Banana Plugs are more used in the sound industry, but it has a variant, which is useful for Hams.

The BNC variant which is available in both Male and Female types can be used to quickly make a dipole antenna ranging from 14 MHz Ham band to 2.4 GHz (Wi-Fi Antenna).

Banana Plugs with BNC Male
Banana Plugs with BNC Male

Upon discussion, with a couple of Hams about this Banana Plugs, I got mixed reviews. One of them told me it’s useless; the other told me it’s the best QRP (Low Power) field antenna one can have, easy to assemble and disassemble. You also get the flexibility to make an antenna of whichever frequency you wish to. Like 2 Mtrs, 70 Mtrs ham bands.

To try and experiment it, I ordered it from Aliexpress, which arrived my place in 35 days at the cost of just Rs. 95 (USD 1.4) including shipping.

I ordered not just one but 2. Because I wanted to break open one of the plugs to find out what’s inside. I mean the material used and the thickness of it.

As you can see in the image below, I have broken the banana plug and placed a magnet in between the jacks, but no attraction. It means it is made up of either Steel, brass or copper. I then used a file on it and found the light golden colour, that means it is made up of brass. The wires connecting to the BNC is quite thin (24 Gauge) see the green marking on the image below. That means you should not transmit more than 25 watts, or else you’ll end up blowing your radio.

Broken Banana Plugs for metal testing with Magnate
Broken Banana Plugs for metal testing with Magnate

So I decided to test this Banana Plugs.

I made an HF Dipole antenna, using two wires (1 Sq. mm) 16 Ft and 3 inches at each end. The formula for making a dipole antenna is 468/Frequency in MHz, the result you get is in Ft. Therefore 468/14.2 MHz is 32 Ft and 6 Inches.

This is the amount of wire that you need for this antenna. Now you cut that wire into two equal parts and attach at two different jacks of the Banana plugs.

Here is a step by step process for making the dipole antenna to be used with banana plugs.

1) Remove 5 to 6 cms of the shield from the copper wire.

1 Sq mm Black Polycab Wire's shield removed
1 Sq mm Black Polycab Wire’s shield removed

2) Tie the copper wire with one round to find out the size of the Jack, before you tin the wire.

Striped 1 sq.mm copper wire testing the size of Banana Plug Jack
Striped 1 sq.mm copper wire testing the size of Banana Plug Jack

3) Insert shrink sleeves in the Copper wire from the other end.

Shrink sleeves inserted in the Copper wire
Shrink sleeves inserted in the Copper wire

4) Tin the copper wire so that it holds all the strands and make it strong.

Tinning the copper wire for making the Dipole Antenna
Tinning the copper wire for making the Dipole Antenna

5) Copper wires are now tinned in round shapes.

Tinned copper wire in round shapes to be inserted in the Banana Plugs
Tinned copper wire in round shapes to be inserted in the Banana Plugs

6) Apply heat on the shrink sleeves with the lighter. I know that’s wrong, but it’s an improvised method, I learnt from a Parsi Ham friend.

Applying heat on the shrink sleeves with the lighter
Applying heat on the shrink sleeves with the lighter

7) Wire for the HF Dipole antenna is ready for using with Banana Plugs.

Wire for the HF Dipole antenna ready for using with Banana Plugs
Wire for the HF Dipole antenna ready for using with Banana Plugs

8) The tinned holes of copper wires are inserted in the Jacks, for Dipole Antenna.

Copper wire inserted in the Jacks of Banana Plugs, for Dipole Antenna
Copper wire inserted in the Jacks of Banana Plugs, for Dipole Antenna

9) QRP (Low Power) Antenna for 20 Mtrs band (14.074 MHz) with Banana Plugs is ready to use.

QRP (Low Power) Antenna with Banana Plugs
QRP (Low Power) Antenna with Banana Plugs

I then tested this antenna with my Antenna analyser (MR100), in one shot I got the SWR of 1.4 (For 14.074) which is used for FT8 (Digital Mode Communication). See the screenshot below taken from the PC software used for tuning the HF Dipole.

I used it on FT8 and was able to have a successful QSO till Europe on just 10 watts with confirmed QSL.

Screenshot from Mini60 Data Scan V1.0, testing of a HF Dipole Antenna (20 Mtrs band)
Screenshot from Mini60 Data Scan V1.0, testing of a HF Dipole Antenna (20 Mtrs band)

I then made dipoles for other Ham Bands also 144 MHz (VHF), 434 MHz (UHF) and even made a Wi-Fi Antenna for using with my wireless card. I tested this antenna with my Home Wi-Fi network, and it worked perfectly. This way you can extend your antenna with the help of a cable like RG-316 Coax Cable and connect to your wireless card, mainly if your router is located at a longer distance.

I rate this Banana Plugs 4.5 out of 5.

At the cost of just Rs. 100 this is worth having in your shack. The other thing that you may want to buy is BNC to UHF adapters to use with standard 50ohm coax cables.

If you wish to buy a heavy duty Banana plug for transmitting 1 Kilowatt than you will have to spend Rs. 5,100 (USD 70) + Shipping charges extra. One of my ham friends has bought it and tested it with 1 Kilowatt (Not in India).

Here’s my another article on an HF Dipole WITHOUT a centre piece.

Have you used these banana plugs ever, what’s your experience? Do you any inputs for this article. Please share your thoughts by commenting below.

4 COMMENTS

  1. We together had homebrewed an HF Dipole Antenna Centre piece at one of the field trips, please post some images/details of that as well.

    I guess the antenna did very well for you.

    vu2upx

    • Sure sir, soon I will be writing a post on that. In fact, that is THE Antenna with which I did my DXCC. Thank you Charu sir.

      VU2NFJ

  2. Dear Hitesh Sir,
    Thanks for the wonderful Antenna Idea. Can you pls advise –
    1. How we can build a one common antenna for the complete HF band using this technique or we havr to shed out different wires for different Bands viz.80m 40m 20m etc.

    2. What height this Antenna has to be mounted on the roof top and how many meters apart we have to place the 2 Wires.
    Pls advise

    De VU3OSA Gaurav
    Kandivali W
    Mumbai

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