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The ARAN Antenna SWAT Team

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    WD0DXD
    Keymaster
    ARAN Antenna SWAT Team

    All of us have heard the stories.  Much like the stories of the mythical “Big Foot” or the “Abominable Snow Man”, I too have heard the stories about a pair of mythical Amateur Radio do-gooders who appear out of no where to aid fellow hams with their many antenna frustrations only to disappear into the night once the loop or dipole is erected.

    Last Friday (May 22nd, 2009) I was visited by these kind hearted souls and was able to put to rest my aerial travails.  We were even fortunate enough to find a camera and document the daring escapades of the pair.  The following is a brief account of what transpired.

    Friday morning, NØSJM AKA Gary called and asked if the team could come over and work on my antenna problem.  I quickly agreed and in a few minutes Gary and KCØWA AKA “Woody”  showed up at my door step with tool belts in hand.

    After a brief survey of the landscape they agreed that we should erect a 100' windom antenna going from the South peak of the house to a tree located in the Northeast part of my lot.  With that we proceeded to construct the windom.

    I had purchased a spool of electric fence wire and we determined we could use that to construct the windom.  Woody calculated the legs of the windom to be 33' and 66' so Gary and Woody proceeded to measure out those legs from the spool of wire.

    Then we had to tie those ends together using a center ceramic insulator and feed the antenna with something.  I had purchased a spool of “dual” RG6 coax that satellite companies use to feed customer dishes.  We decided that would be the trick.  So in this picture you can see Gary stripping the coax to prepare it to be connected to the antenna.  Note the gloves, safety first with these guys.

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    Then we tried to solder the braid's of the two coax assemblies together.  After trying a large soldering iron and a butane soldering iron, we determined that the braid was made of aluminum.  So we just used a wire nut to connect them together.

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    Next we wrapped the coax around the center insulator and used a tie to fit it snugly on the insulator.  Note the cool dude in the background, we put him to work later running to the hardware store to get us a pulley.

    tn_windom-4.jpg
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    Then we soldered the ends of the center conductor of each coax to the respective leg of the windom.  Then we used caulk to seal the coax so that no water could get wicked up into it.

    Now the scary part.  I got up on the roof and put an eye hook into the peak of the roof to hold the antenna.  We used ceramic insulators that I had in the junk box and put them on each end of the antenna legs.  My XYL found some old nylon rope that we used to connect the insulator to the eye hook.

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    Next we had to carefully feed the antenna between the house and garage trying to avoid kinking the wire as we went.  We also had to feed the coax.

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    Next step was to get the other end of the antenna up in the tree.  I looped a piece of rope around the top of the tree and then hung a pulley from it.  Then we ran another rope from the end insulator through the pulley and attached it to a jug filled with rocks and sand.  This will keep the antenna tight even with the wind and stretching of the wire.

    tn_windom-7.jpg
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    I wonder when the last time somebody caught Woody playing in the sandbox was?

    Next, down to the shack to hook everything up.  Woody showed us a neat trick to pull the center conductors out of the shielding and then we tied the shielding together using a wire nut again.

    tn_windom-12.jpg

    We connected the center conductors to the open wire connectors on the back of my MFJ 962D antenna tuner.

    Then Woody and Gary gave me a quick lesson on how to use the tuner to match the windom to the radio.

    tn_windom-13.jpg

    We were able to tune up 6m to 80m with only 15m causing a problem.  We are going to make some adjustments to the antenna to get 15m to tune correctly.  I have made a couple of dozen contacts with it using SSB and PSK, even Olivia.  I have made contacts on 17m and 10m which I wasn't able to before.  I was also able to load up my Heathkit SB200 amp on 20m and 40m.  Overall, I am very happy with the performance.  Overall it took about 3 to 4 hours.

    So if you are having antenna problems, get a message to us.  Then maybe the mythical ARAN Antenna SWAT team will quietly show up at your ham shack!

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