If it stayed up…it wasn't big enough: A visit from Ike

September 14th, 2008 by k8gu Leave a reply »
Drooping feedline

Drooping feedline

There’s a saying in the ham radio world about antennas:  If it stayed up last winter, it wasn’t big enough.  Well, my 80-meter dipole / 160-meter vertical lasted from February to September.  I guess it was big enough.  The remnants of Hurricane Ike passed through Illinois today, dropping four inches of rain in about five hours.  It was the wind, not the rain, that did the antenna in.  Sarah and I were laying on the floor in our living room looking up into the big tree in front of the house, watching the branches swirl.  For good measure, I craned my neck to see where the dipole crossed into the spruce in the other corner of the yard.  Indeed, it was still there.

Not five minutes later, I heard a thump on the roof.  I craned my neck again and the antenna was gone.  It was hard work getting that antenna up!  Actually, I think the hard part through the oak in the back yard is still intact.  The easy part was getting a line over the spruce.  The weather is supposed to be decent later in the week.  The antenna was made of #14 solid THHN, which was probably most of the problem.  I haven’t done a full forensic analysis of the failure, but I’d guess it was near the center insulator.  I used continuous pieces of wire to form the dipole legs and the open-wire feeder, like W7FG does.  But, the solid wire was probably undoing…