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Author Topic: Easiest HF Antenna?  (Read 3856 times)
KA1OWC
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« on: April 16, 2018, 07:37:22 AM »

OK...just ordered my first HF transceiver (Icom 7100)...Want to get on digital modes (JT-XX) as easily as possible for my first experiment with HF...What would be the easiest HF antenna to set up to do this? Fairly limited space in the yard and fairly limited budget after radio purchase! At present I am not interested in starting voice QSO's...Thanks for the advice!
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Steve, KA1OWC
Retired Lieutenant Colonel, US Army
Army Nurse Corps
K0UA
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2018, 08:08:53 AM »

OK...just ordered my first HF transceiver (Icom 7100)...Want to get on digital modes (JT-XX) as easily as possible for my first experiment with HF...What would be the easiest HF antenna to set up to do this? Fairly limited space in the yard and fairly limited budget after radio purchase! At present I am not interested in starting voice QSO's...Thanks for the advice!

Well, the easiest and most effective that will actually work antenna is the dipole. If you will get it above 33 feet above the ground it will work even better. A 1 to 1 balun at the center will help clean up the radiation pattern and help prevent feedline radiation, but many have been made without one. A 20 meter dipole is 33 feet (approximately) long overall so it doesn't take much of a backyard to to make this happen.  A good first, uncomplicated antenna that is cheap to make, easy to put up and is actually effective.
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AC2RY
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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2018, 08:19:28 AM »

OK...just ordered my first HF transceiver (Icom 7100)...Want to get on digital modes (JT-XX) as easily as possible for my first experiment with HF...What would be the easiest HF antenna to set up to do this? Fairly limited space in the yard and fairly limited budget after radio purchase! At present I am not interested in starting voice QSO's...Thanks for the advice!

G5RV and its variants. Will cost less than $50 to make. Coax for feed line will likely be more expensive than antenna itself.
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K0UA
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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2018, 08:49:50 AM »

OK...just ordered my first HF transceiver (Icom 7100)...Want to get on digital modes (JT-XX) as easily as possible for my first experiment with HF...What would be the easiest HF antenna to set up to do this? Fairly limited space in the yard and fairly limited budget after radio purchase! At present I am not interested in starting voice QSO's...Thanks for the advice!

G5RV and its variants. Will cost less than $50 to make. Coax for feed line will likely be more expensive than antenna itself.


And he will also need a good external antenna tuner for that G5RV.
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W5DXP
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« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2018, 08:58:28 AM »

And he will also need a good external antenna tuner for that G5RV.

Yes, but the ZS6BKW variant doesn't need a tuner on 40m, 20m, and 12m. It will work with a built-in autotuner on 17m and 10m.

My modified ZS6BKW works on all HF bands without a tuner. Grin

http://www.w5dxp.com/ZS6BKW80/ZS6BKW80.HTM
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73, Cecil, w5dxp.com
K0UA
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« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2018, 09:04:58 AM »

And he will also need a good external antenna tuner for that G5RV.

Yes, but the ZS6BKW variant doesn't need a tuner on 40m, 20m, and 12m. It will work with a built-in autotuner on 17m and 10m.

My modified ZS6BKW works on all HF bands without a tuner. Grin

http://www.w5dxp.com/ZS6BKW80/ZS6BKW80.HTM


Sounds good.  If you can get a multiband antenna to work with just the typical 3:1 internal tuners that is a good thing.  My OCFD  also works with just the 3:1 trim tuner in my Ic7300.  BUT it requires a very good 4:1 balun at the feedpoint with an included choke to help tame common mode currents which all OCFD's are prone to. I use one of the balun design's models.
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KM1H
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« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2018, 09:54:23 AM »

Since he will be starting on digital modes he has losses to burn.

Carl
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WY7CHY
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« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2018, 10:16:09 AM »

Asking for the "Easiest" or "Best" antenna, is like asking what is the Best Car, TV, etc.

Personally, the EASIEST ANTENNA to put up is a Loop. Especially if you want ALL the bands.

1. An 80m loop, only has to be around 240-280 feet long. Unlike a dipole, it doesn't have to be exact.
2. Using a tuner, you can use it on ALL BANDS 80-10m.
3. Depending on if you use an amplifier or not, you can get an antenna tuner from $50, $100, $150, $200, etc. price range
4. Unlike a Dipole, a Loop antenna doesn't care if it's low to the ground. The higher the better, but it will still work real low. A dipole that's low, is basically an NVIS antenna. Loop will get you world wide.
5. Loop doesn't care about the shape. The closest to square or circular, the better, but it will work if it's 10 sided and bowtie shape. (That's how mine is, and it works world wide).
6. Using some 12-14 gauge wire to make the loop, it will handle more than 1500 watts if you need it.
7. All you need to hook up a loop is a 4:1 current balun.
8. A loop doesn't care if you use coax or twin lead. (If you use coax, use quality low loss if long distance; e.g. more than 50 feet use RG8, RG213, or LMR400. Twin lead was great back in the day when coax sucked. Today, you can use coax.

You want the EASIEST HF antenna, it's the loop. You can attach it to the trim of your house and run the perimeter of your house. (That's how mine is). Or, you could connect it between trees, house, poles, or anything. LOOPS DON'T CARE!!!

And if you don't have the room for 80m, you can do a 40m loop at about 130-140 feet long and it will work, with a tuner, on 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m, and even 6m
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Born Wild - Raised Proud: 73
Cheyenne, Wyoming
G3RZP
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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2018, 12:16:28 PM »

My cheapest home brew 'match almost anything 100 watt plus tuner' for 80 - 10 cost, with some dumpster diving and a local club junk sale, in 1969, less than a quarter dollar. With an added surplus capacitor for a dime and a couple of alligator clips, it covered 160 as well.
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WB6BYU
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« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2018, 07:15:22 PM »

"Easiest" is very difficult to tell from a distance without knowing your specific limitations,
band preferences (which may depend on time of day you are operating), what materials
you have on hand that can be pressed into service as an antenna, and hundreds of other
factors.

Examples:  I'd have to say that the easiest antenna I've used is a quarter wave wire
plugged into the antenna connector on the back of the radio.  Now, for that to work
effectively, it helps to have a good ground system connect to the chassis with a very
short lead, but I've managed with just a wire out the window to a water faucet.  (No
body accused me of having an overly strong signal.)  But my Dad had some wire in the
garage, and I managed to get it over a tree branch and borrow an SWR meter to prune i
t to length.

Someone else might not want to bother with needing to tune it, and instead mount an
autotuner at the base of the wire.  Or salvage some aluminum tubing from an old CB
antenna and make a vertical.  Or spend money on a broadband vertical and coax because
they have the money and building antennas isn't somethat they want to attempt.

There are plenty of commercial products that advertise multi-band operation of antennas
often with the addition of a tuner, even if you only get 1% of your power radiated.  ("But
look how well made it is!...")


If you want something simple and cheap, I'd look at a 20m quarter wave whip of some sort -
might be aluminum tubing or conduit from the hardware store, a commercial antenna, or a
wire supported from a tree branch of a 20' fishing pole.  Add 2 or 4 quarter radials for a
ground plane (preferably elevated if you can) and you can make a very effective 20m
antenna that doesn't need a tuner.  Once you get on the air, you can see how it works and
think about what you would need to do to add 40m or 30m or 17m, or whatever bands
seem to give the best coverage during the times when you are operating.  (I've picked up
some sectional aluminum tent poles at the local Goodwill Outlet store that could be used
for such an antenna as well.)

Or, if you are looking for a commercial solution without a lot of scrounding and building, look
for a used 4BTV or 14AVQ, or similar trap vertical. 

It really comes down a lot to personal preference:  what do YOU consider "easy".  That's a
question that we can't answer for you.
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K6BRN
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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2018, 08:07:43 PM »

Steve(KA1OWC):

Per my earlier post, try -  The MyAntennas EFHW-4010 wirw antenna.  63 long and end-fed, with its own built-in matching network.  Inexpensive with great reviews.  No radials.  No tuner needed.

Reviews:  https://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/12714

MyAntennas Site:  https://myantennas.com/wp/product/efhw-4010-hp/

Suggest you check it out (again).  It's easy to put up anywhere, not expensive and the people who actually own and use these know they work well.
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VK3BL
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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2018, 09:10:19 PM »

I agree a ZS6BKW is the way to go if you have the real estate and height (40ft+).

Otherwise, a G5RV is a good choice (30ft height).

Failing that, the G5RV JR will get you on 40M and a few bands above, and only needs 15ft of height.

For all of the above you will need an outboard tuner.  Either an Icom AH-4 across the ladder line with a 1:1 common mode choke placed at its input OR an LDG with a 1:1 CMC at the coax-ladder line junction are your best options.

If you just want to get started with the minimum fuss, a plain old inverted-v dipole for 20M won't need a tuner and you'll get plenty of DX on FT-8 daily Smiley
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J.D. Mitchell BA  - VK3BL / XU7AGA - https://www.youtube.com/ratemyradio - Honesty & Integrity
VK6HP
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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2018, 02:05:18 AM »

You don't really need 40' of height for the ZS6BKW doublet.  Mine is an inverted-v with the apex at about 45'. The 30' mast sits on a 15' high mezzanine deck, so the last 10' or so of the stub is folded back on itself, with about 1' between the lower sections.  It's easy to make up some spacers out of PVC irrigation fittings.  You can also run the last stub section off at an angle, if you must. The single support mast makes life fairly easy and I can use 40, 20, 17, 12 and 10m with no tuning.  You do need a good 1:1 current balun at the stub to coax transition.  I feed the balun with about 60' of RG213, which has negligible loss in this application.

I need the internal tuner in the TS590, or my classic radios' pi networks, for 80m. (Note Cecil's simple 80m series capacitor tuning, too). My external shack tuner will also tune 30 and 15m, but the coax transmit losses are higher on these bands.  Still, with 30m digital only, and nothing much happening on 15m at present, it's not enough to warrant a remote tuner, at least for my operations.

I also have a "low" (20' or so minimum) 80m full-wave loop cut for optimum harmonic resonance at 14.2 MHz, and coax fed via a 4:1 current balun at one corner.  With that antenna, no - or very little - tuning is needed on any band. However, the ZS6BKW is generally the better performing antenna, probably due to the higher centre section. But the loop is useful too, especially for 30m digital and occasional 15m work.  It also wins sometimes on 20m DX, depending on the path involved.

As others have mentioned, what's "easiest" often depends on what you have, or can easily acquire, in the way of supports etc.  If you're starting out there's also value in starting with one or more well-characterized, well-balanced and choked reference antennas, so that you get a feel for what constitutes reasonable performance.

73, Peter.

« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 02:23:51 AM by VK6HP » Logged
W5DXP
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« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2018, 05:24:06 AM »

You don't really need 40' of height for the ZS6BKW doublet.  Mine is an inverted-v with the apex at about 45'.

My ZS6BKW works well as an Inv-V at 35 ft in the center and I don't have to run any coax outside of the shack. A remotely switched 100pf parallel capacitor is all it takes to put the G5RV on 30m requiring no tuner.

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73, Cecil, w5dxp.com
SA4MDN
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« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2018, 11:03:12 AM »

Hustler 6BTV Ground Mounted
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