Pairing the Elecraft KH1 and my Tufteln No-Transformer (aka, Speaker Wire) Antenna

On Thursday, November 30, 2023 I had a chunk of afternoon open to fit in some Parks On The Air time. My travels took me near one of my favorite local parks: the Zebulon Vance Birthplace Historic Site (K-6856).

As I packed my car that morning, I brought along some of my Mountain Topper transceivers as well. The plan was to first shoot a video comping the new Elecraft KH1 to these venerable SOTA machines, then do a POTA activation with the KH1 and a new-to-me kit antenna.

The Mountain Topper comparison took a bit longer than I had anticipated (surprise, surprise) so my POTA time was actually somewhat limited. If interested, my KH1/Mountain Topper comparison was posted several weeks ago–click here to check it out.

Tufteln No-Transformer EFRW

One goal of my afternoon activation was to finally put my new-to-me Tufteln “No-Transformer” end-fed random wire antenna on the air.

You might recall that I shared a campsite–during the W4 SOTA campout last year–with good friend Joshua (N5FY) of Tufteln fame and fortune. Being the antenna guy he is, Joshua brought along a full antenna building station and set it up on our picnic table. That first afternoon at camp, he gave me a kit to build this random wire antenna. Thanks again, OM!
These “No-Transformer” random wire antennas are designed to be paired with a good ATU–either external or internal. This type of antenna couldn’t be more simple.

Since there’s no transformer (no 9:1, etc.) the ATU does all of the heavy lifting to make a match. While this might not seem like an efficient way of doing things, one benefit of this design is that there’s no feed line: the radiator and counterpoise connect directly to the radio if your radio has a built-in ATU.  I’ve found that there’s some inherent efficiency in this approach.

Just two wires (radiator and counterpoise) connected directly to a BNC with a little strain relief.

The antenna is identical to the speaker wire antenna I built in the field and have used so extensively over the past few years. Joshua’s design is just much lower-profile and more compact.

When I built this particular antenna, I decided to go for a much longer length than any other random wire I’ve made to date. The idea was to have an antenna that might possibly match 80M. Joshua might correct me, but I believe we cut something between 70-80 feet for the radiator.

At Vance, I deployed this antenna into some short evergreens that surround the picnic shelter. It wasn’t an ideal deployment, per se, but adequate for a quickie activation!

I’ve learned that the length I chose for this radiator isn’t ideal for most of my ATUs to hit some bands. I will end up trimming this antenna a bit until I find the right length. I’m tempted to shorten it for matching on 60 meters, then build another 9:1 random wire to hit 80 and possibly 160 meters.

Setting up the KH1 took no time at all. I did discover during this activation that I needed to better secure the KH1 to the table. Wind gusts were tugging on the random wire a bit (as the trees swayed) and it would move the KH1 around on the table. The KH1 weighs less than a pound, so it’s super lightweight! This will be easy to fix next time.


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On The Air

I tuned the EFRW antenna on 30M and got a perfect impedance match.

I started calling CQ POTA and hunters replied!

In fact, I worked ten stations in exactly ten minutes. Two of them were Park-To-Parks–thanks KD8IE and KC3WPW!

I worked two more stations for a total of only twelve logged. I would like to have spent more time on the air, but I had two appointments on my schedule that afternoon.


Here’s what this five watt activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:

Activation Video

Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation.  As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time. In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop them from inserting ads before and after my videos.

Note that Patreon supporters can watch and even download this video 100% ad-free through Vimeo on my Patreon page:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Thank you!

Thank you for joining me on this short activation!

Had I realized how low I was running on time at the beginning of this activation, I might have made the antenna deployment and my commentary a bit briefer to have more air time. That said, I don’t do POTA for the numbers, I do it because it’s amazing fun and such a positive part of my day. This little activation was no exception! Pure radio fun.

I hope you enjoyed this field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.

As I mentioned before, the Patreon platform connected to Vimeo make it possible for me to share videos that are not only 100% ad-free, but also downloadable for offline viewing. The Vimeo account also serves as a third backup for my video files.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me!

Have a brilliant weekend, friends!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

5 thoughts on “Pairing the Elecraft KH1 and my Tufteln No-Transformer (aka, Speaker Wire) Antenna”

    1. Hi, Bill,

      That’s a shielded audio patch cable that, if memory serves, came with a sound card back in the 1990s. It has two ferrites clamped on at both ends which is why I like using it for audio.
      I’m sure you can find something similar on the market these days–might be worth calling the folks at B&H photo since they do professional sound systems. I bet they’ve something int heir catalog. (Of course, you can clamp on your own ferrites to a standard shielded cable as well.)


  1. Thomas, to adjust the wire length, use this

    it will give you a ballpark size for the radiator, then play with the counterpoise(s) to ease the match on some bands

    As for the 9:1 … the idea is to find a radiator length which, once transformed by the 9:1 will keep an acceptable mismatch to the coax, and the coax is used to move the feedpoint away and install the antenna at a distance from the operating position

  2. Hi Tom,

    If you want to continue to use a random wire antenna, you can cut yours to 58′, 71′, or 84′ and would probably not need a transformer. Your tuner should still give you a good match.

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