I can hear California now! (Ham Radio Upgrades)

IMG_2273Readers from a year ago may remember that I temporarily hung my first HF antenna from the eave of my house. In this installment, I take my setup to the next level… (Don’t worry, it’s not technical…)

Even those who may self-label as “not techy” can agree that antennas probably work best when high in the air. Why? It’s because radio waves fly through the air like sound waves. They can be bounced and/or inhibited by objects in the way. The bigger the wave, the higher off the ground you want it. As the chill of fall was in the air, I figured I better get my antenna situation fixed before the snow flies.IMG_2197

IMG_1794The plan was to replace my 16” galvanized pipe (at the peak of my roof) with something taller. I wanted something at least 1.5” in diameter, as many mounts require that as their minimum. I had thought of just using bigger pipe, but that would be thick and heavy. The local hardware & farm supply store suggested a metal fence post instead, so I had ordered that, picked up some cans of spray paint, and was just waiting for the opportunity to install them.

I was working on the bathroom, and ran into a stopping point where I was waiting on parts/inspections, and had some spare time. Shocked as I was, I jumped on the antenna project, spray painting a few coats on my new pole.

IMG_1742While the pole was drying, I built a platform to hang off the edge of my attic window, supported by the back porch roof. I made it as wide as the window, and long enough to use an extension ladder on it. It works great, and now lives in the attic!20160911_143716

To support my new pole (and hold it away from my flashing) I installed a 4×4 under the ridgepole, with a couple facial boards to bring it away from the roofing. I used plumber’s (metal strapping) tape to secure them to each other, as I didn’t trust screws alone. On the tip of my pole, I placed my omni-directional antenna that I use for basic 2-way talking, then below that I mounted the tip of my HF antenna. The lower one is the one used for long-distance communication, so I was excited to get it up in the air.

20160911_143648I secured the pole with one strap at first, preparing the other strap to be tightened. I slid the pole up through the semi-loose strap, then was able to ‘lock it in’ with the second at my desired height. (With the platform, I found no need of step stool or ladder!) I zip-tied the coax down the pole as I erected it, providing a nice ‘drip’ loop at the bottom. 20160911_143719With about 6.5 feet above the roof, I’ve got plenty of room for future stuff like TV antennas, weather station, etc.

Lastly, I took the long wires of the lower HF antenna, and stretched them out in a “V” as before. Now they match the ridgeline of my roof, and act as guy wires for my pole by the tarred bank-line extensions I installed. The metal roof (I hope) will help reflect my signal skyward, and going from 8 to 28 feet above the ground will help too!

Altogether, it looks pretty good, and I could immediately tune up every band. I even heard boats participating in a maritime net down off the coast of California! Hopefully, with winter’s approach, I’ll be spending more time indoors, and can find some time to make contacts.

As we “Hams” (amateur radio operators) would say, 73!

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