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Author Topic: Are Antennas really all that?  (Read 5442 times)
K0AP
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Posts: 121




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« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2013, 07:14:57 PM »

"Are Antennas really all that?"

They sure are...

73 Dragan K0AP
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N5UD
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Posts: 783




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« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2013, 07:54:31 PM »

IMO,

The number one more important thing is operator skill.  A very good operator from a poor station will almost always beat the poor operator from a good station.

Second most important is location.  I lived in Key West on the salt water for 5 years.  I was a big gun with nothing more than verticals.  Florida geographically gets better openings into SW Asia for example, than W1/2/3, because the southern location means a path that largely misses the AU oval.

Third is antennas.  Location is more important, but good antennas can overcome a poor location to some extent.  In Europe, S5's and IK's with tribanders are often louder than OH's with big stacks. 

Forth is power.  Double the power for 3dB.  Double again for one S-unit.  You get more by upgrading from a dipole to a tribander at reasonable height.

My 40m antenna here on Guam is a single 1/4 wave vertical.  I made more than 1800 QSOs on 40 in the 2011 CQWW DX CW contest as a single op, and more than 1600 this year.  That is significantly more 40m QSOs than just about every other station in the top 10 in the world, many with yagis and antennas that otherwise would be considered better.  A simple vertical in the clear with a good ground system can be hard to beat.  Usually your RX is what suffers more than your TX because you can't null noise, such as QRM, like you can with a gain antenna (I have Beverages to compensate for that).

73, Dave

You nailed it ! I am not saying there is ONE area of continental US that is best, BUT there are a few that beat the pants off many locations. Then within location is proximity to salt water. I have learned this phenomenon operating mobile HF the past two years. I can really tell the difference when I am in certain areas mobile. Like Gulf Coast versus where I live in Texas.

Say this comes from nearly 50 years of DX chasing.

It has been a struggle. Some successes, and certainly some let downs. Yet mobile I am near 280 worked in two years. Could have had about five more IF I was RTTY mobile. I just can't get my mind around that one.

Many times (every) this vertical certainly does not compare to the 4 element quad I had at 90 feet !

73 and good DX, Tony N5UD /M
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2013, 09:14:29 PM »

If you can't hear 'em, you can't work 'em -- no matter how skillful you may be.

For a given DX station, a lesser antenna gives you workable copy X% of the time that a better antenna gives you workable copy. For a strong DX station with favorable propagation, X can be near 100; for a weak DX station with less favorable propagation, X can be below 5. If the DX station is frequently QRV, you will eventually work them with a lesser (X=5) antenna, but for DX that is infrequently QRV or QRV over a relatively brief interval, a lesser antenna significantly attenuates your chances of ever hearing the DX.

The higher your DXCC totals, the more the remaining stations you need fall into the "weak with less favorable propagation" category.

Obviously, you do the best you can with what you have - and that means improving your skills, and other aspects of your station. But if there's an practical opportunity to improve your antenna, take it. Antennas really are all that.

      73,

           Dave, AA6YQ
« Last Edit: January 04, 2013, 09:17:23 PM by AA6YQ » Logged
W1VT
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Posts: 811




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« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2013, 04:44:42 AM »

An optimized RX antenna that plugs into the RX antenna jack of your PRO III could really be useful if you have just a vertical for transmit.  I plan do something like that for my station. When I was a kid, I'd build and test new antennas faster than ATNOs would show up for veteran DXers.

Zack W1VT
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NU1O
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Posts: 2604




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« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2013, 07:00:49 AM »

When I was a kid, I'd build and test new antennas faster than ATNOs would show up for veteran DXers.

Zack W1VT

I could throw a fastball ~ 80 mph as a 14 year old, and I had a nasty 12 to 6 curve that had opposing hitters buckling at the knees at the same age, but, alas, none of us are kids anymore!

73,

Chris/NU1O
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W6OP
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Posts: 338




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« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2013, 09:05:50 AM »

I have a vertical I use for most DX but I also have a Moxon for 10 meters and 12 Meters. Many times I can just tell a station is there and I switch to the Moxon and it is easy copy.

When Peter I (3Y0X) was on the air I probably called for 40 hours before I finally broke through and made a contact. Later that day I was at a friends house with a 3 element Yagi. Not only was there clear copy but in 3 calls he had them in the log.

If you have the time you can sit there and try for days but most of us have limited time, work etc. If you can put up the better antennas it is a lot less frustrating.

Pete W6OP
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W6GX
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Posts: 2328




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« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2013, 09:25:05 AM »

Gene,

The best thing you could do to yourself is to find a local friend with a directional antenna.  Then find a DX station and do some A/B testing on your antenna vs. his.  You won't find out how well your antenna is working until you have a reference point.  Just because you are working many good DX contact it doesn't mean your antenna is working as well as others.  GL.

73,
Jonathan W6GX
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K1DA
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« Reply #22 on: January 05, 2013, 10:05:32 AM »

There's no "affirmative action" in amateur radio. 
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AF3Y
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Posts: 3698




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« Reply #23 on: January 05, 2013, 10:39:26 AM »

Gene,

The best thing you could do to yourself is to find a local friend with a directional antenna.  Then find a DX station and do some A/B testing on your antenna vs. his.  You won't find out how well your antenna is working until you have a reference point.  Just because you are working many good DX contact it doesn't mean your antenna is working as well as others.  GL.

73,
Jonathan W6GX


My friends rotatatable 3 band dipole up 30 feet does not hear any better than my vertical. It is possible to null out a little QRM on it, but that is the major difference.

Even tho it seems so, QRM is NOT always.... Cool

73, Gene AF3Y
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W6GX
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« Reply #24 on: January 05, 2013, 12:38:27 PM »

That's a good starting point.  Now find a friend with a large yagi up high.  This will give you another point of comparison.  For hard-to-work DX most of your competitors will have a tri-bander yagi and not a rotatable dipole.

Rich KY6R realized that after 300 one really needs a gain antenna.

You are at a point where you'd get a big return for very little money invested.  Those people with yagis up high don't have very much to gain from additional upgrades.

ps I'm not pretending to be an expert or know-at-all.  I'm just trying to help out with your situation as I imagine you are facing some difficulties working ATNOs at this particular DX'ing juncture of yours.

73,
Jonathan W6GX


Gene,

The best thing you could do to yourself is to find a local friend with a directional antenna.  Then find a DX station and do some A/B testing on your antenna vs. his.  You won't find out how well your antenna is working until you have a reference point.  Just because you are working many good DX contact it doesn't mean your antenna is working as well as others.  GL.

73,
Jonathan W6GX


My friends rotatatable 3 band dipole up 30 feet does not hear any better than my vertical. It is possible to null out a little QRM on it, but that is the major difference.

Even tho it seems so, QRM is NOT always.... Cool

73, Gene AF3Y
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NU1O
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Posts: 2604




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« Reply #25 on: January 05, 2013, 12:47:28 PM »

Jonathan, I am pretty certain Gene has an antenna restriction.

73,

Chris/NU1O
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AF3Y
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Posts: 3698




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« Reply #26 on: January 05, 2013, 01:49:12 PM »

Jonathan, I am pretty certain Gene has an antenna restriction.

73,

Chris/NU1O

Yes, I do have an antenna restriction, and NO, I am not having problems working ATNOs. I missed one (Bangladesh) this year, and at most, two.  I dont remember what the other one, if there was one. Granted, I dont get em as quickly as I would like to , but neither do all of you guys. Grin Do I grumble about it? DAMN RIGHT....... I want to get em all on the first day. hi hi

If I had had a ton of aluminum in the air, I would probably have worked Bangladesh. I'll give you that, but that is not guaranteed either.  I can relate the vertical I use now, to the small antenna farm in S.C. which I noted above. It might take me a little longer with the vertical, but I know for a fact, that I worked some of the expeditions last year that some of you missed. Including some of you that seem to have bigger and/or better antennas than I have.

MOST of the ATNOs I see noted on this forum have been confirmed in my log for some time, and I only started chasing DX in 2006. AND.... Conditions 2006 - 2009 sucked, to put it mildly. 90% Of the entities I need for honor roll were not active since I have been a serious DXer.
When I logged my first DX station, I was 65 years old.

Thanks for all the answers/opinions to my post. I think that most of us are correct in our assumptions regarding antennas, but I do know that there are hams who have attained honor roll with a wire and 100 watts. Big antennas are helpful, make it a little easier, but are not a requirement to get to honor roll, IMHO.  I probably wont be around long enough to make it, but I will give it a shot. After all, my last 20 or so ATNOs were worked with a vertical, here in Florida, within the last two years..  (QRO does help! Grin)

THANKS, Guys!

73, Gene AF3Y
« Last Edit: January 05, 2013, 02:00:12 PM by AF3Y » Logged
W6GX
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Posts: 2328




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« Reply #27 on: January 05, 2013, 06:15:47 PM »

Most of us (95%) have to balance ham radio with other important things in life.  Sure given enough bum-in-the-chair anyone could attain HR on a simple antenna system.  Without a doubt you are not hearing some stations that are armchair copy on others' yagis.  You simply can't speak to the effectiveness of your wire vertical by listing the countries you've worked.  Country count and antennas have nothing to do with each other; there are too many other variables involved.  To see how well your antenna performs you need to compare it against another antenna, which I see you have done already but the reference antenna is not the one you are competing against.  You are only fooling yourself by answering your own question by saying "I worked xxx countries during low sunspot periods and therefore antennas are way overrated."  The truth of the matter is you could improve your antenna even under HOA restrictions and you are doing yourself a big favor by doing so.

73,
Jonathan W6GX
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #28 on: January 05, 2013, 07:10:13 PM »

Sure given enough bum-in-the-chair anyone could attain HR on a simple antenna system. 

Let me guess: you don't yet have DXCC credit for 150 DXCC entities.

    73,

        Dave, AA6YQ
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AF3Y
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Posts: 3698




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« Reply #29 on: January 05, 2013, 07:57:16 PM »

Sure given enough bum-in-the-chair anyone could attain HR on a simple antenna system. 

Let me guess: you don't yet have DXCC credit for 150 DXCC entities.

    73,

        Dave, AA6YQ

Dave, I assume you are asking me that question... I have 307 mixed mode confirmed at DXCC and 5 cards here that have not been turned in for credit yet = 312 entities confirmed. 

73, Gene AF3Y
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