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The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide

from Glen, KE7FD on May 30, 2013
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The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide
(Not to be confused with an Antenna Builders Survivalist Guide)

Over the last hundred years or so of my antenna building experience, it occured to me that us moldtimers owe it to the younger generation of hams some of the wisdom, great ideas and let's face it, bruised knuckle avoidance techniques we're picked up. So following is a treatise on the topic of antenna builing tips, a work in progress cirtainly.

Wire. We've all used both poor quality and good quality stranded, bare and insulated wire and “antenna rope”over the years. Wire that is made for antennas is less troublesome over time demonstarting better sheathing qualities and less stretching. Coperweld type (copper coated steel wire) is a pain to work with but once it's up, it's great (it's what I use). The copper skin (remember what skin effect is?) aquires a nice petina over time causing it to blend in nicely against natrual backgrounds, lending itself to better stealty use. With regards to the use of copperweld wire, I use Brasso to clean copperweld where I intend to solder it. I could use steel wool but this will remove some of the copper coating on the steel wire. Even though both products leave a residue, Brasso wipes off clean (water based) whereas the steel wool leaves an oily layer. Also, solder over the tip of the wire to prevent the steel from rusting.

Grappling hooks. Everyone is out there launching tennis balls and other weighted objects with their slingshots and potato cannons often having to make two or more shots to hit the sweet spot, but always doning their machete's to cut through the forest to retrieve said weight and tie off the rope. I use a home made grapping hook constructed from PVC and aluminum for cross pieces that can be fired from a potato cannon. One shot into the tree loft and a pull on the rope and it's there. I send it up with a pulley attached so I can raise and lower the wire as needed. One shot, not groping in the forest for the end and so far it's been up for a few years. The nice thing is that if you can fire over the top of your tree, the hook will snag on the limbs, tree top and vines with penty to keep it set permanently. The longer it's up there, the better set it becomes tangled in the verge. I'd show you a picture of mine but it blends in too well and really cannot be seen. Use your “hamgenuity” to devise one. Just don't send it into your neighbors garden or lanes of traffic for obvious reasons.

If you have an abundence of trees to hang portions of your antenna undersand there will be movement in the wind by the trees with subseqent tugging on the wire so incorporate some shock-abasorbtion into your anchoring. Using a non-metalic pulley at the corners of a loop will allow the antenna to float thus reducing the strain on the entire wire and other supports. Do not simply tie off the ropes to a tree trunk or limb; use bungie cords (I've had them last year round through sun and snow), counterweights, or springs. In some cases you may want to try using spring loaded wire with a jumper. This allows the wire runs to give a bit without altering the length of the run. Note this type of tension refief works best when the spring is located close to the end and not in the middle of a run. See picture of two springs I removed that lasted all wintger long and were removed only when I altered the design of my 80m loop.

Notice the hub on the pulley to the left. From Home Depot this pulley's hub was ground off, removed and replaced with an axle that can be removed as needed for maintenace. The jumpered springs to the right give your antenna added resiliance during high winds.

There's a scence in Dustin Hoffman's 1967 role as Benjamin in the motion picture, "The Graduate" that I think introduces my next topic...

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Benjamin: Yes, sir.

Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?

Benjamin: Yes, I am.

Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

While plastics are kinda the fabric of our lives anymore, there's another hardware material that hams ought to use more often when constructing for the outdoors. Are you listening? Stainless Steel. Exactly what do I mean? Zinc plated hardware will sooner or later rust. Despite the claims it rusts out of doors or at least, not the way it's typically made. Zinc plating should protect the base metal (iron or low grade steel) better but due to poor manufacturing controls it does not last as long as you would expect, or at least not 99% of the zinc hardware I've used over the years. For not much more you can upgrade to stainless steel that will at worst gall a bit but if you do intend to unscrew the nuts and bolts later, there are lubricants available to prevent/reduce this affect. Note that maritime mobile operators use even better hardware like chrome plated products (some of it is a better grade brass that stands up better than the CB grade stuff. So if you really want to to protect your investment talk to someone with both a radio and a sea-going boat. (On a side note: I'm amazed at how often hams will pour out their hard earned cash for mobile antenna hardware made from coated brass and even aluminum only having to replace them after a wet and salty winter. I made this mistake once but returned to Dayton the next year to pick up a stainless steel antenna mount for my Little Tarheel II. Wow, what a difference it made. Absolutely NO ill affects after multiple Pennsylvania winters. Guys, dump the plated and aluminum junk and go stainless steel.

Fittings. Use quality fittings; no junk; don't cut corners. I've found that the PL259's that are silver plated, with PTFE dielectric insulators work well. They take solder very quickly and the PTFE withstands a bit more heat than the low grade plastic insulated knock-offs found on eBay, allowing you to terminate your coax runs quickly and on the first try. You still can't be careless but these quality fittings are a bit more forgiving than the junky ones.

Coax. I'm remided of my early days working at a premier audio store. Some folks would come in and drool over the high-end stereo systems for hours before buying something very expensive only to tell the salesman, “I already have some speakers my brother gave me that he didn't want anymore...” Two weeks later the customer was back to replace his el cheapo speakers with Polk Audio Super Towers and the zip cord wire with Monster Cable. You have this great signal you need to get out to the listener; the same is true for your transmission line. Open wire is great stuff: See the many threads that talk about its use. But with regard to coax, use quality coax, no used second hand, hand me down stuff. Do what our customer should have done and save a bit more 'til the next pay check and get the good stuff. I like LMR400 but that's just me.

If you use a balun don't go cheap if you want it to be able to endure the unexpected. I know, I know I have my handful of the balun kits too and they mostly work but if you really want to make sure the most RF is transferred to the antenna, get one that was engineered, designed and built in a commercial setting. The better made a product is and is found to have a good reputation the more likely it'll do what it is intended to do. Check out the balun reviews here on eHam. Some kits use components that will fail at normal output of a 100w station even though the balun is rated high.

If you need to extend your coax run (but try not to introduce more lossy fittings if you can help it) first wrap the joint from coax to coax with tape then a sealant layer, this way you can get to the fitting later without it being gummed up with sealant. Also, protect remote tuners and expensive baluns with a housing if possible. See pictures.

On the left, the coax connects to the balun and wrapped first with tape then weatherproof sealant. The coax then takes a slight loop then attached to a line affixed to the weatherproof housing to transfer the strain away from the connector.

Droop the coax before running it into the house to keep water from following the coax into the shack. See picture.

Hamsoften gravitate towards antennas that present as close to a 50 ohm match for the transmitter such as dipoles. If you play by the rules you can sometimes use an 80m dipole on 20 meters, a 40m dipole on 15 meters and so on. However, there are enough situations where the rules get bent and you need a tuner or a transmatch somewhere in the system to keep your solid state transmitter from melting down when multiband operation is the intent. The use of tuners and baluns has been adressed by some very knowledgable authors on eHam which I would encourage anyone to spend time looking over those articles. Also, another very good quick read are the FAQ's at DX Engineering.

These are just some notes I've jotted down in my head which I've pulled out wihen working on antennas over the years.

So, what are some of the tips you've picked up that you can share?

Glen -KE7FD

Member Comments:
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The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by KC4YT on May 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks, good tips even for an old guy thats been around a while & done this & that!
RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by AA4PB on May 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
On my last antenna I used some #12 SOLID Copperweld. I found it easier to work with than the stranded type. Once uncoiled, it will lay flat on the ground for measuring and cutting rather than recoiling into a mess like the stranded type.
The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by VA6LM on May 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I just returned from a camping trip. I put up my home made G5RV ( I know, I know ...equally poor on all bands) and that stranded copper clad wire sprung out into a giant rats nest tangled in all the bush as I was being attacked by hordes of mosquitoes. I am thinking there has to be a better plastic coated flexible wire for portable applications. Any ideas or suppliers?
RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by AA4PB on May 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
How about FlexWeave?
The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by W1BVV on May 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I've used THHN stranded building wire for all my wire antennas. Not as strong as copper coated steel, but much cheaper and the only failure I've had has been where a squirrel gnawed through it.
The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by NU0P on May 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Tell us more about the Grappling hooks and how you get them up there and how they are configured before you launch them. I think many of us could benefit from this approach and certainly is not one I have heard of before...
The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by NU0P on May 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Tell us more about the Grappling hooks and how you get them up there and how they are configured before you launch them. I think many of us could benefit from this approach and certainly is not one I have heard of before...
The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by AI2IA on May 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Glen, you put together a good article. I have been doing wire antennas for years and have done all the things you advise hams to avoid, and some of the good things, too!
All my wire dipoles have always held up well over winter storms and summer heat. Over the years the one weak spot that has caused me the most trouble has been unreliable baluns. They fail! Now I make my own baluns by coiling high quality coax on PVC pipe and now I have no failures.

Also, you are so very right - quality coax makes all the difference in the world.

Nice article!

Ray, ai2ia
The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by KK4CZT on May 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I have been using MIG welding wire and have had great results, it's cheap and will last a couple of years.
RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by KE7FD on May 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
As a point of reference, the balun that you see in the picture is the DX Engineering DXE-BAL200H10AT which is designed for solid state radios with internal tuners. It was more money than what I wanted to spend, BUT... This unit just plain works hands down. It's built like a tank and will take all the abuse I can throw at it. Like most folks I putzed around trying this and that but after doing the same old fixes and monkeying around, I figured out I wanted to GET ON THE AIR, and bought the DXE unit. I have no regrets having done so and count it as one of the assets on the station.

With regards to the grappling hook. I built it out of .5 inch PVC, with four aluminum (or was that fiberglass?) rods that looked like an arrow when I was done with it. I drilled holes such that the rods would look like an arrow (look at the picture I just drew in your head) and set them in place with epoxy. Instead of just tying a rope to the end of the PVC I used a short length of cord then a small pulley through which a long loop (100+ feet) of cord ran. My son is in film school (he got to work on the "Batman" movie when they came to Pittsburgh to film certain scenes) so we built a beefy potato canon so he can digitize ghastly large fireballs for his projects. I merely added a long barrel for my own antenna projects and the 1 foot long grappling hook slid down just far enough for my launch into the loft to work. I wrapped some tissue around the hooks PVC shaft to seal it in the canon barrel which worked well enough to let the compressed air kick the hook 50 feet into the air. I made sure the cord was wound back and forth in front of me and not coiled up (I've encountered bad mojo with that technique in the past), and made sure the cord loop (remember the pulley?) was staked to the ground. I fired the canon, the hook sailed up and over the trees just far enough to the other side when the line went tight and landed wherever it did. I gave it some tugs, it seated and remains to this day for the last two or so years through summer and winter, wind and ice. I suppose some clever person could make one out of biodegradable materials and use it for Field Day, then just pull the looped line through the pulley, and in time the hook would become part of the forest.
The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by K1DA on May 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
DX ENgineering sells a STRANDED steel wire with black plastic coating which is copper PLATED. Very strong, flexes well, and the black blends right in.
The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by W7NUW on May 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I have had two sailboats and put about 25,000 saltwater miles on them, so I've used a lot of pulleys (blocks). For antenna work I use 3/16 rope and Harken type 166 "bullet" blocks. These have a swivel so they readily align to the pull direction. They're rated for safe working at 300#, and 2000# breaking. Very free-running, and last forever. Pricey -- about $25 from Fisheries Supply here in Seattle. Worth it.

3-strand nylon line is very springy and I find it preferable to steel springs. For a typical tree installation at 45', a run of 50' or so will absorb a lot of shock. It's best not to go too heavy on the size. 3/16" has a break strength of about 1200#. As a very general rule, such a line will stretch 10% in length at 10% of its break strength. So if your peak load is 120#, 50' of it will stretch nearly 5'. I usually tension at 10-20 pounds, but wind gusts can really build this number up.

I generally fix one end and run the other through the pulley, and down near the ground to a 10 or 20 pound weight. The weight tensions the line. And by using springy rope, when the wind gusts it stretches almost instantly. Low-stretch rope (Dacon, etc) would transfer the surge tension to the weight, the inertia of which would strongly resist the sudden acceleration, possibly causing the antenna or some other component to break.

73, Ken

RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by W8MLD on May 30, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great information. I like the grappling hook, I am going to make one. My trees can be a pain, they are Maples that were cut by the previous home owner to have big bushy tops. Now if I can just find a way to get my inverted L above 45 feet vertical. I had it up vertical over 60 feet when the power company guys used their bucket truck to string it for me, but the branch came down in a wind storm. It took me 3 hours and my brother playing spider monkey in my tree to get it up the 2nd time. Hi hi. My 28 year old little brother is fearless; I was glad I had $45k liability on my home owners insurance while he was up there calling for his friend Cheetah.
RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by KH6AQ on May 31, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Where is the picture of the grappling hook?
The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by W4VR on May 31, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Good article. The only two things I do differently is: rather than using springs to take up the tree sway I leave droop in the antenna wire to compensate for the tree sway; and, I always apply the silicone tape on my connections and coax connectors first, then wrap them with electrical tape.
RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by KE7FD on May 31, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Like I said in the article, the hook is in the tree and too well hidden to be seen. It's been up for some time, long before I took the pictures for this article and for that I apologize. It's a pretty simple device: A 1 foot or so piece of PVC, I used .5 inch but you can use larger if you have it laying around. Our Homely Depot sells 2 foot sections of the stuff and that is all you would need. The length is not critical just make sure the potato canon you use will be able to launch it. I tested my hook once before I tied the cord onto it and just sent it straight up. It passed the test so I tied the cord as described earlier.

Drill holes a bit "south" of one end, enlarge them so they'll accept the fiberglass rods; 6 inches long seems about what I used, though I think I had some aluminum rods sitting around. HD also sells the fiberglass rods, just be careful cutting them, using a hacksaw. The work will generate glass dust so wear gloves and use eye protection. I recently cut fiberglass rods for another project and decided to let the hose run water across the cutting area: much better as the dust became a slurry that ran off.

Use what I call epoxy "clay" (mold it with your hands - wear latex or some such gloves) or JB weld to secure the rods in place. The "clay" comes in a clear plastic tube at HD; sorry I don't remember what it's really called but it's great stuff. Work fast as it begins to set up within a few minutes. The hook will be a lot heavier than a tennis ball so use an appropriate canon to launch it. I seem to recall that as the holes were drilled around the PVC, I had to stagger them as the rods would interfere with each other inside the PVC. That's fine, this isn't a work of art. A word of warning here: If you don't have a canon locate another ham who does and get his help doing this. You're only going to need to launch the hook once (if you screw things up, it's likely not coming down) so going to the expense of building a canon may not be worth it. Make one more hook than what you think youo'll need. You'll either use it or pass it off to someone who will.

As always, I take no responsibility for what you guys are doing out there with ideas that I used here at my place, so use good judgement and be safe. (That's not legal advise. I'm not a real attorney and I don't even play one on T.V....).

Glen - KE7FD
RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by KA4KOE on May 31, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I use WD1T milsurplus telephone wire. Very cheap, very durable, and very strong. Stretches very little, and with the tough insulation, you can thread it through tree limbs with impunity.

I have used this stuff for my inverted L. Its been up for 6 years and still looks new.

RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by KE7FD on May 31, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Do you have a good URL for WD1T mil surplus? I didn't see anything when I googled it. One of the challenges of working on antennas (or anything else for that matter) is the availability of a given item. That's why I cited the places to locate things or used items easily found. I'm somewhat amused when a fellow ham says something like, "You really need to use this other transistor, the 2NXYZ666, instead of the one in the kit..." Right, so I'm going to put off finishing my project while I look for this part which as it turns out went out of production 10 years earlier... I had a doctor that swore a particular Rx was available OTC no less at drugstores everywhere. Meanwhile I found out the manufacturer stopped production in November 2011. Kinda makes you wonder who the real expert was...

So, if you can provide a working link to said telephone wire for the guys looking to put up a dipole or loop (yes!), please include it here.

Glen - KE7FD
The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by K8KVN on May 31, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
When working in dense Locusts, I found this tree trimming device to be particularly handy for trimming limbs, placing pulleys in the right notches, and moving the wires around limbs that are in the way, especially over a 180' run. Add a pulley at the top to drop a weight with a line attached. Pricey, but it saved time and I am getting a LOT of use out of it. A few extra sections get you to 42'. As long as you have 2 people, it's manageable:
RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by N1CX on June 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Try one of these:

I've been using the same one for 15 years. It sharpens just like a chainsaw. You can launch the bean bag up and I have worked with extension ropes to get this as high as 60' to top a tree.

Works great when you want to pull a limb out of the way of an antenna.
RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by KE7FD on June 1, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
That link didn't work but some poking around lead me to this item: High Limb Rope Chain Saw

Hopefully, that was what you inteneded for us to see.

RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by N1CX on June 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
yep thats it. Not sure why the link didn't work but you found it anyway. High Limb Rope Saw..
RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by KE5JDJ on June 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you Glen for the article and thanks W7NUW for the info on the Harken 166. Found them from a Kansas (that was a surprising location) marine supplier shipped for $24.95.

RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by K1QAR on June 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great ideas.

My QD (quick and dirty) retrievable alternative (used at Deerfield and other festers, or for a test antenna.

I have found that a 3 oz sinker and surf casting rod with 60# test line will get you to 90 feet after a couple hours' practice (in a suitable field) The sinker gets down to the ground 90% of the time if the line is allowed to unspool freely for several seconds, and it is surprisingly easy to spot, believe it or not.

I break off the sinker at ground level, and reel the fish line up over the tree for another try, or attach a spool of eighth inch black line, which can be stuck on a stick to unwind, if I like the toss.

Once the fishing line is reeled in, the black line is tied directly to a twisted ear in the wire (I favor #16 enamelled magnet wire) about 5-10 feet from the end, which is formed into a 6" loop. Why? High voltages at the ends of a wire encourage leaks, coronas, etc when running power in the rain. Back in the woods, I cut the line at the spool (to allow re-lowering for adjustments, etc.) and pull the wire to within 20 feet or so of the trees and tie it off. Done.

To reduce receive noise (and RFI), I prefer a balanced antenna, so I select a second tree so that there are two equal length wires coming in to the shack roof. I try for a layout with wires making an angle near 90 degrees and equidistant from household noise sources. Unlike most straight dipoles going over the shack, noise (or RFI) pulses are thus out of phase.

This "Rabbit Ears" layout has the additional advantage of also allowing the use of a single pulley and weight conveniently located at the shack, eliminates the strain weight of hanging coax, and vastly reduces feeder SWR losses. Full size tuner recommended.

I use wire nuts instead of PL-259s. My current 75 meter loop has eight of them, due to several length adjustments, and has lasted over two years so far. Safe strain relief is practiced, by use of twisted ears a few inches from the wire ends, or several half hitches of eighth inch line around the coax.

RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by KA4KOE on June 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Here's a link
RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by KA4KOE on June 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
If you don't unzip it you need to solder the two conductors together at each end.
The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by N7BMW on June 2, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Good article. I too use sailing blocks to hold secondary lines that support each end of the antenna. The spring method would be inadequate - my trees really move in strong winds. Instead I have four one gallon milk jugs filled with water pulling down on one of the antenna ends. The weight is easily handled by the 13 ga. plastic coated copperclad from the Wireman. The extra weight makes for a good flattop antenna.

(formerly K8BMW)
RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by KE7FD on June 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
You make a good point here. By keeping a constant counterweight on the copperweld (I don't know if doing this with a type of "soft drawn" copper wire (used in house wiring) is advisable) the sag in the wire is minimized. You get much closer to a true "flat top" this way. One of the causes of mechanical failures I've seen is at the joints where the wire meets the end or center connector. Cold solder joints or loose nuts will be the single point of failure in the dead of winter (thanks Murphy...). A sudden jolt on the system can put enough stress to snap the weakest part. Keeping things taut will help reduce this as long as you have good wire and joints throughout. The use of counterweights on a few places is essential when trees are being used to support the antenna.

Let me make a comment here and I don't want to incite a riot: In my humble opinion, try really hard to use wire made for antennas and NOT household wire. I've lived in some parts of the country where WX conditions did not present a sufficient threat to compromise the integrity of the antenna and yes, you can get away with the ROMEX and the like. If a tuner is being used, whatever stretching that does occur will be compensated by the tuner. But consider the risk you take any time you string up any wire for an antenna: Will this hurt anyone if it comes down? At the very least, will it be a pain to fix or replace when there's snow on the ground? Think about it: There's a reason why copperweld and other special antenna wire even exists and are commonly used for antennas, and it's not [entirely] to profit the sellers. Ask yourself if you really want to take the chance of looking out the window some winter day and see one side of the dipole or corner of the loop on the ground covered with 3 feet of snow. I like to experiment too but at some point I just want to get on the air so I use stuff that is unquestionably reliable, therefore anymore I don't add soft drawn copper wire to my list of worries. I have dipoles and NVIS antennas in my grag-n-go kit with 14 gauge stranded green ground wire. But at home I spent a bit more to put up something that has survived ice, limbs and trees falling in it. This really happened: My neighbor's elm tree keeled over and took one side of the loop right to the ground. After the storm passed I cut the copperweld where the tree was laying on it, spliced it with a good mechanical joint, soldered it, and the counterweights took it right back up into the air. I'm not sure I could have gotten off so easily with household wire. We'll spend $$ on Heil mics (great mics BTW), and even more $$$ on the radios but hang soft copper wire with used coax. Really? I get it if we're in between paychecks or just experimenting as that is part of what we do and need to do to learn; heck that's why I wrote the article. Still though, any of us can read in the forums here on eHam where wire broke, stretched and "is there someone out there who can tell me what's going on...?" Again, I don't want to incite a riot, but before you make that permanent antenna install, ask yourself if you're using the appropriate components.

Glen - KE7FD
RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by KE7FD on June 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
AA4PB asked:
How about FlexWeave?

I like the stuff. It's easy to work with (soldering can be a challenge but an acquired skill) and I think it's an excelent choice.

Glen - KE7FD
The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by TTOMAS59 on June 4, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
The key to a wire in the tree is KISS. A $6 slingshot from Walmart; 1/4 oz sinkers; 8 lb fish line for the launch; 20-30 lb fish line for rope. No pulley or tension worries. Just give the 30 lb line about 10 feet extra before you tie it. My antennas stay up for two years. Not bad for a 20 minute launch.
RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by W4VR on June 6, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Some people use heavy duty weed whacker cord for supporting rope...what's nice about this cord is you can cast it over tree tops w/o worrying about rubbing on the tree branches during wind storms. I use parachute cord for end support ropes and heavy duty Dacron for center supports...been up for 13 years and still shows no sign of deterioration. I mount a Zebco casting reel on my Wal-Mart sling shot and use 1.5 once tear drop weights with 15 pound line. I've been using this scheme for about 30 years.
RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by KG4NEL on June 10, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I'm glad someone said it already :-P

I've always wondered if people in the "Dipoles shouldn't cost more than $5" crew were simply remembering how much things cost when they were first licensed.

Wire antennas - especially ones for the low bands - can get up there in price if one uses quality parts. Personally, I'd rather pry my toenails off one at a time than fish line over tree limbs, so I'd like my antenna to stay up there a while. If that means buying new rope instead of using free stuff, I'd make that trade.

I think new hams should be encouraged to DIY their own antennas, if possible. I also think it's doing them a disservice to say that they can build a Sterba Curtain for the cost of a burger and a coffee ;)

RE: The [Wire] Antenna Builders Survival Guide  
by G8JNJ on June 26, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
One type of antenna wire gaining popularity here in the UK. Is mil spec antenna wire consisting of braided wire over a Kevlar (or similar core).

Very light, strong and does not stretch. My tree broke during a bad storm, but the wire didn't !

Here's one example


Martin - G8JNJ
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