Well, “a” TA-33 is up, not the same one.
The upper bands have been heating up all summer and I was getting the urge to do something to improve on my antennas. While the HGSW antenna does a fair job all around, I wanted something better. Back around September, I was set up at a hamfest with a fellow ham, and I was sitting there, staring at a pile of aluminum about three vehicles down from my spot. I don’t remember exactly what antenna it was, it had some missing parts, and it wasn’t all that great a price, but I was getting the urge to get a yagi for the upper HF bands. I had sold off almost everything I had, certainly all the good antennas over a year ago, thinking that I would have long ago had the house up for sale. (The kitchen remodel is just taking forever, but it is almost done now.)
I kept looking at that antenna, trying to justify spending about $125 for it, but I just couldn’t do it. Finally, my friend spoke up. “Don’t you have a bunch of antenna parts at home that you can put something together?” That’s when the light bulb went on. It was pretty dim, but it was turned on. It was about that time that someone else walked right past me, with that antenna in hand. Either it was a sign that I shouldn’t buy it, or that it wasn’t going to sell until I decided that I didn’t need it.
We kept chatting about how and where I was going to put it up. I had long ago sold my push-up masts and tower sections. I had sold all my rotors. Heck, I didn’t think I even had a piece of decent mast to use. Then he started reminiscing about all the chimney mounts he’d put up years ago in New York. The light bulb started to glow a little brighter.
When I got home, I started checking all of my antenna parts and pieces of aluminum laying around in the basement and the back yard. It was getting slim, compared to the collection I used to have, but I actually found all the parts to a Mosley TA-33 junior! It was in pretty rugged shape. I had to repair one trap and splice a new end onto one element that had snapped off. The boom was bent, and straight is a term that could only be loosely applied to any element. Still, I spent about a week straightening, cleaning and repairing, but I got it put together in the back yard.
Next, a trip to Trader Joe’s followed. This guy has several tons of surplus hardware – brackets, components, antenna parts, cable, and on and on. A Saturday afternoon going through his place looking for needed parts is always fun. As it turned out, he had several chimney mount kits that looked like they were new in 1960. Perfect! That and a couple of pieces of aluminum took care of several needs.
What about a rotor? I had one, but after a day of testing and attempted repairs, it turned out that the gearing was too worn to be reliable. With no hamfests in the near future and contests comming up, I went with a standard TV rotor from the local Lowe’s.
Time to put the system up. There was a surprise waiting for me though. I checked the chimney mount kit and found that it came wioth 12 foot long straps to wrap the chimney. Unfortunately, the Chimney was about 15 feet around the outside! Hmmm. No problem, I just made a quick trip to Lowe’s again(seems like I go there every day), and picked up an 8 ft threaded rod and a couple coupler nuts! I cut the threaded rod in two, and easily took up the gap.
With the chimney mount problem solved, everything else followed easily. I had a couple pieces of mast pipe, including an 8 ft piece that filled the bill nicely. In an hour an a half, we had the antenna up and working! Initial testing showed a good match that the radio’s internal tuner could make perfect on any band from 20m to 10m.
What about antenna height? The TA-33 jr. is mounted about 6 feet above the ridge of the roof. That’s about 20 feet above the front yard or 30 feet above the back yard. (The house is on the side of a hill.) While higher may (or may not) be better, 20 to 30 feet will do a good job!
So how has it worked? I’ve run the CQ WW, the ARRL November Sweeps and 10 meter contests since then. In every one, the 3-element beam has been a champ. It has gotten me QSOs from North Carolina to Australia, New Zealand and Japan. I’ve made contacts with it on almost every continent (still need Antarctica) In comparison with the HGSW, the beam wins hands down. During the 10 meter contest, I made contacts with most of Europe, the Carribbean and South America. I made contacts with both European and Asiatic Russia. The US west coast was easy, as was Alaska. As expected, the east coast and nearby states were almost unheard.
In a word, putting up the 3 element, 20/15/10 meter beam antenna was well worth the effort at minimal cost! If you can, go for it!