I was off the air for nearly a week. I had to take down my antennas so that some tree guys could come in and take down a couple of elm trees that finally succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease.
Before I could even do that, I had to hack a path through the undergrowth to the tree supporting the far end of my 40m/30m fan dipole. I had been negligent about clearing the buckthorn and honeysuckle, and it took me about a half hour just to get enough of that out of the way to take down the antenna.
I also had to take down the 80m random wire. To do that, I had to get to the mulberry tree that was supporting the far end of the wire. This was a chore as in the past year or so, several thick strands of poison ivy had climbed up the trunk. It took a fair amount of time to carefully pry the vines from the trunk and carefully them.
It took the tree guys three days—Wednesday through Friday—to take down the two trees. On Saturday, I had other things to do, and besides it’s been very hot here, so I wasn’t motivated to do a lot of work outside. On Sunday, though, I decided to finish the job of clearing the buckthorn and honeysuckle and then get the antenna back in the air.
I seriously misjudged the amount of work. I worked from 9 am until noon cutting branches, digging out saplings, and bundling it all up for pickup. By the time noon rolled around, I still hadn’t finished the bundling, but it was already quite warm, so I retreated inside and turned on the air conditioning. Just before dinner, I went back out and finished the bundling, but had other plans for the evening, so once again put off setting up the antenna.
Yesterday, I did go out and finish the job. This time, instead of running the 30m legs at an angle to the 40m legs, I decided to run them along the same plane. The antenna seems to like this orientation for some reason. To do this, I simply connected a 12-ft. piece of cord to the end of the 30m legs and tied the other end to the end insulators of the 40m legs. With this arrangment, the 30m legs droop down below the 40m wires.
I hooked it all up and everything seems to work just fine. I made four contacts last night, including two DX contacts: DL7UKA on 30m and PY3XAT on 40m.
I do have a couple of observations on how the antenna has weathered the elements:
- The splice in one of the 40m legs that I made three years ago seems to be holding up quite well. I expected it to fail by now.
- The fancy, UL-resistant dacron rope that I bought when I first put up the antenna is weathering quite well, but so is the cheap nylon rope I used on the 30m legs.
- This spring I noticed that the adapter in the PL-259 that plugs into the balun had somehow worked its way out and had slid a couple of feet down the coax. I thought that was kind of amusing. I screwed it back in before I hoisted the antenna up again.
So, I’m back on the air now, but it really is time to do some more antenna tinkering. I really need something better for 80m, and I do want to try 17m. I just have to get off my butt and do it.