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Making a portable vertical 20 - 10 meters using golf ball retreivers!

by John Reisenauer, Jr. KL7JR/K7ICE

When I came across a close-out deal on golf ball retrievers, you know the telescopic metal variety with a small cage on one end for retrieving golf balls out of water traps, I immediately knew what my next antenna project would be.

At $6 each and 15 feet long when fully extended, the aluminum beauty tapered down into four sections from .75 inch to about .25 inch in diameter making it ideal for multi-band portable use. I remembered a previous article in QST where a vertical was made from a telescoping paint pole. I never could find one on sale so opted for this lighter version "look-a-like" that was easier on my wallet. While I was at it, I designed a drive on base support made from scrap lumber and PVC pipe to go along with my new vertical (large rocks or other heavy items will also work in-lieu-of a vehicle). Besides a few wood screws and hose clamps, I had less than $10 invested in the antenna.

I've experimented with verticals made from copper pipe or EMT over the years, so I knew this set up would also be an excellent performer on 10 through 20 meters.

Erecting the antenna was pretty simple and only took about 15 minutes. After all four sections were extended, I jumpered across each section's plastic collar (see photo below), with a short piece of #12 stranded wire and two hose clamps and added an 18 inch long whip made of .25 aluminum tubing (a metal coat hanger or stiff wire cut to length also works!) to make the antenna 16 ft-4 inches, or .25 wl on 20 meters (234 divided by frequency in MHz).

Next I slid the antenna down into the base and connected the coax and ground radials (note the ground ring made from plumbers tape). See photo below. Alligator clamps work fine to terminate the radials to the 12 inch diameter ground ring. I like to use battery post clamps on the coax (center conductor of coax to pipe and braid to ground ring). I usually have good success with just 4-6 radials but you may want to put out as many as you can (I use 16 ft. long each as a minimum). I always toss one radial in the water if I'm near a river, lake or the sea to enlarge the ground plane and reduce QRM.

I used my 15 foot long vertical with the 20m whip also on 17 and 15 meters with good results. You can easily retract the antenna to the proper length for use on 10 and 12 meters (about 8 ft-3 inches and 9 ft-4 inches respectively).

Photos of construction:

Left photo, complete antenna set up. Right photo, Jumper on telescopic section.

Quickie homebrew base from scrap lumber with ground ring and coax connections

Casual operating during a May 2006 weekend of poor to fair band conditions, I worked 32 states plus Mexico and Italy on 20 meters, 19 states on 17 meters and West Africa and 7 states on 15 meters. Even though 10 and 12 meters were dead, I feel like I hit a hole-in-one with this aerial! KL7JR, John.