Counterpoise Using PowerPole Connectors

Supplies needed:

Other items you might find useful:

Assembly Instructions:

  1. Sort out the parts. You'll be attaching same-colored PowerPoles to both ends of each piece of wire you'll be cutting.Counterpoise kit fully assembled
  1. Remember the famous advice: Measure twice, cut once! Using a tape measure and wire cutters, cut pieces of your wire to the following lengths:

    1-1/4 inches
    10 inches
    33 inches
    77 inches
    93 inches
    120 inches
    296 inches
  1. Strip 1/4 inch of insulation off both ends of each of the above wires.
  2. 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 wire.
  3. Insert the pin at the end of each wire into the appropriate connector shell as follows:Yaesu FT-817 ready for counterpoise

    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)
  4. 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:

  1. 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.)
6 m 43"   Orange + Yellow
10 m 77"   Green
12 m 87"   Orange + Green
15 m 103"   Orange + Blue
17 m 120"   Purple
20 m 153"   Purple + Yellow
30 m 213"   Purple + Blue
40 m Phone 296"   White
40 m CW 306"   White + Orange
75 m Gen Phone 552"   All except Green
75 m A/E Phone 586"   All except Yellow + Orange
80 m Data 596"   All except Yellow
80 m CW 619"   All except Orange

It doesn't matter what order the wires are connected; what matters is the total length.

  1. 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:Ready for 15m

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 characteristics:

  1. 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.
  2. Avoid dropping the far end of the wire into a wet or conductive place so as not to detune the counterpoise.
  3. 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 possible.