Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Demise of one 80/40/20m Dipole

I was QRV in Gordon county briefly - only a couple of weeks. I managed to erect the 80/40/20m dipole I had up in Warren county, which previously flew over Fulton county. It was a cobbled-together mess, made from wire left over from the original 80/40m dipole, newer traps, and old insulators and rope.

Using the Mark III Antenna Launcher, I did a good job casting over a tree in the front yard. Weight sailed up over the tree and came right down beside the trunk. The 1/16" guide line went back out to the antenna launcher, and then the 1/4" nylon halyard came back over. Perfect.

At the far end, I had more trouble. Not wanting to crawl over a fence, I cast sideways to branches overhanging the edge of the yard. The first toss wasn't great, so I pulled it down. Second toss got stuck in the tree, and I lost the weight. I was down to my last antenna weight. I confidently tied it on, pulled back, let it fly, only to watch it sail off the end of the fishing line and into oblivion. Nuts. 

With no weights handy, I couldn't use the antenna launcher. I opted to use a small hammer and toss the halyard over a branch about 20 feet up in the tree. At least I didn't lose the hammer. 

The resulting installation sloped the dipole from about 25 feet on the south end, to about 60 feet on the north end. No matter - it would work. At least, until I could make more weights and get it higher in the air. 

I used it to make about 100 contacts for the NAQP Phone in August, plus a little casual operating. Then I found most of it lying on the ground after a few windy days. Inspecting the remains showed that the wire between the 20 and 40 meter traps had broken. That particular segment was pretty old, being part of the original 80/40m dipole, and might have used wire from the ancient untuned doublet before it.

This meant that one of the 40m traps was still up in the tree. Looking carefully, I could see it about 50 feet up. Untying the rope, I could not get it to drop, and instead pulled the halyard to recover the rope. The wire ended up coming off the insulator, leaving wire and one trap stuck in the tree. Drat.

The rest of the antenna lay across the yard and lower driveway. I don't use that driveway, so I didn't think about it. However, some folks came to visit the parsonage and apparently didn't see the traps laying there. Two of the trap forms got crushed in the process. Doggone it.

I guess I have to rebuild this antenna from scratch, using new wire and traps. That will take some doing, as most of the parts are back in Gwinnett county. Plus, I have to make more antenna weights to put it back up. 

In the meantime, I'm off the air in Gordon county.

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