Total posts : 45366
I zoomed in on your #1 picture above as far as the resolution allows and I didn’t see the antenna length adjustment mechanism that is called for in the plans. Maybe it’s there and I just can’t see it. This is a critical feature of the antenna. Selecting the best tap is the first step. Then adjusting the antenna length for best peak is the important second, fine-tuning step.
Wire mesh lying on the ground as shown is not a good way to create an antenna ground. It might be if the wire mesh area is extremely large. You need a conductive path to ground. This can be achieved by a combination of ground rods and BURIED bare-copper radial ground wires, the longer the better, to achieve low resistance conductivity to the soil. Generally the average moisture content of your area is a factor in determining the ground conductivity. If the top few inches of the soil is usually dry, you need to go deeper. 8′ electrical ground rods driven vertically are a good way to get down to moist soil.