Posts Tagged ‘random wire’

Antenna modification (with a little help from the wind)

I may have mentioned more than once that we live in a rather small apartment.  It’s the upstairs of a cape-cod-style home, which is shoe-horned onto a tiny corner lot.  The only trees are 4 old silver maples (often called swamp maples) scattered around the

Silver Maple (from Cornell)

Silver Maple (from Cornell)

front and side yards.  The maple directly opposite the window where my equipment resides is not very healthy.  This has both benefits and hindrances.  On the negative side, we have to watch the cars, because it rains tree limbs in windstorms.  On the plus side however, it makes it easy to shoot wires into the sturdier parts of the tree, and once a year, I get the most amazing crop of maitake mushrooms growing around the base (easily 12-15 pounds of them).  I’ve mentioned to the landlord that the whole thing will come down in the next superstorm we get, but he seems content to have it stand there for now, threatening the house and any cars parked in the vicinity.  For now, I decided to take advantage of the accessibly to the higher branches.

I threw a length of 16 ga wire up into the tree about a month or so ago, and connected the other end to my MFJ 941-D tuner.  I estimate the wire to be around 38 feet.  With this setup I have been able to tune up well on 20M and OK on 40M and 10M.  My holiday present from KD2CHE this year was an old Atlas 210X, in excellent operating condition.  This setup got me contacts in Florida, Michigan, Maine, Manitoba, Missouri, and Puerto Rico.  The morning after the crazy windstorm this past week, I was amazed to see that the random wire was still up.  That day however, the winds continued, and when I got home I discovered that Mother Nature seems to think that the best type of antenna for me is an inverted-L.  One of the smaller limbs that I had managed to throw the chunk of wood I tied the far end of the wire to, had snapped in the storm, but the wire simply dropped through the tangle of remaining branches, and now dangled about 8 feet off of the ground.

I had planned on fixing, and improving on this over this past weekend, but before I did, my son and I fired up the Atlas on Saturday morning.  The wind mod seemed to actually improve my performance on 10M, and had no effect on 20M.  I made contacts with Belgium, and Serbia on 20M, and started getting lots of 10M contacts from the Southwest, and one from Washington State.  Since it was the 10-10 Winter SSB contest weekend, I got my required 10 contacts easily, and joined 10-10 (76641).

I don’t want to put up anything more elaborate at this place.  With the resources available, and an antenna-phobic landlord, this is about as far as I can go.  Also, if all goes well, we won’t be there much longer.  The next place will have to be antenna-friendly.  I spent some time Sunday re-stringing the wire (now about 60 feet) through the old maple, and now over to a second maple at the end of our driveway.  A quick test showed it was still working, and got 2 more contacts in the Southwest.

Ham Radio on a Shoestring, While Living in a Shoebox.  Does that sound like a good book-title?

73 – W2NDG


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