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Author Topic: Vertical or Horizontal?  (Read 3891 times)
KK4IKO
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Posts: 67




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« on: July 22, 2012, 06:01:37 AM »

I live in a mountain location with about a 15 degree elevation angle from my house to the top of ridges on each side (east and west).  I see a choice between a multiband vertical on the roof, or an inverted V dipole, behind the house.  The biggest difference besides initial cost is the dipole will require 125' or more of feedline, part of which will have to be underground in PVC.  I can stand the cost of the vertical (something like a Titan or Butternut) if there is a reasonable chance it will do the job.

Any North Carolina mountain hams out there?

73
Bruce, KK4IKO
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KJ4ADN
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Posts: 39




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« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2012, 06:29:59 AM »

Where I live in Virginia, I'm blessed with very conductive ground.  We also live on a ridge, running N/S.  To take advantage of my ground and slope, I have an OMTA vertical antenna leaning east down the slope towards Europe.  I'm able to DX before the bands wake up if you will... I'm taking advantage of my ground, lightning strikes notwithstanding.

Verticals have been VERY good for us, and not having many tall trees has made Dipoles, Windoms - anything horizontal that needs a little elevation SUCK.  After putting up a pair of 80m verticals with NO RADIALS, I hit Denmark on 4 watts - sure some of it's propagation, but, he also picked me out a a dozen stations and asked what I was using that came through so good QRP.

Try both, and see what fits your QTH and what you want to do, LOCAL or DX and if it's a Dipole, what general DIRECTION you want to aim it.  I was sold on Carolina Windoms for a couple of years, have a pile of 4:1 and 1:1 baluns I made they sit unused.   I've got many 6awg solid wire Dipoles, they leave drawer for Field Day and return there until next year.

But, there is one antenna, if you got about 180' of clear span, it's a Dipole that's no tune on 160m, 80m & 30m, the rest tunable - a Stainless Steel Zapper.   Won't do much for DX, but is a very interesting antenna for local - we have quite a few of them around here & NC.  Easy & inexpensive to make - 2 x 86' of stainless wire, 62' of 450ohm ladder line, connect to your coax and to the radio.  The 450ohm provides the match & my AIMUHF can provide the proof.   It's the only dipole type antenna that has worked everywhere we've tried it - the same...

BTW - none of my verticals have an radials, just a ground rod - and they perform equally well in all directions.

KJ4ADN - Bill
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AC4RD
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Posts: 1235




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« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2012, 09:55:42 AM »

Bruce, I'm not in the mountains ... but JMHO ('just my humble opinion') is that you might be better off trying a vertical first, and seeing if you do well with it.  The 125' of feedline isn't great IMO, unless you use balanced line, and then you've got problems with loss when it rains.  A simple vertical would be a great starting point, especially if you want to work 40m and on up to 10.   (Not so great for 80 and 160m, again IMO.) 

You can actually homebrew a good vertical out of wire and this-and-that.  Or you can buy a Hustler 4btv for not much money, put it up as high as you easily can with at least 2 radials for each band (4 if you can manage it), and seeing how you do.

If you want to chat with the east-coast locals on 80m, the dipole would be a better bet overall, probably, but apart from that, and especially if you want to work some DX, the vertical is easy and cheap to put up and likely to give you better performance overall.

I'm using both just now; a 40m dipole fed with balanced line and an autotuner, 40' up, and a homebrewed vertical (made from the bones of an old Gap Eagle, with was also a reasonably decent antenna).  The vertical is usually better for DX, on the bands it covers.  But both work reasonably well--so the good news is that EITHER choice you make will be fine to start having some fun on HF.    And then you can start playing with other antenna choices to see how THEY do.  Smiley  Verticals and wire antennas are easy and inexpensive to build, and lots of fun to experiment with!   73 GL!
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WB6BYU
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« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2012, 10:17:00 AM »

The most important questions are, what stations do you want to work?  On what bands?
How high would the inverted vee be?  How much does the ground slope?

Those will determine the choice of antenna more than almost anything else.

For DX, height above ground (and the local terrain) determine the angle of radiation of
an inverted vee.  Ground conductivity is a big factor for a vertical antenna.

For local work on the lower bands, a horizontal antenna will be better, even at low
height.

A vertical for 20m through 10m, and an inverted vee for 40m and 80m, may be a good
combination.
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W5DXP
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« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2012, 10:59:46 AM »

I see a choice between a multiband vertical on the roof, or an inverted V dipole, behind the house.

How about a rotatable dipole on the roof?
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73, Cecil, www.w5dxp.com
The purpose of an antenna tuner is to increase the current through the radiation resistance at the antenna to the maximum available magnitude resulting in a radiated power of I2(RRAD) from the antenna.
KC4MOP
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Posts: 741




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« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2012, 04:14:49 AM »

Ground conductivity is a neat thing to know about. I talked to a Ham in Mississippi that has great success with a vertical and has worked the world. No radials used.
But your vertical on your roof would be consideration for "raised radials", therefore need to be tuned??? Where am I going with this thought?? Antenna guys...help me.....The OP is in a mountainous area.
Be ready for RFI if you intend to use QRO with the vertical on the roof.
I see your point about the VEE. The coax run is a little too long but, not a show stopper. The VEE would have to be 1/2 wavelength high for the bands you want to work DX. Install a remote tuner at the base of the VEE to reduce the losses.
Just babbling here.
Fred
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K3AN
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Posts: 787




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« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2012, 06:50:15 AM »

From your description it sounds like you're in a sort of valley between two ridges. That means you're blocked from low-angle signals from the east and west. A horizontally polarized antenna will give you more high-angle radiation so you can at least enjoy domestic contacts.
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KC4MOP
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Posts: 741




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« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2012, 08:05:25 AM »

From your description it sounds like you're in a sort of valley between two ridges. That means you're blocked from low-angle signals from the east and west. A horizontally polarized antenna will give you more high-angle radiation so you can at least enjoy domestic contacts.
K3AN brings up a good point about your location.
Would you be willing to share a google map location or Satellite link to your QTH?
Maybe I will privately look at your call from QRZ and see what the skinny is. K3AN might be on to something to consider.
YEEOW!! Google Earth looks like you're in Death Valley!!! Any way to rent some property on one of those mountains???
The Dipole for NIVIS operation might be your hope. When 10M is open it is OPEN.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 08:15:22 AM by KC4MOP » Logged
KK4IKO
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2012, 08:35:12 AM »

http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=35.747922,-82.45208&z=13&t=h&hl=en

Here is Google Map Link to the satellite photo.  My house is next to the little smooth green spot in the center of the picture.  The ridgelines on either side are approx. 500' higher than my house, which is 2400' elevation.  The two ridges are about 3/4 mile apart, so I'm a little closer to the west ridge.

Thanks for the help, I appreciate all I can get.

73
Bruce, KK4IKO
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WB6BYU
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Posts: 13280




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« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2012, 09:47:35 AM »

With a 15 degree horizon you should be able to work some DX as long as you can
get a reasonably low angle take-off.

For 40/80m the inverted vee doesn't have to be high to work the eastern half
of the country:  30' is quite adequate.  And coax losses are low on those bands,
so 150' of coax isn't a problem. 

For DX on those bands, however, you need either more height or favorable
ground slope in the desired direction.


Ground conductivity plays two distinct roles with vertical polarization:  right around
the base of the antenna it effects antenna efficiency, particularly if you don't have
a good radial system (which will improve efficiency over any sort of soil short of a
salt marsh.)   Meanwhile, the amount of radiation at low angles depends on the
ground conductivity out 50 to 100 wavelengths beyond the antenna - far more
than any of us are likely to be able to influence (other than moving our shack to
the end of a pier over salt water.)  This applies whether the radial system is on
the ground or elevated.

A roof-mounted vertical with resonant radial wires isn't a bad place to start.  If
you are mainly interested in 10/15/20m then something like a 12AVQ is a little
easier to handle than the versions that also cover 40m (14AVQ or 6BTV, for example).
But you might get good 40m results with that setup also.

For more local work, however, a vertical isn't the best choice, which is where
the inverted vee would be a good option for 40m/80m.
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W4VR
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« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2012, 01:36:12 PM »

Considering your location and those ridges around you, a dipole may be a better way to go.  The problem I've had with roof-mounted verticals is that if you run more than 100 watts you start interfering with home entertainment equipment.  About the only band I use a vertical anymore is on 160 meters to get the lower takeoff angle.
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KC4MOP
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Posts: 741




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« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2012, 04:08:04 AM »

http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=35.747922,-82.45208&z=13&t=h&hl=en

Here is Google Map Link to the satellite photo.  My house is next to the little smooth green spot in the center of the picture.  The ridgelines on either side are approx. 500' higher than my house, which is 2400' elevation.  The two ridges are about 3/4 mile apart, so I'm a little closer to the west ridge.

Thanks for the help, I appreciate all I can get.

73
Bruce, KK4IKO
For your privacy, I will not give a link to the Google Earth picture I saw yesterday. It's a simple plug-in needed. Your link is not as detailed as what I saw yesterday...........but the others have great suggestions for a way for you to enjoy Ham radio. You're still ok.
Fred
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KJ4ADN
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Posts: 39




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« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2012, 04:31:18 AM »

Bruce, forgot to ask...

Do you have a metal roof?   Take advantage of that nice ground plane if you do.

I wouldn't fret too much over the valley situation, here's why.   The last 3 years, we've been the special event station for the Blue Ridge Bonanza (2 day special event) - our location was the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Parkway.   If you've been there, it's a bowl - mountains all around the place.   We set up 20m & 40m verticals, with radials and from 10am until 5pm each day worked stations from Texas to New York - but COULDN'T work anything within 50miles of us, ever that I recall.  We strung up dipoles, easily 60' in the air - they were relatively quiet by comparison.

We've also worked from Ground Hog Mountain, the top of the Tobacco Barn (lookout tower, line of sight to Pilot Mnt), with 20m & 40m dipoles, and got completely opposite results.   The dipoles were stellar performers on the top of the ridge, and the verticals were fair by comparison.  The local stations we couldn't off the verticals from the Music Center, were quite BIG for a change.  The ground, elevation of the antenna and surrounding terrain all had an effect.  Fortunately, in BOTH cases, QRM and electrical noise was nil, so the FT-450s were kept pretty busy with stations calling, weak or strong.

If you've got a couple of big trees, wire antennas are quick & easy to throw up - and it doesn't need to be copper wire to work.   Same goes for the radials, if you need them, we've been using 35' pieces of CAT-5 cable, strip the sheath off and spread out 4 pairs of radials.  (if you got a telephone vendor in the area, swing by and they'll probably give you as much as you can carry in short lengths, 50' or less).

One thing I've learned...  What works for my QTH & type of HAMmin', might not work for the next guy and his situation - so, try everything you can think of, picking the antenna types that ought to work the best for your QTH.  There are just so many variables - it might take a year or two of playing around to get the set up you really enjoy.

WB6BYU's comments on the inverted vee are interesting, worth trying if you got nearby tree.   My first Carolina Windom was strung from the end of the house to a tree 300' away.  20' sloping upwards to 50' - it was great to get on the air on 160m & 80m....  all local though, <200mi radius... a cloud warmer in my case.

KJ4ADN - Bill
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KK4IKO
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2012, 05:41:17 PM »

Looks like a change to my situation will be in the works soon.  The power company will be pulling a no longer used pole on my property (new poles and lines, last summer) and I've been told I can not only have it, but might be able to sweet talk the crew into re-planting it for me.  It looks to be about 30' or so above grade, and where I'm planning to put it will give me a small elevation advantage, as well as the 30'.  The pole is actually in very good condition, it's just that the new poles are bigger and taller to carry a second hot line.  That should open up new possibilities. 

I'm glad I'm not licensed to put my HF rig on the air yet, gives me plenty of time to work out these other issues without rushing to do something quick.  I'll probably test for General in September.

73
Bruce, KK4IKO 
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ZL3OF
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Posts: 20




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« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2012, 12:14:18 AM »

Can you put both antennas up? I have a vertical on the shack roof, (metal roof) and a ZS6BKW dipole. One antenna is usually better than the other but it's not always the same one that's best. Nothing like having options.
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