A New Skill and Antenna Leads to Success at Wormsloe K-3725

Many thanks to Teri (KO4WFP) for the following guest post:

A New Skill and Antenna Leads to Success at Wormsloe K-3725

by Teri (KO4WFP)

If you read my field report for Wheeler NWR K-0161, the trap dipole I used vastly outperformed the AX1 that particular day. I originally opted for the AX1 because, for my upcoming trip to Nova Scotia, my family and I will fly so space for ham equipment is limited. But the Wheeler activation convinced me to add an end-fed antenna to my kit for the trip, something several hams recommended. I chose the Tufteln EFRW QRP antenna.

Ham radio has taught me many things, one of them being I tend to procrastinate when I feel intimidated by a project. Case in point – the Pacific Antenna 2040 trap dipole I used in my last activation. My local radio club recommended it for POTA. (They were correct by the way – that antenna works well!) The project sat on my shelf for nine months before I got up the courage to work on it.

The same thing happened when I ordered a Morserino kit. I knew it would be a great learning opportunity due to my limited experience with electronics. Well, it took me three months to get up the courage to tackle that project. So, for whatever reason, getting antennas into trees fell into the same category in my mind. Now, having to use an end-fed antenna for POTA, I needed to learn the skill but had no idea where to begin.

Thankfully Thomas came to the rescue! I found his July 3rd, 2022 post discussing the various iterations of throwing equipment he used and on what he settled. Soon I acquired a Weaver 10 oz. weight, a spool of Marlow 2mm throw line, and a Tom Bihn small travel tray.

I next found Thomas’ Sept. 8th, 2020 post as to how to prepare the line (you tie it to a tree and tug hard on it several times to remove any kinks in the line), flake the line into a cube or bag, tie a slip knot to attach the weight, and then use one of two techniques for launching the line over a branch.

In my HOA, there is a wooded area that offered privacy and the perfect live oak branch, about 15 feet high, for my initial practice session. I opted for what is called the “granny toss”. Heck, if it was good enough for the arborist whose video Thomas featured in his September 8th post, it was good enough for me, no matter how ridiculous it might look. And guess what? Success on the third throw! OK. This skill was not proving to be nearly as daunting as I had assumed.

Now it was time to put this newly-acquired skill to use. Tuesday June 13th, I chose to return to Butter Bean Beach at Wormsloe (K-3725), partially to further my kilo pursuit for this park but also because I knew hams from my local club had used end-fed antennas there.

The drive to Butter Bean Beach from my home is a favorite. I take Ferguson Avenue which has a live oak canopy stretched over the road. The trees are dripping with Spanish moss and look like old Grand Dames swathed in grey boas.

Along the road is Bethesda Academy which used to be an orphanage for boys. The institution was established in 1740 by evangelist George Whitefield. Today Bethesda is a private boarding and day school for boys. The academy has a dairy and I often slow down to look at the cows with their calves in the pastures. You never know what you might see – I’ve actually pulled over to watch a newborn calf take its first steps. (How cool is that!) Today the cows and their calves were lounging in the afternoon shade of one of those Grand Dames.

I usually activate Butter Bean Beach early in the morning and have little competition for the space. The warm afternoon, partly cloudy sky, and breezy conditions had obviously beckoned to a crowd larger than to what I was accustomed. Moms sat on the sand while their children splashed in the salt water. A man repeatedly cast his net for shrimp. Another young man played with his dog on the beach. Boats traveled up the Intracoastal Waterway. Given the nice conditions, I couldn’t blame them for wanting to be out as I did on such a nice summer day.

I arrived around 1:15 PM and began searching for the right tree. I found an oak that would do with a large branch about 20 feet up. Amazingly, it only took two throws to get the line in the tree! I made a slip knot with the rope, attached it to the antenna, and hoisted the EFRW up in the air. So far so good!

However, there were two things I didn’t know how to do: how to anchor the rope to which the antenna was attached and how to suspend the EFRW above the ground when I didn’t have anything to help me do that.

To address the first difficulty, I made a slip knot of the rope itself and anchored it to the Weaver weight. It wasn’t pretty but it worked. As for the second difficulty, there was no foliage between the tree and my equipment to which I could attach the counterpoise to elevate the feed-end and coax. I opted to let the antenna be a sloper with the coax running along the ground to the KX2. I welcome any suggestions in the comments below for ideas to better address these items for future activations.

Finally, around 2:10 PM, I got on the air starting on 20 meters instead of my usual 40 meters. Within 30 minutes, I had nine contacts. I decided to switch to 40 meters to see what the band would give me. 40 meters was dead – in 10 minutes, I had only one contact: my friend Glenn W4YES and he gave me a 229 RST!

Since I have more band options with an end-fed, I moved to 17 meters. Again, the bands were not helpful. I heard nothing after 10 minutes and moved back to 20 meters for one more contact before calling QRT. In the end, I scored eleven contacts in a little over one hour. Given the band conditions, I considered that a success!

Credit: https://qsomap.org/

At this point, I feel confident I have the capability to activate parks on my Nova Scotia trip. I am not so naive as to expect it will be challenge-free. POTA keeps you on your feet. Stay tuned…

Equipment Used

19 thoughts on “A New Skill and Antenna Leads to Success at Wormsloe K-3725”

  1. Teri,

    My travel kit is almost the same as yours. AX1 and a packtenna EFHW for 20 & 40 meters. You may want to consider adding a fiberglass push-up mast in case there are no trees nearby. I have a Sotabeams Tac Mini which easily fits in a carry on bag and can get the antenna up in the air.

    Thanks for sharing the report. Good luck on your trip. 73

    1. Thanks for your comment Conrad. It got me to thinking – I have a Sotabeams Travel Mast I usually use for my dipole but couldn’t figure out how to support it since I use a pole or hitch mount and I cannot take those on the plane. But then I remembered I bought a guying kit for the mast! I’ve never used it so this week I will learn how to set it up by myself with the guying kit. And, amazingly enough, the mast will fit in the Osprey Fairview Travel Pack I am taking. (It just fits at a diagonal angle. That will leave less room for clothing, etc. but seriously, which is more important – clothing or ham equipment – hi hi! We’ll see what I can work out.

  2. Great report, Teri!

    It’s funny you mention that it took a long time to gt to your trapped dipole project. I have the same antenna, I haven’t built it yet, and I think I’ve had it nearly one year now! Time to put that antenna together. 🙂

    You are going to have so much fun on this trip!


  3. Always nice to see Teri’s activation reports. Exciting to see a relatively new ham learn CW ( shame less plug. LICW) and enjoying POTA.!

    Take it from an old ham, POTA is the nicest addition to the hobby in years and years.

    de Dr. Gil K4JST

  4. Great Report Teri!

    I loved the candid details of procrastination and timid field practice! I too suffer from ProC…

    Your deployment was successful, the activation as well, and the expeience & post helped us all to learn something new.

    Two things… the park merited a picnic, and the beautiful drive along Ferguson Avenue made me shout: ‘Run Forest, run!”

    Thanks & post again!

    72! de W7UDT

  5. Very Cool! EFHWs are very useful, and usually what I take out in the field. They’re easy to pack, and work pretty well IMO. ONce you get the hang of it, slinging them over a branch above you is no big deal. It sounds like you had fun on your POTA adventure. 🙂

    Ellen – AF9J

    1. Ellen – Thanks. I did have fun and will now not hesitate to put an antenna up in a tree! Looking forward to the next activation when I can practice my skills again.

  6. I have to say that Thomas has provided a lot of inspiration and guidance for me with regard to throw lines and accessories. Starting from his information I’ve sought out other videos from professional arborists and learned a lot about lines, weights, knots, etc. Thanks so much, Thomas!
    Now, on one point, boy do I feel dumb. On a recent outing with a new throw line and weight (https://kr8l.wordpress.com/2023/06/15/minimal-3-fer/) I had the same question about “now where do I anchor this?”. I never thought about just tying off to my throw weight. That’s a brilliant solution that I’ll be using next time! (One idea that I picked up recently is to use two weights, one to throw and one to anchor the near end of your line. I throw an 8 and use a 12 as an anchor. That 12 oz. weight on the ground will stop the flying 8 oz. dead in its tracks! I’ll be able to use them for a combined 20 oz. anchor weight.)
    Finally, FB on trying out the random wire antenna. The KX2’s wide range tuner really does make that a good option, and band changing is as simple as hitting the ATU button again. I’ve been using antennas like that for over 20 years, starting with my FT-817 and a homebrew L-network tuner that I designed to attach directly to the back of the radio.

    1. I enjoyed your work I have looking for something that I can use instead of climbing my 60 foot tower to put up another beam and rotator.
      I will consider the in fed to solve my broblem.
      KB4WQ Richard Del Rio SMSGT USAF RETIRED. Been a ham for over 40 years but spent many years over seas.

    2. William – Well, I am glad you found my solution helpful. I purchased two throw weights – one 8 oz and the other 10 oz – as a friend suggested I might want to have a backup. Your idea of having that heavier weight as an anchor is a good idea, too. It was breezy the day of my activation but mildly so. Having a heavier weight might be a better solution in windier conditions so thanks for the idea.

      Yes – I fell in love with EFRW antenna! I have EFHW antennas at my home QTH (I live in a HOA so wires are less noticeable) and I love being able to easily switch from band to band with them. I am so looking forward to doing this more readily in the field and using bands for POTA I typically have not in the past. Given how flaky the bands have been lately, having more options I think is a good idea.

  7. I’ve spent years refining the classic sling-shot line launcher, which is what I always use to hang antennas, but for several reasons I’m really interested in the arborist line. One stat I rarely find online is how high you can expect to get. Is 100 feet reasonable?

    Height is everything with the random wires I usually use. On the other hand, when I use my 20m band-tuned EFHWA, I actually have difficulty _only_ shooting thirty-odd feet high with the sling shot device. Just one of the reasons I’m drawn to the arborist line.

    1. Without using an arborists’ sling shot (the super large variety) I don’t think it’s possible to launch a line 100′.

      So in my experience, it’s super rare that I need a branch higher than 45-50′ which is within reach of a throw line. In fact, my longest random wire antenna is 75 or so feet and I never configure it as a vertical so I don’t need 100′–rather, I configure it in an inverted vee shape. 45-50′ is plenty high for that. My EFRW is only 31′ feet long, so I raise it as a vertical more often than not–it serves me 60-6 meters.

      I’ve never tried to raise a proper 80M vertical in the field, because I’m usually no lower than 40 meters, and typically these days on 20M and higher. Those are no longer than 33′ or so.

      1. Thanks, Thomas. My usual longwire is 74′, and I try to get it as vertical as possible for height. So a typical throw with the sling shot line-launcher is 60 feet or so. Given average conditions, the launcher can do that easily.

        I’ve hung longer wires up to 100 feet, when conditions were optimum and I had a longer wire. But 60+ to 70+ is about spec.

        But 45 isn’t bad either, especially in dense trees. That’s one reason I’m interested in the arborist line: shooting monofil in that situation is often prohibitive. I end up settling for 45 feet anyway, after several tries and much futzing around and swearing instead of getting on the air.

        If the throwing bag could accomplish that on the first or second try in those situations, that would be worth acquiring the equipment and skill.

        Thanks again! Very useful info.

  8. Have been using my 12oz arborist throw bag…itll give ya a workout trying to get it up over a 45ft branch..of course after the first toss I decided wearing gloves was alot smarter move (i.e. minimize rope burn. ha ha ). Recently picked up the 8oz bag but havent had a chance to give it a toss up into the highest point of my oak tree.

    BTW…interesting cw paddle there Teri.

    1. Brad – Yes, the paddle is “different”. My friend Glenn W4YES loaned it to me while I wait for the SOTA mini paddle from CW Morse to come back in stock. He had it sitting in a heavy base with which I didn’t want to travel. So he improvised with what he could find and found a way to support it with a lighter base and still maintain the height needed to use the paddles. It works thanks to Fun-tak which keeps it in place to whatever hard surface I adhere it. In ham radio, experimentation is the name of the game some days!

      As for rope burn, I was warned about that and have so far managed to avoid it, not just in tossing the rope but also its placement on the ground to ensure my legs or any other body parts are not caught by it. A light pair of gloves, though, might be a good idea so thanks for relaying that along.

  9. Teri, to hold the throwline to whatever is available, be it a stone, a weight or whatever is available, use a piece of thin cord and learn how to tie a “prusik” (or a “marchand”) knot, that will just do it 😀

    1. Andrew – This hobby is certainly teaching me the importance of knowing how to tie knots! Thanks for the suggestion.

  10. Teri…outstanding and very useful post. Our CW journeys have been very similar. I even believe we both started learning CW at LICW club in early 2022. Like you, I’ve also been highly influenced by K4SWL and his QRPer empire. What an interesting journey it’s been and what a great blessing I’ve gotten from the QRPer community. Like you I’ve recently (based on QRPer influence) been draw to using an EFRW during portable deployments. If you’re interested I started a thread over on the QRPer.com forum about “Best Practices for an EFRW Setup” where I’m trying pick the brains of experts to improve my QRP antenna skills. Thanks much for your great posts and looking forward to many more.

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