No matter whether you’re using JT65, Voice, CW, or any other mode, you need to have an antenna. When you’re QRP, you also need all the help you can get. And high is might,. right? If you are going to be portable, you need a portable antenna. At my home, I don’t have room for a large antenna, nor do I have the rights to do any big construction (this is a rental) so I had to get creative. I went on the hunt for a QRP antenna pole.
Jackite, Squid, and Crappie.
In researching the poles that other folks are using for their QRP Antenna pole, I found the 31′ Jackite Poles, which are very good and get rave reviews, but a bit expensive for just playing around. I browsed around for crappie poles, but those usually come complete with fishing gear on them. Squid poles are a name given to these long fishing poles, but primarily in Australia so I found nothing relevant. I needed something cheap and tall, so I decided to peruse ebay and look for something. What I found was this $10 7.2M pole (or alternately, this one) with free shipping even! Given the price, I just had to purchase one, and in a few weeks it arrived.
Testing and use
The first thing I did was rip open the package. It came wrapped in bubble wrap, and so a knife liberated it. Unfortunately, I also cut into the little carrying case it comes with. That’s not an issue if you don’t use it. I don’t. The pole itself is sturdy. The ebay page used to say that it’s carbon fiber, but I strongly suspected that it was fiberglass instead.It now says “glass fiber”. Thanks to Shirley in the comments below for noticing that update!
This pole isn’t 23 feet long, unfortunately but closer to 16. It’s quite usable even at that height.
I am using it for a longwire antenna with my QRP L-Match Tuner. With the pole zip tied to a fencepost, I was able to get the wire attached at the second to last segment using a piece of flat plastic cut from the lid of a sour cream container as an insulator. I cut a 2-3″ strip about 1″ wide and poked a hole at each end for the wire and for the pole. The lighter the wire the better, and I’m using 26ga wire that I bought for the purpose.
After stringing the wire through the insulator, I started by extending the smallest segment of the pole, and put the insulator over it. When each segment is fully extended, pull a little farther so that it snugs up into the segment below it. That will prevent it from collapsing unexpectedly. Do this with each segment until it’s extended, and zip tie it to your fencepost or whatever you have to support it. It’s as simple as that!
A word of caution
When it’s time to take the pole down, gently lower each segment into the body of the base segment, and start with the biggest first. I find that giving it a twist helps release it and lower it down. Don’t let the segments fall! This will damage them. I learned this the hard way when I let it fall into the base, and one of the segments lodged itself inside the cap at the end of the largest tube. This end cap is sized just right for this, unfortunately. The solution to this is to back fill the cap, and not let the segments fall. I used hot glue, although I suspect that epoxy would be better. But I don’t have epoxy, so hot glue it is!
I now own two of these: The first broken one had its unbroken segments inserted into a 10 foot length of 1/2″ EMT conduit, and together they make about a 25′ pole. Not bad for $3 worth of conduit. The new pole will be to hold even more wire in the air, and for portable ops in the future.
For the price of $10, you can get a pole shipped to your door, and it’ll work well for a portable QRP antenna pole. They have their design flaws, but for the price, they can be replaced easily.
Leave your comments below, and let me know what you think of these inexpensive QRP antenna poles!