Now that the beam was outside, I wanted to put it up in the air and check the SWR with my antenna analyzer. I have three five foot (1.54m) sections of TV mast from Radio Shack that I've used over the years, plus a stake that is made to fit into the bottom mast section. The idea is that you pound the stake into the ground, put a plate (that came with the stake) over the stake, then the mast onto the stake, resting on the plate. It's definitely not for permanent use, but for a lightweight antenna for temporary use when there's no wind, it works fine. If I needed to leave it up a little longer, I have a collar that fits onto the mast with holes for ropes to uses as guys, but for what I was going to do, the stake was just fine. Unfortunately, I've now used the stake enough to that the top part (which you hit with a small sledge) has flared out, making it impossible to fit the plate over (which isn't a big deal), but also making it more difficult for the mast to slide on. (By the way, the stake that I got was the last one in a closeout bin at Radio Shack a couple of years ago. If anyone knows of another source for these, please let me know, I'd like to pick up another one or two.)
The next trick was to connect the feedline to my radio which involved putting a couple of sections of coax together and feeding them through the back door and into my shack. This worked just fine, but wasn't exactly ideal considering the outside temperature. Since the 756 Pro II has two different antenna inputs, it enabled me to perform a comparison with the 6m loop on the roof. For reference, that loop is at about 30 or 35 feet (around 10m) so it's at least twice as high as the beam on the ground. Although the 6m contest was still on, there wasn't a lot of activity, but using the loop, I did hear a few stations from New England, so I aimed the beam roughly in that direction. Sure enough, the stations were noticeably stronger as compared to the loop. I also noticed that many of the "birdies" (constant signals in fixed locations) were gone. I later realized that this was because at the time the beam was pointing roughly north-northeast, which was directly away from the house. When I pointed in the other direction, the birdies came back, which means that the cause of the birdies is most likely something inside my house. (On my "one of these days" list is to run the radio from a battery and to start shutting off circuit breakers in the house until the birdies go away, which should help me to figure out the source of the problem.)
Since it was getting late, I'd only made a couple of quick contacts, so I took the beam down and found a place in the garage to place it. I still need to order a rotor, then K2NUD has offered to stop by and help get the beam up on the rooftop mast. For now, I'll normally use the loop, but if I have time, I'll try to set up the beam temporarily.