Decisions: A tower/Yagi or a QRP adventure?

There are three Big Things I’d like to do in ham radio and one of them got scrubbed this year due to work commitments – going on a DXpedition to VP5M with Guy N7UN and the gang. Instead, I’ll do what I always do – work Guy from each and every island he goes to and fool myself into thinking that by doing so, I was there in spirit.

Lame, right? Cheap thrills for my stay-at-home-self…

All impediments have been removed or solved for the other two ideas – research, finances, permissions/permits and other pre-reqs.

I now have to decide on what would be for me the ultimate QRP adventure - or a 60-foot (18m) tower with triband Yagi. The past two months have been an exercise in researching each in fine (and often frustrating) detail.

Here are the two options:

Thanks to labor prices in Texas (and deed restrictions where I live), I can get the Rohn 25 tower delivered (from 140 miles away) and installed with anchored guys and concrete foundations for an exceedingly low price by a professional who will make two trips here to do the work. Concrete one day, tower build 4 days later.

Option 2 is the adventure of a lifetime with QRP being the icing on the cake. Along with QRP would be motorcycling, writing & photography – a few of my favorite things.

The Trans-America Trail is a series of lumber roads, trails, utility roads and obsolete byways that extends from Tennessee to the Oregon coast, with much of it inaccessible except by off-road motorcycle. In fact, it’s made expressly for that mode of transportation.

America via its rural back door if you will…

Trails, turns, gasoline and hotel access are all marked via a series of roll charts and GPS positions offered by the man who put all this together – Sam Correro, in Mississippi. Check out Sam’s page here.

The trail accesses a town (for food, fuel, hotels) at least every 180 miles. West of Colorado it gets downright remote but passes through beautiful country. Everytime I read about someone else doing the trail, I think “That would be fun with a QRP rig stashed along for the ride”. I’ve got the bike (DR650), the radio (30m SST/Elecraft T1 tuner) and the time.

Check out this guy’s (Mark) website and try to tell me that doesn’t look like fun. Mark is retired as the ex-manager of the Dixie Chicks and obviously has the time & money to do what he wants.  Here’s a portion of his Trans-America Trail ride.

There are justifiable advantages and valid disadvantages to each decision. Maybe I’ll just go the high-tech route and flip a coin…

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  6 comments for “Decisions: A tower/Yagi or a QRP adventure?

  1. January 6, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Seems like you’ll always have another chance to install a tower and a yagi, but you might not always have the things you need to go on an adventure like you describe. I’d do the ride!

  2. January 7, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Are these two things mutually exclusive John? If you go on the motorcycle trip does that mean you will never be able to get the tower and beam?

    If you do go on the trip, how long would you have to wait until you could get the tower and beam?

    I think that the trip would give you some great experiences and memories and as you said, you’re not getting any younger.

    Go on the trip. You know you want to!

    • January 7, 2012 at 8:42 am

      No, not never but it would set me back a few years before I could in good conscience do something that is exclusively for me – I have to “build” to that status with a few “you” and a lot of “ours” if that makes sense. And if I do the trip, it wouldn’t be the entire trail. I would start in OK – the eastern half would have to be done later. Yep – I do want to.

      OTOH, a tower will last year round for the rest of my ham career whereas the trip will last only a few weeks and then will be simply a memory. Not a bad thing but not a tangible, still useful thing, either…

      • January 7, 2012 at 9:30 am

        It makes a lot of sense John. There are more people than just you to consider in this equation.

        I often opt for the more “sensible” choice in my decisions. In fact, I probably overdo it and rob myself of potentially memorable experiences in the process. That was why I urged you to take the trip.

        Your argument in favor of the tower and beam makes a great deal of sense. I’m not quite sure which way I’d decide if it were me.

  3. LA8AW - Odd-Egil
    January 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Go for the tower, it’s now we have the sunspots. When they are gone – the road is still there…..

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