Here’s the gear in use at VA7ST
You don’t need the world’s best equipment to have a fantastic time with ham radio. I have (mostly) modest radios and antennas — and will probably never have a superstation with the latest transceivers, amplifiers and stacked yagi arrays. Still, my station works as well as possible given my location and my limited budget for hobbies.
OK, so I broke the budget in September 2007 to buy a new transceiver. It’s the Yaesu FT-2000, and it is competition-grade in every respect. Well worth the $2000 I spent for a Nov. 2006 build, in brand-new condition.
Anyone can build a very satisfactory amateur radio station with some ingenuity and careful selection of gear.
Until September 2007, my main radio was a Yaesu FT920. Because it does not have IF receiver filtering, I consider this a second-tier contesting radio, a step down from the FT1000 and Icom IC756, for example.
However, I have never had the luxury of using one of those “contest-grade” rigs so my FT920 is contest-grade to me, hi.
It is packed with features such as audio DSP, auto tuner (excellent), selectable preamps, two antenna connectors (plus one for a beverage), and a built-in computer interface. It is a super performer, although it really demands optional narrow CW filtering (InRad has special boards to add additional FT920 filters in cascade).
In November 2004 I purchased the 400hz and 250hz filters and the board that allows both to be switched in, 400 first, then with the 250 cascaded in for brick-wall filtering. This made the FT920 a stellar receiver — even on the most crowded contest weekends.
If you are an iambic “squeeze”-style paddle user and plan to use the built-in CW contest keyer, don’t bother. It is of no use because it does NOT support normal (Mode A) iambic CW. That means you can’t even send CQ without it coming out as CQE. Everything has an extra dit at the end. This is my only disappointment with this rig. Yaesu built a great CW rig with a lousy keyer design.
For an all-in-one unit (160m through 6m), especially at the lower price today, I can’t recommend this radio highly enough.
40M Rotary Dipole
Built during a vacation week in August 2006, this shortened linear-loaded dipole used two of the arms from the old Spider Beam project. Total length is 38′ tip-to-tip, and it tunes to 1.3:1 SWR at 7.040 Mhz — and doesn’t pass 2:1 till 7.150 Mhz.
Even Older Antenna Info
Summer 2004: Since moving to the new QTH in Winfield, B.C. (across town from the old place) I have taken some advantage of the tall pines on our one-acre property. Alas, a slingshot doesn’t quite get the wires to the tippy tops of the trees, but I am happy with where they are for now.
Photos of the wire antennas
Homebrew Hex-Style Beam
I built this antenna in 2002 and used it extensively. It was a very good performer even on the low (under-30′) pole I had it on.
Details about my hex beam project
DF4SA Spider Beam
The ultimate in light wire yagis, as far as I am concerned. I built this in the spring and summer of 2003 and continue to use it for all my upper HF work.
Details about my spider beam project