I am fairly certain that one of the reasons that people tend to get confused when starting out with their Buddipole antenna is because there are so many choices of how they can use it. If you are anything like me then being spoilt for choice can lead to confusion and a certain amount of procrastination!
In this post, I will provide some tips from my own experiences and links to other resources that I found particularly helpful when first getting started with my Buddipole antenna. I have owned mine for over three years and have enjoyed using it immensely in all sorts of weird and wonderful locations. I am a fairly cautious person by nature and have a tendency to procrastinate so I spent lots of time reading and watching videos before setting up my Buddipole for the first time. You may be more of a “get straight into it” kind of person but I recommend taking some time to do some reading and video watching before your first set up. This way, you are more likely to get the results you want and enjoy using it more.
So What Buddipole Bits Am I using?
Before I get into the nitty gritty, here is a brief rundown of the Buddipole version and equipment I am using (Buddipole have expanded their offerings since my original purchase):-
- The Buddipole Deluxe version with standard length arms etc.
- 18 foot mast and mast guying kit (the guying kit is an absolute must).
- Triple ratio switch balun (TRSB). I purchased this later after experiencing problems with RF on the outside of the coax cable and it resolved the issue.
- Shockcord mast – short version 8 feet (2.4 meters) in length. This was purchased as an alternative to using the full size tripod and mast for operations where I was unable to transport equipment by car etc. I have also ridden on my bicycle to site on many occasions and can carry the Buddipole, rig and battery fairly easily using this.
- Counterpoise Wire Adapter – enabling a counterpoise/radial wire to be neatly and easily screwed into the Versatee when setting up the antenna in the Versatee vertical configuration.
- Wire Assembly (long version) – wire which is wound on to a kite winder and used for a counterpoise/radial when operating the Buddipole as a Versatee vertical antenna.
I am not using any additional accessories such as longer length telescopic whips and just use the standard accessory arms and whips that came with the deluxe package.
I value the antenna’s excellent portability in its easy carry bag and don’t want to compromise this by purchasing additional parts.
Resources to Get You Up and Running
The resources that I found the most beneficial when I was getting to grips with my Buddipole are as follows and I am certain that you will get more enjoyment and fulfilment from your Buddipole after checking them out. I know I did.
Buddipole in the Field book by Scott Andersen (NE1RD)
This can be purchased from the Buddipole website or downloaded from there as a freely available downloadable PDF. You will need the freely available Adobe Acrobat reader to access this.
If you disregard every other resource that I list here, please ensure that you check this one because it is extremely helpful. This 154 page book tells you everything you need to know about getting the most from your Buddipole and it shows you how to configure the antenna for most HF bands. It also has lots of information on the different ways you can setup the antenna and what’s best for the different bands and locations.
Buddipole’s You Tube Channel
The Buddipole You Tube channel contains a number of instructional videos such as the one shown here, providing extremely helpful information on how to set up and get the most from your Buddipole antenna.
The Buddipole Group on Yahoo
I have found the Buddpole group on Yahoo another excellent resource where you will find many other Buddipole users who can help you get the most from your antenna. The group’s file depositary is an excellent resource containing many files on ways in which you can use your Buddipole antenna.
Do yourself a favor and join this group and check out the many valuable files. You’ll find all sorts of weird and wonderful concoctions there including Yagi designs.
Photographs From Some Portable Sessions
Tips From My Own Experience
Use an Antenna Analyzer
When I first started using my Buddipole I did not have an antenna analyser and I quickly regretted this. Trust me when I say that an antenna analyzer is a must!
Prior to purchasing one, I found that it took me far too long to get up and running with a workable SWR and I even had a session or two where I failed to get on air at all, which was extremely frustrating. With its modular construction and required settings, it is very easy to make a mistake or fail to insert a coil clip correctly, resulting in poor connectivity and/or a dysfunctional antenna.
The analyzer gives you visual feedback instantly as to whether you are on the right track when you set up your Buddipole and is a must in my experience. I am usually up and running within a few minutes with the aid of my analyzer and I could not do without it in the field.
Don’t Just Use the Horizontal Dipole Setup
When I first got my Buddipole, it did not occur to me to try using it in a vertical dipole configuration. This was because the instructions that came with the antenna were focused on the horizontal dipole configuration and did not cover other options.
Do yourself a favour and familiarise yourself with the settings to use your Buddipole as a vertical which you will find via the resources I listed earlier. The Buddipole in the Field book that I mentioned earlier discusses the pros and cons of using a vertical versus a horizontal set up on the different bands.
The vertical antenna works exceptionally well, particularly when utilised near saltwater and I can certainly testify to this from experience in the field.
Carry With You a Summary of the Buddipole Settings
I don’t know about you, but I get very confused with the myriad of settings that you need to deal with on the Buddipole and here are just a few items you need to consider when operating in the field:-
- Coil tap positions – you have two sets to deal with, one for each arm when using the antenna horizontally and these are different if using the Triple Ratio Switch Balun (TRSB).
- Telescopic whip lengths – these vary in some instances
- Counterpoise/radial wire lengths – these vary when using the Buddipole as a versatee vertical for the different bands.
I found it extremely valuable to put together a table using my word processor which provides me with information on the different coil taps and counterpoise wire lengths. I’ve printed it out and laminated it and it is a very handy reference in the field.
Finally Test, Test, Test!
The Buddipole never ceases to amaze me with its performance and I’ve learnt from experience that you never know what you can do with it unless you try.
Generally speaking, being located in Western Australia (VK6) near Perth, one of the remotest capital cities on the planet, I am seeking DX which is probably at least 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) away from me,
Generally, I set up my Buddipole near saltwater and only use it as a vertical and I work the world with excellent results. However, as a case in point, the Buddipole in the Field book advises against using it as a horizontal dipole on bands such as 20 and 40 metres, particularly without extra arms etc., due to the antenna’s physical size and insufficient elevation.
Recently I’ve been using my Buddipole from my home QTH where it is impractical to use as a vertical, due to the noise level which is rarely below S8. It is far less noisy when set up as a horizontal dipole and recently I’ve used it on both 20 and 40 metres in this manner. On each occasion I have worked long distance DX including a contact on 40 metres into California which was approximately 15,000 kilometres away (almost 10,000 miles)!
So the moral of the story is don’t assume anything with your Buddipole and don’t be afraid to test it in different configurations. After all, there’s so many different ways you can use it. Have fun!
73s Jonathan VK6JON