From the Mouths of Babes…

Yesterday, ARROW members met for the monthly AMPTeam meeting. I had intended to play around with the crossband repeat function of my IC-207 VHF/UHF transceiver, figuring that crossband repeating could be useful in an emergency. After some manual searching, however, I determined that it doesn’t have that capability! I don’t know how I got the impression that it did. Oh, well.

Instead, I set up the KX-1 as usual. For an antenna, I use the antenna described in the antenna tuner manual, namely a 28-ft driven element and a 16-ft. counterpoise. I actually use three counterpoises–that seems to work much better than just a single one.

In my toolbox, I have a tennis ball and a ball of nylon twine. I poke the twine through the tennis ball, and then throw the ball over a convenient tree branch. The last time I set up out in a park, I snagged the perfect branch on the very first throw. Last night, however, I wasn’t so lucky.

The problem seemed to be that there was just too much friction between the tree bark and the twine. I’d get the ball over the branch easily enough, but the ball was too light to come down far enough to grab it and attach the antenna wire.

All this was quite amusing to the kids who’d come over to watch me. At first they asked what I was doing, and when I explained, they seemed really interested. After a couple of tries, I said to them, “The ball is going over the right tree branch, but it’s not heavy enough to come down the other side.”

I poked around in my toolbox, trying to find something that might make the ball a little heavier, but nothing seemed very easy to use. When I mentioned this to the kids, one of them piped up, “Why don’t you put some rocks in it?” What a perfect solution! They scouted around for some small rocks, which we poked through the hole in the tennis ball, and voila, it was heavy enough now to not only go over the branch, but pull the twine down the other side. I thanked my assistants, who seemed very pleased with themselves.

After untangling the coil of antenna wire and pulling it up into the tree, I got the KX-1 all hooked up and let them listen to some Morse Code. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring along my battery-powered speaker, so we couldn’t all listen to it at the same time. Next time, I’ll remember, though.

I made three quick contacts. The first with K1NUN, yet another card to my collection of QSLs from stations whose callsigns spell words. Next, was KE4RUN, another guy whose call spells a word, but I already have his QSL. Then finally Bob KB3ENU. Although Bob was also QRP, he was peaking at S7 here in Michigan, and we had a fine QSO.

Overall, it was another fine outing for the AMPTeam.


  1. Ronny, KC5EES says:

    Interesting to read about your tennis ball experience. On Field Day 2006, our GOTA group was tackling the issue of how to string the end of our antenna over a Y-lightpole. The pole was perfect, but was about 30 feet tall and had a narrow Y with two plexiglass lamps on either side. One person suggested and attempted using a fishing pole with a lead weight (found on the ground that fell off a car’s tire), but after only one failed attempt, that was deemed too dangerous as it might break the lights with a direct strike.

    Thus, we resorted to using a tennis ball (retrieved off the ground from a nearby tennis court on the high school campus on which we were operating) and rope. Using ‘David and Goliath’ action, we were pretty successful, but the narrow Y was seriously challenging as it required precision. Because of the height and the light mass of the tennis ball, the tennis ball would not go the full 30 feet. As with your kids, we quickly came to the conclusion: stuff some weight into the ball! Because the ball was already split to allow the rope to be tied through it, we simply stuffed in small rocks that we found in the roadway. We eventually almost filled the tennis ball and achieved a nice weight. A few more failed attempts (that Y was really narrow) and an onlooking ham yells, “You will never get that thing between those lights.” As if God himself was guiding it, the ball went between the lamps on the very next throw. Cheers went up from the crowd as we knew we would be in business in short order. (In fact, our GOTA station logged 298 contacts. Not bad for a bunch of new or inactive operators.)

    Just thought I’d share my own recent experience with the tennis ball. Personally, I have used a water bottle to good effect. Upon completion, I get to cool down with the water. :)


    Ronny, KC5EES
    Austin, TX

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