Portable HF antenna experiments are fun. The latest contraption I’ve been gathering parts for is the Slot Antenna.
This design (new to me) came to my attention during a presentation given by John Portune W6NBC at this year’s Virtual Ham Expo.
Screwing around with wire obviously requires getting it up in the air. The one thing missing from my antenna junk box is an HF antenna launcher. The tuner in my KX3 works well when trying to match some of my antenna contraptions. There are tons of compromise antennas available for portable HF operating but nothing beats chunks of wire strung over the tree tops.
Taking the cheapest way out first, I began Googling around for antenna launcher plans. Some of the plans and kits I found use a sling shot as part of the launch system.
Unfortunately, sling shots are against the law in New York State. Owning a pistol with a state license or a rifle with a background check is acceptable but sling shots are banned. Go figure. Attempting to order a sling shot from Amazon confirmed that!
I’d imagine that Sling shots, fishing line and small sinkers are ideal for getting an antenna up around 50 feet. For an afternoon of fun, the sling shot seemed like a no-brainer! With my luck I’d be caught by the Ranger while activating a State Park.
What is an Antenna Launcher?
An Antenna Launcher is a pneumatic device used to set up wire antenna support lines. Compressed air propels a soft projectile (tennis ball) over obstacles such as trees. The attached fishing line is then used to pull up paracord for antenna supports.
Kits For Sale:
After Googling around some more I came to the conclusion that, like most other things in any hobby, people have developed kits and fully assembled launchers for sale. Prices range from around $50 up to over $300.
Cheap Is My Middle Name:
Ham radio ops always seems to start cheap when looking around for kits, parts, etc. On the low end, the Joplin ARC sells an antenna launcher kit for around $50 which includes shipping. The Joplin ARC antenna launcher got a 4.1 out of 5 rating from 26 reviews at eham.net.
Alan Boca Engineering sells a combination of kits and fully assembled antenna launchers ranging from around $100 to over $300. I’d have to launch antennas for a living before I’d spend over $300 on PVC and parts. I guess spending over $300 for an antenna launcher may make sense for big clubs who do a lot of outings or HF EMCOMM ready groups.
The Joplin ARC antenna launcher is probably what I will eventually settle on. For now I’m still Googling around for antenna launcher plans.
Know of any antenna launcher plans? Comments are welcome!