DIY tape measure antenna: Teamwork with Dad

“Cut twice, measure once”… right?

Two pieces of tape measure lying side by side: one is marked and ready to be cut, the other unmarked.

Day 1 went a lot slower than I had hoped.

I got a chance to measure and cut the PVC and tape measure Thursday afternoon. To be completely honest, my dad did nearly all of the sawing and cutting, which I am very grateful for. Part of me wishes we had more of these kinds of moments when I was a child. The only cutting I did was when I realized I measured the tape measure wrong. (More later.)

At first, my dad couldn’t find the tin snips he had, so we tried what looked to me like extra-large wire cutters. Then my dad tried a saw that he said would cut metal. That didn’t work either. He finally texted his employees and asked if anybody had borrowed the tin snips. Apparently one had, and after a few hours, my dad cut the tape measure for me.

A saw, abandoned by my father as he wandered off without a goodbye, in the middle of a walkway next to many pairs of shoes, PVC pipe, Sharpie, and other items.


When I sat down to mark the midpoints on the elements to help line things up later, I discovered that I had made a few mistakes.

The first mistake I made was measuring and marking the reflector element longer than it needed to be, and measuring the director shorter than it needed, before I handed it off to my dad. So I had to re-cut an entirely new director element. Subsequently, as I attempted to correct the reflector element and cut it down, I made my second mistake: I counted out 3/16ths rather than 3/8ths of an inch. I didn’t feel like wasting any more tape, so I’m leaving it for now.

So how much of a difference will 3/16ths of an inch make for this antenna? I have more tape that I can cut if I do have to change it.

I kind of hoped/expected to have more of this done today, but I have a general rule of not doing things too late at night when there’s a possibility of hurting myself, which includes burning myself with a soldering iron. Heh.

I also have to remember to be patient.


Scared rodent playing dead/staying still as I approached.

I noticed this little guy curled up on the paved road heading down to the barn where my dad’s office and tools are. It wasn’t moving, so I didn’t take a picture initially in case it was dead, but I figured I’d see if anything changed when I came back up to my house later.

Later, as I trudged up the hill with the newly-cut PVC, I noticed frantic movement in the general vicinity of where I’d seen the rodent earlier, but as I approached, movement stopped. I found it further up the hill, curled up again. That’s when I snapped the above picture.

My dad thinks it’s a mouse, though I think it’s too big for that. My mom is pretty sure it’s a baby gopher, because of its paws/claws. She moved it over to where she thought was a gopher hole, and we just gotta hope for the best.