Concerning the activation I have coming up, I keep reading that vertical antennas are the way to go when operating very close to salt water. I’ve made some pretty awesome contacts at the beach before, some of my best actually, and I want to increase my chances of DX a bit for this outing. I’ve had my Wolf River Coil Silver Bullet 1000, various length whips, and my MFJ-1979 telescopic whip for awhile now. They all use the standard 3/8 x 24 stud mount which isn’t exactly my favorite way to connect an antenna to be honest.
I feel like I always opt for horizontal antennas, and for good reason too – they provide excellent performance for what they are and how easy they are to deploy. Horizontal antennas receive no benefit from being near the salt water though. After a bit further research and searching the internet for hours, I’m coming back to a single antenna – the elevated ground plane 1/4w for whichever band I’m operating on located nearest to the waters edge. Most likely a 20m elevated ground plane will be my antenna of choice, though i’ll probably cut radials for other bands just in case. I’ll try 2 elevated radials to start with, sloping downwards and attached to spiral spikes in the sand.
I took the REP Design mount off of my truck and strapped it to a piece of galvanized top rail with some U-bolts I had laying around. It was really the only viable option I had to connect the 3/8 x 24 antenna with just items I had laying around.
I’ll try driving the galvanized pipe into the sand as far as I can, I’ve cut the very end of the pipe into a spike with my table saw. The Wolf River Coil & associated whips aren’t very heavy at all, the MFJ-1979 weighs next to nothing. Keeping in mind that I’ll probably be experiencing high amounts of wind at the coast. I’ll operate on the side that’s opposite to the Gulf of Mexico. The dunes that have been created over the years due to bulldozers & the wind have created a windscreen of sorts. I’ll try attaching radials either to the bolts & nuts where the u-bolts are, or somehow attach them directly under the base of the antenna. I’ve never tried an elevated radial antenna for HF, so this will be interesting. Some have claimed a significant gain increase with this type of antenna. As I understand it, attaching more than 2 elevated radials won’t increase performance that much. Hopefully this will work, it’s worth a try anyways! Weight isn’t too much of a concern on this trip, I won’t have to walk far to the waters edge, so the added weight of this beefy pipe & mount is no problem.
Update 06/16/2017 – The SWR curve on this antenna is just absolutely gorgeous (snapped a pic, but sun ruined it!)! 1 to 1.1 @ 14.175. I extended the MFJ-1979 fully, and cut the radial wires just a few inches beyond the recommended 16.5′, no trimming whatsoever. Got almost a perfect match in the middle of the band – that doesn’t happen often on the first try for me! lol