I’ve regained my interest in Amateur Radio recently, especially on the HF bands. I’ve had my tech license for a few years now, and my general for almost a year. I picked up my first HF radio a few months ago, but didn’t have an antenna solution I liked. I had just been using a wire antenna on a 10’ telescoping mast and setting up on the ground. Last week, I set up a little nicer solution.
The mast is some angle iron with predrilled holes I got from the hardware store. I painted it a light blue color for weather protection, and to help it not stand out as much. It’s bolted into the air conditioner in a way that shouldn’t cause any issues. Overall, it is about 10’ or 12’ above the peak of the roof, although I’ve not measured it. You can kinda see my ground wire in the picture. At this time, it still needs to be cleaned up a little, but it works.
The antenna is just a wire antenna I brought from the local HRO. It’s rated for 40m-5m, but I’ve found it works best on 40m and 20m. I have a coax running down to the side of my house, where I have it go though the attic and into my radio room. I have a grounding wire going from my ground rod, up and through the same path in the attic for the equipment in the shack.
The antenna elements are held taut with weights I made out of sand filled PVC. I painted these brown to try to help them blend into the shingles a little better, and I think it looks fairly clean. Each weight is 2 pipes joined together at a 90 degree angle, filled with sand, and capped at the ends. While I didn’t weigh them, they have some heft to them and I’ve not had any issues with them moving on me. These weights are affixed to the antenna elements via some 550 cord, with a taut-line hitch so I can tighten the line as needed.
I decided to go this route for a few reasons. The main one is that it is easy to make changes. If I want a taller mast, I just have to affix a second length of angle iron to the top of the first one with bots. If I want to change the antenna, it’s only attached via a large safety pin. Plus, I can easily move the weights anywhere I need to. Everything is fairly modular.
The other reason I went this way is that it involved very few modifications to the house. I didn’t have to put any holes in the shingles of the roof. The only hole in the exterior of the house is a very small one towards the peak of the roof, and would be fairly hard for water to get in. There are only a few bolts holding the mast to the AC unit, and an AC tech said it wouldn’t impact the efficiency of the unit.
The final reason I went this way is that it was very cost effective. All of the parts I used are common and cheaply available from local suppliers. It was nice being able to keep the cost of the mast down, so I could invest in a better grounding solution, and some nicer coax.
Overall, I feel that the project is a success. There are very few changes I would make to the setup. The changes I do have planned mostly relate to improving my grounding situation, despite it being functional for now. That’ll likely be a post for another time.