Posted by: GW7AAV | May 28, 2011

Hooray for zip ties

In this hobby of amateur radio there are so many things we take for granted, one of those is the zip cable tie. I pondered the other day what we did before these things were invented and to be perfectly honest I could not really remember what I did before they became commonly available in the high street. I suspect I used pieces of string and stiff wire or wraps of insulation tape, but whatever is was it was neither as neat or convenient as the cable ties I use today. It took a couple of radio amateurs to remind me that wiring looms used to be wrapped with a none adhesive cotton tape, painted with tar and then lacquered. Nowadays zip ties and self amalgamating tape make wiring loom manufacturer a lot simpler or at least it would be if the looms weren’t twenty times more complex due to the toys on our modern vehicles. I have since recalled that on my motorcycles rubber ties were often used along with a sort of aluminium tie with a slot one end and a round head at the other, but just how did I hold up my antennas? I am at a loss.

This morning as I returned from the kitchen with my second coffee of the morning I spotted that the centre of my 5 MHz dipole was about three feet above the ground, turning it in to a Vee. Surprisingly it still tuned with only a tiny adjustment, but I had to fix it anyway. It was a zip tie that had failed due to exposure to UV and the high winds we had been experiencing. I took the opportunity to replace one section of the telescopic fishing pole that I use to hold up the centre of the antenna. It had split length wise some time ago and was held together with gaffer tape. Afterwards I wondered how long that zip tie had been in service and I found I had put up me 5MHz dipole in December 2005, so had been waving about being pulled by the wind on the antenna for five and a half years, I think I am happy with that. In most applications a tie would not experience the forces this one was subject to and so should last much longer even outside exposed to that nasty UV from the sunlight.

Three cheers for zip ties! Hip Hip Hooray!


  1. Well,years ago, we used lacing cord. It was waxed cotton. The used to be an article in the ARRL handbook showing how to do it. I spent a lot of time one summer as a summer hire for an electronics firm lacing up cables.

    Later, in industry (early 60s). we had a spiral plastic stuff. I do recall some zip ties in the later 50s. We had a tool to tension them. Somewhat like the “4th hand” cable tensioner you use on bicycle cables.

    /paul W3FIS

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