Category Archives: Newsletter

DIY Yagi Antenna – From a Tape Measure!

A Yagi antenna is a type of “Beam” antenna.  Beam antennas are designed to be directional.  Off to the sides and the back of them, the reception and transmission are poor.  But from the front of them the signal is concentrated for reception and transmission.  Yagi antennas can be made with numerous elements giving increasing gain with each element.  Or they can be made with just three elements, a Reflector element, a Driven element and a Director element.  One can use numerous materials to make one but a couple of Ham’s came up with the idea to use 1” wide steel Tape Measure for the elements to provide some portability and weight savings as these can be hand held and used that way.

VHF Model

UHF model 

The two designs we will look at are from N5YM and WB2HOL.  With permission I will relate their information on how to build a UHF and VHF model Tape Measure antenna.  First let me introduce the VHF model as construction is almost identical with either model.  The full web site can be viewed here:

http://theleggios.net/wb2hol/projects/rdf/tape_bm.htm

Materials needed

Item

Est. Price

24.5” of ½” PVC Schedule 40 pipe 1.30
(2) ½” PVC cross pieces 2.60
(1) ½” Pipe “T”  .65
(9.5) 1” wide Tape Measure 4.20
(2) 1 ½” Hose Clamps 7.00
Cable from antenna to radio
TOTAL 17.55

 

As you can see the antenna can be constructed for less than $20 in parts.  The (?) at the cable price is due to the fact not everyone has the same radio and antenna connection.  They do make adapters and adapter cables that will allow mating different connectors.

WB2HOL design 

Since I had never seen any plans for an antenna using elements made from 1 inch wide steel “tape measure,” I had to do the design myself. To assist in the design I used a shareware computer aided yagi design program written by Paul McMahon VK3DIP. It allowed me to optimize the antenna for the cleanest pattern combined with the best front-to-back ratio.

When I first built this beam I found it needed a matching network of some kind to have a low SWR. My first attempt was a Gamma match. This was unwieldy. The driven element could barely handle the weight and the Gamma match itself was not very flexible. The best matching network turned out to be a “hairpin match.” This is simply a 5 inch length of wire that is connected across the feed points of the driven element. The antenna has some capacitive reactance without the matching network. The 5 inch length of wire has just enough inductance to cancel the capacitive reactance. This resulted in a better match than anything else I had tried.

The wire I used for the hairpin match was enamel insulated 18 gauge solid. Other hams who have duplicated this beam have used just about anything they had on hand. 14 gauge house wire works well, so does a length of 22 gauge hookup wire. It does not seem to matter if it is stranded or solid, use whatever you have available. This results in a very good match across the two meter band once you have adjusted the distance between the halves of the driven element for minimum SWR. (1 inch apart on my prototype).

I used a pair of shears to cut the tape measure elements to length. An old pair of scissors will probably do as well. No matter how you cut the elements be very careful. Those edges are very sharp and will inflict a nasty cut if you are careless. Use some sandpaper to remove the really sharp edges and burrs resulting from cutting the elements to size. I put some vinyl electrical tape on the ends of the elements to protect myself from getting cut. I encourage you to do the same. It will probably be best if you round the corners of the elements once you cut them. Wear safety glasses while cutting the elements. Those bits of tape measure can be hazardous.

The RG58 coax feedline is connected directly to the driven element. No matter what method you use to attach the feedline, make sure you scrape or sand the paint off the tape measure element where the feedline is attached. Most tape measures have a very durable paint finish designed to stand up to heavy use. You do not want the paint to insulate your feedline connection.

If you are careful, It is possible to solder the feedline to the element halves. Care must be taken since the steel tape measure does not solder easily and since the PVC supports are easily melted. You might want to tin the tape measure elements before mounting them to the PVC cross.

If you decide not to solder to the tape measure elements, there are two other methods that have been used to attach the feedline. One method employs ring terminals on the end of the feedline. The ring terminals are then secured under self tapping screws which hold the driven element halves. This method does not allow you to tune the antenna by moving the halves of the driven element. 6-32 bolts and nuts could be used if holes are drilled in the elements near the ends. If the bolt heads are placed nearest the PVC fitting, you could secure ring-terminals with nuts and lock washers. Another possibility is to simply slide the ends of the feedline under the driven element hose clamps and tighten the clamps to hold the ends of the coax. I know this is low-tech, but it works just fine.

Figure 1 – Driven element support construction: Stainless steel hose clamps are used to attach the driven element halves to the PVC cross which acts as its support. This has the added benefit of allowing you to fine tune your antenna for lowest SWR simply by loosening the hose clamps and sliding the halves of the driven element either closer or further apart. By using the dimensions specified, I found that the SWR was 1:1 at 146.565 Mhz (our Fox-Hunt frequency) when the two elements were spaced approximately 1 inch apart. Figure 1 shows the method used to attach the driven element to the PVC cross.

I used 1 1/2 inch hose clamps to attach all the elements on my prototype beam. Others who have duplicated my design have used self tapping screws to attach the elements to the PVC crosses and tees. Performance is the same using either method. The screws are much less expensive but they do not hold the elements as securely. If you do not use 1/2 inch PVC fittings but instead use 3/4 inch, make sure the hose clamps you buy are large enough to fit.

If you wish a slightly neater looking beam, use the self tapping screws. If you do not mind spending a few more dollars for the hose clamps, use them instead. If I were to build another beam I would use screws for the director and reflector, and hose clamps for the driven element. That would give me the best of both methods.

Rubber faucet washers have been used by some builders between the tape measure element and the PVC fittings on the director and reflector. These allow for the tape to fit the contour of the PVC fitting and will make the antenna look better. Now you know what to do with those washers left over from the assortment you once purchased; You know the ones I mean, the washers that do not fit the faucets you have in your house. If you are an apartment dweller, ask around, these things are stashed in almost every homeowners basement or garage.

Construction

Cut a length of tape measure to 41 3/8 inches. It will be the Reflector element. Cut two lengths of tape measure to 17 3/4 inches. These will be used for the Driven element. Cut one length of tape measure to 35 1/8 inches. It will be used for the Director. Once you have cut the tape measure to length, put vinyl tape on the cut ends to protect yourself from the sharp edges. You will want to scrape or sand off the paint from one end of each of the driven element halves so you can make a good electrical connection to the feedline.

If you are planning to solder the feedline to the driven elements it is best to tin the elements first before attaching them to the PVC cross. If you don’t, the PVC will melt as you apply heat to the element. It would be a good idea to also take the time to form the wire used for the hairpin match into a “U” shape with the two legs of the “U” about 3/4 inch apart. Tin the ends of the hairpin if you plan on soldering it to the driven element. If you tin 1/4 inch of each end of the hairpin it will leave 4 1/2 inches to shape into the “U”.

You will need to cut two lengths of PVC pipe to use as the boom. One should be cut to 11 1/2 inches. It is used to form the boom between the Director and the driven element. The other piece of PVC should be cut to 7 inches. It will be used between the Reflector and the Driven element. Just about any saw will cut through the soft PVC pipe. I used a hacksaw. When we mass produced this antenna as a club project, we marked the pipe and used a portable jig saw to cut the lengths in assembly line fashion. It took longer to measure the pipe than to actually make the cuts. Since the pipe is available in ten foot lengths, you can make a few beams from a single 10 foot length. In any case, you might want to cut a few extras lengths for your friends. They will want to duplicate this once they see your completed antenna.

At this time you can pre-assemble the PVC boom, crosses and tee which will support the tape measure elements. I did not use any cement or glue when I assembled mine. The PVC pipe is secured in the fittings with a friction fit.

The hose clamps I used are stainless steel and have a worm-drive screw which is used to tighten them. They are about 1/2 inch wide and are adjustable from 11/16 inch to 1 1/2 inch diameter. Attach the tape measure elements to the PVC fittings as shown in the accompanying drawing. It is normal for the Reflector and Director elements to buckle a bit as it is tightened to the PVC Tee and Cross. You can eliminate this buckle if you use the washers and self tapping screws to attach these elements instead of the hose clamps. I do not think the beam will withstand as rough a treatment as when hose clamps are used.

N5YM UHF Model 

This diagram is all that is needed to assemble a UHF model Yagi antenna.  The dimensions are right on the money to resonate at our CERT repeater frequency so it works extremely well.  I have taken my UV-82HP and even on low power I can hit our Repeater from the far Northwest and Northeast corners of Allen.  The UHF model is extremely lightweight and can be hand held easily. Each antenna can still be fitted with a clamp style tripod mount so it can be tripod mounted and the tripod can control the direction and angle of use.

The below diagram shows the use of cable ties on the Reflector and Director elements.  These can be used on the VHF model as well to help reduce weight.  I used them.

To help make the elements safer and easier to transport the diagram calls for the use of Black electrical type tape over the sharp cut edges of the tape measure.  I used the Fuzzy side of Velcro as it is thicker to prevent cuts and it can be used as an attaching point to bend the elements over to the center pieces for more compact transport or storage.

I had shared these designs with an upcoming CERT member, Kelly Cunningham.  He is a licensed radio operator, KC5HAM, and he and Jim Longley built themselves one of each.  I asked Kelly if I could share the images and he approved their use.  He made some slight modifications to the antenna by adding a handle bar grip to the antenna which allows easy holding and directing.  They ran the cable up through the center of the boom too which neat’s the package up nicely.

The antennas work extremely well.  With the VHF model and my HT from my living room I could hit a Denton Repeater 28 miles away!  I went outside and pointed it North and hit a Sherman repeater once with it at 38 miles away.  So you can see the increase in range that a “beam” type antenna can provide.  The antennas are made from inexpensive parts available at local hardware stores except for the cable and connectors.  Amazon can help in that area or locally HRO in Plano has many premade cables and adapters that will work.

If anyone needs help with the soldering part I can meet them somewhere or come to your home to help in that area.  If there is enough interest we could possibly do a CE class and build some of these.  Does anyone have a chop saw?  Doing the hacksaw cuts takes time plus a vice is usually required.  One 25’ tape Measure will make (2) UHF models and (2) VHF models.  Harbor Freight gives these away for free with a coupon.  I bought one at Home Depot for $11 and got (4) antennas out of it.  I encourage everyone to give these antennas a try.  They are cheap and easy to make with hand tools and they add so much in the range category for our HT radios.

73’s,

William, N5WOI

Spotlight: Ken Langley

Having joined the team just one year ago, Ken Langley has already become a familiar face at meetings and events. Bringing decades of practical experience, he has contributed valuable feedback on our Basic Training program and is currently organizing a CE training that will take our damage assessment capabilities to the next level (stay tuned for more on that)! Read more about Ken below.

What is your place of birth?

Mineral Wells, Texas. My father was an auditor and troubleshooter for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service at various Army and Air Force bases, as a result I attended 6 school systems in 5 states finally graduating from high school in Colonial Heights Virginia. I received an athletic scholarship that enabled me to play football at a major tier one collage. With the scholarship, I was majoring in  football with a minor in partying and going to class when I had time. Needless to say; I was not overly surprised when I received a letter from my draft board asking me to come talk to them about my collage deferment. Rather than waiting to be drafted, I joined the US Air Force.

What brought you to Allen, TX?

Moved to the Dallas area in 1973 after being discharged from the Air Force and moved to Allen in 1975. Cost of housing was the primary reason for moving to Allen, we bought a small 4-bedroom house in the Hillside area for $18,500.

Tell us about your immediate family (including any pets).

My wife, Mary, and I have been married for 38 years; we have 3 kids, 4 grandkids, 1 real dog and 3 micro dogs.

Tell us about your professional career.

Utilizing skills learned while I was in the USAF; for over 40 years, I’ve traveled the world working as an individual contributor, supervisor, manager, and senior executive for several technology companies.

For the last 10 years, I’ve leverage my experiences to help numerous business owners enhance profitably and operational efficiency with technology and business operations reviews.

What fictional character most closely aligns to your personality?

I’m not much of a fictional guy; however, I greatly admire the skills and commitment of WW 2 aviators.

What other hobbies / extra-curricular activities keep you busy?

I’ve been a pilot since 1973 flying primarily general aviation aircraft to support personal and business travel. My interest in aviation includes doing a lot of volunteer hours at the Cavanaugh Flight museum in Addison and proving flights for special needs kid through a non-profit called Challenge Air for Kids & Friends.

As we move farther into our retirement years; my wife and I are planning a 2 or 3 year trip in our RV to see various parts of this great country.

If you were stuck on an island what three things would you bring?

A Bible, good Leatherman knife and a magnifying glass.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Using faith-based principles to help others achieve their personal or business goals.

What advice can you offer to new CERT members?

CERT provides a great opportunity to serve the citizens of Allen and others during natural or man-made disaster. Continue growing your knowledge by participating in the various projects and training the CERT membership provides.

What aspect(s) of CERT training has the largest impact on your life?

The training reinforced some of my previous emergency and medical response training. As a result; I feel that I’m better prepared to respond to an incident.

Welcoming The New Chief

From the City of Allen:

City of Allen Names New Fire Chief

chief jon boyd

Jonathan Boyd, City of Allen Assistant Fire Chief of Operations, will assume the position of the city’s next fire chief on August 4. Boyd has served as Assistant Chief of Operations since 2012 and brings extensive education and experience of the department into his new role.

City Manager Peter Vargas said, “Jon is the perfect fit to continue the department’s high-level of service and excellence that’s been recognized nationwide. He has been instrumental in leading many innovative training protocols, service improvements, and growth-related expansion efforts over the years.”

Boyd began his career with the City of Allen Fire Department in 1996, promoting to Division Chief in 2005 and Assistant Chief of Operations in 2012. In his role as Assistant Chief, he managed a $14 million operations budget with oversight of 98 employees. He instituted team-based EMS training using a simulation mannequin. This training resulted in a 25 percent decrease in time spent on-scene while improving overall quality of care and survivability. Boyd worked with a team to change dispatch procedures and implement new technology that reduced call processing time from over two minutes to 22 seconds on average. He also created a new leadership development program that works to prepare employees physically and mentally in service to the community.

Boyd said, “I believe excellence is accomplished through continuous improvement. It takes constant review of practices and procedures to refine and adapt to changes in service demand. It also takes an excellent team with those who have a desire to do more than they have to so the organization can move together to the next level.”

As Division Chief, Boyd managed the implementation of new radio system, computer-aided dispatch, and records management system. He has been involved with all aspects of fire station construction, equipment purchasing, training and employee relations. Following his early training as a firefighter and paramedic, he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in 2011 and received his Master of Public Affairs from UTD in 2013. He graduated from the Executive Fire Officer Program of the National Fire Academy in 2017.

Boyd said, “The City of Allen is a community driven by excellence. Through dedication to public service and an unwavering focus on our mission, I plan to continue our department’s history of innovative leadership in fire service and outstanding service to our community.”

Boyd will serve as the third fire chief in Allen since the department was formalized by City Council in 1963. He has been a resident of Allen since 2005 with his wife Amanda, son JD, and daughter Meg.

2018 Allen Preparedness Expo

Disasters Happen – Prepare Now

September is National Preparedness Month and, as usual, we celebrate by hosting the annual Allen Preparedness Expo. Several community-based and professional organizations such as AFD, COP, CFA, and Minuteman Disaster Response will bring their exhibits. This is a free, family-friendly event that is open to the general public.

Stop by Lowe’s Home Improvement, September 15th, 09:00 – 14:00 to learn what you can do to prepare yourself, your family, and your business for a disaster, and see what resources and services are provided for you in the City of Allen. There will be activities for kids and adults.

Exhibits include:

  • Allen Community Emergency Response Team
  • Amateur Radio organizations
  • Allen Animal Shelter (Animal Control)
  • Allen Police Department
  • Citizens on Patrol (COP)
  • Citizens Fire Academy
  • Allen Fire Department
  • Minuteman Disaster Response

Getting to Know Charrie Mascio

Next time you see Charrie Mascio, it would be well worth your time to strike up conversation. As someone with an incredible amount of certifications, expertise, experience, and determination, when Charrie sets her mind to something it gets done with style.

Where were you born? And tell us about your childhood home(town).

I was born in San Fernando, La Union, Philippines.  A small rural community about seven hours by bus, north of Manila.  Not too far from the coast of the South China Sea.  It is the capital of La Union province, so it was an important city for local commerce and trade, along with several colleges and private schools.  Growing up, I went to a private Chinese school then went to Manila for college.

What brought you to Allen, TX?

I was given the opportunity of a Physical Therapy job in Tyler, TX.  I chose to pursue it and moved to the US.  It was a scary move, not knowing any one here in the States.  After working in Tyler for a while, I became a traveling therapist, and in my travels met John, who would become my husband.  We eventually decided to move to Allen about 12 years ago and build our house.

Tell us about your immediate family (including any pets).

I have a twin sister still in the Philippines, who is a Doctor in Manila.  Here, I have my husband, John, and two cats.  When we got married, John had a cat, then we adopted others, and thanks to a very pregnant Snowie, we had 8 cats.  Over time, they have aged, and we only have two left, Tiger and Mi Kee (pronounced “Mikey”).

What do you do for a living and what do you like about it?

I have been a physical therapist for about 23 years now.  I have seen many changes in the field in that time.  I like working with my patients and seeing them get better.  I work mostly with geriatric patients in nursing home settings.

What TV shows do you consider “binge-worthy”?

Lately, I’ve been binge watching the old 1970’s series “Emergency”.  It makes you realize how far the fire department has come in the paramedic program since its early days.  But I have binged on “Xena”, “Hercules”, “Star Gate”, and “Charmed”.  Normally, I like watching the two Hallmark channels to get my dose of love stories and mysteries.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment and what is next on your list?

My two greatest accomplishments were becoming a Doctor and, just recently, getting promoted to fourth degree black belt in martial arts.  Currently, I do not have a major goal, but my goal-in-progress is toward something more spiritual and community oriented.

What is your favorite (historical or recurring) CERT event?

I enjoy the yearly graduation disaster simulation.  After going through my graduation, and getting a bit stuck in Med Ops, it is nice to have the opportunity to see a broader view of the whole process and how the different CERT roles need to work together to effectively manage a crisis.

What advice can you give newer CERT members?

Be open minded and enjoy what you are doing.  Get involved in the CEU classes and get your Amateur Radio license.

How has CERT made an impact on your life, personally and professionally?

The biggest impact is the opportunity to get to know my community.  It has made me more aware of what is in my community, and allows me the opportunity to give something back.

Everyday Emergency: William Ingram

Once in a while – and we never know when – we find ourselves in circumstances that compel our intervention. While these scenarios do not always leverage the functional capabilities we have all trained for, they most certainly demand the mental confidence to jump in and help, which is the underlying mission of CERT training.

Such was the case for William Ingram during his commute home from work on July 15th. As he tells it:

On my way home from work Friday [June 15th] I had to call 911 for a person in a car having a seizure.  I come home Eastbound from Coppell on 121.  The traffic was pretty slow as usual for a Friday after work.  We had gotten up to about 45-50 MPH in a stretch when I noticed the car ahead of the one in front of me slow down dramatically and enter the median.  They were slowing going towards the far side barrier wall and driving very erratically.  I immediately slowed down to see what was going on, got over to the shoulder and put the warning flashers on.  I knew the driver was having some sort of medical issue as there was no reason to try to cross the median as the barrier wall prevented that.  The car hit the wall slowly and then it started to head back into my side of traffic.  I sped up because for a moment I thought I was fixing to have to use my truck to stop that car from rolling into 50 MPH traffic.  Thankfully it turned back towards the wall and hit it again coming to rest.  I pulled over and immediately started running to the vehicle.  Others on the westbound side could see what was going on too and over (6) cars on that side stopped to help.  By the time I got there others had reached the person first so I backed down and stood in front of the vehicle and called 911.  The driver was flailing his arms and head around uncontrollably having a seizure.  I gave 911 the location of where we were at but at that time of day to get to us would be difficult.  Police were headed there first and I could see then trying to get to the incident.  911 heard the sirens and said I could now hang up. 

I took a picture of the scene as I walked away back to my truck.  As the Adrenalin wore off I got to thinking that over (10) cars had stopped to render aid to this stranger in need.  I reacted instantly to see what was going on and was prepared to use my personal truck I dearly love to stop a greater accident from happening.  Seeing that many strangers do the same thing as I did was very comforting.  It is good to know that there are so many good people in this world that would do what I witnessed Friday afternoon.  I left there knowing that person in need was getting the attention he needed and First Responders were on the way.

Stay sharp!

2018 Simulation Committee Volunteers Needed

This year our disaster simulation will be held October 27th. We are on track for this to be as big as last year!! Great news for our program!

If you are interested in helping out this year, please reply to the simulation email box below. We will start meeting toward the end of August and meet once a week for an hour ahead of the simulation. The time commitment is not huge, just be aware that the week or two right before the simulation will require a little extra time.

simulation@allentxcert.org

If you have any questions about the committee charter or the time commitment, please indicate you’d like a call back in your email and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Look forward to working with you!!

Regards,
Traci

FEMA Releases Revised IS-100.c And IS-700.b Courses

FEMA has just released two revised online NIMS courses a couple days ago:

 IS-100.c, An Introduction to the Incident Command System, ICS 100
This course introduces the Incident Command System (ICS) and provides the foundation for higher level ICS training. The course describes the history, features and principles, and organizational structure of the Incident Command System. It also explains the relationship between ICS and the National Incident Management System (NIMS).
 
IS-100.c, An Introduction to the Incident Command System, ICS 100
This course provides an overview of NIMS. NIMS defines the comprehensive approach guiding the whole community – all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations (NGO), and the private sector – to work together seamlessly to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the effects of incidents. The course provides learners with a basic understanding of NIMS concepts, principles, and components.

Together, these two online courses form the foundation of NIMS training for all incident personnel.

 The classroom versions of IS-100.c and IS-700.b are also under revision and will be released later this summer.
 
Please note that IS-100.c and IS-700.b are updated versions of the IS-100.b and IS-700.a courses. If you have successfully completed a previous version of these courses there is no FEMA requirement to take the revised versions of the courses. However, because these courses contain new information based on the revised NIMS, October 2017, you may find it informative to review the new versions of these courses.

Disaster Animal Response: Recap and Part II

In case you missed it, our Disaster Animal Response class was split into two parts.

In Part I, we discussed the elements that animals add to disaster response planning and operations, as well as pet owner preparedness best practices. This class had a wonderful turnout and very positive feedback. Our instructor, Debi Michnick (Allen Animal Control Supervisor), walked us through animal behavior and early aggression indicators. She was even gracious enough to prepare and distribute disaster pet preparedness plans for us to take home.

If you missed Part I, don’t worry, you can still attend Part II! Our next session is scheduled for July 16th, same time and place – 6:30 at Central. In the next class, Debi will be teaching us techniques for handling animals in a disaster scene. Expect a very interactive experience with hands-on demonstrations.

No registration is necessary, simply show up by 6:30 to take advantage of this incredible training opportunity.