Last night I put the final touches on the 20m vertical antenna I built the previous night. Looking over everything and checking it twice I thought I had everything taken care of. I looped a branch in a nearby tree and pulled the antenna skyward so that the base was just off the ground and I then spread out the ground wires at approximately 180 degrees of each other. Everything looked ready to go.
I came back into the shack and hooked up the coax to the rig and fired it up on 14.080Mc. Testing the standing way showed it to be high. It appears that the wire is too long. I may have over compensated so I'll visit that again in the future.
Applying the tuner I made quick work of four stations, all of which I got on the first call and sometimes in a pileup. HR2DMR was my first victim. Picking up a new DXCC entity, Honduras, was a great feeling. He said he was having problems with the equipment on his end but that I was strong, real strong. Next came VE6EPK, Peter in Calgary, Alberta Canada. Again I got strong signal reports despite the occasional QSB from the solar event that hit us last night. As pleased as I was with the performance of the antenna I went out hunting DX. I cranked up the DX cluster and saw a spot for ZF2JO on 30m. I hadn't tried the antenna on 10Mc yet but thought it was cut a little long so it would probably work well. Turns out I think the antenna is cut for around 11 or 12 Mc so I wasn't really flat. That, however, didn't seem to be a problem because 75 watts into a mismatched antenna grabbed the Caymen Islands on the first call in a pileup! Very cool.
After that I decided to QSY back up to 20m and clean up the shack. I heard Roger, KC0QJQ, calling CQ and worked him while he was at home in MN. Found out towards the end of the QSO that this was his first RTTY contact. Good sounding signal, Roger. I hope I print you later this weekend during the contest!
So what's the verdict? A $15 (less the coax) antenna performing on 20m and 30m after dark and still grabbing DX. Not bad. I think I'll keep it. This weekend is the CQ WW RTTY DX Contest so I'll definitely give it a workout and see how well it works.