U-M ARC needs antenna ideas


The University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. The recently reinvigorated club has a great station, W8UM, in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Building on U-M’s North Campus.

The University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. To celebrate, they’re planning to operate a special event station from the Diag, an open space in the heart of the campus.

The problem they’re having are all the rules for such an event. For example, the event can’t be too noisy, even though it’s outside.

The biggest problem they’re having though is trying to come up with an antenna setup that the powers that be will approve. They can’t, for example, drive any stakes into the ground. Supposedly, that will damage the lawns. That rules out the 40m/20m inverted-V setup supported by the surplus fiberglass masts that we often use for these kind of temporary operations.

There’s also a rule that whatever structure is erected be no higher than eight feet tall. That also rules out the use of the fiberglass mast.

There are some trees near where they want to set up the station, but the grounds department have concerns about ropes in trees. That kind of rules out dipoles.

This morning, it occurred to me that we probably could use BuddiPoles and/or BuddiSticks. We could easily keep them under eight feet, and if operated vertically, they could be decent antennas. Using an insulated wire for the counterpoise should be safe enough.

I’d like to hear what you think, though. What kind of antennas have you used for this type of operation? Do they meet the restrictions these guys must meet?


  1. Buddistick, Pac12, PV7 or MP-1 on tripod would be good. Counterpoise for Buddistick works best a few feet off the ground. MagLoop would be another good choice. NVIS (low dipole) on 40/80m would be good for close communications. Since they have a 8′ ‘structure’ height rule, does a balloon holding up a wire antenna get around this?

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      I don’t think the balloon idea would fly (pun intended). The mag-loop would be a good idea, if we could find someone that had one.

  2. Remote control the main campus station via wireless network?

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      That’s not a bad idea, but I think they want to show off the equipment as well as just operate.

      • I accept that logic, but I’m skeptical that it will produce a successful special event. That also depends on the definition of success, I suppose!

        It seems that it’s a little late to shoot first and ask questions later since the question has already been raised. What are the consequences for a violation, though? Seriously. Termination of the activity is probably the worst outcome.

        • Dan KB6NU says:

          Oh, I think they’ll make contacts with a BuddiPole. As I said earlier, I used one at a special event (a Boy Scout Camporee), and it worked pretty well. We didn’t have a whole lot of choice in that situation. We were in a camper in the middle of a parking lot!

          As for the consequences of breaking the rules, I really don’t know. One of the students is responsible, and I don’t know how much risk he is willing to take. It’s not my butt on the line, so I’ll have to defer to him on this.

  3. LarryW2LJ says:

    Buddistick would work well, but you’ll need to find a way to keep the counterpoise wire off the ground.

    No way to throw an EFHW up into a tree? If you could just drape the wire over a tree limb, there’s no need for ropes other than pulling it over – heck even twine would work for that. My PAR-End Fedz 10/20/40 works extremely well.

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      The university seems really adverse to throwing things into trees, but an end-fed, half-wave (EFHW) antenna is stealthy enough that they might be able to get away with it. It would be a good excuse to make a 40m version of the EFHW I made for 20m a couple of months ago, too.

  4. A square canopy tent frame anchored with sand bags could support a Cobbwebb antenna.

  5. WOW… Talk about restrictive…. In that case I would go with a Buddistick vertical for 10 to 20m and a Buddipole horozontal for 20m and 40m …

    That would be the visiable antennas…. The EFHW hidden in a tree would be good as well but if you get caught then… you might not be welcome next time ….

    good luck…. 73bob

  6. As alternate to the “standard” approaches above, you might consider renting one of those inflatable “fun house” structures that are often used for outdoor events (e.g. http://www.bouncelandfun.com/ or http://www.funhouseinflatables.com/) as the supporting structure and then use duct tape to secure the antenna arrangement of your choice.

  7. How about a Hamstick Dipole up 8 feet in a Radio Shack Tripod. I’ve done it for QRP demos in Minneapolis and made enough contacts not to be boring. Add another 4 feet and get even better results. No stakes needed just sandbag the legs of the tripod. Email me and I’ll give you a list of items you’ll need.
    Good luck and 73, Mike N0WDM.

  8. Your article mentions vertical limitation, but I don’t see any horizontal limitation. Last time I walked through the diag, I remember it being relatively big. So, what about a center supported HORIZONTAL dipole? Some ideas are:

    Chameleon Antenna CHA V11 (about 17′ long):

    MFJ rotatable dipole MFJ-1769, 1775, etc

    I think other antenna manufacturers also have similar products. The tripod base for these antenna could be supported by something heavy like sand bags, which would not require any damages to the lawn.

  9. My first thought was a mag loop. You can make a very effective one with a length of 1/4 inch copper tubing, the stuff used to hook up a refrigerator. MFJ makes tuners for mag loops and the instructions have great info on loop sizes.

    Loops do have strong local fields, so you’d need some traffic cones or something to make a safe area.

    The LNR End-Fedz would also be a good choice and doesn’t require retuning when you QSY. A nice lightweight choice for a line to throw into a tree is arborist throw line. It is slippery to avoid damage to trees. Do you have a Forestry department?

  10. This club doesn’t need antenna ideas, its friends need to have a few words with Dean Wormer.

    Connected ham alumni, i.e. bigger ticket donors, urgently need to contact the university administration. Anyone remotely familiar with college life, is aware of the convoluted lengths “educators” will go to accomodate the most outlandish behavior in the name of selected academic, artistic and personal freedoms — virtually no idiosyncracy is too small.
    With a little care and consideration, a proper antenna can be safely raised without burning down the ROTC building or obstructing the view from transgendered bathrooms.

  11. PS: I’m so OM I worked W8UM 40 years ago as WN2/WB2EXW and still recall receiving their nice QSL. Go Wolverines!

  12. Dave K6KKR says:

    Maybe just use a vehicle antenna. Then if the authorities complain you could speed away.

    By the way I used to be the VP of W8UM back around 1980. Our shack was in the “steeple” of the Michigan Union. We had a fairly large quad antenna on the roof. It got removed soon after I graduated. Oh well, Go Blue!

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