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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

2-Meter Homebrew

from KE7BFD on May 16, 2005
Website: Alan R Fallis
View comments about this article!


Hello and let me introduce myself, My name is Alan R Fallis and my call sign is KE7BFD and yes this call sign was issued to me, by the FCC, not a Vanity call. I use Big Fat Dog! This is amateur radio after all!

Ok, enough with the nonsense, I received my Technician ticket (license) in June of 2004, since then I have dived into this hobby, just to see what I can do! Experimentation has been, and hopefully will always be a part of this wonderful hobby! There are many factors when experimenting, but my main factor has always been curiosity followed closely by money! Yes I might be cheap, but so what? I found some 2 meter radios cheap that needed a little TLC and then started on the main course! The antennas.

I have read many articles about antennas and found out later, it is in the “Now Your Talking” book that no matter how expensive your radio, without a good antenna, you won't get your signal out! This started me on my quest for a homebrew antenna that preformed well, if not great, that was CHEAP and easy to build!

Only after I built all these antennas did I realize there is no free lunch, and not all things cheap are good! With ham radio it seems there is a pile of equipment and antennas that just don't give you the best bang for your buck. Check out he reviews section at http://www.Eham.net and you will see what I mean.

Back to the “Fun stuff” building antennas can be rewarding and frustrating. You don't need to know a lot of the technical stuff to build an antenna, but having some knowledge does help.

Please keep in mind all the plans for the following antennas were downloaded from the internet from various locations. If you need help finding the plans, please search first, ask second! You can reach me at KE7BFD@sbcglobal.net if you need help finding a project that suits you!

Ok, lets go!

Sooo… You want to build an antenna eh! Several questions come to mind!

What band(s) or frequency(s) are you going to use this on?

Does it need to be directional or not?

What materials can you get your hands on?

How much money do you want to spend?

Do you have the time and effort? Not to mention tools!

Where is the antenna going to be used? Location, Location, Location!

Is it ok with the wife? Other than doing the honey do list! Keep her happy and she might not care!

After you answer all these questions, one final question comes to mind. Is this a matter of money or curiosity? If money is the only issue, save your money and buy an antenna that suits your needs! I want everyone to be curious, experiment and LEARN!

There are as many types of homebrew antennas as there are hams. What I mean is everyone wants a “cheap” antenna that performs “great”, and that means the variety of antennas you can build is endless!

I have built eight different 2 meter antennas, two of which are dual band (VHF/UHF) and have learned one thing! Get an antenna analyzer - beg, borrow or whatever, just get one!

Now that I have said that, let's look at the types of antennas I have built!

Project 1. J pole i.e.. Copper cactus. This was a interesting project as it was my first and it worked well without the need for that analyzer (I did check it later and it needed a little tuning) There are many different plans for this antenna and they are easy to build and tune! For beginners, this is a good starter project.

Project 2. J pole Again, another theme on the J pole, however this was a dual band antenna and required some minor skills that the aforementioned copper cactus did not require. This antenna was made from 1 piece of aluminum angle and three aluminum rods. Threading the aluminum rods was the most technical part and as a reminder, thread first, cut second. Easy to tune! Also a good beginner project!

Project 3. J Pole Again! Seem to be stuck, but that is going to change! Same as project 2 but used 1 inch aluminum tubing. Why? Because I can. I really don't know. Mainly due to fact I needed another antenna as a backup and I wanted to see if the gain was better using larger diameter materials! IT WAS! Yippee! Warning, this required some strange engineering, and might be more difficult, due to the use of 1 inch diameter aluminum pipe!

Project 4. J Pole Still stuck, but wait a minute, I needed something simple and portable and of course CHEAP! One piece of PVC 4 foot long and some 300 OHM TV line and yippee again! This wave antenna worked well and tuned up ok! Great for field trips and general ht fun!

Project 5. Yep still stuck on J poles! However good learning experience! Small lightweight and above all CHEAP! One SO 239 connecter, a couple of coat hangers (wife will never miss them, she hasn't counted them in weeks) and the appropriate tools! Another wave worked! Another starter! So easy anyone can build this!

Project 6. Ok, no more J Poles. The Moxon project was about to begin! Take a deep breath and dive in! Some PVC, some brass rod and a couple of days (due to my inexperience, and failure to read all the directions), and lots of patience, and I had successfully built this little wonder of a antenna. It actually worked and it worked GREAT! It has a strange pattern, kind of like a yagi, but with a lower front to back ratio! It was much more broad banded Than a Yagi and I could hit repeaters I never could with the previous antennas! Tuning this Pain in the ___ was not easy, but it can be done! Approximate size is 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide by 8 inches deep! And yes you can place it in your window!

Project 7. Actually decided to try my hand at a full wave 2 meter Vertical antenna. This was a little more advanced than I thought it would be! Having to make a Balun,(never did it before) and using plans that are not too specific, really made this one a challenge! Three pieces of aluminum tubing, Some annulled wire, 4 aluminum rods, and some PVC pipe and 6 hours later, I hade a made a full wave 2 meter antenna that matched 1:1 and had similar characteristics of a commercial antenna! GREAT GAIN! Yep everything I learned from the J poles was needed to make this happen! Without the antenna analyzer, this one would have ended in the Junk pile!

Project 8. Weird, strange, unique, and very different antenna! Take piece of 5/8 inch copper, bend it into a loop 8 Inches in Diameter (yea right!) and mount it horizontally, 3 inches off a 10 inch square piece of Aluminum. Now I know you think I have lost my mind! In reality this little beast acted like a 5/8 wave vertical antenna! Gain is about 2db, but what a deal!

What does the future hold?? Well now that you have asked, I plan to make some yagi antennas for satellite work and also for the 2 meter 70 cm band! If you have to ask why, you haven't been listening!

In summary I have learned many things! Don't give up. Ask your elmers lots of questions. Follow the instructions; learn the math, and above all have fun!

73's

KE7BFD

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
2-Meter Homebrew  
by KG6WLS on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
BFD,

You might also look into K0FF's 2 meter & 6 meter 1/2" copper square dipoles for SSB (2 meter & 6 meter of course). I've made plenty of these "plumber's delight" antennas for myself and other hams in the SDSSARC club. They are horizontally polarized, omni-directional, effective, and cheap to make. They won't knock the socks off the boomers, but will get you on the air up to 100 miles of more. They can be stacked for more gain with a phasing harness. I was lucky to catch my first band opening on six back in Feb.'05 with my homebrew job and worked Wash. and Texas.

73
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by K8MHZ on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Alan,

Great article!

I am working on a couple colinears made from wire, dowel, PVC, some TV ladder line and some coax.

I have the elements ready to put into the pipe, but need to get a belt sander to shape the pipe just the way I want as I do not want to use connectors.

I have seen one of these homebrew colinears in action. Around 6 dB gain for under 7 bucks. A buck a dB ain't bad in my book!

And they resonate on both 2 and 440.

73,

Mark K8MHZ
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by WA6BFH on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Just for the fun of it, try a Sterba Curtain or Rhombic for 2 Meters!

I guessing that in Reno, you have the real estate for it?
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by K7BFD on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
First let me say thank you for the comments!
Even though I live in Reno, I could use almost any antenna as I dont have any CCR's or the like, I Like to focus on the smaller antennas! A 1/4 wave dummy load(rubber duck) doesn't work well in my location! The old addage of doing more with less is my whole Idea! Finding that I am restricted by money and my wife restricts the amount of antennas at my QTH, I try to keep things simple and small! The moxon antenna was my best performer. Most people say that size does matter! Hihi But when it comes to antennas, I have found out design and location are much more important than size or the money you spend!

73's
KE7BFD
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by K0BG on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Other than the cheapness of it, I'd be interested to know why you first chose to build a J pole?

Like a lot of cheap, easy to built antennas, it's gotten a lot of press (at least 5 separate articles published in QST) in spite its short comings. Not the least of which is the coax is the major radiating element.

Alan, KBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by K7BFD on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Why a J-pole? Well as previously posted, ITS CHEAP! Not to mention, very little skill is required and parts are readily available! This is a great beginner project and starts the new ham towards understanding antennas.

Other than what was posted before, no matter what antenna you build, buy, borrow, or whatever, getting it tuned to the frequency is the hardest part.
Also understanding that location can and will be one of largest factors in what antenna you build!
Todays rules with where you live(cc'rs and such) have impacted the ham community to the point that new ideas and designs are needed!

AL
KE7BFD
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by WA6BFH on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I dont know where all of this controversy has come from about how bad J antennas, what many call J-poless has come from. I think that lots of folks just like to be negative!

About 14 years ago our club sponsored an antenna test contest for both manufactured and home made antennas. Some of the better performers were homebrew Js. Yes, there were some antennas that were better, like the Hustler G6 but, the Js faired very well!
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by W6TH on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
.
Wow, great article, a J pole, a vertical end fed Zepp, couldn't ask for a better aerial. What, no radials?

.:
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by N8NNE on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I love it!

There's nothing in my book that's as fun as experimenting with antenna designs.

I too have made several verticals for 2m & 440, and still have plans to build a quad, yagi, slingshot, collinear,and moxon.

So far though, my 5/8 wave has been the best performer in the vertical category. I'm sure that the collinear will be a good performer, but who knows? Half the fun is in finding out, the other half is in the building and modification to suit all of our individual situations and theories.

Thanks for sharing.

N8NNE/6
 
2-Meter Homebrew  
by KB1GMX on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
By all means check out Kent Britain's cheap Yagis.
They work, cheap to make and are very reproducable.

http://www.clarc.org/Articles/uhf.htm


Allison
Kb1GMX
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by WA6BFH on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Allison, it appears as if his element spacing dimensions start at the Reflector, and then progress linearly toward the last director. Is this in fact how he is doing it?

I'm kind of used to listing things such as:

Reflector (Ref.) to Driven Element (D.E.)

D.E. to 1st Director (Dir.)

D.E. to 2nd Dir. etc

I'm trying to break down his boom length(s) to fractions of wavelength. Its a lot of number crunching to be starting from a wrong assumption!

It would be nice for him to have some 6 Meter designs too but, nobody operates on 6 Meters right (HiHi)?
 
2-Meter Homebrew  
by KE4DRN on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Hi,

Here in another to add to your list,

The Half Square for Two Meters

http://www.cebik.com/vhf/hs.html

73 james
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by KB1GMX on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
>>Allison, it appears as if his element spacing dimensions start at the Reflector, and then progress linearly toward the last director. Is this in fact how he is doing it?<<


Yes! I've built several for VHF, UHF.

Allison
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by KB1GMX on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
>>It would be nice for him to have some 6 Meter designs too but, nobody operates on 6 Meters right (HiHi)?<<

No not many, I've been listening to pileups for the past three days on 6M.

You can do the 6m using that design by scaling the 2m design by roughly 145/50 time all the dimensions.

See the Cebik site (W4RNL) for some really great 6m beams. the full URL has already been listed.

Allison
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by KF4VGX on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Great Article, Glad your enjoying the Hobby.

Think Yagi !
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by WA6BFH on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Yup! Thats what I was think'n about!

Thats why I always give discreet dimensions. That way a prospective builder can easily convert element spacings to fractional wavelength values, and derive the aperture of the antenna.

73, and thanks! John
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by KE4DRN on May 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
hi,

here is one for 6m, the Moxon

http://www.cebik.com/moxon/6m.html

73 james
 
2-Meter Homebrew  
by W2AYY on May 17, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Good Article. I went a different route. I built a 2-meter Quad out of some wood dowels and a small piece of 2x2. Even with the paint to protect the wood, this little three element Quad only costs me $11.27 plus the radio shack rotator I got for another 20 bucks at a ham fest last year. I have used it for over a year now, and will make another when this one gives up the ghost. Does it work? You bet, before using a vertical dipole I could hardly hear a ham in the next town about 30 miles away. With it he is 10 over 9, plus I can point it wherever I want to
 
2-Meter Homebrew  
by N2BR on May 17, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I ran a homebrew 2 meter beam on ssb and one for fm that work really well,The information came out in QST couple years ago,How to build a 5 element beam from a Radio Shack TV Antenna......They Work....Also Copper Jpole Works fine too....When i ran hf i use a Gap Vertical gnd mounted and also a G5RV Dipole,The Gap was for working DX and it did really well and the dipole work fine also......

Happy Hamming --- Get-ER-Done
CQ CQ FD CQ CQ FD Comming to a CW Band Near You Soon!
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by VE3HBB on May 17, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
My little copper J has served me well since the day I built it 3 yrs. ago. From my location in London, Ont. I can work repeaters as far to the south as Chatham (60 miles) and Kitchener (65 miles) with ease. I am running no more than 30 watts at any time, often less. I must have great coax to be getting out so well! ;)

73

Charles VE3HBB
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by KE5CMU on May 17, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I also would like to add the infamous Tape Measure Beam :)

http://home.att.net/~jleggio/projects/rdf/tape_bm.htm
 
2 Meter Quad  
by WA6BFH on May 17, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
W2AYY, when your present Cubical Quad gives up the ghost, try this one! It will provide 10.1 dBd, and cost about the same as your old one!

In fact, you can probably use the expensive parts, mounting U-bolt, and SO-239 connector from your old one!


http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/2775/quad.html
 
2-Meter Homebrew  
by VE8NX on May 17, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Never had too much luck with J poles. Seems I swore at them more than by them.. no wait I *was* standing by them a few times while swearing ;)

Did have great results from a 1/2" copper pipe Collinear though. Used it for several years, only taking it down when I moved and replaced with a Yagi.

Rhombics, I have always wanted to try one. Maybe I'll have to look for a field and a sympathetic farmer!

Tinker often!
Larry
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by K5DVW on May 18, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
J-poles are cute and I expect that's why people like them.

I have had better luck with an ugly elevated ground plane that cost me zero dollars and 10 minutes to build. Just use brass welding rod and an old SO-239 connector and you're set!
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by KB5PQL on May 18, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
K5DVW posted about his elevated ground plane antenna. He's right. Those things work very very well. In fact, my GP was made from painted cloth hangers and an S0-239 connector. It worked very well for contacts under 50 miles. It beat my cushcraft ringo too :) However, distant repeaters were best handled my the ringo. Good Luck!
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by WR8Y on May 18, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Allison,

THat was a fun link! I was thinking about building a similar yagi with a similar feed, have been thinking about it since about 1999 when I saw such a yagi in use for FM broadcast reception.

Off I go, building another antenna --- too bad I can't think of myself as being the first Ham to use that super-simple feed/driven element combination....

Mark
WR8Y
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by K7UNZ on May 18, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Hello Alan! Appreciate the article, but was a bit surprised you haven't tried the cheapest, easiest antenna ever devised for a quick get up and go on VHF/UHF. And it's been around at least 45 years 'cos I tried it myself when Novices had 2 meters in '59/60.

Get some coax, RG-58 will do just fine. Okay, that's the end of the material list.

From one end, strip off 1/4 wavelength of the vinyl cover.

Then gently loosen and push the shield back over the remaining vinyl. You should now have 1/4 wave of exposed inner conductor (with it's insulation) and 1/4 wave of shield pushed back on the remaining coax.

You now have a 1/2 wave vertical antenna.

Connect to your radio and enjoy.

Okay, you can get fancy and stick it in a piece of PVC tube, seal it with epoxy, put a hook in the top, and you have a weatherproof outdoor vertical that you can take anywhere and just hang it up to use.

End of project.....

73, Jim/k7unz
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by WB6BYU on May 18, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Actually for the coaxial dipole described above, I find
that I need to take off about 24 to 27 inches of the
outer insulation to have enough braid length after
folding it back. (The braid shrinks in length as it
stretches in width.) Once you have the braid folded back,
prune both halves of the dipole to the standard lengths.

I usually suggest that folks start with the quarter wave
ground plane because it is so easy to build. Performance
should be about the same for the ground plane, J-pole,
or coaxial dipole.

Yagis are easy to build, too. I use #8 aluminum ground
wire from Radio Shack for the elements and PVC pipe for
the boom - you can do a lot of experimenting for little
investment in parts. Recently I've built versions of the
yagis referenced above for different frequencies (such as
730 MHz and 121.5) by using standard equations for
scaling element lengths. Remember that the optimum
lengths also depend on the diameter of the elements and
how they are mounted to the boom when you are converting
yagis from one frequency to another. Here is a handy
tool for testing yagi designs:

http://fermi.la.asu.edu/w9cf/yagipub/index.html

The "trombone" folded driven elements will match an
impedance around 20 ohms.

Quads are also easy. I use PVC pipe and #12 copper
wire, and they withstand being stuck out the window at
freeway speeds for transmitter hunts. W4RNL has an
excellent set of designs including formulas for
calculating optimized dimensions given the frequency and
the element diameter (yes, that makes a difference.)
I calculated the cost at about $1 per element and $1
for the boom mounting fittings. Plus coax.

Last I looked, I had over 3 dozen 2m antennas around
the house and barn, many of them homebrew. There is
always another design to try out...
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by K7BFD on May 19, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
First let me say thank you for all your comments! I hope all hams read the information posted here! After all that is what ham radio is all about! Information!

Well actually I did attempt a 1/4 wave from coax that is did not include in my antenna array! It tuned up fine and performed well enough, but like any other HAM--MORE GAIN!!! That said, My quarterwave dummy load was just about the same gain factor.

I am constantly looking for that Cheap, High Gain, omni directional, low profile, Homebrew antenna! I have built one that beat all the others, however the wind at 60 plus broke the mount right off the QTH! I have learned that the stability and durability is directly related to the quality and the money spent on the parts of the homebrew antenna.

As far as the so-239 antenna, and the coax antenna, they perform ok but I live in the black hole of radio signals! I have High tension lines surrounding my QTH along with my elevation at well below the line of sight with the exception of 2 repeaters in the local area!
With the so-239 antenna, I had enough garbage, it sounded like a bad 10 meter rig! hihi. As I stated before, location, location, location! Mine is terrible!

I am looking for a new QTH here in Reno and I hope the wife will understand my problem.

On a final note my wife got her ticket(callsign) today! Her call is cool! KE7DXB
 
RE: 2-Meter Homebrew  
by K8MHZ on May 24, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
<On a final note my wife got her ticket(callsign) today! Her call is cool! KE7DXB>

Tell her congrats! and welcome to our quaint little hobby.

73,

Mark K8MHZ
 
2-Meter Homebrew  
by VU2UKR on May 25, 2005 Mail this to a friend!

Online calculator for 2 meter super J Collinear .
Photographs and details.

@ http://www.cqindia.com

http://www.cqindia.com/ham_radio_india_v/vhf/collinear_jpole.htm

http://www.cqindia.com/ham_radio_india_j/jpole_antenna/jpole.htm
 
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