Stairway to Heaven?
No! It is The Strange Antenna Challenge!
Rick Black, K4RAB
One of the highlights of the recent Techfest (January 12), sponsored by the Gwinnett Amateur Radio Society (GARS)
was something that no one would expect to be such an attention getter
among the exhibits of digital modes, DSTAR gear, APRS and the like. It
was a display promoting the Strange Antenna Challenge.
Seeing Arnold Solomon, KC4ZUA and James Loner, W4JHL operating an SSB
rig on 40 meters seemed so ordinary until one realized what they were
using for an antenna! What I hadn't noticed before was a 30 ft.
aluminum extension ladder strapped to a wooden fence behind the church
where the Techfest was being held. The ladder was connected to the
center conductor of the 50 ohm coax from the SSB rig. Connected to the
braid of the coax were three outstreched pieces of chicken wire on the
ground, each of which were approximately 30 feet in length, just about
perfect for 40. What KC4ZUA has created, of course, is a 40 meter
ground plane build from an extensible aluminum ladder! This is not
just a good "strange" antenna, but a great idea for a disguise
antenna! Few would think of an extensible ladder being used as an
antenna! (I couldn't resist telling Arnold that I had a name
for his antenna, "The Stairway to Heaven," with all due apologies to
But ladders aren't the only seemingly extraneous objects that these guys have converted into antennas. N0EW,
Erik Weaver, has used a pair of tape measures as dipole antennas, and
(this is a hoot) used a pair of metal folding chairs for a 10 meter
dipole! Perhaps the ultimate is NM3U's stadium antenna. That's
right, stadium antenna!
Yes, we're talking about loading up a stadium as an
antenna! Such landmarks as the St. Louis Arch also make
attractive subjects for such experimentation.
About the Strange Antenna Challenge - 2008
This event is held on Memoral Day weekend, starting Saturday, May 24,
2008 at 1000Z, and ending on Monday, May 26 at midnight local time. The
Web site is http://www.n0ew.org/k0s/.
This is a non competitive special event that focuses on antenna construction and operation.
There are some great reasons to participate in Strange Antenna
Challenge. It is fun and NOT a contest! It encourages creative thinking
in a world of prepackaged solutions, AND, it is an excercise in
emergency antenna construction and operating skills.
I will add that this is a great encouragement to the type of creative
thinking that goes into building disguise and hidden antennas. Indeed,
strange antennas and disguise antennas are very close cousins! An
example of this is using the gutter and downspout on your house as an
http://www.n0ew.org/k0s/ - General information about the Strange Antenna Challenge.
http://www.n0ew.org/book/k0s_field_manual.pdf - K0S Field Manual - guide to strange antennas.
http://www.n0ew.org/book/k0s_1st_Ed_errata_April2005.txt - Errata sheet for Field Manual.
http://kf4bwg.qsy.com/ and http://www.qsl.net/kf4bwg/ - Tape measure antennas, slinky antennas, and some very interesting J-poles.
http://www.hamuniverse.com/balun.html - balun construction.
http://n5xu.ece.utexas.edu/rfsafety/ - Amateur Radio RF Safety Calculator.