Just wondered if anybody else had tried this?
Up until now I have done all of my activations on VHF, but with the VHF bands seemingly getting quieter & quieter (and harder to get the required 4 contacts) I decided to resurrect an old Icom 703 to do some HF activations.
I purchased a telescopic vertical pole (which many SOTA operators seem to use) some years ago which came with a single radial/counterpoise. Frankly it was rubbish and I kind of gave up on it.
Needing a cheap & portable antenna, I decided to pull it out of the spare room and see if I could turn it into something usable for SOTA activations.
I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t performing because it needed a better ground (ie more radials) and it occurred to me that cat 6 computer cable is basically 8 separate wires for each length of cable.
I took two lengths of cat 6 and twisted the wires together at one end (leaving them open at the other end). This effectively gives me 16 radials in total laid out in opposite directions (8 in each direction).
I tried this configuration on my last activation of Walbury Hill (G/SE-001) a couple of weeks ago and managed a fairly rapid succession of 14 contacts in around 15-20 minutes (including 2 USA & 1 Canada). I was running full power from an Icom 703 (which is 10 watts).
At first glance, this appears to work very well for a portable full size 20m vertical.
I’m not sure what the power rating is on cat 6. I would suggest that you wouldn’t want to put any real serious power down it. I have run 100 watts SSB & around 50 watts FT8 through it from my home QTH with 4 lengths of cat 6 cables (effectively giving me 32 radials) with no ill effects. I don’t currently own a linear amp so haven’t tested it with anymore power than this. Frankly, I’m not sure I would dare put any more power than that through it, even if I could!!!
At first glance this does seem to work very well but put aside my personal experience, I wanted to get some feedback from people with a better understanding of antenna theory than me.
Any geeky antenna gurus want to chip in with your theories, opinions or science to back up (or discredit) my theory?
Anyone else tried this (or anything similar)?