My First Home Brew Antenna

I’ve heard other hams talk about home made antennas, but I never had much interest in investigating the projects, mostly because I’m sight impaired and knew most of the projects required soldering, which is out of the realm of capabilities for me. I can safely build things from scratch out of lumber, like dining tables, stools, chairs, desks, shelves, etc and I enjoy doing that and using the power tools, but soldering requires eyesight.

I then realized I have two nephews, one of which is licensed, and the other is studying to become licensed. So we signed up for an antenna building workshop hosted by N7MTB, who had emailed the plans.

The project was a slim jim antenna made from 450-ohm ladder line. I decided to make four, one for me, one for each of my nephews, and one for my daughter. I bought the ladder line, coax cable, and the connectors (PL-259). I bought some of the material from a local electronic supplier, some from American Radio Supply, and some from HRO.

Prior to the workshop, I learned how to strip and prep the cable, and even with my limited vision, that was fairly easy.

After she watched a few YouTube clips, my wife helped with soldering the connections on the cable ends. That was a pain. I sprung for a crimping tool and bought crimp connectors. Much better, much easier. We still had to solder the tips of the crimp connectors, but that was cake.

I cut the ladder line into sections, made the needed adjustments to it and they were ready for the workshop.

At the workshop, my nephews stripped and prepped their own cables. They got a quick crash course on how to solder, soldered the ends of the ladder line cut outs I had prepped for them, argued about who was the best at soldering, and then soldered on the coax cables. Huzzah! Working slim jim antennas for 2 meters.

Minus the new soldering iron and crimping tool, each antenna cost about $10. They perform admirably for the cost. My nephews live a few miles from me, with tons of houses, trees, and other buildings in between. My nephew hung his slim jim on a wall of his top floor, I hung it on the wall of my single story house. Even between all the obstructions, on simplex, we could hear each other perfectly. No static.

My nephew then took his slim jim to the lower floor, hung it next to some curtains and tried transmitting. I was surprised and pleased to find he was crystal clear, on just a few watts of power with his HT. These slim jims can perform.

My first home brew slim jim antenna


About Kyle (W7KBX)

I became a licensed ham in May of 2013 with a class of General. I have since upgraded to Extra. If you are really bored and want to learn more about me, please click here
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