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Look Mom, No Ladder

Glenn C. Peck (KE5GK) on December 24, 2016
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“Look Mom, No Ladder”

Prior to falling from a ladder and breaking four ribs, I always skipped articles dealing with aids to putting up an antenna. I would simply lean a ladder up against a roof or a tree and install the antenna. This article is my recent experience of putting up an antenna without a ladder and without leaving Terra Firma.

1. My main antenna support is a metal mast that I can raise or lower by myself. The real key to flying solo in antenna construction is an eye bolt mounted on the end of the mast and several feet of paracord run through the eye bolt. (Make sure you have something attached to each end to prevent the paracord from falling out of the eye bolt when the mast is raised.) Paracord is super strong, relatively small in diameter, very inexpensive, and slides easily through the eye bolt.

2. The antenna I installed was an end fed long wire that has the coax attached to a matching transformer and a long wire that runs lengthwise over my roof. Raising this part was a piece of cake.

3. My initial efforts to get a monofilament up over the roof was my tried and true Zebco rod and reel with a sinker attached. This failed because my house, at the mast end, is very close to the house next door and distance casting was impossible.

4. Another trip to Wal-Mart and I returned with a slingshot, 1 ounce egg sinkers, and an inexpensive spool of 20# test mono. The spool of mono was placed on the ground and held in place by a homemade tent stake through the center hole of the spool. At age 75, my slingshot learning curve was a bit rusty. Three tries were needed to shoot the sinker over the roof.

5. I next cut the mono from the spool and attached the mono to a paracord and pulled the mono and paracord over my roof. Heavy duty mono, such as the 20# test, has less stretch and is more resistant to shingle abrasions.

6. Meanwhile, back at the mast end, I attached the insulator on the long wire to the paracord and was able to easily pull the paracord and wire over the apex of the roof. Also, at the mast, I pulled the transformer, coax and long wire up the mast and secured it. I used an 18 inch length of small diameter PVC pipe to keep the transformer away from the eye bolt on the metal mast.

7. Another trip around the house and I secured the paracord that is attached to the insulator on the long wire to the rack containing my garbage cans.

8. Coax run through the bottom of the window sill, connected to the transceiver and “Look Mom, I did it myself without a ladder.”

KE5GK -- Glenn C. Peck, Shawnee, OK

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Look Mom, No Ladder  
by W2BLC on December 24, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Old age is here and years ago I saw it coming and made appropriate changes to how I deployed my antennas.

I use NVIS on 75/40 with feed point at 25 feet on a 26 foot mast. It is guyed in four directions and the bottom pivots. I can handle it all by myself with eye-bolts and marine rope.

I also have an endfed from an eave to a tree (about 25 feet high total).

For DX I use a ground mounted R5.

Not super, but fine for an old guy. I am never at a lose for QSOs.

Tip: Run a spare rope through each eye-hook - just in case you drop one. Tie the ends together so it is a loop and it can never pull itself out.
Look Mom, No Ladder  
by ONAIR on December 24, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Go modern, and put up that end fed wire with a drone!! ;)
Look Mom, No Ladder  
by VE3CUI on December 24, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
My method of getting my wire creations held aloft by a handy tree(s) evolved after about 20 years in Ham radio…

FWIW, here's what I do here:

(1) I cast a weight over a handy limb with my ZEBCO-33 spincast reel & rod, & 20-pound test monofilament line;

(2) This weight is comprised a 9-volt battery, and the seat belt warning buzzer out of an old Camaro --- I simply mechanically wrap one wire lead from the battery to the buzzer (the other lead is permanently soldered to it) just before I might cast the line;

(3) I can readily locate the weight by virtue of the continued buzzing that the weight emits --- even if it lands in a thicket of knee-high underbrush;

(4) I remove the weight, & tie the monofilament line to a 100' length of rope --- this monofilament is then reeled in by the ZEBCO, taking the rope with it;

(5) I then tie this rope at the rod end to the insulator of whatever wire creation it is that I might wish to elevate…

And that's it!

Back in the day, I used to have the strength & the accuracy to toss a ball --- with twine attached --- over even the tallest of trees. But no more, I'm afraid!
RE: Look Mom, No Ladder  
by KG4RUL on December 24, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I put up my wire antenna with no ladder AND no hands! My Wife was having trees pruned and one removed on our lot. The one that came out opened up a path to install an Inverted L (more accurately a Lazy L). While the trimmer was up in the bucket at each tree used for the antenna, he slung a length of chain, encased in heavy rubber hose, around the tree trunks. A Quick Link connector joined the ends of the chains and attached each end of the antenna. All I had to do was connect the vertical leg to an UNUN and it was ready to go.
RE: Look Mom, No Ladder  
by KE7FD on December 24, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Grappling hook. I used one to set one corner of an 80 meter loop fired with an air canon and it outlasted the antenna made of copperweld. Nuf said.

Glen - KE7FD
RE: Look Mom, No Ladder  
by KI4ODO on December 24, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I use a system similar to raising a flag. My center support mast is 30 feet, from which I have a PVC elbow that has a pulley attached so I can raise or lower the antenna by rope. Same on one support end, and the other is in a pine tree. For that I just used a fishing rod to cast a weighted line over, tied my support rope, and fished it right over. Works well. For 12 years I have been able to raise and lower wire antennas by myself.
Look Mom, No Ladder  
by K9ZF on December 24, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I do a lot of portable operating, mostly Field Day style.

I've used fishing rods and reels several times. I've tried sling shots, but never had much success with those. My favorite method is with my old bow and arrows.

The bow is an old Bear fiberglass recurve with 35lb pull. I use "junk" arrows with the tips removed. Target tips would likely be OK, but I normally just use no tip on the arrows. I tie the end of some monofilament line (10 or 12 lb test) to the "feather" end of the arrow, and the other end goes to the old rod and reel (a cheap spinning real works best). It works best if you have an assistant hold the rod and reel and point the rod tip at the target branch. Be sure to lay out the string so it will not tangle on the bow when released, and open the release on the fishing reel!

With this method I can usually pick the branch I want to put the line over up to about 60 feet or so. Higher, with a bit less accuracy. :-)

This works well with a single tree. Not so well if you are in a wooded area with no room for the arrow to come down.


-- K9ZF
Vice President, Clark County Amateur Radio Club,
Amateur Radio Emergency Service,
Clark County Indiana.
The once and future K9ZF /R no budget Rover
***QRP-l #1269 Check out the Rover Resource Page at:
List Administrator for: InHam+grid-loc+ham-books
Ask me how to join the Indiana Ham Mailing list!
RE: Look Mom, No Ladder  
by AF7EC on December 24, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
ONAIR said on December 24, 2016
> Go modern, and put up that end fed wire with a drone!!

Sure! Are you buyin'? ;-)
RE: Look Mom, No Ladder  
by ONAIR on December 24, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Why buy, when you can build? :)
Look Mom, No Ladder  
by G3VGR on December 24, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I used a Walmart slingshot successfully in Maine for Field Day some years ago. When we operated Field Day from Mass the following year, the rubber of the sling broke. The local Walmart had no slingshots, so I went to a local gun store to see if they had one. I was somewhat gobsmacked when the owner told me that it was not possible to buy slingshots in Mass due to the state deciding they were dangerous weapons. He was standing in front of a wall displaying rifles and shotguns as he informed me I'd best go to Maine to buy a replacement. I eventually managed to buy some surgical rubber tubing to fix the slingshot.
I seem to remember a series of QST articles showing how to make a launcher from Schedule 40 pipe which looked quite promising and also more accurate and powerful than the humble slingshot.
73 & Merry Xmas
RE: Look Mom, No Ladder  
by BOYSCLUBRADIO on December 24, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
We had a whole list of things we tried... First was the good old bow and arrow... this ended up either sticking into the tree or dispatching some squrel that happend to be in the wrong place at the right time... Next we tried the slingshot ... this ended up sending the old lead weight over the tree.. and into the windshield of the neighbors car... ops.. So we progressed to the patatoe tennis ball launcher using at first propane... thinking it was great to have a source of pressure... not good as the spark managed to fire the tennis ball ... with 22 pennies in it... to a record height... only problem was the tennis ball hair was on fire.. and damm near set the tree on fire...
Next we went to using compressed air... this allowed one to control the tennis ball speed... thinking that this was great.. not only did it put the tennis ball up in the air.. it also gave the dog some exercise to go retrieve it...about 300 yards you time to eat that ice cream without the dog begging... Just don't shoot it out into the lake... as the dog doesn't swim that good... we went out and found that putting the wire up over the tree was no fun anymore... however, now that the squrl's had a vendeta against humans... and made that "I'm pissed off" noise... We installed a cell phone with camera cross sights on the launcher and took the liberity to knock several out of the tree... they are fun little animals... you can smack 'em with the tennis ball... and they fall to the ground... after a few min... get back up and wander off out into the street where drivers with gun sights mounted on the hood.. look to give 'em that run down look... Keep the slingshot... the tennis ball launcher is more multi useful.. even as a determent for home invasions... have yet to find a person that will let me shoot them with the tennis ball... but, when we do we can see how effective it is at putting up antennas as well as defense...against all them things that don't like ham radio people... :)
Quadcopters do it best  
by WB4M on December 24, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
My nephew has a small quadcopter. I talked him into coming over and flying it in the back yard. Then I challenged him - see if you can fly it over that 75 foot tree. He did easy peasy. Hmm.. see if you can tie this fishing line to it and fly it over.. no problem! It was funny actually do this. But seriously, you can get small quadcopters/drones now for $50.00 or less; much cheaper than bows and arrows, compressed air gadgets, etc. And you can precisely put the line EXACTLY where you want it, no hit or miss the limb or branch of a tree. And 100 ft trees are a snap! You can put line anywhere you can fly one of these things, and have a lot of fun doing it. If you have one with a camera, you can fly it up to your beam/rotor and closely make a visual inspection of it, lol.
Maybe this will be a new way of getting young kids into ham radio by having them fly your support rope up trees, lol.
RE: Quadcopters do it best  
by ONAIR on December 24, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Yep! And some hams are actually using tethered drones to support vertical wire antennas! Those things can stay aloft for hours!!
Look Mom, No Ladder  
by N2ITR on December 25, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I am still forced to climb as I had not thought of these issues. But, I have added eye bolts and, and this is why I posted, those (I am not sure of their proper names) chain links with screws in them? I have also purchased an assortment of that hardware with the eye-bolt at one end and a small "wheel" at the other. It does not allow the rope to snag (because the wheel assembly does not have enough space to allow the rope to get caught). I have also used that assembly as a way to get the feed line off the ground and away from people's necks (when you're driving [zipping] around on your lawn tractor and your headset goes flying off of you). The humor was intentional. 73.

By the way, writer, good article. Thanks.
Look Mom, No Ladder  
by KK5JY on December 25, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
I really like the point made by the OP. There are all kinds of effective antenna structures that can be raised from the ground by one person. I don't like tower climbing, either.

I have put up a couple of antenna masts with horizontal antennas, where the mast was rigid enough to push up against the guy lines. That makes it awfully handy when I later needed to take the antenna down to adjust or repair it. Step one was to assemble the mast and guy it properly with no antenna, which made the mast very light. Once everything was tensioned properly, step two was to take the mast down, add the antenna, then push it back up. I walked the mast up to the rotor, dropped it in, tightened the bolts, and that was the end of the installation!

There's nothing wrong with having a large tower in your yard. That said, you can work the world quite easily without one. The nice thing about not using a tower is that I also don't have to do the associated tower maintenance. :-)
Look Mom, No Ladder  
by K9ZF on December 26, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
drones installing antennas:

Look Mom, No Ladder  
by K9ZF on December 26, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
My favorite antenna launch video:

RE: Look Mom, No Ladder  
by N8AUC on December 27, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
Your comment was one of the funniest I've read in quite a while. Loved it! Thanks for the belly laugh!

Anyways, I devised a system similar to what others have described. I have a 20' steel mast attached to the back of the garage. On the top of the mast is an Arrow dual band Jpole. Just below that is a pulley, secured to the mast with a radiator hose clamp, and through that pulley is a continuous loop of rope. That handles the center support for my fan dipole. And I can raise or lower it from the ground. For the far ends of the fan dipole elements, I use el-cheapo nylon clothes line from Wal-Mart attached to the end insulators. I've only had to replace one support rope in 15 years, so it can't be all that bad. Plus, spare rope is easy to come by. A 1 lb rubber mallet is tossed into the trees which has enough weight to easily fall back to earth through the tree branches, without hurting anyone.

Easy peasy! I can do everything from the ground, and the cost is very low.

73 de N8AUC
RE: Look Mom, No Ladder  
by KG4RUL on December 27, 2016 Mail this to a friend!
"But, I have added eye bolts and, and this is why I posted, those (I am not sure of their proper names) chain links with screws in them? "

They are called 'Quick Links".
Crossbow Pistol  
by KW4UP on January 1, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
For trees I purchased an inexpensive crossbow "pistol" from Amazon and ty-wrapped a child's Zebco-type reel under the frame. Bolts (arrows) are about 8" long. Easy routing of the 10lb test mono line tied to the back of the bolt. A squeeze of the trigger will easily place the line 80 or more feet over a tree. Then use the line to pull through a heavier and more suitable cord. Bolts are included with the crossbow and in boxes are about 15 cents each.
Look Mom, No Ladder  
by AA7LX on January 1, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Wow-- Exciting reading! ... And, I thought I was crazy (Mad Radio Scientist!) with love for this Hobby! However, above all things said or done, Be Careful!
Signed, A Stealth Mad Scientist: George, AA7LX
RE: Look Mom, No Ladder  
by AH7I on January 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great idea with the buzzer.

73, -Bob ah7i/w4
Look Mom, No Ladder  
by KD7FK on January 23, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for opening this "Can 'o Worms" and the great write up! I particularly enjoy reading all the other comments too about "smart" antenna deployment while reducing the chances of injury. Great topic...Thanks again!
Look Mom, No Ladder  
by KD5FOY on January 30, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Good article and subsequent comments, informative and
funny as well. I've reached the age that I should be flat
footed on the ground when doing antenna work, and when
doing that being very careful where I am stepping.
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