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Recommendations for getting up and running, for what I have...

Discussion in 'Scanning & Shortwave Listening' started by 3x5, Mar 27, 2020.

  1. 3x5

    3x5 Member

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    Hi there, I have some radio equipment, I live on a hill with big oak trees, and I have a lot of wire. I'd like to set up a strong antenna for receiving, that I can potentially improve later, for transmitting. But I want to get the receving set up immediately.

    Here's what I have:
    • [​IMG]
      A Realistic TRC-430 CB radio, with car antenna;
    • [​IMG]
      A JVC RC-M70JW boom box with shortwave receiver;
    • [​IMG]
      An RTL-SDR.com Software-defined radio dongle.
    I also have a lot of outdoor telephone wire. There were three lines coming into the house from a previous owner, and I took the wires off the house and the telephone pole that's on my property. Each line is easily over 200 feet.



    So here are my questions:
    1. The first antenna I want to set up is for shortwave receiving. The phone lines are two wires together, like a speaker cable. Every tutorial I've seen for longwire antennas shows only a single wire. Does this mean I should split my wire down the middle, and only run one strand? Or should I tie the ends together?

    2. I plan to cut the longwire to 203 feet, because that is a recommended length for random wire. Then I would run a second length of phone line from the back of the boom box, which has two screws for antenna terminals, and attach both wires to the one longwire. Is that right, or can I just get my longwire the length I want, then bend it over an insulator and run it all the way into the house, to the boom box? I guess I'm not clear why there are two terminals if the end-run longwire is a single strand.

    3. I have to ground the antenna, or the boom box. The box has a phono input, with a ground terminal. Can I just run a wire from the ground terminal to the ground of an electrical outlet? Or, should I run a separate wire from my longwire antenna to an outdoor ground? I could run a wire to my home's grounding rod—is this better than grounding the boom box?

    4. Can I use my longwire for multiple receivers, if I'm not using them at the same time? For instance, if I run another receiver to the same longwire, but the first receiver is connected but turned off, can I use the wire with the second?

    5. Is there a good way to get my CB car antenna working at home? Right now, if I stick the car antenna to a metal porch swing outside, I get nothing at all. Should I put the antenna on the roof? I assume I would need to run a metal pole to the ground, separate from the one that received the service drop wires, since everything I read says to keep antennas away from power lines.

    6. If I run multiple, random-length longwires at significantly different lengths, and connect them all at the one line running to my boom box, will I improve my coverage? I see a lot of tutorials on youtube where people space out their longwires and run them together, but I assume I could have them going in any which direction.
    I know those are a lot of questions. I know very little about antennas, nothing about baluns, and I'm just starting out. But before I start cutting phone line and getting up on the 30 ft ladder, I want to make sure my first steps are productive ones that will pay off. Thanks so much for reading, and for your help.
     
    Slowmover likes this.

  2. BJ radionut

    BJ radionut Supporting Member and 6m addict

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  3. 3x5

    3x5 Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I followed the advice from the links you posted, and from some other sources, and I'll attempt to answer my own questions below:

    1. If you have any kind of twin-lead wire you want to use as your antenna, don't tie the ends together. Just splice the twin lead and use a single wire.

    2. Your Ham Radio Secrets link recommended 138 feet for the length, so that's what I'm using. For an end fed longwire, you don't include the length of the downlead in your total antenna length. I just took a twin-lead radio antenna, twisted both ends onto the one longwire, wrapped them with electrical tape and ran them to the terminals on my receiver.

    3. I've seen different diagrams for grounding. Some ground the downlead to a metal rod before it enters your house. Some show the radio grounded. I chose to use the ground terminal on the radio and connect it to the ground slot of the outlet to which the radio is plugged in, in the room.

    4. I haven't tried connecting multiple radios to one antenna yet.

    5. I haven't messed with the CB yet.

    6. I only have the one wire for now, and I only had enough room to run it roughly north/south. I thought I read that you receive signals perpendicular to the direction of your wire, but maybe I misread that. I was hoping to get east/west signals, but I'm in the upper midwest and it seems like the majority of strong stations are in Spanish. So I'm worried I might just be getting Western hemisphere.
     
  4. Slowmover

    Slowmover Sr. Member

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    FWIW, its the attitude I bring to the endeavor.
    (Written with yet other readers in mind; new).
    With that in mind, looks like a good start!

    As a kid I dug an ancient floor-standing Zenith out of the attic.
    Cleaned and polished the wood. Dusted off components I was afraid of damaging.

    Was supported by parents who underwrote taking it in
    the station wagon to Dallas’ KOZELSKI ELECTRONICS
    who repaired it beautifully.

    Bare antenna wire off chassis once back home. Made a few attempts at antennas. No real clue.

    Visiting Grandfather showed me how to construct a
    longwire AM antenna (He’d bought the nine-tube radio
    40-years previously). Took it past the window and waaay out the fence line.

    Boy, was I amazed at the performance in reception!

    I could re-make that same antenna in my sleep.
    That’s fifty years ago this year.

    A talisman

    Banish the silences.
    Listen in to the stars
    Speak one to another.


    .
     
  5. BJ radionut

    BJ radionut Supporting Member and 6m addict

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    3 x 5: Sorry I did not want to dump all that info on you and run.
    FIRST: Welcome to the group!!!
    Lot's of former and existing SWL'rs here. I myself from the 60's to present.
    I had that exact model "BOOM BOX" in the '70s/80s!:ROFLMAO:
    Not exactly a great shortwave receiver, but it will suffice for now.(y) :D
    The long wire 138 ft in length will be fine, it will serve you well.
    Any height from 20 ft to 40 ft average will be a good receiving antenna.

    [​IMG]
    This kind of configuration will work well.
    I would suggest removing the ground from the wall outlet when it becomes practical, as many times that can actually add unwanted noise to the receiver.
    This is due to noise being generated by "other devices" in the home.
    This will work for now but a separate ground rod as close to your monitoring station as possible is preferable.
    You will find many, many videos on station grounding via YouTube...some better than others, however watching a couple will give you the ideas you need to make your best judgment for your location.
    Now as to the orientation of the antenna. Do not worry presently about the direction, band conditions change constantly.
    What antenna working one direction or another can change at any given time.
    Yes, multiple antennas are beneficial looking different directions, but certainly not required for "getting started".
    If / when a better receiver is desired, then this topic can be discussed(y):D

    Now as to the CB radio: A well-regulated power supply that has at least a 7 amp/12vdc rating will be good to run that. Those will cost $40usd roughly. Even an old still working car battery and charger will work for now, but I would suggest if you go that way the battery should be inside a well suitable enclosure as they use on boats, etc.
    http://www.randl.com/shop/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=9100&products_id=50448

    Antenna wise: Here is a good basic, Transmit/receiving antenna set-up that is easy to build and work effectively.:LOL:
    GP Homebrew.jpg
    More questions? Ask away...many here to help!!!
    All the Best
    Gary/W9FNB
     
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  6. 357magnum

    357magnum Sr. Member

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    (y) As was waiting for that Gary ! You beat me to it , No Matter what " Wire is your friend " .:) One of the first thing you guys taught me when I joined the forum . 73 m, Leo
     
    Slowmover likes this.
  7. 3x5

    3x5 Member

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    Thanks for the replies, everyone. I think I'm going to have to shorten my wire, as there's no way for me to run 138 feet on my property in a way that's practical. That Ham Radio Secrets site recommended this length, but then I found another source claiming these were the best random wire lengths:

    26, 29, 35.5, 41, 58, 71, 84, 107, 119, 148

    I will probably have to cut mine down to 119, if that's a good length.

    As for the CB: I read that you can connect the red and white wires to the hot end of an AC adapter, and match the black, and just plug it into the wall. The unit takes 13.8 volts, and the adapter I have is 13.5. It turns on fine, and some channels even get 3 bars of signal, but I don't hear any activity.

    I don't have a spare car battery, but I do have this deep cycle batter connected to my solar panel. Would this work better than an AC adaptor?

    In the meantime, I'll have to get started building my CB antenna.
     
    357magnum likes this.
  8. BJ radionut

    BJ radionut Supporting Member and 6m addict

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    "Wall Warts" have TERRIBLE regulation...I have seen 12-volt wall warts run 15++ volts.
    Transmitting out of the question unless you are using a computer grade adaptor that has a current rating of 5 amps or greater.
    I would not advise this MHO

    PS: for the SWL antenna use whatever length you have practical space for, it does not really matter. Anything 50-60 ft. or longer will work just fine.(y)
     
    357magnum, Slowmover and kopcicle like this.

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