Radials first the Home QTH part 2

Of course the day started cold, right around freezing with a light frost on the ground.  A bit colder than usual for mid-May around here.

32F/0c – cold for May 12th around here


The white frost still shows in the shade. Temperatures did get up to 53F/12c for a glorious half-hour. – Notice the old tow-behind cutter.

First job was to move the old tow-behind cutter that is a lawn decoration.  Had to be pried from the ground and dragged out of the hole where it had settled into.  The tractor’s hear lift did the jacking and the ATV dragged it away.

Next stakes went in to provide guidance for both the pattern and for the radial lengths.  I put in 12 stakes at 30-degrees from each other. I made up a rope harness that with a layout line worked out to the length for each radial.  As radial fields are not precision work the angles were spot checked as were the lengths.

Here is the result:

They are all in. We’re raking and leveling.

Soil type makes a HUGE difference in how the rental machine performed. The areas of wet clay were ugly. The clay clogged the machine, balled up and required a LOT more effort to basically drag the machine.

Areas of regular soil were easy, and soil with a some small stones in it were awesome. Clay vs better soil was at least a 8 fold difference in time and effort. In the clay a second person was needed to clear the machine with a long stick. Plain soil and soil with some small stones was true one-person work.

The “dirt” fill from trenching was 8-times easier than the hard packed clay

Much welcomed help for the project was Vern K9EME. Alison KC9MPL made us up some great field lunches and brought out some chairs so we could keep going right where we were. As the clay made each of us better than an inch taller because it clung to our boots, it was a strategic move to keep the clay mess contained.

Another view. The XYL brought out some chairs for our lunch.

One of the other conditions we had to work around is trees and tree roots. A fairly low but well matured crab apple tree needed to have the radials woven around it and its roots. I planted this particular tree and the other apple & pear trees you can see budding out in the other shots in 1980 right before I left for the military.

Radial fields have to adapt to conditions. I didn’t want to risk cutting roots on this mature Crab Apple tree.

Still some more raking to finish up, and the radials need to soldered to the radial ring.

Quick accounting of costs:

3 each 500ft spools of #14 wire at $38/each was $114, equipment rental with insurance & taxes ran $107, stakes and layout line ran $25, labor not accounted for (K9EME volunteered and I took vacation), the radial ring materials and ring-to-antenna cable ran $35 and I expect to run through $10 in solder.  So figure around $250 out of pocket plus around 15 hours of time.

I have the same flagpole to put in the radials on Washington Island, so I’ll see how that one works out for time and costs.



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