ARRL QST March 2020 Build Your Own Open Wire Line
I've had several customers and radio friends, email me about this article. "Have you seen the March cover of QST?" "Have you read the article?" "What's your opinion?"
Well, here's my opinion.......
It's a well-written piece but honestly, I wish ARRL and/or W7SX, took a couple of seconds to do an online search for "Ladderline" before stating "it's not commonly available". Our Sheltered Workshop facility in Oklahoma has been producing and selling it since the late 1980's, supporting the mentally-challenged folks continuously since then. I'm the third person to take over the business and keep them working for us.
In my 40+ years of being a ham and 17 years of using open wire line and 5 years of owning True Ladderline, I have not come across a single person using 6GA wire for ladderline. 12GA is the heaviest I've heard about and, I feel that's overkill.
6GA is WAY overkill for ladderline unless, you're running 10KW+ power. I can only think W7SX had some of this on-hand and decided to just use what was available.
When Gary Gompf, W7FG, started selling our ladderline in the late 1980's, adding it as a product to his Vintage Manual business, he worked with Mike Maloney, AC5P to develop a product with the right attributes for the job. Lightweight, inexpensive, easy to assemble, stand up to the elements, and work efficiently. They were both Engineers and settled on using 16GA. Since those early days, it has proved time and time again to be just fine for the use. I've used it with my Heath SB-220 with full output for several years with no issues. There really is no need to go heavier.
I get asked all the time if I'd make something heavier gauge because the person calling me has the worst weather conditions on earth. I have started to make ladderline for a few folks with 14GA however, that size requires a different spacer which we're not setup to produce in quantity. I have a fair amount of it out in the field now.
With True Ladderline antennas and feedline all over the world, I know we're seeing some pretty serious weather conditions. I get ZERO complaints about it holding up over the long term. As I tell my customers, "don't be concerned about the product; put your concern into how you install it!"
Finally, if you price out the cost of materials to assemble 6GA ladderline, with the wire, the sheets of polyethylene, the fixture material then maybe consider the time involved, you'll agree with my thousands of satisfied customers. For the price we sell our line for, combined with the fact that roughly 10% of all doublet and feedline sales go to support the handicapped folks that build for us, it's a win-win-win for all of us.
I do see the article raising awareness about the use of ladderline and I'm sure I'll be making a lot more hams happy that they've decided to work with us at True Ladderline.
If you have questions, use the "Contact Us" button at the top of the page and I'll be happy to get back to you.
I hope you'll consider using our ladderline and supporting those that are less fortunate than many of us.
73 for now