A Trail Antenna that takes a Licken and keeps on Ticken
By Edward R. Breneiser, WA3WSJ
You're on the trail and you almost have your antenna up in a tree when a wire breaks and down comes the antenna. Has this ever happened to you? If it has, read on to find out about an antenna that is lightweight, but wears like steel. A couple of EPA QRP Club Members have been using antennas that are battle proven in the field. They've held up to sticker bushes, rough bark, rain, yanking on them and just about any punishment we have handed out on the trail. We have given this antenna all this abuse and not one break to date. This antenna is made to take a licken and keep on ticken! The antenna is made out of black stranded number twenty-eight gauge wire that is extremely strong, but still flexible. The wire is "stealth compatible" which means it is extremely hard to see. I had one of these antennas up on Abaco Island in the Bahamas and no one saw it for eight days. Even after I showed a few people where the antenna was placed, they still didn't see it. It was about ten feet in front of them and up about fifteen feet in the air! I told them to follow my finger as I pointed to it. That's the only way they saw it! The center insulator is made from a PVC tee fitting. The top of the tee has a small screw eye attached to hang it from a tree etc. At the bottom of the tee a SO-259 coax connector is attached with number 2-56 hardware and also glued to waterproof it. Before the SO-259 coax connector is attached, two number fourteen gauge solid wires are soldered to the connector. One wire is attached to the center pin and another wire on the ground body. This is then attached to the bottom of the tee with a wire protruding from each side of the tee. Each wire extending from the side of the tee is then bent back into the tee to form a loop on each side of the tee. The entire tee is now potted with epoxy glue. The unit only weights about one once. Now you must measure how long or want band you want to use the antenna on and cut two wires to attach to the ends of the tee. Now comes the important part of the antenna. You have to attach the wire to the loop by tying the wire to the loop using two knots with about an inch or more of extra length left beyond the knots. This knot should slip on the loop and forms a strain relief. The extra wire is now attached to the solid wire where it exits the side of the tee to make an electrical connection. That's about it except for tuning the antenna. The 40M version is less than 2:1 SWR across the entire 40M band. Just recently I soldered 300-ohm twin lead to a PL-259 connector and attached this to the bottom of the tee. I ran this into a balun and then to my K2 that has a built in antenna tuner. This configuration tunes on all bands except 17M with less than 2:1 SWR. I'm very impressed with the antenna in this configuration and I have received good signal reports from the trail. I now can feed my antenna with coax or twin lead depending on the situation. This antenna is definitely a winner!
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