68 Feet is a Long Way!

(Inspired by a similar story written by WA6AUD in the WCDXB)

    We were becoming more than a little concerned that we were missing the Z21HS that had been showing up on 160 meters most evenings. We had planned to leave the coax splice on the 160 dipole alone, high SWR and all, until spring. However, missing the TL8NG and the CN8GI on top of the Z21HS was starting to weigh heavy on us. We had been up most every night till at least midnight and even Red-Eyed Louie was starting to wonder about us. For, although we had seen these stations spotted on the cluster, we were not able to get their attention. We knew that not waterproofing the splice had caused a bit of corrosion and that a judicious cleaning would get us back to 1:1. And, our two meter beam we had so faithfully dedicated to packet was still on the ground where we had left it in the fall.

    Such is life in the world of DXing. We had cranked up our energies to fix the problems and had convinced ourselves that the DMX-68 was a lot bigger at the top than we had remembered. We were trying on the safety belt when one of the local QRPers came on the scene. He didn't ask as it was obvious what we were planning. But, as QRPers often do, he offered some helpful advice and comments. "If you were to fall off that tower," he said, "how fast do you suppose you would be going when you hit the ground?"

    You know something, we had to stop and think about that one. "Never gave it a thought", was our reply, but the QRPer was not one to be stopped. "Do you know that as an accelerating body, you would continue to pick up speed as you fell? That speed, of course, would depend on two things: how long you have been falling . . . or elapsed time . . . and the magnitude of the earth's gravitational pull. One combination of these factors has units of speed . . . or length per time . . . and according to my calculations, it would provide the mathematical equation so that you could calculate your speed upon impact. In other words, speed equals gravitational pull multiplied by elapsed time. Now, if we assume that you will fall straight down, and not bounce off anything sticking out of the sides of the tower, you can estimate your drop time to be about 1.8 seconds. What do you think of that?"

    Son of a Gun! At this point we were backing into a position of rather not thinking about it. "Why are you telling us all this?" we asked, for the theoretical was getting a bit too close to the possible. "Why bring this up now?" The QRPer smiled his beady-eyed smile. "Oh, I thought it might be useful information to know. I think I may have forgotten to mention that you can estimate the earth's gravity at about ten meters per second. Hope this gives you something to think about?" And with that he was off, hippity-hopping down the hill.

    It sure did and we took off the safety belt right there. The 160 antenna was doing a great job working Europe and the Africans could wait!. The local DX repeater was being fixed, the flux was rising a bit and the monobanders were working just fine on the higher frequencies! DX IS! But not on Top Band to Africa!


This story is in the public domain and may be reproduced in any format. - VE1DX

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Last updated on Thursday, 12 April 2007