Find Me On:

My Ham Radio And Broadcasting Projects.

Joe Labs

Some various miscellaneous radio projects as well.

Over the years since I was a teenager I have been a licensed ham radio operator. Unfortunately today I consider myself non active as there are no longer any other active members in
my ham radio location grid. During my teen years and early adulthood I was very much active in ham radio. Also completing my CO-OP at the time with our local radio station
technical team. I learned most of what I know about radio and RF during those times and I would like to share with you some of my understandings along the way!

Table Of Contents

      1. 160 meters and AM Broadcast
        1. -CFA (Cross Field systems)
        2. -LMR 400 Coax
        3. -Underground Antennas
        4. -The Inverted L
      2. FM Broadcast And VHF Ham
      3. Microwave And Wifi
      4. Resources:

160 meters and AM Broadcast

My profound interests in the low frequency bands started when I was very young and noticed some irregularities only on the "shortwave" bands. Once I got my ham radio license at
16 years old. I learned about the whys and hows regarding radio. My issue then with the low bands. I did not have the space for such big antennas. Usually required to work very low
frequency bands, I researched and pondered. Experimented with various short antennas.  Let me tell you. Don't let any "old" fashioned ham radio tell you that you can not work low
frequency, such as 160 meters with very short antennas using low power. My personal experience dictates 100% against these generic ham statements.

-CFA (Cross Field systems)

These just seem to work. A tuned L/C circuit. It is over "sized" Has a huge capacitance hat. and radiates "leaks" better then a "dummy" load. These work more like "Tesla" coils.
These antennas operate in the impedance zone of High Q. These are very high voltage generators as well and a general issue with any "High Q" short antennas.
I built one indoors around a plastic (PVC) fat vent that crossed the floors. I will include some resources and information related to the CFA later on in the links and resources
section of this page near the bottom.

This tiny indoor antenna did great at ground-wave and sky wave propagation on 40 meters. I was even able to do regular QSO's (contact) with my friend VE3TEO located some
miles away. No more then 25 watts was ever used indoors. The high voltage potentials had me worried, hanging around this antenna or running any kind of serious power behind it.

Pondering.... If only the Commercial AM broadcasters knew. Big AM phased antenna  fields are not really required , Very expensive to build and maintain.

CFA Antenna

-LMR 400 Coax

I reasoned that with the additional help of a radio L/C network. I should be able to tune the ground shield of a 100 feet run of coax as a random wire antenna, Going around the
backyard. Randomly around things, up tress and such. I tried this method. It looks like a crude setup. How-ever. I found the simplicity to be of a sweet value. Finding resonance
is just a matter of turning the knobs of the L/C until the transmitter final stage hits a peek current draw at the point of resonance. Or just by using a SWR analyzer. Much easier
with an SWR analyzer. This was a method of getting on HF temporarily in a city "lot".

                                                                          L/C setup
          Ham Circuit

-Underground Antennas

I was very surprised that by following the same L/C network principles, I was able to build a loop antenna the followed
along the whole side of one of the 4 concrete walls of a deep basement for 160 meters. This worked interestingly. I was
able to hear a CW tone 6 miles away on a portable radio receiver.  The transmitter only had 5 watts of power running
on 160 meters CW mode. I was happy to have the assistance of my friend Bill VE3WIL at the time of experiment.

The basement setup was rather simple.
          meter loop

This was on one side of my walls.

-The Inverted L

I saved this one here for last as you need a medium sized lot to be able to experiment with such an antenna. Performance
was the best with this kind of setup. I was lucky and able to use an old clothing line between the two lots. No one bothered
me with such a setup, as it was out of the way. Not everyone is lucky and able to install this type of antenna.

Inverted L

It is best to keep the angle of the horizontal section as close to 90 degrees as you can to avoid loss in performance.  I had to run an
insulated supporter half way. To keep the angle as close to 90 degrees as possible.

-My setup:

                Base hookup                                                                                       Horizontal Inverted L wire hanging across the property 100 feet.

AM Broadcasting

160 meters is close to the AM broadcast band. I figured knowing as much as I know regarding low frequency. I should be able to do well on AM Broadcast. The best solution I could
find. Was to use the ProCaster AM by ChezRadio. This transmitter is approved in Canada to be operated without a license. This makes experimenting on AM that much less stressful
knowing we can do it legally. In Canada unlike the USA. Our officials don't care about whip and mass antennas setup. Or take into consideration building heights and ground paths.
As long as the transmitter is certified with a proper sticker and certification number. That is all they care about. This comes from first hand experience when some inspectors came to
my door for an inspection.Turns out they got a complaint from a nearby licensed broadcaster. By default they have to respond by investigating the allegation.  It was all good with the
ProCaster and simply went on with my day.

Procaster AM transmitter with built in tuned 10 feet whip, sits on top.
        Radio Range
                                                                                                                                                                                     Range Approx 5 miles.

FM Broadcast And VHF Ham

I have early experience in the field of FM broadcast and VHF as well. Thanks to our at the time local VE3AA Timmins Ham Radio Club and my involvement with local radio station
on FM. I later on ventured into a non for profit radio club. I more or less was the head project organizer. Our team managed to get a radio license from the CRTC to operate a community
radio station in Iroquois Falls. Ontario.  As a non for profit. The station ran its course. Until the license was up for renewal. Unfortunately for many reasons out of my direct control. It
was then determined by the group. that it was for our best interest of our members personally . To not renew the license. I  consider the project a success. I am thankful as  I learned from
this experience. Many years, Folks had a local alternative source to local programming news and emergency broadcasts. By using our community station as a local outlet.  As far as
keeping us all connected. This kind of radio service is no longer really needed in 2021. We have social media. Our phones. Our apps. Our podcasts. Just about everything but analog radio.


The FM Broadcast hardware chain.
I'm proud of having been the one
to hook this up! A very professional
installation. For the community radio
station in Iroquois Falls. We where a
non profit local club.

I also volunteered my part within our ham radio club as well. Back in the better days of ham radio. I was the elected club Treasurer for a term. I enjoyed my volunteer experience with
VE3AA. We worked many projects together. Including tuning of antennas, Installation of VHF repeater systems. We also enjoyed APRS and Echolink. D-Star came later on.

   Tuning of ham repeater antenna near Timmins.
The 2 meter repeater in Timmins operated on 147.060 + Don VE3HOL is standing to the right in black.

Here is the view! Photos taken by me.

I enjoyed ham radio for several years until our club members declined from lack of interest as new and better tech came along.(Smart phones and such)
Also many members over time, moved away. The  average ham operator around here have mostly been retired for years before. Many of them.
My friends regretfully have passed of natural causes.  One of those ham operators I have great respect for.  he since then passed away as well.
Don VE3HOL. He was president of the club for a while.We worked together. He we a very knowledgeable man with an advanced and CW
classification license. He we also our local ham radio examiner. I spoke to him just a couple weeks before he passed. All seemed well. I had inquired
in an earlier email sent to him. If he remembered the original VE3AA club Packet Radio Network. I wondered how it operated as this was before my
time as a ham operator. I didn't expect it. He sent me a full historical breakdown. It was very informative and historic. I will include the email response
right here for memorial reasons. And to share a piece of Timmins ham radio history.


I think you had asked me about local packet back in the good-old-days!   I took over running the data network after Bert, VE3DPZ retired from it.
Each packet node needed a dedicated box running a packet forwarding software.  In our case, we ran a program called  “MS-DOS” on the fastest
Dos version we could find!   There were other forwarding  software, FBB was one of them but we used MS-DOS.  When I took over, our box was
up on TV hill behind your place.  I had to contend with your Friend Norm(VE3UHY) for access to the box!   Our traffic came from Quebec into
 a North Bay box. We had a ham in Temagami who was able to receive the North Bay signal and was able to transmit INTO our box on TV hill.  
No internet back then! The packet address had the call sign of the recipient and knew where his home QTH was.   The packet address also knew
when delivery was successful. Number of retries was one of MS-DOS’s configurations option.  On good links you could set it to 2…on bad links
to 3 or maybe even 4.  If you set too high, it would slow the whole download down!  Set too low and some packets would wind up in the garbage! 
When TARC expanded to the corner of 655 and highway 11 at Driftwood  with box VE3TIR,  it became possible for a direct connection to
 Kaspukasing. Some hams in Kap decided to build a box  for packet.  All traffic for the North was directed to Timmins from Temagami. Traffic for
Kap was then forwarded from Timmins.  This was done automatically.

My Ham Radio Corner


              Yep those were the good old days!!!!  Sometimes…not so good!Ha Ha


Microwave And Wifi

I grew up in the country some miles away from town. It was lucky if we got spontaneous dial-up internet to connect from our old POTS service lines. The provider has failed to upgrade
even to this day. Today people who live around that area. Simply use the cell phone high speed data connection as a hotspot , for access to "high speed" internet. Before the cell phone data
days. Options for high speed internet where limited. Those Times, I lived with my parents. If you literally did not live on the "Main Street" downtown. You where out of luck.

When I was around 15 years old. Bill VE3WIL and I decided to experiment with some ISA wireless Cards that he picked up at the Ham Show in Dayton. We installed the system. One system
on top of his 64 foot tower downtown Iroquois Falls. And another antenna at my place about 6 miles away, at around the same height. It took multiple tries and even some hops to get us where
we wanted. But within a couple weeks. We had figured out the wireless network configurations that would suit us best. I ran many years from this internet. And we shared to a handful
of our friends who lived around who also enjoyed high speed internet.

An interesting observation.

*With trial and error. I came to notice that as far as getting point to point links to operate in near line of sight settings on the 2.4 ghz microwave band. turning  down the radios to
operate only in 1mbps "B" mode. This opened up the radio to the most noise tolerance. And good operation with low signal (rssi) levels. This "trick" also did us good in situations
where we did not have perfect line of sight. If all you require is around 1mbps. This is/was a great solution!

Wireless AP and client at the house.

We used these old grids that where previously used on a local MMDS system. Wireless Cable, It was.

This was the equipment in town. One of those 2.4 Ghz panels, Is pointing to my house!!
We used Smart Bridges equipment at the time. The "Air Point Pro" and Air Bridge Pro.



Cross Field Antenna Info

Cross Field Antenna Images

The AM Procaster By ChezRadio

Back Home