Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Handiham World for 18 November 2009

Welcome to Handiham World!

Matt in the bucket truck lift
Image: Matt, KA0PQW, and the bucket truck lift operator, Jeff, KC0UOW, ride the bucket up to do some antenna work. Photo courtesy Don Rice, N0BVE, taken during Matt's antenna work in October. Don had just completed some work on Matt's 220 MHz antennas, and Matt was headed up to do the final inspection.

It's always a good idea to get your antenna work done before winter, especially if you live in Minnesota, as Matt, KA0PQW does. One may be blind, but that doesn't mean you can't do antenna work. Matt directs and does hands-on work on his antenna projects, and has some great helpers.

I have always recommended having at least one helper available for any antenna project that involves working on an elevated antenna system, whether it is on a roof or high on a tower. The reason, of course, is safety - if something goes wrong, the second person can provide assistance or call for help. Besides, most of these projects really do require at least one more set of hands - and eyes. You can use a spotter to check for hazards like power lines and buried pipes or cables. This goes for any ham radio operator, whether they are blind or sighted. I shudder to think of all the times I have not followed my own advice, but in my defense I was young and stupid. As a teenager, I navigated our family home's rooftop like a monkey - stringing antennas, hurrying down to test for SWR, then running back up the ladder to the roof to make adjustments - all without anyone else around. When I bought a used tower, I was up and down that thing dozens and dozens of times. I did buy a Klein lineman's belt but even so, I worked alone all too often. The closest call I ever had was on an old telescoping mast. I had just finished my antenna work and stepped onto the ground when the steel cable holding the top section snapped and the tower telescoped back down. A few seconds delay in getting off would have meant amputated fingers and toes! Worse yet, I did not have a helper around.

Well, I have learned a lot since then. I ask for help, so that I have someone there to do antenna work as well as to help us both stay safe. I plan to stay safe - and you know what? Staying safe means more happy years of ham radio fun!

For Handiham World, I'm...

Patrick Tice,
Handiham Manager