“Drive-in” antenna hookup? That’s cool!

The Green Valley Amateur Radio Club located in Green Valley, Arizona has one of the coolest antenna setups around.

Located at the site of a former Titan missile base, this 80-foot discone antenna was built by the Collins Radio Company in the early 1960s for the Air Force. Adjacent to the Titan Missile Museum in Sahuarita, Arizona, the discone antenna is enclosed by a barbed wire fence but conveniently has a junction box with a roll of RG8U and attached PL-259, all readily accessible by vehicle.

According to both the museum’s and GVARC’s websites, hams are welcome to use it provided that they check in with the visitor’s center and exercise good manners (roll the coax back up when they’re done). By the way, according to GVARC, the discone has a SWR of 2:1 over the entire 6-30MHz range.

Can you say “plug and play?” If you visit the missile museum while you’re there, please don’t press any of the big red buttons…. Enjoy the video below featuring the museum.

Matt Thomas, W1MST, is the managing editor of AmateurRadio.com. Contact him at [email protected].

3 Responses to ““Drive-in” antenna hookup? That’s cool!”

  • Kevin Mitchell, ZL1KFM:

    Anyone got specs on building one? I have the room and would be an interesting project.

  • Fred W0FMS:

    Kevin– ARRL antenna books tend to have them listed, and I think I saw designs in older ARRL Handbooks.

    You can (linearly) scale down (size/wavelength up) a VHF discone to HF.. what will happen though is the gap at the top will determine the highest frequency useable. So you might think a 80′ HF discone would be good from DC-Daylight– in theory it should.. the practicalities of building such a beast though means that something that size is good… oh from 6-30 MHz.. it still might be okay at 6m.

    The discones, when modeled are not quite as good as a vertical of the same size, though.. they are pretty close to isotropic in gain..

    So there might be more efficient uses with your efforts like phased arrays of verticals, etc.

    Fred W0FMS

  • Dallin AD1Z or VK7TAS:

    I’ve used this antenna on two occasions. The first time was in January 2011, and the global pileup that I created was massive! Europe, South America, USA, Canada and Australia. It was awesome. The second time I went in May 2011 and I got hardly anything. It’s certainly impressive, but it’s no magic wand. Like any antenna, it’s very dependent on propagation conditions.

    I don’t have the space, but I certainly have the desire to build one of these. I’ve had contact with some Canadian bacon (ham) who built one of these on his property in Saskatchewan. He said it was the best antenna he’s ever had.

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