IN THE BAG:
John Kalotai, N1OLO|
Special to The ARS Sojourner
Great! I bought the bag and line, but how do I use it? The helpful salesman
was a former tree climber and gave me a few pointers. First start out by attaching
the line to the bag. Because the slick line is so slick its difficult to
tie some knots. The bowline is a fine knot to use with slick line. Tie the slick
line to the D ring using a bowline. You will also want to put an overhand
knot approximately 18 inches up from the D ring.
Next, you will need some type of container to hold your line. There is a commercial
stuff bag that attaches to the tree climbers belt; however, a 3 lb. coffee
can will also work. The line is looped into the can. I really liked the stuff
sack myself because its easier to carry in my pack, but I do have a kit set up
in a can.
To deploy the line, hold the line at the over hand knot you made earlier.
This is important! That knot assures you hold the line in the same place every
time. When you swing the throw bag and line the arc will always be the same giving
you some consistency. Stand facing your target, hold the bag in your dominant
hand and set your feet with the foot opposite your dominant hand forward. So,
if you are right-handed, the left foot will be forward.
Make sure that your line is not fouled on an object. Standing on the line
is also counter productive. Please make sure you dont have the line running
between your legs. Start to swing the line back and forth. On your forward swing
release the line near the end of the swing. The release point will vary depending
on high an arc you need. This release point is a matter of feel and accuracy comes
How far from the tree do I stand? you may well ask. The higher
you want the line to go the further back you will have to stand. Again, judging
this distance comes with practice.
After my shift was done I brought my new toy home and started to play. My
first throw went wide of my target but the line and weight dropped through the
If you miss on the first try you have three choices:
1. pull all 150 feet of the line through the tree and throw again
2. pull the throw bag back up through the tree and back to you
3. live with where the line ended up
I suggest that you pull the line through rather try to pull the weight back through. When the bag does get stuck and you pull on the line the throw bag will inevitably come shooting back at you.
If you do pull the line through the tree dont be too concerned about stuffing the line back into the can or sack unless you are in some rough terrain. If you are standing on grass or other relatively smooth surface you will be able to simply lay the line out on the ground. I spent the next half hour practicing and getting comfortable with putting the bag where I wanted it to go. After I replaced my downed dipole (that squirrel I was training chewed through the support rope gathering material for a nest for his lady friend) I was ready to go back to the park!
I returned to the park and found my stand of oaks. I launched the line, hit that branch at 45 feet and pulled up an end fed wire using the slick line as the support. I spent the rest of the afternoon playing around on 20 meters and had a great time.
Now for some words of caution:
1. You are throwing 10 to 16 ounces of metal into the air. Make sure you know who and what is down-range. I personally have a cracked windshield to show for my early efforts!
2. Check the area carefully for power lines. Though the polypropylene is non-conductive you can pull wires down. If the line gets sufficiently wet it can potentially become a conductor. While the possibility of this happening is low is still something to be considered.
3. Wearing leather gloves is not a bad idea. Ive gotten blisters while practicing.
The throw bag and line are an easy to carry, versatile means of launching and supporting your antennas. Ive used it at Field Day to place antenna support lines over some lamp poles and on a Dxpedition to get the support lines over a tree. Of course I use it most of the time when I operate in the woods. The throw bag and two lengths of slick line are always in my go bag. I sure you too will find it a welcome and versatile addition. Have fun!
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John Kalotai, N1OLO, is an avid QRPer, PSK operator and outdoorsman living in Trumbull, CT. For additional information: http://www.hamsource.com/