The antenna is easily the second most important component of a portable station and unfortunately it is also the area that is most easy to compromise on. I wanted to have one that would support multiple bands and yet still be small and flexible enough to carry with me and set up in minutes (by myself).
There are a number of types of antennas that may fit that bill:
- A long wire – They are low cost and easily to transport but they require an antenna tuner, lots of room. They are not all that easy to set up, since you’d need to be in location with tall structures or trees and some way to get the wire into the air.
- A multiband wire antenna (like a G5RV) – These have some of the same issues as the long wire although they shouldn’t require an antenna tuner.
- Mobile antennas – Little verticals are easy to switch out. Carrying around the various antenna resonators to support the bands would be a bit unwieldy. Verticals can be set up quickly but the costs can quickly add up if you want to work on multiple bands. Small verticals like this are always a compromise on performance as well. An alternative is a screwdriver antenna that adjusts to support multiple bands.
- Buddipole – I’ve known a number of hams over the years who have purchase these. They are not cheap but they do work on everything from 40M up through 2M with the default configuration. They are light (9.5 lbs.) and easy to carry. If you get the deluxe package, you get a tripod to mount the antenna on and pretty much everything you need. The antenna can be set up in minutes and it seems like the ideal solution for my needs.
I am sure there are others that I’ve missed but those are the alternatives I investigated.
I eventually ended up getting the Buddipole and hope to put it through its paces on the September VHF contest this weekend – more on that later.
Just to round out this post about antennas I’ll add: I heard the other day about two antennas getting married. The wedding was nothing to call home about, but the reception was amazing.