Welcome to South Western IDAHO
- South Western Idaho has a very
wide range of terrain, vegetation, wildlife and
climate. Here in Caldwell, we are at the
Western end of the Treasure Valley, formed initially
when the Yellowstone 'hot spot' was located
here. As the Yellowstone caldera has moved
(well, the effect of the caldera moved on the
surface - most likely the hot spot stood still and
the Earth's crust moved over it.), the mountains
created by tectonic action in the collision of the
North American Plate with the Juan DeFuca Plate were
'melted' by the hot spot. The modern day
result is a valley running from the Oregon-Idaho
border toward the Southeast to just North of the
Idaho-Nevada border then turns Northeast toward the
present day location of the Yellowstone hot spot in
Montana. This valley is surrounded on all
sides by the Rocky Mountains or its cut-off remains
in the ancient Owyhee Range. The valley floor
is around 2,400 feet above sea level (at my
location) while the surrounding mountains and ridges
run to about 6,000 ft to the South and 8-9,000 ft to
the north. This has created a very unique
weather pattern for the valley, where storms coming
toward us from the West typically, dry out as they
leave the Owyhee's (to our South), and start
precipitation again when they hit the Rocky's to our
North, leaving us with an average of 11 inches of
rain and 8 inches of snow annually while Idaho City,
just a few miles away in the foothills of the
Rocky's receives an average of 27 inches of rain,
and McCall, several miles to our North and well
within the Rocky Mountains receives over 25 inches
of rain and a whopping 138 inches of snow
annually. All of that describes how the
Treasure Valley and the Magic Valley are an
agricultural paradise. Lots of water (from all
that mountain snow), long growing seasons, and when
the fates allow, nearly 5 months of continuous
'perfect' weather. All we need to be a 'destination'
would be to have an ocean beach ... but alas, what
we have is called a 'High Chaparral' where grass,
sage brush and the invasive Russian Thistle (tumble
weed) thrive. Where the land is not in active
farming we have endless tracts of 'BLM' (Bureau of
Land Management) controlled land that is generally
accessible to the public while also available for
ranching and in some places it is home to herds of
wild horses. My wife and I love to take trips
out into the desert (excuse me 'High Chaparral') to
see the sights, smell the smells, and meet the wild
or nearly wild life of the area.
- Some photos we have taken from
around the area click here.
HF Radio & RF Path
- Alinco DM-430T Switching 12v 30A
- Yaesu FTDX10 HF/50MHz 100W Hybrid
- DLW Associates FL1718 Passband
Filter 1.8 - 54 Mhz, Stopband 40db 0-1.7Mhz.
- MFJ 1708B-SDRS SDR Receiver TR
- MFJ 1701 6 port Antenna Switch
through NI4L HF Choke Line Isolator
(CM choke) to reduce RFI.
- SDR Play RSP1a (Software: SDR Uno) connected through
the TR switch to allow receive operation even
when transmitting from the FTDx10.
Antennas On The Switch
- 'P55' - Palomar Engineers Bullet Antenna
55' 9:1 UNUN 500 Watts PEP (200 Watts
FT8). 50' of RG-8XII (Davis) to the 9:1 UNUN
hoisted to the top of the 30' aluminum flag pole
(un-grounded), with the 55' wire sloping Southward
to 7' AGL.
- NOTE: This antenna
replaced the Alpha JPole jr in the same
configuration because the Alpha cannot handle
- NOTE: Reconfigured to
run the 9:1 UNUN at 2' AGL, wire up the pole
to 30' AGL then to the South sloping to 7'
AGL. NO DETECTABLE CHANGE IN ON-AIR
- NOTE: 'Brick Wall'
broadcast filter does attenuate KCID by 40dB,
but the common mode signal on the coax is
still there. Replaced it with Palomar
Engineers CMNF-500-50GB Isolation
filter. KCID still detectable, but it is
reduced significantly. Broadband White
Noise is still an issue, and apparent
difficulty detecting remote stations using the
spectrum analyzer function of FTDx10
remains. Sub-Note: FT8 signals VERY
detectable. I'm talking about everything
else - RTTY, SSB, SSTV, CW. Is anybody
out there? DxLabs Spot says so, I'm
having all sorts of trouble independently
confirming it ... ARGH!
- NOTE: Connected 17'
counterpoise at 0' AGL. NO DETECTABLE
CHANGE IN ON-AIR PERFORMANCE.
- NOTE: The 55' wire is
good. I think I can 'fly' 84' may be
better. Look for a write up soon.
- 'WOLF' - Wolf River Coil SOTA Special (SOTA is
Summits On The Air) Packable Vertical
Antenna with Buddipole extensions
(2 ea. 11" and one 32" - 54" total) and longer
(84")whip antenna similar to this.
- 'STICK' - A truck mirror
mount re-purposed to originally support a
collapsible vertical for the RSP1a SDR.
The Palomar 55 9:1 UNUN connects
the 50 ohm coax to a psudo-random length of antenna
wire. I say psudo-random because there are
specific requirements for the length that this wire
should not, and can not be. That would be any
lenght that is resonant on any band the antenna will
be used on. Picking a practical wire length is
non-trivial to operate on 80-40-30-20-17-15-12-10
Meters. In my case where I am severely
constrained, I believe I can get away with about a
60' horizontal run combined with the 30' height of
the tall flag pole. An 84' foot wire probably
is the longest I can expect to use at this
location. 136', 140.5', 117.5' and anything
over 295' are options, but too long (maybe).
In the first configuation, I
put the UNUN at the top of the pole and ran the
wire out terminating with a 10' nylon rope to keep
the end of the antenna out of reach of passers by.
I discovered through reading
various antenna manufactures descriptions of
working antenna installations, that the UNUN
doesn't have to be especially far above ground,
and that the antenna wire doesn't have to be
especially straight in any plane.
this configuration I mounted the UNUN at about
5' AGL, ran the antenna wire (55') to the top of
the pole, 30' AGL and then down to 7'.
This shortened my horizontal run 20'.
In this configration I added a
17' counterpoise to the UNUN, mounted it at 2'
AGL, and ran the 55' antenna wire up and out as
before. Horizontal run about 17'.
During testing of this
configuration, I tried an AM Broadcast "Brick
Wall" filter to reduce the effects of KCID on my
receiver. The filter did EXACTLY what it
advertised. Input signals at AM Broadcast
frequencies were attenuated 40dB. It was
here that I recognized the QRM was coming from
common mode current on the outside of the coax
braid (which was grounded - and that makes zero
difference to RF on a 50' run). The Brick
Wall was returned, and a Palomar Engineers
CMFN-500-50GB filter was installed to decouple RF
on the braid and drain static on the braid.
This made a substantial reduction in KCID
interference at lower HF frequencies, but there is
still more than I want, particularly as the
frequency goes up. By 10M it's
Since I have about 60'
horizontal I wanted to increase antenna wire
length, to increase 'intercepted RF' - eg:
increase sensitivity, so shortly I will install an
84' #14 THHN wire. The UNUN will be at 2'
AGL and the horizontal run will be 64'.
1. ZEP refers to Zepplin - the German air
ships. Their antennas were trailed long
wires run through similar impedance matching
2. In my QSO 'Notes' field I list sent and
received signal strength and then add the antenna
and configuration information if you are
interested in a particular QSO please let me know
and I'll respond to you by email.
Stand Alone Antennas
- TRAM 1480
VHF/UHF 6db colinear 5/8 wave, mounted atop
8' of black steel 'fence top rail'.
Connected directly to BTECH UV-25X2.
Alpha Antenna JPole Jr. 34' End
fed 'sloper' feed end at 30' AGL (Above
Ground Level) sloping to 10' AGL fed at
the North end with the wire sloping to the
South, so East/West should be strongest signals,
you would think, but read on!
VHF/UHF Radio & RF Path
Computer & Data Path
- Mac Mini - My office workhorse;
produces the secure (LetsEncrypt)
Internet presence for this web site, (Apache HTTP Server) publishes
several MySQL databases, handles all
storage, video, html editing, email, etc.
- Retired: Acer
Notebook - configured primarily for Application
Generation with AppGini for MySQL databases.
Toshiba Satellite Notebook - configured primarily
for Radio Control with DxLabs, WSJT, and other
radio control software.
- Fluke 77 DVM (circa 1970, my
- NANO VNA Network Vector
- Looking for an inexpensive 100
Mhz dual trace storage oscilloscope. Thinking about
YEAPOOK ADS1014D among others.
- NOTE: The RSP1a SDR makes a
fine spectrum analyzer to sample transmitted
signal. My current antenna is selected by a
switch box, then routed through the MFJ 1708B SDR TR
Switch to the RSP1a and the Yeasu FT10Dx
transceiver. When in transmit there is just
enough RF energy still present to provide the RSP1a
with a very usable sample. Good way to check
for modulation and spurious emission (my first
harmonic is less than 30 db down - GOOD!)
Tuning my audio card volume and WSJT-X's power
control shows that for FT8 mode I can run the
selected audio card at full volume, and the program
power level at 100% without distortion and that I do
not have to apply any wave shaping to produce a
clean transmit signal.
- 20210730 I captured this
screen shot from the Spectrum Analyzer app running
on the RSP1a. Conditions: WSJT-x FT8 Tune
mode with transmit frequency set to 1000 Hz, Power
100%, into Palomar 55 antenna, sampled by RSP1a
inline via MFJ 1708B. First harmonic is
-33db 4th harmonic is -50.5db. The signal is
averaged over 20 sweeps.
- Skimmer (not until it works
with my SDR or another inexpensive one).
Skimmer is expensive - but it could be worth it
since there are few reverse beacons near me.
But not until I have a proven antenna system ...
- Best radio control, DX, Contesting software, but
it needs a native CW decoder!
- WSJT - The best way to 'do'
- JTAlert - Adds serious
functionality to WSJTx for things like 'worked
before' and 'Calling You'.
- NOTE: As of July 2021 I have
configured WSJTx and JTAlert to cooperate and
control FT8, logging (both local and LoTW) and
spotting. Working on how to automatically and
timely update LotW and QRZ logs.
- CWGet - Works off the
sound card, so it can work with DXLabs
- CHIRP - Allows programming
HT's to the same channel (frequency) etc. even if
they are different model numbers from different
manufacturers. But its a bit 'clunky' - I may have a
look at creating the same functionality using some
other tools and database(s).
VNA analysis of my
antennas - or - Learning how to use VNA Windows
Install and Test
Using a 30' flag pole to 'fly' a wire antenna and stay
under the radar (maybe).
As well as how well it works, and how much sensitivity
it has to installation direction.
Comparison to Wolf SOTA vertical
and other antennas.
- Relative ERP map by
Transact (or something) the DXLabs and WSJTx MS Access
log databases on JWIN into MySQL tables on JMAC so I
can archive, and manipulate, display etc. outside of
the applications. See if AppGini can ingest
'em? Otherwise use Open Office Db to enumerate
One Click Reports I want:
- List today's QSO's by time.
- List today's QSO's by band
- List states & countries
- List outstanding QSL's.
- List QSL's by date/time.
- Ground rod installed &
connected - working on eliminating noise and KCID
AM before I write it all up. The ground rod
is connected to a 'loom' which is usually found
inside an AC distribution panel, but in this case
is screwed directly to the wall behind the
desk. There are 9 positions, one ground
wire/equipment per. Currently using 1 for
the ground rod, and 4 for equipment grounds.
- I have found a bit of a
difference in potential between the 3rd wire
ground and the ground rod. I've made up a
jumper and plug that allows me to easily bond the
two grounds for testing and evaluation. So
far I have found no significant effect one way or
- Lightning Ground
- Signal Ground
- EMI Ground and Shielding
(I've got a great large (1490Khz/1KW) KCID AM
ground wave transmitter 500 yards to my
East). Working with Palomar Engineering to
get the RF (both mine and KCID's) on the coax
shield stopped before it gets to the radio using
filters and chokes.
Radio Continuity of Operation
- New battery for UPS
- Power OP strip from UPS
(JMac & display, JWin & displays, ext
drives, HF, VHF & UHF radios, HT charger.
- New automotive/deep cycle
battery for transmitter(s)
- Solar charger.
- Recharge all radio and
- Switch radio over from
commercial to battery. Temporary immediate
phone, CW only.
- Switch house (RV) and
entire shack to generator (change 50A and 30A
source from commercial to genset), consider
FrostKing heat tapes etc. Temporary all modes.
Reduce QRM on 160, 80, 11, 10
meter bands due to KCID and general noise.