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Wire-Lists #24: Making A Coaxial Dipole Antenna With 6 Items, In 8 Easy Steps

Social Media WireLists24 300pxYou’ve undoubtedly run into situations where you need to get your transmitter antenna away from the talent’s body, or where you could use a few more feet of reach for your receiver. We make & sell these coax antennas as the ACOAXTX here and there is also a BNC version available as well – the ACOAXBNC.

That said, if you’re handy and have done a little bit of work with wiring, you can make your own! In today’s list, we’ll explain how to make a coaxial dipole antenna, using a few readily available tools and a pre-made cable.

6 Things You Will Need:

  1. A piece of shrink tubing, at least a foot long. This will be used to give a finished look to the antenna.
  2. A pair of wire-cutters
  3. A cable with an SMA connector at one or both ends, like this cable from Fairview Microwave
  4. Heat gun or hair dryer
  5. An X-Acto knife, box cutter or razor blade
  6. Optional but helpful: color-coded caps to finish the end of the antenna

The 8 Steps:

  1. acoaxtxFold your cable in half and cut it at the halfway point. This will leave you with two cables with connectors on one end. Each cable now has an antenna on the cut end, so you can make two dipoles from this one cable.
  2. The higher the frequency, the shorter the antenna. To figure out how long your antenna should be, download and print out our antenna kit guide to use as a template, or use the measurements shown on the sheet’s table to find your desired block’s measurement. Lay the wire flat and measure outwards from the connector. Do not cut through the wire.
  3. At the point you measured to, lightly “score” the outside insulation (the rubber cord coating) without cutting into the shield or wire inside. What you want to do is separate the insulation/outer coating on the cable without completely cutting it off. You might find it easier to use an X-Acto/box cutter/razor blade to do this, rather than your wire-cutters, and nick the material a little bit at a time.
  4. Carefully pull the shielded wires out from the insulation by folding the wire at the spot that you cut, making a loop and pulling it out. The wire comes out easily once you have it started.
  5. Straighten out your shielded wire while bending the insulation to the side.
  6. Take your shrink tubing and carefully slide it over the insulation and the shielded wire. Slide it down to where the connector attaches, leaving the wire exposed at the end.
  7. Use the heat gun or the hair dryer to shrink the tubing. This conceals the insulation and gives your dipole a more professional appearance.
  8. Color coded caps can finish the end of the antenna and make it easy for you to distinguish from others you may have or make. It’s always good to keep a few on hand. We provide 10 different colors in our A8U kit. You can glue the cap on for more security.

This process creates a versatile dipole antenna that can now be used with any of our transmitters that have SMA Connectors. They’re great for hiding inside or pulling through costumes in those scenarios where you need slightly better transmission. This same procedure works to make receiver antennas (length is not an issue with those). If you keep the necessary items in your bag, you’ll be able to fashion any dipole you need, on the fly.
If you prefer to follow along with a visual, see the instructional video on our YouTube channel.