I have been using my Packtenna End Fed Halfwave (EFHW) antenna for several years now and have over 300 QSO’s / 39 activations using this antenna. As I have been doing more SOTA activations with the focus on CW, I primarily use my Mountain Topper 5 band HF QRP radio. Since this rig lacks a tuner (unlike my KX3), I use the EFHW as my go to antenna. A dipole comes in as number two.
Building Custom Antenna Traps
The first method I used was to unsolder the factory antenna wire and solder on 2mm bullet connectors on wire elements cut for each band. In my case I had a 20 and 40 meter resonant wires that I could switch out depending on what frequency I was using. The downside of this is that it takes time and tearing apart your portable antenna setup is not desirable on top of windy summit. Which leads to method number two: build and use traps.
Review of the Packtenna Antenna systems in the November 2016 QST magazine.
Installing traps on an antenna allows you to turn your EFHW into a multiband antenna. When you switch bands on your radio, the antenna is automatically set for the band you have chosen. No need to pull the antenna or change elements. As far as traps go, you can buy them online or make them yourself. Since we are talking portable operating and backpacking, weight is a concern.
While checking out OSHPark a few years ago, I stumbled upon the WS0TA PCB traps. These allow you to choose your own capacitors and inductors based on the frequency you choose. There is some RF magic voodoo theory and testing going this route.
*Note: That is not Fred , KT5X. Fred is way much cooler than that.
One of the first things I did when the bare PCB’s arrived was sand down the height of the board from 6.41mm to 5.63mm. The reason I did this was once the toroid was wound, the PCB was too tall to fit inside the toroid with out moving the coils around.
Taking the toroid’s I wrapped it 40 turns on the T50-2 (20 meters), and soldered in a 15pF capacitor (650 volt, 1206 SMD, NP0) in parallel. I covered the whole thing in shrink wrap. I later made a 3D printed cover for it but found it really wasn’t necessary. I didn’t have high hopes that the trap only covered in shrink wrap would withstand being dragged through the mud, snow, sand and being repeatedly wound on and off a Packtenna winder.
I was wrong, as two years later and after many activations it is still working the same as the day I installed it. Recently when I was section hiking the Long Trail in Vermont, I used this antenna extensively. The one issue I had was only 20 and 30m capability; I really needed 40m and possibly a higher band like 17m. Currently I am collecting parts to build a 17, 30 & 40 meter traps. Parts are on order and I will update this entry with my findings.
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