The Picard Triple - Is this the greatest antenna ever made?

April 2014 and Martin, G4WJX, and I decided we needed a tri-band wire diplole for 20, 15 and 10Mtrs. As I run QRP, just 5 Watts, I don't want an A.T.U. getting in the way so the thing has to be resonant on all three bands.

Day 1 - Proof of concept

A few bits and bobs from the junk box and a little time gave us the basic design, three individual wire dipole, all cut for their specific bands with a common feed point. The theory being that at resonance, the current flow will be in to the desired length only with the other two dipoles presenting high impedance... anyway, in theory, it should work OK.

  1. Simple to build
  2. Easy to install
  3. Resonant on 10, 15 and 20M without A.T.U.

A quick check showed 10Mtr and 20Mtr were well within specification returning SWR readings of less that 1.3:1 across 28Mhz and 14Mhz... 21Mhz needs a bit of a tweak with about 3 more inches on each leg; but that can wait until tomorrow :o)

From the sounds on the bands, we were up and running, time to play radio!

Day 1 - Results

Here is where it gets a bit tricky... I'm not sure I can describe the results we got without you having to believe in fairies. I can only report it as it happened.

The following contacts are in chrolological order:

  1. PU1CWP, Brasil, 28.585Mhz, 5W
  2. ON4LL/P Belgium, 14.285Mhz, 5W
  3. MW0YCQ/M, Wales, 14.254Mhz, 5W
  4. K7IOC/MM, Caribbean Sea, 21.150, 5W
  5. PY2EJ, Brasil, 28.780Mhz, 5W
  6. UX7IW, Ukraine, 28.460Mhz, 5W
  7. UR9MC, Ukraine, 28.514Mhz, 5W
  8. VP8DBR, Falkland Islands, 28.534, 10W
  9. VU2UUU, India, 28.515Mhz, 40W
  10. PV8AL, Brazil, 28.494Mhz, 40W

Day 2 - The tune-up and final fit

Concept well and truly proved so we made some adjustments and finished the installation off to a more permanent degree. The use of small "bungie" cords as the final anchor points proved to be a bit of a genius result. not only to they provide some flexibility to the exact anchor point positioning, they also provide just the right amount of tension and dampen down wind induced movement.

Day 2 - Results

OK... so we were both blown away by the performance. I had told MK that the noise level here was low and it's true, it really is very low at this QTH. What neither of us had expected was the transmit performance would be anywhere near as good.

It's true to say that 10Mtrs was WIDE OPEN but, we have both been on the bands for long enough to know what to expect. 10Mtrs was active all week, without a break, and we worked the world, literally on a handful of watts and bit of wire.

A few of the more outstanding contacts
  1. Rod, VK7FRJG, Australia on 21.270Mhz at 10 Watts and on half a dipole!
  2. Holger, DP0GVN, Station Commander at Neumayer Station, Atka Bay, Antarctica. 28.546Mhz (5/2)
  3. Syarif, YB1FWO, Indonesia. 28.409Mhz and 60 Watts; great to get a reply to our CQ call.
  4. Ross, ZL3ADT nr Christchurch N.Z. on 28.527 and 40W; again an unexpected reply to our CQ call.
  5. Jesper, OX3KQ, Greenland on 21.260Mhz and 5W. Most notable for the major difference in power and kit.
  6. All those who made contact from tricky little QTHs like Anguilla, Cuba, The Falklands, St Helena and Reunion to name but a few.
Final Country/Territory list for the trip 16/04 to 02/05 2014
1 - Albania 19 - Cuba 37 - Israel 55 - Reunion
2 - Algeria 20 - Cyprus 38 - Italy 56 - Romania
3 - Anguilla 21 - Czech Republic 39 - Japan 57 - Russia
4 - Antarctica 22 - Denmark 40 - Kazakhstan 58 - Saudi Arabia
5 - Argentina 23 - Dominican Republic 41 - Kuwait 59 - Scotland
6 - Asiatic Russia 24 - England 42 - Lebanon 60 - South Africa
7 - Australia 25 - Falkland Islands 43 - Lesotho 61 - Spain
8 - Bahrain 26 - France 44 - Lithuania 62 - St Helena Island
9 - Barbados 27 - Gabon 45 - Madagascar 63 - Sweden
10 - Belgium 28 - Georgia 46 - Madeira 64 - Switzerland
11 - Brazil 29 - Germany 47 - Malaysia 65 - Turkey
12 - Bulgaria 30 - Greece 48 - Moldova 66 - Ukraine
13 - Cameroon 31 - Greenland 49 - Namibia 67 - United Arab Emirates
14 - Canada 32 - Grenada 50 - Netherlands 68 - United Nations
15 - Canary Islands 33 - Guadeloupe 51 - New Zealand 69 - United States
16 - Cayman Island 34 - India 52 - Poland 70 - Uruguay
17 - Ceuta And Melilla 35 - Indonesia 53 - Portugal 71 - Venezuela
18 - Chile 36 - Ireland 54 - Puerto Rico 72 - Wales
UPDATE June/July 2014.
73 - Belarus
74 - Bosnia and Herzegovina
75 - Brunei
76 - Croatia
77 - Isle of Man
78 - Sardinia
79 - Serbia
80 - Slovak Republic
81 - Slovenia

We managed another trip towards the end of June through to the middle of July 2014 and used exactly the same set up as before.

All contacts were made using the Yaesu FT-817 and, on anything other than 10Mtrs, it was QRP... just the 817's 5 Watts driving the Picard Tripple. Adding another 9 DXCC regions brings the current total up to 81. We do have a small amplifier for 10 delivering around 50 Watts but it's only switched on when needed. When it's open, 10Mtrs from this location is so good, 5 Watts really is all you need.

Update... October 2014

When we arrived at the house, a couple of weeks ago, my first job was to check the H.F. dipoles were still intact. Obviously, my wife thought my first job should be to empty the car, unpack our belongings, switch on the water, gas and electricity... how wrong could she be?

Disaster had stuck! 5 out of 6 elements of the "Picard Triple" were down and hanging limply from the centre mast!

On closer inspection, the culprit turned out to be the small "Bungie Cords" I had used to anchor the ends of the dipoles to the roof tiles. They had suffered at the hands of the Southern French sunshine and become brittle due to exposure to the U.V. As they were only installed in April of this year, that means they had a life span of just over 3 months; not good at all.

I've replaced them all with exactly the same types for now as the U.V. levels shouldn't be anywhere near as high over the coming winter. However, that is obviously a short term fix and I'll be looking for an alternative on my next trip.

82 - Azores
83 - Benin
84 - Crete
85 - Oman

The good news from the October trip is I managed to work another 4 new territories bringing the total up to 85.
Mostly on 10M and the usual 5 Watts, most contacts were "easy" and I didn't spent much time calling, and calling the same station, no matter how distant or rare they were. If they didn't pick me out of the pile in just a few attempts, I'd swap VFO B and try my luck elsewhere, periodically returning to VFO A to have another go.

Our attempts to work though F5ZET, the local VHF repeater, were unsuccessful... While my home-brew dual-band dipole was bringing the repeated in at around S5/S6, Dad failed to open the box while mobile and I couldn't do it reliably from the house either. More work needs to be done on the VHF side of things... I may bring the dual band Yagi down with me next time.