What’s so great about a J-pole?

Building a roll-up J-pole antenna with ladder line.

Building a roll-up J-pole antenna with ladder line.

Our club hosted a workshop this past weekend to teach folks how to build a “roll-up” style J-pole antenna for handheld radios.  Our workshops are typically sparsely attended affairs, but somehow we received more than 20 pre-registrations for this antenna workshop. I didn’t know quite a few of them, as they are either very new hams or not club members.

I was surprised at the level of enthusiasm for what I consider to be a handy, but ultimately boring antenna. I have one of the dual-band Arrow J-poles for 2m and 70cm. It’s a rugged antenna, can handle nearly legal-limit power and costs less than $40. Arrow even makes a club project pack for $300, than contains enough parts to build 10 of these suckers.

There’s not much that can be said about the J-pole. It’s an omnidirectional antenna — actually a variation of the dipole, with a single half-wave radiator and a quarter wave tuning stub. They are easy to build if you have a spare piece of ladder line and some coax. Any ham should be able to construct one without much fuss, particularly those Amateur Extras and Generals. Plans for the J-pole abound, and the antenna itself was even lampooned in the April issue of QST this year, in what ultimately became a functional design known as the “Q-Pole.”

As antennas go, the J-pole has no gain over a dipole. It’s functional for hitting the local repeaters and for some simplex work.

Anyway, I shot some images for the club website of these new hams having a good bit of fun on a beautiful Saturday morning out in the wilds of Calhoun County. They will be able to take their new antennas and do some public service work, or stash it in their go-bags.

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