Saturday, May 28, 2005

Antenna woes!

I have two antennas at station W2LJ. One is a G5RV at about 30 feet, or so. The other is a ground mounted Butternut HF9V vertical. I was on 20 Meters the other night and the station I was trying to work on the G5RV was kid of weak; so I decided the switch over to the Butternut. Imagine my surprise when the Butternut came up deaf! I was hearing nothing; not even background QRN.

Unfortunately, I lack an antenna analyzer; so I needed to do some basic detective work. Basicaly, I knew there could only be a few things wrong. I decided to start with the concept of, "it's either the antenna itself or the feedline". A basic ohmmeter check of the coax revealed no shorts. I then decided to take the lightning arrestor out of line - maybe something was wrong with that. So I put a barrel connector in it's place; only to get the same results.

Scratching my head for an idea of what to do next, I decided to break out my K1 and 12V SLA battery and hook it right to the HF9V's 75 ohm coax matching stub. Viola! Plenty of signals! So at least now I know the antenna itself is okay. The amazing thing is that when I put everything back together; a trip to the shack shows that everything is back to normal. I'm hearing all kinds of stations and even manage to work a few Europeans with 5 Watts and the K2.

I go back outside to wrap the connections up in electrician's tape, when I notice it. The jacket has backed away some on the 75 ohm matching stub. Right next to the PL-129, I can see tarnished braid. The antenna is working for now; but the first chance I get when we get some dry weather, I will replace both PL-259's. I don't need intermittent headaches!

73 de Larry W2LJ

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