National parks don’t want us throwing ropes and wires into trees. So if I was going to do my first POTA activation at nearby Minute Man National Park I would need a self-supporting antenna.
I looked at a lot of options and was about to pull the trigger on a factory built antenna for a little more than $200. Then I reconsidered - I’d already constructed my own wire antennas and had a lot of fun. Can I build an easy-to-deploy, self-supporting antenna?
I really enjoyed building my own wire antennas. Could I build a field deployable vertical myself as well?
I searched around and found an easy and inexpensive antenna build on YouTube. And this blog post, A Low Cost Quick Deploy Portable Antenna. Both the video and the post described a really inexpensive ground spike mounted quarter wave vertical - exactly what I needed.
I bought the following:
A 17 foot telescopic whip antenna for $70
- There are several on the market, I went with one made by MFJ
- A CB radio antenna mirror mount for $10
- 18 gauge speaker wire from Loewe’s for $15
- 1 galvanized landscaping spike for $1
Total cost for the antenna is $96
I had some banana plugs as spare parts so I could make the ground radials easier to deploy when I set up in the field.
Here’s the assembled antenna base. Easy as can be - I tested the ground spike and radials for continuity. It all checked out.
I cut 8, 17 foot radials and capped them with banana connectors for easy deployment.
I brought the antenna to Minuteman National Park. Set it up to its full height to work 20 meters and it performed really well.
You can read about my first POTA activation at Minuteman National Park here. I’m really pleased with this antenna and had a lot of fun building it.