Topband: Seasonal Deployable Ground System
PaulKB8N at aol.com
PaulKB8N at aol.com
Tue Nov 1 11:41:08 PDT 2011
Many topbanders pull their radials up at the end of the Topband season in
the Spring, and re-deploy them in the Fall. I've tried laying thin-wire
radials and have had troubles with the dog catching his nails on the wires, or
digging them up. Occasionally, I've had trouble with the mower or
weed-whacker catching them and making a mess.
I've found a good way to create a deployable radial system. This may have
been mentioned before, but if so, I've not found any reference to it.
I've found that using heavy old rubberized cords, like those used on vacuum
cleaners or old two conductor extension cords, make very good temporary
and/or seasonal radials. The wire is typically heavy and large in size. It
can be pulled into a straight line or curved to avoid trees and other
obstructions and lays flat wherever you put it. If you find some that are black
or brown, once deployed, it is unlikely you'll even see them. The dog
doesn't mess with it, and it stays put even though he runs around and over it
all the time.
Where do you find this stuff in quantity? First of all, check your junk
boxes and at swap meets. In addition to power cables, speaker cables and
mic cables work. I'm a musician and hoarded hundreds of feet of usable round
black cable in a plastic tub in the garage. I had managed to gather about
300' of usable mic, speaker and electrical cable, all with a heavy but
flexible round rubber exterior, that I fashioned into 6 - 50' radials. Then I
went to eBay and found a 250' spool of shielded, two conductor 16ga cable
with a heavy rubber sleeve for around $60, which I will use for another 4
radials and use the rest for my music needs. 10 radials at 50' each is not
a lot, but it will be far better than any "permanent" system I've had.
You lay them down. They stay. You don't trip on them. They lay flat and
don't get caught in the mower or weed eater. Their weight will drop them
into the grass and the XYL will hardly notice. Move your antenna? Just
tug them to the new location. Best of all, they come up easy, coil up nicely
for future use, and will probably survive at least as many winters and
summers as we will. Old coax cable is another option, but is not as flexible
and as easy to lay down. I always check continuity on any cable I make and
connect and solder all the conductors together at each end.
A small ground system is certainly a compromise, but small lots don't allow
full-sized systems. This is a good compromise, IMHO.
Secret garage sale note: Old vacuum cleaners usually have a very durable
and flexible 30' or longer cord attached. Buy them for a couple of bucks,
clip the cord, and drop the rest off at Goodwill. The guy at Goodwill
tells me they have plenty of replacement cords, its one of the few things that
rarely breaks on a vacuum.
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