Just Get On The Air! (A Makeshift Temporary Dipole Shortwave Antenna)

It might not take as much antenna as you may think would be necessary to make two-way contacts on shortwave radio (as an amateur radio operator putting an HF transceiver on the air). However, often, makeshift antennae are effective enough to be viable–just look at all the contacts many amateur radio operators make with their low-power (QRP) rigs (transceivers) using short, helically-wound, mobile antenna sticks. If they can work magic with such inefficient antenna setups, surely your effort at an antenna would pay off to some degree. Right?

Of course, I want to make a proper dipole out of this example antenna. But, while I wait for the rest of the parts I need to complete this antenna project (pulleys and a ladder, and maybe a potato launcher), I’ve put this makeshift antenna on the air, with it just high enough so that I can enjoy some time on the shortwave bands.

With this antenna, I’ve made successful two-way voice and Morse code contacts (QSOs) with stations in Europe and across North America. I am able to tune it on the 60-, 40-, 30-, 20-, 15-, 17-, 12-, and 10-Meter bands. Reverse beacon detection picks up my Morse-code CW signals, especially on 40 meters (the band on which it is tuned physically).

The bottom line: just get something up in the air and start communicating. Improve things over time. You’ll have much fun that way.

73 de NW7US dit dit

Visit, subscribe: NW7US Radio Communications and Propagation YouTube Channel

12 Responses to “Just Get On The Air! (A Makeshift Temporary Dipole Shortwave Antenna)”

  • ronald barbee ke5tqb:

    I’m new to amateur radio. I have a Technician’s license and am studying for my General. I like to have a link as to how to carry on a conversation on the air. I’m a little timid while on the air.

  • Mike McKenzie, KM4MWN:

    Just jump in ant talk! spin the dial listen for an active channel listen if its a Net if it is they will ask for check-ins thats when you check it and they will call on you to talk

  • Pat Riggs W6SLA:

    Good advice. One can wait an eternity finding the perfect set up …. which does not exist.

  • Mr. Mickey kF5JSV:

    I got my licenses at the age of 76, was a SWL most of my life. A fellow Ham gave his telephone number, talked a long time.. WA8DOG told me “That he was coming to live with till I got my license.” I got my General in about a year and a half, I have enjoyed every second. I now have friends all over the United States… 3s & 8s

  • Dennis KL7HRO:

    I agree with jumping in and talking but I would suggest first to listen to several QSO’s to see how they do it. You can learn alot by listening. When you think you understand how it is done then find a clear frequency and call CQ. A lot of hams don’t like it if you try to break into their conversation if you don’t have something to add to what they are talking about. So it goes back to listening. Be patient and you will learn as you listen. Enjoy the hobby. If someone gets mad at you, tell them you are sorry and move on. Ham radio is not the place to argue. 73 from KL7HRO Dennis in Two Rivers, Alaska.

  • KI4CN:

    Hmmm. I really have some problems AND questions.
    My call sign expired several years ago because of turmoil in my working life, namely constantly on the road.

    Question. Is it possible to become active in amateur radio again now that I’m retired AND regain my original KI4CN call?

    I know the local ham group. I could contact specified exam handlers. I was active in the Wayne Green era; ham radio has evolved so drastically, but with some studying I’m fairly sure I could pass exams and get going again.

    Thoughts! ?!?

  • David KJ4CMY:

    You hit the nail on the head. A bad antenna always beats no antenna!

  • kj4dge:

    Any antenna is a good antenna if you can make contacts with it. Many times new hams think they need a wiz-bang, read-about, all band piece of wire when they may have everything they need in their garage junk box. I have made lots of verticals with the help of a neighbors bamboo patch which he hates. I cull the better ones for masts. Have had a home brew 40/20 vertical at 33 feet that talks up and down the east coast and into Europe. It does not matter how it looks but whether it tunes for you. Get some ideas from here or on the net and build yourself a antenna. HOA’s as well can be overcome with a rain gutter antenna, no excuses!

  • Fred Krapf KJ7HOG:


    Just watched your video on the dipole antenna build as noted in the current “Amateur Radio Weekly Newsletter – Week of October 10, 2020”. Thank you for this informative video.

    I’ve been a Technician level operator for a short while now and may keep climbing the “ranks”. I am a member of a great club and local C.E.R.T. member and retired Soldier. I’ve subscribed to your YouTube channel and look fwd to future comms with you.

  • Phil. KC3INU:

    I need to find an Elmer. I belong to a club but don’t ever attend the meetings as I am “elderly” and don’t drive anymore. I don’t want to ask the club as I can only contribute membership money and nothing else so I don’t feel I can ask for help. Maybe this is silly, I don’t know. Comments?

  • Tom N1YR:

    @ ex-KI4CN: Yes,through the vanity program you can ask to change to your old call sign after you are re-licensed. After two years it is up for grabs, but I just checked, and no one recently has taken it. If you can show you held it previously, you should get priority over anyone else who requests it on the same day.

    But you may have to get a current (no code) Amateur Extra license to ask for it. 2×2 call signs are restricted to Advanced and Extra class licensees, and Advanced class licenses are no longer being issued. Technicians and Generals can get 1×3 or 2×3 calls.

  • James M.Burns kf5jsv:

    I’m 87 years old,Just joined QRZ ha!! I have really enjoyed the comments & Imformation section FANMOSTTASTIC!!!
    Everyone has a blessed day… SMILE! GOD LOVES YOU!!! John 3:16
    3’s & 8’s kf5jsv

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