I have been playing with portable antennas for years. When operating portable, the antenna probably has the biggest effect on how well you portable station works. I have quite a few portable antennas. Some are specialty antennas and some are my “go to” antennas. When operating at a park for Parks on the Air (POTA). My Frankentenna is my go to. It has evolved over the years, but now I mostly tweak to get it how I like it. Here is the antenna and its parts:
What makes it a Frankentenna is it uses parts from different companies, mainly from Buddipole and Chameleon. Here is a list of the components and links to their websites:
(1) Buddipole 7 section Lightweight Shock Corded Whip Antenna https://www.buddipole.com/mistshwh.html
(3) Buddipole 22″ accessory antenna arms. I am swapping out the blue arms for black ones to better reduce the visibility of the antenna (out of sight, out of mind) https://www.buddipole.com/exanar.html
(1) Chameleon CHA Spike Mount – https://chameleonantenna.com/shop-here/ols/products/cha-spike-mount
(1) Chameleon CHA Hybrid Micro https://chameleonantenna.com/shop-here/ols/products/cha-hybrid-micro
92) Buddipole Wire Assembly Low Band (66′) https://www.buddipole.com/wireassembly.html
This is the basic kit. With it I can make a vertical antenna, and endfed with a counterpoise, and even a dipole. The kit is pretty lightweight and easily fits into a standard Buddipole bag. While at park campgrounds, I usually run it as a vertical. I keep an arborist throw line and weight in with my station equipment. I have some tweaks and mods I have done. Two that you see here are the phenolic insulator and a mod to the spike.
The spike mod is an improvement on the current ground screw. It was a red plastic knob with about an 8-32 screw thread.
I felt it was too small since most counterpoises have either 1/4″ OR 3/8″ eye on the end. I carefully drilled out the hole and tapped it for 1/4″-20 thread.
This now allows me to use a Buddipole Counterpoise Wire Adapter https://www.buddipole.com/noname2.html which is 1/4-20 on one end and 3/8-24 on the other. It gives a more secure connection between the spike and the counterpoise. These are the same adapters that come with the Buddipole Wire Assembly and you can buy them separately https://www.buddipole.com/noname2.html. finished, it looks like this.
One of the things I didn’t like about the Chameleon Micro was the shackle it comes with. The shackle is used to support the transformer when it is used as an end fed or a dipole since it is too heavy to be supported by the antenna wires. It was always kind of hincky getting the shackle setup right. Now I use the Buddipole Counterpoise Wire Adapters. So much easier and so much lighter.
The other mod is a phenolic (micarta) insulator. This allows me to use the vertical with something other than the Chameleon transformer. An example might be one of my homebrew 9:1 UnUn or a Buddipole coil. The insulator is threaded on one end and has an insert on the other, both 3/8-24.
How does it play? Quite Well. I tested 2 configurations I would most likely use during a POTA activation. The first is a 54′ end fed with a 50’ish counterpoise using the Chameleon Micro. Using my RigExpert Stick Pro I got the following. Format is Band — SWR
160m — 5.7
80m — 3.2
60m — 3.5
40m — 4.1
30m — 3.2
20m — 2.1
17m — 3.7
15m — 1.7
12m — 2.2
10m — 3.6
6m — 2.1
The second setup was using the Micro as a vertical. The antenna is approx 17′ (very close to the Chameleon) and running a 50’ish counterpoise.
160m — 6.7
80m — 3.7
60m — 3.5
40m — 2.4
30m — 1.5
20m — 1.3
17m — 1.3
15m — 1.9
12m — 2.8
10m — 3.1
6m — 1.8
During this last activation, I mainly used the vertical arrangement as that suited the space I had. The antenna performed well. I made 100 contacts here and abroad. To see a map check out my post about my activation at Kolomoki Mounds State Park.
What’s next for this antenna? I have two Black Accessory Arms and a Counterpoise Wire Adapter coming from Buddipole. The arms will make the antenna more stealthy and the extra adapter will reside on the spike. I may try the Buddipole coil to see how it plays and I just got some new toroids to see if they work any better. Overall, I really like this antenna. It’s light and compact and goes up anywhere. The SWR is low enough that almost any tuner, can tune it, even on the low bands.