A Thing of Beauty: It All Started with a Tree
|By Bill Jones, KD7S
The ARS Sojourner
|There is a tree just outside my office. It's a beautiful tree a big one (Figure 1).
It's the kind of tree that turns yellow and red and orange and gold in the fall. I've been watching this tree for several years. I often wondered if it would mind holding onto the end of a 20 meter, end-fed antenna while I ate my lunch on the picnic table at its base.
So one day I walked up to the tree, introduced myself and gently tossed a piece of wire into its branches. It grabbed the wire and held on tightly while I fastened the opposite end to a little homebrew transmatch (Figure 2).
I attached another wire, this one shorter than the first, to the other binding post on the transmatch. I explained to the tree that I was going to just lay this wire on the ground by its trunk.
Even though a gentle breeze made its way through its branches, it didn't drop the first wire.
On the picnic table below I connected the transmatch to my newly built backpacking transceiver. Then came a set of homebrew "finger" paddles, headphones and a pack of AA batteries in a plastic holder (Figure 3).
A quick twist of the ON/OFF switch brought the gentle sound of atmospheric noise to the headphones.
I changed the switch on the back of the transceiver from OPERATE to SWR and keyed the transmitter. I noticed a dull red glow from the LED on the front panel. A quarter turn of the tuning capacitor in the transmatch extinguished the LED completely. I switched back to OPERATE in preparation for the ultimate test of a new rig.
I called CQ. There was no response. I called again. Still nothing. But on the third try I heard my own call in the headphones. What followed was a brief but enjoyable chat with a fellow QRPer 900 miles to the east.
While neither signal was strong, each of us was able to copy the other perfectly. Throughout the contact I was reminded how peaceful and relaxing the music of CW can be.
My lunch hour was coming to an end and I reluctantly began to pack up. A gentle tug on the wire antenna signaled the tree it was time to let go.
As I was winding the wire around the outstretched fingers of my left hand, I looked into the tree's branches and smiled. Without its majestic stance and strong branches I wouldn't have been able to escape the hectic pace of an office environment for an hour or so.
Thank you, tree. I'll be back.
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Bill Jones, KD7S, an avid outdoorsman, QRPer and builder, is a contributing editor to The ARS Sojourner living in Sanger, CA.