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Long plasma columns of high electron densities, in many instances preferable to the positive column plasmas of dc discharges, can be sustained by means of an electromagnetic surface wave that propagates along the column at microwave frequencies. This paper presents a waveguide-based launcher (surfaguide) that can efficiently generate such plasma columns. It is a broadband device that can be operated with microwave powers of the order of kilowatts. The surfaguide is described and analyzed in terms of equivalent circuit theory. Guidelines for its design and operation are given.