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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget

(NO6L) on March 26, 2009
View comments about this article!

Getting on 160 meters on a budget

Why 160

There are very good reasons why you should not let this fascinating band “slip through your fingers“. The first is propagation. It typically is the last and least likely band to fail under adverse propagation conditions. It is primarily a night time band when it comes to DX due to D-Layer Absorption during the day. At that time, in particular the morning, and at night, it can provide NVIS (Near Vertical Incidence Skywave) mode propagation for local contacts. In times of local disaster when a repeater is down, this mode can get communications over mountains. 80, 60 and 40 meters can equally be used in NVIS mode propagation, depending of ionosphere conditions, but I'm only concentrating on getting you on 160.

Another reason is the “culture” found on 160. It's called “The Gentleman's Band” for a good reason. You won't find the rat race here. The QSOs are laid back and people treat each other with respect. If you want to hear a little what Amateur Radio was like some 50 years ago, give it a try. If you're weary of jammers and lids, give it a try.

Finally, history. This is almost where Amateur Radio started. It was believed at the time that anything “above” 200 meters was useless. So, this is the first band explored after Amateurs were relegated to it.

What Antenna

The biggest reason you won't hear as much traffic on 160 is due to antenna size. A 160M vertical is huge, 123 feet tall. An Inverted “V” or Dipole is gargantuan, 246 feet long. A Loop Skywire is 492 feet around, with supports that's about 1/10 of a mile! Now, the good news, you can fit a full sized 160 meter antenna in a puny 100 by 60 foot lot, without loading coils, exotic matching systems, huge capacity hats and very short, very expensive commercial antennas that barely work on 160 anyway. Do I have your attention now? What is this mystery antenna that's so small and works so well? You've already heard of them, and probably dismissed it due to size, the Inverted “L”.

For those that are new to HF I'll describe them, so if you're not so new, bear with me. An Inverted “L” is really nothing more than a 1/4 wave Marconi bent over at some point up from the ground. To a limit, it does not matter how far up the bend is. They also require a counterpoise which contributes to less people deploying them. An ideal Inverted “L” counterpoise is the same as for a full height Marconi, about 64 radials about .2 wavelength long. They are also a “low” feedpoint impedance antenna, between 30 and 60 ohms. So, that eliminates the need for open line feeder and the headaches that come with it. You can feed this beauty with coaxial cable and maybe, to get a little more bandwidth, use a tuner with very little loss due to a high VSWR.

Compromises

You may be saying, “If you think you can fit an “L” in a city lot, you must be high”. I can assure you, I am quite sober. In order to accomplish this feat you will have to accept compromises. But I can also assure you, they will have very limited impact on performance. Especially when it comes to comparing it to a mobile antenna adapted to fixed station use and a puny multiband vertical that's only about 30 or 40 feet tall that you get the pleasure to spend hundreds of dollars on. So, what are the compromises?

The first is height, the higher the vertical portion of the antenna, the better. If you can only go up 20 feet, it will work. I know, mines at 24 feet and works well. The “L” works good because a quarter wave antenna only radiates from the bottom 20%, the rest is only there for “loading” purposes, so as long as it's there, somewhere, it'll work fine. So, that means the “L” should begin to function as a Marconi with a height as little as 25 feet, with some skewing to the pattern. But, like I said, the higher the better.

The other compromise is the counterpoise. This is where “The rubber meets the road”, almost quite literally. But what happens when you're renting, the lot is only the 100x60 feet I mentioned above or you just don`t want to lay out 64 .2 wave ground radials, that's over 6000 feet of wire, that`s a lot of money. The trick is, grab anything that is already available to use. Here's some examples; Put a couple of 8 foot ground rods in at the base of the antenna first. Run a wire from there to the RV in the side yard and attach with an alligator clip. Run a couple of wires to the chainlink fence. Run a wire to the faucet coming out of the ground. Position the base of the support near a grassy area that is always damp. Run a loop of thin wire around the shack, and/or house and/or the garage and bond them to the ground rod/s. Any thing that has an actual or “virtual” large area is a potential counterpoise. If a neighbor will let you, use some items in their yard. And if they're also radio amateurs, join forces and combine counterpoises in both yards. No, it's still not the ideal counterpoise, but it's not only better than nothing, it's better than what you could buy for several hundred bucks, with exception of a High Tower (TM), maybe, and even they need a counterpoise.

How will it fit?

Yes, even an Inverted “L” is a large antenna, total length, about 120 feet. So, how does that fit on a city lot? Remember, I said as long as it's as tall as possible, the tail can go anywhere, as long as it's there. In the example yard you can see that the antenna makes a bend to go around a large tree between the garage and the house. This example lot is about 100 by 70 ft. And, as you can see a 160 meter antenna fits with room to spare. But the real trick is the extensive counterpoise system. As you can see. there's not a radial in sight. Yes, running radials out from the ground rod will improve performance, but they are not needed at this point to get on the air. This system will perform very well as it is. Radials will only get an additional 2 Db, if you're lucky. Also, if there's an empty lot to the west you could run a bunch of old wire from, say a transformer winding, to get a more uniform pattern. If someone goes to build something there, just rip them out.

0x08 graphic

How about if you don't want the neighbors to see it. Use thin magnet wire, about 22 gage, and masons line for the tag lines at the bend and the final terminating point and it will all but disappear. As you can see, it may even be easier to hide a 160 meter Inverted “L” than a 40 or 80 meter Inverted “V”. Just stick a small or fake TV antenna on the 40 foot pushup or even a small 2 meter beam. Just call it a TV antenna. And the counterpoise wires are invisible, for that matter.

Other ideas

If you have a rig that has a tuner built in or an external tuner you can call it done. But, if you have one of the entry level rigs, it may not have a tuner. If something like this is the case, you can broadband your “L” as in the drawing. The easiest way is to prune one wire at a time, but leave just a little by folding it back. Then, when both wires are up adjust the both to get the VSWR the same at both ends of the band.

0x08 graphic

If you want to save room, add an 80M and maybe a 40 M element while you're at it. You have to take the same precautions as when pruning a multiband fan dipole, tune the long bands first, working in to the shorter wavelengths. There is nothing that says these added elements have to be under each other, either. You could also broadband the 75/80 M element the same way as the 160. Like a Maypole dipole antenna, they can be run in different directions. This makes them easier to tune, too. The down side is, you need more termination supports.

Errata

If you use a metallic support, like a tower or pushup, be sure to keep the wires about five feet away from it, at least. They'll be difficult at best to tune, if not.

If you use something like a 40 foot pushup, you can insulate the base, use rope for the guy lines and eliminate the drop wire and tag line to the wire. Just use the pole as the vertical portion of the “L”.

Be aware of how much power you're going to run through a wire when the antenna is stealth. You would not run legal limit into wire that's only 24 or 26 gage. At least install 22 or 20 gage the first 10%. That's where the most current is going to be.

If you have an existing antenna for say a TV, on the roof, you can run a long tag line from it to the wire from above the feedpoint outside your shack window.

Remember, they may look like it, but these are not longwires. The shield of the feedline needs to be grounded well. If not, you will have a longwire, and a lot of shack RF, too.

These are ground mount antennas and should be treated with respect, especially above 100 watts. And keep the high impedance ends out of reach, even 100 watts at 2000 ohms, that's 450 volts at 225Ma, will leave a nasty welt. Legal limit, 1750 volts at 900Ma may send someone to a doctor, and you to court. So be careful.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by N3JBH on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Sounds perfect thanks Jeff
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by KB2DHG on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I listen in on 160 and it surely is a gentlemans/ladys band...
Unfortunately, I live in a condo and only can have one dipole so it had to be a G5RV... I would love to run another wire up but I am afraid the HOA will complain... Someday, I just may do it...
Great article and true to the writings...
Thank you...
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by GW8JGO on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the info. I have been thinking about 160/80m only operation. I have a small garden. The other side of the garden fence is a field where I could run a four wavelength long wire! Frustrating.

I also found this link whilst researching antennas

http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/david.brewerton/160-base-loaded-inv-L.htm
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by N3OX on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"But what happens when you're renting, the lot is only the 100x60 feet I mentioned above"

In my case, this:

http://www.n3ox.net/projects/flag/layout_lg.jpg

Like you said, do what you can :-)



 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by KC2ZA on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article and a great band to get on. I like the QSO's and lack of crowding that you find on 75M.
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by K8ALM on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Great article. It's spring I'm going to try this!
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by K3AN on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
The L.B. Cebik, W4RNL(SK) web site has some modeling information that compares a 160M vertical with an inverted L. The following three data points are for antennas with just four quarter-wave radials.

Quarter-wave vertical: -0.72 dBi, 23 degree TOA
Inv L, 70' vert. portion: -1.53 dBi, 26 degree TOA
Inv L, 50' vert. portion: -2.2 dBi, 29 degree TOA

Further reducing the vertical portion will further reduce the performance (dBi) and also raise the take-off angle (TOA), which is the angle of maximum radiation. Of course adding radials will improve the performance. Cebik provides modeling data for a 160M vertical with 4, 16 and 64 quarter-wave radials.

Quarter-wave 160M vertical
4 radials: -0.72 dBi
16 radials: +0.48 dBi (1.2 dB improvement)
64 radials: +1.14 dBi (a further 0.66 dB improvement)
There is no change in the TOA.

An inverted L of just about any configuration will let you enjoy the Top Band. Only serious contesters and DXers will find it necessary to eke every last quarter dB of performance out of the antenna. For the rest of us, any antenna is better than no antenna.

 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by W4VR on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I've been using inverted L's on 160 for years. After some experimenting with the 1/4-wave variety I concluded that the 3/8-wave is best for short/medium/long skip. I usually drape my insulated wire over a tree crotch at about the 50-70 foot level and tie the far end to another tree at about the same height. I use anywhere between 30 and 50 radials, each about 100 feet long. I've compared these antennas with a horizontal dipole at 70 feet and can't see much difference in performance....in fact the inverted-L slightly outperforms the dipole into Europe.
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by K1TWH on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
___The smallest successful , easy to build 160M antenna I've built is a 3/8 wave loop. The circumference is about 200 ft of RG58 (using the braid as the antenna conductor to lessen copper losses). The loop requires a couple of trees about 50' to 70' apart. The idea is to make a 50' by 50' square if you can, but my loop was a rectangle 70'W by 30'H. It is built vertically & fed in one corner. The center of the coaxial feedline goes to the wire running vertically up into the first tree (at the base of). This wire runs up the first tree then across to the second tree, down that tree and back over to the first (keep its bottom 8-10 feet up out of the way). The return wire is attached to the center conductor at the end of a 1 foot long piece of RG8. This RG8 will be your tuning cap (mine was about 24pF). The braid of the same end of the RG8 is then attached to the feedline's braid. Trim the unconnected end to the length of RG8 that gets your best resonance. (The unused end of the RG8 is left open, but weather protected.) My SWR 2:1 Bandwidth was about 50-75KHz. A lot of things about the environment determine just how close to 50 ohms you get for any given perimeter of wire. The larger the perimeter the higher the R and the smaller the capacitance needed for resonance. The better the soil, the higher the impedance (R).
___Hope this is of some help. I got the idea from a ham who detailed his apartment 3/8 wave loop for 40M. My 160M version worked as well as a dipole up 40ft from 350<>600 Miles. A bit better than the dipole for >600 miles, and a bit weaker in closer than 350 miles. 73, Tom Howey WB1FPA (ok via ARRL.NET)
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by W2IRT on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
By far, 160m is my favorite band and my Inverted L is a reliable transmit antenna. What the original poster fails to mention, however, is that on 160 it's all about receiving much more so than transmitting.

Signals are much lower (since so many stations transmit with compromise antennas) and noise is higher on 160. Signals received on an inverted L will often be far more difficult to copy than those same signals received on a Beverage, pennant, ewe, K9AY loop, etc.

In my own experience, I put up an L with about 45-50 feet vertical and only about 2000' of wire on the ground. Signals were always very difficult to copy on it, but I still managed about 60 or 70 DX entities in the log. Then, 3 seasons ago, I put up a K9AY receive loop. DX stations that others were easily working (but I couldn't hear) suddenly came out of the noise. I'm up to 140 in just a few years.

If you just don't have space for both, then sure, an inverted L as your only antenna is better than nothing and will probably give you good results, but if you can also swing some sort of receive-only antenna you'll be far better off.
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by KK9H on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
This almost exactly describes the 160M antenna that I put up two years ago. My shack is in the basement and I ran a 130 feet of wire from my Drake MN2700 tuner, out a window, up a tree next to the house to about 50 feet high and then across my yard to another tree. The tuner is located across the basement from my station, not next to it. The tuner's ground terminal is connected to everything I could think of: the hot water heater, the electrical conduit, the furnace with all the piping going to the radiators throughout the house and a ground rod located just outside the window. It not only loads up easily, but I have worked stations in Europe, Africa, South America and Japan with it. As a bonus, it loads up and works nicely on 80, 40 and 30 and is my primary antenna on those bands. Happily, I have had no issues with any stray RF.
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by K9EZ on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Sounds like a good plan. Another idea....

Once while living in an apartment complex, I used a downspout and gutter. I ran a wire over to the downspout, and drilled a small hole to put in a metal tapping screw. I also home brewed a tuner. Ended up getting HK0 from the midwest on this antenna.
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by KA4KOE on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I have one. 145' long. Goes up 60 feet, then horizontal 85'. Fed at the base with an AH-4 tuner. 8' ground rod, about 4 long radials. Need more. Hung from pine trees. Use WD-1T black wire. Work everything I hear. Only use 100w but regularly work Russians on CW with it. Will load up every band thru 6m with the AH-4 with it.

Philip
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by K5QED on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I enjoyed this article very much, and plan to get a better antenna up for 160m as soon as the ground dries out a bit more here in northeast Ohio.

During the recent 160m SSB contest, I was able to log 30+ QSOs using my OCF dipole and a tuner. These were my very first 160m contacts and I was surprised that I was able to get any RF out with my limited set up.

Most of this activity was between 0700 and 1100 UTC (0200 to 0600 Eastern time) which was perfect for me as I work nights through the week.

I was probably operating with an ERP of 5W or so considering the heavy loading and compromise antenna, but the contacts were made, and I have been "bitten by the bug".

I am looking forward to spending more time on this band, and would encourage others to give it a shot using some of the suggestions for antennas in this article.

Charles
K5QED
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by KB6QXM on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Now I use a convoluted loop on 160 meters. It is 2 square loops 12 feet tall at 45 degrees to each other. The antenna is pretty exotic and requires a large attention to detail when constructing the antenna.

The antenna uses silver solder between the joints of the copper tubing. The feedpoint uses a motor driven vacuum cap. The antenna also requires an extensive ground plane. The antenna is extremely high Q and because of that fact it acts like a notch filter for QRM.

The antenna is also an H-field antenna that has both vertical and horizontal polorization qualities.

The antenna has a very high near field signal strength and I would not suggest anyone stand near the antenna with RF applied.

The antenna can be used in a small lot, it is just not for the faint of heart for construction.

The antenna has given me outstanding signal reports up to a thousand miles. I agree that 160 meters is definately the gentleman's band. I firmly believe that the technical complexities required to put and recieve a good signal on the band, seperates the men from the boys.

 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by K7LA on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the article.

For additional reading I recommend:
The W6SAI HF Antenna Book by William Orr, W6SAI.

There are some terrific ideas for 160 Meters on a suburban lot.
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by KO4XJ on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
After 20 years of HF'in.. I finally put my first 160m antenna up.. my lot is 150x300 but the antenna uses the back half of the lot. Cheap antenna is a good term for this antenna, Home Depot had 500' #14 insulated solid for $20 so I bought a roll to see if I would like 160m. After the march issue of QST and the air cannon article I built one of them to get the wire in the trees. That was the most expensive part but I have alot of fun with it now!! I have about 520' in the loop and about 40' of ladder line and the antenna works great! 2nd contact on 80m was ZS6 with 100 watts around 10:30pm. Basically it covers 140 x 120 of the yard...works FB and lots of fun

Just put one up and try it out

John
KO4XJ
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by W4HIJ on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
So here's a stupid question involving separate receiving antennas. What type of arrangement do you use if your rig doesn't have one of those receive only antenna jacks? I used to have a TS-2000X that had one of those nifty little receive only jacks but now I've got a Yaesu FT-450AT with just the solitary S0-239 back there for everything.
I'm assuming I just dedicate one position on my antenna switch for the receive antenna and switch back and forth between transmissions the old fashioned way but I'm not sure. I'm not even sure what type of feedline you use to a beverage or a loop so I'm asking.
I live out in the sticks on an acre and a half wooded lot with no nagging neighbors or covenants so space isn't exactly an issue for me. Always wanted to try 160 but never really figured out the receiving end of the antenna equation. This article caught my eye at a good time though and I'm game to give it a try with a little help and advice.
Tnx and 73,
Michael, W4HIJ
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by KQ9J on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
>>>So here's a stupid question involving separate receiving antennas. What type of arrangement do you use if your rig doesn't have one of those receive only antenna jacks?<<<<<

MFJ makes a litle rf-sensed transmit-receive switch. It is designed to switch between two rigs, but also works to switch between two antennas. It also has a relay connection which I use instead of the RF sense. Just put it in right before the transceiver--not after an amplifier or you'll burn it up.
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by K6SDW on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Nicely done!
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by KB6QXM on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Better yet. Use a convoluted loop for transmit. Use a beverage for recieve and have a radio that supports a recieve antenna. (such as a Flex 5000a SRD)
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by NO6L on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I'm very sorry I could not get to my article until now. We had a small septic tank emergency and the network cable runs right next to it and we didn't have the time to be careful of it. They're repaired and "I'm back".

Thanks everybody for the kind comments. There are some very good ideas mentioned.

Just in case, I am aware of 3/8 wave with a loading capacitor, a very good idea to be sure. A 3/8 wave loop and loading cap is also a very good budget 160 antenna, too. However, I wanted this to be as simple for a 160 newcomer as possible so they can get their "feet wet", as it were, and spend little to no money. If one of you you fine people don't commit an article on an "advanced" budget 160, maybe I will. But it sounds like you may be more competent for the job as I haven't experimented with the two antennas, mentioned above, for example.

Again, thanks.
de NO6L
/end of line
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by NO6L on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N3OX,

Impressive radial system. I hope when I get to some permanent digs I can do something similar. For now, it's a ground rod, 3 counterpoises and a couple of RVs.
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by NO6L on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
>by W2IRT on March 26, 2009
>By far, 160m is my favorite band and my Inverted L is a reliable transmit antenna. What the original poster fails to mention, however, is that on 160 it's all about receiving much more so than transmitting.

On the contrary, I left out this information intentionally. Remember the title of the article. Adding theory and separate antennas for receive would complicate and lengthen the article. This is only for those that want to get on 160 but maybe thought the antennas were too expensive or difficult to deploy.

Thanks for the concern though, maybe I'll tie it to a more advanced article or someone else will. They're welcome to.

Cheers
de NO6L
/end of line
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by N3OX on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"Impressive radial system. I hope when I get to some permanent digs I can do something similar"

I live in an area where people are used to renting to college students, and are subsequently used to doing the yard work at even a private rental house.

So when the landlords say "we'll come by once a week or so and mow the lawn" I say "Oh, no, let me do that. I want to put some antennas back there and maybe have some wires running across"

Then they say that'd be great, and I have a big antenna farm at a rental, and no one runs over my coax with a lawnmower (well, OK, I did once) ;-)

73
Dan
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by K5END on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!



Great article. Thanks for writing it.




quote, "We had a small septic tank emergency"

"Septic tank emergency."

Hmmmm...<thinking>

Somehow that rings familiar...some vague memory...what is that...

Oh yeah...

That's it.

It reminds me of armchair flamers.

 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by NO6L on March 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, my skin still crawls when I think about what went down today.

*YETCH*

Fortunately, it was only a problem with the plumbing and not the tank directly. Now, back to things vastly more pleasurable.

de NO6L
/end of line
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by KC6MCW on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Good reading. 160 meters is a great band and not too difficult to get there!
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by NO6L on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Hey Joe. How's it, NO6L.
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by K5UJ on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Actually the article doesn't have as much to do with getting on 160 m. inexpensively as it does getting on 160 m. with a full-sized antenna in a confined space. This is because a dipole on 160 is a much less expensive antenna than an inverted L, which to work well requires much more wire, as radials on the ground. I have an Inverted L on my 50 x 100 foot lot. I have around 3000 feet of no. 14 solid on the ground. It cost a lot more than 260 feet of dipole wire in the air, but the inverted L was the only full sized antenna I could fit in here, which as the author stated, has a horizontal part that is bent around into a curve.

Another advantage to an antenna such as an inverted L which has no coils, stubs, caps, or other loading is you can throw legal limit power at it. As W2IRT wrote, a separate rx antenna such as a loop is a very good idea. The rx noise level on the L here is usually at least S9. If you put up an inverted L and run high power and call cq, you may get hams answering your CQ with signals you won't be able to hear without a rx antenna.
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by W9OY on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N3OX

I'll see your 2RV's and raise you a boat trailer

73 W9OY
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by W9OY on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
This is a good article. One thing about inverted-L's is the shorter the vertical section the lower the base impedance of the antenna. For a 25ft vertical segment the base impedance is about 5 ohms. For a 50ft vertical segment the impedance is about 15 ohms. higher is better because higher means better efficiency.

Also radials are radial for a reason, and that is they are the most efficient at recovering ground currents. The efficiency of the radial field is important since this is also a major determinant of over all antenna efficiency If you have a 20 ohm ground and a 5 ohm antenna your efficiency is 5/25 or 20% If you have a 15 ohm antenna its 25/45 or 60%. This is almost a 5 dB improvement over the same ground, almost like turning on a linear.

My motto is get up what you can, optimize it within limits of what you can and have some radio fun, but its worth having a little direction on the optimization. Hooking the RV or the chain link fence to the "counterpoise" probably doesn't do much to improve efficiency and should not be looked at as a substitute for a radial system. If you can only get out 10 wires then get out 10 wires. It turns out if the best you can do is 0.1 wavelength (as is the case with a 100ft yard) Going more than about 16 radials does not improve the ground plane it does not improve the ground plane to be bending wires back on themselves or off at right angles just to get what seems to be a longer wire. 3000 ft of 0.1 wavelength radials is not better than 800ft of 0.1 radials. You can hook up the RV or not but the real money is in the radials.

To match this antenna is very easy. You can wind a coil around a soup can out of some #10 and attach it across the feed point. You can increase or decrease the length of the coil to reach a good match. This technique is called a hair pin solenoid, and is very cheap and easy to do. How many turns on the coil is best determined experimentally since each antenna ahs its own characteristic impedance. Start with maybe 10 turns.

You can multi band this antenna like was shown. but the single feedpoint method of feeding is a real pain to tune up. I have found it much better to use a coax switch to switch between individual marconi's, all using the same radial field. If you do this you can optimize the feedpoint of each antenna with its own hairpin. Also as the frequency goes up, the efficiency of the ground goes up, so a 25 ohm ground on 160 may be a 15 ohm ground on 80 (better) and maybe a ten ohm ground on 40, so you may want to add more "short" radials to get a better ground on higher bands even though it won't make much difference on 160.

back to the motto Do as good as you can do and have some radio fun. I put up one of these (60ft vertical)over a good ground, for the Nov 160 contest in 2004 and by the end of the season for that year I had 100 countries worked so these do work!

73 W9OY
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by RFDANNY on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
W4LGH, you have no business commenting on antennas or "helping" anyone with them. You have demonstrated time and time again that you have no clue as to what you are talking about. Just a warning for the uninformed.
 
RE: Shameless Advertisement?  
by W9OY on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
If you download the free version of EZNEC you can just design your own loaded dipole

73 W9OY
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by N0AH on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
The good news here is that you have placed the seed into many minds about 160M. And yes, it is finding a mouse trap design for your shack to hear with some quality what is happening on the band. If you can start to hear any gray line propagation, then you are doing good......compromise setup or not- My vote is using an Inv L for TX and what ever works for RX- (I've used a 6 meter yagi in some conditions to get around the noise and pull out a signal.....)
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by NO6L on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Yet more kind comments, thank you so much.

And also, the kind by people who miss the point of the article entirely. Two issues here; The point of the article was in the title. If you have to, read it again, it's one line. And it's not, "Get on 160 and use two antennas for maximum communications efficiency", it's not "How to get on 160 and lay out a mile of radials for maximum efficiency", and, it's not "Download EZNEC and design the perfect antenna for 160".

The other issue is, this is not a chance for you to hijack an authors article to tell people to go to YOUR website for better information, that's not the purpose of the comment section. If you've got a better idea, write your own piece, don't use the articles comment section as a clearing house or springboard for your websites. All these things do is confuse people reading the articles with potentially conflicting information and irritate the authors.

/end of line
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by W4HIJ on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I appreciate the article very much. It's convinced me that I don't need that elaborate an antenna for 160. The inverted L you describe seems simple enough.
I hope I didn't infringe on the spirit of the article by asking about how to manage the switching and feed of a separate receiving antenna but the fact is that I do have the real estate for one and was simply curious how to go about it. Maybe someone will go into greater detail in a separate article. Thanks for your article though. You have encouraged me to try a band I might not normally have given a shot even though I do have the room.
73,
Michael, W4HIJ
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by W7DDD on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I agree this band is a lot of fun. I got on not long ago using a simple end fed long wire antenna. It runs N-S and is about 400 ft long, 42 feet high; but it runs about 20 feet just a foot or two above my home's metal roof. It also meanders from my shack to the pulley support on the roof where it takes off for its horizontal run. These presumably don't help - but they don't hinder it either.

This antenna was knocked down for about the 6th time two years ago in a windstorm and has been laying beneath debris and tree trunks ever since, until I resurrected it.

My 756 Pro III internal tuner is able to tune it on 160 without any problem. My barefoot signal reports on 160 usually run from 20 to 40 over S9 over an area of 400 miles or so. Haven't tried DX'ing - just local guys.

I intended for this to be a 10 meter antenna, but it tunes easily on all bands, and I use it exclusively on 40-75-160, where it seems to do better than the high bands. It's also able to tune 60 meters, and for the first time, I've made contacts on that band as well.

I recently added a DX Engineering balun right in the shack to allow me to run a little bit more power into it, and this too has worked well.

Just a simple long wire. I'm very pleased with it.

 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by WA7VTD on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Great article!! I hope it gets many hams on the top band.

I've used simple inverted-Ls at many rentals when I was a youth and they worked great! Hard to come up with a cheaper and simpler antenna for 160 that works as well. Definitely true that a separate rx aerial such as a small loop, can make a huge difference but certainly not necessary in order to have a blast working everything you can hear on the inverted L.

The old trick of laying 'chicken wire' down on the lawn and letting the grass grow up through it and bury it, and using that as ground plane, is quite useful on 160. Just lay down as much of it as you can, and connect adjacent areas with wire, laying the chicken wire down on all the 'empty' lawn you've got (even extending into connected adjacent patches of chicken wire in the side and front yards, too) and connect the 'braid side' of the feedline coax to an end of chicken wire next to the base of the inverted "L."

Thanks for the nice article! 73 de Kevin WA7VTD
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by KB2HSH on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Has anyone used or tried an Isotron for 160???

http://www.isotronantennas.com/160cb.htm

John KB2HSH
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by NO6L on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks some more for the complements, and also, don't get me wrong, I welcome constructive criticism. If I post something incorrect or that could be implemented better, let me know. I want to learn, too.

>by KB2HSH on March 27, 2009
>Has anyone used or tried an Isotron for 160???

Isotron. Sheesh, now I know this is to be amusing, and it is. Thanks for the levity. I hardly consider these things antennas. If you want to know if something unusually tiny for the frequency is a real antenna, ask yourself, does it still work with a current balun or line isolator at the feedpoint? If not, it's nothing more than an antenna tuner to couple the energy from the conductor to the outside of the coaxial cable, like an EH antenna or Isotron.
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by NO6L on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
>by W4HIJ on March 27, 2009
>I hope I didn't infringe on the spirit of the article by asking about how to manage the switching and feed of a separate receiving antenna but the fact is that I do have the real estate for one and was simply curious how to go about it.

No, by all means. An "L" is not the best receiving antenna. Now, to the question, it depends on what model of rig you've got. A TS-2000, FT-2000 and FT-950 for example have a separate HF receive port. But many rigs and even newer entry level ones don't. Simply look up the current handeling of the amp control port and get a relay suitable for antenna switching and use the radio to switch between the two antennas. Know that if you use an amp, though, you have to take into account the current demands by it's Tx circuit along with the antenna switching relay. And, of course, put the antenna switching relay before the amp. You don't want to dump a full bushel into a fancy transformer terminated Beverage.

I think I may post an article on some antenna switching relays that present no additional current to the circuit in the radio. Yes, you could use a relay to control the antenna relay and the amp relay, but that ads latency and can damage the amp relay in the long term. You could just buy the controller from MFJ for almost a $100, but why, build it yourself for 1/4 the cost using new parts, less from the junkbox.

Thanks again,
de NO6L
/end of line
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by W2IRT on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Oh, speaking of relays and such, if you do decide to put up a separate RX antenna please note that not all rigs shut the RX port off on transmit. It's very possible to damage the front end of your transceiver if you're running an amp and using that port. Either build or purchase a relay box that shunts the incoming antenna lead to ground on PTT and you're golden. I know the FT-1000 MP Mark V is susceptible to this issue.
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by W4HIJ on March 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
N6OL wrote...
No, by all means. An "L" is not the best receiving antenna. Now, to the question, it depends on what model of rig you've got. A TS-2000, FT-2000 and FT-950 for example have a separate HF receive port. But many rigs and even newer entry level ones don't. Simply look up the current handeling of the amp control port and get a relay suitable for antenna switching and use the radio to switch between the two antennas. Know that if you use an amp, though, you have to take into account the current demands by it's Tx circuit along with the antenna switching relay. And, of course, put the antenna switching relay before the amp. You don't want to dump a full bushel into a fancy transformer terminated Beverage.

Interesting, before reading this response I was able to find a circuit to do just what you are talking about, here's the link to the pdf for those that might be interested... http://www.ad5x.com/images/Articles/AntTRswitchRevA.pdf
 
Radial Wire  
by N2EY on March 28, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
One source of radial wire is electricians that do remodeling work. Often old wire is simply thrown away because the contract requires all-new material, and it's not worth the electricians' time to strip off the insulation for recycling.

I've gotten a considerable amount of NM- and BX-type wire that way. Separating the conductors and splicing takes a little time but the result is good usable wire for things like antennas and radials.

73 de Jim, N2EY
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by N6RK on April 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
According to my analysis, a top loaded vertical
("T" shape) is better than an inverted L, given
the same height and footprint. This is because
there is no useless horizontally polarized
radiation. Looking at your lot, you would be
better off putting the 40 ft push up mast
next to the house at the interior right angle
corner. Then run at least 2 or up to four top
loading wires in various directions. In many
cases you can put up 40 and 80 meter inverted vees
at right angles on the mast and then install
a relay at the top of the mast to short them
to the mast for 160 meters, where they will
act as top loading wires. On 80, you
can operate it as a vertical for DX,
or an inverted vee sky warmer for locals,
if you set up the relays properly.
Having the vertical in the center of the lot makes
it easier to have radials in all directions. You
want many short ones, not a few long ones.

Rick N6RK
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by VE7IG on April 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
An even simpler DX antenna, that also seems to work well on receive is the 1/4 wave sloper. NO radials at all are required. Mine is fed against the tower leg at the top of my tower at 65' just below the 20m beam. Just connect a 1/4 wave wire to an insulator and the other side of the insulator to the tower and connect the coax feedline across the insulator with the shield connected to the tower. Then trim the bottom of the wire for minimum swr. It requires a bit more real estate than the inverted L, but I've seen some with loading coils at the bottom that apparently work.

I don't have a separate receive antenna (although I'd like to try a K9AY loop) but have had no problem hearing a lot of DX stations and working them with this antenna and competing in pilups, too, using an Ameritron AL-80B amplifier with a single 3-500ZG in the final.
















 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by N6RK on April 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
VE7IG writes:

> An even simpler DX antenna, that also seems to
> work well on receive is the 1/4 wave sloper.
> NO radials at all are required. Mine is
> fed against the tower leg at the top of
> my tower at 65' just below
> the 20m beam. Just connect a 1/4 wave wire
> to an insulator and the other

This is just an inverted L with a lot of droop,
fed at the vertex instead of the ground. Why
do you think no radials are required? What other
receive antennas have you compared it to? I
hear lots of DX on my vertical. However, other
antennas I have compared it to hear the same DX
better.

Rick N6RK
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by NO6L on April 4, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
>by N6RK on April 3, 2009
>...According to my analysis, a top loaded vertical
>("T" shape) is better than an inverted L...
>...This is because there is no useless horizontally
>polarized radiation...

My analysis confirmed that even before I typed anything into the word processing application. But, it also "violates" the precept I imposed on the article, as does relays and a lot of counterpoise radials. Simplicity in financial layout, deployment and real estate requirements. It was stressed throughout the entire article.

Also, why would you consider some horizontal radiation useless in an "all purpose" entry level style antenna?

>by VE7IG on April 3, 2009
>...An even simpler DX antenna, that also seems to
>work well on receive is the 1/4 wave sloper. NO
>radials at all are required. Mine is fed against the
>tower leg at the top of my tower at 65' just below
>the 20m beam...

Another fine idea for a 160M antenna. But, it assumes the potential newcomer to 160 has a tower or other very tall metallic support to anchor one end of the wire to. Again, this is not who the article is aimed at.

And again, another assumption that the article was aimed purely at DXers, it wasn't.

>by N6RK on April 3, 2009
>...Why do you think no radials are required? What
>other receive antennas have you compared it to? I
>hear lots of DX on my vertical. However, other
>antennas I have compared it to hear the same DX
>better...

Why is this even relevant? This has nothing to do with my original work. If you wish to argue what antenna is better for what purpose or band I invite you to continue your debate in an article of your own work/s, email or the forums. This will only add confusion to information originally put forth purely for a newcomer to 160.

/end of line
 
Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by VK4ERQ on April 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Why not consider a small tuned loop antenna for 160M?? It's small, making it usuable in small spaces, has very good radiation properties, both NVIS and DX plus it's not too costly to make!

A local Ham made one and uses it regularly on 160m with great success talking with 160m net members up and down the East coast of Australia. Not only that it works great on 80 & 40m. A couple of days ago he worked a raft of 40m stations stateside doing as well or better than the folks with high dipoles in the elevated countryside!

All this from a home made 3.6m dia copper loop mounted on top of the roof of his backyard shed tuned by a surplus vacuum variable cap!!

He has a great web site describing his loop and small loops in general -- just Google VK4AMZ!! It's a great read!!

I have listened into the 160m net and I can report that he consistantly gets the best or near best signal reports of the group, several of whom have very large dipole and vertical installations!!

Frankly I don't understand why the small tuned loop antenna is consistantly overlooked as it is an excellent antenna option for restricted locations particularly for those wishing to operate on 160 thru 40m. Built properly these antennae will approach the performance of full dipole at full heigth which many Hams cannot do at these frequencies!!

More Hams need to be made aware of this overlooked technology! I urge you to surf the net as there is a lot of good info on these antennae out there!! They're not expensive (don't need a tower) nor hard to make!! They make good stealth antennae as well!

Try one -- I was impressed, I'm sure you will be too!!

Cheers!
Lloyd
VK4ERQ/VE3ERQ

 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by NO6L on April 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
First, small loops are fine antennas and have their uses. But, again, they do not qualify as an entry level antenna. Unless of course you are in an extreme condition of antenna limitations, such as an apartment. I shall elaborate:

They are more finicky to build and deploy.

They need a vacuum variable tuning capacitor for even 100W.

They need either remote tuning capabilities or can only be used within a dozen or so Khz of the tuned frequency.

The vacuum capacitor adds up to about $250 to the cost for a new unit, not counting remote tuning capabilities.

They require a receive preamplifier.

They are not omnidirectional, or nearly so.

They are, without exotic and even more finicky additional circuitry, a single band antenna

They are not a full sized antenna

These are major exceptions to the conditions and precepts I place on the article. That is why I chose the Inverted "L" for it. Again, I in no way am saying that an "L" is the perfect antenna, but, I am saying yet again, I'm only presenting it as a viable option to get on 160 fast, cheap and effectively. In fact, a very good combination would be a receiving loop added later to the "L". But that violates the precepts of the article, also.

Second, I am always open to opinions regarding the "subject at hand". But, the subject was not loops. Please, write an article about them, I would read it. But try not to, for lack of a better term, hijack another article to promote yours or someone elses ideas. As I said above, it distracts peoples attention from the subject that an article is about. Now, if someone thinks I left out or presented the wrong information regarding the subject of the article, by all means say something.

73 de NO6L
/end of line
 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by VE7IG on April 13, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Commenting on---
NO6L 4 Apr 2009
"Another fine idea for a 160M antenna. But, it assumes the potential newcomer to 160 has a tower or other very tall metallic support to anchor one end of the wire to. Again, this is not who the article is aimed at. And again, another assumption that the article was aimed purely at DXers, it wasn't."

The point I was making is that a quarter wave sloper for 160 is much simpler to put up than the inverted-L (if you do have a tower and beam) and that would probably apply to half the readers of your article who DO have a tower and beam and are looking for a "budget" way to get on 160m. It was not meant as a criticism of your solution for someone who basically has no antenna structures. Also, the sloper does work well for local contacts as well as DX.

As to N6RK's comments on a quarter wave sloper being an inverted-L with a lot of droop-- there is no connection of the quarter wave sloping wire to the tower, so there is no similarity to an inverted-L which is a type of upright vertical with a normal bottom feed point, whereas the usual QW sloper can be explained as an inverted vertical with capacitive hat loading (the beam) where the beam elements act as radials. Read about the quarter wave sloper at:
http://www.alphadeltacom.com/qw_slopers.html

Apologies to NO6L-- N6RK has no recorded email address
I could find.

73 Reg, VE7IG





 
RE: Getting on 160 Meters on a Budget  
by NO6L on April 13, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
>by VE7IG on April 13, 2009
>The point I was making is that a quarter wave sloper for 160 is much simpler to put up than the inverted-L (if you do have a tower and beam) and that would probably apply to half the readers of your article who DO have a tower and beam and are looking for a "budget" way to get on 160m. It was not meant as a criticism of your solution for someone who basically has no antenna structures. Also, the sloper does work well for local contacts as well as DX.

Point well taken, true it does not require a counterpoise which simplifies the deployment. If I'm not mistaken, you can also "meander" the wire around a tree or other object the same as the tail of an "L" or the ends of a dipole on a tight lot. Just as an aside, even with a tower, a sloper may not fit. For example, KY6B in Brea Ca has a lot like this and because 50' of the "L" is vertical, a capacitively loaded 135' "L" just fits his lot. Also, seeing as how it's so close in construction to an "L" I've rethought your comment and welcome it to the material presented.

Thank you and cheers.
de NO6L
/end of line
 
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