Part 1 – The PAAL II

You just bought or built that newfangled dipole antenna and you now want to launch it as far up between two trees in your back yard near your radio shack. You grab your compound bow, a fishing rod with reel, and proceed to launch that arrow up over that first 100-foot eastern pine. Seconds after you launched that arrow and monofilament line you hear your neighbor start to scream over the fence at you for trying to kill her. WHOOPS! “Sorry Mrs. Murphy” you shout. Then Mrs. Murphy’s husband who looks like the hulk including the green skin tone storms over with the offending arrow in tow spewing a rather interesting use of the English language.

A gentler means of deploying your antenna would be with a heavy weight like a crescent wrench or rock tied around some para cord and attempt to get up at least 30-feet. Well we all know that the wrench or rock does come down, typically on your head and the antenna is never high enough for you. Frustrated you buy one of those wrist rocket sling shots with a fishing reel attached but again you never seem to get it as high as you want. They are over $100- and they are really only good for the use they were designed for.

A friend uses a drone but knowing my luck I would crash my $1,000- drone in the tree to only watch it sway as each passing storm comes through. That’s the dilemma us key pounders have for sure. But wait…There is an answer and it is JohnyMac’s Pneumatic Atomic Antenna Launcher II also known as a PAAL II.

I do not want the readers here at American Partisan to make the same mistakes I have made – Sorry Mrs. Murphy – So I have put together a DIY PAAL II instruction article that you can use to make your own PAAL II for under $99-. Trust me, you will be the envy of your neighborhood and of course your amateur Radio Club.

PAAL II in the white

I first learned of the PAAL from the President of my radio club now a silent key due to an unfortunate accident while building a new antenna tower. That is why I use trees! Basically, his design was a PVC pipe air chamber, tire fill valve, tire pressure gauge, a seacock (Ball valve for you Pocahontas supporters), a barrel, mortar shell, and an inexpensive fishing reel. The cost total when done was under $100-.

Using his design and improvements I have added to the PAAL II, the mise en place is as follows.

1, 3” x 24” PVC Schedule 40, 221 psi pipe, Florescent Orange Surveyors spray paint
1, 3” end, 221 psi Red Surveyors tape
1, 3” to 1 ½” reducer, 221 psi Zebco Push Button Reel Model 404
1, 1 ½” to 1 ¼” reducer bushing, 221 psi PVC glue & primer and 1-part epoxy glue
1, PVC 1 1/4” seacock, 221 psi Isopropyl Alcohol,
1, 3-foot x 1 1/4“ PVC Schedule 40 pipe, 221 psi Bike tire filling valve
2, 1/16” self-tapping eyelets, Bike tire pump with pressure gauge
Some bolts and such for weight, & putting the mortar shell together Miscellaneous; wire ties, paper towels, etc.
1, 24″ x 1″ PVC Schedule 40 pipe, psi 221 1, 3/4″ wood dowel

Add to the above camo spray paint if you want to militarize your PAAL II – NO BLUE PAINT you Bernie supporters!

The image below shows the different parts and sizes to put this bad boy together. Please note I did not glue the barrel to the discharge side of the seacock so I could break down the PAAL II for easier transport.

Order of assembly:

  1. Glue 3″ cap to 3″ x 24″ air chamber.
  2. Drill and install bicycle tire valve stem into the 3″ to 1 1/2″ reducer.
  3. Glue 3″ to 1 1/2″ reducer to 3″ x 24″ air camber.
  4. Glue 1 1/2″ to 1 1/4″ bushing reducer to 3″ x 1 1/2″ reducer.
  5. Glue a section of the 1 1/4″ pipe (I used 4″) to the 1 1/2″ to 1 1/4″ bushing reducer.
  6. Glue 1 1/4″ PVC seacock to 1 1/4″ pipe.

I let the glue dry for 30-minutes between sections starting at step III as these are potentially weak spots of the design during assembly.

Part 2 – The Mortar Shell

Hopefully you now are in possession of the completed PAAL II or as it is known in my neighborhood as the JMac M-80 Launcher. I am sure by now you have probably figured out that this is a true multi-function weapon tool. But to use the PAAL II as intended you need a mortar shell or two to take the monofilament line up and over your living and breathing anchor point.

I made two mortar shells of different weights. One is 5.7-ounces (metal threaded reducer) while the other is 4.7 ounces (PVC threaded reducer). I found that the lighter mortar shell goes farther & higher but does not have the crashing through branches power as the heavier one does. In order that I have good compression while the mortar shell travels out the barrel, I wrapped each mortar shell with two layers of electrical tape. The mortar shell should go down the barrel with a tiny bit of friction. Last, I spray painted each shell with florescent Orange Surveyors spray paint and attached a large 18-inch piece of surveyor’s tape to the eyelet ring. If you do this, it will be a lot easier to find in the summer.

The image below shows how one of these mortar shells goes together.

Order of assembly:

  1. In a 4″ piece of 1″ PVC pipe glue a PVC 3/4″ reducer. I used a metal threaded pipe reducer for more weight as we see in the 5.7-ounce mortar shell.
  2. Inserted into the mortar shell a 3/8″ x 3″ long bolt, lock star, 3/8 fender washer (Outside),
  3. Inside I placed over the bolt bitter end a 3/8″ fender washer and 3/8″ lock nut. Glued the inside washer, bolt and nut together using 2-part epoxy.
  4. Using a ~3″ of 3/4″ wood dowel I drilled a 1/2″ hole. Filled hole with 2-part epoxy and placed over the bitter end of bolt inside the mortar shell.
  5. Filled the space between the dowel and inside wall of the mortar shell with paper towels and PVC glue alternately till the shell was filled using a butter knife. Cleaned off knife as best I could and hid under all the other butter knives in the silverware drawer so my wife would not see residual of glue on knife. Old JohnyMac wasn’t born yesterday!
  6. Once the wood dowel/paper towel/glue filled shell was dry I cut off excess dowel and drilled a 1/16″ hole in the end of the dowel. Rolled eyelet screw in some 2-part epoxy glue and screwed into the end of the dowel.

As written earlier, once dry I added 2 loops with red electrical tape in three spots along the mortar shell. This created an almost airtight fit of the mortar shell and the sides of the barrel.

Top Mortar Shell 4.7-ounces. Bottom 5.7-ounces. Bottom shell threaded metal reducer and extra nut to add weight to the nose. Not spray painted yet.

Using the 4.7-ounce mortar shell I can easily clear 100-foot trees with only 60-pounds of pressure pumped into the cylinder. I have not tried a higher psi past 90 psi because 1) in the amateur radio world you use as little power as you can get away with, and 2) my 16-year-old General Ticket holder from across the dirt road will not fire it with me filming him past 90 psi – What a pussy if you ask me.

Loading and firing process is as follows…

  1. Close the seacock!
  2. Using the pump, pressurize to the height you want to attain. Attach the 3-foot barrel and attach the fishing line to the eye on the mortar shell. I use Eagle Claw Barrel Swivel lock snaps, size 5 (lure snaps) that is tied to the bitter end of the monolilament line.
  3. Drop the mortar shell down the barrel nose end first so the eye, fishing barrel swivel, and monofilament line exits the barrel first. The mortar shell will align to the nose being first and the trailing fishing line last within 6 to 10-feet of leaving the barrel.
  4. Aim so the mortar shell will pass over the desired tree by 5 or more feet.
  5. FIRE! twist the handles of the seacock.
  6. Once locating the mortar shell unhook the shell and attach some messenger line to the barrel swivel lure clip and reel that line back to the PAAL II. Enjoy!

Sorry folks I have to write this before our AP lawyers scold me. Trust me, they have NO sense of humor.

  1.  DO NOT pressurize more than 50% of the listed psi on the schedule 40 pipe. There is actual pipe out there that is rated for less than 100 psi. Buy high psi pipe!
  2.  Not not point the PAAL II and fire at any living sole. Do not ask me how I know.

So, there you go. A multifunction tool that will help you to launch a new antenna or other objects. Even with using the PAAL II I still recommend you avoid your neighbor’s yard who have at times called you crazy or remarked to those that would listen that “they ought to be put JohnyMac in a mental asylum!” I can only assume that they mean U.S. Congress.

My final thoughts are that you could go with a vehicle tire stem instead of the bike one. If you went this route you could use a compressor to fill up the tank. You could go with a shorter barrel too however I feel using the longer barrel helps with performance.

Have fun!

Freedom Through Self Reliance®


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