While studying for my licence and practicing for the 15WPM Morse code test and with the help of ZL3ABZ I built an 80 meter AM transmitter. It would run about 60 watts or so and after gaining my licence I did manage a few contacts, mainly around the South Island with one contact to Campbell Island which was a bit of a struggle for poor Lester ZL4PO!
Anyway, it didn't take too long for me to realise that 60 watts of AM was not going to get me around the world on 80 meters! A dipole at only 30 feet high wasn't helping much either although I didn't realise the importance of antenna height at that time.
I took the plunge and bought a Yaesu FT200 in late 1971 and soon after, a Yaesu FL2000B amplifier. A tower followed and soon I had a 2 element homebrew quad up at 60 feet and was working the world on 20, 15 and 10. Every evening I'd work into Europe on the long path on 80 meters - all SSB. I can honestly say that in over 40 years of ham radio I've never had a CW contact!
Of course my location was helping me.. we lived on a 1,000 acre farm and as luck would have it, the house was on a hill with the ground sloping away in nearly all directions but especially good towards the north east round to the south east. I erected a vertical antenna at the end of the ridge and soon followed that with a second vertical and this pair of phased verticals on 80 proved to be quite a good antenna, especially into Europe in the early evenings.
The FT200 (left) was replaced with an FT101 and the FL2000B gave way to a Heathkit SB220 (which I still have). The Quad was replaced by a homebrew 3 element monoband 20 mx Yagi on a 26 foot boom and that proved to be a good antenna also. Various wire antennas were built for 40 meters, the best being a 2 element wire Quad beamed long path to Europe. I did a lot of experimenting with the 80mx phased verticals and with the considerable help of Les Moxon G6XN built a variable phasing unit which was fun to play with and although I don't think it improved the gain much it certainly was possible to tune for very deep nulls and high front to back ratios. I put up another tower in 1976 - 112 feet high and experimented with antennas for 160 and 80. The most successful antenna I had on that tower was a full size 80 meter wire beam pointed towards the USA and that worked extremely well. Alas, it only lasted a few weeks before a big wind tore it apart. Various slopers, delta loops etc. were tried but nothing worked consistently better that the phased verticals.
In 1979 I sold the farm and moved to Gore. By now I had an FT901DM and spent a year living in town and hating not having anything like a decent antenna! It wasn't long before the urge to buy some land and put up antennas induced a property purchase in Alexandra and soon I was at it again!
More to come..