Tips for Wire Antenna Coiling, Packing and Stowing

Picture: Activating Borišov OM/ZA-028 in the beautiful mountain range Veľká Fatra

I usually use an inverted vee dipole (see picture) which is 2 pieces of wire (with banana plugs) that connected
to a center feed point. This is also the the point from which my 15m of RG-174 coax runs down to my radio. These are all fixed.

I usually end up with 2 coils of wire and 1 coil of coax (held together by rubber cable ties). But it ALWAYS, ALWAYS gets tangled up no matter how I coil it. Sometimes I even get pretzels on the antenna wire.

Do you have any tips, pictures, videos how to coil antenna wire properly? It seems like this is some basic skill that I am missing.

Cheers, Jakub, OM1WS

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Coil into a figure of eight, either on a cable winder or on your hand.

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Alternate overhand and underhand loops. This eliminates the twist that would otherwise build up.

But if you use RG316 (same size, lower loss) it goes the way it wants! It always twists :neutral_face:

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Use kite winders to form a figure of 8 such as Buy Antenna Wire Winders | Amateur Radio Accessories and Equipment

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These are excellent; I have lots and keep a selection of wires all set up and ready to go straight up the mast free from tangles; it doesn’t always work seamlessly but nearly always.
PS absolutely no connection with the company except as as satisfied customer and very occasional SOTA QSO .

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Hi Jacub,

When it comes to winding up coax cable, I think this video can be helpful: #168: How to coil coax, wire, rope, etc. to be free of kinks, twists and knots - YouTube.


Zoran / E70AA


Thanks! Oh by the way, sorry about the hassle on Sunday when I worked OK/ZL-004 as OK/OM1WS/P. I got you in the log eventually as G4TJC/P, but the QRM was heavy.

Great input everybody, thanks!

I find the wire type as well is a factor. I have tried the figure eight and it does help a lot.

John ve3ips

I use spools and wind about 10 turns one way, and then alternate 10 turns the opposite way, etc., when winding up the wire. It is VERY important to unroll the spools with the spool rotating, so the wire comes straight off the groove in the spool, NOT off either side!

DO NOT let the wire peel off either side of the spool, or it will be twisted severely.

When I first started activating, I used a dipole and feedline, similar to the photo posted above. The results were:

  1. I made many contacts on the main band.

  2. It was very hard to set up all three wires in the wind.

  3. I made few contacts on other possible bands due to severe loss in the feedline, even though I used a good tuner.

  4. I had three pieces of tangled wire to contend with on steep, rocky, windy, difficult summits, making it hard to set up and put away the antenna.

  5. I had to set up the antenna with the pole in the middle, which often was not the best place for me to operate or be comfortable.

Once I started using an end-fed antenna, inverted-L, all of the above problems were solved or improved.

I developed efficient tuners and found joy in being able to operate on many bands and to jump between bands. My set-ups were much easier. I only have to handle ONE wire now. I use #24 teflon wire, and it has proved to be both efficient (silver-plated) and durable.

Best of all, there’s no feedline, except for a 0.6M piece from rig to tuner. SOTA doesn’t give points for feedline or for carrying extra weight!

I have many loyal chasers, because I regularly operate on several bands, and from Colorado, this makes a huge difference to the chasers who are at many locations, near and far. Because most of my RF power is actually radiated, my chasers often can copy my signals on one or more bands!

Please look at my RBN spots posted now - this is with 10W and a 20M (67 feet) wire on a pole 6M up at the corner of the inverted L. Feed is at bottom of pole. Usually there’s no counterpoise used for 40-30-20-17-15M. The rig and the operator are enough!




I’m using this technique for about one year now and I have to say it works 95% of the time also with the thiner RG174! The remaining 5% are to blame on the user! :slight_smile:

I have seperated the two dipole wires and connect and disconnect them to the 1:1 Balun every time. I built a “one piece dipole” before but it ended up in a complete mess on every activation. For the wires I use this (without the barrier tape):

73 Martin, OE5REO


Our fellow SOTA activator Ignacio EA2BD recorded a YouTube video on this a while ago -

73, Colin



Never wind up the wire. Just fold 6 inches of wire back and forth over itself ( //////\ ) repeatedly, squeeze it together in your hand, wrap the bundled wire up with a rubber band, and your done.

When I want to deploy it I just remove the rubber band and throw the bundled wire in the direction I want, and it never tangles…goes straight out.

I never coil it up or wind it onto anything. If I do it tangles up every time. Takes a little longer to fold it up, but it literally deploys in less than one second…just chuck it where u want it to go while holding onto the other half of the dipole.


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Here’s a video of me, winding my link dipole in a figure 8.
I begin wtih the center box where the elements are connected to a BNC (there is no balun inside). Both dipole halves are put next to each other before winding. At the end, I put a plastic strap around it, which is also used to fix the coax to the pole (and that way, I don’t lose or misplace it).

When on the summit , I just throw out the bundle as shown in the video, works “most of the time”, depends on how careful you do it … :wink:

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Hi Jakub,
This has been used since 1987. By rotating the spool, the two dipole wires are first wound on together, followed by the RG178 coax and finally the BNC. Nothing is disconnected. The hangar at the dipole centre connects to a similar one on the mast top.

Winding hand over hand can cause terrible tangles depending on how the wires are taken off the next time. Spooling or winding/ unwinding by rotating the winder is better as it doesn’t twist the wire. Rolling it up carefully at the end of one activation and pulling it off the side of the reel, spool or winder for the next activation is a disaster.

73, John

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yes, many people say so, however …

73, Jarek, SP9MA