The Amateur Amateur: 100 Degrees on the Roof

By Gary Ross Hoffman, KB0H
September 2020

Removing tape from X50
Removing old weatherproofing tape

It's 100 degrees on the roof. That's not the “heat index” or some other TV weatherman metric designed to make hot days sound even hotter. It really is 100 degrees.

So, what am I doing up here? I'm sure I had a reason. Oh, right. The ARES HF band project. (see Coming Home to HF). My previous modifications didn't work out as well as I'd hoped, so I'm topside again to try another enhancement.

Either that or I'm crazy.

As before, my friend Bob is with me. He's acting as a helping hand, my safety officer, and also chronicling the effort with photographs. And unlike me, he is wisely dressed. I'm wearing a long sleeve dark shirt and long pants. I might as well have stuffed myself into a stew pot.

Well, my attire is actually necessary. Because of medical issues, I shouldn't be out in the sun. And due to medicine issues, my skin has become thin and fragile. I bruise very easily. Hence, I bundle up and hope for the best.

Besides, I don't actually feel hot. And there is a slight breeze.

So, why am I up here again?

I have to keep reminding myself. An antenna project, obviously. Oh, right, right, right. Bob and I raised the HF antenna wire last time. That improved overall reception, but didn't do much with regards to the ARES HF band project. We are up here again to try something new.

Literally new. As in two new antennas.

Putting up two new antennas necessitates taking down two existing ones. Well, I'm okay with that. I have four dual-band antennas up here right now to use for whatever new and interesting ideas come along (there is always something). At the moment only two of these antennas are in use. They happen to be the two I need to take down, but I can shift their functions to the two unused antennas with a little bit of coaxial cable shuffling down in my shack.

No problem.

A nice, gentle waft of cool breeze just brushed the back of my neck. I wish it would happen more often. But I still don't feel hot. Can it really be 100 degrees up here? My home weather station says it is, and the National Weather Service says that St. Louis in general has reached the upper 90s. So I guess it must be true.

Dipole bracket
Installing the bracket for the dipole

Curious, though, that I don't feel it.

Where am I? Oh yes, taking down two dual-band antennas so that I can use their spaces on the mast standoff and also co-opt their coaxial cables.

The main problems are slicing away the weatherrproofing tape without slicing away parts of myself, and finding an appropriate tool to disconnect the antennas from their bases. I have the right tools, the problem is usually selecting one that will fit into the available space.

Okay, done.

Ah. Yes. I forgot about disconnecting the coax from the antennas. Always hard to tighten and un-tighten. A pair of pliers should do it.

Gee, it sure is getting swimmy up here. I don't know how else to describe it. Kind of like I'm swimming......

"Bob, I'm going to take a break," I say.

Bob and I sit in the family room sipping cold water and enjoying the air conditioning. I never did feel hot, but that strange sensation of swimming was enough of a warning to get me scuttling down the ladder and back into the house. We stay there for half an hour.

Back on the roof, I am ready to install the new antennas. One is a 10 meter Hamstick, which I will mount vertically. The other is a pair of 80 meter Hamsticks which I will mount horizontally as a dipole. Both sets are still in their packages and sitting on the roof, waiting.

Oh...

The plastic on the packages has begun to melt. I guess they felt swimmy, too.

80 meter dipole
putting the 80 meter dipole together

The one constant while working on the roof is that nuts, bolts and washers all want to escape. Hey, who wouldn't? It not only gets hot up there, it also gets cold. And wet. So they will do anything they can to slip from my grasp and make a mad dash down the slope of the roof, where they will make a leap for freedom into the foliage below. It's hard to stop the more determined ones, as I can't chase after them. I may be a little crazy, but not so much that I'll make a suicidal charge down the roof to catch up with a runaway washer.

It is with great care, therefore, that I bolt the bracket for the 10 meter antenna onto the standoff.

Success.

The PL-259 connector on the coax, however, does not want to go into the SO-238 connector on the 10 meter antenna. It takes both Bob and me and an assortment of tools to convince it otherwise.

Once the 10 meter antenna has been mounted, neither Bob nor I needs to be convinced that it's time for another break.

Once our cool-down session has concluded we are back on the roof again. There is one more antenna to mount. This one will attach directly to the mast rather than the standoff. I fear that putting it up will be difficult and time consuming.

It isn't, but it is unwieldy. It's an 80 meter dipole composed of two Hamsticks. Once installed, its ends droop sadly. I don't recall seeing any product that will make it more rigid or perky-looking, so I guess I didn't do anything wrong.

I'm about ready to retire from the roof for the last time, but as I haven't started “swimming” again, I go ahead and perform one last task. I put weatherproofing tape on all of the connections. It doesn't take long, but my roll of tape does unravel all over the place. I will rewind it all once I'm in a cooler environment.

Bob and I take a quick break and then head out for lunch. I'm buying.

So, why was I up on the roof in 100 degree heat?

I must have been crazy.

Bob
Bob: Safety Officer and Director of Photography



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