Antennas

How high should my dipole be?

In this video, I show you why you shouldn’t worry about height for your wire dipoles and loops.

Unless you can achieve leaps of a quarter-wave in size, just go with the flow (or put up a DX Commander All-Band-Vertical! :)

Quarter Wave -vs- 5/8ths Wave Vertical

q-wave-vs-5-8th-wave

Compare Red 5/8th -vs- Blue W/wave

Anyone who has mucked about with verticals will no doubt have worked out that a full-sized quarter-wave for the 40m band, more or less tunes up for 15m band.

It wasn’t until my entry in IOTA Contest this year that I convinced myself that they are not a cloudburner (as many people suggest) but compare favorably with a quarter-wave, even producing more gain by 2 dB at 10 degrees above the horizon.

OK, so 2 dB isn’t a huge gain, but hey – it’s free. Take it when you can!

Don’t forget, you can do the same for 10m band too by making an element 6.83m long and folding it back a further 1.11m (for 28.5 MHz). So you’ll need nearly 8m of wire. Don’t forget, that’s insulated wire!

4-Element Home-Brew Folded Dipole Yagi Dimensions

I’ve recently “made” a 4-element Yagi in software for my YouTube channel which should give a great match to 50 ohms.

If you’re into MMANA software modeling, here’s the file:

NOTE: This is a ZIP file because my Content Management System doesn’t like files ending in MMA. By all means have your Virus Scanner check this Zip file. There is only one file inside this ZIP. Just the MMANA file.

Quick SWR Calculator for Vertical and Dipole Ham Radio Antennas

Here’s a really simple way of double checking how to much to trim your antenna elements.

You only need to type in the numbers in the Cyan boxes.

Just type in where it is resonant right now – then type in where you would like it to be resonant and the spreadsheet will auto-calculate the trimming.

Film: How to use the SWR Adjustment calculator.

Adding 80m to DX Commander All Band Vertical (9-bands 80m through 6m)

Regulars will know about the DX Commanders very cool results which are now filtering through in real world successful contest scenarios.

My own issue is that I needed just one antenna that would deliver an all-band solution, certainly for the contest bands of 40m, 20m, 15m and 10m – but I also needed 80m in the mix too.

My holiday home has a very compact small garden so the option of putting up a dipole for 80m is out the question, but modelling suggested than exchanging the 30m element for an inverted L for 80m should work.

The 80m element therefore starts vertical, like all DX Commander elements and turns a sharp corner at 6.9m above ground and droops down for around 13m or so, hanging over a bush at around 3m off the ground. Probably not perfect but perfectly adequate to score 44 QSOs inside an hour on the Saturday eve of the IOTA contest. That score includes 16 different IOTA multipliers, certainly a wide spread around Europe.

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Software Modelling your Vertical antenna ground radials with MMANA

I’ve been scratching my head for years how to model an appropriate ground with my ground mounted Vertical Antenna radials.

I’d like to thank Sigi, DG9BFC for clearing this up for me.

HOW TO:

NOTE: I like to draw a small feedpoint in all my HF antenna models, like a 5cm length of wire where my “source” (coax) is connected to. Particularly useful for fan dipoles and for making other adjustments. I’ve left that part out for simplicity on this How To since I’m trying to make this super easy.

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DX Commander now shipping to USA / Canada / Aus

After much research, I’ve managed to get the price to under £30 for USA, an additional £10 for Canada with Russia and Australia incurring extra costs. I’m doing this shipping at cost folks via a tracked parcel. You can buy shipping cheaper – but with horror stories I’m afraid.

  • Still a hugely economical antenna for what you get.

PS Postage for USA is only £30 using MyHermes for delivery to OCS in UK and on to United Parcels Service for local delivery in USA.

Experience is suggesting that due to the low price, no customs or duty should be paid when it lands your end for most countries (although I can’t guarantee that – although my shipping people tell me it’s under the threshold).

Start here:

https://www.m0mcx.co.uk/store/products/dx-commander-premium-build-hf-multi-band-vertical-system/

Vertical Antenna – How many Ground Mounted Radials Do I Need

I’m often asked this question and after 5 years of development, I think I finally have the answer thanks to both real-worl experience and the work that Ruby Severns, N6LF did in a controlled scientifically based experiment.

6b4a5492

Read the PDF document on this link:

Raised Radials are a completely different kettle of fish. These are tuned to the frequency i question and can give varied results.

PS – Another superb read for the very clever folks is here:

Good luck!

M0MCX Banana Antenna – an end-fed choke sleeve resonant feedline T2LT antenna design

A new document fully documenting the design of the Banana Antenna has now been released entitled, “Banana, a Half Wave End-Fed Choked Coax Antenna”.

banana-antenna

Banana Antenna

Antenna can be known as – and is similar to:

Sleeve Dipole / Flowerpot Antenna

The Sleeve dipole has traditionally been used by VHF antenna designers by sliding an external metal sleeve over the coax and connecting the sleeve to the braid of the coax so that the antenna appears to be centre-fed with an outboard “sleeve”. Some commercial CB antennas are also made this way. Continue reading

20m band End-Fed Choked Coax Dipoles (T2LT)

WARNING: This post has been replaced with the following analysis and design:

Banana Antenna Design May 2017

– – –

The Resonant Feedline Antenna is also known as:

• Sleeve Dipole (& Flowerpot Antenna)
• Resonant Feedline Dipole (J Taylor, W2OZH)
• Tuned Transmission Line Trap, T2LT (CB folks)

For more about common mode chokes, see this article:

Pictures of this experiment follow including the 10-25 MHz >8K choke follow.

75 ohm to 50 ohm transmission line matching coax stub

Coax Transmission line coax stubs are frequency dependent. Making a stub for one frequency means it WILL NOT work for another frequency. My example is for a 20m Resonant Feedline Dipole, sometimes called a Sleeve Dipole or Resonant Coax Dipole or Tuned Choked Coax Dipole.

So you have an approx 75 ohm impedance antenna and you want to get the best match you can. Take the wavelength of the frequency, multiply it by the velocity factor of your 75 ohm matching coax and multiply again by 0.0815.

For example.

14.225 MHz = 21.089 metres
21.089 * 0.66 (what ever your velocity factor is) = 13.19
Multiply 13.91 * 0.0815 = 1.134m

Therefore, your transmission line coaxial transformer will be 1.134m long which is apparently about 29 degrees around the 360 degree circle.

Data found here: PA0FRI page.

Finally, I discovered MANY pages on eHam and QRZ forums of people asking the same question but most answers are with people answering questions which were not asked – or giving advice how to fix the antenna, or live with it. Why Americans need to argue the toss when others just need answers beggers belief :)

40m compact fan dipole for 40, 30 and 20m bands

One of my aerials has just come down in the wind, a 40m compact dipole arranged as an inverted V with the ends coming down as far as the 6 feet fence height.

My garden is about 15m wide (actually it’s 51 feet wide, so a whisker over) however it’s too small to fit in full-sized flat-top dipole but an inverted V works well. Whilst you are at it, why not add in elements for 30m and 20m and have three bands on one feeder?

40-30-20m-fan-dipole

Width of this antenna is 15m. You can make it smaller to suit.

I have designed this antenna to be a flat top with droopy legs. The centre will be held up with a very sturdy aluminium scaffold pole with a 4.6m sailboard mast sleeved over the top. The aluminium mast will cross-bolt to an already installed steel scaffold bar already concreted in the ground. Bottom line is that I should achieve around 10m in height (30 feet or so).

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DX Commander pre-production testing all-band vertical

BuyNowI finally found some time this year to pull all the components together to test out in a real-world setting, the idea of using multiple elements on a single vertical fibreglass pole to achieve very good SWR and radiation patterns.

The problem with verticals is than in the main, people need either ATUs or they use that awful UNUN business with a single radial. The 9:1 UNUN business is just inefficient and the only way to to use an ATU effectively is at the feedpoint, not at the rig-end due to the severe losses.

A feedpoint ATU is expensive and generally requires a 12V power source. And long verticals have awful radiation patterns beyond 5/8th of a wavelength.

So the only way to reliably install a vertical and dispense with any worries about SWR and power handling is to build a mono-bander.

Regulars will know that I’ve been playing with the idea of adding separate elements to a 40m vertical mono-bander to add in the odd frequency, say 20m – but the interaction between elements can cause impedance issues (read SWR).

With development, I’ve discovered the optimum spacing between elements to achieve pure quarter-waves on 40m, 30m, 20m, 17m and 12m. It happens that the 40m vertical will resonate on 15m for excellent very-low radiation patterns and with the addition of a shorter-then-normal 10m element (around 2.6m in length) one can get radiation with a regular quarter-wave pattern, although the idea of using a ground-mounted vertical for 10m is slightly off-putting. There are other methods to get good radiation on the 10m band.

A picture speaks a thousand words, so, without further waffling, here is the prototype in action. It uses a regular DX Commander fibreglass pole which is around 9.7m in length with stainless hose-clamps using 8mm ID aquarium tubing (softened in hot water to push over the clamps). These clamps don’t scratch the tubing and securely hold each section from slipping down in a gale.

 

The base plate (radial plate) in the prototype is an aluminium angle with an SO239 fitted. The centre conductor is soldered with added heat-shrink and flooded with hot-glue. Connectors are used to connect to what I’m calling the “driven” plate with stainless nuts. RF enters the driven plate and self-selects the band it wants, just as a fan-dipole would. A guying point made from Nylon 66 keeps the elements optimally spaced as well as securely hold the mast upright at 1.2m off the ground to three guy stakes.

At the 5m point, a “spreader” plate houses the 20m and 17m elements on 3mm bungee cord with the 30m and 40m elements passing straight through. At the time I took the pictures, I had dispensed with the 15m and 12m elements.

In operation, I achieved better than 1:1.5 SWR across the operational bands selected. It was fun leaving WSPR mode running and allowing it to change bands without any ATU etc.

This antenna will comfortably handle 5000 Watts, although of course, the author only ran 400W RTTY for long periods for practical testing.

Hand-production of this system is extremely time-consuming so I am about to launch this with slightly lighter-weight and machined components to reduce cost. Target consumer price will be around £99. You’ll just need to add the wire and follow the instructions.

If you’d like to stay informed about progress, let me know.

Compact half-square for 40m band

I’ve just had an interesting discussion on 40m this evening with Peter, OH6GHI, also an antenna enthusiast. I happened to mention that I was listening to him on both VFOs. VFO A on my dipole and VFO B on my vertical and I found the stereo image very interesting as the polarisation of his signal to me changed.

half-square-basic-designWe got talking about half-squares and I confirmed that we were talking about the same thing, basically 2 x 10m verticals separated by a 20m top section. The half square is fed in one corner and according to my MMANA model, this should present 50 ohms and a great SWR curve across the whole of 40m.

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Bidirectional switchable 40m wire yagi

I switched on the other evening and heard a very quiet DX caller on 7.142. It was YC0LOU from Indonesia and I could only pick up parts of his call. He called and called and had no takers. In fairness, he was extremely quiet but as the sun was gradually moving around the sky, he finally became audible and it was worth giving him a shout. 400w off my inverted V at 7m height got his attention but I needed a few blasts for him to get my call right. I put him on the cluster and he had a pile up.

Now, the point is, had I had more gain, I’d have not only heard him better, but he’d have heard me quicker too.

So I could add more height to my Inverted V but the difference between 7m and 10m isn’t actually that much at 5 degrees off the horizon – not even a db. Hardly worth writing home about.

40m-wire-yagi-drawingAnyway, this was the QSO that made me sit up and take stock of what I could do. I was seriously considering phased verticals for DX when I thought up the idea of having a switchable wire yagi. Either firing East or firing West.

Like me, you may already have an inverted V dipole up for 40m, all you need to is build another one about a quarterwave in front – or behind your existing dipole but out of a single wire. You don’t need to feed this with coax, it’s a parasitic element, like a 2 element yagi.

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