What Being A Member of a Club Means – Team Antenna Erecting Party

Last weekend (Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th May) members of the HARES club met at one of the other members houses – Tony, G7FSD – to get his antennas in the air for VHF, and to do a repair to his G3TXQ Hexbeam 40M element. The team consisted of Mark (2E0SBM), Ady (G6AD), Dave (G1VNB), Tony (G7FSD) and myself.

For safety and ease of working at a height on the Hexbeam we erected a scaffolding tower to allow us to lower Tony’s original mast and then erect a small tower to mount the antenna on. This was the hardest part, and we had to do some crafty engineering to lower the poles down safely, but with a little brain power and muscle it lowered easily. As soon as the Hex was at the height easily to work on we moved on to the VHF array so we could make room in the garden to sort out the Hexbeam.

This was going to be a lot easier as Tony had a wall mounted Tennamast that has a winch to assist with lifting to the vertical, and he had already attached all the necessary wall mounting brackets. A 2M (144MHz) 11 element cross yagi and a 11 element 70cm (340MHz) yagi were then mounted on a short pole and attached to the rotator, again which had already been mounted to the mast. With the mast now attached to the lower mounting point allowing it to be lifted easily, we connected the winch to assist with lifting. Again some brute force was employed to initially get it moving while Dave used the winch to assist to get it to the vertical. Once in place and bolted up we did a quick test to check all the antennas were still resonant with the analyser and we moved back to the Hexbeam.

This is where it got difficult. When the antenna was removed from the tower we started to lower it down, but with the trees and bushes it soon got caught up and took a lot longer than first anticipated. When we eventually got it down one of the spreaders snapped so I came home and grabbed a spare one I have and took that back to Tony’s. Ady also had to go to his place to pick up another part that we needed so we lost an hour working on the Hex.

During this time Mark, Dave, and Tony tested out the VHF array, and found an issue with the rotator – this had been working fine before going on to the mast as we had set it to the North – where it would only turn about 30 degrees. Testing showed that the rotator itself was trying to turn as this could be heard. So we stripped down the controller to find a nylon cog had broken and a potentiometer looked to be intermittent. This we left for Tony to get repaired.

As soon as we made the repairs to the Hexbeam it was late in the day, Tony had cooked some Pizzas and we relaxed for a short while before heading home to return on the Sunday to complete the job.

Upon arrival, I was a little late, Ady and Tony were already getting the cables ready and sorting out the final parts for the Hexbeam to get it back in the air. We lifted it to a point where we needed just one more body to get it to the top of the scaffold tower and into the rotator on the stub mast. A quick call to see if Mark could come and assist, and thank you to his lovely wife Lorraine she allowed him while she did the weekly food shop. So with Ady and mark at the top, Tony and I lifted the antenna up to a pivot point and they then lifted into the stub mast. Antenna in place and again checked with the analyser it was tidy up the cables and check with the radio.

Back in the shack a final check with the analyser and everything was way out of tune. Tests on the cable found a PL259 had come loose and was the cause of the problem. It also identified that Tony had the 2 cable runs – the 40M element has it’s own feed – had been mixed up and he had been using the damaged 40M element rather than the other 6 elements of the Hexbeam. With this now sorted we left Tony to play on HF and get another controller for his VHF array.

Tony commented that he had never been in a club of any sort before where other members were willing to give up their time at a weekend to help another member out. Not just a radio club but any other club he had been a member of. Our comment was, “well that’s what it means to be a member of a radio club”

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Chris Cloclough G1VDP