Monday 22 April 2024

Antennas at the equator


My QTH is at a small home next-door to a store on the equator in a small village in Uganda. Lake Victoria is only 4 kilometers to the east but inaccessible from here because of swamps. I am set up in the small home just to the right of this shop. You can see a small patch of blue between the teardrop signs. It is right on a major road between Kampala, the nation's capitol city, and Masaka, another up-country city. Heavy trucks pass by day and night, especially at night. It is a noisy and dusty place that presents a challenge.

So does just being here when it comes to antennas. Despite what we may like, all antennas are a compromise. Factors include the site, the intended bands, budget, available materials, and the time they will be put to use. Installations require considerable thought and planning. 

For this site I had a plot plan ahead of time so I knew precisely what was available. I also had budgets.
Budgets of money, weight and space considerations in luggage for shipping, and budget of space. I settled on two antennas.

The first is a Chameleon CHA SS17 whip which is light, sturdy, and fits in a 27" cardboard tube that

easily fit in a suitcase. Reviews are excellent on this antenna. I made a 2 meter long mast for elevation and attached angled radials for 20 meter and 10 meter operation.

The second is an end-fed long wire antenna. I ordered the wire ahead because stranded copper wire about 2.5 mm in diameter is considerably cheaper here than in the US. With the agility and strength of young men here the antenna runs from the top of a potato tree (I don't know why it is called a potato tree and no one here knows either) to the top of a water tank (plastic on a metal stand) then to the top of another tree.

The night after we installed them a vigorous storm blew through knocking down several branches. The antennas stayed up. The radials on the vertical didn't fare so well but were easily reattached. Today, Monday, April 22, gave us a chance to try them out. My first contact was a station in Jakarta, Indonesia, so I think we're good here.

Saturday 20 April 2024

Radio from the center of the earth - What it takes and what it is like to set up your amateur radio station in Uganda



I am here in Kayabwe, Uganda, right on the equator. The past few days have been occupied finding missing cables, repairing gear that suffered damage in shipment, putting up antennas, and finding auxiliary sources of power during extended outages. Today, Saturday, April 20, 2024 will be the first day of on-the-air activity.

Thanks to the skill, patience, and connections of the team on the ground here, namely Nathaniel Dunigan and Nsereko Tom (more about them in a soon-to-come post) I have my Uganda license, call sign 5X3L.

Here's what you can expect in

  • How to get your amateur radio license in Uganda and why you need to start early.
  • What do the letters and numbers in my callsign mean.
  • What to expect when you set up an amateur radio station here.
  • How we erected antennas on a small plot, the type of antennas we built, and how well they work.
  • Sending and receiving QSL's - the systems I use, why I use them, and what you can do to receive one.
  • Daily life in this beautiful country.
  • Special people and contacts.
  • My gear and why I use it.
  • Efforts to build a greater amateur radio presence in Uganda.
  • Making do, how to improvise when things go wrong.
  • Thoughts, comments, insights, opinion, and information related to amateur radio in general.
  • Nothing whatsoever about religion or politics.
Should you have any questions or just want to chat, my email address is
My QRZ page is at this link - HamRadioSafari at QRZ  
In the US my callsign is NP2OR. You can check out my QRZ page at NP2OR at QRZ

Antennas at the equator

  My QTH is at a small home next-door to a store on the equator in a small village in Uganda. Lake Victoria is only 4 kilometers to the east...