So I haven’t posted anything in the radio section for quite a few months. I haven’t been holding out! I just truly haven’t done much with radio the past couple of months. Between travelling internationally for work and trying to accomplish the other goals I’d set for myself for 2022 and 2023, I hadn’t done much. Of course I’d been thinking about radio though, and this weekend I decided to progress with a project that I have had on my mind for some time.

A number of years ago I built a homebrew ‘buddipole’ type antenna (this was back in 2016-17). I was playing around with different antennas that I may have been able to live with in my HOA at the time, so I built one to see how it went. I never actually made too many QSOs with it, and for the most part it sat in pieces in my garage. Credit to where it’s due, the impetus for making the antenna system came from the video below by Rockwell Schrock.

The system is very clever in that it contains a multiband antenna, the mast for getting it in the air, and the guying supplies for securing it, all in one package. Between making the antenna system and now a lot has happened. Notably, my wife and I got out of the military and switched careers years ago, causing us to move across the country. In that move, a lot of the pieces for this system went missing. I ended up losing a balun, a painters pole, and a loading coil.

While walking through my attic late last year, I found a box that contained all the pieces of the antenna that I did have. In the years since I originally made the antenna I have gotten into POTA and field radio operations, and there were a lot of features about this system that I appreciated a lot more now then I did then. I have been doing all of my field radio activations with an EFHW antenna slung into a tree. This has a lot of disadvantegeous. If you don’t have a tree, you can’t do the activation. Also, if the trees don’t ‘face’ where you want the radiation pattern of the antenna to go, that’s just too bad. Also it leaves a lot of the activation up to chance. You don’t really know what you’re going to get when you go out to a park, and I really liked the idea of having an antenna system that I could theoretically set up anywhere, and where I didn’t need to rely on any local trees, space, or resources to help with the activation. Finally, it seemed that it’d be a lot faster to set up an antenna where I could practice setting up everything beforehand. Maybe cut the setup time of the activation down by a little.

I mentally filed away the project of recreating the missing pieces of the system and getting it back on the air, but like I said I was busy with work and life and didn’t get to it for some time. Last week however I decided that I really wanted to do some radio work, so I decided to throw the antenna together and see how it went. I bought a new painters pole and strapped carabiners, etc on it so that I could guy it to the ground. I bought new PVC and CPVC fittings to attach to the painters pole to use it as a mast.

By the way, the plans I followed (both when I built this originally, and in it’s recreation) are the plans from Budd (W3FF) himself, which he offers freely.

In recreating the missing pieces of this thing, the hardest part was winding the coils. The designs call for 20 gauge twinlead speaker wire to be used, and I didn’t have any of that laying around. After a trip to AutoZone I bought some 16 gauge wire, which ended up being way too thick for this purspose. After a couple of trips I landed on a small spool of 18 gauge wire, which worked perfectly. I winded a new set of 20 meter coils (I was only missing one, but I wanted symmetry on both sides of the antenna, so I made two of them) on Friday and I decided to tune it and give it a test on the air on Saturday.

I setup the system in my backyard Saturday morning and measured out where I needed to set the featherlight whips to get good coverage on 20 meters. Then, figuring the best test would be an activation, I packed everything into my wife’s Jeep and headed off for the nearest park, K-0161 Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. I had made a couple of deviations from the original video/plans, some of which we’ll talk about later, however a big one was that I bought bugees to allow me to just bungee the mast to the Jeep instead of guying it to the ground. This worked great. Actually, the whole antenna worked great in general. I only worked 20 meters for this activation, and I actually only worked SSB (my CW needs a little refreshing, and I felt that SSB would be easiest this go around) but I had an AMAZING activation. I ended up having 58 SSB QSOs, two people asking me about the weird thing hanging off of my car, and four additional people stopping and taking pictures!


58 QSOs was amazing! Way better results then I normally get! Sunday morning I decided to go ahead and try another activation, and since I was no longer tied to just setting up near trees I decided to go for another new park for me, K-3698 Mallard-Fox Creek Wildlife Management Area. This early morning SSB activation netted me 78 more QSOs, and two other conversations about the weird thing tied to my car!


All in all, a picture of the 136 QSOs I made this weekend can be seen below.


This antenna system is amazing, and it’s a clear step up from the EFHW that I was running before. Obviously I can’t discount band conditions, mode changes, etc for the amount of contacts that I got, but I simply cannot believe the pileups that I was experiencing this weekend. I think there was at least 4-5 stations all calling me at all times. It was incredible. There are a couple of things that I’d consider changing about this setup that I’ll mention below:

  • I’ve still only tuned this antenna across 20 meters. It’s actually designed to run on 10, 12, 15, and 17 meters as well, I just haven’t set that up yet.
  • I bought an 8 foot mast that can extend to 24 feet. My eyes may have been too big for my stomach with this. I needed to climb on top of the car in order to extend the mast properly. I should probably get a 6-12 foot mast to be able to extend with just my own height (not reliant on attaching to a car).
  • I haven’t actually tried guying this thing to the ground yet, I’ve only been bungeeing it my vehicle. I should try operating without the vehicles support.

That said, this antenna upgrade has been truly amazing and it has opened a wealth of possibilities for future activations. I can’t wait to use it some more!

My gear list for the activations was: