But wouldn't you know it, Santa's sleigh must've been full when he headed for our house on Christmas Eve because he pulled up on Saturday morning in a FedEx truck and left a package he'd forgotten to deliver. And wonder of wonders, it was my Hexbeam! My daughter said it was because it was too big for Santa to fit down our chimney. I told her she was probably right. I didn't bother to tell her that our chimney is actually a fake, that we have gas logs. But she'll learn soon enough, I'm afraid.
Anyway, figuring that Santa might realize he'd forgotten to leave it, I spent Christmas day attaching a 40 foot telescoping mast to our back deck. Now, let me digress here for a moment. Do you all know how hard it is to find these things anymore? And before you say, "Radio Shack and Lowe's carries them", let me interject, "Not anymore, they don't."
Actually, it ISN'T that you CAN'T find them - they're out there (True Value, Ace, and Tessco carry them for online orders), it's that it'll cost you a fortune to have them shipped to you because they have to go freight due to their length. So an $85 mast will cost you another $150. Can't see it. So I did a little research and made some phone calls and found some in the Richmond, VA, area. Lo and behold, wouldn't you know that I had a reason to go right through Richmond a couple of weeks ago. Guess what I did? In case anyone on the East Coast needs one of these, I can recommend a great place to get one. The fellow even knocked 25% off when he realized how far I'd come (I neglected to mention that I HAD to come through there anyway, oh well).
Anyway, back to the hexbeam. After doing considerable research, I...er, I mean, Santa decided that the best and most affordable option was a multi-band hexbeam from WI4USA, Thom, instead of the Traffie Technology offering. I'm sure the Traffie Hexbeam is all that it is cracked up to be, but in the end I figured that I saved about $500 when I factor in shipping. On top of it, I spoke with Thom by telephone before placing the order and he asked if I planned to use 6 meters at all. When I told him that I didn't, he knocked about $50 off the cost and left the 6 meter wires off.
Thom was able to build, prepare, disassemble, and ship my antenna in about 2 weeks. More importantly, he was able to do so over the Christmas holidays, which was ultimately the determining factor, since I had the week after Christmas off from work. The packaging was first-class and the instructions (available for anyone off his website) were easy to follow - although being the bonehead that I am I still managed to screw up (an easy fix thankfully).
So, here's a few shots of the antenna installed. Unfortunately it was a really cloudy day when I shot these. The mast is not yet fully extended, I will be able to go up another 20 feet above the current height which I think will dramatically improve things. Nevertheless, so far, so good and I'll be posting some more observations shortly.