Not So Fast Pilgrim!
Don’t you just hate it when you’re out on a field trip and you want to quickly put up a long wire antenna but, when you pull it out of your backpack, the wire is all tangled? Usually happens when you just coil the wire around your fingers or use the old hand and elbow winding technique. When you buy antenna wire it comes all nicely wound on a metal or plastic reel, but the wire seems to develop a memory about how it was wound and will try to return to the same coiled shape when it isn’t under tension; then it tangles!
A Beast with Two Horns – or Four
The solution is to use a winder. The picture shows two types of winder. The one on the right was made popular by Sotabeams (who also sell a commercial version). I had been using the Sotabeams style winders for some time. They’re great but I found out very long wires don’t fit on them very well. So, the contrarian tinkerer got to work to build a better mousetrap – or winder. If a lot of wire won’t fit on a winder with two horns, why not build one with four horns? It will hold twice as much wire right? Well almost. The outside-the-box design my sharp-as-a-new-pin brain came up with is shown in the picture. Just like the beast with two horns, this new design is unwound by pulling on the end of the wire while supporting the winder with a finger through the centre hole.
Spin to Win!
The two-horned animal releases its wire by rocking back and forth, but the dazzling new animal with twice as many horns spins as it feeds out the wire. The action is smooth, fast and fun to play with. There is a difference in rewinding technique between the two-horned winder and its four-horned successor. Winding an antenna back on to the two-horned winder is done in figure-of-eight fashion. That won’t work with the new design. Instead, simply wrap the wire around any two opposing horns. When it begins to get full, rotate the winder 90 degrees and start winding around the other two horns. Fast and easy!
Make It So
The four horned monster isn’t available to buy anywhere so you’ll have to make your own. There are no critical dimensions. Start with horns about four inches (10cm) long and about an inch wide. You can make it bigger or smaller depending on wire length. Suitable materials are thin kitchen chopping boards, plywood or whatever is laying around. A bandsaw or jigsaw will cut the shape in a couple of minutes. I guess I could patent the design and make myself a trillionaire overnight but what the heck.