Working All of Palo Alto with 5 Watts

How high can you get your antenna? I used a roll-up J-pole antenna on an 18′ collapsible pole supported by our patio table and could be heard across the city using only my 5W HT.

Every Monday night, I check in to the Palo Alto ARES/RACES training net. I can almost always hear net control, but they can rarely hear me. I guess it is good practice relaying traffic, but it makes it hard for me to contribute substantially.

5W Yaesu VX-6R connected to antenna

Last night, I realized that I could use the umbrella hole in our patio table to support an antenna mast! It worked really well. I got great signal reports from across the city. I was clear enough that I got a report of low audio, so we tested a bit more mic gain.

antenna mast supported by patio table

The pole is a Greenlee 18 foot fish pole that was left behind after some electrical construction. It weighs 2.5 pounds and collapses to under 28 inches long. The sections are friction fit and designed for pulling, so they won’t support a lot of weight.

The antenna is an Ed Fong dual-band roll-up J-pole. You can build your own from Ed’s instructions (downloadable from his site), but he builds them better than I could for only $28. I bought mine at our local Ham Radio Outlet in Sunnyvale.

IMG 9845 crop

If you have a patio table, grab some PVC pipe and get your antenna off the ground. It really helps.


5 thoughts on “Working All of Palo Alto with 5 Watts

  1. I use a 28′ painter’s pole that you can buy at most lumber yard supply stores. Since it has
    Acme style threads at the top, I bought a small painting pad and removed the pad which left
    a plastic screw-on tip with a hole at the end. I have a sturdy board with a pipe flange screwed
    on it and I drive one wheel of my Jeep Liberty on the board. The painter’s pole handle goes into the
    flange and a bungee cord holds it to the luggage rack of my Jeep. If I’m in a park I can usually
    brace the painter’s pole against a table or between two tables to hold an HF dipole or my
    VHF/UHF disk cone.



  2. Sounds great! I made a zip-tie loop on the end of the fish pole and used a Nite Ize S-biner to hook the antenna to the pole.

    I pack some straps in case I can find a fence post or similar to tie up the mast.


  3. It was probably de-tuned a bit, though fiberglass is pretty RF transparent. The extra height more than makes up for any losses due to mismatch or an extra 25 feet of coax.

    Ed Fong does make a J-pole for permanent mounting. That is inside PVC pipe and the antenna is adjusted for that.

    I have the roll-up J-pole, which is designed for field deployment.


  4. A great way for hams in restricted ares to play radio. Also can be used for hf with the approprate antenna. Just take the bird feeder poke down to refill with seeds


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