I’ve been licensed since about 1992 and never had a “real” ham shack. My home shack was usually an extension of my desk area, and never a classic, photogenic, radio room with awards on the walls. As well, I have never owned a tower and have used either wire antennas or trap verticals. I had a good sized lot but I was losing trees to various blights and my spouse is…. antenna adverse? She has not problem with radio activity, but having a nest of wires on display is not her idea of a good time. We lived in a valley surrounded on three sides by basalt bedrock and till. If you want a RF absorbent QTH, move to the bottom of a valley surrounded by iron ore. Good times. That lays the basis for my choices, and as a result I did a lot of mobile and portable operating.
As I am closing in on 30 years as a ham I have had burst of activity and have been active sporadically for the past 15 years. I was living between two QTHs for the past 10 years and didn’t have a good spot for a permanent antenna at either. Plus, I was planning on selling a house and didn’t want to put something up and then have to break it all down again in short order. That property had too many scars from previous antennas already!
Even though I didn’t always find time to operate I always had at least one transceiver and an assortment of shortwave receivers. At the new QTH on the Rhode Island coast I have a smaller lot, and am planning some landscaping and construction. That is a bad time to start putting up permanent antennas. Thanks to a host of portable antenna options that didn’t stop me from finding a way to get on the air. Previously I had been operating on an Alpha-Delta DX-EE multiband dipole mounted in an attic space. Aside from being a bear to tune to resonance, It came with a host of RFI issues, and attic spaces make for poor antenna locations. I ran a Bencher Low Pass Filter which knocked down the worst of the RFI I was generating. It worked, and I made some good contacts on it, but overall I consider it a last-option solution. Again, an antenna surrounded by a RF absorber.
As I rebooted my shack setup and started researching gear I saw that a forest of QRP/Portable/Packable antennas and antenna supports had sprung up over the past decade. That piqued my interest in a major way. The idea that I could operate portable and not have to make huge compromises in antenna performance, or be limited by the ability to string dipoles in a forest canopy, was and is very attractive. I jumped in and built or purchased several pieces that allowed me to get on the air with a better signal, even if I was still operating out of Pelican cases at home. My plan is to cover a few of these choices with an eye on how I planned to deploy them, What I learned from deploying them, and my impressions of their performance. To say I am not being paid is an understatement. If I was ever to be endorsed or get a product to review it would be in boldface at the top of the post/video.
Here’s a partial list of the gear I am hoping to cover, in no particular order, except that I am reviewing the PAR 402010 TF first…
PAR Trail Friendly 402010 (Vibroplex)
PackTenna Mini EFHW
Homebrew 9:1 End Fed Wire System
Homebrew 49:1-ish EFHW System
Spiderbeams 12M Spiderpole HD
DX Commander Expedition
Wolf River TIA Max
Chameleon MPAS Lite
Thanks for looking, and I hope I’m able to add something useful to the conversation around these popular antenna systems. My goal is to try and knock one out each week, and we will see how that goes.
Best 73, Pete Brunelli N1QDQ