The Lowly Longwire Revisited
By John Weir, AE4CU
My family and I rented a huge townhouse with a small yard for a couple of
years in Va.Beach, Va.. The master bedroom had
a large walk-in closet in addition to another smaller closet. The small closet was big enough to use for our clothes, so the walk-in
closet became my ham shack. Hey, don't laugh. It was the first time I had a radio room all to myself. It was cozy and quiet and
right next to the bathroom. There was also a small window,a light, and of all things a power receptical to plug-in my ham gear.
Why would there be a receptical in the closet? I don't know, but I am glad it was there. There were plenty of shelves for all my
junk too. All I needed to complete my ham shack was a desk,an antenna, and some kind of ground wire.
The desk was easy; a piece of plywood and 2 short file cabinets did
the trick. The antenna and ground was a different story.
I did not want to do too much damage, since it was rental property. The random wire seemed like the best solution to the antenna
problem. I went back to the 2 buck roll of hamfest #22 insulated hookup wire again. There was plenty left on the roll. A very
tiny hole poked through the ceiling over my desk allowed me to feed the wire into the attic. I could only manage about 40 feet
or so stapled to the rafter's. At first I tired to use it without a ground or counterpoise but it was nearly impossibe to obtain a
satisfactory ground on the 2nd floor. The wire would not tune very well on any band. I went back up into the attic and removed all
the staples thinking that might the problem. Using discarded plastic pill bottles for insulators, I hung the wire a few inches below the
wood, and it helped some. This time it tuned up, but an acceptible swr was difficult. My signal was not getting out very well either.
I answered many CQ's with few come backs. RF was getting into everything too, even at qrp levels. Luckily the townhouse was
old enough to be plumbed with copper pipe, and the master bathroom was just on the other side of the wall from my closet ham
shack. Another tiny hole through the wall under my desk, and a short piece of wire cut off the roll and attached to a cold water
pipe then on to my Versa Tuner, and I was in business. I must admit I did not have the best singal in the world, but I was
"radio active ."I made a lot of contacts with that simple setup on 80 - 10m, local and DX. It served me well til it was time to move
again. I stuck to qrp and cw mostly to be on the safe side, and I never experienced any difficulties.