Duh: Learning Curve #1

This is the first of a weekly (Lord willin’) post of some of the lessons learned in the last week of playing radio in the field and on the workbench. I will be sharing my good and some of the not so good lessons with ya so ya don’t fall into the same holes that I have.

Our monthly Polar Bear QRP Club outing was last weekend, and I hustled to put together a new C Pole antenna using Niel W0VLZ’s description. After gathering all the parts I set about preparing them. With the 100F temperatures and high humidity, that was a chore since I don’t have a garage with my condo and use my back porch as the workshop. I also have a less than full set of tools and to trim the 3/4 inch PVC pipe to fit the bases of the 16.5 ft Black Widow Crappie poles I had to resort to my Buck knife.

LESSON: Plan ahead and borrow the tools I need!!! YIKES.

I was a bit surprised how heavy the treated 1×4 lumber was. It certainly is not an antenna that is well suited to portable ops where it has to be carried very far.

LESSON: Think about how something is to be used BEFORE using it!

Got the C pole components loaded into the car and transported to the nearby lakeside park in our development. It is a nice quiet spot with towering pine trees and without too many curious visitors, so its a nice QRP portable site. Got my new Coleman shelter set up and went to work on the C Pole. Oops… another lesson. In preparing the PVC to fit into the crappie poles, I only tested the two pvc poles fit into ONE of the two crappie poles. After lugging the framework, antenna wire, coax, balun,  and poles about 100 yds to my site, I discovered crappie pole #2 had a big drop of fiberglass inside the open end of the pole and the PVC would not fit at all.

K4UPG Polar Bear Site Aug 2010
K4UPG Polar Bear Site Aug 2010
C Pole setup
C Pole Aborted Setup by Ninja wannabe K4UPG

LESSON: Check ALL the parts and do a trial setup BEFORE lugging the stuff across the wet grass and wasting time attempting to set it up.

LESSON: Don’t use a new antenna for the first time when the goal is get on the air and have fun!

For the Polar Bears, it was a frustrating weekend for most of us. Propagation was spotty and noise level was as high as the heat. At least I did reconnect with my antenna lovin’ PB friend Aaron, N9SKN/2 working from his hotel parking lot in NJ and had a couple nice ragchews including Julio NP3CW who was 599 and despite two guys calling CQ on top of us was able to be copied well. Great QRP signal Julio.

As you can see, I went ninja and tied a piece of old tee shirt around my head as a sweatband. Actually I was emulating our Alpha Bear, Ron WB3AAL after I read of his early Appalachian Trail exploits and saw a photo of him in his youth and ninja radio mode. Well I tied it TOO TIGHT and left it on TOO LONG and came home with a painful big red stripe on my forehead that lasted for several hours and hurt like all git out.

Ouch Head
Ouch Head for the Web... Don't try this at home! Grrrrrrr!

LESSON: Baby Polar Bears should not try to be like the Alpha Bear and wear an unapproved homebrew sweatband. These can be hazardous to one’s health and well being. Don’t try this at home kids!

Beef n Pepper Jack Cheese Wrap K4UPG style

p. s. For our Summer Picnic Events, we are supposed to send a picture of our sammich that we have for lunch. So here is mine!

Until next time…


Kelly K4UPG Polar Bear #173


  1. Alex says

    The BIG lesson learned is Never, Never go out with an untested antenna, I have been guilty of the same infraction of “PB Commandment #1”!!
    If you have to have the framework for that particular C-pole antenna, make it ALL out of pvc and get rid of the 2 x 4 tonnage!
    OR you can get 2 Tiki Torch spikes from Lowes or where ever and use them to hold your Crappie poles upright at the correct spacing.
    Better still is to use your crappie poles to assemble a 20M Half Square, go to this url, hope I get it right! http://www.qsl.net/ka1ddb/20meterhalfsquare.html for a nice explanation and antenna dimensions. This is my next PB outing antenna.Check it out, N9SKN would surely give it a try?!
    Ahhh the rigors of tiny tuners and wire antennas, I jess Luv this stuff.

    I don’t wear headbands, the “PB Commandment #2” states only Alpha Bears can do this!!! Reminds me of my younger days in the early 1960’s, better known as Alex the Hippie, BUSA, Before US Army.If I did wear a headband I’d have to add a few feathers in the appropriate place for mere coolness.
    73 GRRRRRRRR Alex K5UNY PB 105

  2. says

    I dared on my last trip and brought out two untested antennas. I used the 44′ twinlead fed doublet and left the Fuchs EFHW in the bag. The doublet worked perfect…hi hi Forget all that plastic pipe and use what Alex told me to use, a 44′ doublet. Works great, less sweat expelled installing.


  3. kmack says

    The C Pole is really for use in my back yard but I wanted to test it in the nearby park for the fun of it. But given the heat and complications, it was a poor decision. DUH… when am I gonna learn?

    My results with a 44′ doublet are very less than stellar so far. My BLT+ tuner doesn’t seem to do the job on it for some reason and SWR is pretty high, so I keep it parked in my standby bin for now.

    How’s the Fuchs worked for ya?

    Kelly K4UPG PB #173

  4. Aaron, N9SKN says


    Glad I got hold of ya Saturday – otherwise would have been no PB’s for me all day. Looks like a nice tent setup like you said on the air.

    That “C Pole” antenna looks very interesting and looks like I may have to blame my next antenna project on YOU :)

    Great Blog you have here.
    All the best, Aaron

  5. kmack says


    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I was really glad to hear you out there. Been a bit since I’ve heard you on the air and reflector, so I was glad to learn you and Guy had an outing and then that you’d be on for the PBSPE too.

    I like the C Pole and it would be a decent antenna for the backyard up and down lifestyle I have here in my condo. It is a bit awkward to carry and so isn’t ideal for a portable setting, but would be good in a campground since it doesn’t need guy lines and is a pretty small footprint. Just need some extra hands to get it from point A to point B. I’ll be watching for you on the air when we can hear each other better. The rain really distracted me when we were talking last weekend. It was running down my keying arm. :-)

    Kelly K4UPG PB #173

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