A SHORT CUT June 18th, 2013
One of the things that many of us do, at least HF operators do, is spend endless hours in the garden putting up or making changes to our antennas. When I was a young ham operator with a brand new call sign I would often need to make the antenna longer or shorter. I could end up with a pile of cut wire on the ground. I would also get through lengths of insulation tape where I had cut too much off and had to splice wire back on again. And once all that was finished and I had the right antenna length, it would look a real mess with various joints. So to tidy it up I would need to measure the final length or lengths I had ended up with and replace it with a new, unbroken length.of wire. It was very time consuming and, on my pocket money, somewhat expensive. Well it took a while before I realized that there was a much easier way that was tidier and did not involve any cutting or the need for the final replacement of all the wire.
If you bend a length of wire back on itself, it is exactly the same as cutting it as far as RF is concerned at HF. So what I now do is to make the antenna wire a little longer than I need and then fold the end back on itself. If I need to make it shorter then I fold a bit more back and if I need it longer I simply reduce the amount that is folded back. Now you can refine this process a bit more. If for example I was making a dipole I would fit an insulator on each end of the wire elements and include a piece of wire that is folded back becomes as short pigtail that permits fine adjustment. I find that this is no bad idea as my experience is that antennas often need to be adjusted as the wire settles or stretches. Again, there is no need to cut the pigtail. If it needs to be shortened, just fold it back on itself. And finally get yourself a supply of tie wraps as these make it very easy to secure the folded back pigtails and also makes everything look that much tidier. Peter G3OJV.