[SEDXC] Damn wire antennas

Bill Coleman aa4lr at arrl.net
Thu Aug 24 22:52:53 EDT 2006

On Aug 24, 2006, at 9:10 PM, JT Croteau wrote:

> Why do wire antennas ALWAYS cause me so much damn frustration?  I just
> want one reliable, decent bandwidth, resonant antenna up in the air so
> I can start running some DX on a daily basis again.

Wire antennas are pretty easy, but some experimentation may be  
necessary since one can't always control every variable in an  

> Earlier this week, I ordered some nice 14AWG flexweave wire, a nice
> porcelain center insulator, and two nice W2DU end insulators bound and
> determined to build a nice, clean, simple, and resonant 20M dipole.

You don't need all that expensive stuff. 12 or 14 gauge THHN wire can  
be bought in 500 foot spools at home improvement stores. Cheap  
plastic insulators will work just fine, as will a hunk of plastic.

> I route the ends through the end insulators and make them all nice and
> tight.  I decide not to solder these in case I need to trim the dipole
> after I test it in the air.

I've been using wire antennas successfully for some time whose ends  
aren't soldered at all, merely twisted across 6-8 inches.

> I start pulling and almost ready to tie off when the
> whole damn thing comes crashing down.

I have never needed to, but you might consider looping some tape  
around the twisted part at the ends. This might help them hold together.

You also should consider how much tension you put on your antennas.  
If you use copperweld and very strong insulators, you can put  
hundreds of pounds on the antenna and get it to have very little sag.  
If you build antennas out of soft-drawn copper, like THHN wire, then  
you can't put that much tension on it.

> It now lays in a pile of
> tangled mess on the ground, at the base of my tallest tree, on top of
> all the other failed wires I was too frustrated to clean up.

When I was a kid, I used to put up antennas using magnet wire, since  
it was so cheap. I'd never leave anything just lying around, I'd  
spend the time to untangle it all.

> Now that there is very little weight on the line, the rope in the tree
> is still up there stuck in the racken-fracken tree.

You'll have to pull the line down and re-throw it.

> It's always a true comedy of errors whenever I go to put a wire up,
> someone take my Extra class away from me please.  I am truly not
> worthy.

Ain't this a GREAT hobby?

Bill Coleman, AA4LR, PP-ASEL        Mail: aa4lr at arrl.net
Quote: "Not within a thousand years will man ever fly!"
             -- Wilbur Wright, 1901

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