PackTenna Mini 1:1 Balun – Arctic Field Test

I have just gotten the new PackTenna 1:1 balun shipped from San Jose and wanted to test it out in cold weather conditions. Please see the link below for operation in frigid arctic weather.

The balun performed very well as expected due to the low loss design and effective choice of an appropriate balun ferrite mix for the HF bands.

When running 5 watts out in the field you do not want any balun losses.

I had no problem checking into the ECARS net on 40m with a 59 into NJ (Jeff NJ2US was 59+30 db) using 5 watts and a linked dipole with an SWR of 1.1 to 1.


Note: The Gopro battery died after a few minutes as it couldn’t take the cold and I had about 10 minutes in between takes to get the antenna up in the gazebo. Jeff had some funny comments on how I “shouldered” my way into the check process. The net provides priority for mobile and QRP traffic and once he heard I was field ops in sub zero temperatures he understood. Normally I check in with a home base and a 1KW so Jeff thought that was the case until I he understood I was QRP and freezing. I couldn’t feel the tips of my fingers after I got everything into its bag and I hiked back to the car. Ham radio plays in all weather. Shouldering refers to the practice of jumping in between call outs when its not your turn and depending on the NCS and the calling station it can be allowed. Normally, one follows proper procedure however, its a good skill to practice especially when there is emergency traffic. The calling station and NCS need to be cognizant of the gaps in between. I was actually surprised Jeff heard me on the first call as I normally use higher power with a milspec radio out in the field and wasn’t sure how this set up would work out. I was pleased with the results even with the risk of frostbite. ham radio plays in all weather and Julian OH8STN plays that arctic game very well.

The great success with the PackTenna stuff is the use of effective dipoles that do not cause signal loss like mag loops and short whip style antennas. I have nothing against them as I use those antennas as well but if I have low power and I need to get as much out of the antenna as possible then a dipole is your antenna of choice.

I don’t care about VNA tests because I use the stuff as intended and see if it just works. PackTenna works great and because it was designed and made in California in silicon valley I can be assured that it was built right and designed right.

I have a side by side comparison to the bigger brother but I will use both depending on what I am doing. Obviously, the standard PackTenna 1:1 balun will take more power.


Just out of the box it came with enough wire to make a dipole for 40m and maybe linked as well. I didn,t measure the wire as you will see I already have a linked dipole I use with my other PackTenna products. The high quality BNC jack is a great improvement over their previous units. I may be mistaken but I believe they are shipping all products with the metal BNC jack.



It was snowing as I was setting up my FT-817 and -25C with the wind chill. The wollen mitts worked well.


Here is hanging from the Gazebo in the park where I was trying to stay out of the wind and snow. The carabiners make for easy set up and the 2mm banana jacks allows any antennas to be used. I have single band antennas and made up this 40/30/20 dipole for my MTR3B.


Here is the kit pre-snow.


Its longer than its bigger brother but it makes for easy winding up of the antenna. This is the 40m version


So mission accomplished, I made a 1000 km contact with 5 watts and the PackTenna proved to handle the frigid weather and put out a strong signal.

PackTenna Mini End Fed Half Wave for 20m

I have been very happy with the PackTenna mini set up as a EFHW 50:1 balun that I am using on 20m due to the wire length being 32 feet. I dont need to pack a tuner and can just plug in and go. The swr is very broad across the band as I tuned it for 14.150 Mhz.

This style of balun takes a 3500 to 4500 ohm impedance and brings it down to 50-75 ohms and does not require a tuner. However, it is single band only.

Small, light and packed into a plastic container makes it easy to toss in the rucksack or GoBox.

I use the PT S-biners or the Niteze carabiners depending on whatever I pull out of my antenna parts drawers or if I am being a gram weenie to save some weight.

Here is a link to the manual

Click to access PackTenna_Mini_Manual_Rev1.pdf

If you are a member of ARRL you can find a recent review or use the link below

Click to access QST_Nov_2016_PackTenna_Review.pdf


PackTenna 9:1 Balun in a Field Kit

I printed a kite line winder and added the magic length of 29 feet and I now have a nice end fed antenna that with a tuner will allow multiband use.

Toss it up into a tree and get operating without too much fuss

I have had some interesting results with this set up for NVIS operations using 10 watts on 40m and have made contacts within the regional zone in the afternoon very easily.

Why not use a 40m dipole?

Well its 64 feet long and the EF antenna is 29 feet and only needs a single support versus a more complicated set up.

Out in the bush on a hike I want to toss an antenna up quickly and make some contacts and trust me the 10 watts with this gets me 5 9 into New jersey where I cannot get a good signal with an 8 foot short coil loaded whip.

I have a SOTA activation or two coming up and will give you a report on how it worked out.



PackTenna Balun with a Linked Dipole

I have various PackTenna baluns that I use for portable, mobile and field operations.

Each has its own purpose

1:1 Balun to reduce rf currents on the outside coax layer

9:1 UNUN to allow the use of a single wire for multiband use (tuner required)

RF Choke for inline use at the radio end

Remember,  Nick and George created a system of components that allows different configurations using various building blocks that can be used within the system or outside the system with other brand components.

Here is an example of using the Packtenna 1:1 Balun with a linked dipole. I have been building my antennas using their 2mm banana jacks and liberal use of the Niteze carabiners so that I can mix and match the building blocks.