Back in 1976 when I was first licenced as GM8LWR my only antenna was a half-wave vertical dipole for 2m which was originally manufactured for Her Majesty’s Forces (so the advert said) and originally worked on 139MHz. This was joined shortly by a home-made horizontal dipole, again for 2m and I could switch between the two at mast level. The horizontal dipole was soon replaced with a rotatable 4 over 4 for 2m. By 1979 I had invested in my now trusty old IC260 and a 70cm transverter. The 4 over 4 was duly replaced with a 6 element quad while an 18 element parabeam was (and still is) used on 70cm. Then in 1980, I bought a 23cm transverter. This only developed 500mW so I built a small linear amplifier which gave me about 7W into a 15 over 15 slot-fed yagi (a D15). All antennas were on top of a 22 foot scaffold pole and turned by the same AR40 rotator that I use today!
In 1983 I bought my own house and all my gear was duly dismantled. It wasn’t until 1988 when I got married that my XYL prompted me to get back on the air. Getting the antennas up was to be a 13 hour marathon involving no less than 3 ladders at any one time. The house was an upper-villa flat with no access to the roof from inside. One ladder was required to reach the roof, then a second with roof-extensions was pushed up and hooked over the apex and a third went between the apex and the chimney-stack to give access above the rotator.
In order to run the coax to the array, the roof-ladder had to be hauled up over the apex and installed on the other side of the roof. I then had to climb down the ladder in it’s new position and hang out over the side of the roof to feed the coaxes in through a convenient hole which had originally carried mains electricity for the block of houses. Then in order to get off the roof, I had to haul the roof-ladder back up and position it in it’s original position. Because of space constraints, I limited myself to HB9Cvs on 2m and 6m whilst retaining the 18 element on 70cm and the D15 on 23cm. This major undertaking was repeated twice. Not long after the array was erected, strong winds all but destroyed the 6m beam, then in 1990 it was all taken down when we moved to another house.
Unfortunately I don’t have any photographs (that I can find) of my aerials between 1990 and 1995. Our cottage had two chimney-stacks. Ultimately one stack supported my 6 element quad for 2m and 3 element beams for 6m and 4m as well as my HF doublet for 160m through to 30m. The other stack supported my Cobwebb for 20m through to 10m as well as my 18 element parabeam, the D15 for 23cm and a home-made 20 over 20 for 13cm, made from copper pipe and brazing rod.
Until 2006, my only QSO on 13cm was a staggering 704Km with LA/DB1DI/P for which I received the RSGB’s ‘Six Metres And Down Certificate’ number 21 for that band. Not bad for 250mW! Again we had no access to the roof from inside the house so access was via ladders ... two this time. However, there was another problem in that there was no easy route for the coaxes into the house. This was eventually achieved by removing a roof slate, cutting a hole in the roof and fitting a zinc sheet with a rubber gland, through which a plastic drain-pipe with a right-angled bend was pushed. This arrangement worked very well and it enabled me to keep my coaxes as short as possible.
The ‘Shack’ at GM8LWR circa 1980