[VHFcontesting] Height vs. foliage

David Pruett k8cc at comcast.net
Sat Jul 23 04:26:31 EDT 2016


I want to take a moment to relate a story that might give you some ideas 
what to do.

When I was a new ham back in the late 60s and early 70s, there was 
another ham in the city where I grew up (Livonia); his name was Mark 
Dabish and his call was WA8JUN. (We used to tease him about his call, 
because when he would sign a "K" at the end of his transmissions on CW, 
his call came out WA8JUNK :-)...but I digress)  Livonia had a 70' height 
limit for towers, so Mark had two: one with a big TH6DXX tribander, the 
other with a Hygain shortened 40M beam.  Mark was very active on the HF 
bands; chasing DX and contesting.

In the late 70s, the FCC had a short-lived program where extra class 
licensee that had been licensed a particular length of time could pick 
their choice of a 1x2 callsign.  That's when I became K8CC and Mark 
became K8MD (his initials).

Not long after that, Mark moved to Farmington Hills, which at that time 
had a 25' height limit for towers (perhaps they still do?).  Such a 
limitation would render his big HF beams pretty ineffective, so he 
abandoned HF and took up VHF/UHF DXing and contesting with a vengance 
from his new Farmington Hills location.  I never was able to visit his 
QTH, but he told me that he was limited to roof mounted tripods on a 
single-story ranch house.  I don't know what his exact antenna 
configuration was but I believe that he had at least 50 thru 1296 (and 
perhaps a couple more bands).

I don't know how good or poor his location was, but knowing the typical 
geography of Farmington Hills it was probably pretty mediocre.  But it 
never seemed to stop K8MD - it seemed that he could always be heard on 
one VHF/UHF band or another, and while he might not have had the biggest 
signal on the band, it sure seemed that he worked his share of good 

Some years later, K8MD moved out to Milford, so to be closer to his job 
at the GM Proving Grounds.  He found a place near there where he could 
put up his 70' towers, but even then he filled the towers with 
VHF/UHF/microwave antennas up to 10 GHz.  Yes, he was louder from 
Milford than from Farmington Hills, but IMHO his enthusiasm for the high 
frequencies was the same from either location.

Unfortunately, you won't hear Mark on the bands these days.  A couple 
years ago, he suffered a heart attack while at work and passed away.  
And with his death, SE Michigan lost one of its most active VHF/UHF 

I tell this story because I see parallels between your situation and 
K8MD's while he was in Farmington Hills.  My advice is to do what Mark 
did: put up the best antenna setup you can, get on the air and see what 
you can work despite the limitations of your QTH.  You might be surprised...

I've seen many 40' Rohn 25G towers with a house bracket fastened at the 
peak of the house roof support full-sized HE tribanders successfully for 
many years.  I would not hesitate to erect such a tower with a 10' mast 
sticking out with moderate-sized beams for 50 thru 432.  Regarding Rohn 
25G vs. 45G, I have both sizes up here at K8CC, and 45G is easier to 
climb, but its 2X to 3X the cost of 25G.  And as one other responder 
noted, crank up towers are probably 10X to 20X and have lots of hidden 
costs, like transportation and significant base construction expense.

So don't let yourself get psyched out.  While you might not be the 
loudest signal on the band, an antenna at 40' will be lots better than 
an antenna at 15'.  And while using the 40' antenna, you may gain 
understanding of what further improvements would be worthwhile and/or 

Don't assume you know everything from reading stuff online. Every QTH is 
different and what works or doesn't work may be different.  You might be 
surprised at your success.

Good luck!

73, Dave/K8CC

On 7/21/2016 8:32 PM, Patrick Thomas wrote:
> Speaking of VHF contesting, and my ongoing poor results with my below-roof-mounted 2m beam at the home QTH, I figured I would ask the experts here for some advice.
> Operating under the knowledge that more height is better, I am already at a disadvantage being about 15-20' below average terrain.  Additionally I am surrounded by extremely dense trees covering all heights up to about 50'.  The city has an ordinance limiting antennas to 42', although there is provision for a variance.
> Assuming I come across $5-10k, I believe I could legally get away with putting in a freestanding 70' crank-up tower, but so far I have other financial priorities, and I haven't yet won the lottery.
> So here's the punchline: Is it worth getting a small tower or roof-mount quadpod (total height 25-40 ft), knowing the antenna will still being surrounded by trees?  Or will I be happier in the long run saving my pennies and concrete, and just roving until I can afford something taller?  Due to my lot configuration, guying is not an option, but are there any other permanent-mounted, great-lakes-weather-resistant, tall options out there I should consider?  I expect to operate up to 23cm, as possible, but would expect most "serious" work would be only up to 2m.
> Thanks for any advice,
> Patrick / KB8DGC
> _______________________________________________
> VHFcontesting mailing list
> VHFcontesting at contesting.com
> http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/vhfcontesting

More information about the VHFcontesting mailing list