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Author Topic: New and confused about antennas  (Read 4582 times)
WI8P
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« on: April 14, 2013, 02:19:49 PM »

In a week, I take my Tech exam and foresee no problems passing since I've been studying for several weeks.  I already have a radio, a Kenwood TS-940-S, but I'm having serious issues choosing an antenna.  At the present, I don't have funds for a tower, rotor and beam antenna, so I'm looking at multi-band (80m-10m) vertical antennas.  All that see advertised benefit greatly from radials, and for me, that's a problem.  My man cave is located next to my garage at the side of my lot.  There is no room to run radials underground, and overhead is out of the question too.  I did see in one review that someone used their chain link fence for a radial.  Is this a viable solution?  I have chain link around 3/4 of my property, which is a lot measuring 147' by 100'.  This would make life a lot simpler if it works well.

Any response is appreciated and antenna recommendations are welcome too!  Grin


BTW Moderators: I was even confused where to post this - in antennas, seeking help from Elmers, or the newbie section, so if it needs to be moved, please do so!
« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, 02:22:00 PM by TSTR14 » Logged
W9KDX
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2013, 02:56:23 PM »

My limited understanding and readings lead me to think that the radials are really necessary to do the job.  I looked at a vertical here as well but the lack of radial choices led me to a fan dipole.

You have a diagonal in your yard of 177 feet and with a little work you could get a pretty decent set of dipoles to cover all the major bands.  I started with 10M, 20M and 40M and after some experience I added 12-15-17M.

If you start out with dipoles, your costs would be small until you figure out what you want and you might find that everything from 80-10 is not what you want.  Also, a "one size fits all" choice might limit the strength of your signal.

Just a thought.  For me, I would never have chosen the right equipment when I passed the Tech and General.  I needed some time to see what I wanted to do and to find out what equipment was needed in my QTH.
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Sam
W9KDX
AC5UP
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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2013, 03:04:35 PM »

All antennas work. You can stick a 10' wooden post in the ground with a 150 watt incandescent lamp on top and it will work. On all bands. Mostly. And be better than no antenna at all.

Very few of us can have a 'textbook' antenna farm and a good argument can be made the art of radio is in making reasonable compromises. Use a chain link fence for a radial? I wouldn't, because the joints in the fence are likely oxidized and unreliable. But that wouldn't stop me from weaving a wire through the chain link near the ground or at some point where it's unlikely to tangle with a string trimmer. At least the wire will maintain continuity hot / cold / wet / dry. Do a little surfing in the eHam forums and you'll find some verticals can work (mostly) without radials but do benefit from them. Even if it's only a few, and even if they're placed more by available space than technical merit.

And... There's a very good chance your second antenna will work better than the first. Which will work better a week or two after you put it up. Because you'll be learning along the way.

Same as the rest of us.
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K0IZ
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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2013, 03:21:08 PM »

Antennas are a bit of science, and practical black art, espcially when dealing with compromises.  If there is a club near you, I recommend making contact, and inviting someone to come see your situation.  Probably other benefits in getting started, as well.  Go to http://www.arrl.org/find-a-club
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VE5EIS
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« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2013, 03:45:10 PM »

Very few of us can have a 'textbook' antenna farm and a good argument can be made the art of radio is in making reasonable compromises.

Post of the day.
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N4CR
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« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2013, 03:59:54 PM »

Cushcraft R-8 or HyGain AV-640. Both nearly identical designs, they are excellent self contained antennas which require no ground field.
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73 de N4CR, Phil

We are Coulomb of Borg. Resistance is futile. Voltage, on the other hand, has potential.
WI8P
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Posts: 259




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« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2013, 04:43:24 PM »

You have a diagonal in your yard of 177 feet and with a little work you could get a pretty decent set of dipoles to cover all the major bands.  I started with 10M, 20M and 40M and after some experience I added 12-15-17M.

I do, but the only practical place for me to mount the antenna is in the middle of the yard on the extreme right (or left depending on your orientation!) side.  My house is built on a slab which between it and the driveway, stop me from running any radials underground.  Above ground is a possibility, but I wouldn't be able to run them 360 degrees without crossing into the neighbors yard, 10 feet away.

All antennas work. You can stick a 10' wooden post in the ground with a 150 watt incandescent lamp on top and it will work. On all bands. Mostly. And be better than no antenna at all.

If I can find a 150 watt bulb, I'll have to give that a try!   Grin Cheesy


Antennas are a bit of science, and practical black art, espcially when dealing with compromises.  If there is a club near you, I recommend making contact, and inviting someone to come see your situation.  Probably other benefits in getting started, as well.  Go to http://www.arrl.org/find-a-club

I looked for a club.  The one listed for my county has a website that hasn't been up dated in over two years!

Cushcraft R-8 or HyGain AV-640. Both nearly identical designs, they are excellent self contained antennas which require no ground field.

Thanks for the recommendations.  I looked at the Cushcraft but I'll have to look at the HyGain too.


To All: thanks for the quick responses.  Any thoughts on the fence?
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AC5UP
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« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2013, 06:39:59 PM »

All I know is that many years ago I used to be a regular on a local 10 Meter SSB net. This story is not unique, as one night another regular called in sounding very weak. Confirmed the low signal level with 2 - 3 others in the net, and that everyone he heard was very weak.

Then his signal bounced back to normal. After he flipped the antenna tuner switch from dummy load to Ant 1.

As stated previously............... Everything works.     Tongue
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KB3HG
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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2013, 06:48:32 PM »

AC5UP gave you the straight dope.  Dipoles are the easiest to work with if you can get the wire up. Verticals that require radials the more the better. even if there is not a perfect circle of radials the vertical can work , your pattern will in general terms favor the sides with the most radials.  Just about any antenna beats no antenna in every case. (exception to the rule may be rubber ducks)
I used to work others using light bulbs for local CW practice. I worked several VE3  stations with the help of the propigation dieties. Smiley

73,
Tom
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N7EKU
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« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2013, 07:16:06 PM »

Hi Tom,

A vertical is fine if that's what fits best on your property.

I would take with a grain of salt, the advertising copy on those above mentioned verticals.  An antenna needs something to work against.  Otherwise, why doesn't your transmitter just have one wire out?  Dipoles have two poles that work against each other.  A long wire or end fed antenna needs a counterpoise or ground to work against, as does a vertical.

Hygain says no ground system or radials needed, but then you see it has seven 2M radials that they call a counterpoise instead -- these are fairly short though and would be most effective for the higher frequencies.  They say no ground system is needed but the coax shield is recommended to be grounded for safety -- now you have a ground system imagine that!

If you mount a vertical high up in the air away from the earth, then you would want tuned radials for best performance.  If mounted close to the ground, then a ground system can by used.

Whatever you want to call it, if you mount your antenna near the top of that fence, then I would certainly put that fence to good use as a ground system.  Probably the mounting of the many posts in the ground would give a good route to earth ground.  If you go that route, be sure to include to have your ground system all set up first (fence, grounded antenna box/coax)  before adjusting the elements for their lowest swr.

73 and good luck,

There are also good homebrew vertical designs around the web you could look at too.

Mark.

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N1UK
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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2013, 08:08:09 PM »

Can you get a dipole up and if so how high?


Mark N1UK
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WI8P
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Posts: 259




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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2013, 08:15:41 PM »

Can you get a dipole up and if so how high?


Mark N1UK

I can, but only 20 to 30 or so feet, and I would have to run one end to a utility pole (not the best idea, I know).
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K8AXW
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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2013, 08:36:05 PM »

TSTR14:  Good luck with the test.

I'm estate challenged here as well..... mostly because of the lack of natural antenna hangers, i.e. trees.... but also because I have a 50' tower in the middle of the lot.  Along with the tower are 6 guy wires which cuts up the yard for any horizontal antenna.

I wanted to get on 40' with a resonant antenna and finally chose an inverted vee.  The apex of the vee is about 30' up. I'm surprised at how well the antenna works.  (This is my first vee in 57 years of hamming)

So you might consider the vee. 

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WI8P
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Posts: 259




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« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2013, 08:40:28 PM »

TSTR14:  Good luck with the test.

I'm estate challenged here as well..... mostly because of the lack of natural antenna hangers, i.e. trees.... but also because I have a 50' tower in the middle of the lot.  Along with the tower are 6 guy wires which cuts up the yard for any horizontal antenna.

I wanted to get on 40' with a resonant antenna and finally chose an inverted vee.  The apex of the vee is about 30' up. I'm surprised at how well the antenna works.  (This is my first vee in 57 years of hamming)

So you might consider the vee. 



Heck - if I'm considering a 10 foot pole with a 150 watt bulb on it, you know I'll consider a dipole!
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N1UK
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« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2013, 08:47:55 PM »

Those magnetic loops can work very well


Mark N1UK
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