I get a lot of questions about the 2 meter copper J-Pole antenna related to painting it. Many users have different reasons why they would want to paint the J-Pole antenna, but the majority of reasons usually boil down to ways in which to hide the antenna, make it a stealth antenna, or to keep the copper bright and shiny. The antenna can be painted for either protection from the elements or to help it blend it into the surroundings.
Painting the antenna will prolong its life and keep the antenna looking new. I recommend that you use either a clear lacquer if you want to maintain the bright copper color, or a non-metallic spray enamel if your goal is to conceal the antenna.
The trick is to use nonmetallic paints. Anything with metal in it will create a capacitance on the surface of the antenna and adversely affect its performance. Check the ingredients on the label of spray paint; look for words like iron oxide, titanium dioxide, zinc chromate, or metals like aluminum, zinc, or gold. A good safe choice of paints to use are the Krylon Fusion line of plastic paints, but still check the label for metal content.
I outline the steps in which to go about painting the antennas in my Frequently Asked Questions section, but to recap, the steps to paint can be found after the break:
- Prep the antenna with a green ScotchBrite pad. You will want to remove any residual oxidation and create a bright surface for painting.
- Wipe the antenna down with isopropyl alcohol to remove any oils, excess flux or other residue.
- Protect the SO-239 connector with tape.
- Spray with 2-3 fine coats of nonmetallic spray enamel or clear lacquer. Follow label directions for proper application.
If you don’t paint your antenna, that’s fine also. The antenna will develop a dark brown patina with time. This patina will not affect its performance and will also help it blend into the landscape.
I don’t paint my antennas, so I leave that up to the choice of the end user.