eHam.net - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net



[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too

JOHN SCHREINER (N2LK) on March 6, 2005
View comments about this article!


Rain Gutter Antenna's Amaze Me Too!

Last Fall of 2004 I was compelled to write up a little article on how effective indoor attic dipoles can be for working the HF bands. This was after working a recent RTTY contest where many nice contacts were made using hidden indoor attic dipoles.

Well, I am once again compelled to add a sequel to that article, this time after playing in the just past NAQP RTTY contest. Being “antenna challenged” my 80 meter capability has always been well less than desired. At best I have used long wire antenna's and rain gutters via my MFJ-949D antenna tuner and a counterpoise wire but I never really operated on 80 meters with any confidence, and for good reason.

With the solar cycle nearing its dip 80 meters at night is becoming a band one has to learn to live with, and in this recent contest I hooked up a 15 foot length of 18AWG hookup wire to my outside gutter downspout via a sheet metal screw, took another 62 foot length and ran it around my basement shack and then out to lay in the garage to act as a counterpoise and let my tuner do the work. The counterpoise helps keep “hot RF” off the rig and key.

In about 10 hours of working the contest at 100 watts, I made 230 QSO's and about 45% were all on 80 Meters! Of those I would say 30% was made while “running” stations, calling “CQ Test” and waiting for a reply. I was amazed how many US stations heard my RTTY signal, including stations in WA, CA, TX and AZ! I had to repeat my exchange maybe once the whole time and from the US East Coast (NJ) that means an effective signal on 80 meters going out almost 3000 miles. Very amazing I think considering whom knows what type of radiated pattern my gutters make.

Now the gutters are not spliced together or anything like that to make them electrically better conductors, just a quick tap on the downspout and a sheet metal screw is it. So God only knows how efficient such a radiator is but it certainly works in a pinch. Looking at my computer log and running statistics for overall country total I have worked 49 countries on 80 meters all on this type of make shift aerial, mostly EU and Caribbean stations which are easier to work from the Eastern US.

I make no pretense this is the best scenario for any ham with restricted antenna conditions. I merely offer it as an alternate solution (and a trick that has been around for decades) for hams who want to work the low bands now that the higher ones are becoming graveyards, especially at night when we are home and off from work. 80 meters is a very broad band allocation and I know I sharpened my cw fist many years ago working that band, with a random wire and no tuner at that time (rig was old Heathkit tube so no worries on swr at that time).

73's to all and don't let low sunspot numbers keep you off the HF bands!

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by KC8IPQ on March 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I to have hooked into my rain gutter (just yesterday 3/5/05) and can get agood match on my tuner 1.5:1 or better. No Contacts yet.

Would connecting all my gutters together help, this would give me a complete loop which I could run some ladder line to ??

Have also been thinking about running a heavy bare copper around the perimeter of my house foundation, would this help as a RF Ground or Counterpois ?

Bob
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by AC9TS on March 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
For those who have non-metalic gutters, run 12 gauge wire inside the gutter and connect to that. Works well!

Tom - AC9TS
 
The Arrows are Headed this way, or PULL!!!  
by KA4KOE on March 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Just wait guys....coming soon to a forum near you:
Negative post by GHOSTRIDERHF.

 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by WA8KOQ on March 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I've been using a rain gutter antenna for over 3 years with great success.No outside antennas allowed here and don't have any trees to hang an invisible wire.I use a LDG auto tuner and mine loads up 80-10.Mine is about 11ft vertical and then abt 25ft horizontal.
 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by PA7WWO on March 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
a few of my radio friends use the gutter as a cointerpoise to their wire antenna as in the netherlands houses are often build in a row with often 10 or more houses under one roof.

as gardens are often only about 5 mtrs wide and abt. 12 mtrs deep they often can hang one wire of about 15 or 18 mtrs long into the back of their gardens.
the gutter then serves as counterpoise with the reark that the ten houses in a row have a common gutter at each side of their house. the gutters are mostly made of zink or copper , in both of the gutters they are one long conductor of often about 50 mtrs length and several pipes run down from the gutter into the ground to run off water into the sewer system.
rhe gutters don't work well as a radiator due to these water running pipes but they are a very good counterpoise to the single wire antenna.

As for myself I do have a house in a row with a so called "stamp" garden of 14 by 5.5 mtrs but I am using the other dimension of the garden the unlimmeted height of it hi hi.
I uild a full 1/4 wave vertical for 80 mtrs with groundnet and I use this as a 1/2 wave for 40 mtrs and a 5/4 wave for 18 mHz. on 80m and 17m I use the vertical without tuner and on 40 mtrs a have a specially hf transformer direct at the antenna to transform it to 50 ohms to the coaxcable, the transformer is remotly switched from the shack with a relay.
 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by KZ1X on March 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I have a ytall tower and acres of land for antennas ... and I *still* hook wires up to my rain gutters!

They aren't just for folks who need stealth antennas or who don't have the room.

Besides, I paid GOOD MONEY for these long pieces of aluminum, no different than any other antenna I have, and I'll be darned if I only get to use them when it's raining.
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by W3DCG on March 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Speaking of which, how do they work when it's raining I wonder?
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by K8MHZ on March 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
<Just wait guys....coming soon to a forum near you:
Negative post by GHOSTRIDERHF.>

Allow me:

Will you guys get your minds out of the gutter?

There.

73,

Mark K8MHZ

 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by KI4AII on March 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I have been using a 30 foot vertical downspout as an antenna for several months. I live in a condo with antenna restrictions. Using 100 watts, an AH-4 tuner and an Icom 706 MarkIIG, I have made contacts in California, British Columbia, Ecuador, Argentina, Ontario, Quebec, and numerous Carribean islands from southwest Florida. The downspout works on 6-80 meters but the range on 80 meters is only several hundred miles. Six radials are in place outside (buried under mulch) to improve performance. I soon plan to obtain an MFJ-989C tuner to use a 500-watt amplifier with the downspout. Good DXing to all, KI4AII
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by W2LYS on March 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"Will you guys get your minds out of the gutter?"

Enough of the gutter language!


Sorry... I just had to say that.

73
Harry, W2LYS
 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by KC5GGE on March 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Hello, I have been using a rain gutter for HF for a couple years myself. I have coax going from my antenna tuner (LDG AT-11MP) to the gutters. The center is connect via a screw, and the braid is connected to a 4 foot grounding rod.

I am thinking of replacing the ground rod with some wire to act as a counterpoise. My quest is, would I just take the wire for the counterpoise and soder it to the braid on the coax?

73,
David KC5GGE
 
RE: The Arrows are Headed this way, or PULL!!!  
by K4JSR on March 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
>>>The Arrows are Headed this way, or PULL!!! Reply
by KA4KOE on March 6, 2005
Just wait guys....coming soon to a forum near you:
Negative post by GHOSTRIDERHF.<<<

You can say that the Goatbiterhf is indeed a Gutter
Snipe. He does, indeed, SPOUT OFF with negativity.
Maybe I should have said Negatory to go with his
love of freebanding.

Getting back on topic, I used to load up the rain gutters on apartments in my younger days. If they were in good repair and not rusted, they worked quite well. Some of the older galvanized steel gutters could really be some serious RFI generators when rusted. Nothing like a rusty gutter and a rusty gutter nail to create some terrible intermod.
A little diode action in your antenna can cause much
consternation amongst your neighbors. Can be really
difficult to find. Impossible to cure if you are not the owner of the property!
73, Cal K4JSR

 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by N9OI on March 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I hooked up my gutters as an antenna about two years ago. It was as a secondary, backup antenna to my G5RV but I did use it some. Mine works extremely well on 40 and 17. I've worked 17 to Hawaii and Europe from Indiana and have worked Paraguay on 40 meters using the gutters. Over the winter I've been using the gutter antenna a lot more, working many contacts on the Geratol net on 80 meters. The real test came this past week-end when I decided to get into the 160m contest. The tuner brought it in at 1:1 and in a few hours I worked 82 contacts including 26 states, 4 Canadian provinces and some Caribean islands. Max power used was 75 watts.

My gutter is 125 feet long, all continous aluminun. Since experimenting with it a bit and seeing the results I'm guessing it will see an expanded use in the future.
 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by NJ8J on March 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
How much problem is there complying with RF exposure guidelines using gutter and indoor antennas?
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by KE3HO on March 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
>>How much problem is there complying with RF exposure guidelines using gutter and indoor antennas? <<

That depends on how much power you run and the distance from any radiating part of the gutter to where a person might stand. In the case of the downspout, in typical situations someone could get close enough to touch the downspout, so you probably can safely run a couple of watts. It is all about distance and power. The FCC published guidlines to use to estimate potential RF exposure. There are a few web pages that have online calculators as well. I don't recall the URS's at the moment. The calculations are worth doing (and required by the FCC).

Incidentally, if you lay a wire "counterpoise", that will radiate as well. It is a part of the antenna system and has RF current on it. (If the RF current were zero on the counterpoise, you would not need the counterpoise in the first place). You need to consider the distance from the counterpoise to where a person might be as well when you do the RF exposure calculations.

73, Jim
 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by N4KZ on March 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Rain gutters make good "secret" antennas. Many years ago, I used a 30-foot vertical section of downspout while living in an apartment complex.

I had no trouble making contacts on 40 meters. The downspout was on the west side of a brick building -- as I recall my signal reports were better to the west. But what the heck, I was on the air. I just ran a short piece of No. 12 wire out to the downspout and attached it with a sheet metal screw. Easy to do and decent results too.

73, Dave, N4KZ
 
What about RFI?  
by VA3BHF on March 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I've tried several antennas very close to, or attached to my residence like this, but have had piles of problems with sound bellowing out of my tv and stereo, and my furnace going on and off, even when operating at 5 or 10 watts.

What is the best way to mitigate this kind of thing? I did find a website describing a choke balun which I made, near the feedpoint, but it barely had any effect.

My HF rig is now back in a portable bag, waiting for field day.
 
RE: What about RFI?  
by K3AN on March 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Rain gutter antennas, attic antennas, and other low, "stealth" antennas are better than nothing and better than a dummy load, but that's about it. They work fine for casual operation on uncrowded bands, and will deliver lots of contacts, especially on CW and the digital modes. But you will quickly discover how relatively poor they are if you try using one in a phone contest, such as the ARRL Phone Sweepstakes. Close to half the stations calling CQ either couldn't copy my callsign, or didn't even respond with a "QRZed?" when I called them. These antennas work (everything works), but they should be considered as a last resort, when you have no other options.
 
RE: What about RFI?  
by WB2WIK on March 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Connect to downspouts on opposite ends of the house, using coiled-up phase delay lines and switches, and build a phased array of downspouts.

Look for my "Nice Pad!" article in QST, coming soon. (Pad = Phased Array of Downspouts.)

 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by W2HLD on March 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Yes... it does work and is a GREAT alturnative to letting antenna restrictions keep you off the air. I used the rain gutter connected to an AH-4 Icom Wire Tuner that used the balcony railing as the counterpoise. A short length of wire between the tuner and the rain gutter was installed by drilling a hole in the downspout and using a self tapping screw. Be sure to scrape the paint off the rain gutter. I lived in an apartment, second floor, for 13 months while we looked for, and eventually had a new home built. With the AH-4 and a 756PRO, you can automatically tune all bands.. and I did!! The system worked very well and while I did not get +20 over signal reports, we did get through and enjoyed the whole situation. The AH-4 can be easily configured to work with any radio.. not just Icom, however, if you are not using an Icom... you need to build some very simple circuitry to emulate the internal Icom electronics for controling the tuner. With about 20 feet of radiating surface... you have all the bands at your disposal.
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by N2LK on March 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Well glad to see such a large response to my gutter mind. Very bad jokes by the way, never thought of them either.

On RFI, I have not had such problems with that although when I lived in a condo years ago I used to knock my wife off the internet using a dial up connection at that time when I transmitted on the gutter on 80 meters. Nothing here really though, and I only use it for 80 and 160 meter bands. Some alternative to no contacts at all.

It is best suited as stated earlier for CW/Digi modes, forget SSB in my opinion (but I never work SSB anymore really).

In the end though I have it in my mind to put down some serious radials in my backyard during the summer and install a Hustler 5BTV for the Fall/Winter seasons. Even a shortened vertical over a couple of dozen radials will do better DX wise than my gutter.
73's All
N2LK

 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by K2WH on March 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Careful. Depending on the frequency, there could very well be very high (1000's) of volts on that gutter, including the radials you plan to lay down.

The use of a rain gutter as an antenna is and could be very dangerous. Voltage high enough to start arcing to other object around it including people and animals. And, the RF exposure standards in this instance, would apply to all people, not only yourself in and around this antenna. So in order to comply with and be LEGAL, you must inform the other people in the building of their exposure, possibly over exposure to stron RF fields.

K2WH
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by WA6BFH on March 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
W2HLD, how did that "Rain Gutter Antenna" work with your 756 Pro on 6 Meters? What sort of contacts did you make?

73! de John
 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by WA3LGG on March 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
my gutter length is 70 ft and just for the heck of it i used the gutter as a ground plane for a ham stick clamped to it at the half way point (35 ft) and the 8 ft tall stick for 30 meters got into eastern europe at 5 watts out...
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by KC8VWM on March 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!

Hmmm... This gives me an idea for constructing a stealth jpole made completely out of a white downspout.

I wonder what that would look like exactly?

Perhaps it could be propped up against a wall at a condo that has antenna restrictions.

Would anyone even notice?

Another idea I had involved the placement of two plastic downspout "seperators" in the downspout at the ends of two premeasured intervals to make a 6 meter dipole from two 54" sections of the downspout.

Mabey, I can make several dipoles at various frequencies.

Hey, a multiband downspout??

Ok, I'm done spouting off for now....


73 Charles - KC8VWM
 
Fan Dipole  
by NE0P on March 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
But how can you turn the rain gutter into a fan dipole?
 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by W5RYA on March 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Rain gutters can often be used as antennas in situations such as described in these posts. There is one problem that should be considered. Most rain gutters are made of aluminum and are not solidly connected at the joints. This is especially true of the down spouts. At these places, the aluminum can build oxides that can and will act as diodes. When the rf energy is acted on by these diodes, harmonics can be created by the resulting distortion of the rf energy (current in the conductor) that can result in unintended radiation of harmonics. These harmonics can cause TVI, RFI, other EMI, and provide you with problems you do not need. Please make sure that the gutters are solidly connected to prevent these problems from occuring. Each joint should be bypassed with a wire solidly connected to the metal gutter or down spout on each side of the joint. All such connections should be inspected on a yearly basis for corrosion.

Regards,
Jim Sims, W5RYA
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by K8ZO on March 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Re: connecting to aluminum gutters /downspouts. What/how do you recommend attaching the joint by-pass wires and the feed wires to the gutters/downspouts?

I was concerned with the connection becoming poor due to oxidation. Was wondering if any protective compound could be used that will not wash away with the rain.

K8ZO
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by W2NSF on March 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I'm not surprised how well rain gutters work, because they're all "surface" and because RF travels at the surface...well, you can imagine it from there.
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by AH6RR on March 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Here's a rain gutter for ya. A ham here in Hawaii K0GVS Ben has a Hexagonal house and of course it has a rain gutter all the way around. Well he feeds it with a 12 foot peice of wire hooked to one of the down spouts and on 40 meters running 3.5 watts he is S9+5 here over 300 miles away. He also reports many good contacts on 80 to the mainland. He is also in a CCR neiborhood. It does work very well.
 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by KB0GU on March 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Very early in my ham days, I lived in an apartment in St Louis, Mo. and had to hook to the rain gutter just outside my ground level front door. I drove a ground rod in just below the downspout and had shield to the ground rod and center conductor to downspout with self tapping screw. The coax of rg8x I managed to snake through a small hole I nibble at the base of the hinged side of the door to make room for it and the door still be serviceable. I called CQ on CW with my Heathkit DX 60B listening with headphones to an old Heathkit receiver and got into a QSO with a maritime mobile off the southern coast of South America rounding the straights there. I remember being asked several times about my antenna and replying each time rain gutter. What a thrill for a new comer to the hobby.
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by KE1MB on March 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Well i believe this can work. I use the radiator system in the house as a RF gnd and use a 40ft wire inthe attic. Then a link couple tuner. This works well. I did notice a lot of noise using the gutter on my home. For receiving i thik this is fine. But remember that the junctions between the gutter can act like a diode junction and produce harmonics. I have seen this while using a fence as a gnd. Not that this stops you, just know it can be a problem in some cases.

 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by K2WH on March 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Hey John, Bill here K2WH. Met you today down at Longo. Small world.

K2WH
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by K2WH on March 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Hey John, Bill here K2WH. Met you today down at Longo. Small world.

K2WH
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by K2WH on March 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Hey John, Bill here K2WH. Met you today down at Longo. Small world.

K2WH
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by N6HBJ on March 10, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
How well do rain gutter antennas work when it is actually RAINING?
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by KC8IPQ on March 11, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I too have excellent performane with rain gutter with MFJ Tuner model 969 on 80 meters. No feed back or RFI of any type.

Bob
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by KB0GU on March 11, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Didn't seem to bother mine.
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by VE3ESC on March 12, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I read about a few hams experimenting with liquid antennas. I wonder if the gutter works best when it IS raining?!?!
 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by KI6HT on March 19, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Besides use as a radiator consider using rain gutters as radialsI was condo'd in the 80's and used a hustler mobile whip at the corner edge of the roof while using the rain gutters as radialsUsed a tuner and was fine SWR wiseHigh on a hill I worked 225 countries on CW with 100 watts from 85-92
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by W0IVJ on April 20, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Check out http://www.qsl.net/wm0g/Rain_Gutter_III.html from my friend Jack
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by N3VY on April 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I live in a restricted area. My question is: What kind of lead can I safely run from my MFJ 969 tuner to outside and then to a rain gutter so as to avoid rf in the shack?
Don n3vy
 
RE: Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by N8CPA on August 21, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
On another website, I commented that I was going to install an Rx only antenna, an EWE. Someone asked, why not a fan dipole? Good grief, a running web gag!

I thought about a gutter antenna, but I wouldn't do it for several reasons. Lightning protection, one of them. If stealth is the purpose, a lightning arrestor or dissipating system might be more obvious than the gutter antenna. Another concern is the voltage threshold of the gutter paint. How much power could be safely used before the paint blistered and combusted, let alone possible arcing to unsuspecting passers-by? Too many variables by far, for my purposes. Don't want the liability.

If that's the only way for you to get on, I wish you luck. But for safety's sake, keep it QRP.
 
Rain Gutter Antennas Amaze Me Too  
by WL7ME on November 14, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
If you can do that well on just the gutter what could you do with a metal roof??
 
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

Subscribe!
My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Related News & Articles
An Automatic Motor Controller for Small Loop Antennas
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down
Your First HF Dipole
Feeding an LPDA Beam Antenna


Other Antennas Articles
Your First HF Dipole
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down
Feeding an LPDA Beam Antenna
The REMBLA
An Automatic Motor Controller for Small Loop Antennas