Ham Radio

Know more, do more, and have more fun with ham radio!

© 2002-2011 by Harold Melton, KV5R. All Rights Reserved.

KV5R’s Ham Radio Articles

NOTE: April 2013— All KV5R’s articles from both athensarc.org and the old kv5r.com site have been integrated into this new site. Several dozen redirects have been provided to handle the old .asp URLs, but please update your links! Thanks!

This is the site where new—and not so new—hams may find a wealth of articles on easy-to-build projects including antennas, radio add-ons, tips and mods, making your computer play with your radio, getting more into HF radio, understanding antennas without all the engineering lingo, building great (and cheap!) antennas out of hardware junk, locate repeaters and scanner lists, etc, etc.

Get the kids involved! These articles are all about having more fun with ham radio!

On the menu under Ham Radio you’ll find links to articles about:

NEW! Video Tutorial

How to repair rubber membrane buttons

All About the Icom IC-706MkIIG

KV5R’s Icom 706MkIIG Pages - Lots of photos, mods, tips, and links

Ham Radio Accessories

Handy little kits and things you can build.

New! Simple 2-Meter Dipole

Even easier than the the sleeve dipole! You can make and install this 2-meter base antenna in about 2-3 hours. Uses PVC pipe and foil tape.

2 Meter / 440 Dual-band OCF Sleeve Dipole

Made from coax, PVC pipe, and aluminum foil tape! — and under $20! Welcome QST readers! BIG THANKS! to Geoff Haines, N1GY, for his excellent article in August 2006 QST using this design.

Supercharge Your Hand-held Radio

Make Your H-T Run for Days and Get Out Like Crazy!

A Shortwave Antenna Book by KV5R

Understand short-wave radio listening and building great short-wave antennas

Theory and Practice of NVIS Antennas

Propergatin’ With Really Low Antennas! Fer when higher ain’t better! My most popular article! Now even in German!

The Big Aluminum Dipole

Build a 40-foot telescopic  aluminum vertical dipole for under $100!

Get Your Computer Involved!

How to set up your station to run CW, PSK, MFSK, Stream, Hellschreiber, RTTY, Packet and others from your computer. Includes lots of inline links and graphics!

What Digital Mode are You Hearing?

Recognizing what’s what — mp3 audio clips of various HF digital modes. MPEG audio files - takes a while to load on dial-up!


Variable-frequency Rabbit-ears Portable Antenna — a fun and useful junk-box project!

Intro to Radiogram Traffic

Not as hard as it sounds! Handle traffic without the road-rage - meet lots of nice folks, too!

Traffic Handler Training

KV5R’s concise 17-page manual contains everything you need. Instructions, training, references, forms, etc.

The Official Book for Traffic Managers

The KV5R Reformat of the NTS-MPG — from 450 pages down to 176 — the full course by W3YVQ, expertly reformatted by KV5R into a nice two-column format (with permission from the author and ARRL).

Ladder-line is Best

…but take a few simple precautions. Myths and facts. Ideas for entry and lightning protection.

Take a Big Hop into Space and Back!

Lockheed-Martin ARC launches a cross-band repeater to the edge of space! Lots of neat photos.

Frequency Lists:

Short-wave Allocations & Utilities, with all the best SWL/DX Links.

Data Tables:

Amateur Frequency Allocations & Band Plans — a handy reference.

Coax Data Tables — how can you possibly loose gain??

GMRS & FRS Freqs & CTCSS Table — for all those itty-bitty half-watt walkie-talkers…

Traffic Net Time/Freq Listing (Texas-centered)


Grounding & receiver noise, by an MIT expert

Placement of Mobile Antennas

7 thoughts on “Ham Radio
  1. I’m running into an issue that I’m not sure at the moment how to sort out. Because I recently got into amateur radio, there is a LOT that I still don’t know, and among that is that I haven’t learned how to make good use of a smith chart. I’m trying to figure out what impedance I should have at the end of a length of ladder line connected to a center fed dipole. Calculations I have done with an online calculator say that my antenna feed point impedance should be around 72 ohms, and I know that the impedance of the particular ladder line I have purchased is around 399 ohms (Advertised as 450 ohm ladder line). So, Is there a way I can figure out what the impedance will be at the end of this ladder line given the values I have listed? I do not have an antenna analyzer and have not yet built this antenna, I’m just trying to figure out what I’m getting myself into.

    My apologies if this question is a bit redundant as per my previous questions answered on your ladder line thread.

    73. -KG7WPQ

    • Oh no, your concerns are perfectly valid. I, too, have never liked a Smith chart or all those fiddly impedance calculations.
      Fortunately, experience will show that all that textbook stuff is just that–textbook stuff–and you can easily dismiss most of it in practice, The reality is that an impedance mismatch, with ladder-line, really isn’t an issue; you can safely and usefully connect a 300-370-450-600 ohm line to an antenna feed-point that may vary all over the place from 20-5000 ohms and it’ll still work just fine. Really!
      Think about it more like this: Where is RF power turning into wasted heat? Terminals of your antenna? No. In the ladder-line? No. In your balun? Maybe a few percent. In your tuner? Likewise.
      Now mentally replace your LL with coax: suddenly you’re turning a whopping 35-50% of your RF into heat, in the polyfoam dielectric of the coax.
      That’s why I like ladder-line, it’s the “I don’t care how bad you mis-match me, I’ll still get the power there” feed-line.
      I like to help new HF hams realize you can put up a dipole that’s ~½-wave at lowest freq, ladder-line it to a tuner, and just go for it! The tuner and balun will lose 5-10% but in terms of the logarithmic dB scale that’s negligible, and a reasonable cost for an antenna system that’s so efficient across several bands.
      73, –kv5r

  2. I have come to value your input a great deal. I have learned since becoming a licensed ham that there is a lot of misinformation and anecdotal evidence on the internet when it comes to pretty much every aspect of amateur radio and so I try to fact-check everything I read before I consider it information learned. One of my favorite types of easy to build vertical antennas is the copper j-pole or zeppelin antenna and like with everything else, as I mentioned, there seems to be a lot of misconception surrounding this antenna. Would you by chance be interested in evaluating the j-pole antenna and maybe clearing up some of the myths about this antenna?

    Thanks again for your input.
    73. -KG7WPQ

    • What myths?
      As far as I know, the j-pole is just a vertical half-wave end-fed, using a shorted tuned-stub match. Its performance and pattern should be the same as a center-fed vertical dipole of about the same size; its main advantage being that it’s DC-grounded, the coax is DC-shorted by the stub, so it should be immune to static buildup and differential voltage spikes from lightning induction.
      I wouldn’t mind building one, but the price of copper is so high now, and I already have several 2M antennas.
      73, –kv5r

  3. Awesome Site. Being a fellow amateur microscopist, Ham, Bread maker, a unix/linux admin, and former professional photographer… Married to a lovely Bread & Pizza maker – soap maker, gardener – and amateur radio operator. ( KB0SDK )

    There is not much here I don’t have an interest in!

    Hope to run into you on the airwaves sometime once I get my Antenna back up – I am building a doublet and ladder line after my old G5RV gave up the ghost.



    — two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The wedding wasn’t much, but the reception was great! —

    • Nice to see someone with similar interests.

      Yeah, a full-sized doublet with ladder-line all the way in is noticeably better then a G5RV, at least that was my experience.

      73, –kv5r

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *