ANTENNAS Antenna performance is the
#1 consideration in setting up a successful
ham station. The very best antenna that you
can install will always help to insure success.
That will make you a happier operator!
Also, my ham friends have told me that they
believe that a superior antenna will
invariably outperform a high power station
with an inadequate antenna.
The antenna plan for this station revolves
around some priorities that I have set for
the station as well as some limitations that
are specific to this particular site:
1. I have a relatively small city lot measuring
about 120 by 100 feet,
2. I want to maintain a relatively uncluttered
view from the street,
3. The shack will be located upstairs in my
two story house,
4. I want coverage from 160 meters through
the VHF bands.
5. Antennas are to provide uniform
coverage in all directions.
6. The antennas selected will be the most
efficient possible for this location.
7. The capacity to run the full legal limit
whenever necessary is important.
8. No tuner should be required beyond
those included in the transmitters.
Some additional factors that narrow the
antenna selection process are determined
by the second story shack location:
1. All of the antennas will be fed with coaxial
cable with SWR of 2.5:1 or less.
2. None of the antennas will use the shack
ground system as a counterpoise.
3. RF voltage floating on the coaxial cable
braid will be minimized and,
4. Protection from lightning caused surges
will be built into every antenna.
After reading through the ARRL antenna
books, researching on the internet and
talking to my ham friends about what works
best for them and why, I arrived at a plan. I
used a print of the satellite view of my lot so
that I could sketch the various antenna
possibilities onto the lot layout. I found that
this was an extremely useful tool during the
antenna selection and layout process.
The first antenna installed was a vertical
dipole for 10, 15, 20 and 40 meters. This
antenna was supported from the patio deck
on the back of the house as shown in this
side street view of the lot. Also shown in the
photo is a small weather station. I plan to
treat the weather station pole with a bit of
camouflage paint as soon as I figure out the
best pattern and colors.
The second antenna installed was the
magnetic loop which was located on the
deck above the garage. These two
antennas, the vertical and the loop were
used for listening while I practiced for the
ham license test.
From this point, the antenna list was refined
to reach the final selections.
Unfortunately, the 120 foot self- supporting
tower with a full-size multi-band auto-tuning
beam on the top, fed as a 160 meter
vertical and with sloping dipoles hung all
around for 75/80, 60 and 40 meters had to
be eliminated on the first cut. Also, the
multiple array of Beverage antennas for
listening on 160 meters were out.
The plan eventually called for the installation
of up to seven relatively simple and cost
effective antennas covering the frequencies
from 1.8 through 440 megahertz.
The combination provides good signal
launch angles and signal capture areas in
all directions for both DX and local contacts
on each of the ham bands.
Front view photo: The shack is located in
the upstairs room with the window. The
Hustler vertical is on the upper left and the
45 foot fiberglass flag pole that supports the
OCF Windom and 160 meter inverted L is
at center right. The Comet tri-band and
Pixel loop are on the right side of the
garage deck. The hex beam in the back
yard and the 17 meter loop that runs
around the deck railing are too stealthy to
show from this view point.
Other antenna combinations could have
been chosen, but these work well for my
particular lot geometry. For example, if the
site was sufficiently large, a 160 meter off
center fed Windom could be installed,
thereby eliminating the need for a separate
160 meter antenna. In addition, if the hex
beam covering 20 through 6 meters was
put up first it would have been tempting to
eliminate the vertical dipole. Also, if the
antenna support pole could have been
located in a more central location on the lot,
a group of inverted V or sloping dipoles
could be effectively used. However, even
after the elimination of some of the other
antennas, I definitely would not want to give
up the NVIS antennas.
Finally, the more antennas choices that are
available and more varied these antennas
are, the better the diversity for both
reception and transmission. In other words,
if you have the space, if the cost is not
prohibitive and if the limitations of the site
plan can be complied with, then the more
antenna choices the better.
This is the antenna combination that was
1. Vertical dipole for 10, 15, 20 & 40
2. PIXEL loop 100 kHz to 30 MHz
3. OCF all-band inverted V for 80-6
4. NVIS dipoles for 75, 60 and 40 M
5. 160 Meter inverted L
6. W4KIO Hex Beam for 20 to 6
7. Comet CX-333 tri-band
Each of the antennas listed has been
installed and tuned up on a semi-permanent
basis so that the performance and
usefulness can be evaluated. The antennas
have been optimized for an acceptable
SWR even if this means that they are not
perfectly resonant (I would expect to get
some argument here – but life is full of
compromises). Although this approach
might diminish their receiving performance
by a small amount, my observation is that it
seems to make the transmitters matching a
lot easier without the use of a tuner. Later,
each antenna will be modified, cleaned up
and adjusted as necessary to become a
permanent part of the stations.
The coaxial cables from each of the
antennas are fed into the shack through a
feed-through port that has been fashioned
using abs pipe and toilet flanges. The pipe
is packed with insulation to keep out the
weather and small animals. This may not
be elegant but it is very cost effective and
After the first few months of work on the
antennas. I can now work any of the ham
bands with reasonably effective results and
I can almost always work whoever I can hear.
The W4KIO hex installation was completed
May 30, 2012 and I hope that the next few
months will see the completion of the mobile
antenna installations. A new 17 meter loop
antenna was added to the collection. It was
not in the original plan but it is a good
performer and is very stealthy.
I am now looking forward to getting a lot
more quality air time now that the
construction of these antennas is completed.
One of the most important lessons that I
have learned so far about antennas is that
the ionosphere does not always follow the
simplistic rules that we have assigned to it
and therefore any one of these antennas
can bring in the “best” signal at any
particular time. Because of this, the feature
that I like best about the Alpha amplifier is
that it can select any one of four connected
antennas instantly at the push of a button.
This provides a good approximation of a
high priced diversity receiving system. I
use this feature a lot!
W6SDO.COM SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA USA
Last Revised December 10, 2013