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Author Topic: Winter is comming time to check your antennas and ground systems...  (Read 1187 times)

Offline ka1iic

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As the title says,  it is time to check our antennas and ground systems.  Make sure all connections are clean, without corrosion and other foreign matter.  If you have coax connector exposed to the elements disconnect them and check to make sure they are clean.  Any solder joints??? make sure they are bright and shiny... we do not want to have a 'cold' solder joint when the winds of January are blowing... been there done that.

It may not be advisable but I give all exposed coax connector a quick shot of WD40...  works for me but your mileage may differ.

Now here's one I always do and many times a year, it's NOT eco friendly to some but for radio it's a big do it now...  Around your ground rod...  make a cup shapped area a few inches around said rod and a few inches deep if possible... fill this 'cup' with rock salt and cover it with soil them wet it down as much as the soil will handle...  making a little 'swamp' isn't a bad thing.  This will increase your ground conductivity...  this is very important for both receiving and transmitting...

Oh yeah... make sure the rope or what-ever that is holding your antenna... dipole or what have you, is in good shape...  January winds have torn down many of my antennas over the years... until I got smart...  well...  I do forget sometimes... or get lazy sometimes, you know the drill  ::)

If using open feeders check to make sure there are no broken spacers and replace even the ones that might look a bit dicey...

While you are at it... check your connectors in the shack...  why?  Humidity, dust, vibration, etc etc can cause problems here.

A whole book can be written about ground systems but they are as important as your antenna... sometimes even more so.  One problem I have noticed over the years is... 'conflicting grounds' (my term)  I refuse to use the so called ground on the electric mains when I find there is a voltage difference between my station ground (driven ground rod with radials)  and the electric house AC system... Voltage leakage...  use your imagination to figure the problems with that situation...

WARNING:  Just because I do it doesn't mean you should, or anyone else for that matter, in fact it may kill me... who knows... but I live with this fact: "death may very well be the only thing I will do right the first time"...  ::)

Oh yeah... take great care with the inspection of your antenna or ground system...  I need your ears to tell me where the 'good stuff' is... radio wise that is  ;)
73 Vince
KA1IIC

"If you can't be anything, you can at least be annoying"

Troy, Ohio. 20m Vertical & low long wire E/W, Yaesu FT-187ND, SDRplay 2, Ratt Shack 2 meter rig, and other little bits of electronics I'm not talking about, homebrewed and otherwise... so there bleech!

Offline jFarley

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Re: Winter is comming time to check your antennas and ground systems...
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2015, 1453 UTC »
This is the time for pre-winter maintenance, agreed.  Chicago is looking ahead to a string of 70+ degree days this week, and no better time than now.

All my antennas are active, and all coax runs from the shack carry power of some sort as well as RF.  Good solid connections - both center conductor and shield - are a must.  Wherever possible, I use environmentally sealed connectors such as the Belden Snap N Seal variants.  Investment in a coax stripper and compression tool is a good idea to ensure properly terminated cables.

I additionally give all connectors a shot of silicone dielectric grease prior to assembly to aid in corrosion resistance.  A bit of grease on the threads of mating connectors will also ensure that connectors can be unmated in the dead of winter should a problem occur.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2015, 1505 UTC by jFarley »
Joe Farley, Near Chicago
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Offline ff

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Re: Winter is comming time to check your antennas and ground systems...
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2015, 1713 UTC »
Absolutely right Vince!  I dropped and rehung two of my dipoles last week and 70s wx is also forecast for this coming week so the time is now.  I don't know about youse guys, but some of my LEAST favorite things in life are antenna work with frozen fingers, outdoor connections that require soldering with a MAPP gas torch, and dealing with coax seal below 50 degrees.  Mama Nature is being extra nice this year.  Stiff is good - unless you're talking coax...  ;D
Hailing from the upstate boondocks region of the progressive paradise which once was New York State