The Reconfigurable Wire Antenna

My mainstay antenna for remote operations consists of a military mast based system, with a wire antenna that is reconfigurable in several different ways. My primary configuration, as seen above, is an 80m vertical delta loop fed with balanced line. That said, I have developed it such that I can also use the same equipment to make a 160m dipole, 80m dipole, or 40m dipole with just a few twists of the screwdriver. We can see how I did this below.

Let's first explore the 80m delta loop, as I believe that is the most versatile for remote operations as I can operate on everything from 10-80m with a simple hit of the tuner button.

I use a traditional delta loop configuration, but have found that putting it up in the field can be a bit tricky. To help with this, I discovered that if I use these simple clothes line pulleys (available at Home Depot), it allows me to adjust the whole loop by simply pulling on one end of the wire....

In this way, I can straighten up the pole in the direction the wire runs after the fact. This greatly simplifies the whole process and allows me to fine tune it. Further, when it comes time to lower the mast, I can simply 'crank it down' by pulling on the wire slowly and it is supported from the top allowing a controlled descent.

So how do I reconfigure the antenna into so many different forms, well I found these wire connectors, also in Home Depot, that are made to connect two disjoint wires together. I simply insert these inline at the appropriate breaks for the kind of antenna I want, and leave them in place tightened. If I then want a shorter antenna type, let's say a 40m dipole, I simply unscrew the connector at that point, and I have the dipole. Or I run out the full length of the wire, and connect the two ends to make the loop. Quick, easy, and very little to break.

The top of the antenna consists of a pvc T connector. The braid covering the rope wire is pulled back from the kevlar rope underneath, and tied to holes drilled in the pvc connector. I then use screw in wire joiners (also from Home Depot) that attach the bared balanced line directly to the outside of the braid. This acts as the connection to the antenna. I use anderson power poles to attach the main chunk of ladder line to the short length on the antenna, and back up this connection with a short piece of tied cord. It can get quite windy here in Utah out in the desert. This then runs to the switchable balun.

Here is a great picture of it fully deployed taken from my phantom 3 quadcopter:

Lesson learned:

I used to use a push up painters pole, also from Home Depot. What I found is it basically worked, but was much larger to carry than the broken down military mast poles. On top of that, it flexed quite a bit and was not at all flexible on the heights. The military mast allows me to adjust the height from really short to really tall and add support lines at different spaced heights. That is why I have retired the painters pole.

The Folding Hex Beam Antenna

This is the portable folding hexbeam from Folding Antennas. This was my first temporary setup of it to finish the assembly, as there was still snow in my yard at home and I did not have enough room to attach all of the wires. It is only on 10 feet of pole here, yet I made contacts from Utah to Florida on 80w no problem (20 meters).

Here it is setup on an NPOTA operation in Death Valley National Park. It is on 20 feet of aluminum military mast, with the top section being fiberglass just to make sure it does not interfere with the antenna. It is guyed at the top with 3 ropes, and I use an 'armstrong' rotator, as in I simply twist the mast in place, and use a rope to hold it from blowing in the wind. This reduces the wind load and complexity of using a real rotator in the field

The base of the antenna is a military mast tripod. I really like the one I am using here from Military Field Gear. They have some really nice features. My favorite, as you can see in use here, is the ability to add cam straps to hold the tripod down. I work in very windy places with loose soils. I would not trust a tripod on its own. As you can see, this setup is going nowhere. I simply feed the poles in one at a time from the bottom (make sure you get smooth poles) and raise then antenna up. I do this by myself all the time without issue. The straps help with this. The umbrella stand is to avoid the poles sinking into the ground, and I use it for spreading out the antenna before mounting on the tripod.

As you can see, compared to the wire antenna, I can setup a complete ham ready camp in much less space than with the wire antenna. I am limited to 6-20m, but I mostly work during the day time anyways, and enjoy the campfire at night. I have an 80m doublet extension to this setup that I will document in the future. Basically the 80m doublet hangs just below the hex beam attached with on of the guy rope holders from Military Field Gear.