Counterpoise Using PowerPole Connectors
- A 100' spool of flexible, 18- or 16-gauge insulated wire
(Actually, you only need about 55' or so for this project.)
- 2 each of the colored Anderson PowerPole connectors:
orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and white, and 1 black.
DO NOT USE RED. (It's too easy to confuse with a 12V connector.)
Other items you might find useful:
- A spade lug or ring lug suitable for 18- or 16-gauge
wire for attaching to the ground screw on your radio or tripod
- Some twist ties or other wire ties to keep the wires
neat when not in use
- Sort out the parts. You'll be attaching same-colored
PowerPoles to both ends of each piece of wire you'll be cutting.
- Remember the famous advice: Measure twice,
cut once! Using a tape measure and wire cutters, cut pieces of your wire to
the following lengths:
- Strip 1/4 inch of insulation off both ends of
each of the above wires.
- Crimp a PowerPole pin on each end of the above wires,
EXCEPT put a pin on only ONE end of the short 1-1/4-inch wire!
(If you have a spade lug or ring lug, you may want to crimp it to the other
end of the 1-1/4-inch wire.)
Make sure the crimp is secure and makes good contact between the pin and the
- Insert the pin at the end of each wire into the
appropriate connector shell as follows:
10-inch wire: Orange shells
33-inch wire: Yellow shells
77-inch wire: Green shells
93-inch wire: Blue shells
120-inch wire: Purple shells
296-inch wire: White shells
1-1/4-inch wire: Black shell (one end only)
- Attach the short wire with the black connector to the
ground lug of the radio or your tripod.
Assembly is complete!
To use the counterpoise:
- Refer to the following chart for use. It shows which
wires to use to get the right length of counterpoise for the band you are
working. The counterpoise length in feet = 180 / F (MHz). (Yes, it's shorter
than a quarter wave.)
||Orange + Yellow
||Orange + Green
||Orange + Blue
||Purple + Yellow
||Purple + Blue
|40 m Phone
|40 m CW
||White + Orange
|75 m Gen Phone
||All except Green
|75 m A/E Phone
||All except Yellow + Orange
|80 m Data
||All except Yellow
|80 m CW
||All except Orange
It doesn't matter what order the wires are connected; what
matters is the total length.
- Connect the required wire(s) to the black connector on the radio or tripod,
in series for multiple wires.
For all bands except 80/75 meters, you'll only use one or two wires. For 80 and
75 meters, use ALL the wires EXCEPT those noted on the chart.
For best performance:
The counterpoise is basically the "other quarter wave" of
a half-wave dipole. (The Outbacker, HamStick or other quarter-wave whip you are
using is the "first quarter wave".) As such, it has the following
- The portion furthest from the radio or antenna is a
zero-current point (because it's the end of the wire), and at resonance will
have the highest RF voltage. Even at low power (5 watts), this voltage can be
hazardous. Fortunately, the PowerPole shells do a good job of preventing
casual contact with the end of the wire.
- Avoid dropping the far end of the wire into a wet or
conductive place so as not to detune the counterpoise.
- Since the far, insulated end is a voltage maximum and
current minimum, and the counterpoise is a quarter-wave wire, the end nearest
the antenna or radio is a current maximum. Since current produces a magnetic
field, this end of the counterpoise radiates RF. For best performance, the
wire near the radio or antenna should be as far off the ground as reasonably