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Homelessness Not a Bar to Enjoying Amateur Radio, Hawaii Ham Demonstrates


Not having a permanent roof over his head has not hindered Alex Stengel, KH7CX, of Honolulu from enjoying Amateur Radio and indulging his passion for SSB QRP DXing, which he calls “very rewarding.” As ARRL Pacific Section PIO Stacy Holbrook, KH6OWL, explained, Stengel sleeps on a bench, gets his mail and showers at a local church, and stows his personal items in a storage facility. Stengel shies away from attention to his “non-housing conditions,” as he calls it, and would rather talk about his ham radio accomplishments.

“All my HF antennas and parts like baluns and ununs are made by me, and the antennas are very efficient — SWR around 1.06,” Stengel told ARRL. He uses type N connectors and RG-8X as feed line, which he described as “a compromise in portability and weight,” since the voltage balun and unun already make his temporary antenna system heavy enough when it’s hauled aloft into some coconut palms.

“I do leave the pull line in the tree as long as possible, and when I set up the Carolina Windom, I just hook it in like a flag and pull it up, and the two arms of the antenna are just fixed to nearby trees, in a flat inverted V configuration. He is typically active between 0500 and 0800 UTC.

Holbrook said that living in Hawaii is expensive, and the biggest expense is housing. “Hawaii has an estimated 7,900 homeless, which is up 4%,” he said, citing a federal report.

Licensed since 2008, Stengel does odd jobs for boat owners and elsewhere to feed and clothe himself and to purchase any necessary ham gear. His primary radio is a Yaesu FT-817ND, powered by an external 9 A/h 12.8 V lithium battery. Last year, he snagged VP8STI on South Sandwich, KH0EK on Heard Island, and 3XY1T, the Los Islands DXpedition. He said it took “many hours” to break the 3XY1T pileup with 5 W at the bottom of the solar cycle. He also just purchased an ILER-40 transceiver (40 meters, SSB), which he couples to what he describes as “an NVIS dipole.”

Stengel doesn’t have a cell phone, and he uses the public library’s computers to update his log and to check propagation.

“I love my moon and starlight radio shack!” Stengel told ARRL. A YouTube video posted by Doc Rennie, KH6FM, documents a brief encounter with KH7CX in Honolulu. -- Thanks to Pacific Section PIO Stacy Holbrook, KH6OWL and to Alex Stengel, KH7CX




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