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Author Topic: Recommend some antenna books  (Read 17870 times)

Posts: 1556

« on: August 22, 2012, 06:03:53 PM »

I want to learn more about a really weak point in my ham knowledge.  I knew enough about antennas to pass the Extra, but want to learn a lot more about them.  I really enjoy reading the responses here but want to be able to know the theories behind what is being discussed here.  Can you all recommend to me a few antenna books that I can buy and put on my fall/winter reading list? 


Posts: 17476

« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2012, 06:35:00 PM »

You certainly should have a copy of the ARRL Antenna Book.  Actually, I like my old 1978
copy for some of the wire arrays, while the newer ones also include small loops and some
advances in antenna thinking (though sometimes ideas can take a while to work their
way into it.)  Not everything is always correct as seen through modern eyes, but it does
include theory and background information.

I found G6XN's HF Antennas for All Locations an interesting contrast:  some information
that isn't covered elsewhere, along with some strong opinions.  Not necessarily the first
thing to put on your list, but I think it is worthwhile once you think you know things well.

One source that is also available on line is the website of the late W4RNL here:

Antennex online magazine publishes some of the material in boom form if you want paper
copies, or you can print out your own articles.  You have to register for free to read it,
but it is one of the most comprehensive sites for antenna information.

There are a number of antenna books aimed at beginners - I don't have a copy, so can't
recommend a particular one, but you might include one of those that interests you.
You can find some interesting designs there, then go to a reference when you have
further questions.

There are some older books in a smaller format (about 5 x 7 perhaps) with titles such as,
"All About..." or "73 Antennas" of some type,  often by Cowan and/or Orr.  These tend to
be collections of other peoples' designs and, what antenna theory there is, is often
geared towards about the CB level of (mis)understanding.  When asked, I say that you might
as well read one if you have it, since the pages are too small for wrapping fish.

There are others, both good and bad, and I'm sure other posters will have different
opinions.  Some of the big classics such as Antennas by Kraus, Radio Antenna
by Laporte, etc. are not always as good for general knowledge, but might
be useful as you decide to learn more about specific areas.


Posts: 862

« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2012, 07:08:01 PM »

I want to learn more about a really weak point in my ham knowledge.  I knew enough about antennas to pass the Extra, but want to learn a lot more about them.  I really enjoy reading the responses here but want to be able to know the theories behind what is being discussed here.  Can you all recommend to me a few antenna books that I can buy and put on my fall/winter reading list? 

I recommend the ARRL Antenna Compendiums - these have a lot of great articles, often by operators who have excellent stations.

Also, ON4UN's text on LowBand DX'ing.  Covers just about everything for successful lowband operation.  I used it for my 80M delta loop and a lowband vertical.  If radials/counterpoises are scary subjects, then this is the book to buy.

GL, 73, Rich, K3VAT

Posts: 1790

« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2012, 08:07:57 PM »

You are to be commended for your desire to improve your knowledge. Antennas are not all that difficult, but neither are they forgiving of lack of knowledge, guesses and myths. There is no question that the lack of knowledge of antennas can, and often does, cause a LOT of frustration, problems and difficulties at some QTH's. The cold fact is that this is a technical hobby; the more you know about the theory and application of practical data the better your signal will be.

In the real non-engineering world, it is very hard to beat the ARRL Antenna Book(s) and ON4UN's "Low Band DXing."  In some ways/areas the older ARRL Antenna books
can be better and you can pick them up dirt cheap on Ebay or hamfests. The basic stuff is still 99% the same and unchanged since even the 1950's. Back "in the day" hams built a lot more of their equipment and home-built most antennas, so you will see some attention given to types of antennas and feed we don't see as much of today, but the theoretical knowledge and suggested matching networks are still good to be exposed to. Ditto that comment on ON4UN's book. In my humble opinion, some of his earlier editions are almost more practical.....again, that is an opinion. FYI:  Low Band DXing is more of an antenna book than anything else.

The RGSB has some good books and it seems they approach some things a little differently than we do on this side of the pond.

A very good book on vertical antennas is: "The Amateur Radio Vertical Antenna Handbook" by Capt. Paul H. Lee, USN (Ret.), N6PL. This is
a CQ magazine technical series book. It may be hard to find, but quite interesting and looks at some antenna types applicable to ham radio that
are not otherwise addressed.

Joe Carr's (K4IPV) "Loop Antenna Handbook" has some interesting articles and food for thought on various types of Loop antennas.

There have been a number of other decent books published and sometimes they take a little different tact or look at different types of antennas. Again, my experience
has been that the more books you look at, the more of the pieces fall into the puzzle, so to speak. There are a number of very technical/academic engineering books out there, but they are typically very heavy into mathematical detail and theory. They also will be quite expensive as many of them are EE college text books.

Good luck!    73,  K0ZN
« Last Edit: August 22, 2012, 08:14:56 PM by K0ZN » Logged

Posts: 431

« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2012, 08:14:18 PM »

There are some older books in a smaller format (about 5 x 7 perhaps) with titles such as,
"All About..." or "73 Antennas" of some type,  often by Cowan and/or Orr.  

Such as...

73 Dipole and Long-wire Antennas by W3FQJ Ed Neil
73 Vertical, Beam, and Triangle Antennas by W3FQJ Ed Neil
Wire Beam Antennas for Radio Amateurs by W6SAI William Orr
Beam Antenna Handbook by W6SAI William Orr
Cubical Quad Antennas by W6SAI William Orr
The W6SAI HF Antenna Handbook by W6SAI Willam Orr

And Yes, the "older" ARRL Antenna Handbook in the 6x8 size have
designs that were omitted in later handbooks.

You can never have TOO MANY Antenna books to page through for ideas!

If you want to put out a better signal, build a better antenna not buy a HF AMP.

73 de WA2ONH   ... Charlie
"Never be satisfied with what you know, only with what more you can find out"   Dr David Fairchild 1869-1954 US Scientist

Posts: 65

« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2012, 11:12:04 PM »

Look on YouTube for instructional videos on antennas. there are some good videos. You can find various articles on internet about antennas.

Antenna books tend to get rather over technical and you may not be ready to get that deep into antenna theory. Most ham antennas are limited to height and space to erect them - so you will just have to try something and see if it works. Getting the antenna cut or adjusted to the right frequency is important.  Radiation patterns etc. are nice to know, but you will not likely be able to put up an optimum antenna - like the book talks about.

After 50 years of hamming and fooling with antennas I know enough to build them make them work, but there is a lot that I don't know. I recommend a tool that you would really find helpful in working with antennas.  An antenna analyzer (MFJ-259B is one) will show you exactly what your antenna is doing. As you adjust it you can see the change. It is simple to operate and if you make and check antennas it is a must tool.

73  Walter  K5KNE

Posts: 2835

« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2012, 04:33:25 AM »

Can you all recommend to me a few antenna books that I can buy 

At one time I think I owned almost every Antenna book out there. I can tell what books of mine are good, the covers are well worn and the bindings are broken.  Cheesy

My all time 2 Favorites are Classics.

1. Hf Antennas for All Locations by Moxon - Excellent, practical and more important Readable by newbies

2. Reflections by Walter Maxwell W2DU (sk) This one has the Truth, difficult read for newbies but absolutely necessary for everyone else.

FWIW: Believe little of what you read on forums about Antennas. Lots of it is opinions and wrong.
Don't believe anything you hear on the air about antennas..  Cheesy

Stan K9IUQ

Posts: 4311


« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2012, 05:43:42 AM »

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Antennas, by Kraus. It's an excellent combination of practical information and theory. Available in new and used editions.

Or all you ever wanted to know about Antenna Theory, by Balanis

73, Cecil,

Posts: 71

« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2012, 06:12:59 AM »

I have to agree with HF Antennas for All Locations and the ARRL Antenna Handbook.
They have served me well over the years.

Posts: 2439

« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2012, 07:44:40 AM »

For a quick start at learning about antennas, I would recommend the ARRL Antenna Book and ON4UN's Low band DXing.  These books are focused more on antennas that are useful for ham purposes.  There are other good books, but those two would be my first choice for beginners.

The more technical books like Antennas by Kraus and Antenna Theory by Balanis are basically textbooks and heavy into math.  There is lots of good information on these text books.  They are good for reference and understanding the basis for how many types of antennas work, but I wouldn't recommend these as starter books.  They could give you the feeling of trying to drink from a fire hydrant.  If you want to see what some of these textbooks look like, Laport's Radio Antenna Engineering is available free on line.  It's an old book, but antenna basics don't change much.

In engineering you first learn the basis of how things work.  With antennas that involves a lot of math.  Then you discover that you can only analyze very simple antennas by hand (unless you want to spend a huge amount of time).  When you want to analyze practical antennas, a NEC simulator is hundreds of times (maybe thousands of times) faster.  There are some of those available free on line, or the paid version of EZNEC is also very good.  There is a learning curve associated with these programs.  These programs are also a good learning tool but you have to be careful not to get fooled by a faulty model.  A basic understanding of how antennas work helps a lot at avoiding that problem.

Jerry, K4SAV

Posts: 862

« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2012, 07:55:29 AM »

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Antennas, by Kraus.  ...

It was mentioned - by WB6BYU - in the First Response - and you are correct, it is an excellent combination of practice and theory (thanks for the link too).

Or all you ever wanted to know about Antenna Theory, by Balanis 

Another excellent recommendation: IMHO, The Third Edition is the best choice.

« Last Edit: August 23, 2012, 08:08:28 AM by K3VAT » Logged

Posts: 2835

« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2012, 08:32:28 AM »

I have to agree with HF Antennas for All Locations and the ARRL Antenna Handbook.

I have almost all the Antenna Books recommended here. They are all topshelf. However many of them get pretty deep into theory and mathematics - guaranteed to turn off a new ham looking for practical knowledge he can understand and use without going back to school.  Cheesy

I believe the first book I would buy is the ARRL Antenna Handbook. It has both theory and practical knowledge a newbie can use immediately.

I recommended HF Antennas for ALL Locations by Moxon because it almost reads like a novel. It is interesting and covers many things other antenna Books ignore. For instance there is a whole chapter titled "The Antenna and its Environment." This discusses the effect of hills, slopes,powerlines,houses,trees etc etc on the performance of your antenna. IMO these effects are almost important as the type of antenna you put up. Moxon also interjects his first hand experience with the performance of various antennas which is lacking in most antenna books.

Stan K9IUQ


Posts: 17476

« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2012, 09:10:30 AM »

There are perhaps three general functions that antenna books serve:

1) explain the underlying theory
2) provide practical examples of how to build them
3) show a number of different possible designs

(Others are welcome to add to the list - I'm still developing this thought.)

Many books tend to be focused in one of these areas, and not as good in others.
So the choice depends to a large extent on what you are looking for.

Antennas is a university textbook, so heavy on theory and math.  It provides
information that can be used to analyze different designs, but isn't as strong on the
practical side.

Jasik's Antenna Engineering Handbook has a lot of information on a wide range
of subjects, with more plots of measured performance and practical dimensions (so you
don't have to calculate them yourself.)  It also includes theory of operation, but not as
much math.

The ARRL Antenna Book tries to do everything, and doesn't do a bad job of it
overall, but is often based on articles that have been submitted to QST, and doesn't
always keep up with the latest developments from other sources.  The content doesn't
change very quickly (which, in some cases, isn't a problem) but I don find that having
one of the older small-format versions is a good complement to the newer, larger ones.
The descriptions aren't always easy to follow (which is often true of antenna theory)
and sometimes I have had to re-read articles several times to really "get" what is
happening.  If I only had one book, I'd probably choose this, though I might feel that
I was somewhat limited as to the antenna options available to me.

Some of my favorite books for finding design ideas include HF Antenna Collection
by Erwin David G4LQI and Practical Wire Antennas by John Heyes G3BDQ (both
published by the RSGB), as well as the Technical Topics column in the RSGB journal
RADCOM that G3VA edited for 50 years(!!).  Many of the small format books referred to
previously fall in this category as well, such as 73 Antennas... of some type
(published by 73 magazine - sometimes they had to stretch to reach the magic number
of designs.)

While such books can give you lots of ideas of designs to try, they are not always
technically sound (some are worse than others).  Just because someone writes an article
describing an antenna they built does not mean that it is optimized, or that it works in the
way that the author imagines it does.  With many more people able to publish articles on
the internet, this adage becomes more and more clear.

The practical side is one that still appears to be under-represented in the literature:  yes,
there are books that show how the practical construction of a dipole, but I haven't yet seen
any that emphasize the wide range of ways that it can be done.  If you need specific
instructions to follow, that is a start, but not as much for ideas to improvise based on the
materials you have on hand.

This is one place where HF Antennas for All Locations by Les Moxon G6XN is a good choice -
not only does he show his homebrew antennas tied up with string and sometime improvised from
other materials, but he provides some theory as well, along with interesting designs, comments
on other factors, etc.  It isn't perfect, by any means, but it gives a fresh perspective on things.

Perhaps other posters can rate the books they have recommended using the above criteria
(or similar commentary) to give a better sense of how they fit in the bookshelf.

Posts: 1757

« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2012, 09:16:41 AM »

And if you haven't studied that L. B. Cebik web site, you have done yourself a disservice.

It's closed now and you need a login to get to it (free) there is a treasure trove of underanding, studies and teaching there and it's all online.

If you want, they will sell you a CD with the entire site on it. Too bad they closed the site to Google searches. Now you can't find anything on there with a Google search. Stupid.

73 de N4CR, Phil

Never believe an atom. They make up everything.

Posts: 79

« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2012, 11:34:17 AM »

I agree with all the posters so far, but one extra word of advice. Grab some wire and some coax and start creating some of the antennas in the books. I found through my own experience, that it is easy to overthink everything (theory) and that the practice has its own rewards.
I have a large bin in my garage with old CB antennas, TZ antennas, wire, coax, connectors and lots of other salvaged or low cost items that I am out having fun with. Having a antenna analyzer and a couple of antenna switches help!
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