So I Made My First Random Wire Antenna

Oh what fun this has been!

I have been very happy with the loop antenna I have, but never could overlook the fact that for the 80 and 40 meter bands, I would need a much bigger loop (which is actually in the plans). After contemplating for the purchase of an automatic antenna tuner which could also support wire antennas and similar, I however settled on a manual tuner, namely MFJ-971.

80m TX coverage for the wire antenna

I set up a 2.5 sq. mm insulated copper wire – roughly 20 or so meters – from the balcony, sloping downwards to a birch tree. As a sort of a counterpoise I used the balcony rail. Maybe I am a lucky child but it worked really well, I was able to work FT8 on 80 – 40 – 30 – 20 – 17 meters with this combination.

The MFJ-971 brought me to the 80/40 world which as an apartment dweller I considered nearly impossible, in particular in this QTH which again I thought was beyond any help as a location.

Lesson learned, never give up, try – try – try – .

The fishing rod is not used in this setup (you can see however the birch tree to which the wire runs, in the background). It was used with a quick ad hoc long wire as a first test for the MFJ-971, just 10 meters supported through the tip of the telescope rod and then hanging downwards. That was far from optimal, but as an RX antenna was already a major improvement on 80 meters.

The wire is at approximately 4 meters height at the tree end

The IKEA furniture often comes with a set of tools. This is probably a familiar handle which makes for a great insulator for wire antennas

Another piece of impromptu equipment was this hardware store general wall hook, which I use for securing the end of the (insulator – wire – hook run) to the tree, to keep the hot RF wire a sufficient distance from the trunk and leaves – that black wire attached to it is not the antenna wire

Got my first RF bite today as well, during early setup and testing / adjusting. Other than that, no negative side effects noticed. Zero indications of “RF in the shack”.

I think there will be version 2.0 later on, with different routing and direction of the wire, and likely an antenna switch – I’d see use for both the loop and the wire – and further QSO’s. To sum this up I’d like to say that the wire antenna clearly exceeded my expectations, and the MFJ-971 works like a charm. I have used it with up to 50W of power.

Tuning the MFJ-971 is quite easy as I have had a relatively lengthy experience so far with the MFJ-936B, despite being different beasts the controls and “feel” is similar, both respond to tuning in a logical, repeatable way.

Received also some MIL spec (i.e. genuine military) vertical and wire sets, second hand, which I will examine in greater detail (the vertical in particular) to see if I can duplicate the Chameleon MIL whip w/extension.

From Ebay I ordered military surplus N.O.S. PRC-77 antenna, and some related equipment. While originally intended for higher than HF frequencies, I am looking at those parts as source material for fabrication. I have some plans for a get-and-go vertical HF antenna, probably for a vehicle mounted (stationary) usage. More on these later.

73 de OH2BNF, one happy wire antenna fellow


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