Independence and the Spirit of Radio

At a recent anniversary party for the ham club I belong to one long time ham remarked to me that he’d seen my antenna pictures for my apartment and that it looked “pretty compromised”.

He is probably 100 percent correct– but instead of embarrassing me, it made me smile widely. And the reason is that I love being able to solve problems in ways that work without someone in a lab coat or with a degree giving me permission to innovate and test things for myself.

On this “compromised” antenna with just 20watts I have reached Japan, Brazil, Australia, Cuba, France, The Virgin Islands, The Dominican Republic, Panama, Ecuador, Canada, Mexico and all 50 states of the US.

America also had an anniversary recently, and this quality, the hitch up the britches, roll up the sleeves and just get it done spirit is what this country was founded on– and part of why I love her and her people.

When I started a business many years ago, I came to understand though my experiences most keenly why there was a war of independence early in our history.

Many of the people who were moved to come to the new world were poor, but hard working people, who lived within a caste system that limited their social standing, education, and rights no matter how hard they worked.

Learning was limited to the rich or influential in many cases. In the guild system, in order to learn the most basic trade you would have to sell yourself as practically a slave to a master who would demand you serve him hand and foot for years, doing the worst jobs before he would teach you the smallest skill. You could spend 10, 20, 30 years as his student before you could attain any respect at all or measure of learning and permission to act on your own.

And if you were a woman, it was even worse. You wouldn’t ever learn to read, and would be horse traded off still practically a child, for your family’s benefit, to live a life of hard labor in the fields and in the home.

From out of this oppressive life, fled many. To get passage to America they sacrificed what few possessions they had, even selling themselves into indentured servitude (7 to 10 years) for the money to board the ships to endure months on a rolling, heaving vessel, in cramped quarters with terrible food, and illness, not knowing what they would face when they saw those distant shores.

Many died on the passage, and in the hard winters that followed with not a little suffering. That tells you how much they wanted out of what they left, to endure these things.

Some of my ancestors were on those boats at different times.

When they got to America, they gradually discovered that in this far off place, the chains were lighter, their ability to decide for, and succeed for themselves increased.

They changed in their hearts as they saw what they could do and achieve. They started to believe in themselves as they succeeded. They understood then that they were masters of their own futures through those experiences. And when an alarmed King started to think they were getting a little too uppity, it was already too late.

Those brave men and women had already learned they were competent, and worthy to govern themselves. They couldn’t go back to being the constrained, dependent serfs, property of the King, they were before.

As Princes Leia once remarked in another galaxy, the tighter the grasp, the more people would slip through their fingers.

Freedom is a powerful thing once you’ve experienced it fully.

And I think that’s part of what appeals to me about ham radio, and all my other creative hobbies through the years. The spirit of radio is about problem solving. Testing, fiddling with things till you get it right.

It’s the spirit of persistence and discovery. The spirit that brought the world the light bulb, the car, electricity, and countless other inventions that have made life easier, happier, better for millions.

It’s the idea that you don’t need to have a degree before you think for yourself, teach yourself, and experiment. You don’t need permission or a by your leave. And you can give to the world those gifts from inside yourself.

There is still so much to discover. The frontier is still there. You’re the child of divine beings, with the ability to excel, and you can do it.

Chasing RFI and Lost Transmit Power

You hear a lot in passing as a new ham about RFI noise, or common mode current interfering with your signals, both outgoing and incoming, but it’s seldom explained how that can affect the power going out of the antenna in a real way.

I come to this subject after chasing around an issue I’ve mentioned in other posts with my SignaLink “fluttering” on and off during transmit sometimes (but not all the time) and my signals dropping off PSK Reporter like a rock when that starts happening.

So in the process of trying to figure out how to fix that issue I’ve come back to the concept of RFI in the shack. I’ve never been actually “bitten” by touching my radio, or mic, as I’m working digital from a laptop like some hams have, and so not handling things that might “bite” me, so I didn’t think it was a serious problem for me– maybe more of a nuisance. 20watts is all I have on the G90, so how bad can it be, right?

Then one morning my trackpad mouse on the laptop quit working every time the radio started to transmit. And that was my aha to take it seriously.

Studying articles and discussions around the web, and on YouTube about chokes, and controlling RFI, I have learned a few things interesting enough to put together in one place.

Electricity is a very interesting beast. It seems attracted to itself, and one current going out, prefers to return as close to it’s original path as possible. It’s almost like there’s “suction” drawing the two together, even if they can never meet because of the insulating barrier.

People who design printed circuit boards will often run traces and grounds on both sides of the board in roughly the same path because that’s where electricity WANTS to go. Close to its original self.

You also see this concept in some of the MOSFET transistors where the gate is opened on the switch by electrical “pressure” on the other side of a wall, even though the electrons remain separated from each other and never touch.

This means that a coax cable, which has a center conductor, and an outer braid wrapped around the center concentrically, will conduct the signal one way along the center conductor, and the other way back down the braid along the INSIDE of the braid, because it’s closest to the original path– the center conductor.

This leaves the OUTSIDE of the braid free to pick up other noise and frequencies from nearby electronics, the atmosphere, etc. (Electricity likes to travel on the “skin” of things, and not at the center, so there being two paths on the braid, the outside skin and inside skin makes perfect sense. )

Now here’s where it gets interesting.

This noise on the OUTSIDE of the braided shield can actually SUCK THE POWER AWAY from the power running on the inside!

So instead of feeding your outgoing power on transmit, the current can be drained up to 60+ percent away from going out the antenna, into just radiating inside your room.

And in the process interfere with your other electronics.

I saw this problem with my SignaLink fluttering and the laptop trackpad completely disappear when I went on a mission to install ferrites everywhere.

I now have ferrites on the power cable to the laptop, the USB cable from SignaLink to Laptop, the cable coming in to the shack, at the transciever, and a few other places.

No more fluttering. No more dropping signals in the morning. Lots more watts going out the antenna. Isn’t that amazing?

There is probably still more to do– I have the feeling I need a proper choke at the feedpoint.

From what I read, the so called Ugly Balun, or air wound 1:1 UnUn choke can sometimes make the issue worse, depending on the other characteristics of the feedline, such as length.

Extremely long runs of coax may need a line isolator every 1/4 wave or so to keep them quiet.

But for now at least, I’ve made enough of a difference correcting it that I’m getting the signal out with a lot better signal strength. Before, I was often only showing up with -17 to -24dB on digital modes. Now the reception reports are more likely to be in the -10dB range.

Apartment HF Antenna “Research & Development” Adventures

Apartments and HOAs can be really difficult for hams interested in working the HF bands.

For one thing, it’s usually necessary to conceal your antennas in such small, restricted spaces. Add that indoor antennas can be inefficient, suffer from high SWR from capacitance and reflection with surrounding walls and ceilings, and you have a really hard time making contacts!

In an earlier post I detailed my work getting a little multiband Comet HFJ-350M outside my third floor apartment window using a plank, a steel L-bracket, an PL-259 barrel connector, and a passthrough panel.

I had some luck with that setup, which I ran through Field Day 2021, and was able to make a number of field day (17) contacts with it.

However my DX range was very spotty, and signal strength was often at the edge of reception. And in the morning, the sun on the side of the building seemed to be causing SWR to rise and squander my forward power to the point that I disappeared from PSK Reporter.

(I did a lot of debugging and I kind of suspect my main coax feed cable, but I never was able to prove it exactly.)

So begins Antenna Adventure Number Two

With some difficulty (that’s another story) I got my hands on a 20m hamstick to try out.

I replaced the Comet in my window mount with the MFJ hamstick, but found it was too close to the building and being taller, touched the roofline, forcing it to bend over about a foot down.

Hamstick tip kissing the roofline when mounted straight up and down

Discussions with my “Elmer” yielded the idea of angling the bracket using washers as spacers to give the antenna about a 20 to 30 degree tilt which would help it clear the roof, and get it away from the building.

So I took a trip back to the hardware aisle and grabbed some longer bolts, and washers to stack along the upper bolt, and disassembled my setup again for the 20th time.

After a little experimentation, I came up with an acceptable angle.

Repositioned L-Bracket using washers as spacers

The next hurdle was to tune the 20m hamstick. This is a chore because my indoor space is full of furniture, and the SWR readings indoors are not accurate at all compared to when it’s actually outside.

Hamsticks need to be tuned using a couple of set screws at the midpoint between the whip and base coil section, so unlike the much shorter Comet antenna, I can’t just reach out the window and adjust the whip on the fly.

I ended up needing to take it on it’s plank mount out of the window and unscrew it from the connecting cable after each reading, adjust it, and put it back again all over again to see the effects of each adjustment on the SWR reading.

This took a while to get close, but eventually I got it down to an acceptable number with the addition of a radial, again just taped to the wall with painters tape.

I probably could get this a little closer, but I was sick of hoisting it out the window!

Drawbacks of the Longer Antenna Install

I have a few concerns about this install.

The whip is rather flexible, and the wind can be pretty aggressive at this end of the apartment complex. It’s piled up our patio furniture, flipped over all our rather heavy “fake grass” outdoor rugs, knocked over plants, and some things have even just vanished entirely after a storm, carried away to the land of the lost socks never to be seen again.

So with this wind in mind, I worry about the whip snapping around and breaking, or hitting things if I don’t take it inside when the desert storms spin up.

The install is also not sealed against water at this point, so I’ll want to bring it inside when it rains (Yes it does that in Arizona sometimes!)

It’s also just a little more visible from the ground than the Comet antenna, being longer, and leaning out from the building a lot further. So it remains to be seen how long it will be till/if someone in the office notices, and whether they will take offence!

The good thing however, is that the installation didn’t create any holes to patch if we move later! I can just pull the planks out of the window and unscrew my antennas and take ’em with me! No muss, no fuss!

20m Hamstick installed outside the window
Spot the antenna! Still pretty subtle up there…

Initial Transmission Results

I finally got the antenna tuned up about 7pm and the radio, a G90 hooked up with my digital setup.

Wow! On the Air and Loud!

I snagged 8 contacts in a couple of hours between FT8 and FT4, including Mexico, Canada, and a Russian fellow living in Ecuador!

I saw DX signal reports on PSK reporter all the way into Europe, Australia, Japan, Trinidad, Italy, Norway, Finland, various islands.

Signal reports also blanketed most of the USA, and were stronger over all than those using the Comet antenna.

Given that this all happened as the band was dying late in the evening, this was a terrific result!

ARRL Field Day 2021 & an Award

So after being a ham for over 2 years, I finally took part in the ARRL’s summer field day for the first time this year.

While a friend of mine with a gorgeous antenna install at his house made nearly 200 contacts, and I only made about 17 or so, it was still a great time and a bit of an adventure getting my antenna outside so I could work FT8 from my little apartment.

I spent a few of days prior purchasing and installing a feedthrough panel, which I installed vertically in the slide channel of my 3rd floor apartment window, along with a second plank where I installed a L-bracket to hold my antenna outside about 6 inches from the building.

MFJ Feedthrough panel

The L-bracket required drilling out the end hole to fit a PL-259 barrel connector, to which I screwed my little Comet HFJ-350M antenna, tuned for 20m. A short piece of coax connects the antenna to the feedthrough panel. And a longer coax cable runs from the panel on the inside to my radio (a Xiegu G90).

L-Bracket Drilled out for PL-259 Barrel Connector installed on poplar plank
Antenna Mount panel + feedthrough Panel installed in window channel
This really nice because it’s not a permanent installation.
When we eventually move, I just take the planks out and with me.
Comet HFJ-350M Antenna installed outside the window
where I can reach it to adjust the whip length.
The antenna install from the outside – notice it’s pretty subtle looking.
Zoomed in view of the Comet HFJ-350M installed in window

I also made up a radial wire which also runs through the window, and is just taped to the wall inside with blue painters tape.

The radial made a huge difference in getting a reasonable SWR with this installation, but I am still seeing a little issue in the morning with signal power being squandered and SWR rising when the sun heats up that side of the building.

One of the symptoms I see when things heat up is that the SWR on transmit rises, and the SignaLink I use for digital modes flutters on and off during the transmission a couple of times instead of transmitting the message steadily for it’s full cycle. Also, the forward power bar on the radio displays a lower numer of arrows.

I’ve done some debugging attempts, checked cables, fittings, whip lengths, added a choke coil, and I can’t figure out which part of the install is causing the issue as of yet. Next I’m going to try out switching to a 20m hamstick instead of the Comet antenna, but that requires a different connector on the bracket.

Hamsticks are a full 1/4 wave, while the Comet is substantially shorter with a loading coil in the base and some jumpers. Hopefully the hamstick will provide me with stronger signal output.

So that’s a build for another day.

World Radio Friendship Award

One of the great things about doing Field Day was that it allowed me to finish off enough confirmed contacts to get my first QRZ.com award, the World Radio Friendship Award.

One of the little gotcha’s of the QRZ awards is that contacts who don’t maintain a logbook on QRZ cannot be used for the awards, even though they technically count as confirmed if you get them confirmed on Logbook of the World and import them across.

So while I’ve had more than 25 confirmed contacts for a while, enough of them didn’t have a QRZ logbook to keep me from getting the award.

But I got it last night, and have ordered the certificate for my wall =)

The one that got away because of field day…

When you set up your software for field day, it changes the messages being sent to an abbreviated format that includes the letters FD in your CQ call, and a station class and location code in some of the replies.

So stations not working field day are still sending the regular messages. If you contact one of them, these fields are MISSING from the data for the log so you can’t LOG them!

I had such an ARGH moment when I had a contact with Cuba, that I really wanted for my country count, slip away and be unloggable because he wasn’t working field day and I was.

“Mr. Cuba”, I’m sorry, I heard you, you heard me and we had the RR73, but only we two know it. (I feel like such a geek now, after writing that! Lol.) Maybe I’ll catch you another day!

Most Entertaining Club Contact

People are quirky, funny, inventive, crazy, and make me laugh. I like to peruse my logs after uploading, follow links to profiles, and take a look at who I’ve made contact with and see all the wonderful creativity on the other end.

Among my contacts for field day I found some hams back east have a club entertainingly named “Hams of Insignificant Value”, call sign N0FOO. Their website features gorgeous space colors and three ginormous UPO saucers floating gently up and down on the front page. I had a good giggle =)

Gorgeous animated page– spaceships actually float up and down while you watch!

The Mysteries of Atmospheric Propagation

Skywave Propagation is such a weird, wonderful, and unpredictable thing. Oh there are general rules to it, that work more often than not.

Some countries are easier to get in the morning, others in the evening, and sometimes a stray signal can travel 5000+ miles for a minute, and then the conduit collapses after a few seconds and you can’t get a signal through again.

This week I saw brief moments where my signals were picked up in Estonia, Norway, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Hawaii, Japan, Australia, Finland, and New Zealand according to PSK Reporter.

Just a few of the places my signal has been heard.

Some day I’ll get my antenna setup efficient enough to log an actual contact in those places, but for now I can only dream of making the contact.

One sort of unusual property of my current antenna setup however is that I have a little bit of near vertical propagation going on some days where I have been able to contact people only 5 or 10 miles away on 20m!

Mesa to Mesa on 20m is normally really hard! I usually see a “crater” about 550mi wide around my position where my signal just skips over and doesn’t touch down. So I don’t know if it’s the building to antenna position reflecting things straight upward to get those close contacts, or what, but it’s been fun!

Filament Change Gcode

Just found this nice Gcode to help you set up a filament change for multiple colors in a print at a certain layer. Quoted from the original site which is linked below.

How to pause printing to switch filament

Posted by carlos, 16 November 2015 3:47 pm

In order to do multi color print with one extruder. You can pause the printer at a specific height. Make sure your machine supports the M600 command otherwise just see what they use for said firmware. Just insert the following after the layer height call in the gcode file. For example search for “; layer 5” and add the following after it:

;Pause Code
G91 ;Set Relative Mode
G1 E-5.000000 F500 ;Retract 5mm
G1 Z15 F300 ;move Z up 15mm
G90 ;Set Absolute Mode
G1 X20 Y20 F9000 ;Move to hold position
G91 ;Set Relative Mode
G1 E-40 F500 ;Retract 40mm, this can be commented out if you just want to pause to insert magnets or something.
M300 ;Beep (marlin)
M600 X0 Y0 Z10 E10
G90 ;Set Absolute Mode
G1 F5000 ;Set speed limits, depending on slicer this can be set to your initial mm/min speed or it can be used for the following move only then the next layer will set the speed
G28 X0 Y0 ;Home X Y
M82 ;Set extruder to Absolute Mode
G92 E0 ;Set Extruder to 0

Running on smoothieware, make sure to have the following set up in your configuration file (from: http://smoothieware.org/switch):

## for switching filament
leave_heaters_on_suspend true
after_suspend_gcode G91_G0E-5_G0Z10_G90_G0X-50Y-50 # Gcode to run after suspend, retract then get head out of way
before_resume_gcode G91_G1E1_G90 # Gcode to run after temp is reached but before resume – do a prime

Please refer to for more information at https://reprap.org/wiki/G-code#M600:_Filament_change_pause

There is also the G4: Dwell command

Example: G4 P200

In this case sit still doing nothing for 200 milliseconds. During delays the state of the machine (for example the temperatures of its extruders) will still be preserved and controlled.

Lastly if you use simplify 3D check this forum post on how to do it from the slicer: https://forum.simplify3d.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6725&p=29237

Nozzle Purge and Wiping Gcode

Found this useful little snippet of Gcode that can be added to the start of a print to make sure the nozzle is well primed and clean. Original post linked below.

Purge and nozzle wipe starting gcode

Posted by carlos, 2 September 2015 2:01 pm

Use this gcode to purge and wipe filiment before printing.

Simplified version

M107 ;turn off fan
G28 X0 Y0 Z0 ;home X, Y and Z axis end-stops
G29 ;initiate z-probing
G1 X0 Y0 Z.10 ;move to corner of bed
G92 E0 ;zero the extruded length
G1 F200 E3 ;extrude 3mm of feed stock
G92 E0 ;zero the extruded length

Advanced wipe and purge

M107 ;turn off fan
G28 X0 Y0 Z0 ; home X, Y and Z axis end-stops
G29 ; initiate z-probing
G0 X0 Y0 F9000 ; Go to front
G0 Z0.15 ; Drop to bed
G92 E0 ; zero the extruded length
G1 X40 E25 F500 ; Extrude 25mm of filament in a 4cm line
G92 E0 ; zero the extruded length
G1 E-1 F500 ; Retract a little
G1 X80 F4000 ; Quickly wipe away from the filament line
G1 Z0.3 ; Raise and begin printing.

3D Printed Antenna Radial Storage Spools

My larger multi-band antenna, a Wolf River Coil, comes with a trio of pre-cut radial wires to attach to the legs. No matter how carefully I roll them up into a tied off bundle, the next time I get them out and setup the antenna, I spend a significant amount of time untangling them.

I’ve been thinking about solving this problem with my 3D Printer for a while, but I have a ton of projects like this in the works and it’s taken me a while to get around to it.

While shopping for some other radio parts the other day however, I saw a commercial radial storage spool design in a portable antenna kit that I really liked. It was elegant, practical, and not overly complicated. So I dove into Fusion 360 to draw my own version of the design.

Finished Antenna Radial Storage Spool Design

I exported the design to a .STL file, sliced it up in Cura using the draft .2mm layer height profile and 20% infill with a brim, and zipped it off to my OctoPi for printing in a dark blue PLA+ filament on my silent-steppered (mod) Anet ET5X.

The spool about halfway printed. The nozzle was just a little too far away so I used the blue tape to hold the brim down to the bed!

The resulting spools (I printed three) came out great!

Finished 3D Printed antenna radial spool.
Much better antenna radial storage!

I’ve uploaded the design to Thingiverse if you want to print your own 🙂

FT8 QSOs from Utah!

Working HF from my current base location has been a bit difficult due to the available locations for antennas being rather limited and all indoors. (I live in a tiny apartment.)

However, last week I spent a few days in Utah for a wedding in the family and had the opportunity to make quite a number of HF contacts on FT8 from a park in Ogden, a church lawn in Orem, and even from the roof of my parked car outside my hotel!

I logged contacts from Canada, California, Washington, Mexico, Oregon, to name a few.

But my favorite one was made with a station (K7NWF) here in Arizona that I just can’t hit from Arizona due to the bounce distance being about 500 miles on 20m. We sail right over each other’s heads normally, and we had unsuccessfully been trying to make a FT8 or FT4 contact for 4 days, but Saturday night as the sun was going down, we watched our signals shorten, hitting closer and closer till we finally popped up on each other’s digital signal reports.

WSJT-X QSO Window with K7NWF
PSKReporter – KJ7DJR Signal Received by K7NWF
Daylight almost gone when we finally made contact on 20m

I was using my Comet HFJ-350M compact multi-band antenna planted on the roof of my car right outside my hotel room and my radio in the trunk. The radio I was using was a Xiegu G90, along with a SignaLink USB Soundcard.

Operating out of the “Ham Shack in the Trunk” earlier in the week

Other QSO’s over those few days also used a Wolf River Coil Screwdriver antenna where space permitted a pretty large radial ground plane footprint, but that really wasn’t possible to set up at the hotel since the space is tight in the parking lot and there is not much lawn. (I really didn’t want anyone running over my radial wires or antenna!)

All in all it was very rewarding to finally be on my way to my first award (I’m within 5 confirmed contacts of the QRZ.com World Radio Friendship Award) and it’s terrific to finally be working HF.

Thank you to Norm, Don, and all my other Elmers who’ve helped me graduate into the Skywave arena.

Xiegu G90 Digital Modes with SignaLink Setup

The Xiegu G90 is a great little affordable radio which has digital capabilities. While Xiegu (CEE-eh Goo, not Zy-Goo for you non-Mandarin speakers) does supply a break out module, the CE-19 for connecting to a soundcard with digital modes, many hams prefer to use a little more robust plug-n-play setup like the Tigertronics SignaLink.

However setup information if you want to use the G90 and SignaLink together is sketchy and incomplete. I’ve spent a lot of time searching, and cobbling together the pieces from various sources including help from a couple of Elmer friends (Norm K7NWF and Don WQ1E) to get it working, so I’m going to document my own digital setup in this post in the hopes that it might be useful to someone else to have it all in one place.

What you will need:

  • Xiegu G90 Radio
  • SignaLink USB (SLUSB8PM) properly jumpered (SLMOD6PM) for the G90
  • SignaLink 8-pin Mini Din Cable (SLCAB8PM – included with the SLUSB8PM SignaLink, but you can buy one separately if needed)
  • USB B to USB A Cable
  • WSJT-X Software

(Note: No rig control – You’ll need to tune the radio to frequency yourself because the closest thing you’ll find to the G90 rig control commands are in the ICOM family of radio profiles, and not everything works properly in those profiles.)

Cable Connections:

Connect the Radio’s rear Accessory port to the SignaLink RJ45 jack using the 8-pin min-Din cable. Be careful to line up the arrow on the 8-pin connector of the cable pointing DOWN. The cable fits one way only and you can damage the socket or cable pins if you try to force it in the wrong way. (Ask me how I know that, I dare ya =) )

Connect the SignaLink to your computer’s USB port using the USB B to USB-A cable.

The computer should automatically install the drivers and treat the SignaLink as a USB Audio Codec device.

Computer Audio Configuration:

In your control panel, set the default Sound Playback and Recording devices on your computer to the regular speakers and microphone. (Your SignaLink should NOT be handling the regular computer system sounds, just the communications for the radio through the WSJT-X software.)

G90 Radio Configuration:

These settings come from OH8STN’s helpful video.

VOX – Enable VOX for the PTT setting

Line Input – Change the input from Mic to Line Input

Input Audio Levels – Set input Audio levels to 10.

Audio Out Level – Leave set to 15.

AGC – Turn AGC Off (Should Show AGC– on the display)

Power Level – Set to around 18w

SignaLink Settings:

Set the TX knob about halfway.

Set the RX knob about halfway.

Set the Delay knob to 0.

Software Configuration:

Open the WSJT-X Software.

In File > Settings

General Tab – Fill in your Callsign and Grid Square

Radio Tab – Set Radio to NONE. Set PTT Method to VOX

Audio Tab – Set the Soundcard to select your SignaLink USB Audio Codec in the Input and Output dropdowns.

Set the Power between the top two marks in WSJT-X on the right hand part of the screen.

WSJT-X Power level setting

You should now be ready to tune up your antenna to the chosen band, run the auto-tuner on your G90, and start making contacts!

Happy QSO-ing!

73 KJ7DJR

UPDATE: SignaLink and ALC – Maximizing Transmit Levels

As I’ve been working with the SignaLink on FT8 and FT4 I’ve noticed that you can use the SignaLink TX volume knob to control how much power is going to the antenna and maintain the ALC (Automatic Level Control) at acceptable levels.

G90 display: Watch the six arrows to the right of the S-meter. All six should be lit and red.
Turn up TX if any are yellow or all six not lit.
If ALC shows less than 100 percent turn TX knob down a little.

The way I do this on the G90 is that I watch the red arrows on the display as they radio starts transmitting. Ideally, they should be filled in red all the way across. If there are fewer than 6 arrows, or you see any part of the last arrow showing as yellow, gradually turn up the TX knob till all six are lit up red.

Then look at the ALC number shown below at the right hand side. If it’s 100 percent, there is no level control being applied and you have the volume spot on for full transmit power.

If you see ALC as something less than 100 percent, then the radio is turning the sound DOWN on you, and you have it a little too loud. (100 percent on the G90 means full sound levels going out, no sound dampening being applied.)

In that case turn the TX known down gradually till you see it just at 100 percent, with all arrows still red.

This can change as you’re transmitting over a period of time, so glance at it periodically and adjust as needed to bring it back to full power, but not so loud that the radio starts to employ ALC.

You can get away with 95 or 96 percent showing on ALC with the G90 without too much outgoing signal distortion happening, but any more than that, and you might have trouble making contacts.

(Thanks to Norm K7NWF for initially drawing my attention to the control of signal output with the TX knob!)

Random Wire Antenna Lengths

A very simple type of antenna is a plain random length of wire, but making one that can be used on multiple bands has been complicated.

Here’s an excellent article with a chart showing the best wire lengths for multiple band operations.

Random Wire Antenna Lengths

The trick is to make sure that the wire is not a multiple of 1/2 wave length on any band you want to use.