A friend of mine is into monitoring railroad traffic too. He lived right
next to a pretty busy line and could listen to them and watch them go by
too. Listening to airplane and airport traffic is interesting too,
especially if you've flown (and/or are a ham), in which case you can pretty
much understand what they're talking about. I don't know if in the current
environment this stuff has gotten scrambled or digitized or anything, but at
least some years ago I used to have a good time at it.
On antenna, I agree those commercial "sticks" are pricey, over-priced to a
ham's sensibilities. But, hey, 80M aluminum verticals are selling for
$1,350 from the ham antenna mfgrs so I guess that tracks!
If you don't really need omnidirectional coverage, I would think a beam
might be a better choice -- to point toward the tracks. If you have the
possibility of reception in a couple directions, like if you live real near
the track, two yagis, one pointed one way and one the other could do the
trick. Make a yagi from scratch or cut down a 2M one.
If you do need omnidirectional coverage -- tracks and traffic in more than
one direction, several directions, you should be able to make your own and
save a bundle. Some guys make J-poles out of copper plumbing pipe and they
work great. Or you can make it out of wire if you have a support that's
high enough for your purposes.
Or, drive down to Maryland and look over the several commercial ones I've
accumulated over the years and see if one suits you and "Let's make a deal."
I've always wondered what I was going to do with them but thought I might
figure that out someday. (all from takedowns).
73 - Rich, KE3Q
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