Homebrew Buddipole vs other antennas

I would like to get some feedback from others who home brewed Buddipoles for SOTA. I know people buy the complete setup etc, I am interested in feedback from the folks who made their own.

I made two, using the 110 inch whips. I use them with my 817ND and LDG tuner. I really like the light weight etc. I constructed a pouch that I hang off the back of my pack so that the antenna does not get hung up on cacti etc. Sometimes I adjust the whips for tuning, others I simply extend them all the way and use the tuner.

From AZ, I have managed contacts in Hawaii, Canada, New Hampshire and the east coast and even an unconfirmed QSO in the Azores. On the face of it, it would appear that I have nothing to complain about right?

Maybe I am suffering from “signal envy” but I consistently get reports of weak signal. It is relatively easy to make contacts when I am the subject of the pile up, but a bit more difficult when doing S2S etc.

What I would like to know is how others with similar equipment are doing? Are your results similar to mine? Any tips you could pass on to make the signal bigger other than using more power?

I would like to be able to get some new contacts. Don’t get me wrong I love my chasers and I actually have one who I have not heard from in a month and am going to send an email to make sure he is ok, but getting some chasers from different areas would be cool too.

What you effectively have is an 18ft doublet, which will be a bit of a compromise (i.e., underperformer) on 20M and 40M. How are you supporting it and at what height? Are you activating on ssb or cw?

Buddipoles are not very popular for SOTA because they are much heavier than simple wire antennas and require heavier poles to support. That’s a lot of extra weight to put on your back and climb a mountain.

73, Barry N1EU

I made a Buddistick vertical from Bud’s own article. But I SOTA-ised it by minimising everything that would weigh where possible. So instead of whips and being freestanding I use a 5m fishing pole to support assorted wire top sections. I made a loading coil for 20/30m, the elevated counterpoise/radial is made from lighter wire than the top section.

Out of the box I have an antenna that covers

  • 30m (full coil needed, fully extended counterpoise)
  • 20m (partial coil needed, fully extended counterpoise)
  • 17m (no coil needed, partial reduced counterpoise)
  • 15m (no coil needed, significantly reduced counterpoise)

changing the top section gives either 12m or 10m coverage.

It works and I’ve been using a version of this since November 2011. It works OK on 30m but obviously having a short top section is quite a cloud warmer. It’s better on 20m and seems best on 17m. It works on the other bands but I have limited experience with on 12m compared to using a 12m 1/4wave GP. On 10m I keep missing the best propagation but I was able to comfortably work PY from GM a few weeks back.

I tend to use CW from an 817 (4.5w measure output) and I expect to be able to work the East Coast of the USA from GM with too much trouble on average bands.

I’m sure a 1/4GP would be better but a 20m wont fit on a 5m pole. That pole is a good height to support an inverted V for 40/60m that gives me good coverage of the UK and nearby Europe. So it’s a compromise antenna that is light enough to be included in the SOTA bag along with the 60/40/30m dipole and feeder. It’s no DX magnet but, to be honest, whilst it’s nice to work the other side of the planet, I’d rather have a very full log from working SOTA chasers than be able to work some uber-DX station who isn’t aware of why I’m sat on top of a wind blown wild hill in Scotland!

I have a collapsible painters pole that extends to 12 feet; it doubles as a walking stick and a good one at that. I only do CW.

The weight of the home brew Buddipole is minimal, it is a few small pieces of CPVC and the whips. I screw it onto the painters pole and raise it up. I like the Buddipole for Southern AZ summits because many are just barren. I can guy that that pole up or velcro it to a fence post and away I go.

I think I am going to bring along a dipole next time and see how much that changes the RST. In the end, I might be making too much out of this.

   Looking at this, like the way your trying out different ideas and questioning things and can I do better. With this sort of experimentation its a great idea and see how you can do better.

  Can see other peoples ideas of keeping it light as possible as some treks they make are quite long and not easy at all, say to summits around me properly a walk in the park. But after my first attempt with rather too much gear and not allowing for the wind factor have been watching other peoples things how they do things and coming up with ideas of me own.

 Soon I will have me own home made portable antenna kit  being a 1/4w wave 40m vertical and a inverted L 1/2w 40m. So one can run 40m through to 10m and may be even off 80m not tried that band yet portable. Idea of two types of portable is room not allow for bigger antenna, just use the vertical where room allows use the inverted L. Any ways once its finished will publish pictures as not far off completing this new portable antenna kit. 

Keep on experimenting, Sota brings out some damn good ideas in people.


You might need to take something (a dipole or EFHW) into the field to A/B compare to the Buddistick. I’ve been quite happy with my homebrewed Buddistick on a 12’ painters pole. It has worked on every band from 40m-6m. I worked Japan from Central PA last year with 5 watts SSB from my FT-857. For W3 SOTA activations, it works well because most of the summits I’ve climbed have had a lot of thick, low-hanging hemlock or pine branches, making a dipole a pain to get aloft. So maybe the Buddistick has an advantage over the Buddipole in this respect. There are people on this list who could also argue the angle of radiation is better with the Buddistick for some operations. You say you are using an FT 817 and a tuner. Have you actually measured how many watts are coming out of your setup? IIRC, the FT-817 starts at 5 watts, but if using the internal batteries, it will be a bit lower, and maybe your tuner is sapping some of your power too. I don’t use CW much, but I wish I was better at it, because the efficiency is easy to see when looking at numbers of QSOs. If you experiment more with the Buddistick / Buddipole, you might get away with leaving the tuner home. Having just a little more power in the FT-857 is why I chose it over the lighter FT-817. Usually, I try to keep the power set at the radio between 10-20 watts so my SLAB battery lasts. 10-20 watts versus 5w might not seem great, but it is often the difference between making the QSO and not. It would be interesting to measure exactly how much power is actually coming out of the antenna. Good luck and share what seems to work for you. 73!

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I knew that the Buddipole would be a compromise. When I started SOTA, I was using a 1/2 watt Rockmite 20M with an Inverted V and received similar RST to what I am getting with 5W and the Buddipole; empirically that says something about how the 2 types of antennas perform.

I manually tuned the whips on my antenna to SWR of +/- 1.5:1 on the bands it was made for. For the other bands, like 40M, I have to use the tuner. My success on 40M is hit or miss, not sure I can blame the antenna for that.

I went to the Buddipole system mainly due to terrain. Many of the summits here are barren, rocky with a bit of exposure, which makes stringing up wires difficult. Sometimes all I have is a crack in the rock to wedge the painters pole into and in cases like that the Buddipole is a good option.

Based on what I am reading here (and elsewhere) the performance of my antenna is about on par with others using similar antennas. From the perspective of being chased, the lower signal is not really an issue. From the perspective of chasing, like S2S, it can be a bit of a challenge. I am going to put the inverted V back into the pack and string it up where terrain allows and see what I get.

I always like to get as many contacts as possible unless weather or something runs me off the peak, I stay until everyone is done. I get a bit disappointed after making a 3 hour climb/hike and only get 5 contacts. Again, this may or may not be due to the antenna, but I would do everything possible to get as many contacts and stay on a summit as long as possible.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of watching Andy set up and use his Buddistick copy, it went up with surprising speed and sounded pretty lively, so I was inspired to copy his copy but instead of using spade terminals on the coil I am using banana plugs, to short out the coil a plug is taken from its socket and inserted in the top of the other plug. I am now experimenting with two radials, giving the option of either an inverted “T” set-up on one band, or having one radial on each of two bands for more rapid band changing. Andy’s antenna is described here:

On the internal batteries the FT817 automatically drops to 2.5 Watts, but this can be overridden manually to restore 5 Watts. Andy refers to having measured the output of his 817 as 4.5 watts, mine is a measured 5 watts except on 6 metres where it is just over four watts. This can be adjusted but I have never bothered as the difference is marginal.


Hi Michael, I haven’t used a buddipole for an activation, but have heard a couple of operators using them. Without exception, their signal strengths have been well down in strength to other operators using a dipole or other full sized antennas - to be expected given it is physically a much smaller antenna (with much lower efficiency) and closer to the ground. I think there is definitely a place for antennas like the buddipole - specifically for those summits that are very limited space wise, but I am yet to activate a summit that I couldn’t find somewhere to get the majority of the antenna up in the air!

I do have an Australian copy of the buddipole (funnily enough known as the ozzipole) which uses lightweight PVC tubing, some wire, telescopic whips and alligator clips for band changes, which I built about 8 or 9 years ago, but I have to admit to not having seriously tried to use it even from home. Would I use it? Yes, but only when there was no realistic option to use a full size antenna due site constraints or if I had to seriously minimise weight and space when taking the gear to a summit (would negate the need for a squid pole).

Whilst the activator is the King, it is no use taking all the effort to activate a hill if you cannot get a readable signal out - here in VK we have long distances and a relatively sparse amateur population, so I do what I can to maximise the chances of chasers being able to hear my signal and work me. Obvious benefits to the activator are an increased chance of S2S contacts with both local and DX summits which is one of my goals when activating (and have made a good number of VK to EU S2S contacts as a result). When conditions are as bad as they are now, it seems that nothing short of a 5 element beam on 20m will work for this, but why make your life any harder with low efficiency antennas - you are already at a disadvantage power wise, so maximise your chances with a reasonable antenna.


Arizona is a great state for weather. Depending on who you talk to or what you read it has anywhere from 6 to 9 different types of climate/ecosystems. I live in the Tucson area, which is desert and most of the of the peaks close by are barren. That is the reason why I liked the Buddipole. I knew when I started using it that it was going to be a compromise, but unless I wanted to stick to 2M contacts, I had few other antenna choices.

I did build and tune a Buddistick over the course of the last couple days. I have yet to try it, but I have heard that some people do better with these than Buddipoles. I am a bit put off by the radial, because again, due to barren and rocky terrain, sometimes with a descent amount of exposure I am not sure if I can roll it out to the proper length. It is also much heavier than the Buddipole.

None the less I would like to try it out and I have a summit in mind to get that done.

So my current home brew buddipole, with its weak signals, can be used anywhere in AZ, from barren desert to pine forest. I think that I will take it along everywhere I go, at the very least as a back up, because I know it works. I think when I activate summits that have trees etc, I will toss a dipole in the bag and use that to get the better RST and maybe some more distant chasers.

I will post something about how that Buddistick works after my next activation, but the weather here right now is a de-motivator.

Apart from the 5m pole, my antenna and 30/20/17/15m coil weighs 150gm which is 5.25 ounces.

I use a Buddistick when I travel. It certainly is a compromise antenna, but the compromise for me is it fits into my suitcase much better than a squid pole does :wink: The speed at which I can deploy the antenna is also a factor.

I’ve worked VK from South Korea with it, and no problems working NA from the backyard while testing. Signal reports are definitely down on my linked dipole when using it within Australia on activations (closest to A/B testing I’ve come).

The final thing I like about it is it comes with a nice carry case, which means you can offload it onto other packhorses^Wwalking partners and they don’t feel self conscious about carrying a fishing pole and having to answer all the questions from other walkers.

I fabricated mine with the 60/40/30/20 and have not weighed it all up, but I think I am likely to leave the 60M coil home. I don’t ever use that band, it look like it weighs more than the others combined and would be pointless to carry around.

I am going to take it out on Monday and see how it works relative to the Buddistick