Favorite Portable Antenna Launcher? or Story?

Kelly demonstrates the strong arm method (aka sore arm)
Kelly demonstrates the strong arm method (aka sore arm)

Today a post by an unnamed fellow Polar Bear QRP op (and antenna tweaker) inspired me. His post about multiple sockets and yellow string hanging in the tree in his back yard generated a good bit of fun as others reminisced and told their own funny story about the perils of getting wire up into a tree.

So, in a followup to the favorite antenna poll of the last two weeks, I decided to open a poll to determine the QRP portable operator’s  favorite method of getting your portable antenna up in the tree.

Most of us have a sore arm or other memory as we learned our own preferred method… so here’s your chance. Vote for your favorite and leave a comment and share your antenna launching story.  Come on now… let it out!

How do you get yours up? Antenna that is...

  • Toss a weight using my arm alone (65%, 24 Votes)
  • Slingshot (14%, 5 Votes)
  • Other-- please leave comment to explain (14%, 5 Votes)
  • Pneumatic launcher (8%, 3 Votes)
  • Bow and arrow (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 37

Loading ... Loading ...


  1. says

    I use a small plastic pop bottle full of any liquid, whatever you have on hand. I twist the wire around the neck and it holds well enough to toss, but in case of a problem you could jerk it off. I have never had the plastic bottle stick in a tree yet. Rather than throw the bottle from my hand, I spin it with about 4 to 6 feet of wire kinda like a old fashioned sling shot. I can consistently get it 30 feet up and pretty accurate also. The clear plastic bottle full of clear water does not attract attention of park rangers in camp grounds, nice feature. When done I let loose of the wire and the bottle is easy to find in the grass or bushes. The bottle can then be emptied and thrown in the back of the truck for later use. I usually go for a sloper wire antenna and walk away from the picnic table stretching out the wire to judge the length, then toss it over a limb. That way I have a few feet of wire over the limb that automatically keeps tension on the wire with the weight of the bottle. All other weight objects I have tested were either dangerous to throw in the air, not waterproof or cost too much if lost. Besides I like to drink diet pepsi!

  2. kmack says

    My first time out portable was a frustrating one. I had my antenna and gear all figured out, but had not thought through how to get the antenna up in the tree for support. I took a fishing sinker and some mason line I had and thought I’d simply throw it over the top of a tree… after all, I was a pretty good baseball player in my time, how hard could it be!

    At the end of the first hour, my arm (which had not seen that kind of action in nearly 40 yrs) was really sore and the antenna was still laying on the ground. The wind was so bad that it was catching the sinker and mason line and blowing it sideways and I was missing the target. I also could not get it nearly as high as I remembered being able to throw a baseball. That day I settled on 15 ft and was disgusted with myself.

    Next I settled for a tennis ball with the mason line strung through it and some sinkers poked inside to add a bit of weight. Thinking I could swing it around a bit and launch it easily into the trees I gave it a go. The height was not bad, but my aim was very poor and the wind still played havoc with the mason line. The ball also was pretty prone to getting stuck in the trees and not coming down. Even more weight did not help much.

    Rather than throwing the ball, I tried a device that was meant to be used as a ball tosser for playing with one’s dog. The Chuck-It was interesting and I found a nice video of a German ham demonstrating how easy it was to use. Impressed, I mounted a spinning reel on the Chuck-It and the thing totally did not work. I needed to put a line guide on the device to keep the line from hitting the shaft of the Chuck-It and getting fouled up. With the line guide, it worked pretty well in open territory, but I never got any good at aiming so it sits in my closet.

    For now, I have zero’ed in on the slingshot as my main launcher. With a L-shaped shelf bracket mount for my Zebco 33 spincast reel I have an accurate way to get a fishing weight up in the trees so I can pull an antenna up in the field. Yahoooo!

    Kelly K4UPG

  3. Bob W3BBO says

    I have two extremely easy methods of launching my antennas.

    First is my old novice buddy, Neal W3CUV. He uses the underhand throw method with a small water bottle to get the line over a tree branch.

    My second easy method is Gerry W2FD who built a pneumatic launcher this past year and can really get a line over very tall trees.

    Having two friends who like to launch antennas rather than operate, makes my QRP outings a snap to operate. By the time I have the equipment set up on the picnic table, they have the antenna up! QRP outings are “plug and play” for this old man! Hi.

    73 de Bob W3BBO

  4. kmack says


    Think that plug n play method is the best one yet! How do you find good friends like that? :-)
    THANK YOU for sharing this creative method. Sounds fun to share the outing with others.

    72 es 73,
    Kelly K4UPG

  5. Alex, K5UNY says

    Well I don’t have any dramatic way of getting line up in a tree but go along the same route as John with a small Plastic soft drink bottle, NOT a 2 liter variety, either half full of water, sandy soil or small stones. I attach Mason line either Bright Yellow or Pink to the bottle, swing it back and forth with about 2 or 3 ft of line out and let her rip. It easily gets up 30 to 40 feet and once you do this a few different times its amazing how accurate your release gets to be!The first few times I tried this the weight would wind up straight out in front or behind me, it seemed to miss the tree altogether. The weight pulls the line over and back to earth. Haven’t gotten a bottle stuck,Yet, but have lost wenches, golf balls etc as they tended to wrap around branches. Ergo, the plastic bottle. It seems to work the best thus far.
    73 and good throwing etc to all
    Alex K5UNY

  6. says

    I use a fishing rod with a large (1 inch) washer. I have better aim with my rod and can “stop” the throw if it is going wrong. After I catch the correct limb I release enough fishing line to get the washer down to the ground. Tie a smaller rope to the washer and reel it back in. I have tried a both a bow & arrow (neighbor) and the right arm; both have not been the best or most accurate. KP

  7. W2NER says

    I’m going to try the chuckit tennis ball launcher. I have seen this on a few web sites and the idea is sound. For $20 you can’t go wrong, comes with two tennis balls.. I think the only thing tha needs to be added is some weight in the ball. Maybe 5 – 10 pennies to give it some mass so it comes down through the tree branches.

  8. kmack says

    I bought and tried the Chuckit… with a spinning reel I had to purchase a ring guide and rig it onto the shaft of the chuckit or the line would slap the shaft and the extra friction caused it to malfunction. I can throw the ball horizontally a pretty far piece, but have never mastered how to aim it and get a decent vertical launch. I quickly went back to my slingshot, $20 lighter in the wallet and a bit wiser. YMMV! Good Luck and let us know how it worked for you!

    Kelly K4UPG

  9. alex KC2VDM says

    i have found that kite string works reletevly well for getting a small antenna up for a day, but me and my dad easily decided on nylon rope, and it hasn’t broken yet. and ive used many things for weights. old cell phones, tv remote controls, water bottles, even rocks( with the help of duct tape, of course). i haven’t spent over $5 on throwing supplies.

  10. says

    I would like to plug the Joplin ARC launcher *kit* that they have been selling for over a year. This project was so popular with club members that they decided to offer it to other hams via their website. They have shipped hundreds of these kits. Mine is one of the first built and is featured in the video.

    This simple kit comes partially assembled and can be finished with some PVC glue in about an hour. Add a closed faced spincast reel (found at Walmart for $5 or in your closet) and a hand operated tire pump, and it is ready for action. Mine will launch projectiles over the tops of trees with good control. I get about 70′ with about 11 strokes! I did not glue the barrel, so it breaks down to about 24″ long to fit in the bag.

    It includes two projectiles, streamers, cable ties for mounting the reel, and even snap-swivels for connection to the tag line. Instructions are included. They have a video on the Joplin ARC website showing it in action. Cost is $35 at hamfests, but more when shipped (see website). You can order using PayPal or send them a check.

    See it here:

    Jim WB0IYC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *