Tree trimming day yesterday

Yesterday, with the help of the boy, I finished some tree trimming that I started last week.

When I hung my G5RV back in 2014, I had a lot of trouble with the trees that overhung the side yard.  Mostly they were the neighbor’s trees, and while he didn’t have a problem with me trimming them back at least to the fence line, there was probably $500+ worth of trimming to be done if I had a professional tree company do it.  So that project hung fire for three years.  And since the side yard was the only decent place to hang a 102′ wire antenna, I made do…but about the most I could lift the midpoint of the antenna before the wire hit branches was about 18 feet or so.  The two ends of the antenna, conversely, were up about 35′ in the trees on either end, courtesy of a tree climber who was (ironically) working for the neighbor the same day the boy and I hung the G5RV.  So for the last three years, I’ve had a “V” antenna that frankly didn’t work very well, and was a lot of the reason why I got so far into digital modes.

Last weekend I got fed up with that, and went to the hardware and bought a 16′ extendable tree pruner with the long attachable blade.  I cut out a lot of the low-hanging stuff but, at only 5’8″, I’m not tall enough to reach the branches that actually mattered. So when the boy and the girl and the grandkids came down from Fort Wayne yesterday, I shanghaied him to reach the stuff I couldn’t.  He was game, and we got just about everything out of the way and the antenna rehung in a couple of hours.  So for about $70 for the tool — which is going to be used elsewhere around the yard, so it wasn’t bought solely for this project — I got most of the trimming done that would have cost at least $500 and probably more to have done professionally.

And yeah, I’m kind of crazy.  I’m a 57-year-old fat boy with medical issues, and probably should be having professionals do this stuff.  As it is, my wife won’t let me get on the roof and is skeptical of me climbing ladders, so thankfully I have a son-in-law to help with that stuff occasionally.

We did not, unfortunately, get the midpoint higher than about 25-28 feet.  There is another branch in the back yard that is interfering with us getting the line up any higher; we may take a look at that in a couple of weeks and see if we can get it down, since it’s dead anyway.  But we did get it considerably higher than it was before; the 450Ω ladder line that used to drape across the ground is now mostly in the air.

I ran a tuning test on 20 meters after we got things rehung and for the first time I can recall, I can actually operate on 20 meters with an SWR under 3.0.  Weak signals in the JT modes seem to be coming in a little better, but given that solar conditions suck, it’s possible we may have improved things significantly more than it appears.

Now that I have the problem branches out of the way at the antenna midpoint, I may experiment with dropping the ends to around 10-15 feet and raising the center as high as I can get it with the 40′ Spiderbeam HD fiberglas pole I’ve got in the garage (thereby making an inverted V rather than the current “V” (even though the angle is much more obtuse than it used to be!).  But we’ll see.  Right now I’m tired, sore, and need a nap, and it’s raining outside anyway 🙂

Oh, and one more thing.  I have to praise the hell out of the MFJ-1778 G5RV antenna.  Not only has it held up for the better part of four years without appreciable wear (other than the surface of the wire oxidizing, but that’s to be expected), we actually dropped a fair-sized branch on it by accident (the plan had been for that branch to fall away, not into; oops, we miscalculated) and it held up until I could get over to the far tree and lower it.  That’s some hefty #14 stranded wire, and a good job of connecting it at the center point, too.