Last Weekend at KB6NU

The weekend started out innocently enough. I had made arrangements with a guy to go over to his house and put up an antenna. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Especially when you consider that the antenna we were going to put up was a 40m dipole.

Well, we had problems right off. I had intended on using the EZ-Hang, which is basically a combination fishing reel and sling shot. The idea is that you shoot a lead weight attached to some fishing line over likely branches, then attach a rope or string, then reel it in. It is supposed to work like a charm, but I’d never used it before, and we ran into several problems.

The first problem that we had with it is that a bunch of the line had somehow gotten tangled up inside the reel and wouldn’t feed out. We tried untangling it, but after about 15 minutes, decided to just cut it off and be done with it.

After we got that working, we tied a lead sinker to the line, pointed it up into the tree, and let fly. It was a beautiful shot. The sinker sailed right over the branch we wanted it to. The only problem was that it was no longer attached to the fishing line.

After some searching, we actually managed to find the sinker. We tied it back to the fishing line, pointed, aimed, shot, and exactly the same thing happened again. Damn. We searched around, found the sinker, tied it back up, then tried another test shot. The line broke again.

At that point, we gave up on the EZ-Hang and resorted to the weighted tennis ball. Fortunately, my friend has a better arm than I do, and with only a few practice throws, we were able to get a line over a branch about 30 feet up. We duplicated this feat on another tree about 70 feet away. We now had ropes over branches, but we had consumed about half the time available for this task.

We then proceeded to build the antenna. That went pretty smoothly until we started attaching PL-259s to the coax. My friend did not have a vice to securely hold the connectors while we applied the solder, so after a botched attempt, we decided to drive over to my house to do this. We got one PL-259 on, but then basically ran out of time.

My friend had to get going, so we called it quits. After four hours, we were still only about half done with the antenna project. Chalk it up to Murphy’s Law in action.

RTFM
That evening, still miffed that we didn’t get the EZ-Hang to work, I searched through my file cabinet for the documentation that came with the EZ-Hang. This is, of course, what I should have done before we tried using it.

What the instructions said was to tie the sinker to the line using a Palomar Knot. The Palomar Knot uses a double thickness of line, which should make a much stronger knot. From what I’ve read on the ‘Net, it’s a very common fishing know. Not being a fisherman, though, I had never heard of it before.

At Least I Can Still Operate
Something did go right for me Saturday. My first contact was VK6HCI on 30m. I then QSY’d to 40 and worked FM5LD. My last QSO of the day was a PA station, and we had a nice ragchew. I also worked a couple of stations doing the PA QSO Party.

On Sunday, I worked a few more stations in the PA QP, including N3BUD and W3SO, adding to my collection of stations whose callsigns spell words. Somewhere in there, I also worked WB4DAD, making it three new QSLs to add to my collection. So, while I did feel kinda bad about the antenna fiasco, the DX and new QSLs for my collection helped me get over it. :)

Comments

  1. Howard Parks says:

    I had a similar day in August. Our club was holding a special event to celebrate our 90th anniversary, and members operated from their home stations. I have a MFJ-1622 which can cover 2m to 40m. For some reason, I could not get it to tune below 3:1 on 40m. Radio has tube final, can’t operate like that. Plan B – use tuner to make up the difference. Can’t find the jumper to patch in the tuner. Plan C – 40m dipole. Always wanted to build one anyway. Conducted fruitless 30 minute search on Internet to find out what the velocity factor is for insulated 14ga solid copper wire. Cut the wires to length using the formula, figuring to adjust using the antenna analyzer. Soldered on the SO-259. I didn’t have EZ-Hang, so I had to improvise like you did. I think I gave the neighbors some entertainment while I tried to get the rope over a branch in a tree in the backyard. I couldn’t figure out how to get the other end around the chimney. I could get it up in another tree, but it wasn’t far enough from the first tree for a 40m dipole. Okay. Plan D – 20m dipole. Cut wires, solder in the connector, easy to find a place to hang it. Hook up the analyzer, some algebra says the wire is 8″ too long on each side (found the answer to the velocity factor!). I made 11 contacts over the weekend, and have had fun with it several weekends since, including some DX.

  2. I have another suggestion for the ‘runaway’ sinker. I had similar problems with a home brew version of the slingshot line shooter. I found that a couple of wraps of electrical tape provide enough shock absorber to prevent the egg sinker from parting ways with the line. Also, I use 10 lb test line. 8lb line breaks too easy, 12lb line doesn’t spool off my reel fast enough to shoot high shots.

    I wrap the tape end over end on the sinker, covering the knot(and the holes). I also tie/tape on a teeny bit of orange or white marking tape, because I can never see the gray or black lead sinker in the foliage otherwise.

    But I always have a bag of fresh sinkers handy anyway. :o

    73 de w4kaz k

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