Author Topic: HF Antennas can be CHEAP  (Read 18438 times)

Offline Carl

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HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« on: December 28, 2014, 07:53:17 AM »
   In these days of $1,000 to $10,000 dollar PLUS Ham radios and Antennas with rotors and towers costing thousands the hobby of being a HAM may get pushed aside for less costly things.

   Fear not because you don’t have to spend thousands for the average HF radio these days with many NEW radios in the sub $1000 range and having such costly extras like SWR meters and automatic antenna tuners often added to even entry level radios and USED gear being offered at very reasonable prices. Was you first car a Bugatti Verone?
Mine was a full bodied Pontiac Tempest with column shift and I did not even know how to use a clutch…but it was an affordable $150, I wish I had it back.

   OK ,OK ,so we get to the antenna…you need a TOWER and a rotor and an aluminum cloud over your home….STOP RIGHT THERE. Those things are nice ,but you just need something that works ,and does not make the neighbors or HOA start banging at your door.

   A wire dipole fits the bill. Mine has been up for years and WAS an extension cord picked from a trash can for NOTHING! PVC can be easily made into insulators and most any pole or structure pressed into service as an antenna support. Even a wood fence can hide a dipole along its inside and be way more effective than you might imagine.

   Even though auto and manual antenna tuners make the radio happy, it helps to start with an antenna that resonates at least within the band of choice so it will be more effective at receiving and transmitting.

   The point I am trying to make here is that to get off to a good start in radio you don’t need to get all the GOLD PLATED goods and you will have more fun and satisfaction talking to other enthusiasts around the world on an antenna you built yourself ,from easy to get scraps of wire ,most any insulator and a bit of good old common sense.



Photo is one of my cheap 20 Meter antennas for portable/emergency work,the center insulator was purchased but could have been more 1/2 inch PVC as the ends were , the black insulation on the coax and insulator is a liquid tape I use to keep water out,also used as a dip-on tool handle ...easy and cheap,get the job done.


Antenna cut lengths for various bands (SSB voice areas)

6  meters   9.34 feet    4.67 one side
10 Meters  16.45 feet    8.22 one side
15 Meters  21.97 feet   10.99 one side
20 Meters  32.91 feet   16.46 one side
40 Meters  65.64 feet   32.82 one side
80 Meters 120.77 feet   60.39 one side

Link to more antenna cut length data:

http://www.chem.hawaii.edu/uham/antennas.html


Help put the VERB into HAM RADIO.


« Last Edit: December 28, 2014, 08:00:30 AM by Carl »

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2014, 10:59:27 AM »
Carl,

Even among the "cheap" antennas, there are many design and configuration options.  If someone doesn't have an experienced elmer onsite to evaluate your station setup, how do you choose?

For around $100 or less you've got a some popular multi-band HF choices:

Ultimax end fed:  http://qrznow.com/ultimax-extreme-antenna-1-0-54-9-mhz/
GR5V: http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-1778

Also for basic band specific dipoles, there are many ways to position them, and even more ways to configure baluns:



Are most of these choices station specific?  Are there clear winners and losers, or are we entering into another 9mm/.45ACP type discussion?

Offline Carl

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2014, 12:26:41 PM »
There are antenna styles and complexities to meet any mans image of what an antenna should look like. I use a dipole with TWO SETS of wire ,cut for 40 meters and 20 meters fed with a 1 to 1 balun to reduce interference (I don't worry about interference on portable and or low power antennas) so the image showed no balun ($20 , and worth it)

With the 20/40 wires (most bands are on multiple frequencies) 40 and 15 are on the same 40 meter wires while 20 and 10 and 6 meters are on the 20 meter wire and 12/17 30 meters work well with the 3 to 1 auto tuner in my radio. I also run 80 meters at a little lower power on the 40 meter wire though it is only 1/8 wave...it works and when someone tells you that you NEED a full power radio and FULL SIZE ANTENNA, stop and think how even a 20 meter mobile can be heard all over the country without  a 5 meter tall (over 17 feet) tall antenna .

  Many HAMs fight for the 1 or 2 percent (OK , sometimes more)advantage that a football field size antenna can give....good for them. I can park my car and toss a 34 foot wire into a tree and within minutes have my half wave end fed antenna up and talking while others are still trying to locate space enough to place their antenna...any antenna will perform well when propagation and NATURE co-operate ...when the band is not open is when the big boys and big power can push a bit of signal better than the simplest wire antenna... I just use that time to dust,read,play with my kids(ok...the dog) and keep my hobby simple and easy.

The big antennas , towers, amplifiers, are like fast women,fast cars ,boats,and horses...really not worth the high maintenance costs.Start easy...start now...and later you can afford and experiment with all kinds of antenna.

My favorite is the end fed half wave and another is a 20 meter dipole with THREE WIRES on the shield side and hung as a ground plane about 5 feet off the ground for the radials ...the vertical gets really great radiation angle for DX. But to show off ,I toss a wire on the ground and work stations all over the world while others struggle with 60 foot towers,rotors,amplifiers ....HAVE FUN , that's what a hobby is for

Offline Greekman

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2014, 05:17:12 AM »
Carl, you mean you have 3 radials and a driven element?
the riven element hung vertically and the radials spread at 120degs startign from 5feet high?

Offline Carl

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2014, 05:28:21 AM »
Carl, you mean you have 3 radials and a driven element?
the riven element hung vertically and the radials spread at 120degs startign from 5feet high?

YES, with that you get a great take-off angle for distant stations. You need flags if others may walk into it.
You can use it as a dipole ,with the 3 'shield side 'wires as one side .
You can hang the top 'single wire' vertical with the 3 'shield side ' wires hanging as a vertical dipole
You can hang the single wire and route the 3 shield side wires on the ground so as to favor one direction(the direction the point)

Offline Greekman

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2014, 09:54:05 AM »
good job!  :clap:

Offline Greekman

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2015, 10:15:37 AM »
Carl I have some more questions.

I guess it would be possible to use it as an NVIS too?

What would happen if you raised the center junction high enough to make it an inverted V and spread all the ground elements
 90deggres to each other? (having one wire in each quadrant)
Woud you get a directional HF antenna?
 

Offline Carl

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2015, 10:26:25 AM »
NVIS will happen if horizontal within 10 feet or so of earth..but NVIS is only reliable on 40 and 80 meters and rarely on 30 meters and up . With the 3 ground and single center equally spaced you should see a barely discernible lobe in the direction of the center wire . When the center is vertical,you get a more defined directional lobe in the direction of the shield side wires and maximum directional lobe is when all 3 shield side wires are within a 15 degree group.

There may be an expert who disagrees with me on that ,but I welcome any experienced observations as my experiments have only collected data for the last 25 years.

Offline chad

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2015, 11:12:43 AM »
If you had one of these and wanted to make a external wire antenna how would you do it.




http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00006IS4X/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=16DQN81BCUPCM&coliid=I2QVAIQOBSZ16C

Offline Carl

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2015, 11:36:19 AM »
If you had one of these and wanted to make a external wire antenna how would you do it.




http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00006IS4X/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=16DQN81BCUPCM&coliid=I2QVAIQOBSZ16C

While a ,35 feet on each side DIPOLE would be my choice...this radio works well with a longwire also ...35 feet of wire with supporting insulators and part of the length feeding the antenna with a simple alligator clip or ,if available,a plug in antenna port with mating plug on the end of the long-wire.

Here are some Ideas and construction tips:

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

Offline Greekman

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2015, 12:03:09 PM »
thanks carl....It seems i have found my filed antenna when i go the HF route

Offline Carl

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2015, 12:10:04 PM »
thanks carl....It seems i have found my filed antenna when i go the HF route

the flexibility gives many options ,though my current favorite is the end fed half wave antenna for ease of use as I don't get around so well . I just toss one end into a tree and the counterpoise is thrown on the ground in the direction you favor. The 20 meter uses 35 feet on the center  and 17' 6" on the counterpoise and a tuner with that will work 6 through 80 meters ..If 40 is your band of choice then you use 70 and 35 feet of wire ...so you can cover most bands with just 3 pieces of wire...light weight and easy going.

Offline chad

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2015, 01:11:06 PM »
While a ,35 feet on each side DIPOLE would be my choice...this radio works well with a longwire also ...35 feet of wire with supporting insulators and part of the length feeding the antenna with a simple alligator clip or ,if available,a plug in antenna port with mating plug on the end of the long-wire.

Here are some Ideas and construction tips:

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

Thanks

I think ill start with how it comes then try a longwire then....Will see..

Offline chad

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2015, 10:21:49 AM »
Carl, I ordered that sony 7600 shortwave radio, going to the hardware tomorrow to get wire and alligator clips dose it matter what diameter wire I use?

Offline Carl

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2015, 10:32:48 AM »
Carl, I ordered that sony 7600 shortwave radio, going to the hardware tomorrow to get wire and alligator clips dose it matter what diameter wire I use?

Only for the strength of the wire,not the signal. You can just wrap a bare end around the radio's antenna ,but a alligator clip is much better looking and secure. The wire can be bare metal or insulated ,and does not have to be in a straight line...just best to not go under or over power lines and keep it off the ground. Tossed up in a tree works OK for receive antenna also.

Offline chad

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2015, 10:38:06 AM »
Got it, off the ground, no power lines ;D thanks

Offline Carl

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2015, 10:45:16 AM »
Got it, off the ground, no power lines ;D thanks

Thank you Chad,,,I share in your excitement.  +1 karma

Offline Greekman

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2015, 12:52:54 PM »
Got it, off the ground, no power lines ;D thanks

since you will be getting wire grab some electrical crip connectors with an eyelet. you can crimp them to the other end of your wire and be able to tie a thin rope to hoist your antenna

like mine...


Offline Carl

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2015, 01:05:08 PM »
While showing antennas ,and remembering a wire dipole can be FREE or under $10 if you buy all new stuff.
This is a portable 15-17-20 meter vertical that used THREE 17' 6" radials ,an expanding 12 foot whip,with a home made PVC formed coil and a 22 inch long 3/8 X 24 riser from a mobile whip...the CHEAP cost was over $70 , with the $7 tripod.



This is why I like wire antennas as they are way easy and low cost.

Offline chad

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2015, 01:45:58 PM »
Thank you Chad,,,I share in your excitement.  +1 karma
thanks Carl





since you will be getting wire grab some electrical crip connectors with an eyelet. you can crimp them to the other end of your wire and be able to tie a thin rope to hoist your antenna

like mine...



Good idea.


I poked around the garage and found all the stuff I need.

I think I'll try Carl's method, I'll tie a 3inch piece of 2x4 to the wire and toss it over my garage roof that should get me 14 ft high and a length of 40,45 ft.

Offline Carl

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #20 on: January 03, 2015, 01:49:35 PM »
A plastic water bottle will do less damage to anything it may strike, it is my choice  weight because you can find one most anywhere and ,unless froze solid,it will do little damage.

Offline chad

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #21 on: January 03, 2015, 02:28:36 PM »
A plastic water bottle will do less damage to anything it may strike, it is my choice  weight because you can find one most anywhere and ,unless froze solid,it will do little damage.


I think my neighbor agrees with you if I happen to over shoot.

Offline armymars

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #22 on: March 05, 2015, 03:49:47 PM »
  Much safer then my bow and arrow even using rubber tips on the end. When I could still shoot one. I'm down to 32lb limbs and I don't know if I could draw it back anymore. Lets hear it for compressed air. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Offline Carl

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #23 on: March 05, 2015, 04:02:59 PM »
Also a dog ball launcher works,though I should have put in a comma somewhere there .
Just attach line to a hardware butterfly nut and insert into a ball and launch away. Link

http://www.chewy.com/dog/hyper-pet-launcher-dog-toy-1-ball/dp/107895?utm_source=google-product&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=hg&utm_content=Hyper%20Pet&utm_term=&gclid=COPawreoksQCFZCIaQod9YoArg

Offline armymars

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #24 on: March 05, 2015, 06:30:11 PM »
  1 1/2" PVC for the barrel. 73

Offline DoctorWho0077

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #25 on: December 28, 2015, 03:12:07 AM »
Very interesting topic, wire antennas / dipoles have been a mainstay of amateur radio since its humble beginnings, having been to many ham events and emergency communications setups, dipoles have always been the obvious choice....

Those large towers are permanent installations and not very portable, good thing for us hams that FEDERAL LAW trumps State and Municipal ordnances and regulations that might seek to prohibit a properly installed amateur radio antaena.

Offline armymars

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Re: HF Antennas can be CHEAP
« Reply #26 on: December 29, 2015, 02:09:58 PM »
Beware of covenants and home owner associations.