A fellow club member is preparing to put up a big 160 meter horizontal loop antenna. Nice. We have discussed many options and conclude ladder line is the best approach to connect the loop to the operating point.
He went shopping online only to find many vendors are low in stock of many items including the 400ish ohm windowed ladder line. We both agree making our own is a viable option.
So here is a photographic step by step we took in 2005 to construct the spreaders of our ladder line fed dipole antenna we use for Field Days, JOTA and other events requiring a simple antenna.
Since our antenna is used for various events it is not in the weather long. We opted to use wood spaces soaked in paraffin.
As mentioned above, modern weather proofing methods exist to make the paraffin method obsolete. However, our antenna is holding up well after many years of off and on use. I don’t know how wax holds up to real outside year round use.
The one thing I would not skimp on is the drying process in the oven. If your wood spreaders aren’t very dry, they can and will cause some conductance between your transmission line wires. While it may be true the effect is minimal, this drying step is easy enough to just go ahead and complete.
Ladder line is cool stuff. It works very well. Just be sure to have a tuner with a balanced output or, even better, a fully balanced matcher available from MFJ and other manufactures.