Saturday 24 April 2021

Some ghetto musings on a budget antenna

 Sometimes, creating a product is the easy part. Completing the distribution, packaging, sales or returns can be the bit that causes you the most difficulty. I'm lucky enough to have time in lockdown to think up mad inventions and ideas. Mostly they are done, and put on a shelf to collect dust for a while, looked at and thought about, considered and sometimes forgotten about. That's life. Product innovation, hobby Diy, we make things, we break things, we succeed and we defer success. I was fortunate enough last month to complete a design for a Meteor-M2 antenna I had been thinking about for a while using a combination of junk parts, precision calculations, cad design, 3d printing, and some thought. I wanted to make an antenna which would receive the Meteor-M2 weather satellite but improve on previous ideas, have excellent signal strength, and a few other things in my tick box such as making it lightweight, foldable, compact, and cheap to reproduce. For me, making it have good signal strength was the easy part. The Meteor satellite has a super powerful transmitter and all I really had to do was match the Frequency & polarisation.

Making it foldable and compact, I thought long about different ideas, cost effectiveness, financial risk, and simplicity. I considered using an array of folding, telescopic radio antennas but even those, when factoring in 8 of them for the final design would bump the cost up-past where I was prepared to expend, afterall it might not even work at all. But after a while of thought I found a novel solution in using metal roller DIY tape measures as the antenna elements. This would allow me to have them fold into the main body of the antenna and be more compact, not sticking out permanently like a 1.2m clothes washing horse most likely laying in the shed and obstructing everything. It is also dirt dirt cheap to use metal tape measure sections as antenna elements; pennies. So with a little bit of computer design, 3d printing, diy & plumbing store purchases I set about making this Meteor-M2 antenna.

It worked really well, it was lightweight, cheap, self made, there is really nothing I can complain about. it must cost just £1 in materials to make a single antenna. Yipee.

Anyway, I thought about my antenna for a while, and thought about where I wanted to go with it, what comes next, and I realised that I wanted to have some HAM radio components for a long time now, but have never considered buying them, they always just seem to be just out of reach enough for me not to be able to spend that amount of money on them - i'm talking about Airspys, SDRplays, LimeSDR minis, HackRFs, LNAs, Nooelecs, XRIT Decombobulators so on and so on. Those things were a dream to me and as they cost more than double or triple the price of say a Raspberry Pi or a Jetson Nano, I thought what use would they be to me long term like these wonderful little linux devices are. So I put them off, forgot about them, and quashed desire. 

But then, after making this antenna, and showing it to the Amateur radio community on a Facebook group, I felt kinda disheartened. Lots and lots of nice comments from some really cool radio amateurs. But also here and there were the begging messages "STL????" "Can U Please Post Design Files Plzz..Thnk U Friend." I looked at these Facebook profiles of the begging messengers and quickly saw that these guys are not poor! They have all the gadgets, all the houses, all the jobs. They are just riding a wave of 'give me more of your stuff!'. I wonder sometimes that these people are going to sail through life of a free meal ticket and do it so cleverley that they are gone before anyone even realised. True geniuses are the Men who sell the Eiffel Tower Twice

So I thought screw that.

I decided that I would make a few of my super advanced junk antennas, churn them out, and sell them on the old efrikkinbay. I chose a pricing to support my efforts, the time it takes to 3D Print the parts, My material costs such as tape measure, pipes, coax cable & connectors. Also I factored in enough to cover postage fees, ebay fees, paypal fees; which take as much as 25% or more of the sale value. My goal was to just sell maybe 3-4 of them so I could purchase something to further my own ambitions and amateur radio plans. If I sell 7-10 I could go big. 

I was super excited. Quickly I got a lot of interest, and my first antenna sold to a guy in Scotland within two days, I was so happy, I mean I almost cried. It's an incredicble feeling when another person decides you have a product that they want, especially something that is being sold at a relatively high value. I packaged it, paid postage, chewed my finger nails, and felt relief to know in a message that finally my buyer is happy. Ebay selling sure does take you for a joyride. It's not for the anxious. I mean, imagine making a sale, with fully good intentions, your hardwork, costs and outlays of time all put out there, and your sale still is not satisfied until possibly months after the transaction has taken place. That alone can crush the souls of the meek or desperate. 

 A few days after, I sold another. And then another. Three in a week. I felt great. High even. I dreamed of Ferraris that night, Fine Oud, Harems of women. I was the fucking bombshizzlenizzle. But in just seven days. You see, the highs and lows of making sales, making bets, putting your money on it to win, it's a troublesome game, The brain is hardwired to pour out the serotins when the sales are good, but then crush you in an instant when something goes awry.

My Fifth Antenna sale went to a Saudi Professor of Engineering. His name - Dr Kais Belwafi, an engineering professor at King Saud University in Riyadh in the Kingdom of Suadi Arabia. This guy attended some priviledged places. An enginering degree at ISSAT Sousse (Tunisia), a Masters degree at The National School of Engineering of Sousse, and a Phd Doctorate at King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where he currently is teaching, and kindly made that address his postal address for the purchase of my Meteor-M2 antenna.

You see, it's people like this that bum me out. Highly highly educated, highly skilled and knowledgable. They purchase your creation in full knowledge of what they are purchasing. I was honoured to have sold an antenna which I made in my dusty shed, to package it, pay postage to send it to eBays global shipping centre, and to know that it is going to go the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia! The place where my dream ferrari, Oud, and Sultanate Harems of women rest! Insha'allah! It was mean't to be! It is a sign from Allah! During the start of this Holy month of Ramadan too! Subhan Allah! 

Or so I thought. 

There's always going to be an asshole. especially on ebay. Especially on the global shipping programme, on a site which lets you get a refund after purchase at one single click of a button. I would have been okay with Dr Kais Belwafi messaging me and engaging in discourse, making attempts to talk, communicate, learn from each other about our ideas. Especially with a Doctor in Engineering! But fuck me no. This guy clicked refund seconds after I received the Global shipping confirmation. Fuck me i'm bummed out. Right now I feel that Dr Belwafi has taken my idea, and is showing his students, copying the design, repeating and repeating, going on in class about his great new invention, and all he did was click buy it now, then click refund. He got it for free even! I even paid the postage!

But in all seriousness. I kinda already new there are shits in this world, and they all lurk on ebay. Buy and refund is a culture. one which has tore the soul out of China, i'm sure of that. The reason I made this thing out of the cheapest materials possible, is for buyers like this, it keeps my heart solid, protects me from big losses, and all in all if Dr shit does take my antenna, I can just give my designs away to the community for free. But that's not the point! :)

But anyway Fuck you Dr Belwafi of Space Engineering you should know better, but as experience has show me over the years it is the persons in the seats of accademia who are the greatest thieves. I hope you suffer this Ramadan. I doubt you will, but I would like to think so. Enjoy your nice life, your oud, and your harems.

Rant over, have a nice Day :)

Belwafi Life:

Reason for Dr of Engineering's return request:


Benbojangles Life:

Thanks for Reading.

If you would like to buy my crappy antenna please click here:

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