With a little help from my friends, Part II

You might want to read Part I of this if you haven’t done so already. It’ll be a lot less confusing that way.

After we got the far-end rope over the correct limb, we tied off one end of the new G5RV and pulled it up in the air a bit just to make sure that we didn’t run into any unexpected issues. That went well, so we moved to the near-end tree to attach the other end to that rope, which I’d lowered before David and Matthew arrived. We attached the other end of the G5RV to the rope and I started to pull it up, but the insulator at the end snagged on a branch and we couldn’t get the antenna up nearly high enough. We dropped the antenna down to the ground and tried to use the rope itself as a kind of saw to see if we could break off the very small branch that was causing the problem. After about 5 or 10 minutes, we realized that 1) It was getting dark enough that we were having trouble seeing where the rope was going, and 2) The cold wind that had been blowing all afternoon wasn’t stopping, and with the lack of sun it had gone from chilly to “ok, we’ve just about had enough of this” cold. It was time for plan B.

Several years ago, when having some work done on that “near-end” tree, I had the tree service put a pulley with some rope as high as they could up in the tree. I’ve played with it a few times trying some wire antennas, but hadn’t used it at all for the last year or two. I figured that at least temporarily we could attach the remaining end of the G5RV to that rope to get it up into the air. If needed, Matthew could come back another time and try to get a rope over a higher branch with the potato gun, but there wasn’t enough light to try that. (The reason why I didn’t want to use the pulley permanently was because it wasn’t all that high up in the tree, plus I didn’t want to lose the use of that for any future experiments.) That worked out pretty well, and David, K2DSL, was nice enough to volunteer to head up to the roof to connect the antenna to the feedline. Next, it was into the shack to see if the antenna would load up (and to warm up!), which it did. I made sure that the tuner would be able to find a match as it had with the old antenna and was able to do so on all bands. By that point, we were all exhausted and cold, so after thanking Matthew and David they left. I did a little cleanup outside and headed in. I made one quick QSO (KP2B on 40m CW) just to make sure that the antenna actually worked, then headed out for dinner with Sharon.

The next morning I figured that I’d see what things actually looked like, and I was disappointed when I realized that the antenna was even lower than I’d thought. The pulley just wasn’t very high up in the tree, and my G5RV was nowhere near a “flat-top” installation. I figured that I’d take a look at the other rope to see if I could do anything with it, hoping that perhaps “something” had happened overnight that might allow me to use it instead of the lower-than-expected pulley rope. It seems that I finally got a little break: I got both ends of the old rope and pulled back and forth to see if the resistance caused by that little branch was any less. As soon as I did, I saw a small piece of ice drop off from where the rope was wrapped around the branch, followed by a small piece of a branch. I think that what happened was that the rope rubbing the night before had allowed some sap to get onto the branch, which froze overnight and must have caused the branch to break. As a result, the little branch that was not allowing the insulator to move when pulled up into the tree was no longer in the way.

I dropped down the antenna from the “pulley rope” (which required me to toss the throw bag over the antenna wire, and carefully pull it down) and attached it to the older rope, and pulled it up. It took a little bit of work, but I was able to get it back up to nearly the original height. I spent about another 30 minutes more permanently tying off the ends of the rope, including connecting the ends to bungee cords that I use as shock absorbers before heading inside. I was able to make a few DX contacts on several bands, and in the week since then, I’ve actually picked up a couple of new countries on 80m (Iceland and Faroe Islands) as well as some new bands or modes for other countries (Congo on 20m phone and CW and 17m RTTY, Gabon on 20m CW, and Dominica on 40m RTTY, among others), so I guess the antenna is working well.

I’m still not very happy with the mechanical connections, and in particular, the connection from the ladderline to the coax feedline. I don’t think they are nearly as sturdy as the antenna that I replaced, but I hope that what’s there now will work out until the spring. At that point I want to replace some of what I think are the weak points with something sturdier. I may also look into other types of antennas, but for now, I’m very happy to be back on the air.

David Kozinn, K2DBK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

One Response to “With a little help from my friends, Part II”

  • Fred Bernquist AE2DX:

    Were there is a will,their is a way lol enjoyed the story good luck with the setup. Hope to work you down the log. Fred AE2DX

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