My vertical antenna, Hustler 6BTV, has been installed in it’s current location for about 6 years now. It’s on the corner of our garden and lot about 50 feet from the house. What does this mean? Too close to the shack/house for my comfort, sub-optimal radials, yearly running over radials surrounding the garden with the rotor tiller! One quarter does not have any radials (garden direction), another 1/2 is 12′ away from an electric fence leaving the shortest radial in that 1/2 at 8′ long. There are a total of 24 radials.
Recently I got permission from my father-in-law (also our landlord) to move my vertical antenna out of our immediate yard and into the pasture directly behind our yard. This provides quite a few options and I will be doing a few things differently.
The antenna will now be located about 200 feet from our house in the pasture immediately behind our “property line.” This pasture is fenced off from the larger pasture to create an area to seperate animals at different times through the year (sheep, horses and cattle). The farm is a smaller farm (5 horses, 30 head of sheep and 30 head of cattle). There are quite a few other pastures that are used. This one sees use about 1/4 of the year, mainly by the sheep.
This location will not allow 80m radials in all directions, but close to it.
My current method of attaching the radials is a 12′ long stranded copper wire that has been wound into a round 12″ diameter loop that surrounds the base of the antenna. All radials have been soldered onto that loop. That loop has two 14 awg wires going to the ground side of the antenna.
My new setup utilizes a stainless steel radial plate from DX Engineering. I estimate it will be about the same work as my previous method as both methods require stripping the end of the radial wire and soldering. The old to the ground loop, the new to a slug that will be bolted to the radial plate.
With the increased space I am putting in full 65′ (roughly 80m) radials on 320 degrees of the antenna. The other 40 degrees will be reduced in length to it’s smallest radial heading directly north. It’s size will be that of a 40m radial, 32 feet. The total radial count will be 60. I purchased 4 radial kits from DX Engineering which each provides 1,000 feet of 14 awg UV resistant coper wire, 200 lawn stakes and solder lugs. I will be using nearly all 4,000 feet of wire on the radial system. This is by far the most expensive part of my entire antenna system!
My prior mount was a 4′ 2″ galvanized steel pipe pounded into the ground 3 feet as the manual suggested. After six years of the wind coming from the general same direction, my vertical antenna looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was not that way when it was installed but it sure is now. I think an antenna done in good taste is an attractive item in your yard, however, with mine leaning like this it’s an eye sore shouting unmaintained garbage.
The new mount is not too much different except that I will be digging a 2′ hole with a post hole digger, inserting my post and then adding concrete. This does not take much concrete but should provide a much more robust mount, yet if I decide to take the antenna down, move or move the antenna again (Just Say No!) it’s totally manageable.
Expected Problems Along the Way
With the new radial system and it’s changed location, I imagine I’ll have to re-tune the antenna. This, however, is not all bad. I recently purchased the 12m and 17m trap packages from DX Engineering. The instructions for both state that they will affect the SWR on the other bands and retuning will be required. They did affect the other bands but not enough for me to be really concerned about. However… now that I am moving the antenna and trying to do everything as perfect as I know how I will look forward to retuning the antenna. This will also give me a chance to fix my previous tuning. Basically, I made the lowest SWR occur in the center of the CW frequencies on each band because I was doing a lot of QRP at the time. However, looking back on things I realized this is wasting a lot of bandwidth. For instance, 150khz on 40 meters centered on the CW band wastes a lot of band width < 7MHz. So, my new goal is to tune for the bottom end of the CW band to be within the acceptable limits and extend the usable bandwidth, as much as I can, across the given entire band.
Today of course! Yesterday I picked up the necessary items at DX Engineering and mowed the area I will be putting the antenna. I was hoping to dig the post hole and pour the concrete but time just wasn’t on my side. So today’s tasks are:
- Dig the post hole and pour the concrete.
- Pin down the radial plate in the correct position (cannot attach to the drying post) and run the radials.
- Dig a “mini” trench for the coax.
- Install the coax.
I will not be able to work on the antenna at all on Sunday as there are plenty of family activities going on. However, on Monday I will complete the job by:
- Permanently installing the radial plate.
- Installing the antenna.
- Tuning the antenna.
I am going to try to rip up the old ground radials but I’m not to sure that can be done. Time will tell.