Category Archives: Radio Field Craft

Do I allow antenna wires to touch tree branches during field activations?

Many thanks to Keysrawk on my YouTube channel, who asks:

Do you usually try to use an isolator or do you often let your wires touch branches by just pulling them over? When you deploy 20m EFHWs, for example, do you try to avoid having an end touch a branch and only have the throw line going over the branch? I tried to go through your videos and look but you don’t often mention how far you pull the wire up and possibly over. Thanks!

This is a great question!

Before I answer, I’d like to add a little context:

  1. I am a QRP operator. The maximum amount of power I use in the field is 10 watts, but 99.5% of the time, it’s actually 5 watts or even much less.
  2. I am answering this as a field operator, meaning I’ll be referring to temporary antenna deployments.

That said, the quick answer is no, during park and summit activations, I do not worry about my antenna radiator wire touching tree branches.

I do isolate the end of my wire antennas from tree branches and leaves, but I don’t worry about other parts of the radiator touching.

Also, all of my antenna wire has some sort of jacket–I don’t run bare wire in the field.

More often than not, when I deploy a longer wire antenna–say, a 40M EFHW–I simply use a tree branch to support the apex of the antenna if I deploy it in an inverted vee configuration. Continue reading Do I allow antenna wires to touch tree branches during field activations?

Radio Field Craft: Rand explores the handy Prusik Knot

Many thanks to Rand (W7UDT) who shares the following guest post:

The Prusik Knot… strain relief for Wire Antennas and Coax.

By W7UDT, Randall ‘Rand’ Tom

The Prusik knot is a simple, yet effective means to provide needed strain relief to wire antennas and coax, while deployed. It’s comprised of a simple loop or length of suitable cordage (of smaller diameter than the shank, Coax or Wire, it secures).

The link below, is from our friends at Animated Knots…. It’s a brief video tutorial on how best to tie the Prusik knot. Having the Prusik in your ‘bag of tricks,’ will help make your next field deployment be a successful one.

As seen in the instructional video, the knot is comprised of a simple loop of cordage, sufficient in length for the task, which is fine, but, I would recommend NOT making a loop. Rather, keeping tag ends for easier anchoring. These tag ends should be at least 12” in length. This is called an open-ended Prusik. Either way, both have utility.

To do this, fold a 24” of cordage in half, to make a ‘bite.’ Lay the bite over the shank of the coax or wire, and feed the tag ends inside the bite loop. This forms a larks-head knot. Wrap two additional turns around and through, then dress and test the knot to form the Prusik. Simple. Anchor (tie) the tag ends at a point where strain relief is best positioned. Then adjust (slide) it to load.

After deployment, I would also recommend leaving the Prusik attached. It comes in handy, when coiling your feed lines or elements later for proper storage.

The Prusik allows it to slide along the wire or coax while free of tension, yet it holds fast under load. Much like a monkey’s fist hanging onto a vine. The tag ends, can then be affixed to suitable anchor where needed. The key here, is using a smaller diameter cordage, than the wire or coax itself.

The Prusik, along with similar ‘Friction Hitches’, can be used in any number of applications in Ham Radio. e.g. Anchoring coax, joining linked antenna elements, power cords, and adjustable guying. The list is long, wherever strain relief is needed.

I would encourage you to tie it, try it, test it, and judge for yourselves. As well, I would encourage you to check out other useful climbing friction hitches… YouTube is a great place to start. I hope you find this useful afield, and to hear you ‘On the Air!’

73! de W7UDT (dit dit)

W7UDT, ‘Rand’, lives and operates near Boise Idaho, with his lovely wife Stacy. Portable QRP operations, along with his Jeep and Harley are his ‘vices.’ Your comments and questions are welcomed. My email is [email protected].