Each time I prepare for a contest, I try to think of something I can do to
improve my station or my operating ability.
This time, for NAQP CW, I decided I needed to elevate the 12AVQ (10-15-20m)
ground mounted vertical I had installed in the backyard a year or two ago.
The vertical was the Radio X antenna when Radio Y was using the two tower
mounted beams. It worked just okay. I could at least find a station with
it, switch to the beam to call, work him, then switch back. But, I wanted
to see if elevating the vertical would improve the vertical's performance
enough that I wouldn't have to switch to the beams to call.
Friday, I bought a 10' length of pipe at Home Depot and made up some radials
with 24" rebar stakes in the ground as guys. Once I got the SWR down (big
change from ground mounted), I made a few QSO's with it. It seemed to hear
better and, at least, seemed to be heard.
During the contest, the vertical performed beyond my expectations. Most
(>80%) of the stations I called using the vertical on the S&P radio answered
on the first call. What a difference. Because of the vertical's
effectiveness, SO2R took on a whole new meaning and importance. No longer
was I having to swap antennas every time I found a station to work. More
importantly, I was not having to 'wait in line' as often to work a station.
I was being heard and worked using the vertical. Very cool! Even cooler
was seeing the rate counter exceed 100 per hour at times.
>From an esthetic point of view, the vertical with it's 9 elevated radials
looks like heck...at least to anyone not a ham. When passing by the patio
door to the backyard in the house, I do a double-take when I catch a glimpse
of the vertical and guys--still not used to seeing it there. Probably, for
the sake of being able to mow the backyard lawn when it gets warmer, I'll
have to take the vertical down. Or, maybe I'll just raise it another six
feet and extend the radial guys out to the top of the fence and the eave of
the house. :-)