I finally bolted my tripod to the roof

I have been going up and down my roof and in my attic for a while planning how I was going to bolt this tripod antenna mount to my roof. Well, I finally did it, and installed a temporary antenna. Check out the pics below to see the results. And check the words below the pics for details on how I got to this point.

Ah, here is a video of what I did after I got the tripod and antenna installed.

Two weekends ago (November 16th) I had a friend come over and he was in my attic while I was on the roof and we both had magnets that we synced up to find optimal spots to drill so I wouldn’t drill through a rafter or something else undesirable. I marked the spots with duct tape on the roof and he marked the plywood in the attic with a Sharpie pen.

This past weekend (November 24th) I had another friend come over to help me drill the holes. We double checked the spots with the magnets again and then screwed some 2x4s in between the rafters so the bolts would have something solid to pull against. Then I went to drilling.

My friend in the attic remarked that he had never seen a drill bit come through a roof from that angle.

I used “pitch pads” which are just pads of tar to make a water tight seal around the feet of the tripod. I bought a tube of roof sealer that fits in a caulk gun and put a bunch of it over each bolt and washer so water couldn’t get in around the bolt. I forgot to puncture the foil before I squeezed the caulk gun a bunch so after I finally did, it came out uncontrollably for a while. It was quite messy and the first bolt got a lot more sealer than needed.

It rained yesterday and I haven’t seen any leaks, granted it didn’t rain that hard. I took these photos this morning and I was surprised to find that the bolt that got the most sealer, it wasn’t fully dry yet. In fact, it seemed like the majority of it, other than the surface, was still quite squishy, just like when it first came out of the tube. I guess it will take a while to really solidify.

You can also see I actually installed an antenna. I couldn’t drill holes in my roof, mount an antenna mount, and then not install an antenna on it! So I took a 1/4 wave ground plane antenna for 2 meters I made a few years ago out of an SO-239 chassis mount connector and hobby wire and stuck it on top of a 1-1/4″ PVC pipe, 10 foot in length. I connected it to my radio in my studio/computer room/radio shack(!) with a 50 foot section of LMR-400 type coax (DX Engineering 400).

I have been quite happy with the amount of repeaters I can get into easily, and even a few simplex contacts I’ve made on 146.520 MHz. Someone from 25 miles away told me the antenna was doing a fine job, granted he said his antenna was at 100 feet, so he was doing all the work, but still.

I really like making local simplex contacts. I think it’s because that’s how I first got into radio. I got my ham license when I was 15 but before that I had a CB radio with a K-40 mobile whip antenna mounted on a piece of metal corner bracket stuck in the ground, maybe 4 feet up. I couldn’t get far but it was cool talking to random people nearby. It kind of reminds me of the Internet when it was still relatively new in the late 90s. There were so many unique websites and you never knew what you were going to get, but you knew every site and every screen name was someone else like you who was in on something special.

In addition to making local simplex contacts, I even listened to a few satellites. It’s amazing what you can pick up with an omnidirectional antenna through 50 feet of coax. One of the first satellites I listened to on this setup was XW-2A. I heard Scott K4KDR in Virginia as well as Ryan, KI4SIY in Charleston, South Carolina. There was also a station in Texas (N5BCA). Initially I hooked the antenna up to my Icom IC-706MKIIG as that is what I had in the apartment but later I pulled out my Icom IC-910H satellite radio and hooked that up. I even moved stuff around on my desk a little to make it look a bit like a radio shack. I also connected the USB to serial cable and set SatPC32 to control the radio.

I am really getting excited thinking about how I’ll be able to work satellites from this position in the future. I may also have to put up a triband omni antenna so I can work simplex contacts easily.

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