Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Amateur Radio How-To's

HF Antennas can be CHEAP

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Carl:
   In these days of $1,000 to $10,000 dollar PLUS Ham radios and Antennas with rotors and towers costing thousands the hobby of being a HAM may get pushed aside for less costly things.

   Fear not because you don’t have to spend thousands for the average HF radio these days with many NEW radios in the sub $1000 range and having such costly extras like SWR meters and automatic antenna tuners often added to even entry level radios and USED gear being offered at very reasonable prices. Was you first car a Bugatti Verone?
Mine was a full bodied Pontiac Tempest with column shift and I did not even know how to use a clutch…but it was an affordable $150, I wish I had it back.

   OK ,OK ,so we get to the antenna…you need a TOWER and a rotor and an aluminum cloud over your home….STOP RIGHT THERE. Those things are nice ,but you just need something that works ,and does not make the neighbors or HOA start banging at your door.

   A wire dipole fits the bill. Mine has been up for years and WAS an extension cord picked from a trash can for NOTHING! PVC can be easily made into insulators and most any pole or structure pressed into service as an antenna support. Even a wood fence can hide a dipole along its inside and be way more effective than you might imagine.

   Even though auto and manual antenna tuners make the radio happy, it helps to start with an antenna that resonates at least within the band of choice so it will be more effective at receiving and transmitting.

   The point I am trying to make here is that to get off to a good start in radio you don’t need to get all the GOLD PLATED goods and you will have more fun and satisfaction talking to other enthusiasts around the world on an antenna you built yourself ,from easy to get scraps of wire ,most any insulator and a bit of good old common sense.



Photo is one of my cheap 20 Meter antennas for portable/emergency work,the center insulator was purchased but could have been more 1/2 inch PVC as the ends were , the black insulation on the coax and insulator is a liquid tape I use to keep water out,also used as a dip-on tool handle ...easy and cheap,get the job done.


Antenna cut lengths for various bands (SSB voice areas)

6  meters   9.34 feet    4.67 one side
10 Meters  16.45 feet    8.22 one side
15 Meters  21.97 feet   10.99 one side
20 Meters  32.91 feet   16.46 one side
40 Meters  65.64 feet   32.82 one side
80 Meters 120.77 feet   60.39 one side

Link to more antenna cut length data:

http://www.chem.hawaii.edu/uham/antennas.html


Help put the VERB into HAM RADIO.


Smurf Hunter:
Carl,

Even among the "cheap" antennas, there are many design and configuration options.  If someone doesn't have an experienced elmer onsite to evaluate your station setup, how do you choose?

For around $100 or less you've got a some popular multi-band HF choices:

Ultimax end fed:  http://qrznow.com/ultimax-extreme-antenna-1-0-54-9-mhz/
GR5V: http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-1778

Also for basic band specific dipoles, there are many ways to position them, and even more ways to configure baluns:



Are most of these choices station specific?  Are there clear winners and losers, or are we entering into another 9mm/.45ACP type discussion?

Carl:
There are antenna styles and complexities to meet any mans image of what an antenna should look like. I use a dipole with TWO SETS of wire ,cut for 40 meters and 20 meters fed with a 1 to 1 balun to reduce interference (I don't worry about interference on portable and or low power antennas) so the image showed no balun ($20 , and worth it)

With the 20/40 wires (most bands are on multiple frequencies) 40 and 15 are on the same 40 meter wires while 20 and 10 and 6 meters are on the 20 meter wire and 12/17 30 meters work well with the 3 to 1 auto tuner in my radio. I also run 80 meters at a little lower power on the 40 meter wire though it is only 1/8 wave...it works and when someone tells you that you NEED a full power radio and FULL SIZE ANTENNA, stop and think how even a 20 meter mobile can be heard all over the country without  a 5 meter tall (over 17 feet) tall antenna .

  Many HAMs fight for the 1 or 2 percent (OK , sometimes more)advantage that a football field size antenna can give....good for them. I can park my car and toss a 34 foot wire into a tree and within minutes have my half wave end fed antenna up and talking while others are still trying to locate space enough to place their antenna...any antenna will perform well when propagation and NATURE co-operate ...when the band is not open is when the big boys and big power can push a bit of signal better than the simplest wire antenna... I just use that time to dust,read,play with my kids(ok...the dog) and keep my hobby simple and easy.

The big antennas , towers, amplifiers, are like fast women,fast cars ,boats,and horses...really not worth the high maintenance costs.Start easy...start now...and later you can afford and experiment with all kinds of antenna.

My favorite is the end fed half wave and another is a 20 meter dipole with THREE WIRES on the shield side and hung as a ground plane about 5 feet off the ground for the radials ...the vertical gets really great radiation angle for DX. But to show off ,I toss a wire on the ground and work stations all over the world while others struggle with 60 foot towers,rotors,amplifiers ....HAVE FUN , that's what a hobby is for

Greekman:
Carl, you mean you have 3 radials and a driven element?
the riven element hung vertically and the radials spread at 120degs startign from 5feet high?

Carl:

--- Quote from: GreekMan on December 31, 2014, 05:17:12 AM ---Carl, you mean you have 3 radials and a driven element?
the riven element hung vertically and the radials spread at 120degs startign from 5feet high?

--- End quote ---

YES, with that you get a great take-off angle for distant stations. You need flags if others may walk into it.
You can use it as a dipole ,with the 3 'shield side 'wires as one side .
You can hang the top 'single wire' vertical with the 3 'shield side ' wires hanging as a vertical dipole
You can hang the single wire and route the 3 shield side wires on the ground so as to favor one direction(the direction the point)

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