New Wire Antenna Up
(Pictures to come)
In an earlier post I described my plan for replacing my G5RV antenna. My goal was to install a broad banded multiband antenna. I settled on using open wire feedline into a doublet. Well, I built it and realized I had not taken some design factors into account. The antenna requires over 200 ft of feedline and would need to be strung between trees. I knew this when I started but had NOT considered the weight of over 200’ of open wire feedline and trying to keep it up in the air enough to allow vehicles and people to travel underneath.
Another issue was that when I strung the antenna between the trees, the weight of the feedline pulled the feed point back toward the shack, creating a transverse, partially-inverted “V.” The weight also kept the antenna from obtaining the height I wanted without significant deformation and tension on the halyard lines. Then, when I finally tested it, I decided that instead of working to improve the antenna, I’d be better off putting a coax-fed antenna back in place for now.
My automatic tuner wasn’t able to match the antenna, and I’d rather not buy a manual tuner at this point (although I do in the future – it’s just that I’m waiting on the IC-705 to arrive…) Once more trees grow high enough that I can run a shorter length of feedline, I may build another open wire doublet.
I decided to buy the Alpha-Delta DX-LB-PLUS which is a parallel dipole design allowing operation on 160, 80, 40, 20, 10. I also needed to buy 250 ft of coax to reach the location and height of the antenna. My goal was to operate during the Washington State QSO Party, the Salmon Run which was a little more than a week away from when I placed my order with DX Engineering.
The antenna arrived on the Wed before the contest and UPS tracking showed the coax would arrive on Friday. When I returned from work on Friday evening, I started installing the antenna. The directions are straightforward enough, but trying to install it solo in a field of tall grass and alder whips made for a challenge to say the least! Once I got the one side of the antenna set up, the second went much easier. It was starting to get dark by the time the coax arrived and I was able to get the antenna raised to its location high enough that I could test it on the Rig Expert. It was close to tuned, but too dark to be able to safely make any adjustments, so I decided to call it “good enough” until I could get back to properly adjust it across all of it’s operating bandwidth.
I am still fairly new and have a modest station so have no expectation of being competitive overall. Instead my modest goal was to beat last year’s score and continue to learn how to operate better and contesting in general. The antenna worked well enough on 80 meters to be heard across the state, down to CA and up to BC. 40 meters was noisy both days and I made limited contacts. 20 meters was alive and kicking and I heard stations in NH, NJ, and IA who were also having their statewide QSO parties. There were also a number of WI POTA stations. I was most pleased being able to use 160 meters after dark. I was surprised to be able to make Phone and CW contacts and get good signal reports. I’m looking forward to the winter to be able to get on 160 more often.
Adapt or Die
As an aside, there numerous stories about the increasing average age of ham radio operators and questions about how to attract younger people to the hobby. What I heard this weekend across the 75/80m and 160m band was too often old, presumably white men, complaining about not wanting change. Often this was in a political or social context, but I think the attitude also applies to the hobby (FT8 anyone?). I heard one guy say (talking about a political office) “now they got some women in there….” And another literally say he was voting “to keep things the way they are” and I doubt he realizes how this sounds to many of his fellow citizens/hams who are not as privileged as him to have this belief. Is this how to attract new voices to ham radio? OK, enough social worker commentary…
I will have time before the rainy season sets in to make adjustments to the antenna. As I go forward I’ll post my results. I look forward to hearing more new voices and callsigns on the air! I’d especially love to hear more youngsters and people with, shall we say, less rigid thinking. This hobby is so broad that, just like life, is richer for the variety is has to offer.