Tape Measure Antenna Plans

Last week, I posted about Radio Direction Finding.  It is an activity within ham radio which uses techniques to track down the sources of radio transmissions using radio equipment.  Since it generally only involves receiving transmissions, (and not making them,) anyone…even those who are not licensed…can participate and practice these skills.

Listed here are a number of sites which have detailed plans on making a type of directional antenna that is commonly used for this activity.  These antennas are known as “tape measure yagis.”  You can make one inexpensively from items found mostly from your local hardware store.  (I think I made mine for under $20.) If you are resourceful, I bet you can make one for even less.

This is a fairly quick project to make, and for those of you who may be new to antenna building, this is a fairly easy one as well (assuming you are comfortable with trying your hand at soldering.)

Please note that using this kind of antenna is only part of the equation for good Radio Direction Finding.  One, of course, needs a good HT radio.  You will also need good ears.  Having an S-meter on your HT would be helpful as well.  Besides all that, you will also need some way to attenuate the signal when you get closer to the transmission source.  This could be accomplished by the use of an attenuator, or effective attenuation could be achieved by skill.  Of course, general proficiency in using radio equipment would be most beneficial.  In fact, even if RDF is the only thing you wish to do with a radio, I would still recommend getting an amateur radio license so that you can gain a better understanding of radio physics in general.

By the way, if you are a licensed ham, a tape measure yagi can also be used to transmit as well.

Here are the websites that I am recommending for tape measure yagi antenna plans:





Also, here is a good website explaining tape measure yagi antennas much more in depth:


If you take on this project, I hope you enjoy it!







  1. I still haven’t managed to get my HAM license but I’ve done a lot since we last talked! This is still on my list. What do you think about the use of simple but high quality walkie talkies in lieu of a HAM radio?

  2. Glad to see you’re not giving up!

    As far as walkie-talkies are concerned, units not requiring a license only transmit legally up to 2 watts…which typically only reach a mile or two…longer if direct line-of-sight. If that is all you need, then that would be fine for most circumstances. But if you ever need to reach farther then that, (and most people do,) then you would need something stronger. The City of Berkeley, CA did a test using walkie-talkies, (also known as FRS radios,) and the walkie-talkies failed. Only a few walkie-talkies could hear each other. The hams participating, however, performed just fine. (You can read all about the drill for yourself here:)


    The easiest way to get your ham license is to continue to study the questions. Use a free app to track your progress, and when you’re ready, bite the bullet (so to speak) and take the exam. If you get most of the questions right taking a practice exam, (which are free on these apps and online), then you should be able to pass the exam without a problem!

    Please let me know if you need help! 🙂 Best of luck!!!

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