The Amateur Amateur: 100 Degrees on the Roof
By Gary Ross Hoffman, KB0H
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
what am I doing up here? I'm sure I had a reason. Oh, right. The ARES
HF band project. (see
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.
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.
Installing the bracket for the dipole
Curious, though, that I don't
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.
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
"Bob, I'm going to take a break," I say.
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.
The plastic on the packages has
begun to melt. I guess they felt swimmy, too.
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.
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
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
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
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: Safety Officer and Director of Photography
E-mail Gary Ross Hoffman