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Highlander Ham Radio

PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2016 11:07 pm
by Wes
I've had some questions about my use of the Highlander for my "ham shack", so I'll try to answer some questions here.

Actually I'm striving for an award for the "Most Antennas on a Light Sort Airplane" ;-)

I use an Icom 706 radio as my 'COM 2' and spend as much time talking on it as single-pilot flying will allow.
On 2M and 440mhz, I use a dual band whip, and on HF, I load a random wire stretched from the turtle deck to tip of vert. stab and on to the left wing tip.
An auto tuner is used to match the random wire to the HF frequency I want to talk on.
One of the key steps to operating successfully from a noisy airplane cockpit is to use an aircraft headset that will minimize the background noise on transmit.
I built an audio interface box that adapts the ham radio to an aircraft audio panel.

I am still experimenting with antennas on my experimental airplane ;-)
I think a trailing wire will make a much better radiator on HF bands.
The current fixed length wire (abt. 18ft) doesn't load very well on freqs. below 10mhz. It is either not long enough or too capacitively loaded by proximity to the airframe and wing spars that make up the counterpoise.

Talking on 2M is lots of fun when going cross-country. A short call on 146.52 simplex usually starts a pile-up when I sign "Aeronautical Mobile" and leads to some very stimulating QSO's.
I also have an APRS rig (an old Icom HT with a Tiny-Trak) that occasionally bursts out my position, altitude, and airspeed that gets relayed to the internet on an APRS server site.
It allows my spouse and friends to keep tabs on my wanderings.

For you 'hams' out there, give airborne hamming a try, but of course, First Fly The Airplane!
Sometimes I forget. Like yacking with friends and overflying my destination, Yikes!


Re: Highlander Ham Radio

PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2016 12:14 pm
by jjacky
That's cool Wes. I was thinking about your trailing wire antenna an wondered if you used insulated wire then the coil of wire at the base could "load" the antenna. If you find a good trailing wire antenna please let me know.

Re: Highlander Ham Radio

PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2016 9:55 am
by Wes
I've done a couple of trailing wire systems on different airplanes and they were all bare bronze stranded wire. The plan was to reel out an appropriate length of wire for the frequency in use and do the final tuning with an auto-coupler. This scheme worked Ok, but I was never satisfied with the thoroughness of the in-flight testing. Never enough time or Avgas ;-)
The antenna reel was designed so that the feed point was at the exit of the airplane and the remaining wire on the reel was just a lump of bronze, not an inductor. The aircraft fuselage is the counterpoise.
The reel I'm designing for the Highlander will have the trailing wire penetrate the belly fabric through a 1/4 hole. The drogue on the end of the trailing wire will nest into a receiver on the copper mast that will hang a few inches below the belly. I have some testing to do to determine the "flight characteristics" of the drogue and wire on the Highlander, but this configuration has worked well on other airplanes.
If you get interested in this stuff for your Highlander, I can supply lots of photos and thoughts-----

Keep building and get flying!