African Beverage repairs

After a week of bad weather, we had two nice days over the weekend with low humidity. Perfect to go out and repair my African Beverage.

All my Beverage receive antennas are located in the jungle, on government property just on the other side of the fence from my housing area. Getting to them isn’t very easy – I have to ride my bike, carrying everything I need, about 1.5 miles to get to the feed points. I can’t climb the fence (topped with barbed wire), so I have to go out the front gate and ride around the fence line. It is a small sacrifice to make to have great ears on the low bands.

Because of the distance, I have to check and double check that I didn’t forget anything.

Items needed for today’s work

Today, I packed pliers, torch, solder, wire cutters, hammer, nails, homemade insulators, electrical tape, and 700 feet of #18 copper clad steel wire. This is along with the items I always need: long sleeve coveralls, gloves, sweat rags, bottled water, sneakers, branch cutters (for cutting vines), machete, and bug spray. This all gets shoved into a backpack. I need the sneakers since my bikes all have clipless (not platform) pedals that require special shoes.

Out in the jungle

Once in the jungle, I have to change my shoes, put on the coveralls (long sleeve to protect me from sharp leaves and bugs, and douse myself with bug spray because the mosquitoes are really bad.

When I originally put up my African Beverage, I didn’t have any of the copper clad steel wire I normally use, which has held up with no problems. Instead, I used what I had: #18 stranded copper wire with white insulation. The problem is that the wire sagged, and where it did, the pigs chewed it up. The black insulated RG6 coax gets ignored, but the white wire gets chewed to pieces. I suspect it looks a lot like the pig’s primary food source: grubs.

Lots of evidence of pigs – matted down grass and animal trails.
This pig wallow is under my European Beverage. This antenna is strung with Cu clad wire that hasn’t given me any trouble.
Here you can see the white wire has come down, and the growth I need to cut through to run the new wire.

I also had to replace some of the insulators, since the trees have grown in the six months I’ve had the antenna up. Stuff grows really fast here!

In 6 months, this tree has already grown around my homemade insulator. The sharp barbs on the leaves are why I wear coveralls.

Now, I have four working Beverages again. I’m ready to try to work the last zones I need on 160m – almost all are in Africa. It is not a difficult path, however European and Japanese pileups make QSOs with this region very difficult.

These monitor lizards live on Guam and are very territorial. This guy is checking me out from a safe height in a tree.
This one is about average size – 2ft long. They get much larger.