Bird Attacks Antenna, Ends QSO Party

During the North American QSO Party (8-15 and 8-16) I set up a Buddipole antenna to operate on 20M from a friend's deck in the South Dakota Black Hills. My friend Mike (KB0ZND) and I operated on Saturday and made many single-sideband (SSB) contacts with only 75 watts. The Buddipole antenna uses two tuning coils, one red and one black, to properly load the antenna. A jumper wire and hook-like screw-tight connector secures the jumper to a coil turn as specified in the antenna manual for the selected band. The coils, extension tubes, and whip antenna segments attach to a center insulator and the assembly gets hoisted to about 30 feet. A tripod provides a support base and three guy ropes secure the antenna against wind.

When I went out on Sunday morning to check the antenna I noticed a black wire on the deck and discovered it belonged high up on one of the coils! Apparently a hawk, crow, or owl decided the wire looked a lot like a meal and cut through the wire. Did it look like a snake, worm, or bug? The wire probably didn't taste good so it got dropped; luckily where I could see it. We could have made a new connection--the wire had enough extra for a jury-rig splice--but decided not to tempt fate. Later in the day we saw what looked like a bald eagle. Perhaps it had come back for the red wire.

It's likely a large bird thought this Buddypole-antenna wire would make a nice meal. It did its best to sever it from an antenna coil.

It's likely a large bird thought this Buddypole-antenna wire would make a nice meal. It did its best to sever it from an antenna coil.

I just ordered new connector wires from Buddipole and two extras in case of another avian attack. Buddipole makes antenna kits and has parts for DIY antenna builders. Hams will find many homebrew buddy-pole and buddy-stick Web sites that show how to create your own antenna with hardware-store components.

About Jon Titus

Jon Titus received his first amateur-radio license as WN2KCZ in 1963. He returned to the ham world in the late 1970's and now holds an Amateur Extra class license, KZ1G. Jon has college degrees in chemistry and has worked in the electronics industry for many years

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