Wire Antenna Lengths”. I threw a line into a tree using the arborist throw line I ordered and used that to hang a loop of clothesline.

They say, just get some wire high up in the air and begin experimenting

I tried some different configurations but settled on a rough inverted V shape from the basement window where my radio is set up, to a tree 30 feet or so away and about 18 feet in the air and down to a neighbor’s fence.

Then I added a 17 foot counterpoise that I run in the opposite direction inside my basement.

Light wire antenna hung from a tree about 20 feet away

This antenna is about a basic and crude as it gets. And the feedthrough is just the light wire fed through a cracked window.

A 9:1 unun transformer connected to light wire fed out a basement window

Trial and error

Operating an HF radio isn’t as simple as turing it on and selecting a frequency. For the first few days I listened, learning to draw in and isolate a signal. It’s my first radio so I can’t compare but I am guessing that my radio, the G90, is somewhere in the middle in terms of ease of use. It has a lot of features for such a small radio.

Black and white diagram of the Xiegu G90's font panel

The RF amp, volume, tuner, antenna matching unit and various filter controls all can be manipulated to draw in and isolate a signal. I read the manual before starting but operating is another matter. It sook some time.

At one point I was having a hard time and then realized that I accidently put the radio into “split mode” where it was receiving and transmitting on different frequencies. This means that the antenna matcher was confused and I was getting a poor match across different frequency bands.

More reading, a firmware update and turning off “split” got me to a better place. I learned how to tune the radio and pull in a signal.

First contact

Finally I was comfortable and wanted to get on with it. An operator with a really strong signal from Virginia, WU9P, called for contact on 40 meters.

Chuck was loud and clear - he reported the same for my signal on his end. If you look at his profile page he definitely has a great antenna so he was able to pull in my lightweight 20 watt signal.

We exchanged call signs, talked about our radio setups and he coached me a little bit and wished me luck. Chuck was friendly and welcoming.

Next steps

I have a lot of ideas for antenna improvements and operating my radio when mobile. My first contact was fun and I’m looking forward to more.