Thursday, April 4, 2019

Random Wire Antenna Project -Getting Stuff Staged-

Well I made some great progress today keeping the antenna project rolling. Went to Home Depot to pick up some stuff I erred on the quantity of, and a few other things I just flat forgot. I'll probably have five trips to HD by the time this is On-The-Air, so that makes up for the "One And Done" success of the little kitchen sink.

Oh, and I stopped at Harbor Freight first to get this bruiser.

Since I don't think my 3/8" Makita 14 Volt cordless drill with 8 year old battery packs is up to the task of boring a 1"+ hole 18" into a tree trunk, I popped for the $55 and got this guy. 1/2" chuck, variable speed, reversible, with big handles to hang on to.

 The "drill bit" above it is a Bosch 1-1/4" wood auger. The auger by itself will get us 6" into the tree, and then I have some drill bit extensions from my Home Theater Installer days that can get us down another 18", so we should be able to get the mast driven into the trunk an acceptable amount.

Unless Murphy shows up, and he undoubtedly will.....

And what's the most important part of a wire antenna?

88' feet of Davis RF 12 gauge "FlexWeave" antenna wire. They call it "The Cadillac of Antenna Wire", but it's more of a Cummins Diesel to me. It really carries the load, and lasts forever. With Gen-You-Ine glazed porcelain end insulators. Real Old Skool Radio stuff.

And in any installation-from-scratch like this, there were some bits to mod and fab.

The four redwood (it was cheap) blocks are the 'back up blocks' for mounting the autocoupler enclosure to the fence. Since the fence slats are 30+ year old wood of uncertain background, there's no way I'm screwing the autocoupler directly to it! I bought some construction screws (think mutant deck screws) that will go through the slats on the enclosure, though the fence slats, and into the redwood blocks. That should spread the load over more area, and reduce the stress on the old wood slats.

The little "U" shaped thingies are conduit straps that I modified to use a bigger diameter (1/4") lag screw, along with a flat and a lock washer. I'd much rather use something a bit more substantial than these flimsy stamped things, BUT, I had two sections of mast secured to a block wall with these back in Long Beach, and it held up fine. Out here, I'm doubling the number of straps from 2 to 4, and instead of 18" of mast on the wall, I'm going to slide the mast down a bit so I have 24" in contact with the post, and use four straps with aggressive hardware. We'll see how it holds up.

Ah, the mast! The two sections below with the eye bolts are the end masts.The one with the pulley is the center mast.

Wire antennas sway in the wind, and we get a lot of wind out here. You need to allow for this movement, or you'll be stretching/breaking antenna wire on a regular basis. The wire passes through the pulley and moves with a rolling motion instead of a sliding or rubbing motion, like if I just ran it through another eye bolt. Bad juju! The wire wears through and you're back to replacing it on a semi-regular basis. I shot some synthetic chassis/bearing grease into it, so let's hope that keeps it rolling.

I can't show you how the end masts handle the sway because they haven't been built yet. It's the kind of thing you do in the field during installation, so although I could fake it on the bench, I'll just take lots of "assembly" pix when we put this up.

And I'll be using this synthetic rope to secure the ends to the end masts. This is 5/16' diameter, and has a rated strength of 1,760 pounds. This is another product I've been using in the field for 25 years. I had some in outdoor use at my apartment for 12 years. It was  bit crusty when we took it down, but wasn't falling apart. After 6 years in Long Beach it was dirty, but looked great.

This stuff is like mutant alien paracord. Really strong, doesn't stretch, lasts a long time, and is reasonably priced. There's "better" stuff available, with double the breaking strength, but it also costs about double.

So I pretty much have everything staged and ready for installation. Until Murphy shows up, which he usually does.

And in going through this, and the pix, and writing it up, he just knocked. The far-end mast with the pulley and weight/spring to allow movement, is mounting to a new 4x4 fence post. No sweat.

The feed-end, where the autocoupler is located, is screwing into a fence slat over a new post. WELL.......the slat is positioned away from the post by the stringer is nailed to, so there's a gap, and I don't have any 1x3 or 1x4 filler board material.....RATS!

Oh, well....that's why I stage my projects before commencing. Looks like another trip to Home Depot.....


Thought it best to have a cuppa this morning, and then inspect the neighbor's fence  construction vs my fence construction. Our new fence was built with premade panels. the 'stringers' that the pickets are attached to are (approx) 1-1/2"x2-1/2" while the old fence uses 1-5/8"x3-3/4". So, the cedar "2x4" I bought will work as a backer for the end mast on the neighbor's fence, and I don't need to buy any more wood.

But I need some longer screws to install them, so yep, off to HD again.....


  1. This is why you need a scrap pile of lumber pieces and chunks.

    The wood equivalent of that coffee can full of old fasteners, nuts, bolts, washers...

    THEY (those who think garages should be spotless) just don't understand the need to mini-horde 'junk' and 'stuff' for the only reason being 'because.'

    You never know when that chunk of pine or piece of aluminum garage door opener rail would be the perfect fit for Project X.

  2. Oh, I agree, Beans. I had a stockpile of wood and aluminum back in SoCal, but gave it away, scrapped it, or left it for the new owners of our little place.

    Just haven't been here long enough to get much of one going again.

  3. Any bets on getting away with just ONE trip to home despot? :-) Looking good!

  4. heh.....Maybe just one trip today!


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