The Price of 12 extra feet

I recently sanded and painted my auxilliary tilt over mast. This started out as my first and original tilt over mast about 30 years ago. Yeah, we have been in the same place for over 30 years! We like it here.

The original mast became an auxilliary when the neighbors tree got large enough to interfere with the masts function. When you can’t tilt the mast up and down without the tree branches shredding your antenna, it takes all the fun out of having a tiltover feature.

This thing was designed to tilt over toward the north. If it were not for the air-conditioning unit sitting on a concrete slab next to the base of the mast, I could make the thing tilt over toward the south.

Naw, that would mean I have to screw with moving the condenser unit. I could do that. I could even make a new concrete base for the thing. I could also end up chasing freon leaks for the next ten years.

Come to think of it, that thing does not need to be sitting all the way on the east side of the house where no one can see it (or hear it). I could move it to the patio. Shorter pluming to the A-coil, less of a cable run for electrical power, and the thing would be sitting in the shade for most of the day.

Naw, maybe in an other life I can do that. Right now I don’t need to be looking for work I don’t have time, money, or energy to do.

I can still put up beams at the 30 foot level and miss the tree but anything higher gets shredded unless it is just plain mast extention or vertical or J-pole. (I guess a J-pole is a vertical.)

No, I have not discussed the tree with my neighbor. He is hard of hearing. Just like my mother-in-law. The heaing impared sometimes take advantage of their handicap by becoming selectively hearing impared.

I am sure my neighbor would not be interested in selecting which limbs to cut and how far up to prune an otherwise beautiful 50 year old oak. Besides I am not interested in spoiling the looks of the tree either. That is why I put up a new tiltover mast 20 years ago.

Still, it is difficult not to try using the aux mast.

This weekend I decided that in addition to the sanding and painting, I would look into making this mast tall enough to support a full sized full wavelength 80 meter delta loop.

Well, the best I could do was 57 feet. I really needed 65 feet but that additional 8 feet was going to kill this project for sure. Even 57 feet turned out to be spooky tall.

The original, drill stem, tiltover topped out at 34 feet. I added another 11 foot section of steel pipe to that a few years ago. This time I added another 12 feet of light weight aluminum tubing salvaged from an old beam.

I get dizzy when I climb up on the roof, but now I get dizzy just looking up at the new mast. Standing on the roof looking up at it is a real thrill. Reminds me of six flags.

It was hell getting it to clear the oak tree. I had a helper crank the winch to raise the mast while I was up on the roof pulling the mast horizontally against its hinge pin to angle it out from under the lower hanging branches.

I guess God heard my four letter prayer because the thing finally pulled free and started up. It looked like the top was bent a little but that just turned out to be a slight bow due to the weight of 140 feet of old coax that I was going to use in place of wire.

Turns out the coax was too heavy. It also turned out that the clever way I installed a pulley at the top to allow the wire/coax to run freely ended up tangling the wire. After fighting the tree for half an hour getting the mast raised, I was not about to let it down to free a tangle that might occur on raising it again.

It was only 57 feet up but even with glasses I could not see what the problem was up at the top where the wire refused to co-operate. I even took digital pictures at telephoto zoom and zoomed them some more on the computer. Sure enough, it was tangled, but not enough detail to suggest how to untangle it.

Luckily I had added a second pulley and halyard at the very top just below my failed cable installation. Reluctantly I let the 140 feet of cable run off the top pulley, deciding to use the halyard to raise a more conventional (and much lighter) section of wire.

As soon as the cable cleared the pulley, the mast snapped up straight. Even with only one guy pullin it back from the house. The project now looked to have some promise. Guess maybe I will have to find some other use for 140 feet of old coax.

Now I have to measure some antenna wire. I have been tempted to measure off ten foot sections of the garage floor to make wire measuring easier, just never did it. It always made more sense to measure the wire directly.

Well, I already know that I don’t have enough room to accomodate 270 feet of antenna in a delta triangle fashion, and I am going to use an antenna tuner anyway, so getting an accurate measurement is not critical. Besides, it will be fun to learn to use the dip meter again. Antenna tuner or not, I still would like to know where this thing is going to resonate.

I am pretty sure I can take care of at least 200 feet of wire in a triangular fasion. The other 70 feet will be made up of a wide spaced spread of two paralled runs of 35 foot of wire going to the top of the tower portion of my main tiltover.

I am doing pretty much the same thing with my horizontal loop now and it works just fine. I am hoping the new loop will work even better.

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