The 40 Meter Wrapper Antenna

Wrap Wrap Wrap They Call Me The Wrapper! One of my favorite parts of the ham radio hobby is messing with portable HF antennas. When running QRP, I have built and tried several antenna kits from QRPGUYS.

One of my all time favorite QRP antenna kits is the QRPGUYS Tri-band vertical. The antenna kit was adapted from the original design by Joe Everhart N2CX. My first CW contact was a station in Texas. Not bad for 5 watts from Long Island.

QRPGUYS supplies the enamel wire, torroids, switches and PCB board, you supply the wire for the vertical and counterpoise(s).  Find out more about QRPGUYS kits here.

Remembering back, to some of the other portable antenna contraptions I have tried reminds me of the time I wrapped about 33’9”of wire (cut it at 34 feet and trim) around a 20 foot Shakespeare Carbon Fiber Wonderpole which I got from Amazon. Cut the same length of wire for the counterpoise. Like any other homebrew antenna contraption, the fun is to see how many contacts you can log and the distance your signal has traveled.

Wrapping 33+ feet of wire around a 20 foot pole takes a few minutes but you end up with a light weight antenna that can be leaned against a tree or lashed to a fence for quick setup.

To bring the feed point impedance to around 50 ohms, I used an LDG 4:1 BALUN that had lying around from the time I setup delta loops. I think I bought from either DX Engineering or Amazon.

The BALUN got the impedance down to around 50 ohms on 40 meters but you will still need a tuner with this setup if you want to tune other bands. Like any compromise antenna, don’t expect miracles, just have fun.

I am not taking any credit for this antenna since I got the idea from this video by VE3BF some time ago.

Amazon: 20 Foot Shakespeare Wonderpole

Amazon: MFJ 1919 4:1 Balun

73 de KE2YK

Antenna Launcher Plans

Antenna Launcher Plans
Pneumatic Antenna Launcher

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. 

Slingshot Antenna Launcher

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?

Android Scope Antenna Launcher
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.

Wrap Up:

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! 

73 de KE2YK

Holy Cow! Random Wire Calculations Made Easy!

 

TenTecR4030

Been hacking around lately looking for more fun antenna projects to do with my QRP rigs.

In the meantime, I’ve been having a blast with this old Ten-Tec R4030 which I recently picked up.

I’ts been quite awhile since I have been experimenting with QRP antennas or been in the mood to build stuff but lately I have been doing a bit both for some odd reason…

Anyway, to avoid boring you to death with my idiosyncrasies, I have been reading a lot about theory of UNUN’s, random wire lengths and other weird combos or for the nerdy ham in me.

In doing so,  IMHO I found a rather priceless article on random wire lengths.  One of the keywords on the page which lends itself to my idiosyncrasies is UNORTHODOX.  Perhaps you will get out of this article as much as I did. (Yup, I even compiled and ran the C Code on my Raspberry PI!)

The Article is titled Random Wire Antennas. 72 and Enjoy de KE2YK