A few weekends ago, my good friend and fellow American Partisan Writer JohnyMac swung by my house for a night to help me get up my Multiband G5RV amateur radio antenna as well as my VHF Yagi antenna. I documented the process, including the supplies, so that you could follow along. This article will deal with the HF antenna, with a follow-up article showcasing the Yagi VHF antenna.
After a great Friday night meal consisting of a plate of brochette with mozzarella and pesto, steak with lump crab meat, asparagus and a few bottles of wine, we hit the sack.
Early on Saturday, we set out to get the G5RV up and running. We originally were aiming for a horizontal dipole antenna, but given the number of tree branches in the backyard, we settled on an inverted ‘V’ antenna setup.
The rationale behind this is that the G5RV that I had purchased comes with non-insulated wires. If a tree branch touches it, the signal could be affected. You could, in theory, shrink wrap tube the entire length of the antenna to protect against that. We did not, but I added the shrink wrap and a heat gun to the supply list as optional purchases. In the near future, Johny is going to help me build my own multiband antenna using insulated wire. He wrote about one, titled Building an Affordable, High-Quality, Multi-Band Antenna, back in December that I would like to try. Tree branches and or leaves will not be an issue then, because the wires would be insulated.
Supplies for HF
1 – G5RV Antenna
2 – Orange 100′ 550 Paracord (color is up to you, but I kept it bright as it will be closer to the ground as the tie down.
2 – Plastic Stakes
1 – RG8u Coax Cable with PL259s Attached, 100′
1 – Throw Weight (alternatively, you can build the antenna launcher that we used as a separate project – the link to those plans, courtesy of JohnyMac, will be linked under Tools)
1 – Heat Gun
Tools Needed for HF
1 – Knife/Scissors
We first unpacked the antenna and laid it out. It has the insulated antenna coming out of either side and a ladder line coming down from the center. This is where the RG8u coax connects to the antenna, which then runs to the radio. We then chose the tree best suited for the “apex” of the inverted ‘V’ antenna, being careful to choose the path that had the lower amount of foliage. Using the PAAL, Johny launched the fishing line and attached “mortar shell” over the tree branch at about 40-feet. While I held the launcher, he attached the braided utility rope to the bitter end of the fishing line and I reeled the fishing line then rope over the branch. Once that accomplished the braided utility rope was attached to the center of the antenna and hoisted part way up. At that point the coax was attached to the end of the ladder line and the connection was sealed with self adhesive silicon tape.
Once the connection made between the coax and antenna the antenna was hoisted the rest of the way to about one foot under the antenna supporting branch. The bitter end was then secured to a near-by tree.
From there, we attached the paracord to the insulators at the end of the antenna and tied them off. The key here is to make sure the end of the antenna where the insulators are located, are approximately 10 to 12 feet off the ground. On one end, we tied the paracord off to a nearby tree. The other side had no real suitable trees, however, so we tied it to a Shepard’s Hook and then took the excess and staked it into the ground. We then ran the coax into the Ham Shack.
Tuning and Testing the Antenna
After getting the antenna hoisted, we retreated into the Ham Shack to tune the radio, which is an ICOM 735. While you can do this using the tuner itself (mine is a MFJ Versa Tuner II), Johny had brought his MJF-antenna analyzer to use instead. We then tuned the antenna on the 20 meter, 40 meter, and 80 meter bands. The goal is to get an SWR of 1.0 and get as close as possible to an R (Resistive) = 50 and an X (Reactive) = 0 on each band. To do so using the Versa Tuner II, you first adjust the Inductor dial. Then, you use the Transmitter and Antenna dials, respectively, to fine tune the numbers.
We did this for several different frequencies through each band because we were building an Antenna DOPE book. Basically, it would contain the settings for a variety of frequencies on each band so that I could quickly move between bands or frequencies within a band and know what I had to “DOPE” my tuner to (much like with a DOPE book for shooting). In this case, we managed to get all three numbers perfectly throughout all of the frequencies.
Because I do not have my license yet (queue JohnyMac giving me a hard time about that), Johny jumped on and was able to make contacts in Florida, New Jersey, and Kansas. Success! About a week or so later, I hopped on the radio to monitor a net that Johny also monitors. The goal was to see if I could hear him and hear the net. Sure enough, he came through as if he was sitting next to me, and the Net Control operator came through clear as well (along with other check-ins).
Now, I have the bug to get my ‘ticket’ so I can jump in and continue my education on amateur radio; Hopefully, I can get my Technicians and then quickly followed to get my General ticket as Johny is making noises of starting up the ERIN (Eastern Region Information Network) net once again.
Look for Part Two of this article on the VHF antenna!