Turning Tapes into Antennas: The Duct Tape J-Pole Antenna Experiment

In the realm of ham radio, there’s always a thrill in building your own gear, especially when it comes to antennas. The journey of creating a functioning antenna from scratch not only sharpens your understanding of radio frequency (RF) principles but also sparks a sense of accomplishment. This time around, I embarked on a peculiar yet exciting project—creating a J-Pole antenna using nothing but copper foil tape and duct tape. Inspired by John Portune’s (W6NBC) innovative ideas on foil antennas, I decided to give this project a shot, and the outcome was nothing short of amazing.

The Copper-Duct Tape J-Pole Antenna:

The traditional J-Pole antenna often employs rigid materials like copper tubing which, while effective, can be cumbersome and costly. However, by using copper foil tape, which is significantly cheaper and readily available, you can create a lightweight, portable antenna without burning a hole in your pocket.

Here’s a step-by-step rundown of my experiment:

  1. Materials Needed:
    • Copper foil tape (1/4″ wide)
    • Duct tape
    • Soldering equipment
  2. Preparation:
    • Lay down two pieces of duct tape face to face, ensuring the sticky side is exposed.
    • Apply the copper foil tape onto the duct tape, following the dimensions derived from online J-Pole calculators for optimal performance.
  3. Tuning and Adjusting:
    • The beauty of using tape is the ease of adjustments. If an element is too long, simply peel and trim; if it’s too short, stick on an extension piece of foil.
    • For feeding the antenna, movable terminals held in place with magnets were used. This allowed for easy tuning and finding the sweet spot for the feedline connection.
  4. Final Touches:
    • Once the right tuning was achieved, the feed points were soldered down.
    • A protective layer of duct tape was added to seal off the copper foil, preparing the antenna for real-world testing.
  5. Testing The Antenna:
    • The first transmission test was a success, as confirmed by a fellow ham who acknowledged a clear signal from my new tape-constructed antenna.
  6. Advantages:
    • The Copper-Duct Tape J-Pole Antenna is not only cost-effective but also extremely portable, lightweight, and easy to adjust.
    • This design innovation opens the door for ham enthusiasts to experiment with readily available materials, breaking barriers of entry into the antenna-building realm.

This experiment was a homage to the hack-it-together spirit of the ham radio community, proving that sometimes, unconventional materials could lead to surprisingly effective solutions. The success of this project has fueled my curiosity further, and I am now eyeing a full-wave antenna project that I can tape onto the siding of my house. The journey of exploring, learning, and sharing continues, and I look forward to what the waves will bring next.

The community’s encouragement and Hackaday’s coverage of this quirky project have been heartwarming. It’s experiments like these that keep the essence of amateur radio alive, pushing boundaries and nurturing the community’s ever-evolving innovative spirit.

I invite you all to watch the full video on my YouTube channel and don’t forget to hit subscribe to stay updated on future antenna experiments. Also, do share your own quirky antenna building experiences in the comments below or on my blog at hamradiorookie.com. Happy tuning!

John Portune’s videos relating to this:



John Portune’s book on slot antennas https://amzn.to/3Fnr1rm

J-Pole Calculator: https://m0ukd.com/calculators/slim-jim-and-j-pole-calculator/

Materials used:

Duck Tape: https://amzn.to/46NY7MN

Copper Foil tape: https://amzn.to/45r8K6Q

BNC connector: https://amzn.to/48OvmRN

Wire: https://amzn.to/3ZSqvv1

Coaxial cable: https://amzn.to/45t1KX8

Oh and for the question that will come up it is DUCK not DUCT: https://youtu.be/9FaDI1i8ijs?si=eL7gIfRNcn8q4m_l

6 thoughts on “Turning Tapes into Antennas: The Duct Tape J-Pole Antenna Experiment

  1. Hi Ben – Wow this is a great antenna that will solve a 2mtr and 440 issue for me! I live in Denver, CO and would like to buy a complete assembled version from you. How do I place an order and what type of payment to do you take Credit Card or PayPal? Thanks for your reply. Best 73’s – Norm K9CQ

    1. Hey shoot over to VFComms.com and get on the list of people that want to buy. I am selling them there and struggling to feed the demand. I am generally getting 100 per week done and they sell out generally within the hour of posting. Thanks for your interest!

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