Well, I finished up doing the refurb on my big HF (shortwave) vertical antenna, and decided to do a little work on the patio roof, where I'm going to install it.
What a mess!
Our "patio" is one of those prefab kits that has all the lumber and brackets, and after you pour a concrete pad,you assemble all the bits, and presto! Instant patio! Well, the guys who installed it (it was already done when the GF bought the house) didn't do a very good job of screwing it together, and it was pretty shaky. It's a simple structure, consisting on some 4x4's bolted to the slab, and some 2x8's forming a "box" around the top, with another 2x8 running down the middle. To support the "roof", there's 2x2 stringers running across, and then the corrugated plastic "roof" is screwed into the 2x2 stringers, and the 2x8's that make the perimeter of the top.
The first problem was that the 2x2's were only nailed to the perimeter, and NOT to the 4x8 running down the middle! This let the whole shebang of strings and plastic 'float', move around, and in general not be very sturdy. And they were warped. And some were rotted out. I replaced the dry rotted ones, and "doubled up" the five in the middle with some clear pine 1x2's, and deck screws, giving me an effective "2x4" in the center of the structure. But what about the middle being of 'floating' construction? Well, a quick trip (or three) to Home Depot netted me some nice galvanized "Strong-Tie" angle brackets and matching screws, and I've spent the last two days screwing the whole top of the structure together. There's 16 stringers, and I added four brackets to each, for a total of 64 brackets. Each bracket had to be manually placed to get it "square" with the stringer, and then I C-clamped it to the 2x8 until I could get a couple of screws driven in. They're square on the stringer, but some are kind of 'strange' looking where they're screwed into the 2x8. I figured it was more important to have them square with the stringer, and not twist it up any more than it is, so I don't stress the 2x2's. Each bracket has eight screws, so in the last two days I've driven 512 #8x2" screws into the brackets. I've broken two bits, dropped numerous screws, moved the (new) ladder countless times, opened, positioned, and tightened my C-clamp way too many times, tripped over my extension cord a bunch, and recharged each of the batteries for my Makita drill at least three times. I couldn't use the Makita to drive the deck screws into the 1x2's I added to the existing 2x2's, as it just doesn't have enough torque to do it, even running on slow speed. Good thing I have my trusty old Milwaukee 1/2" chuck Super Hole Shooter, as it didn't even break a sweat.
The patio roof is now at least as strong as the rest of the house, and should support the 30~40 lbs of my assembled vertical "No Sweat".
I've got my SG-230 antenna coupler mounted in a plastic box to keep it out of the elements, and I'll be mounting that under the patio roof, and connecting the output terminal to the vertical with some #14 "GTO" wire, commonly used for neon signs. The voltage on the output of the coupler can easily exceed 10kV on frequencies where the antenna presents a high impedance, and I've made an aluminum tie plate to connect all the counterpoise wires to the "ground" terminal on the coupler, avoiding the mess I had when the vertical was on the roof of my former apartment building. I still have to run the coax and control cable for the coupler, terminate the ends, and figure out some way to get the assembled vertical up on the patio roof, and shove it to the center. I wanted to get this finished for the weekend, as the ARRL is having the 2009 "Phone Sweepstakes" this weekend, but it looks like I'll probably not have things done in time.
Oh, and the GF and I have decided to get married. The special day will be February 14th, 2010. Her "BFF" is a pastor at a local church, and will be doing the ceremony for us.