I've finally got back on the air in the HF bands. After over 6 months of not having my radio reach any further than the local 2 meter repeaters (maybe 20mi away max), I finally have an antenna that lets me talk outside the state.
I bought a used Bilal Isotron 40 meter antenna from W6KIP off eham.net. I received the antenna after over a week-and-a-half long trek through the incredibly slow USPS shipping machine. That was on Friday, February 3. I assembled it and began thinking exactly how I wanted to mount it. I finally decided to mount the short "mast" (if you'd call it that) on one of the 3 vent pipes on the roof. I'll post a picture of it soon.
Part of my reason for using Isotron was the small size (only 22" wide). Looking at the antenna, you wouldn't even know it was an antenna, it looks more like a weather vane or birdfeeder. Being on campus, I didn't really want a very conspicuous antenna if I could help it. I haven't quite finished fine tuning the antenna, but I can do that as soon as I get my hands on one of the local ham's antenna analyzer.
I haven't made any contacts on it tonight due to an overwhelming amount of static on the 40-meter band. I've listened to a couple of nets, one on 7.2335 said that this is the worst noise they've had all month - what luck!
Update: Well, it turns out the noise isn't just on the band, although that particular night was particularly bad. It seems that the high level of noise (aka static) that I'm receiving is due to a local area thing.
Most likely due to the power lines nearby.