I've spent many months, er, years messing around with keyers and keys and radios and, well, ancillary appliances and appurtenances in my shack. In all that time, I haven't done much operating. Why not? Well, because I haven't had even a marginally useful antenna. I've been building a helically-wound vertical that I intend to make multiband by feeding it through an automatic tuner, but my attempt to raise it was a pretty spectacular failure and I've been discouraged since then, although I still intend to see if I can make it work I just haven't had the time or the energy.
So, what to do? Well, having run out of other options, I've decided to throw money at the problem. I've bought a couple of commercial HF antennas and I've even put one up. First, the antenna I've actually installed. It's described by Alpha Antenna as 10-160 METER (60 FOOT) END FED HF J-POLE SR ANTENNA It claims to do 160 through 10 meters on a single 60 foot long (18 meters or so) wire. What's not to like, right? Well, I don't know. I'm pretty sure I messed up when I terminated the feedline running to it, and I didn't test it before I put it up to high for my short ladder and I haven't had time to get the big ladder out so I could test it. Pro tip: Test your feedline before putting both ends out of reach. I'll let you know what I find out when I find out something more.
The other antenna is a DX Commander "classic" model they call The Rapide It's 7m tall (about 23 feet for the metrically challenged) and has elements for 30 through 10 meters. I had intended to buy this antenna anyway because it seemed likely to me that my helically-wound vertical would not have a desirable radiation pattern below the 40m band. My lack of success with the 160m antenna just moved the purchase up in my schedule. This antenna is sold as a kit so I've been putting off building it until the one that comes preassembled is working. I'll let you know about this one, too.
Even though the I can't transmit through the "HF J-Pole" because of the high SWR, I've been monitoring 20m and 40m FT8 and I can hear quite a bit. This gives me hope that I might be able to actually get some decent contacts once I've straightened out the SWR situation. I'm really enjoying using my Hermes Lite 2 SDR and Quisk. I can't wait to use it for real.
Anyway, that's the latest news from here.