eHam.net - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

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

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



[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

The Best First Antenna, Hands Down

from Tony Kurlander, N3WAK on June 26, 2014
View comments about this article!

The Best First Antenna, Hands Down

I see new hams asking all the time, “What’s the best antenna for HF?” Some are thinking of buying “no radial” verticals. Others are thinking of a three element beam that’s being sold on-line, or the so-called “Wondertenna Deluxe” they’ve heard so much about. These new hams are dazzled by the claims of the manufacturers and purveyors of these antennas, which are claimed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, useable on all bands from 160 meters to 2 meters, and great for both DX and NVIS. Many of these new hams seem to think, “Well, I just bought my rig...I’d better buy my antenna, too!”

Don’t do it! Just say no! There is a BETTER antenna out there! It is the very, very best antenna for a new ham—and for many old-timers, too. You’ve probably even heard about it before, either in QST or eHam or from your friends, but it bears repeating. This antenna is...wait for it...an antenna YOU make yourself! A wonderful first antenna is a coax-fed 40 meter inverted vee. If you were to feel really adventurous, you could feed the 40 meter inverted vee with ladder line and, using a tuner, use it on 40-10 meters.

But I digress. For the sake of simplicity, and because most new hams are most comfortable using coax as a feedline, this short article will describe a 40 meter ½ wave inverted vee dipole. The feedline is coax. If your rig has an internal tuner, or you’re using a tube-type vintage radio, this antenna will also work FB (“fine business”) on 15 meters as a 3/2 wave dipole.

Why should you roll your own antenna? There are many reasons, but the best reason is that it’s far more fun to make a contact on your own homebrew antenna. Fumbling around for what to talk about after you exchange signal reports? Wow the other operator by telling him or her about your homebrew inverted vee! Are today’s propagation conditions less than ideal? Don’t sweat it—I’m convinced that any signal is at least one S-unit better when you’re using your own wire antenna! Other good reasons for building your own are: it’s cheap; it’s a wonderful learning experience; it will inspire you to learn more about the technical aspects of our hobby and go on to build even more wire antennas; the components are re-useable; the components are easy to find; and you will feel the pride that stems from doing something so true to our amateur heritage.

There is absolutely nothing new about what I’m saying here. My Elmer told me to build my first antenna when I was a Novice in the early 1970s. His Elmer told him. Joe Tyburczy, W1GFH, wrote a wonderful—and hilarious—primer on an inverted vee that I first saw here on eHam. You can find it now at http://www.hamuniverse.com/fourdollarspecialw1gfh.html. I heartily recommend you read it! There are similar articles on eHam now and then.

You can use 14 gauge wire (but anything from 12 ga to 18 ga is common) from a ham store, from thewireman.com, from Lowe’s or Home Depot, or from Radio Shack. It can be insulated or uninsulated, solid or stranded. I usually prefer 14 ga, stranded, and insulated—but you can use whatever is on hand. I always use a center insulator (such as: http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/antsup/1782.html) or a current balun (such as: http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/antsup/1888.html), but you don’t have to. If the length of your coax is less than 100 feet and you’re running no more than 200 watts on HF, RG-8X is the way to go. If you’re running more power than that, or really want to minimize power loss at the higher frequencies, then use a better quality coax, such as RG-213. RG-213 is thicker, heavier, more expensive, and less flexible, but is generally preferable, in my opinion, from 10-20 meters. For a barefoot HF rig, though, RG-8X will be just fine.

There are plenty of “how-to” guides on building your first dipole on-line. Here is a good one that I just found: http://www.aa5tb.com/dipole.html

I recommend installing your new dipole as an inverted vee. The center support could be a tree branch, a flagpole, or a wooden or fiberglass pole. The ¼ wave legs of your inverted vee should each have an end insulator on them, and then some nylon, dacron or other guy rope leading out to a handy attachment point. That attachment point could be your fence post, a tree, or a tent stake shoved into your lawn. In this way, you only need one tall support, which is the center of your inverted vee. The center of your inverted vee won’t sag when you attach your feedline, as would a horizontal dipole supported only at the ends. And, if you’re using fiberglass tubing as the center support, the ¼ wave legs of your antenna do an admirable job of guying the center support. Just make sure that the enclosed angle of your inverted vee is at least 90 degrees. And, although plenty of purists might disagree with me, when you adjust the length of your new inverted vee for minimum SWR, anything less than 2.0:1 is fine at HF. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

This is not a “how to” article. This is, instead, a “just build it” article. Take my word for it: Building your own antenna is loads of fun. In fact, you might just get so much satisfaction from your new inverted vee (not to mention those glowing signal reports!) that next weekend you’ll want to tackle another wire antenna project. Hmm, is a multiband doublet on the program for the next sunny weekend?

73, Tony N3WAK

Member Comments:
Add A Comment
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by AC8DE on June 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
What a great reminder of how the simple wire antenna is often overlooked. I recently got an old time DX'er back on the air after his 15+ year hiatus with a simple 4 band trap dipole (homebrew traps). Perhaps a bit more fancy than an inverted V, but not by much. I threw it up in a few trees at about 35 feet and he is working all over the world once again and is having a ball.

Never underestimate the simple wire antenna. I have several and I use them often over my fancy beam on the tower.
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by VK6IS on June 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
the humble dipole is one of the most under-rated antenna around!.
but the guy at the hamfest that is selling hose u-beaut antennas won't agree - no way!.

 
RE: The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by K4PIH on June 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The basic inverted V is about as efficient an antenna as you can get. Feed them with coax of the appropriate size and length and work the world. The only “factory built” antenna I use is an old 11 meter 5/8 ground plane retuned for 10. Everything else is wire dipole. One for 40 and one for 80 and I use a matcher to work all the other bands. I make mine out of #14 insulated “speaker wire”, the kind you can buy 50 feet of and split it down the middle. Use plain old ½ inch PVC pipe for a center feed point and end insulators and a piece of rope thrown over the highest tree limb you can manage to hold the feed point. All those pre-built bug catchers they sell in the stores, on-line and at ham fests are all fine and dandy, but I think every ham should build at least one wire-dipole and give it a try.
 
RE: The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by N6JSX on June 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
FYI, you forgot the economics of an inverted V, one of thee most cheap and affective antennas a HAM can ever make for HF. The inverted-V can grow in complexity by adding more band-wires as you may desire.

For +30yrs I've had multi-band/wire inverted-V's (80/40m). Now my inverted-V bands-wires are for 80/60/40/20/17/10m. Check the archives in eHAM for my very simple inverted-V wire "Antenna Spreader" article.

Other items you want to know about an inverted-V: if using coax try to install the V at 120degree apex. 120degrees reactance is very close to 50ohms helping the match to 50 ohm coax.

To keep the shape of the inverted-V with taut legs, I've used a spring at the Apex isolator, but the spring always rusts. I'm trying a new technique of keeping the legs taut in using two 'real' rubber 24" bungee cable (that doubles as extra insulators). So far after one complete year the WX has not killed the rubber bungee's. My legs are anchored to my trees that sway in the wind - the spring/bungee reduces wire strain when the winds blow.

Over the years of building I found the most efficient method of "tuning" multi-band/wire inverted-V. Start with the longest band first and work to the shortest. I put a rope pulley at the apex final location to the V center insulator to hoist the V/coax up into final placement each time I made a tuning adjustments. The longest wire will have the greatest affect to the triangular shape of the over all V, (setting the V's reactance). In setting the apex angle all other band wires will have the near same relative reactance allowing for a more controlled VSWR while tuning.

My inverted V's are cut for SSB and I tune each band center, finding the overall VSWR to be 1.5:1 or less except 40/80m that have the most length per band. 40m overall ~2.1:1, 80m is harder due to the wide SSB band 3600-4000 which equates to an overall wire length difference of ~12.8'. I cut mine at 3.8 (60.0') and tune it for 1:1 then use my antenna tuner to compensate for the off-frequency differences. This has worked well for me.

My current V apex is at 45' with legs running east & west. This weekend playing with my new Flex3000 on 17m I spotted an EU calling CQ-DX-NA from outside of Florance Italy. Not many USA were getting him, so I gave it a shot. We contacted the first time both being 57's, so don't let anyone tell you the inverted-V is 'just' a wire antenna. It works and works well - it may not be a beam with ERP but those non-trapped full 1/2 wave wires really grabs the signal out of the air very well.
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by K4TFJ on June 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
In 36 years of operating, I have built nothing but wire HF antennas. They are the best first antenna, period. Easy to make, easy to fix, easy to move. I got bored one day and threw together a quick 10m dipole for the newly licensed tech in the family. 2 hours later done... Try buying one and having it delivered and installed in under 2 hours.

Besides you learn more by DOING than BUYING!

Tj, K4TFJ
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by N5MZL on June 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
This brings back some memories for me. Used to live at a place with a half acre of land and several trees, and had gotten my General class call not long before. Bought several of those WD4BUM baluns, some glass insulators, nylon rope and lots of stranded copper wire from Radio Shack (back in the days when they still sold stuff like that). Used the l=468/f formula to figure the length. Ended up with inverted V dipoles for 15, 20, 40 and 80 meters. I cheated a bit for 10 meters, using a CB antenna called a Starduster, trimmed slightly, which worked perfectly for that band. The dipoles all worked great, all with SWR at less than 2:1. My rig at the time, a Yaesu FT-757GX had the matching tuner, but didn't need it much. Those home made antennas (oh yeah, fed them all with RG8X) worked just fine. Sadly, these days I'm HOA restricted, and today will be my first foray on HF in years, only using a "portable" antenna. Not expecting much, but hopefully it will be better than nothing. Know I'll be missing those inverted V's, though...
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by KK5JY on June 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Definitely good advice. There is something very satisfying about making nation-wide and world-wide contacts using an antenna that cost you less than dinner for two.

I have lost count of how many hundreds of feet of Lowe's bulk wire I have burned through building wire antennas of all kinds, just like the previous posters have commented. Lots of fun.

The inverted "V" need not be raised to great heights to be effective, either. A 40m version pulled to modest heights can be effective for both long- and short-distance QSOs, and is especially nice for domestic contacts.

My main 40m antenna these days is an inverted V pulled into a tree at 25 feet or so, with the ends pulled out with rope and staked right into the ground. The wire ends are still about 10' above the ground, and this antenna makes really nice contacts nation-wide, and also DX into Europe when conditions permit.

If you feed these directly with coax, winding a few turns of the cable into an air-core choke close to the feedpoint is nice, cheap insurance against feedline radiation and pick-up. A recent QST article describes how to do this.

I use EZ-NEC to model my wire antennas before I build them, which is also a lot of fun. There is a free version included with the ARRL Antenna Book, and it is fine for wire antennas like the inverted "V". You will learn a lot about how antennas work if you model them, either before or after you build them.
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by K1DA on June 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Window line and about 102 feet of wire will provide a light antenna with no heavy coax to drag down the center. It will provide 80 meters as well as 40 and above and will be far easier to use on even harmonics.
 
RE: The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by NU8Z on June 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I have used single coax fed parallel dipoles for years. All in the inverted Vee configuration. Used a 40-10 model @ 35ft with excellent results. Now use 2 separate 40/30 meter models. One N/S and one E/W. Worked and confirmed 296 on 40M and 298 on 30M using these simple inexpensive home-brew multi-wire dipoles. Takes a little time to tune, but for cost vs. performance ratio, they cant be beat!!
I have also used single wire 40 meter dipole with tuned feeders. Great on 40 and 30 meters. Also good on other bands but directivity and takeoff angles vary from the norm. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Depends on where the desired target or DX station is.

Mark NU8Z
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by K8QV on June 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
No question, it's the simplest antenna to build, works very well, and all other antennas are measured against it; some managing to get some gain in one or two directions, some exhibiting broader bandwidth, some accommodating extra bands, some decreasing the footprint for those who are space challenged. Over the decades I have worked every corner of the world with simple wire dipoles/inverted vees.
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by K4EJQ on June 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Yep.......!!!!! Enjoy the ride. 73, Bunky, K4EJQ
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by JOHNZ on June 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Exactly!

Good article and goes along precisely with my own philosophy which I expressed in the previous article on the LPDA antenna. Meaning the LPDA is for you, if you have lots of disposable income you want to invest in an antenna that has little gain and questionable VSWR, just to say you have a broad banded antenna. Cannot see it but to each his own.

N3WAK expresses it very nicely in this article, great antenna that works well, little investment, and a great learning experience.

Sure, I have disposable income, but ham radio is not my religion, so I am not going to pump wads of cash into it, particularly when there is little return for the buck.

N3WAK's thinking is what I endeavor to impress on new hams that I have some influence with, at least as far as ham radio goes.

When I did professional broadcasting and had my employer's check book, well that was a different story, that I won't get into here.




 
RE: The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by N4KC on June 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent article, and amen on all counts!

Readers of some of my previous articles here on eHam and of my book know my feelings on this subject. Many new (and many more long-time) hams are afraid they can't have fun on HF unless they spend scads of money and put up towers with multi-element beams. Instead, they buy an HT with a rubber-duckie, get yelled at on the repeater because they can't break the squelch, and give up. Or they go buy a miracle antenna that contradicts 250 years of physics and can't work across the street. That is also why many Techs never take advantage of their HF privileges.

A 1/2-wave dipole can give anyone a satisfactory operating experience. They often get missed by HOA/zoning gendarmes, too, It is also true that a simple dipole or horizontal loop can really produce a feeling of satisfaction if it is something you built and erected yourself.

PS: See the article on my other four favorite get-on-the-air quick HF antennas at www.n4kc.com. Click on "Articles" and pick the article from the list. (Or just go to http://www.donkeith.com/n4kc/article.php?p=22 for a printable version. I'm also happy for club newsletters to reprint this or any of those articles. Email for permission, please, to n4kc@arrl.net.)

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com


 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by W2MR on June 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I agree. My Novice station had a homemade 40 meter Inverted V which worked great! I learned the lesson of using stranded hook-up wire which I had in my junk box. Every two months I would have to snip a few inches off each side to raise the resonant frequency as the trees that they were attached to lowered it by stretching the wires in the wind!
 
RE: The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by K9MHZ on June 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"Just make sure that the enclosed angle of your inverted vee is at least 90 degrees."


Did you mean "included angle"? Also, knowing that you're trying to limit the scope to beginners, I think it's still important to mention strain relieving the coax attachment point in the center at the apex. It's a lot to ask of a PL-259 connection to bear the full weight of the vertical run of the coax up to the BALUN. Weatherproofing, too.

Good points about one support structure, ends are low and accessible for adjustment, etc.



 
RE: The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by KG4RUL on June 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Good? Yes
Best? Maybe
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by KK4EDU on June 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Can't agree more....just build it. I am not a HAM purist and have many things on my plate. Sticker shock occurred looking at antenna things, and it was almost as bad as rig sticker shock. In the end, after trying a few things, I resort to a simple dipole and the inverted V is easiest...and gets contacts. It may not be fancy; it does not win great awards. But it works and I can build it...or build it again if the wind blows it down.
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by KB2DHG on June 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
YEP! I must say that my home brew G5RV antenna is one of the very best antennas I have ever operated with! WHAT YOU SAY? Yea, I don't denounce the wonderful advantages of a beam for sure. I had a Mosley TS-33 which was wonderful but the ease and cost of building wire antennas is just so much fun and much more a thrill when you work the world with a piece of wire you string up in a tree...
So if you don't have the means to erect a tower and beam or the cost of doing so Don't despair! The author hit the nail right on the head Wire antennas are just fine!
 
RE: The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by K9MHZ on June 28, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"I must say that my home brew G5RV antenna is one of the very best antennas I have ever operated with!"


Oh man, everybody get down....incoming!
 
RE: The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by W1JKA on June 28, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Did you really think the Cease Fire agreement would last longer than a full day?
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by JOHNZ on June 28, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

An antenna for ham radio is similar to closing the deal on an automobile purchase.

If you believe you have a great performing antenna that more than meets your needs and expectations, then you do, and it doesn't matter what some other guy says.

If you believe you got a great deal on your last car purchase, then you did.

Professionally, I was paid to continually design better antennas and equipment for my employer. As they say, I would think outside the traditional box, and my employer would pay for whatever I designed. However, when it was time to unwind and relax at home with ham radio, my simple wire antenna designs more than met my expectations, and they were cheap.

My point? Let the California big guns spend big bucks on their big antennas, while us country boys will be satisfied with what we have.
 
RE: The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by W9WQA on June 28, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
weedwhacker cord is unbreakable, lasts for years,,CHEAPER THAN DIRT! hoist it up.
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by KG6PHS on June 28, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Great article, I totally agree! Even though an inverted vee might have a little less overall gain than a flat top dipole, the more omnidirectional nature of the radiated pattern is a real plus, and only one high support needed!

I use two "sloping" antennas here, a 40m vee with a balun, and a 80m half-sloper perpendicular to the other one. A mast mounted coax switch means only one coax cable is needed for both. I can work lots of DX without a beam or a vertical antenna this way.
 
RE: The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by W8AAZ on June 28, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
My first HF SSB ant. was a Vee with a balun and 40M traps so I could use it on 75 and 40. Got it up as far as I possibly could manage at the time. Worked really really well for me on those bands. After the bother of tuning it, not that big a deal. And that was in the days of cheap SWR meters, no ant. analysers!
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by K5OX on June 28, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I certainly agree that overall, a HB inv V is a good antenna. But I still have the DX bug even after 60 years as a ham.

And getting low angle radiation out of an inv. V antenna at reasonable heights is not easy.

I live near Houston and even though located near the Gulf, it is a landlocked area. It takes two land bounces, just to reach most of Europe.

Furthermore, I live in a no wires neighborhood. Everything is underground. Cable, electric telephone, etc.

I also don't have a well placed tree for support.

In the spirit of simplicity, a ground plane.will work great when 20 has one of its short openings.

My house has a large attic and I can fit a 7 ft mobile up there and two 1/4 wave radials run out from the base and the match is close to 50 ohms. You may have to fiddle with the lengths a little. Keep feed line short to minimize losses.

The wires are not true radials. They are a minimal counterpoise to encourage vertical radiation.

There are many variations on this antenna. Made of wire and if you can - outside. Not long after I got married we rented and third floor apartment and I got my first DXCC with a seven foot wood dowel wrapped in aluminum foil. Rig and antenna squeezed in a walk in closet. Counterpoise around wood floor trim.
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by VE3CUS on June 28, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Great article Tony. All I have ever used are wire antennas. Another money saving trick I've used with success.. If you are using a vintage rig or a Tuner, there is no problem feeding these antennas using plain old RG6, available at your local home Depot. Works fine at 100 watts. I bought some adapters for F to Pl259 or F to bnc off of ebay so I don't even have to even put connectors on the cable. Just make sure you get quality RG6 ( I like the burial grade stuff) and you're all set.
 
RE: The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by K9MHZ on June 29, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>>by W1JKA on June 28, 2014 Did you really think the Cease Fire agreement would last longer than a full day?<<<

LOL!

 
RE: The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by N6AJR on June 29, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
fan dipole
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by K6CRC on June 29, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Good stuff! I agree with the author that new hams should try to build their own antennas. Not to diss old timers, but many newer rigs have excellent internal tuners and you can get by with just a random wire and a balun if you are willing to experiment. Now, I am not talking about the best solution, but just a simple solution that allow you to experiment.

I bought a 40' SpiderPole for $100. Fed a #14 wire while raising it and sticking it on a 2"pipe driven into the soil. I added a DX Engineering feedline choke and a Elecraft 4:1 balun. Laid down a few 30' radials. Connected to my K3 and, using the internal tuner, worked the world. Recently, I added 60' to the top and created an inverted L. No problems tuning.

My point is that a fiberglass pole, feed choke and a balun allows a ham many paths to a good antenna system. ARRL Handbook and QST articles give you many options.

If you are limited to a single simple vertical, I a had very good luck with the MFJ/Cushcraft MA6V. Construction quality is marginal, but it is a clever design and works quite well without the need for radials.
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by N9GDW on June 29, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
After reading all the posts, I don't recall anyone mentioning QRP. I have a 40M dipole fed with window line. I work mostly contests and have little to no trouble making contacts considering the pileups. I run 10 watts or less so I need to make every watt count. I have minimal loss with this setup versus coax feed and my tuner gets me on 80-10. Ops are amazed when I mention I'm QRP.
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by RSHIRE22 on June 30, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
End fed w/9:1 unun.

No contest.
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by W9XAN on June 30, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent post, especially the "just build it" part.

This needs to be said over and over until people feel okay about actually doing it, even at the risk of error. "Making the perfect the enemy of the good" is not the road to progress.

By the way, read the "4 dollar special" article and loved it !
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by K8DQ on July 1, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I have experimented with MANY types of antennas in my 30+ years as an amateur. Today, I live in a deed restricted property and use a 5 band trap vertical for home use. I look forward to portable operations throughout the summer, and ALWAYS choose wire dipoles as my antenna of choice. Most often, I invert them with a 45ft portable mast, but other times use any naturally existing supports I can find.

A simple wire antenna is by far the most simple and gratifying home-brew experience any amateur can add to their list.

Thanks for sharing such a great piece, Tony.

73!
Ken, K8DQ
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by KC8QMF on July 1, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for a well written article. My first antenna was a 10 mtr dipole that a local elmer and I built.
WB8FNB (Walt) helped me with donated wire and coax.
My first contact was the Queen Mary ham station in Long Beach CA. Still have that card hanging on the wall. My next was a G5RV from MFJ. I did not build it but the 29.00 price got me on the bands after I made general. In the few years I have been active wire is all I have ever had. It's probably all I ever will have now!!
Tnx KC8QMF
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by WA7PRC on July 3, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
My best SECOND antenna was a secondhand Gotham 2 element 15m yagi that cost $20. After some iterations in putting it up and figuring out how a Gamma Match is done, I started working _REAL_ DX. At the time, I was a Novice running 75W DC input w/ xtal control.

vy 73,
Bryan WA7PRC
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by WA7PRC on July 3, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
My best SECOND antenna was a secondhand Gotham 2 element 15m yagi that cost $20. After some iterations in putting it up and figuring out how a Gamma Match is done, I started working _REAL_ DX. At the time, I was a Novice running 75W DC input w/ xtal control.

vy 73,
Bryan WA7PRC
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by N7SCC on July 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Go ahead and build your first antenna! I built a long wire for SW listening when I was 13 and in 7th Grade. I was so excited when I turned on my SW receiver! That was the start for me to begin on becoming a Ham... 48 years ago! I have built long wires and Dipoles...Build a dipole-Inverted Vee; you can't go wrong- feed it with coax cable, each half of the antenna split between a insulator and feed the coax to your receiver and listen to Shortwave! Find out where the local Club is in your City and go to the monthly meetings... Later on... feed that antenna to your transceiver! You will have fun and make friends in far away places and you could also have the beginning of a career! Sincerely, '73
George, N7SCC
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by KK4Z on July 6, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with the inverted vee. I have an 80 meter doublet (dipole fed with ladder line) with a current balun to connect the ladder line to RG-213 coax. The apex is about 50 feet off of the ground. I've worked most of the world with it. I built this antenna somewhere around 2007 and it is still going strong. I might add a vertical antenna to the farm for better DX but maybe not.
 
RE: The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by W4KVW on July 8, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
A wire antenna is OK if you don't have a beam for whatever band you are working.I had a wire antenna up for 10-80 meters before I put up my 1st beam(MOSLEY TA-33Jr) & thought it was the bomb.Well when I got the beam up I realized just how many stations I never worked because I never heard them & they never heard me.Signals that were S-7 were now 20 over S-9 & some even better & I had less noise because of the directablity of the beam.I would switch back & forth between the wire & beam antennas & it was not long that the wire antenna no longer got used anywhere except on 40 & 75/80 meters & that was rarely because I got out so much better on the yagi & after putting up a 5 band yagi(MOSLEY TA-53M).If wire is all you can do then it's OK but a wire will not compare head to head with most any yagi & that's a fact.Use what you have & get on the air but don't expect to much from a wire when the bands are busy & the pileups are large & busy & the stations running BIG amps & BIG beams are on they will dominate the wire antennas with pure gain & signal directivity!
 
RE: The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by NZ5L on July 18, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
wire antennas vs yagi beam? Yes, the first time you use the beam you will realize a very noticeable S/N improvement. However, for economy and sheer fun, wire antennas provide more "satisfaction per dollar" than anything else going.
Having used every type extensively, I've gone back to wire antennas exclusively at this qth. Five custom designed wire antennas cover all bands from 160-6 meters, with plenty of overlap and duplication. In the last several years from this qth WAS on 160, 80, and 40, WAC, and DXCC 150(+) on CW and SSB have been achieved, and no tower, rotator, or linear amplifier in sight.
As in so many endeavors, success in Amateur Radio is largely a matter of attitude and perseverance. Whatever you have to work with, put up an antenna and use it. You'll have fun and in time garner all the operating awards you seek.
 
The Best First Antenna, Hands Down Reply
by K5SPP on July 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Worked for me! My first antenna was a 20 meter dipole cut to the middle of the General band out of 18 gauge insulated wire I picked up at Lowes. I picked up a chassis-mount SO-239 from Radio Shack, and used an old, plastic cutting board from the kitchen for the insulators, and mount for the -239. Screwed some scrap 1x2s onto the edge of my roof, hung the thing horizontally 10 feet of the ground, and ran some RG-58 up to it. With my tuner I was able to talk to the world on 20, 17, and 15 meters with that thing for around $35 including the cable! (Yes, I still have it, but living in an apartment now, and they sort of frown on my putting it up outside my balcony, so I invested in a Buddipole!)
 
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

Subscribe!
My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Related News & Articles
Feeding an LPDA Beam Antenna
Your First HF Dipole


Other Antennas Articles
Your First HF Dipole
Smaller Backyard, Revised 40-Meter Beam!
Feeding an LPDA Beam Antenna