If a tree falls on your antenna and no one notices, does it affect your ability to make QSOs?

Whelp, once again, a tree has fallen on the long leg of my dipole, and like the previous time, it didn’t have much of an effect on shack operations.

I jumped in the ARRL DX contest this weekend, mainly in an effort to snipe off some LOTW-capable stations to beef up my DXCC totals. Conditions on 20 meters Friday night were nauseating, with stations stacked on top of each other and voice keyers blazing at unintelligible speeds.

Maybe I’m turning into the stereotypical old guy, but some of these guys are talking (or using the voice keyer) at a speed that is just too fast for me. Add to that the regional accent, narrow filtering to knock out adjacent stations, compression, the hollow sound of single sideband, and whatever other setting the DX station is using to process their outgoing audio, and you’re left with a signal that is very hard to discern.

Stations moving at a slightly lower speed were infinitely more copyable (and enjoyable) to work. But I digress.

I had no issues completing QSOs from 10 meters to 80 meters Friday night and early Saturday. I happened to take a walk in the backyard Saturday afternoon and figured it would be a good time to check my dipole, since it seemed like the long leg of it was lower than it should have been. Walking back some 90 feet into the woods, I discovered a large tree had fallen and landed on the wire near the end of the dipole. It was basically on the ground. Since the tree was too large to move, I untied the dipole’s support and fed it under the tree so I could hang it back up. I discovered the weight of the tree had stretched the wire out by several feet.

Now, they didn’t pay me to say this, but Buckmaster makes a hell of a good antenna. This is the second time a tree has landed on my dipole and it hasn’t broken yet.

I don’t know how long the antenna had been in that condition, but strangely enough, I don’t think anything was affected by it. I have worked CW, RTTY and SSB within the last few months and I haven’t had any issues completing a QSO, whether locally or afar. At any rate, I’m glad to have it back in the clear.

I think I only logged 40+ QSOs in the ARRL DX contest with some very casual operating. I didn’t get any seat time on Sunday but I did manage to get out and walk in some welcome sunshine and 72-degree temperatures. Bring on the spring!

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