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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?

Erik Weaver (N0EW) on April 26, 2005
View comments about this article!

I like to share with you a special event that I have taken part in the last few years that has provided me great entertainment: the K0S Kurt N. Sterba Strange Antenna Challenge Special Event (Kurt's nom de plume used with permission of World Radio).

This special event takes place each Memorial Day weekend (May 28-30), the first 3-day holiday of the year. It offers amateur radio operators a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy the warming weather while playing with all kinds of strange antennas. As a participating K0S Satellite Station the only things you cannot use as an antenna is wire or metal pipes -- unless it is part of another structure, such as a tent you have set up, then you can fly the entire tent as an antenna!

In the past I have successfully used a wide variety of objects as strange antennas, usually between 10 and 40-meters. Band openings dictate where to play. Such strange antennas have included folding chairs, painting easels, chicken wire, a dog kennel, and the neighborhood fence. It is a ton of fun hearing the other station cry "you're using what?"

Last year while using one of my chicken wire antennas one of the stations I had spoken with got so excited he went down into his walk-in basement and turned his shop lights into a strange antenna. His signal was much weaker than when he was using his normal antenna, but he did succeed in working me "in the blind" (he didn't tell me about his shop light antenna until after we had been conversing for a few minutes).

For this special event I prefer manual transmatches over automatic transmatches because the manual tuners generally are able to match a wider range of impedance than auto-tuners. I believe this is because the auto-tuners are designed to match known and "normal" types of antennas, and have inherently smaller range of impedance differences they will match. Imagine the auto-tuner as a riflescope of high magnification -- the field of vision is much smaller than found with a inexpensive pair of binoculars, which represents our manual transmatch. Which is better? Depends upon your intended use!

For those that care to inform their local media they (perhaps their club) are participating in this special event it offers a good opportunity to generate media coverage. It is quite unusual, especially to non-hams, and is a local event. -- If there is no breaking news you should stand a better than average chance of receiving news coverage.

There are also practical reasons for taking part in this special event. You will learn quite a bit about your transmatch. Believe me, if you can tune up a dog kennel or a ladder, you will find tuning up any "normal" antenna quite easy! You also learn a lot about what may be easily employed as an emergency antenna. Following the ravages of a natural disaster this is a potentially life-saving skill enabling HF communications without use of normal antennas. If all your regular antennas have been blown into the next county, it will be comforting to know all you really need are a couple lengths of metal object, a tuner, and you can get your HF station back on the air! These ideas tie in with Homeland Security, ARES / RACES, and Skywarn activities, and more news release possibilities.

Don't overlook the importance of pure fun either! It is important to take time just to play now and again. If your club were to take this on as an opportunity to gain public exposure you may be able to capture the imagination of others. With a few handouts available discussing amateur radio, and a person designated as the Minister of Propaganda, you may be able to find a few new members for your club. Stranger things have happened!

Anyone interested in learning more about this can point their browser to http://www.n0ew.org/k0s/ and read more about this interesting special event. There is also a free PDF "Field Manual" available that serves as an introduction to this topic as well as the fundamentals of antennas and transmatch use.

I hope to hear some of you on the air this Memorial Day weekend calling "CQ K0S, CQ K0S" and that you get a few 59+ reports from your ladder dipole!

73 Erik n0ew
erik@n0ew.org

Member Comments:
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What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by N3HKN on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Or, ladder vertical.

Set to 33ft in height with an electrical connection between sections, and setting on a piece of wood. A couple of wires longer than 33ft laid on the lawn should now offer a fine vertical with a wider bandwidth due to its "bulk" size.
Dick N3HKN
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by N0EW on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
For this special event you'd have to replace the ground wires with some other metal item. Perhaps a roll of chicken wire, or another metal ladder (or four of them if energetic).

(In this special event you can NOT use either wire or pipe as your antenna elements unless it is another structure, such as a tent or fence.)

But you are quite right, this does work! In 2003 our club set up a 24-foot aluminum ladder setting over (the middle of) a 25-foot roll of chicken wire. We worked it on 40- and 80-meters as I recall.

Neighborhood fences can make very, very good ground planes. I've used several "primary elements" (such as a roll of chicken wire, and a load-lock) working off a fence (even one as small as one about 40-foot long). I also know a local amateur radio operator that uses his big neighborhood fence with his Butternut vertical, and he speaks very highly of it as a good quality RF ground.

Metal tape measures are fairly obvious choices for non-wire antennas. I keep two 100-foot metal tape measures in my ARES go pack (along with a few dog bone insulators and hose clamps). Not only can I make needed measurements, I always have a spare emergency HF antenna.

Experiment and have fun!
-Erik n0ew
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by K0BG on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Erik, it depends on which auto tuner you use. Just about any metal object large enough for the frequency in use can be used as an antenna. I've used swing sets, tied together window screens, gutters, and even loaded up a friends Explorer. All with an Icom AH-4.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by K7FD on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
loaded up his Explorer? Now that is an AUTO tuner!

73 John K7FD
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by W8KQE on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I wouldn't call the following a 'favorite' antenna by any means, but this did actually happen. Many moons ago in the 70's, when we were 15 or so and into CB, this zany "ill try anything once" dude on 11m named Bruce used his body as a radiating antenna (I wouldn't try this at home)! Aside from the apparent dangers of pumping 4 watts of RF directly into your body, the possibility of actually being heard by others on the frequency had great novelty and attention-getting value for Bruce. A few of us on the other side of town actually heard him on AM, and witnessed the signal strength vary as Bruce would sit down, and then stand up with his arms outstretched! This guy was 'the human Isotron'! LOL!
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by N4LI on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
My brother, in his much younger and sillier days (long before I was a ham), had a particular penchant for loading up things that really shouldn't be antennas.

Perhaps his best? His metal filing cabinet, next to his operating position. He tells me he worked Cuba on 80 meters, but found his face beginning to warm a little. A bad sign?

By the way... this really isn't good for your tuner, either.

Peter, N4LI
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by K0XU on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Many years ago I was trying out a HB tuner that I had just built. I ran a wire to the big I-beam that holds up the middle of the house down in the basement (that's where the shack was) the attachment to the beam was with a vise grip. I loaded the darn thing up on 40 meter phone and gave a call. A fellow 3-400 miles away came right back and we chatted a bit until he asked what kind of antenna I was running. I replied "a beam" he of course came back & asked "what kind of beam" and I relied "just a plain old I-beam down here in the basement". Funny but he didn't come back after that. Maybe his rig malfunctioned or something.

Jim
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by KD5NCX on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
One of the members of the Irving (Texas) Amateur Radio Club (AD5KE) uses a 108 year-old set of bed springs on HF with great success. He's not only made many US contacts with it, but even has some foreign 'bed spring contacts' to his credit. On the higher side (2 Meters), I saw an antenna made from a coat hanger and the cage from an oscillating fan. The owner claimed it was noticeably better than his HT's rubber duck.
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by WA0ZZG on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Take two motor vehicles of about the same size.
Place them nose to nose, or tail to tail. Feed the
center with ladder line. Hope someone doesn't want
to drive off. This was easier to do when cars had
metal bumpers.
Dave
WA0ZZG
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by KG4RUL on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I remember reading about a group of Hams that load up bridges for grins an giggles.

Dennis KG4RUL
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by K3BZ on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
My favorite was the cage antenna. No, not wires forming a "cage" to improve bandwidth, this was an actual birdcage.... a huge old thing that had its own 4-legged stand. It was about 5 times the size of a regular canary cage (do people keep canaries anymore?) and it looked a little like a Chinese pagoda with those curved ends on the "roof". Loading the cage was a natural follow-on to trying out a light bulb as a dummy load. You're right... one has to take time out to play. I like the idea of a contest using strange antennas.

Thanks for the memories...and the chuckles....

73, Jerry K3BZ
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by KO4NX on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Hello All:


A few years back I was living Norfolk, Virginia in an older apartment building. As luck would have it, I landed one of the apartments which happened to be located on the fourth floor, over looking Downtown Norfolk and the Waterfront. There were two entrances to my apartment. One was through the front of the building off the main street, and the second was located at the back of the building which also had an abandoned “dumb waiter” built within it.

After a month of living there, I finally got around to unpacking my amateur radio equipment. I had a multi-band vertical at the time, but new that the odds of the landlord letting me erect it on the roof were slim to none. For almost a week after the equipment was unpacked, I thought about how I was going to get the station on the air without an outdoor antenna. Then the light went off in my head “the dumb waiter!”

For over a year I was able to work the world using the “dumb waiter” cable as an antenna and the boiler pipes as a ground plane. The only problem I had was after about 100 Watts I started to generate a lot of EMI within my apartment. I could also here the neighbors speakers go nuts when I transmitted. Due to the amazing stealth of this antenna no one knew or suspected that the occasional EMI they detected within their dwelling was coming from me. Furthermore, as long as I kept the power set around 90 Watts it really was not an issue.

On my last day in the apartment before I moved into an actual house, the landlord finally caught me red handed. I had negated to detach the feed line from the dumb waiter cable before he came over for the final walk through, but by then it was too late!



73

Rich Miller
AJ3G
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by W3JJH on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
We used to center-feed one of the strands of barbed wire in a security fence as an antenna for a GRC-103 in Viet Nam. It was about 1/2-wave long at the frequency of our HF net. It worked well enough, and 400 W of RF on the wire provided a bit of extra security.
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by K9ZF on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
My favorite "strange" antenna, based on performance, would have to be my old rain gutters. They worked pretty well on 40, decent on 75, and were a good substitute for a dummy load on 160.

I've also loaded up chain link fences and clothes lines with some success. The clothes line actually worked pretty well on 6 meters. Made quite a few QSO's during an e'skip opening:-)

73
Dan

--
K9ZF /R no budget Rover ***QRP-l #1269
Check out the Rover Resource Page at: http://www.qsl.net/n9rla
List Administrator for: InHam+grid-loc+ham-books
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by K9FV on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I have used the rigging on a sailboat several times for an antenna- works pretty good. Much cheaper than those expensive insulators for the backstay.

Ken H.
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by K4JSR on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
This sounds like a "LOADED QUESTION"!
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by K7BFD on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Well, while stations overseas with "554 Red Horse" it was not uncommon to secure a couple of duce and halfs for HF communications! At 1 KW you can have a lot of fun! Its too bad the wiring in the duce took a dump if you forgot to remove the battery or at least disconnect it!
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by KV6O on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Great topic! I have had a QSO using a soda can as the radiator - about 3-5 miles on 20M at QRP levels using an Emtech ZM-2 tuner. Also loaded up a fellow ham at 2-3 watts during the same QSO - a "shocking" experience, hi hi!

SteveL
KV6O
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by X-WB1AUW on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Guess it is time to see if I can load an Ironwood tree in the back yard?
73
Bob
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by K8DXX on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Ditto on sailboat rigging as a strange antenna. My friend (WA3GQY) and I sail my Lightning (19 foot daysailer/racer) on Cass Lake, north of Detroit. Through a 4:1 home brew balun, we clip 1 side to the rigging (anywhere, usually a shroud) and the other side to the center board. The auto-tuner in my IC 703 handles the load just fine, although we find that it changes as the boat heels, when we come about, etc. Radio doesn't seem to mind it. We just retune every few minutes. We've made some real solid contacts on 40, 20 and 17. For some reason, 40 seems best. We've also used FT 817s but strongly prefer the '703.

This has been/still is a great topic!

Bill / K8DXX
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by KB7LYM on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I welded 4 stainless steel urinals together. Worked 10 - 14 meters. Signal was clean what can not be said for the urinals. The great part was that when after 8 hours of hard work and mature called, I did not have to go far.
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by N8IWK on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Over the years I have managed to tune a varity of strange things with my tuner, including rain gutters, a metal bed frame, a chain link fence, my favorite was the metal heat ducts in the basement. Seems this tuner can tune just about anything, the only thing it can't do is tuna fish. :)
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by NC9K on April 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Last fall while visiting my father in Illinois I used my 706MKIIG and an AH-4 to auto-tune five of his 50 foot orange extensions cords I had connected in series after I had pitched the cords up into tree branches. I connected the AH-4 ground to the bottom strand of a long cattle fence and proceeded to tune 160 thru 10M. I checked in to the 3947KC gang in the U.P. and upper Wisconsin with 5 watts into the antenna and S9 signal levels. And all off of 12V power.
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by N0AH on April 27, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
10 meter magnet mount mobile whip on a retired dishwasher 5 feet from my desk working EU from my Colorado QTH on 10 watts. 10M is 10M........
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by W6DPS on April 27, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I have used Christmas lights and my MFJ 941E tuner several times over the last few years--so much for CC&Rs!

I have also provided electrical insulation between the water heater flue and the water heater so the flue pipe can be used as a vertical--works a bit better than a screwdriver antenna in the driveway (but not much).

I also recently loaded the fence around my swimming pool as a 75 meter loop, but could only be heard weakly from about 6 miles away....

Dave_W6DPS
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by N0EW on April 27, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Perhaps you could investigate a better RF ground for the flue vertical?

With regard to the swimming pool loop, perhaps it is too well connected to the earth? Are you talking about a standard metal mesh fence? If so, there may be a lot of RF soaked up by the earth.

-Erik n0ew
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by KG5JJ on April 27, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Well...I did work K5AS years ago (several miles, line-of-sight)CW using only a cantenna. I was testing a TS-430, he heard my TST and we had a short, but surprisingly funny QSO.

73 KG5JJ (Mike)
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by K9WQ on April 27, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
On my retirement property back east, I'm planning to build a storage building with a tin roof. The roof perimeter will be about 14x18, and the ridge of the tin roof will be 18 feet high. I'm trying to think of a way to work the roof into an antenna, and I'd love to have suggestions...
 
Working Tin Roof Into Antenna  
by N0EW on April 28, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Working your tin roof into an antenna, hmmmm...

The very first thing that comes to mind is that large flat area will make a very good RF ground for any freq. for which the return path equals 40% of the wave length (WL) as measured from the center of the roof to the edges.

Off the cuff, that'd seem to be anything from 6-M or higher in freq. Surely we can do better!

10- and 12-meters should be close (yes, edges to center provide longer paths, but I'm not solving the triangle to see if they already fit). Let's see:

(300/28.5)*(3.28)*(0.40)=
13.8 feet (40% of WL @ 28.5 MHz)

Given the larger surface area of a tin roof, vs. an assortment of RF ground radial wires, I'd think you'd be able to 'cheat' a bit with regard to reaching out 40% of a WL.

In other words, I'm thinking you may be able to get away with a shorter RF ground return path because of the increased surface area over which the RF will be returned. The shorter paths shouldn't be as efficient, but with complete coverage offered by a solid surface vs. a bunch of individual wires, I'd suspect you'll gain RF return energy overall.

If 1/4 WL is suitable, now 10- and 12-meters should find a very suitable RF ground return path, and I'd expect 15- and 20-meters to be able to be pressed into service without too much suffering of signal loss.

Calculate for the run to the center to corners of the roof and adjust your rain overhang so 20-meters at least gets 40% of a WL at the four corners. Now you know 20-meters should be serviceable!

So far we're up to 20-meters and higher freqs....

If you want to get tricky, you could tie-in the roof line with a privacy fence, at least at the four corners (install switches / relays so this can be either in / out of the circuit). If nothing else, this will add to the length of the four corners (measuring now from the center of the roof to the corners of the privacy fence). I'd imagine 30-meters easily reached now (at 40% of the WL). You may even get 40-meters, it all depends upon the size of the fence.

Place relays at the corners of the fence and the corners of the roof so you can adjust the electrical length of the corners.

What this extra piece between the corners of the roof and the corners of the fence is designed to appear to be depends upon your tastes and if CC&Rs are in place.

If no CC&Rs you may just use "Silky Wire" (it is difficult to see http://www.thewireman.com). Otherwise work in some kind of pretty design with lattice work and plants at each corner and make certain there is a solid line between the corner of the roof and fence. Then either run a hidden wire along this support, or construct that brace from metal.

This is starting to sound too pretty just to be a storage building! ;^)


So what is to be the vertical element sitting in the center of this tin roof?

Obviously a metal pole / pipe of some sort would work very well. You could even light it and fly a flag!

I suspect this would work pretty well for 20-meters and higher. Obviously, longer wave lengths are always more difficult to work with using physically small antennas, be they strange or of normal construction.

Guy wires for the roof-mounted flag pole could either be electrically neutral, or made of metal to form a capacity hat for the vertical (no lower than the middle of the pole; higher better, but leave room for the flag). I'd think about running them to a privacy fence around the out building, rather than to the roof. Use either 4 or 8 such guys.

Now you have the option of designing a top-loaded antenna, and try loading the entire roof, pole, and guys, as the antenna, working against an earth RF ground. (Along the lines of folks working their tower & beam against the earth for 160-meters.)


You might consider building a wooden privacy fence around your proposed outbuilding and run a wire around the top (hidden if required by CC&Rs). This would form a loop; with locking relays, you could experiment with breaking the various sides.


What else?

Maybe get wires into the earth around / under the tin roof. Given an electrically neutral structure, you may be able to fly the tin roof as the antenna and tie into the RF ground wires to "push off of." This would qualify as "strange" in my mind. I have no idea how well that'd work.

In any case, this sounds like a fun shack to retire to! Have fun when you get there!

-Erik n0ew
 
RE: Working Tin Roof Into Antenna  
by K9WQ on April 28, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Erik-- Great suggestions on the roof antenna! I'm gonna spend a little time back east in the fall when the leaves are turning, and I'll report back. I too had been thinking about a vertical, using the tin roof as ground. The whole retirement place is antenna heaven. I bought five wooded acres in a rural area. This will be quite a change for me, because at present I'm operating out of a window in a city apartment. -- David, K9WQ
 
RE: Working Tin Roof Into Antenna  
by WA3RSL on April 28, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Hi all. I have a couple of strange antennas I used years ago.

The first one may be more different than strange.

1. Around 1980 I had a 40 meter wire beam farm. My fav was 2, 10 element wire beams stacked in a collinear fashion (end to end). It was aimed west and located in Glenn dal, MD. They were tied to a central boom and sloped off at right angles to eack other and feed in phase. Slope about 30 degrees It worked incredibly and the back and side rejection was awesome.
2. Longwire balloon antenna. 3000 feet long. Wind blew it out over the forest. At the end the balloon was up 200 feet.
3. Loaded metal window screen and worked stations.
4. Loaded my bedspring (upstairs) and worked others.

Planning a soon to be 40 meter wirebeam comeback. As soon as I figure out what rig to get.
Frank
WA3RSL
 
RE: My strange antenna  
by W6TH on April 28, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
.My strange antenna:

A garbage can.

It received all kinds of crap.

.:
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by KU4UV on April 29, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Any type of antenna I build myself is probably one that could be considered a "strange" antenna. To the guy that said his brother tuned up his filing cabinet to work on 75 meters, I'd like to see that! I'd love to know what kind of tuner he was using. Half the time if I can get my 75 meter hamstick to load up using my MFJ 902 tuner I'm surprised, and we're talking about an antenna that is supposed to be resonant on 75 meters! There was a guy that wrote to QST I think it was last year, who claimed that he worked a guy on 10 meters using a oil filled dummy load in his basement. It seems the guy forgot he was switched to his dummy load, and not his antenna. Amazing what will radiate a signal into the ionosphere some times. Now THAT'S strange!

73,
KU4uv
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by KI4GCX on April 29, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I think among the weird list of antennae I have used was a picnic table and a Step van that I worked out of when I was working for the county of Fairfax Va. on the list of tried and true antennas is the 2m fantenna made from an old 19" oscillating desk fan. Got alot of perks from the fantenna... i have a cable with an alligator clip on one end and a bnc connector on the other, that i recieved with an old elenco 3000s oscilloscope... my rule is if it's metal and i'm bored can it be an antenna ;)

73 ki4gcx...
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by KC0KBH on April 30, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I wonder how about a 1000 ft. barbed wire fence would work? With 3 wires on metal posts.
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by WA2JJH on April 30, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I built 1 strange and still see a non hertzian design antenna advertised.

It was popular to take a coffee can. solder an N connector on it solder an N connetor on it. The use was for 2.4 gig operation.

You soldered 1.25" of wire to the N connector.
Add 2 screws, for tuning if needed. I like microwaves,
because it is easy to build antenna's
The coffee can is hertzian. 1/4 wave feed. The back of the can is the reflector. The larger space of the rest of the coffee can could also be thought as multiple directors. We just call it a claven cavity.
The antenna isa type of yagi.

Another strange antenna is the slotted array. They are used from 1ghz-8ghz.
It is a rectanglaur metalbox with an N obr sma feed/
Again the back acts as the reflector in a beam.

Slots are cut to exact dimensions to determain center freq. and bandwidth. The slots are 1/4-1/2 wavelength.

They slots are spaced such that all the energy collected from each slot are additive. The slotted array gives the most gain vs directiveness.

One antenna I built when I was 15 was an imitation
''ASTROPLANE". This antenna ressembles any other antenna. AVANTI made it for CB. four elements were mounted horizontal to the top 0f the antenna.
The kicker a 6 foot skirt that was welded at the base of the antenna.

My best description would be a combo ringo ranger,inverted ground plane hung upside down with a halo at the bottom.

I do not know how this antenna is hertzian. It did have one ultra outstanding spec. A high angle of radiation. This gave the antenna the most range the horizon. Some CBers loved it for the maximum range.
Others cursed it because you could not work ANY SKIP.
The astroplane was only 9 foot long, yet outperformed the 5/8th wave or 18 foot half wave.

You will know one when you see one. It looks like it is from mars.b

 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by VE3KKU on May 1, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I got a good laugh at the "beam" antenna...now if someone can figure out how to load up a strong laser "beam"...

And fond memories of the XYL's laundry wire - the famous "wind-OM" antenna of course...

Once, when I was living in a ground floor apartment, and with no other antanna options, I loaded up a picture frame on my bedroom wall. I was able to work Argentina (ah, if only 10m would return soon). Odd, but I remembering my neighbors complaining about the "interference", which was me screaming into the mic of my HW-101 (the old form of compression) to make the exchange, but they didn't complain about the RFI.

I also seem to remember a recent article about a ham who loaded up hundreds of soda cans on the floor in his apartment. If I remember correctly, he called it a "beverage" antenna....
 
3-Wire Barbwire Fence  
by N0EW on May 1, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I'd suggest thinking along the lines of a vertical antenna for the barbwire fence.

Certainly it would work very well as the ground-side of an antenna. You could "push against" it with quite wide range of main radiating elements.

We've used a metal load lock (truckers use these to push against opposing walls of their trailer to keep loads from shifting) as the "vertical" element in a very similar orientation. Also very similar was a "semi-vertical" using a 25-foot length of chicken wire rolled into a tube about 12" diamter, and strung up to a tree limb with string. It seems to me this tube of chicken wire was angled up to the tree at about a 30-45% angle from the (in our case) neighborhood chain link fence. Both worked very well.

Just about any metal thing you can load into ("tune up") should work fairly well in conjunction with this barbwire fence.

Hook the coax shielding to the barbwire fence and the center conductor to the "vertical" piece of metal.

-Erik n0ew
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by KB7WSD on May 1, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
The best strange antenna I ever saw (or even used) was a B-52 Bomber. Field day several years ago at Paine Field in Everett, WA at the County Department of Emergency Management EOC site was the scene. A B-52 has been parked there for quite some time. On a whim it was decided to try loading up the plane and it worked. WA7DEM, the "club station" made a number of contacts. We never did put together a QSL card though.
Interested in a picture? http://www.eskimo.com/~ghopper/b52/B-52a.jpg and http://www.eskimo.com/~ghopper/b52/B-52b.jpg
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by K3GM on May 2, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I guess it would be a ground mounted 40 meter Directional Discontinuity Ring Radiator, or DDRR. Picture a large horizontal ring mounted 2 feet or so above the soil with a chicken wire ground screen underneath it, and you have the general idea of a DDRR. You'd think it'd be a cloud burner, but it actually exhibits a fairly low take off angle.

Coming in a close second would be my 6 meter mobile turnstile antenna. You know you have one strange looking antenna when the normally unfazed wife refuses to get in the car until the antenna is removed from the vehicle!

 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by N7NRA on May 2, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
For the group and K9WQ, I'm using the roof of my new workshop building as a counterpoise for my Butternut HF9V. When I had the roofing installed I had the roofers put chicken wire between the tar paper and the shingles. This gives me a 16x50 foot counterpoise. The tech guy from Butternut told me to string out a minimum of 6 random length wires, 26ga min. dia., across the shingles in as many directions as practical and to tack them down at the ends so they wouldn't be blown down or washed off by the rain. The wires (radials) are supposed to capacitively couple the antenna ground side to the chicken wire counterpoise through the shingles. I ran out of wire yesterday when I was putting up the antenna and I only have four wires out at the present time, but I tested it out last night, anyway. Apparently, it throws a pretty good signal. I was S9 into central Commiefornia (I'm in Mesa, AZ) and I'm hearing folks at good distances in all directions. I heard a gent in Portugal, but was unable to break the pileup before he went QRT. I'm running a 706 Mk II G barefoot, so missing the contact doesn't surprise me too much. I'm also hearing Hawaii and South America better than I could with my old random wire.

Go ahead and use your storage building roof as a counterpoise for a vertical. I think you'll be happy with it.

Regards,

Stew
N7NRA
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by K9EE on May 3, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I one time loaded the bed springs of my bed. Loaded and worked good on 40 meters. Used a hot water heater as the ground. Probably destroyed a few TV's in the area but did make some contacts.
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by KC8VWM on May 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!

I loaded the springs of my bed once too.

... Some of the big guns reported my signal was like a sleeping giant!

 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by KB2VXA on May 5, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Hi guys,

Don't worry about the human CB antenna, remember skin effect? I wouldn't try it with anything over 4W though.

That ironwood tree WILL make a great antenna although it's not made of iron. (;->) Find the gamma point for the wavelength and drive a metal stake into it, you have a fairly matched vertical radiator. BTW, it is a British invention (or at least it was popular there with the Army in WW2).

Remember the classic beer can antenna? Brings a certain "Budweiser Bob" to mind but unfortunately the new thin wall aluminium cans won't work. BTW we used the old steel ones for heat sinks and replacement return springs in 8 track players back in the shop, Rat Shack "grab bag" transistors too.

You can load up just about anything, just use your noodle. Hmmm, that old song Chinese Noodle Factory just gave me an idea, wet noodles? Fresh pasta? CQ CQ CQ Italy......
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by KC0THS on May 6, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Well , many years ago when I was a student at college in Pittsburg Pa. They would not let any of us hams put up antenna's
I found that I could load the aluminum window frames that ran the lenght of the dorm. It worked quite well except when it rained, made quite a fireworks display with 200 watts on the windows. Oh , it also shut down TV reception anywhere in the dorm, had to operate late at night so I didn't disturb too many people especially the dorm supervisor.
 
What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by HAMDUDE on May 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
My favorite antenna is the g5rv and a tuner that Alan said sucked so badly in his article.
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by G1RHV on May 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Two beer cans fed with coa-ax as a dipole work as a crude television receiving antenna. A simple corner reflector worked better. It was made from an old cardboard box, lined with baking foil. The dipole was extended or retracted from the apex for best results.

Worked 7 miles with 4 watts on 11m using a tree as a radiator. Transceiver was connected via an "antenna tuner" to present a 50 ohm load. URM67 cable was used to minimise loss. A ground rod driven into the earth near the tree was connected to the URM67 screen. The core was connected to a steel nail tapped into the tree trunk aprox 1m above ground. (N.B. copper will kill a tree).

I tried the tree antenna because I'd read about it somewhere. I would not recommend it unless you have a severe shortage of antenna wire...
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by AA4LR on May 13, 2005 Mail this to a friend!

When I was a Novice, my brother NJ8J and I were fastinated with slinky antennas. At some point, we found a damage slinky and cut about 1/3 of it. We estimated it was about 1/2 wave on 15m.

We suspended the slinky from a hook in our bedroom vertically down to a bed post. A couple of turns under the edge of the bed had it nicely stretched. A couple of 14 guage bare copper wires pulled through the top act as a capacity hat.

We fed this thing using coax with alligator clips on the end. Sheild went to the bottom turns, and then we clipped up the coil until we found a good match.

This antenna loaded OK on 15 and 10m. I actually managed to work a few stations on it, too. Mostly the pacific coast from WV.

I'm sure it would have worked a lot better with some radials.
 
RE: What's Your Favorite Strange Antenna?  
by N6SPP on March 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Great articles..
I lived in a 2nd floor apartment(1 apt. above, and one apt. below me) abt 4 yrs ago. There was a nice balcony in back with a 4ft tall metal railing (abt 20ft wide). I had a few antennas on the balcony.

One antenna was a vertical loop made from insulted
ELECTRIC FENCE WIRE (green plastic jacket, abt 24awg
solid). Dimensions were abt 9ft tall x 20ft wide fed
from a corner..Good on 10-40m and BCB-dx..

The other ant was an all vertical DRAIN PIPE. It was "fairly" isolated from the building and earth. It was abt 60 FEET TALL. I fed it in abt the middle. I used a large alligator clip and connected the coax center conductor to the drain pipe strap(removing some paint), and the shield was clipped to the balcony. I coiled some of the RG-8 mini near the feed point.

The vertical drainpipe ant worked well for HF dx..

73, Eric N6SPP



 
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