The first part arrived today! No longer just a bunch of penciled lines drawn on paper, this antenna project is starting to come together. My patient wife took this picture right after I tore into the package.
What I’m holding in my hand is something I found on ebay, sold by NC4RY: a “Dipole hanger for the 4′ mast poles, offset with pulley.” It was only $22.30, shipped, and it is supposed to fit on top of the 1.75″ O.D. aluminum military mast that I’ve ordered from K4TMC. Hopefully this hanger will save wear and tear on the balun at the feedpoint of the antenna, which would otherwise be banging against the mast if it was hung right from the mast itself. It will also hopefully save wear and tear on our ears. I’d rather not hear the balun slapping around up there, not to mention the halyard. We enjoy hearing halyards slapping against masts at a marina, but we’d rather not have that going on right over our bedroom! This offset hanger should solve both these problems.
The antenna I’m planning to hang from this thing is a 40-10m New Carolina Windom, hung as an inverted-V with as shallow of an angle as possible. (If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that I’m planning on putting the off-center feedpoint at the apex, which I’ve read is not ideal. More on this and my reasons for selecting the New Carolina Windom in another post.) I’m planning on homebrewing the antenna, so the next shipment I’m eagerly awaiting is Understanding, Building & Using Baluns & Ununs, by Jerry Sevick, W2FMI. Before I cut any wire, I want to have the 4:1 current balun and the RF choke ready to go. I’ve only wound one balun in my life, and I barely had a clue what I was doing, so I figure I better read up on it. Between the cost of the book and materials, I know I might not be saving much over a commercially-made balun. But this way I’ll learn something in the process! Isn’t that what real hams are supposed to do? I’d rather not just be an appliance-operator.
Another shipment arrived today, too — the inexpensive but high-quality Velleman VTSS5U 50W Solder Station. I ordered it on the recommendation of WB5RVZ for working with surface-mounted components in the thrifty Softrock Ensemble RXTX kit that should arrive next week. These Softrock radios are an amazing buy. You can catch a glimpse of what they can do on W4AX’s spectacular WebSDR page. Make sure you click on “View | all bands.” He has four $20 Softrock Lite II receivers operating simultaneously, served up on this page from a Linux/Ubuntu server in his mind-boggling shack.
Eventually I’ll make a trip to Radio City for antenna wire, coax, a tripod mount, connectors, etc., but it’s fun to order these things on the web and watch them trickle in via USPS, UPS, and FedEx.