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Making Wire Antenna Insulators

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by KC8VWM, Oct 31, 2017.

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  1. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    For a lightweight, portable antenna (I have my share of those in a camping container) I've often used old 35mm film containers (plastic) with holes drilled through opposite sides.

    At first I was highly skeptical they'd be strong enough to support anything, but Pete KT2B who was an avid photographer (for a living) showed me he was using them to support the ends of a full-sized 160m dipole temporarily installed for the ARRL 160m contest and the damned thing stayed up all weekend! That's an amazing amount of stress (including probably 50' of coax hanging from its center) and the little plastic film cans worked. Cost = $0 since he (and I) had hundreds of them laying around.

    Remember the secret word from the film The Graduate? "Plastic.":p
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  2. N3DT

    N3DT Ham Member QRZ Page

    As someone else did, I use 1/2" poly with holes drilled in the ends, painted black. For heavy coated telco drop wire, I just fasten it on the poly with a hose clamp. This is for permanent antennas, not lightweights.
    KC8VWM likes this.
  3. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    There's a great future in plastics.

    Film cans work as insulators if you can find a FotoMat store. :)


    What I like about these 3 cent zip tie insulators is how easy they are to pack up.

    This is a multi band link dipole I threw together a few days ago ...


    As you can see, unlike egg type insulators, they lay nice and flat when winding up the antenna, so they won't take up much bulk space.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2017
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  4. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page

    One nice thing about working for an electric utility company was "free stock". Those are items that it costs more to handle the "paper work" keeping track of the items than they cost in the first place. Various grades of black plastic tape, fuses, various types of rope, several sizes of compression "egg" insulators, tie wraps, all sizes of terminal lugs, insect repellent, and a number of other things, were in racks / shelves about 40-feet long and 6-feet high that were in an open area in every service center. Company employees, contractors, and so forth, were allowed to take whatever they wanted, no questions asked.

    Electric company "egg" insulators are, generally, top quality and the smaller ones make for excellent antenna insulators. If it was desired to "break up" tower guy wires, the larger "egg" insulators were "perfect"!

    At least for TXU, which was the electric company for almost half the State of Texas, no one cared if "free stock" items were used for personal purposes as well as for company projects. In fact, many of the service center managers encouraged taking of items for personal use because there were expiration dates on a lot of the items and when that date came, the items were just thrown out even though, in truth, there was nothing wrong with the item.

    Although I resided in the corporate headquarters in downtown Dallas, Texas, I spent most of my time "in the field" and visited quite a few of the service centers. As such, for the over 10-years that I was employed by TXU (as an in-house telecommunications consultant), I had, basically, an endless supply of electrical tape, terminal lugs, rope, fuses, "egg" insulators, and so forth. I still have a few of the "egg" insulators around.

    Glen, K9STH
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  5. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yep. I see MFJ also sells 'em, pn MFJ-16A01 glazed ceramic compression "egg" insulators for $0.79/ea. They're inexpensive and, the best part to use for anything you don't want to ever fall.
  6. W4CDO

    W4CDO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    KC8VWM, is the center insulator, with the SO-239 store bought or home made? If you made it, what did you use?
  7. N4UM

    N4UM Ham Member QRZ Page

    For end insulators I like to use heavy duty nylon "weed Wacker" line from the garden department at Home depot or Lowes. I use metal crimps from a fishing tackle shop to make loops at each end of the insulator. They hold up well in the weather and you can make them in any length. I've never noticed any problems with arcing while running about 500 watts. They're lightweight and less visible than other types of insulators.
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  8. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The center insulator I am using has something to do with sliding inside electric track lighting systems.


    So they are a whatchamacallit that came inside a box of other junk electrical parts my son in law dropped off on my doorstep.

    Since I really had no other use for them, I originally started using them as compact "wire winders" for holding wire and rope for small portable antennas.


    Then I realized I could drill a few holes here and there, install an SO-239 on them and make antennas out of them.

    Here's a complete 20m dipole that fits inside your shirt pocket...

    shirt pocket antenna.jpg

    So these whachamacallits function as the feed point insulator, antenna insulators and wire winders all at the same time! :D
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017
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  9. W4CDO

    W4CDO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Very neat! Makes good use of whatever is at hand. Thank you.

    Jerry W4CDO
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  10. AK5B

    AK5B Ham Member QRZ Page

    Shushhhh, Charles; you shoulgn't give away trade secrets so freely!
    KC8VWM likes this.

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