On today’s episode of “Will It Antenna?”, [Ben Eadie (VE6SFX)] designs and tests an antenna made entirely of tape, and spoiler alert — it works pretty well.
By way of background, the basic design [Ben] uses here is known as a J-pole, a popular “my first antenna” design for amateur radio operators looking to go beyond the stock whip antenna that comes with that cheap handy-talkie you just can’t resist buying as soon as you get your license. Usually, though, hams will build their J-poles from rigid materials, copper water pipe being a typical choice. Copper has the advantage of being easily sourced, and also results in a self-supporting, weather-resistant antenna that’s easy to mount outdoors. However, copper is getting to be egregiously expensive, and a couple of meters of water pipe isn’t exactly amenable to portable operation, if that’s your jam.
To solve those problems, [Ben] decided to keep his copper use to a minimum with a roll of copper foil tape. He doesn’t provide any specs on the tape, but it looks like it’s about 6 mm (1/4″) wide and judging by a quick Amazon search, probably goes for about $10 a roll. He starts the build with a couple of strips of plain old duck tape — we’ve already had the “duck vs. duct” argument — laid out with the sticky sides together. The copper foil is applied to the duck tape backing using dimensions from any of the J-pole calculators available online. Dimensions are critical to getting good performance from a J-pole, and this is where [Ben]’s tape design shines. Element too long? No problem, just peel up a bit and tear some off. Did you go too far and make an element too short? Easy — just stick on an extension piece of foil. Tuning the location of the feedline connection was a snap, too, with movable terminals held in place with magnets.
Once everything was tuned up, [Ben] soldered down the feed points and covered the foil with a protective layer of duck tape. The antenna performed swimmingly, and aside from costing almost nothing to build, it weighs very little, rolls up to fit in a pack for field operations, and can easily be hoisted into a tree for better coverage. Looks like we’ll be putting in an order for some copper tape and building one of these too. Continue reading “This Packable Ham Radio Antenna Is Made From Nothing But Tape”
If you hack things in the real world, you probably have one or more rolls of duck tape. Outside of the cute brand name, many people think that duck tape is a malapropism, but in truth it is the type of cloth traditionally used in our favorite tape: cotton duck. However, as we’ll see, it’s not entirely wrong to call it duct tape either. Whatever you call it, a cloth material has an adhesive backing and is coated with something like polyethylene.
Actually, the original duck tape wasn’t adhesive at all. It was simply strips of cotton duck used for several purposes, including making shoes and wrapping steel cables like the ones placed in 1902 at the Manhattan Bridge. By 1910, the tape was made with adhesive on one side and soaked in rubber, found use in hospitals for binding wounds. In May 1930, Popular Mechanics advised melting rubber from an old tire and adding rosin to create a compound to coat cotton tape, among other things.
Continue reading “How Duck Tape Became Famous”
A hacker is somebody who’s always thinking creatively to solve problems, usually using what they have on hand. Sometimes that means using a 555 to build a CPU, and other times it means using a dead flashlight to start a fire. In the video below the break, [Kelly] shows us a series of hacks you can use while camping in the woods for a night to keep you warm, dry, and well fed!
[Kelly] started his camping trip not in the woods, but rather at a local thrift store. Instead of packing along hundreds of dollars in gear, his aim was to keep costs low. Very low. With some searching he was able to find a blanket, cooking utensils, rope, knife, tarp, and several other camp necessities for just $25.
A good campfire is a necessity of course, and [Kelly]’s full of great ways to start a fire even if all you have is a lighter with no butane or an old flashlight with dead batteries. The purpose of the video is to show how anyone can get their bush craft on even when all they have is a few dollars and a little know-how, which he generously shares. And after watching, we’re sure you’ll agree that he met his mark.
Will you raid the local second hand store before your next camping trip? After seeing this video, you just might! And while you’re there, make sure to grab the things you’ll need to make your own camping-friendly French press so you have some good coffee while you’re out camping in your… uh… Corolla?
Continue reading “Camping For $25: Thrift Store Hacks To Keep Cozy”