News from the shack

I replaced my HF antenna. It was a G5RV that I put up back in the fall of 2011. The antenna had suffered from neglect, living in the trees at 40 feet. Much has happen since that time, including the closing of Radio Works. I first encountered Radio Works in 2006 when I was stationed at Fort Monroe, Virginia and was living nearby in Hampton (the Fox Hill area). The Hampton Roads had (and probably still has) a vibrant ham community. Newport News had an interesting candy store (aka an amateur radio equipment retailer) that was half gun store and half ham stuff. This is were I first ran into Radio Works; this ham shop was one of many places where Radio Works sold their antennas. It made since, as they were located across the Chesapeake Bay in Portsmouth. While in Virginia I hung up one of Radio Work’s Carolina Windom 80s. I loved it. The house we were renting had several tall pine trees in the front and backyard and I was able to hang the antenna high up over the house. I became a believer in Radio Works. Solid craftsmanship, built to last. Radio Works had a website (actually has a website; the site is still up despite no longer being in business) that despite representing the peak of HTML circa 1995, included an education in wire antennas. Not only would they sell you a quality antenna, but you’d also learn something too.
Back to the G5RV. I think this specific G5RV that I had up had been purchased from another local ham who no longer needed it. In my habit of purchasing ham radio items I don’t need immediately need (… but may someday), I squirreled away the G5RV… waiting for a need. That need arose in the fall of 2011, the antenna was hung, and that’s where it stayed.
I tried pulling it down. I’d found that the east leg of the G5RV was no longer attached to the support line. To be honest, I couldn’t really see the east leg anymore. I found the end of the center support line in the woods. When I tried to let the line out to drop the center point, but it wasn’t moving. I was hoping that I could reuse the center line, but it looked like there was some problems.
This problem was how to get the antenna down. I was in a somewhat short weather window, being early January in Kansas and all. The temp was in the 40s but soon would be much lower.
I pulled on the 450ohm ladder line feeding the G5RV. Could I pull the center point down? When I pulled, the center point didn’t change its position in relation to the branch it was on… both just pulled lower. Seeing that I wasn’t getting any immediate results with bringing the antenna down, I brought out my station wagon I use to pull my travel trailer. Securing the 450ohm ladder line to the hitch, I slowly pulled forward. Behind the vehicle a few branches came down. On closer inspection, in a notch where the support line lead to the center point of the antenna, the tree had grown around the support line. Eight years had taken its toll. But now the antenna was down.
Its replacement was a simple 110 foot dipole fed with 300 ohm ladder line into a 1:1 balun. Both daughters pitched in to help raise the new antenna. By the end of the day, we had all the support lines run up through the trees (thanks to my trusty antenna launcher). The following day was the last day of vacation for my daughters. My oldest helped in the final raising, which required a tricky maneuver of the east leg up and around a mid-height limb sticking out.
The new antenna seems to be working well. Checking in to a 20m OMISS net, I had an easy time making contacts up and down both coasts as well as Hawaii. On 80m, the morning Kansas Weather Net gave me an opportunity to confirm that I could hear all the stations across Kansas, where that had not been the case before.
We had our first big snow today since the new antenna was raised. A bit of ice formed on the west leg, making it droop a bit. But, so far, I think it remains in one piece.
The big news this week: the ham community has a new member, my oldest daughter Sarah is now officially KE0YXG. She passed the Tech exam last Saturday at a testing session at the Lawrence Public Library. I kept the news quiet until her callsign appeared in the FCC database this past Friday. Then I got her grandfather (my dad, KD6EUG) onto my EchoIRLP node where he was surprised when KE0YXG joined the QSO with the news.