How long is the counterpoise? The overall length including the "pigtail" that is attached to the antenna bracket is the appropriate length for the frequency based on Bonnie KQ6XA's research. Here are some excerpts from the Counterpoise_Radial_Length file on the HFPack yahoo group:Counterpoise wire touching Earth
I am using a bass pro big country pack. I picked this backpack for it's external frame, hydration pack and because it fit me! The frame and padding are set up really nice. They do a really good job of letting air circulate around. I was really surprised when I felt a breeze come across my back while wearing it.
I found some great brackets at a truck stop for mounting antennas. They are Barjan 300-306, "GM Models" prior to 1990 Mirror Mount. I did grind down the part of the bracket near to the pack.
One mount is configured with NMO so I have a lot of versatility with it. Using adapters can go to UHF or BNC F. Coax is terminated with BNC.
The other mount is standard 3/8-24 with a quick-detach stud. Connected a detachable counterpoise wire to one of the nuts on the mount.
I use a Kenwood TH-F6a mated with a Comet SBB-5 dual band antenna. The rig was an easy choice. The main factors were simultaneous dual VFO's, all-MODE recieve and excellent battery life. I can keep one VFO on a local repeater or simplex frequency. The other VFO can be monitoring 18.157.5 USB. So, then I don't drain the HF rig's battery in RX.
The antenna was a tough choice. In the end I went with a Comet SBB-5 because I like the black color with the pack, the height is just right, flexibility is good and I had one on hand. Why do I care about height for this antenna? As you wear the pack it is on the right side. I did this because typically a brush/trees that hang over the trail are lower on the outside. I'm going to see how this works out, but I will be very tempted to get one of the new Comet EX-510B NMO 6/2/440 antennas. It doesn't take much additional antenna on the F6a to really bring up the receive on HF.
The Yaesu FT-817 is the rig that I use on the HF/50 side of the house. I use the homebrew vertical for the antenna.
I have a length of 14 gauge wire that has ring connector on one end and a female spade connector on the other. The ring connector is attached to the antenna bracket. The wire is routed down around the outside of the pack to where it terminates in the female spade connector. I then attach a counterpoise wire that has a male spade connector on the end. With this arrangement if the counterpoise gets hung up on something, it disconnects. Otherwise, the wire could pull on you causing you to lose your balance and fall. Not a good thing.
Now, the question becomes where to put the quick disconnect? Because of the way I have my wire routed I opted to put it a couple feet away from the bracket, past the end of the pack. My thought is to put the quick disconnect far enough out that you can easily reach back, grab the wire, pull the connector around in front of you and plug the dragging part back in. Saves you from having to take the pack off or from practicing to be a contortionist.
Also, take a piece of flagging tape and tie it to the part of the dragging counterpoise that is by the quick disconnect. Now when it comes unplugged you'll be able to quickly spot it. Optionally, use a brightly colored wire. But be prepared to have LOTS of people tell you, "you're dragging a wire."
I've also added a yellow ribbon (HFPack identification) to the VHF/UHF antenna. Thin, ribbed cloth type, melted the ends to keep from fraying.
On my HF antenna I added a US flag to the top. I used a flag that came on a round tube. Cut the top off the tube and again below the flag. Secured to the whip by putting zip-ties in place above and below the flag. HINT: wrap the zip tie twice and through itself to really snug it up! Now the flag waves freely when /PM.
When in an urban environment the ribbon and flag also serve as added visual attention getters. Especially handy when you're in hilly terrain.
I sometimes find myself out during the twilight hours. For those times I have an LED flasher on the back of the pack. I also keep and LED flashlight in one of the pack pockets.
Plan your route, follow your route and make sure someone knows you're route and expected times. Pretty much your standard hiking/backpacking safety rules apply.
Be safe and have fun!
73 -- de Bryan, KØEMT