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Posted: 8/29/2015 9:54:44 PM EDT
I passed my general and am beginning the research on radio's and antennas.  I was originally thinking of buying a fan dipole and hanging it off the 2nd story of my roof but the more research I do the more it sounds like dipoles really need to have some height to be effective, so it sounds like verticals are just as effective if you don't have the height.  Just curious what people are using or built, perhaps that's why antenna farms exist a few for some frequencies and others for specific purposes.  Just hoping to gleam some wisdom to start off on the right foot.  I live in the country with 160 acres around me but no tower currently.
Link Posted: 8/29/2015 10:06:56 PM EDT
In a perfect world, antennas would be at a perfect height.  But I don't live in a perfect world.  I live in a HOA restricted neighborhood.  So my dipole is about 15 feet above the ground.....in my attic.  Over the past three years, I've worked about 150 countries with it, and I've worked each of the 50 states at least three times (SSB, CW and digital).

So even if your antenna situation isn't ideal, put it up anyway, and get on the air.
Link Posted: 8/29/2015 10:13:48 PM EDT
With that kind of room, get both! A 43ft tall vertical with an SGC automatic antenna coupler at the base over a good ground radial field would kick butt for DX. A low slung fan dipole or off center fed dipole for NVIS (close in say out to 300 miles.) Check out DX Engineering's website.
Link Posted: 8/29/2015 10:30:50 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/29/2015 10:33:09 PM EDT by Frank_B]
Trap dipole at 35'.
Link Posted: 8/29/2015 10:32:58 PM EDT
I am a new general as well, my elmer gave me a hygain 18avs vertical.  It has been a real good antenna because i cannot put up a yagi or a dipole due to the wife restrictions.  Right now im at 26 countries.  Radio is a ic-746 , recently added a ic-2kl amp (500w) and a ldg-600 autotuner which has helped working pileups.  I use 100w most of the time unless i really want a contact.  When you get an antenna find someone close with an antenna analyzer, to me the analyzer has helped me the most ......

Prosise
K5EDI
Link Posted: 8/29/2015 10:33:44 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/29/2015 10:36:43 PM EDT by nikdfish]
Have had doublets and OCF dipoles in the past, also mfj 1796 vertical dipole & Hustler 5btv, but long term favorites are 160m and 80m FWL loops above and around the house.

Recently put up a 40/20/17/12/10  fan dipole (with cap hats on 40 to put 15 on the phone portion af the band). It will occasionally provide a better signal than the loops, but not that often. The fan feedpoint is at 40 - 50 feet, the ends are higher.

The loops, the fan, and the 1796 (turned horizontal) are my only current HF antennae.  The internal tuner on the TS590s handles all of them with no trouble . 106 countries so far, SSB w/ 100 watts.

Nick
Link Posted: 8/29/2015 10:35:51 PM EDT
I live the same tree-challenge state as KB7DX, so the best height I could get a dipole up was roof height
(16' in my case.)

I thought HF was fairly lame, and then I got my 43' and remote tuner. It literally blew the doors off the
low dipole. I used WSPR to do comparisons, and, well, this is straight from my journal from years
ago when I did the testing:

  Consolidated notes on antenna performance:

     Relative to 43' vertical with 10 0.1 wavelength radials.
     Compared on 10MHz using WSPR
     7 segment buddistick whip + 22in arm + coil      - 5 dB
     7 segment whip, nothing else          - 5 dB
     Dipole at 16'                         - 20 dB
     End Fedz Long Wire SWL, 6 feet        - 11 to -16 dB
     End Fedz Long Wire SWL, Center at 20ft
         with a single counterpoise ground - 4-5 dB



No guarantee that your dipole will suck as bad as my dipole did, but there's definitely more
antennas than just dipoles.

I also did another test on 20M with a MFJ loop, and on RX it was -3 dB on average, but had a
lot of pattern effects so some areas were -7 dB and others were +2 dB.
Link Posted: 8/29/2015 10:40:06 PM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By KB7DX:
A 43ft tall vertical with an SGC automatic antenna coupler at the base over a good ground radial field would kick butt for DX.

A low slung fan dipole or off center fed dipole for NVIS (close in say out to 300 miles.)
View Quote



This is my setup. I've got something like 120 countries. Working DX that I don't have anymore is getting hard, so I tend to just listen. Vertical antennas are better for DX by far, due to the low take off angle.
Link Posted: 8/29/2015 10:41:24 PM EDT
Oddly, I actually have a problem of having too many trees. Otherwise I'd have a beam up in the backyard.

I have an Alpha Delta DX-EE 10-40 meter dipole. It's nice to not need a tuner.
Link Posted: 8/29/2015 10:51:48 PM EDT


263 Countries on this antenna since 2010.
Link Posted: 8/29/2015 11:01:12 PM EDT
First, Congrats on passing General!

Second, "What does everyone...".  Everyone don't use the same antennas.  There is no "best".  What is best for me
might be impossible for you.  It depends on the space you have to work with.  Even with lots of space, plenty of places
to hang off antennas, they still work differently in different conditions.  

Before you do anything else, right click and save as http://www.hamuniverse.com/n4jaantennabook.pdf this
antenna book, and read, study, and inwardly digest.

For now, DO NOT BUY AN ANTENNA!!!  Make one.

With just a simple 80 m (3.5-4.0 mhz) dipole, if fed with coax, you will have great difficulty getting it to work on the
upper harmonic ham bands. I'm talking 40 m (7 mhz), 20 m (14 mhz), etc., even with a tuner. Been there, done that.

You can build your own dipole like this.

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_10_22/677525_.html

Also, leaving the end of the coax exposed will allow water to wick up the braid. Bad ju-ju. It will work for a while, but
in a few months you will begin to have problems.

Better is a center insulator made with a SO-239 socket on which the back of the socket has been sealed with a good
sealer such as Seal All, Aleene's 7800, etc. Even that will fail after a few years.

Here's a good dipole center insulator: It is stout!  It is the Jetstream center insulator. Probably the best simple dipole
insulator made.  And you can seal up the coax plug connection with several different products I will outline later.

http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/antsup/5524.html

And if you are ordering that, might as well get these, too.  Excellent end insulators.

http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/antsup/4818.html

At just 50 cents each, go on and buy a dozen for future antennas.

Still, you will have problems on the higher even multiples because there is a node (high impedance point) for each
of those bands right in the center of the antenna. Your tuner will have a lot of difficulty. One way around this is to
feed it with 450 ohm "window line".

Another way is to make more than one dipole... and yes, they are all connected to the same center insulator in
parallel. The non-resonant dipoles will simply not be there as far as the radio is concerned, and the resonant elements
will work.

http://www.hamuniverse.com/multidipole.html

I built one like this: http://www.hamuniverse.com/ae5jumultibanddipole.html

Also read this, Don Keith's article on the top five "get on the air quickly antennas".

http://www.donkeith.com/n4kc/article.php?p=22

And consider this one:

http://www.donkeith.com/n4kc/article.php?p=12

Some more reading:

http://www.eham.net/articles/16690

Weatherproofing antenna coax

http://k9zw.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/guest-post-weatherproofing-antenna-coax-by-paul-ae5ju/

Now here is an easy multiband antenna you can build, the Windom (sic), more accurately, the Offset Center
Fed Dipole (OCFD).

How would one of these work? Like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3gaj1YjPkg pt 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChwRHo5CpxM pt 2

And yes, you, too, can build one yourself that will work just as well. Here is our own "Big Daddy" and his backyard adventure:

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_10_22/627490_Emcomm_Box_Construction___Getting_Closer____New_Pics___Radios_on_Bottom___.html&page=7#i10812640

Now an OCFD does not work as two separate antennas on two bands. It is one antenna that has the feedpoint
offset... remember what I said about a dipole's center feed falling on the nodes of the higher bands? Well, this
OFFSET center fed antenna avoids the nodes by offsetting. The 4:1 balun corrects the impedance due to the
offset.

Build your own OCFD like this.  Take the balun recommendation seriously.  Just do it.

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_10_22/681504_.html&page=1


Link Posted: 8/29/2015 11:06:49 PM EDT
I've only been at HF for 2 years. I've used an OCF Dipole & then went to a fan dipole, with elements cut to resonance at freq. I wanted. I also put up a small vertical for 10 & 12 meters. I have over 150 DX confirmed & WAS on 5 bands, almost 6. Wires are cheap & effective. Just get it up as high as you can & you will be surprised. You can have a ton of fun with a simple wire antenna. It will keep you busy for a long time when conditions are good. Then you can decide what modes & bands you like best, & cater you antennas to those desires. Later on you will undoubtedly want to try different antennas anyway, it a sickness. No known cure I'm aware of.
Link Posted: 8/29/2015 11:18:31 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/29/2015 11:21:08 PM EDT by Harlikwin]
For most wire antennas height above ground is important for optimal performance, but all antennas will work to varying degrees. Ideally you want the wire antenna to be 1/2 wavelengths high or higher for the band you are operating to have a good low angle radiation (for DX). As the antenna gets lower to the ground the main angle of radiation gets higher and higher, but there is still some low angle radiation. Generally lower hanging dipoles will be fine for short and mid range comms (i.e. CONUS) while the vertical might be a bit better for longer range comms. Being in KS a dipole will get you coverage over most of north america without much issue and probably a bit of DX on the higher bands.

Where the dipole is better than the vertical is that the wire antennas will have far more gain, ideally a dipole will have 6-7dbi gain at its peak radiation angle, vs ~0 dbi for a vertical. The plus side for the vertical is that it will have better low angle radiation compared to a low hanging dipole.

Both types of antennas will work, just really depends on where you want to talk to. You can always "get both" and compare at some point, neither is particularly hard to setup, you can build a vertical with bit of wood and some wire, or vertical wire in a tree to test it.
Link Posted: 8/30/2015 1:08:00 AM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Jupiter7200:
First, Congrats on passing General!

Second, "What does everyone...".  Everyone don't use the same antennas.  There is no "best".  What is best for me
might be impossible for you.  It depends on the space you have to work with.  Even with lots of space, plenty of places
to hang off antennas, they still work differently in different conditions.  

Before you do anything else, right click and save as http://www.hamuniverse.com/n4jaantennabook.pdf this
antenna book, and read, study, and inwardly digest.

For now, DO NOT BUY AN ANTENNA!!!  Make one.

View Quote


OP - This is Good F'ing advice.  Except reading the antenna book.  :)  Read that after you put a wire up so that you'll know what you want to do for your next antenna after you've made a contact.
OCFD is good enough for me.  Trees, roof peaks, wind mills (Yes I do know that not every farm has one, but yours may) are all good places to hang wire.  The stronger the wire the better.  If you have 300' of electric fence wire handy go for it.
Or a spool of electrical wire.  
Has anyone considered the idea of putting a vertical on top of a silo?  

If you can budget a tuner with your radio like an MFJ-949 series or one of the ldg *-100 the radio will be much more forgiving of initial antenna mistakes.

Link Posted: 8/30/2015 5:31:08 AM EDT
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Kekoa:
In a perfect world, antennas would be at a perfect height.  But I don't live in a perfect world.  I live in a HOA restricted neighborhood.  So my dipole is about 15 feet above the ground.....in my attic.  Over the past three years, I've worked about 150 countries with it, and I've worked each of the 50 states at least three times (SSB, CW and digital).

So even if your antenna situation isn't ideal, put it up anyway, and get on the air.
View Quote
This.

I'm in the same situation as Kekoa. HOA restricted antennas in the attic. Homebrew dipoles for HF at about 18' above ground. Same results. About 150 countries and done the triple play (all 50 states on phone, CW and digital).

Don't get into analysis paralysis. Get something up and get on the air. Improve down the road.
Link Posted: 8/30/2015 6:49:19 AM EDT
Just worked South Sudan yesterday in a 43 foot DXE vertical.

I have 3 antennas in the farm, a fan dipole, a 100+ foot longwinre and a 43 foot DXE vertical. The 43 footer is my go-go  antenna.

I am getting damned close to 200 entities now.
Link Posted: 8/30/2015 9:40:43 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/30/2015 9:44:23 AM EDT by Jupiter7200]
Ideally you want the wire antenna to be 1/2 wavelengths high or higher for the band you are operating to have a good low angle radiation (for DX).
View Quote



This is difficult with 160, 80, or 40 meter dipoles.  This theory is correct, but don't let it hold you back.  I work quite a region three
times a week as Net Control with a 75 meter dipole only 20' up.

Analysis paralysis
View Quote



Yes, most important, get some wire up and get on the air.  

Has anyone considered the idea of putting a vertical on top of a silo?
View Quote


If I had a silo I sure would.  A guy in Texas found out his electric coop would put in a utility pole for only $50.  He called them, said
he wanted four out back, and marked the spot with big X's of spray paint on the ground.  Before they put them up he screwed on
an eyebolt and pulley on each, and rope.  Then after they left... this just costing $200 and a little hardware, he put up a big loop.  
Something to consider.

You need a tuner no matter what antenna or how well tuned, unless you want to restrict yourself to just a few of the infinite number
of frequencies we have available.  No tuner, and a resonant antenna was fine back in the days when you only had one crystal set
for your transmitter or transceiver.  For example, with the 75 m segments of my fan dipole tuned to 3.900 mhz, I can not only work
3.8 - 4.0 mhz, I can work down to 3.5 mhz digital, and work 60 and 30 meters as well.

With a tuner I can work 40 meters with the 40 m segments of my fan dipole, as well as the 15 meter band.  Already that's 5 bands.

With a tuner I can work not only 20 meters with the 20 meter segments of my fan dipole, I can work 17 meters, too.  Now I'm up to
7 band.  And I don't know which segments it works from, but I can work 10 meters, too.  So that's 8 bands with 3 pairs of wire of a
fan dipole.

You need a tuner.
Link Posted: 8/30/2015 10:07:44 AM EDT
My last antenna was made of fishing line cut to length for resonance.



Posted Here.
Link Posted: 8/30/2015 10:51:32 AM EDT
Just when you get done studying, it's back to more studying.  Lot's of good information here to work through, I still haven't got a radio but I'm tempted on the new icom 7300 but there is also a older radio coming up at a local auction this week.  Thanks everyone for the advice.
Link Posted: 8/30/2015 1:11:05 PM EDT
Currently I use a Mosley Pro-67b on a 75ft. tower. It covers all bands, 40-10m except a 30m band. I also have an 80m die-pole, mounted at 65 ft. Almost everything was purchased used or made from scratch.  The Mosley works like a cannon. Big difference when compared to a dipole or a vertical.
Yagis are relatively easy to install but I would install a 4 element cubic quads if I had a choice and means to install it. Having acreage and no HOA gives you a lot of elbow room to play with. A good antenna makes up 90% of a ham station. Try to install the best you can afford.

Link Posted: 9/1/2015 2:06:31 AM EDT
43 ft Vertical (S9V43) w/ only twenty 30-65 ft ground radials gets me around North & South America very well using an Icom AH-4 remote autotuner & a 100 watts. Definitely the best performing "hidden" setup I've been able to rig up on my tiny lot in the middle of the city (Big loop & long horizontal wire were a big disappointment in my opinion for what I wanted to do). 1/2 wave Dipole was out of the question as I'd have to use my neighbors' trees / houses & properties to fan it across. With ground radials, much easier to drop a $5 bill as an unexpected 'thank-you' to the neighbors for allowing a few of my ground radials to poke a few feet into their property lines so long as they're buried & not exposed at all for safety reasons.

When a UK station is calling CQ & the band gods give their blessing, I hear them incredibly well; but I usually gotta be quick before the pile-up gets too thick, or wait my turn after the kilowatt boomer stations in order for a contact; however, the fact I can make a contact at all w/ my very low key, easily removed, & non-ideal setup is pretty impressive to me. For North American pile-ups, the 43ft vertical works incredibly well on 40m & 20m; I usually get through after 4-5 call cycles so long as the station calling is beyond 200 miles or so away.
Link Posted: 9/1/2015 2:07:25 AM EDT
Continued from my last post since I'm limited to 2K words:

With a well installed vertical & 100 watts, you'll never match the signal & clarity of those who have 1.5KW on a beam mounted 150 ft in the air; however, if you can tweak, tune, & modify your setup to be able to consistently break thru pile-up without a whole lot of fuss & excessive calling, then you can be fairly confident that your antenna system will allow for adequate propagation during more casual rag-chewing & nets (which to me is much more fun).

Main "criticism" I have for the 43ft vertical is that it requires a wide range REMOTE tuner to work at its best, which can limit future potential power capabilities if you ever decide to go amp'd, unless you want to pay the big bucks for high-powered remote tuners. The only other thing to note w/ a vertical is that you'll not likely hear a peep from anyone within your region within a 100-200 miles on HF w/ a vertical antenna unless you are very close to them or some weirdness is going on in the ionosphere (5W HT range should be expected as a general rule).

My vote is to go for a non-resonant vertical w/ a remote auto-tuner. It's a bit more complex for installation & costs a bit more too initially; however, I find the benefits of simplicity, stealth, & true omni-directional performance far outweigh the seemingly minor trade-off of not as much gain as a high mounted dipole which few folks can actually provide for HF. Any & every antenna system has trade-offs & compromises as you are finding out. One other option I haven't tried yet is the end-fed vertical dipole; may look into it for portable operations.
Link Posted: 9/1/2015 2:23:56 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/1/2015 2:34:16 AM EDT by NathanL]
I'm up to just under 100 countries with my 43' vertical. It wasn't that exensive. I got the s9v when they were on closeout for $75. I like the ability to take it down by myself and put it up in less than 2 minutes in case of bad weather. Longest contact is just over 7k miles. Eastern Europe seems to be me hotspot area. A few to the Middle East. A good many of those came at times when nobody in the US is on so not much of a pileup. For a while I got an Australian net every night with a few guys who were in the outback with ham radio as their only communication. Interesting.
I guess my super high tech radio is the key lol. Icom 718. All that in about 7 months. I don't have it anymore since I moved.
 
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