Westlake Hardware: My hackerspace?


It started as a simple trip to the hardware store. My mission was to find some 3/8" threadrod at 24 threads per inch. I was going to chop it with my dremel to a length of 6 and 9/32 inches long and use it as a 1/4 wavelength antenna in a mount similar to the one shown above. What I found were many kinds of threadrod, but nothing that would screw into either of my antenna bases.

I opted for a piece of 3/8" smooth rod without threads, figuring I could just wander over to the hardware store's selection of threading dies and pick up the one I  needed to cut a dozen or so threads into the rod. There, I found many dies, but not the 3/8" x 24 I needed for the project. There was a spot for the die I needed, but it was empty.

I finally cornered a sales associate, who looked up the part number, said they had one in stock, and even scoured the shelves looking to see if someone had placed it in the wrong spot.  What happened next took me by surprise. The associate went around to the back shop, pulled a full set of dies out of the tool chest, found the one I needed, and brought me around to the vise and tossed me some cutting oil and gloves so I could tap threads onto the rod myself. While I was working away, curiosity got the best of him. "What are you building?" he asked.  I explained that I was building a very cheap antenna, and explained that I was going to take it home and cut it to length so that it resonated at about 448 MHz. That's about the time he took me over to the chop saw with a cutoff wheel and a bench grinder. He found a couple pair of goggles and we got to work.

So there you have it. I walked in, spent a few bucks on a steel rod, got about 20 minutes of free shop time and left with a finished product. Westlake, you're like having a hackerspace a mile from home!

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