Improving Beverage Receive Antenna for SE

1/2/2022 – With the upcoming Bouvet DXpedition, now seemed like a good time to improve my beverage receive antenna for the SE direction. The current SE beverage was 480 feet long, and is run on the same posts, 2 feet above the primary NW beverage.

Several years ago, I planted some oak trees on the north and south sides of my property, which is primarily a pasture. They have grown, and now are adequate to anchor the ends of beverage receive antenna wires. I selected an appropriate pair with a 310/130 heading between them. These trees are 525 feet apart, for an additional 45 feet of length for this antenna.

Selected trees for this project circled in red

In the past, I had watched a YouTube video by Steve VE6WZ and his beverage installation techniques. Borrowing heavily from his method, I commenced my work.

At 12 feet above ground level, I drilled a 5/16″ pilot hole to install a 3/8″ hot-dip galvanized eye bolt. At the fixed end, a 3-foot loop of rope and an insulator are attached to the eye bolt.

For the floating end, I began exactly as VE6WZ demonstrates in his video. However, with 80 pounds of counterweight via the single pulley method demonstrated by VE6WZ, the wire was still sagging more than I desired. At this point, I decided to implement a 2:1 pulley block method to multiply the tension to 160 pounds.

Overview of the 2:1 pulley block tension method on my SE beverage. 80 pounds of actual weight has tensioned this 525-foot wire keeping it about 12 feet above ground across the single span

17-gauge galvanized steel electric fence wire has a breaking strength, depending on which source for specifications you trust, between 125 and 176 pounds. Thinking that I may be pushing my luck with 160 pounds of tension, I removed 40 pounds of weight, lowering the tension to 80 pounds via the 2:1 pulley block. The entire span is still sufficiently high above the ground. With storms approaching, that’s the end of work for today.

Closeup of the pulley block arrangement to achieve a 2:1 mecahnical advantage
  • Additional plans:
  • 3 ground rods (1/2″ copper pipe, 3-4 feet long) at both feed point and termination ends
  • Soldered, rather than compression ground wire connections to ground rods

2022 Minden Hamfest

12/17/2022 – the weather was forecast to be cool, but sunny. WM5H and I drove over to Minden, Louisiana to the MARA Annual Christmas Hamfest. We got to see some friends and swap some good stories.

WM5H and W5WZ at MARA hamfest

In the swap tables area, I bought a set of Array Solutions band pass filters for a fair price.

Band pass filters for 15, 20 , 40 and 80 meters


I drove 4 hours over to Ben Franklin, Texas to participate with the KG5VK team for the 2022 ARRL November Sweepstakes SSB.

There were several firsts for me in this trip: First time to operate from the NTX section. First time to operate a Flex radio, a 6600. First time to operate with Steve KG5VK since he moved from Louisiana to Texas. Check our score on 3830.

It was windy, cold, and the ground was muddy, so I didn’t spend much time outdoors. I didn’t take any photos of the station either. I must be slacking. But Steve did take a picture of me operating!

W5WZ operating at KG5VK during 2022 ARRL November Sweepstakes SSB

High SWR on 20m stack

On Sunday 6/12/22, I was checking out the station ahead of our club’s upcoming Field Day. Running through the stacks on Tower #1, I encountered troubling readings on the 20 meter stack.

SWR on each of the three measured independently was fine; however any combination of 2 or 3 antennas sent the SWR to >6:1.

On Tuesday 6/14, I went to the cabinet at the base of the tower. I disconnected the feed lines to the three antenna from the Array Solutions Stack Match. Measuring each antenna with my Rig Expert AA-55 Zoom, I discovered that everything up the tower checked out in 100% working order.

Since I had several new Stack Match relay boxes on the shelf, I simply replaced the relay box.

Back in the shack, everything checks out!

I’ll troubleshoot the bad relay box another day!

Dayton Hamvention 2022 + Contest University

My traveling group: WM5H, K5ER, me, and KD5YS

Along with K5ER, WM5H, and KD5YS, we made the trek to Dayton. Brevity is the key here. We rented an Airbnb house nearby and commuted to the Hope Hotel for the contest activities (formerly held at the Crown Plaza/Radisson downtown). I can only comment on the CTU rooms and the contest super suite room. It was good.

A room full of contesters enjoying lunch at Dayton CTU 2022

The Green County fairgrounds @ Xenia are head and shoulders better than the Hara Arena. The only possible disadvantage is the grass infield for the flea market, which after a rain, can become quite muddy.

Slumming in the flea market with K5ER

Contest University was informative as always, and seeing all the guys and gals on the other end of the contest QSOs is always a blast.

Scott W5WZ, Yuki JH1NBN, and Hiro JR2SCJ in the Contest Super Suite

Eyeball Sprint contest – The most fun 5 minutes you will ever spend in a radio-related activity. Doug, K1DG tells you everything you need to know in this video clip

Re-tuning 12-year old coax stub filters


Of late, I’d noticed that the SWR on the 10 and 15-meter stacks on tower 1 seemed to be getting higher and higher. Sometimes our first reaction is to head up the tower to the antenna to find out what is the trouble. This time, however, I didn’t go with that first gut reaction.

Rather, I began with a very methodical testing routine, with my AA-55 ZOOM connected to the coax in place of the transmitter at position A. I then inserted a precision dummy load at the next coax junction. Next, using the AA-55 I swept the coax on all 6 ham contest bands. I followed this pattern until I found SWR readings higher than 1.2:1.

The first thing I found was my ICE 419B bandpass filter. Even in bypass mode, it drove the SWR higher than 1.2:1. I inserted a brand-new barrel connector in its place, and continued my testing.

The next problem found was on the output side of my 10-m coax filter stubs. I replaced the stub assembly with another barrel connector and continued the testing. Likewise, I found the 15-m coax filter stub assembly and the 40-m assembly to be causing SWR problems. More barrel connectors and the testing continued until I reached the distal ends of the six runs of hardline at the inputs of the various Stack Matches at the base of the tower.

The first step at remediation and repair was to test each individual coax stub in the 10, 15, and 40-meter assemblies. I found all of them to be considerably low in frequency relative to what I desired them to do. So, using the AA-54, I retrimmed each of them to return them to the proper frequency. Then I reassembled everything and retested. SWR was flat all the way to the base of the tower.

The second step was to replace the ICE 419B at position A and position B with Dunestar Model 600 filters. Following that, I again retested all the way to the tower. SWR was flat!

Things that make you go “Hmmmm”. My stubs reside in a shed, out of the sunlight and out of liquid rain. What caused them to drift over time and appear too long electrically?

The ICE419 series automatic bandpass filters are known to have low reliability. This and my experience with them over the years have led to their retirement in transmitting RF paths at W5WZ.

Springtime + Aluminum (12-m OWA construction)

3/27/2022 – With a box of shiny tubing from DXE, and an OWA design from my friend, I tackled an antenna construction project today.

Shiny tubing for tower bling!

Since selling my Lightning Bolt 2-element 5-band cubical quad a few years ago, I have not had an antenna for 12 meters. My DXCC count is low on that band, so I figured that with the uptick in propagation, now is as good a time as any to tackle this project.

Some time ago I asked around for an OWA design to use a 24-foot boom (salvaged from an old TH6?). Once I had the design in hand, I plugged it into EZNEC 6.0, and agreed with the designer’s conclusions. Download my EZNEC file for this antenna. I made a parts list and placed an order from DXE for the tubing (surely there are others suppliers around, but I can’t find them using Google search) and another from McMaster-Carr for the hardware needed.

With some aluminum flat bar cut to length, a drill press made quick work punching holes in the boom-to-element plates (I used a DXE model as a template).

A pile of shavings!
Stack of six boom-to-element plates

The Sawzall was employed to cut the tubing to the needed lengths, followed by a thorough deburring of all tubing ends. Measured and marked the “exposed” lengths of tubing, inserted to the marks, and drilled three 1/8″ holes for pop rivets. Pulled the tubing out, deburred the drilled holes, then coated the insertable tip with a copper-impregnated anti-seize compound. Aligned the holes and riveted the tubing together. The halves of the driven element are separated by 2-inches, supported by a 0.75″ fiberglass rod inserted into both halves.

With the elements assembled, I moved outdoors to assemble the boom and install the boom-to-element plates. After that, installing the elements was a piece of cake.

This perspective doesn’t present the antenna well

Still sitting on sawhorses, the initial SWR and R,X sweeps are nearly identical to the EZNEC model, and this is direct-feed.

Initial sweep still sitting on sawhorses
EZNEC 6.0 model’s SWR curve

I’ll update this post when the antenna is in service. I think it is going to be a flamethrower!

EZNEC 6.0 modeled pattern

4/15/2022 – Good Friday, and good Friday! I was off work. Woke up at 0400 and was wide-awake. Decided today was a good day to install the antenna. So, working alone with tractor and pallet forks, along with an 8-foot ladder, I was able to remove the KT-34 and install the 12-meter yagi. Initial tests are promising – worked YV4 and VP2V right away, 100 watts CW.

4/15/22 – 12-meter yagi now flying at 50 feet

A comparable commercially build yagi is the M2 12M4DX which is priced at $1,716.95.

The parts list

I used a Balun Designs Model 1115t – 1:1 Isolation – Suppression Balun at the feed point, cost to my door about $65.

Aluminum isn’t cheap, but this beats buying a commercially built antenna


This past weekend (Thursday, March 3 to Monday, March 7) was a road trip of 2,200 miles. I drove up to K8AZ for my 9th time as a guest operator for a major DX SSB contest.

As always, I thoroughly enjoy being with Tom and the ‘AZ Crew. Tom has built a fantastic station, and every time I go, there has been an improvement since my previous visit.

During the drive home, I was reflecting on these trips to K8AZ and how many other hams I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie with while there. I’ve shared shack time with 21 hams at the ‘AZ station: AA8OY K3LA K3LEA K8AAV K8AZ K8BL K8MR K8NZ K8RR KE3X N5OT N8AA N8TR ND8L W3YQ W5WZ W8CAR W8WTS W8WWV WB8K WT8C. Lots of fun and memories!

All of the scores are posted on, just use the search in the top right of the 3830 page.

W5WZ and N5OT at K8AZ

2022-Feb NAQP RTTY

2/27/2022 @W5WZ – M/2, ops W5WZ, WM5H, KD5YS

We played well together and in the contest, with an apparrent 4th place finish.

During NAQP RTTY, SWR and RF PWR bargraph seemed weird. High SWR, low RF output. RF power set to 100 watts. Outboard LP-100A power meter showing SWR in normal range and power in normal range. As contest progressed, we noticed zero bars on SWR meter, and a single bar on RF meter. LP-100A was showing 100-126 watts, with normal SWR. After contest, connected a dummy load to the K3 Ant2 (easiest to do; normal antenna connected to Ant1) and the meter behaved the same. It was midnight, so didn’t do any other troubleshooting.

Within a day or two, got a support ticket open with Elecraft.