The current antennas in use are a Wilson SY-33 tri-band 3 element beam at 35 feet for 20m and a Force-12, 5 element mono band beam at 30 feet for 17m. I also have a DX Engineering 35 feet vertical for 40m and a home-brew vertical with just 2 elevated radials for 30m. I guess you got the idea that my county height restriction is 35 feet.


My first antenna at this QTH was the trusted 40m Carolina Windom that I also used for a long time at the previous QTH. See "Shack Startup" for details on this.

I always wanted to put up a horizontal loop or skyloop as it is sometimes called. There is a big cottonwood on the one corner that I could utilize, but the other 3 corners were a problem. I started investigating all kinds of supports and finally decided that the 4 feet by 2" fiberglass mast sections that is so prevalent on the surplus market, might be a good idea. Apparently these masts were manufactured for the military to support camouflage netting and I quickly confirmed my suspiscions that they were not designed to be stacked to 40 feet and be self supporting.

I figured out by using 2" thin wall steel conduit for the first section, I could drive that into the dirt for about 18 inches as the bottom section and have a 8 feet start. The fiberglass sections are then pushed up and inserted one by one between the top section and the steel conduit. By adding 7 sections I could get up to about 35 feet. I had to guy the fiberglass at the top and more or less in the middle. I needed 2 guy ropes at the back and 1 at the antenna side until the antenna was up and then I tied the temporary guy back onto the mast with the actual antenna serving as the 3rd support. The masts all have a pulley at the top, so I can hoist the antenna up and down for servicing. This resulted in a horizontal square loop with approximately 70 feet on each side at a height of 35 feet that I fed directly with ladder line all the way from the back of my SA-2060 tuner.

The loop worked well, but I did find out that a simple resonant dipole does work better on 20m in the exact east-west direction to Cincinnatti, OH. This was suspected after a 3 way QSO between myself, K8CRM and N0QO in Niwot, which is about 7 miles south of me. Ken, N0QO, has a 20m Steppir dipole, up 40 feet in a tree and K8CRM was telling me he was 2 s-points better than my signal.

I had enough scrap aluminum that I salvaged to be able to build a simple dipole. I had to spend about $14 - that is $8 for the cutting board and $6 for the 4 U-bolts. A bonus was the fact that I made my wife happy by giving her the new cutting board and using the old one for the antenna. I also happened to have a 17 feet mast and I used that as the support for this experimental antenna. It was quickly confirmed by switching between the loop and the dipole, that at just 17 feet, the dipole outperfomed the loop to Ohio most of the time. I did get some days where they were equal, but never where the loop was better than the dipole.

The next logical step was to get the dipole a little higher and to be able to rotate it. I actually have a self-supporting Hy-Gain 54 feet crank-up tower but I do not have the money or the energy to put it up at this point. I got three sections of Rohn 25 from a fellow ham in a trade and decided that will be a lot easier and cheaper to erect than the HG-54HD if I was willing to live with guy cables. I contacted a friend who also happened to be a machinist and welder and he welded me a new custom base for the Rohn-25. I also had some surplus steel pipe and we built the equivalent of the Hy-Gain raising fixture. I could use this to raise the 28 feet of Rohn and also later for raising the Hy-Gain when I get to that.

I pounded the three, four feet long stakes into the dirt through the base-plate and I was all set. My friend made a special protector for the stakes to make sure I do not deform them while pounding it in. I got 6 screw anchors from Coleman's surplus and installed 6 guys. The second set of guys are just for redundency. The dipole seems to consistently outperform the loop on 20m in most directions, but it does 20m only - so I mostly use the loop since I operate in the evenings and that means 40m and 80m.

I came across a Wilson SY-33 3-element tri-band beam for a very reasonable amount and I decided to replace the dipole. I replaced some broken alumuminum wire in the traps with copper and the beam works great.

The 80m horizontal loop came down in a windstorm in December of 2008 and I decided not to put it back up again. I rearranged the aluminum from the $14 dipole into a vertical for 80m. I had to buy the hub for the capacitive hat - that was $25. After studying ON4UN's Low band Dxing book, I decided that 40 x 50 foot radials was a good effort vs. performance point for me - so that is what I put down. This antenna works really well and I am very happy with it. I also survived a couple of fairly serious windstorms. I also think the low-angle radiation is better than what I had with the loop.

I heard several folks get excited about how good 40m was and I decided that I had to give that a try. I brought the 80m vertical down and removed the top 5 feet including the capacitive hat and the antenna was perfect for 40m. After operating like this for several months, I installed a relay between the top section nd the 40m section. By switching the relay in and out, I now had a 40m/80m vertical. You might ask - why not a trap. I looked at that but it seemed so complicated that I went with the relay. I had a K9AY receiving loop (not visible in picture) for 80m up for a year or two but took it down after I abandoned 80m.

In 2010 I decided that I would like to try 17m. I built myself a rotatable dipole out of surplus aluminum and old CB whips and bolted it to the tower just below the 3-el beam. It worked great and I was amazed how much fun 17m was. I decided that I needed to do better than a dipole and I reviewed my options. I could add a WARC kit to the beam for $300, get a 4el SteppIr for $2500 or get a Tennadyne Log Periodic for $1200. One day, while browsing, I noticed a used 5-el 17m monobander. This was most defintely the most bang for the buck. I was not sure how the 2 beams so close together was going to work but after doing some modelling I gave it a chance. It turned out to work quite well and I am having a lot of fun on 17m with the 5el beam.