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August 19, 2012

Repairing a Quarter Wave HT Antenna

About ten days ago I was getting ready for a public service event and almost poked myself in the eye with the end of the thin quarter-wave whip antenna that was attached to my Yaesu VX-7R handheld radio.

The radio had been in the backseat of my truck inside the nice Blackhawk radio harness I use. Unbeknownst to me, the tiny plastic tip at the end of the antenna had come off the antenna since my last public service event.

Over the years I've come to depend on clear, fast-setting epoxy for many a repair job. There was no doubt that my two bottles of Loctite epoxy would solve my problem in minutes.

I mixed one droplet each of the resin and hardener with a toothpick on a small block of wood. Prior to doing this I had set up an adjustable wrench with the jaws adjusted so they would allow the antenna to suspend upside down allowing the droplet of epoxy to form on the tip of the antenna. I even put down an old magazine on the floor to catch any excess drippings.

The epoxy I use sets up in five minutes or less. My initial thought was that a droplet would form on the tip of the antenna on its own and all would be well. I dipped the bare metal into the freshly mixed epoxy, twirled it once to evenly spread it on the wire, set it carefully into the open jaws of the wrench and walked away.

When I came back five minutes later I was shocked to see there was just a thin coating of the epoxy on the wire. The tear shaped droplet I had created was gone. Most of the epoxy had fallen onto the magazine.

Epoxy on Antenna.jpg

It was time to start over. I did everything the same way, but I held the antenna in my hands sideways and twirled it for two or three minutes making sure the droplet of epoxy did not fall off. I was doing pretty much what you see glass blowers do with a glob of molten glass on the end of their blowing rods.

Before I knew it the epoxy had set up enough that it was not going to drip off. I then set the antenna into the jaws of the wrench to harden up for about an hour.

Victory! The epoxy worked great, and is really holding on. In my go bag I'll put a small roll of electrical tape in case it happens again out in the field. I'm sure other plastic dip compounds or other materials will produce similar results, but for me Loctite clear epoxy is #1 on my depth chart of repair materials.

Posted by Tim Carter at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)

August 4, 2012

Jim Mansfield - DOT Worker State of New Hampshire

On July 26, 2012 at 3:45 am ET I walked out to my pickup truck and placed two very important envelopes on the top ledge of the truck bed body as I loaded my daughter's luggage into the jump seat of the truck.

Because I was still 80 percent asleep, I forgot the envelopes were balanced on this tiny strip of metal real estate. As I drove up the driveway, the light wind fluttered the envelopes into the back of the open truck bed.

We traveled 10 miles to get to exit 20 of Interstate 93 in New Hampshire. As I rounded the entrance ramp and accelerated to 65 mph, the rushing wind grabbed the two envelopes and deposited them on the side of the highway. But I had no clue this had happened.

An hour later as I was driving into the airport to drop off my daughter I muttered, "Uh oh, I lost the letters. I left them on the edge of the truck." As soon as we stopped, we saw they were gone.

A week later, I got a phone call from a NH DOT worker named Jim Mansfield. "Mr. Carter, I found an envelope of yours on the berm of I-93 near exit 20," he exclaimed. He said it would be no problem to return it, and he felt for sure it contained a very important check inside.

He was right. He's also an example of great public sector employees. All too often we hear about the ones that do have bad attitudes, ones that milk the system. It's important to recognize those that are good apples.

Another employee may have never bent over to pick up the envelope. Perhaps another may have just thrown it out.

But Jim, who works out of the #525 Canterbury State Shed didn't. He did his job, and I'm grateful for it.

Thanks Jim! I sure hope your supervisor finds this story about you.

Posted by Tim Carter at 9:32 AM | Comments (0)

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