Thursday, July 06, 2006

Buddipole wrap-up

In yesterday's post I talked about the Buddipole. Today, I'll just fill in a last few facts and thoughts about this system and its cousin the Buddistick. Both of these systems use a tapped coil system to give you the correct electrical length for the selected band. Below is a picture of one of these coil taps just to take the mystery out of them.

You can see the little bend in the end of the metal. That is the "finger" that grips the winding. The whole plastic top screws down drawing that finger up to hold the winding tight. Just make them snug, please! You don't want to start pulling the winding off the coil form. Both the Buddipole and Buddistick use these coil taps.
The instructions that came with my Buddipole gave suggestions for where to tap the coils and how far to extend the whips to achieve resonance on each band. My system came with three taps, one for the "shield" side (called black) and two for the inner conductor (hot) side (called red). The center "tee" has that color coding as well so everything is easy to match up. With just those three taps, and judicial setting of whip lengths, you can easily and quickly set the antenna up for all ham bands 40-10m using the standard whips.
Now the instructions talk about four taps. Check out the antenna setup card in the Buddipole Yahoo! group's file section. This diagram and chart illustrates nicely how easy it is to change bands.
This four tap strategy is different from the one that came with my antenna. As more and more refinements are made to the antenna and as more and more users play with it, better ideas emerge. I can't wait to try these new settings!
Which brings me to one of my last points: I rarely use the antenna with the settings on these cards. I'm continually trying new things. For example, I bought the longer and sturdier shock cord whips. I have two of the 5-section whips and one of the 7-section whips. The seven section whip is 148 inches long. That makes a great vertical radiator! But it also means I'm a bit off the beaten path in that there are no "standard" settings for all the crazy combinations of things I have. As I said yesterday, this is the erector set for ham radio. And, just as I never built the stuff in the erector set instructions (I was always building something more elaborate and fun), I'm rarely building the Buddipole up the way those instructions read, either. Instead, I have my own settings guide I've made for the new whips and I've got lots of weird, but promising, configurations still to be documented. The goal is always the same, though: to get the best antenna I can made with the limited weight and bulk I'm willing to carry on one of my trips.
Tomorrow I'll talk about the Force-12 Sigma-5 antenna and why I thought it was worth a try.


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