Duh: Learning Curve #6 What’s a ham to do?

Here’s my dilemma:

I am a rookie homebrewer. My kit experience is good, but I have struggled to build direct from schematics. Part of it is my lack of ability to conceptualize the physical layout and part of my challenge is lack of building experience and mentoring.

What should I use?

Several of my antenna tuner projects seem to have a TON of hand capacitance effect. They are built in plastic cases, some from the Shack and some from the local surplus shops and hamfests. Most commercial tuners are built in metal cases and I wonder if that would eliminate the sensitivity to the tuning hand?

I have a couple metal enclosures I can use and a great ham friend sent me some thin copper with adhesive tape on the back.  I am thinking of slapping some copper tape inside the plastic cases and see how it works.

So, I am putting it to the vote:

Which material should I build with?

  • Metal case is the only way to go (79%, 11 Votes)
  • Use the copper tape inside plastic case (14%, 2 Votes)
  • Just use the plastic case (7%, 1 Votes)
  • Give up and buy a commercial tuner (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

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And for the record, the vote in the poll  for best ham radio QTH in the US was won by West Virgina. Here is the top 5:

  • West Virginia (17%, 11 Votes)
  • Kansas (14%, 9 Votes)
  • Texas (8%, 5 Votes)
  • Hawaii (6%, 4 Votes)
  • New Hampshire (5%, 3 Votes)

Thanks and 72,

Kelly K4UPG


  1. kmack says

    Thank you for the head’s up Julian!

    I think it should be working now… if anyone else has problems, please leave me a comment!

    Kelly K4UPG PB #173

  2. says

    Yea….WV. I was in the field yesterday and made three 5,000 mile contacts with my QRP station. Getting out of the city was a pleasure.

  3. Neal Griggs says

    If you do use the copper boards taped inside the plastic box, make sure you solder a wire or braid from coax from each board to the common/ground on your circuit. This will be as close to putting it in a metal enclosure as you can get. The metal enclosure will be grounded at the antenna/radio connections if you go that route.

    Neal KC4YCM

  4. Neal Griggs says

    Also if you have access to unetched double sided circuit boards you can build your own shielded enclosures (ala Doug Demaw). Solder three pieces together along the inside seams and two more for each end. Then one for the top. Drill a small hole through one piece to add a small piece of wire to ‘connect’ the outside copper with the inside. Run solder along the outside joints for stability. You can use either regular solder OR, if you have a fat wallet, use silver solder. The ‘board’ enclosure will be a bit lighter than a Bud enclosure but still be just as shielded.

    Neal KC4YCM

  5. kmack says

    Wow! Thanks for taking time to send along such clear directions. I do have some PC Board and have been thinking of trying to figure out how to make it work. This is helpful.

    Kelly K4UPG PB #173

  6. Neal Griggs says

    No problem. I feel that a lot of hams don’t really help their fellow hams as much as they used to. Especially the ones that really haven’t cut their teeth on building stuff. More appliance operators and fewer homebrewers.

    Neal KC4YCM

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