Amateur Radio WB3GCK Project Notebook The Second Story

Craig LaBarge, WB3GCK

[This article also appeared in the Spring 2004 edition of the Michigan QRP Club's publication, "The Five Watter."]

This antenna is so simple, I almost didn't bother to write this up. I mean, come on, let's face it, it's just a couple of wires and a tuner. This antenna arrangement, however, has served me so well over the years, I just had to document it. Not only is it a great portable antenna, it also can be used effectively as a stealth antenna for those (like me) who like to keep a low profile while operating.

I first started using this setup several years ago when visiting my brother and his family on holidays. I used to take along my old MFJ-9030 30 meter QRP rig. To get on the air, I simply attached a 1-ounce fishing sinker to the end of a 1/4-wave wire and lowered it out of the window of the second floor room we occupied. Another 1/4-wave wire was attached to the ground stud of a simple homebrew tuner and run along the baseboard of the room. Then, I would go outside and attach the first wire to some available structure, arranging it in the sloping fashion should in the diagram below. Often, all I did was lay the end of the wire over a metal garden hose hanger on the side of the house to secure it.

The 2nd Story Antenna

The performance of this antenna never ceased to amaze me. Particularly since the outside wire wasn't even really in the clear. In fact, it was in between two buildings which were only about 8 feet apart. Still, I was able to reliably carry on QSOs all over the country and even sneak in a DX QSO or two now and then. All of this while running about 3 watts out of the MFJ QRP rig.

Now, about this time, Chuck Adams (K5FO at the time) and the QRP-L gang were just starting up the annual QRP Fox Hunt events. I had the honor of serving as a fox a few times during those very early years. Those who know me know about the rainspout antenna I use as my main antenna at home. The rainspout is a great stealth antenna and works quite well but I wanted to try something a bit better during my sessions as the fox.

On the nights I was scheduled to be the Fox, I hauled a 40 meter QRP rig and accessories up to a second floor bedroom. Under cover of darkness, I lowered a 33-foot wire out of the window and draped the end over a picket fence in the front yard. The 33-foot counterpoise wire was again routed around the baseboard of the room. A quick tweak of the antenna tuner and I was off and running. As in my earlier experiences with it, the antenna performed like a champ. Although I didn't set any records as the Fox, I was able to consistently work the West Coast on 40 meters from southeastern Pennsylvania. Not too bad running 4 watts into a makeshift antenna.

When you think about it, there are some good reasons why this thing works so well. First, it's a full-size antenna on the band of choice. Second, like a dipole, the feedpoint is at a low impedance point. So, the high current portion of the antenna (which does most of the radiating) is well above ground. The second floor window is really the key here.

When it comes to radio, I like to keep things simple. When it comes to antennas, this is about as simple as they come. Give it a try sometime.

© 2000 Craig A. LaBarge

Back to Homepage