Well, I thought I’d take a stab at building my 1st antenna. What could be simpler than a wire dipole?
This couldn’t have been easier. Is it perfect? Nope. Is it better? Oh yeah. I was at Lowe’s and while wandering around I came across spools of wire. I used my phone to look up the proper length of a 20 Meter dipole and checked the price. Cheap! What the heck? Why not try it?
I started thinking about what I could use as an insulator. I was trying to remember what I had at home that would work for testing purposes. As I was walking to the checkout stand, I noticed a light switch wall plate for $0.52. The 2 holes for the screws could have wire fed through it and the center could be easily drilled out to accommodate a chassis mount SO-239. It all came together in my head.
I’m not going to go through the all the measuring of the wires. I just trimmed it for the lowest 20M frequency I could use and figured I’d let the tuner do the rest. Quick and dirty build.
Basically all I did was drill out the center of the wall plate so the SO-239 would fit. Next I ran each wire through the screw holes and soldered it to itself. Then I soldered a wire from the center pin on the SO-239 to one side and soldered a wire from one of the mount holes to the other side. All I had to do now was glue the chassis mount SO-239 to the wall plate and wait for it to dry.
I tried out the antenna a couple of different ways. First I ran it along a 6 ft fence to test. Good receive, but didn’t make a contact. No big deal. It was getting late. One day I had it with me and decided to run it across the grass while I was out. I just threw it out and connected the coax. Made a weak contact to AZ. Cool! This might be fun!
This thing sat coiled up for a long time. Then one day I decided I was going to string it up. My only radio is in my truck. I park in a carport. hmmm Looks like I’m going to use that. I grabbed my staple gun and strung it up. I was only able to get it about 10 ft off the ground, but oh well. It’s not ideal, but HAM radio is all about playing anyway. I connected some coax to it and ran it down to the radio.
I turned on the radio and hit the tune button. Holy crap! I could hear a lot of stations! Long story short, I made a nice contact to San Diego. Not super long distance, but it only took me one try. I just said my call sign and someone came back to me. Awesome. We chatted for about 15 minutes before he had to go. Success!
I’ll be playing with it more over the next couple weeks to figure out just how well it works. Looking forward to some more contacts. Maybe it’ll be with you!