A Cubical Quad Antenna at the QTH of Keith - G0TSH
The original book from 1994 contained 60 pages. I have edited and rewritten (updated) some. Here are some of the main topics, Antenna systems, Antennas, Simple antenna formulas, Basic antenna theory, Feed-lines, Matching units, How antennas work, Polarization of electromagnetic waves, Frequency, The ionosphere and modes of propagation, Ground-Wave Propagation, Direct Wave or Line of Sight Propagation, Propagation by Refraction, Skywave Propagation, Greyline Propagation, Long Path Propagation, Amateur bands propagation, Antenna myths, Standing wave ratio, Real antenna systems, Calculating the Length of a Half-Wave Resonant Dipole, The Decibel, Resistance and Reactance, Feeding Dipoles Efficiently, Cause of Feed-Line Radiation, Baluns, Other types of dipoles.
One reason for writing these pages is to help you to make an informed choice concerning the best antenna for you. Another reason is to dispel the many antenna myths that circulate in the amateur community. This book is about common medium wave and high frequency (short wave) antennas, but the theory presented here relates to antennas of any frequency. It is in a condensed form and the antenna theory is explained so most amateurs can understand it.
Realising many of us are mathematically challenged, only simple mathematics procedures are used. If you can add, subtract, and divide using a calculator, you will not have trouble with this book. A few principles in here are based on conclusions drawn from the Laws of Physics.
I. Why all the fuss about antennas ?
Definition: An antenna is a piece of metal, a conductor of electricity, to which you connect the radio. It radiates your signal and receives the signals you want to hear. Definition: An antenna system consists of the antenna, the feed-line, and any matching unit. Most antennas are made of copper or aluminum, while most mobile antennas are made of stainless steel. A feed-line consists of two conductors that carry the signal to and from the radio and to and from the antenna. A matching unit can be an antenna tuner, a series matching section, or one of several different kinds of matching circuits at the feed-point.
Today we hear people breaking in to our ragchews with signals almost level with the noise. Why is that? The reason is they are using the wrong antennas. Their signals are twenty to thirty decibels below everyone elses. They are making contacts, but just barely. The first question our group asks, "What kind of antenna are you using?" Experienced amateurs know the antenna can make all the difference. The guy with the poor signal sometimes will blame his bad signal report on band conditions or his lack of a linear amplifier. He is just sticking his head in the sand. What we are trying to prove is next to your radio, the most important part of your station is the antenna. Many years ago, an old-timer said, "For every pound you spend on a radio, you should spend two pounds on your antenna." That is also true today. You can do more to improve your signal strength with antennas than you can ever do by increasing your power. Having the ability to make contacts on a particular antenna doesn't mean it works well! Any antenna will make contacts, but your signals will be stronger on some antennas than on others. In addition, some antennas hear better than others.
II. How Antennas Work.
First of all to work properly the antenna system must be matched to the transmitter. That is, all modern transmitters have an output impedance of 50 ohms. Antenna systems range in impedance of a few ohms to several thousand ohms. There are several ways to match them: pruning the length of the antenna, using an antenna tuner, matching the antenna with a length of transmission line called a matching section, or the use one of several matching systems at the antenna feed-point. Simple half-wave dipoles eliminate the need for a matching system because a resonant half-wave dipole has an impedance near 50-ohms. You must understand electromagnetism to understand how antennas work. If you attach the two poles of a direct current (DC) voltage source to the two ends of a coil of wire, current will flow through the coil of wire and it will become magnetized. The magnetized coil is known as an electromagnet. Its magnetism will extend out to infinity becoming weaker with distance. Remove the voltage and the magnetic field collapses back into the coil. If an alternating current (AC) is connected to the coil, the magnetism moves out and collapses into the coil in step with the frequency of the alternating current source. The north and south poles of the electromagnet reverse on each half-cycle of the AC voltage. If voltage and current can cause a coil to become magnetized, the reverse is true: A magnetic field can produce a voltage and a current in a coil. This is known as Faradays Principle of Magnetic Induction. A voltage will be produced at the ends of the coil of wire as you move any permanent magnet close to and parallel to the coil. The difference in this case is the magnet must be kept moving. Move the magnet in one direction, and current will flow in one direction. Reverse the direction the magnet is moving and the current will flow in the opposite direction. Moving the magnet back and forth produces alternating current. An AC generator spins a coil of wire between the two poles of a magnetic field. It doesnt matter which one is moving. The coil or the magnet can be moving. Any moving magnetic field can induce current in anther coil. It doesnt have to be a piece of metal we call a magnet. Imagine a moving magnetic field produced by AC circulating in and out of a coil. If that moving magnetic field passes through a second nearby coil, it will induce an alternating current in the second coil. A transformer uses this method to work.
Transformers have a continuous iron core running from the inside of one coil through the inside of the second coil to confine the magnetism inside the iron core. This makes the transformer nearly 100% efficient since only a little of the magnetic energy escapes. A straight wire that has an AC current flowing through it also has a magnetic field surrounding it. But it is a weaker field than is produced by a coil. The magnetic field from the wire radiates out into space and becomes weaker with distance. The radiating magnetic field from a wire is known as "electromagnetic radiation" and a radio wave is one type of it. The wire that radiates becomes the transmitting antenna. Some distance away, a second wire in the path of these waves has current induced into it by the passing electromagnetic waves. This second wire will be the receiving antenna. The voltage in the receiving antenna is many times weaker than the voltage in the transmitting antenna. It may be as weak as onemillionth of a volt or less and still be useful. The receiving antenna feeds that voltage to the amplifiers in the receiver front-end where it is amplified many thousands or millions of times. The dipole antenna is made of a wire broken in the center and where broken, each half of the wire connects to an insulator that divides the wire in two. Two wires from the voltage source, which is the transmitter, are connected across the insulator. On one side of the dipole, the current in the form of moving electrons flows first from the voltage source toward one end of the dipole. At the end, it reflects toward the voltage source. The same thing occurs on the other half of the wire on the other half cycle of alternating current.
An antenna that is the right length for the current to reach the far end of the wire just as the polarity changes is said to be resonant. Because electricity travels at 95% the speed of light in a wire, the number of times the polarity changes in one second (frequency) determines how long the wire has to be in order to be resonant.
III. Polarisation of Magnetic Waves Electromagnetic waves travel away from the wire in horizontal, vertical, slanted, or circular waves. If the antenna wire runs horizontal or parallel to the earth, the radiation will be horizontally polarised. A wire or conductor that runs at right angles to the earth produces vertical radiation. A slanted wire has components of both horizontal and vertical radiation. Crossed wires connected by proper phasing lines that shift the phase from one wire to the other wire by 90 degrees will produce circular polarization. Amateurs working orbiting satellites at VHF, UHF, and microwave frequencies use circular polarization. When your high frequency signals are reflecting off the ionosphere, it isnt important if the other stations antenna has the opposite polarization from yours (the polarisation does matter for line of sight communication). The reflected polarized waves passing through the ionosphere are slowly rotated causing fading signals (QSB). The reason the polarisation of antennas is most important is that it determines the angle of radiation. Horizontally polarised antennas at ordinary heights used by hams produce mostly high angle radiation and weaker low angle radiation, but this doesnt mean there is no low angle radiation. It is there but is weaker than high angle radiation. However, you must put a horizontally polarised antenna up more than one-wavelength high to get a strong low angle radiation. One wavelength is 280 feet on 80 meters, 140 feet on 40 meters, and 70 feet on 20 meters. High angle radiation works nearby stations best and low angle radiation works distant stations (DX) best. A vertically polarised antenna produces mostly low angle radiation, with its high angle radiation being weak. For this reason, vertical antennas do not work as well as horizontal antennas do at ordinary heights for working stations less than about 500 miles away.
The number of times the polarity of an AC voltage changes per second determines its frequency. Frequency is measured in cycles per second or Hertz (Hz). A thousand cycles per second is a kilohertz (kHz). One million hertz is a Megahertz (MHz). The only difference between the 60 Hz electric power in your house and radio frequencies (RF) is the frequency, but 60 Hz electricity in a wire also produces electromagnetic radiation just like radio waves. Useful radio waves start at 30 kHz and go upward in frequency until you reach the infrared light waves. Light is the same kind of waves as RF except light is at a much higher frequency. Light waves are used like radio waves when they are confined inside fibre optic cable.
Above the frequencies of light are found x-rays and gamma rays. The radio bands: The Long Wave Band (LW) starts at 30 kHz and goes to 300 kHz. The Medium Wave Band (MW) is from 300 kHz to 3000 kHz or 3 MHz. The High Frequency Band (HF) is from 3 MHz to 30 MHz. The Very High Frequency Band (VHF) is from 30 MHz to 300 MHz. The Ultra-High Frequency Band (UHF) is from 300 MHz to 3000 MHz or 3 GHz.
Above these frequencies are several microwave bands which are defined as the Super High Frequency Band (SHF).
I. The Ionosphere and modes of operation The Ionosphere In the upper air around fifty miles and higher where the air molecules are far apart, radiation from the sun strips electrons from oxygen molecules causing the molecules to become ionized forming the ionosphere. The ionized oxygen molecules and its free electrons float in space forming radio-reflecting layers. Ionization of the ionosphere varies by the time of day, seasons of the year, and the sunspot cycle. The strength of ionisation also varies from day to day and hour to hour. Since the height of the ionosphere varies, the higher the ionised layer becomes, the longer the skip will be. The part of the earths atmosphere called the ionosphere is divided into three layers. The three layers are, from lowest to highest, the D layer, the E layer, and the F layer. Each layer has a different effect on HF radio propagation. Being at a lower altitude, the D layer molecules are squeezed closer together by gravity than those in higher layers, and the free electrons reattach to the molecules easily. The D layer requires constant radiation from the sun to maintain its ionization. Radio waves at lower frequencies such as the frequencies of the AM broadcast band cannot penetrate this layer and are absorbed. The higher frequency signals are able to pass through the D layer. The D layer disappears at night causing AM broadcast stations to reflect from the higher layers. This is why AM broadcast signals only propagate by ground wave in the daytime and they can be received from great distances at night. Like the broadcast band, the D layer absorbs signals on 160 and to a lesser extent 80 metres during the day making those bands go dead.
During solar flares, the D layer becomes ionised so strongly that all high frequency radio waves are absorbed, causing a radio blackout. E-layer propagation is not well understood. Being at a lower altitude than F layer, the E layer is responsible for summertime short skip propagation on the higher high frequency bands. The skip zone is around 1000 miles, but at times when the E-cloud covers a wide area in the summer, double hops can be seen. A double hop occurs when the signal reflects from the ionosphere, then returns to the ground, reflects from the ground back to the ionosphere where it is reflected back to the ground. A double hop can propagate the signal 2000 miles or more. The E-layer forms mostly during the day, and it has the highest degree of ionization at noon. The E layer like the D layer disappears at night. Even so, sporadic E propagation can and does form at night. There is a minor occurrence of sporadic E propagation during the wintertime. On rare occasions, sporadic E propagation can surprise you by occurring anytime regardless of the sunspot cycle or the season of the year. The F layer is the highest layer and it is divided into two levels: F1 and F2. At night the F1 and F2 merge into one layer.
During the day, the F1 layer doesn't play a part in radio propagation, but F2 does. It is responsible for most high-frequency long distance propagation on 20 metres and above. However, the F layer makes it possible for you to work DX on the lower bands at night. Sunspots are responsible for the ionization layers and in years with high sunspot numbers, worldwide contacts can be made easily on 1020 meters by F2 layer propagation. In years of low sunspot numbers, working distant stations is difficult on those bands. Consequently, ten and fifteen metres will be completely dead most days and twenty metres will go dead at night. In years of low sunspot numbers DX contacts are easily made at night on 160, 80, and 40 meters. The sunspot numbers increase and decrease in 11-year average cycles. Since the curvature of the earth averages about 16 feet every 5 miles, an object 5 miles from you on perfectly flat earth will be 16 feet below the horizon. Because light travels in straight lines, you cannot see objects beyond the horizon. Radio waves travel in straight lines, but there are ways to get them beyond the horizon. This is referred to as propagation.
2. Ground-Wave Propagation Ground wave works only with vertical polarization. One side of the antenna is the metal vertical radiator and the other side of the antenna is the earth ground. The surface wave in the air travels faster than the part of the wave flowing through the ground. The surface of the earth is curved like the curved part of a racetrack. On the curved track, a car on the outside of the track has to travel faster than the car on the inside lane to stay even, and the two cars travel in a curved path. Although the wave in the air travels faster than the wave on the ground, the two parts of the wave cannot be separated. Because of this, the radio wave also travels in a curved path that follows the curvature of the earth. The AM broadcast stations use ground wave propagation during the day and skywave propagation at night. Since radio waves at lower frequencies conduct better through the ground, an AM broadcast station on 540 kHz will be many dB stronger than a station on 1600 kHz, if both run the same power. This fact is important in understanding why ground mounted verticals do not work as well at high frequencies like the broadcast band.
3. Direct Wave or Line of Sight Propagation: Antennas located on high structures can "look" over the horizon and "see" the receiving antennas. Because refraction is involved, direct waves travel 20% farther than light waves due to scattering of radio waves by the environment. Trees and other foliage are invisible to HF radio waves. Direct wave propagation is possible at all frequencies, but this mode of propagation is seldom used on our high frequency bands, but it is the usual propagation mode used by repeaters and others on VHF and UHF. If you watch TV on an outside antenna or on a "rabbit ears antenna," you are receiving the signal by direct wave propagation. 4. Propagation by Refraction Refraction occurs when the lower part of a wave travels slower than the top part of the wave because the wave is passing through two media. These media can be two layers of air at different temperatures or they can be air and a solid. One form of refraction is caused by a radio wave passing over a hill or ridge being bent as it passes over the obstruction. This is known as "knife edge refraction." Another form of refraction occurs when layers of air of different temperatures bend the radio waves around the horizon. This is called tropospheric ducting. This mode of propagation makes long distance contacts possible at VHF frequencies. Tropospheric ducting does occur on 10 meters and lower frequencies and is noticeable when other forms of propagation are absent. On high frequency bands, many amateurs mistakenly call tropospheric ducting and direct wave "ground wave."
4. Skywave Propagation: Skywave propagation occurs when radio waves are reflected from the ionosphere. Practically all HF communication is done by skywave. In the ionosphere, the waves are really refracted twice, and they just appear to be reflected. The reflections are frequency sensitive, meaning each band reflects differently from the others. Low frequencies, such as 80 metres, reflect mainly from the lower levels of the ionosphere and the reflected signal comes nearly straight back down. This causes 80 metres to propagate to points from local out to more than a few hundred miles in the daytime. At night, when the D layer and E layer are absent, signals striking the ionosphere at lower angles may propagate many thousands of miles on 80 metres. On the bands from 20 to 10 metres, high angle signals pass straight through the ionosphere and do not reflect back down to the nearby stations. The low angle signals on these higher bands reflect from the ionosphere near the horizon and return to the Earth some miles away. The in-between region cannot hear the transmitted signals nor can you hear signals coming from this region. The in-between region is called the "skip zone." Only when the ionosphere is weakly ionized do you have a skip zone on 80 meters. Another interesting type of skywave propagation seen on the higher HF bands is called chordal hop propagation seen frequently in trans-equatorial (TE) propagation, which is propagation crossing the equator. When this occurs, signals entering the ionosphere are trapped inside the F2 layer then they are finally refracted back to earth across the equator thousands of miles away. There is no propagation between the signal entry point and the exit point. This is skip in the extreme. On a couple of occasions, I have worked stations far away across the equator in the southern part of South America and stations in between could not be heard. I have worked VQ9LA in the Chagos Archipelago located in the Indian Ocean. The path to The Chagos Archipelago is across Europe and the Middle East and finally across the equator to his location in the Indian Ocean. One time when he was working Europe and North America at the same time, we could not hear the European stations because our path to him was via chordal hop propagation. Another way of describing chordal hop propagation is to call it ionospheric ducting. Skywave propagation sometimes produces an effect called "backscatter." What happens is the radio waves that strike the ionosphere, instead of only reflecting father away from the transmitting station, part of the signal reflects backwards toward the transmitting station. Stations that are too close to hear each other by direct wave can communicate by the backward reflecting waves. Both stations that communicate by backscatter must point their directional beam antennas in the same direction although their direction toward each other may be at some other azimuth. Backscatter will confuse front-to-back measurements of directional beam antennas. This is because, when you turn the back of the antenna toward the station you are hearing, you may be able to hear him on backscatter from a direction opposite from him. You will be hearing him from the ionized atmospheric cloud in the opposite direction. During intense solar magnetic storms, when aurora occurs at high latitudes, stations are able to communicate by backscatter on VHF and UHF by both stations pointing their directional beams toward the aurora. This will be due north for stations in the Northern Hemisphere and due south for stations in the Southern Hemisphere. Audio from aurora backscatter will have a "wispy" sound.
5. Greyline Propagation: Greyline propagation occurs when the sun is low in the sky near dawn or dusk, although we have seen greyline propagation occur as early as two hours before sunset or as late as two hours after sunrise. It is often used to work stations on the other side of the world on 160 and 80 meters. For example, at certain times of the year when it is approaching sunset, the sun will have just risen in Asia or Australia and vice-versa. At that time, radio waves propagate along the semidarkness path that encircles the Earth called the greyline. Both locations must be in the greyline in order to make 2-way contacts. The tilt of the Earth makes the position of the greyline change as the seasons change. Greyline propagation occurs between any two locations for a brief period of a few weeks. Afterwards, different places fall into the greyline. For several weeks in the Autumn, an interesting example of greyline propagation occurs. On 3915 kHz, the BBC outlet in Singapore can be heard for about an hour before sunset coming in by greyline propagation. Stations to the east hear it before we do. Stations farther to the west can hear the fading signals after it fades out here because the greyline moves as the earth rotates. For those hearing it, the signal fades in, it peaks, and it slowly fades out.
6. Long Path Propagation: Long path propagation occurs when signals propagate the long way around the world. It can occur on any band. It usually occurs from stations on the opposite side of the world from you. We have worked South Africa via long path early in the morning on 20 meters. When this happens, we are working him long path through the nighttime side of the earth. Since at all times half the Earth has daytime and half the Earth has night, long path propagation is determined by whether the signal is propagated through the nighttime path or daylight path. Sometimes the daylight path will bring in stations by long path propagation and at other times the darkness path provides long path propagation. One night on 20 meters, a station in India coming in short path and long path simultaneously, but the short path was stronger. At the same time, California was working India by long path and they could not hear him short path. They were working him through the daylight path, and he was stronger here via the night time path.
7. 160-Metre (1.8-2.0 MHz) Propagation: Each amateur band propagates signals differently. The 160-metre band is our only MW band and it acts similar to the broadcast band. It is primarily a nighttime and wintertime band as it suffers from high summertime static (QRN). Most hams that use this band for nearby contacts use horizontal dipoles or inverted-V antennas. Some hams use vertical antennas on this band to work distant stations (DX). These DX contacts are made in the Autumn and Winter time at night via F layer or greyline propagation when the static levels are low. Dipoles and inverted-V antennas do not work well for DX on this band.
8. Eighty-Metre (3.5 - 3.8 MHz) Propagation: The CW part of this band is called the 80-metre band and the voice part of the band is known as 75 meters. Like 160 meters, eighty metres suffers from the same QRN in the summertime. Working DX on this band is popular during the Autumn and winter. However, 80 metres is used primarily for working nets and ragchewing. Eighty meters is primarily a nighttime band. This band can vary from being open most of the day in years with low sunspot numbers to being closed during the middle of the day in years with many sunspots. Many DX contacts have been made using dipoles and inverted-V antennas, but a vertical with many ground radials will be better.
9. Forty-Metre (7.0-7.2 MHz) Propagation: The forty-metre band has propagation that can act like either 80 metres or 20 metres. It just depends on the stage of the sunspot cycle. During the years with high sunspot numbers, nearby contacts are possible all day. At night, the skip lengthens making contacts possible to those parts of the world where it is still dark. Working DX on 40 metres is a nighttime or greyline event. When the sunspots are low, forty meters may have long skip during the day, and nearby contacts may be impossible or they may be very weak. During the time when we suffer from low sunspot numbers, many DX contacts are made during early morning, late afternoon, and at night. If your primary interest on forty metres is SSB, our 40-metre voice band is a broadcast band in Regions 1 and 3. Region 1 is Europe, North Asia, and Africa and Region 3 is the Pacific, Southern Asia, and Australia. The top part of 40 meters is a voice band in Region 2, which is North and South America. To work SSB on forty meters at night, you will have to find a frequency between broadcast stations. Strong broadcast stations heard at night begin to fade out slowly as the morning sun rises and moves higher in the sky. As the suns angle declines in the afternoon, the broadcast stations begin to break through the noise becoming stronger as the sun begins to set. It is only in the middle of the day when no broadcast stations are heard on forty metres. Since DX stations in region 1 and most of region 3 can only transmit below 7200 kHz, working DX on 40meter SSB is still possible. Stations in those regions will have to transmit below 7200 kHz. (Australian and New Zealand amateurs can operate up to 7200 kHz.) They call CQ and announce where they are listening in our voice band above 7150 kHz. This is what is called "working split."
10. Thirty-Metre (10.1-10.15) Propagation: This band has such a narrow frequency that the only modes allowed here are CW and digital modes. That means no SSB. Propagation here is much like 40 and 20 meters. Unlike 20 metres, this band stays open longer at night during years with low sunspot numbers. During the daylight hours, it has much shorter skip than 20 metres.
11. Twenty-Metre (14.0-14.35 MHz) Propagation: The twenty-metre band is the best DX band because it is open for long-skip for more hours than any other band and it does not suffer from QRN as the lower bands. In years of high sunspot numbers, short-skip and long-distance DX can be worked at the same time during daylight hours. Although DX is there most of the time, most of the DX worked is at sunrise, sunset, and all night during peak sunspot years. During the years of low sunspots, it is common to work into Europe and Africa during the day and into Asia and the South Pacific during the evening hours and early at night. Low sunspot numbers cause 20 metres to go dead for east to west contacts at night an hour or so after sunset, but there is some TE propagation. During periods of moderate sunspot numbers, the propagation on this band is a blend of propagation of low and high sunspot years.
12. Seventeen-Metre (18.067-18.167 MHz) Propagation: The 17-metre band propagation acts much like 20 metres except it is affected more by low sunspot numbers than 20 metres. In periods of low sunspot numbers, this band does not stay open as late as 20 metres, fading out as the sun begins to set. Yet, the 17-metre band does stay open all night when the sunspot numbers are high. The propagation on this band is like a blend of 20 metres and 15 metres, but it is closer to 20 metres. Most users of this band use dipoles and other simple antennas since triband beam antennas wont work here.
13. Fifteen-Metre (21.0-21.45 MHz) Propagation: Fifteen meters is a fantastic DX band during the high sunspot years. This band may be open for 24 hours, and it is common to work more than 100 countries during a contest weekend on this band. Many have worked more than 300 different countries on 15 meters. In years of low sunspot numbers, 15 meters may be completely dead for several days in a row. When it opens during those years, you may hear only the Caribbean, South America, and on rare occasions the extreme southern part of Africa via TE propagation.
14. Twelve-Metre (24.89-24.99 MHz) Propagation: The 12-metre band is much like 15 metres, but it is affected more by sunspot numbers. Because this band is little used, many hours can pass without hearing any amateur signals. Occasionally you will hear South American Citizen Band "pirates" on lower sideband. It is mostly a daytime band but openings to Asia and the South Pacific are common early at night during peak sunspot years. The reason this band is little used is that triband beam antennas dont cover this band.
15. Ten-Metre (28.0-29.7 MHz) Propagation: The band that is most affected by the sunspot numbers is 10 metres. You may have noticed in this discussion, the higher the frequency, the more it is affected by sunspots. During peak sunspot years, 10 meters can be open some days for 24 hours. Mostly it is a daytime band. When they are at the peak, the sunspots enable you to work worldwide with power as low as 5 Watts. A 10-metre confirmed country total of over 250 is common. In the low sunspot years, the band can be closed for days. Ten metres can open for very short skip by sporadic E propagation during the summer months. Very short skip means contacts as close as 200 miles out to 1000 miles. Sporadic E propagation can suddenly occur without regard to the sunspot numbers.
VI. STANDING WAVE RATIO
A standing wave ratio bridge is used to measure the standing wave ratio, or SWR. SWR is an indication of how well the radiating part of an antenna is matched to its feed-line or how well the tuner is matching the antenna system. Most amateurs pay far too much attention to SWR. An SWR reading below 2:1 is acceptable, because the mismatch is so small that the feed-line loss can be ignored. If you are using a modern transceiver, its power may fold back to a lower power output above this SWR level. When you have mismatch between the feed-line and the antenna, part of the power feeding the antenna system reflects back toward the tuner and the transmitter. The part of the power going toward the radiating part of the antenna system is called forward power. The part reflected back down the feed-line is called reflected power. The larger the mismatch the larger the reflected power will be. If the feed-line and antenna are not matched, waves travelling toward the radiating part of the antenna system meet the waves being reflected back down the feed-line. The waves interfere with each other, and at certain points along the feed-line, the amplitudes of both waves combine. This will result in a current maximum to be found at that point; and at that point, the current will appear to be standing still. The length of feed-line and the frequency will determine where this point occurs. At another point, the forward and reflected waves interfere, and they subtract from each other. At that point, there will be a current minimum. If you could visualize this phenomenon, you would see a series of current maximums and minimums standing still along the feed-line. This is why we refer to them as standing waves. At different points along the feed-line, where you have high current, you will have low voltage, and where you have low current, you will have high voltage. At any point along the feed-line, multiplying the voltage times the current will equal the power in Watts. When the feed-line is matched to the antenna, current and voltage remain the same all along the feed-line because there is no reflected current to interfere with the forward current. As happens with the current, the voltage will also appear to be standing still. The voltage maximums and voltage minimums will not be at the same locations as the current maximums and minimums. SWR is the ratio of the maximum voltage to the minimum voltage on the line. It is called "Voltage Standing Wave Ratio" or VSWR, but we shorten it to just SWR. There is also a current SWR or ISWR, and it is the same value as the VSWR. For example, if the standing wave voltage maximum is 200 volts and the minimum voltage is 100 volts, the VSWR will be 2:1. If the voltage maximum and voltage minimum are equal, the SWR will be 1:1. If the voltage minimum is zero, the SWR is infinite. In measuring SWR at the transmitter, you need to realize that feed-line losses affect the SWR readings. If the feed-line losses are high, much of the power reflecting back from the antenna will be lost, and the SWR reading on the meter will indicate it is lower than it actually is. If a feed-line is so lossy that it consumes all forward and reflected power, it will measure an SWR of 1:1. When measuring SWR on an antenna having a small amount of reflected power, the length of the feed line between the bridge and the antenna may affect your SWR reading. An example of this is a 70-ohm antenna being fed with 50-ohm coax. Different lengths of feed-line will give you small differences in SWR readings because at certain lengths, the mismatched feed-line starts to act like a series matching section. In the case of a 70-ohm antenna fed with 50-ohm coax, if the feed-line is a half wave long, the SWR will measure 1.4:1. At some particular length of feed-line and on one frequency, the SWR will measure 1:1 because that length of that feed-line transforms the impedance to make a match. Some hams have adjusted their feed line length to get a perfect match. This is called "tuning your antenna by tuning your feed-line." With other feed-line lengths, you will measure something different. Suppose the impedance of the feed-line and the antenna are perfectly matched. Then there is no reflected power. You will get a 1:1 reading on the SWR-bridge with any length of feed-line. There is a myth that reflected power is burned up as heat in the transmitter. The reflected power coming back down the feed-line sees an impedance mismatch at the transmitter or tuner and it reflects back up again. The reflected power does not get back into the transmitter. Because the reflected power reflects back and forth, the radiating part of the antenna system absorbs most of the power being reflected back up each time. All of it eventually is radiated except for the power lost in the feed-line. The losses in a real feed-line will burn up some of the power on each pass. This is why the feed-line loss increases with SWR. Built-in tuners are found in most modern transceivers. If yours doesn't have one, then you can use an outboard tuner to give the transceiver a proper load. The place you want a 1:1 SWR is between the output of a transceiver and antenna or between the transceiver and the input of a tuner in order for the transmitter to deliver its maximum power. Because built-in tuners are in most modern transceivers, many use them to match antenna systems having high loss.
VII. REAL ANTENNA SYSTEMS
Now we will be talking about the losses that rob an antenna of its maximum performance. The ideal antenna system will radiate 100% of your transmitter power on all bands without a tuner and in the direction you want to work. Such an antenna system does not exist. Many new amateurs succumb to antenna advertisements making claims that are exaggerated. No antenna will have low SWR, work all bands without a tuner, and radiate efficiently at the same time. A dummy load has a low SWR and will load up on all bands, but it will not radiate a signal. A resonant coax-fed dipole antenna will have a low SWR and will radiate efficiently on the band for which it is resonant, but it will not work well on all bands. For example, if the tuning range of your tuner has a sufficient range, you will be able to load up any antenna with it, but it will not necessarily radiate a signal efficiently. It may have high tuner and feed-line losses.
When you choose an antenna, you must decide how much loss you can accept. DXers and hams that work weak signals at VHF frequencies try to eliminate as much loss as possible. If your contacts are going to be made under good band conditions and without much interference, you can get by with high losses. In that case, coax-fed antennas used on bands where they are not resonant will allow you to make contacts. You can be greatly surprised by how little radiated power can be used to make contacts under ideal conditions. If you want to make contacts regularly under changing band conditions, you will want to eliminate as much loss as possible and use antennas with gain. Lower loss will enable you to hear weaker signals. Nothing will take the place of resonant half-wave dipoles, not because they radiate more efficiently, but because they dont require lossy tuners and dont have high coax losses. Remember that all antenna systems have compromises
VIII.HALF-WAVE RESONANT DIPOLE ANTENNAS
1. The Half-Wave Flat-Top Dipole
Most dipoles consist of two pieces of wire of equal lengths with one of the two ends connected together through an insulator. The far ends of the wires are also connected to insulators. The two conductors of a feed-line are separated and connected across the gap at the centre insulator. The antenna is held up by rope that connects the insulated ends of the antenna to two supports. It is a "balanced" antenna, because equal currents flow on both halves of the antenna. Coax is an unbalanced feed-line. (The possible effect of using an unbalanced feed-line on a balanced antenna like a dipole will be discussed later.) The dipole that is stretched between two high supports is called a flat top dipole, distinguishing it from other configurations. The simplest antenna system of all is the half-wave resonant dipole fed with coax and no tuner. The only reason for using a half-wave resonant dipole antenna is to eliminate the need for a matching device such as a tuner. The feed-point impedance will be near 50 ohms at ordinary heights and they can be fed directly with 50-ohm coax from the output of today's modern radios. The two halves of a dipole are fed 180 degrees out of phase, meaning when one side is fed positively, the other side is fed negatively. That is why a feed-line has two conductors. Of course, the sides swap polarity on each half cycle. If you could visualize the current flowing on the half-wave dipole, the current will appear to be standing still. The maximum current will be seen at the centre of the wire and no current will be at the ends. This occurs because the electrons flowing out to the ends reflect back toward the centre where they meet the next wave and the current is reinforced there. The minimum voltage occurs at the centre and the maximum voltage occurs at the ends of the half-wave resonant dipole. If you were to measure the voltage and the current at any point on the dipole wire, the voltage times the current will equal the power in Watts.
2. Inverted-V Dipole
Another configuration for the half wave resonant dipole is one having one support in the centre and the ends stretched down toward the ground. The single support can be a tree, mast, or tower. The ends of a dipole have high RF voltages on them, and need to be at least 10 feet above ground for safety. This antenna is called an "inverted-V," because the shape of the dipole looks like a "V" turned upside down. Most dipoles can be put up in the inverted-V configuration. This configuration works well because the current is concentrated on the middle two-thirds of the antenna at the apex. The current in an antenna is what is responsible for the radiation. The ends of the antenna have very little current in them and it doesn't matter if the ends are close to the ground. The middle of the antenna is up high where the radiation is taking place and that is the place you want the radiation to be. An inverted-V has an advantage that the horizontal space required for it is less than what is needed for a flattop dipole. The angle between the wires on an inverted-V needs to be greater than 90 degrees. The gain of an inverted -V is 0.2 dB and it has a radiation pattern nearly omni-directional. Since it is easy to construct and works so well, the inverted-V is the most commonly used dipole. An explanation of the decibel will come later.. I have heard many amateurs say on 80 meters, "The reason my signal is weak to you is because you are off the end of my dipole." The radiation pattern from a dipole is essentially non-directional until the dipole is elevated more than a half wave, that is about 125 feet on 80 meters, and it is 65 feet on 40 meters. The main reason it makes no difference regarding orientation is because propagation for signals closer than 500 miles (the distance of most 80 meter contacts) is essentially by high angle radiation nearly straight up and down - this is known as 'NVIS' (Near Vertical Incidence Skywave). Only signals radiated and received at low angles make a difference in antenna orientation even at low heights above ground. At low heights, there are nulls about 3 to 4 dB off the dipole ends.
3. Dipole Shape Variations
The wire of a dipole doesn't have to be run in a straight line. A dipole does not have to be perfectly horizontal. Thats the way it is usually depicted in books and magazines, but you can bend the legs of the antenna up, down or sideways. If you make either wire one-half wavelength long and carefully prune it to resonance, you can use it without a tuner on and near its resonant frequency. Both antennas have the current part at the top where most of the radiation takes place. The vertical parts of these antennas radiate a weak vertically polarized wave. The only reason these dipoles are contorted this way is to make them full-sized and to fit in the available space. Other shapes are possible, and you can be creative at your location.
4. Calculating the Length of a Half-Wave Resonant Dipole
The approximate length in feet of a half-wave resonant dipole is found by dividing 468 by the frequency in MHz. The actual length of it will be determined by several factors. Using larger diameter wire will make the dipole resonate lower in frequency. Therefore, to make it resonant at the higher desired frequency, It must be shortened. Raising a dipole higher above ground will make it resonate higher in frequency. An insulated wire will make the dipole resonate lower in frequency than a bare wire. Using the above formula, cut the antenna a little longer than the calculations say. If the SWR is best at a lower frequency than you desire, the antenna will have to be made shorter by pulling the excess wire through the end insulators, folding the ends of the extra wire back on itself. Then wrap the ends of the overlapped wire on itself so it wont come loose. This causes the excess wire to "short" itself to the rest of the antenna. If you are using insulated wire, you will need to cut off the excess wire. The reverse is true if the antenna resonates too high in frequency. The extra wire can be let out to make it resonate on a lower frequency. This is why you originally cut the wire a little longer.
5. The Decibel
The decibel (dB) is a unit of measurement for comparisons of the ratio of power, current, and voltage and is the term we will use in comparing antennas in this book. At one time, antenna comparisons were made using a dipole as a standard, but today most comparisons use the isotropic radiator as a reference. An isotropic radiator is an imaginary antenna that radiates equally well in all directions. It has no gain. The terms "dBi" and "dBd" are used to label which reference is being used. In this book, we will use the dipole as a standard for the most part. How do you derive decibels from power ratios? The formula for power ratios is dB = 10 log P1/P2. For voltage and current, the values are doubled. Doubling the power will produce a 3 dB stronger signal. Double the power and double it again will equal a 4 times power increase and that gives 3 dB plus 3 dB or 6 dB. Double 4 and that is a power increase of 8 and that adds 3 more dB for a total of 9 dB. Increasing the power from 1 Watt to 10 watts or increasing it 10 times will give a 10-dB increase. Multiply 10-Watts times 10 give us 100 watts, which adds another 10 dB above 1 Watt for 20 dB. Therefore, increasing the power another 10 times to 1000 Watts will produce a signal 30 dB stronger than 1 Watt. Your receiver, if modern, will have a signal strength meter or "S Meter." That meter is calibrated in "S Units" from one to nine and decibels over S-9. S-9 is usually calibrated using 50 microvolts ( uV) from a signal generator. Each S-unit is approximately a difference of 5 or 6 dB. Therefore, a reading of S-9 is about 6 dB stronger than S-8. Therefore, from S-0 to S-9 is 54 dB. On some low cost transceivers, the S units and dB above S-9 are only relative signal readings and actually have nothing to do with decibels.
IX. ANTENNA BASICS
1. Resistance and Reactance
Two factors measurable in antenna impedance are resistance and reactance. When we refer to antenna resistance, we are referring to its radiation resistance. It is neither a resistance like the electronic component called a "resistor," nor is it the same as the resistance found in all conductors. Those types of resistances, called "loss resistances," change electrical energy into heat energy. Heat energy disappears by radiating out into its surroundings and it dissipates away to infinity. When we feed RF into the antenna, the energy put into the radiation resistance disappears from the antenna by radiation of electromagnetic waves, and that makes an antenna appear to have a resistor in it. Loss resistance robs power from the radiation resistance and lowers the efficiency of an antenna system, but the loss resistance in dipoles is very low if the feed-line loss is low. The efficiency of any antenna system is found from a ratio of radiation resistance and loss resistance. We can either calculate the loss resistance by the loss in the feed-line from published tables and by estimating the loss in tuning units. Feed-line loss and tuning unit loss can be measured, but that is beyond the scope of this book. Antenna systems having reactance prevent the transmitter from delivering its full power and the reactance needs to be tuned out. There are two kinds of reactance: capacitive and inductive. Antennas have both. In antennas, reactance is a virtual reactance meaning the antenna acts as if there were a capacitor or an inductor in the antenna, but neither is there. You can only measure the sum of both reactances but not a value for either one.
Using an antenna analyser, you can determine whether the sum of the reactance is inductive or capacitive. Inductive reactance is a negative number and capacitive reactance is a positive number. The reactance of an antenna forms the "J" factor in antenna impedance measurements. The "J" factor is measured in ohms and the reactance is expressed as + or "J" ohms depending on whether it is capacitive or inductive reactance. Capacitive reactance is expressed as +J ohms and inductive reactance is expressed as -J ohms. Capacitive and inductive reactance are opposite factors and one can cancel the other. An antenna having 6 ohms capacitive reactance or + J 6 ohms and an inductive reactance of J 5 ohms will result in an antenna with a reactance of 1 ohm capacitive or + J 1. Since one term is positive and the other term is negative, you subtract smaller value from the larger. The answer has the sign of the larger one. In antennas, the reactance and resistance together determine the overall impedance of the antenna. The J factor is mentioned here only because you may see it in other books and on the extra class examination, but it will not be used further here. A resonant antenna has equal amounts of inductive and capacitive reactance, and the sum of the reactance equals zero. As an example, when the inductive reactance equals J 5 and the capacitive reactance equals +J 5, their sum equals zero. When the sum of the total reactance of an antenna is tuned to zero, its impedance is totally resistive. The use of an antenna analyser will tell you if the antenna is too long or too short for resonance. The simplest way to tune out antenna reactance is to change its length. The sum of the reactance of a long antenna will be inductive, and the sum of the reactance of a short antenna will be capacitive. If an antenna is short because it wont fit your property, it can be tuned to resonance by putting an inductor (coil of wire) in each leg. These coils are called "loading coils." An equal amount of inductive reactance will cancel the excessive amount of capacitive reactance. An antenna with loading coils is described in section "X." When an antenna is too long, the sum of its reactance will be inductive, and a variable capacitor can be inserted in each leg to tune out the inductive reactance. This is seldom done because it is easier to shorten the antenna. A resonant antenna may still have SWR if its radiation resistance is not exactly 50 ohms. Not many resonant antennas have a radiation resistance of exactly 50 ohms, and most real antennas have a small amount of SWR. An antenna is resonant only at one frequency per band. It will also be resonant on its harmonic frequencies, where its radiation resistance will range from high to very high. Hams talk about using resonant antennas. What is meant by this is they use an antenna on its fundamental frequency close to resonance, the resistance is near 50 ohms, and the SWR without a tuner is near 1:1. To calculate the impedance of an antenna with both resistance and reactance requires a mathematical procedure called the Pythagorean Theorem.
2. Feeding Dipoles Efficiently
For maximum power transfer from transmitter to the antenna, the antenna system must be resonant, and the resistance of the load (antenna system) has to be equal to the internal resistance of the source (transmitter). Notice we said an antenna system, not the antenna, must be resonant. As mentioned previously, an antenna system consists of the antenna, the feed-line, and any matching networks (tuners). A tuner at the input end of the feed-line can make a non-resonant antenna system resonant, and have a resistance of 50 ohms, and that matches the internal resistance of the transmitter. A tuner will not change the SWR between the tuner and the dipole part of an antenna system, and will not remove the reactance from the dipole. When the load of an antenna system does not match the source and the impedance is high, the load will not draw power from the source and high RF voltages will be present at the output of the final transistors. In this case, high RF voltages can damage the output transistors of the transmitter. When the impedance of the load is low, too much of the power may be dissipated across the internal resistance of the transmitter possibly destroying the output transistors. These are the two reasons why transceivers "fold back" their power when the SWR is high. It is a myth that the dipole part of an antenna has to be resonant to be efficient. When power reaches the radiating part of the antenna system, it obeys the "The Law of Conservation of Energy." The Law of Conservation of Energy states, "Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Only its form can be changed." (What is important is to get the power to the dipole itself, because in some systems power is lost in the feed-line, especially when using coax with high SWR), The miniscule amount of power in the dipole that does not radiate is changed into heat, another form of energy. Because the dipole part of an antenna system is made of conductors with low loss resistance, 99% or more of the power reaching it will radiate regardless of its length if that length is reasonable. The loss resistance of the conductors of the radiating part of most antenna system is so low it can be ignored. (Short mobile HF antennas are an exception because they may be lossy because of the very high current flowing in them.) Not all the energy fed into an antenna system will reach the antenna itself. If the system has a tuner, part of the power is lost in the inductor of the tuner and part is lost in the feed-line. When properly tuned, tuners using T-networks lose about 10% of the power and L-network tuners lose about 5% of the power being fed to them. Notice we said properly tuned. However, improper tuning of the antenna tuner may cause you to believe the feed-line is matched, but when this happens there is a very high circulating current in the inductor causing it to get hot. This causes extremely high losses, and very little power reaches the radiating part of the antenna. In addition, so much heat is produced in the inductor that it can be damaged. We melted the plastic insulation that forms the inductor on one tuner this way. For this reason, some hams dont like tuners, preferring to use resonant antennas. Read the instructions for your tuner for proper tuning or you may wind up with a poor signal and a damaged tuner. The resistive losses in the conductors of the feed-line and the dielectric losses in the feed-line also rob power from the system. These are the reasons for you to use the best tuners and feed-lines possible.
Another loss to be considered is feed-line radiation. Any energy that radiates from the feed-line does not reach the radiating part of the antenna, and it may be absorbed by near-by objects and may not radiate in the desired direction. When coax radiates, it is called common-mode radiation. If the feed line can radiate, it can also receive signals. This can be detrimental because the coax can then pick up noise from near-by power lines, etc. Feed-line radiation will also destroy the directional pattern of a beam antenna. The causes of feed-line radiation will be described in the next section. As we pointed out earlier, when you are using a half-wave resonant dipole fed with low-loss coax without using a tuner, almost all of the power coming out of the transmitter will radiate. On its resonant frequency, the dipole is one of the most efficient antenna systems a ham can use. However, a half-wave resonant dipole has a finite bandwidth. Why use a tuner with resonant antennas? On 160 and 80 meters the bands are wide compared to the percentage of frequency. The width of 80 meters is 500 kHz and its frequency is 3500 kHz. The width of 80 meters is 14% of the frequency. The 350 kHz of 40 meters is 5% of the frequency and most of the band can be covered without a tuner. The 350 kHz width of the 20- meter band is 350 divided by 14000 kHz, or 2.5 % of the frequency, etc. The percentage of frequency for a band will determine if a resonant dipole will work the whole band without a tuner. If you are planning to move around on 160 or 80 metre bands, it makes sense to have a tuner, because the bandwidth of resonant dipoles on those two bands is narrow. For example, the normal 2:1 SWR bandwidth of an 80- meter dipole is less than 200 kHz and the band is 500 kHz wide. However, if you have an antenna resonant for the voice portion of the band, you can still use a tuner to work the CW part of the band without inducing more than a dB of loss. Except for 40 and 10 metres, full-sized resonant dipoles on the rest of the HF bands will have enough bandwidth for them to cover the whole band. The best place to insert a tuner is up at the antenna feed-point. However, if it is placed there, you wont be able to reach the tuners controls. Therefore, it is more practical to place it between the transceiver and the shack-end of the antenna feed-line. A piece of 50-ohm coax connects the radio to the tuner. With the tuner located in the shack, adjustments can be made. Remote automatic antenna tuners can be placed at the antennas feed-point, but the disadvantage of them is that the ones available today will not handle high power. A coax-fed dipole and a tuner should not be used to feed an antenna on its even harmonically related bands.
The even harmonics are 2, 4, 6, etc, times the fundamental resonant frequency. If an 80-metre antenna being fed with coax through a tuner is used on 40 metres, it will put out a weak signal because the SWR will be around a hundred to one. Coax has a tremendous loss with SWR this high. Only a few Watts from a hundred-Watt transmitter will reach the antenna. However, you will be able to make contacts with those few Watts. If you want to use any antenna having high SWR, ladder-line has much less loss than coax. If you feed an 80-metre dipole on 40 meters using ladder-line and a tuner, it will only be slightly less efficient than a half-wave 40-meter coax-fed resonant dipole. However, the SWR will still be high between the tuner and the antenna, but this doesnt matter since ladder-line has an insignificant loss. Since the feed-point impedance will be high, the SWR will only be about 9:1 in the ladder-line because ladder-line is a high impedance feed-line. Extremely short antennas may not work at all because of the above mentioned reasons. To reiterate, the extremely high capacitive reactance may make it impossible for its reactance to be tuned out and reactance prevents a transmitter from delivering power to the antenna. Even if you are able to tune out the capacitive reactance, tuning it out requires an inductor and most of the power will be lost in the inductor. Do not take the statement about the Conservation of Energy to mean you can put up any piece of wire and it will radiate your entire signal.
3. The Cause of Feed-Line Radiation
Contrary to popular myth, SWR in a feed-line will not cause it to radiate. The cause of feed-line radiation is unequal current in the two conductors of the feed-line. What are the causes of unbalanced current in a feed-line? They are an unbalanced feed-line feeding a balanced antenna; the feed-line being brought away from and parallel to one leg of the antenna; the antenna not being fed in its center; and one leg of the antenna being close to metal objects. In coax, unbalance causes RF to travel on the outside surface of the coax shield, and the shield radiates. When everything is balanced, coax normally has current flowing on its center conductor and on the inside of its shield. The shield prevents it from radiating. Ladder-line will also radiate when it is fed from the output of a tuner not having a balun. Baluns are discussed in the next section. Since the output of a transceivers tuner is unbalanced and feeding ladderline directly from your transceivers tuner, the currents in the ladder-line will not be balanced. When balanced, ladder-line has equal currents with a 180-degree phase difference, which produce waves that null each other out, and no radiation takes place. Hams mistakenly refuse to bring ladder-line into the shack because of a fear of feed-line radiation, but ladder-line does not radiate when balanced. The simple cure for feed-line radiation is to use a balun at the antenna feed-point for coax and a balun at the output of the tuner when using ladder-line.
The word "Balun" is a contraction of " balanced to unbalanced." It is pronounced "bal un" like "bal" in "balanced and like "un" in "unbalanced". Many hams mistakenly pronounce an "M" at the end of the word making it "balum." A balun transforms the unbalanced transmitter output to a balance feedline such as ladder-line. It is also used to connect an unbalanced feed-line such as coax to a balanced dipole. In the latter case, the balun is located at the antenna feed-point and is constructed so the balun takes the place of the centre insulator. There are two kinds of baluns: voltage baluns and current baluns. They both accomplish the same thing. The difference in baluns is in the way they are wound. A voltage balun produces equal voltage with opposite polarity at its output. As its name implies, a current balun provides equal currents with opposite polarity at its output. Running the coax through ferrite beads can make a 1 to 1 current balun. In addition, you can build a 1 to 1 choke current balun by winding 8 to 10 turns of coax around a two-litre soda bottle and placing the coiled coax at the antenna feed-point. Any balun is designed to "divorce" your antenna from the feed line. It is used to prevent common mode radiation of coax, which makes the coax to be part of your antenna. You want it to be able to deliver all your power to the radiator itself. A choke balun does this perfectly, without using any ferrite beads or toroids. In most cases common mode coax radiation does not occur when a balun is not used, but it is preferable to use one to be safe. Other baluns provide a step-up or step-down impedance transformation. A 4-to-1 balun steps up the impedance four times. It will transform a 50-ohm impedance to 200 ohms. This type of balun transformer is used at the output of tuners to increase the tuning range of a tuner 4 times. If a tuner without a balun can match 500 ohms, a 4-to-1 balun will increase the range of impedances it can match to 2000 ohms. Many hams think the 4-to-1 balun is used to match 50 ohms to 450-ohm ladder-line but it is not. It would take a 9-to-1 balun to match 50 ohms to 450 ohms, and it is not important to match the impedance to ladder-line. A balun should always be placed at the input end of ladder-line or open wire feeders to prevent feed-line radiation. When using ladder-line a step up balun is commonly used although a 1:1 balun will work.
X. OTHER TYPES OF DIPOLES
1. A Shortened Dipole Using Loading Coils
If you are unable to put up a full-sized dipole on your property, putting loading coils into the dipole could shorten the antenna. A short antenna has capacitive reactance and the capacitive reactance can be tuned out with a coil. The overall length of the shortened antenna will be determined by the amount of inductance in the coil. Pre-tuned antennas of this type are available from at least one manufacturer. The main problem with loaded antennas is they are very narrow banded. If the loading coils are wound with small diameter wire, the coils may introduce unwanted loss into the antenna. Loading coils can also be found in shortened vertical antennas for high frequency (HF) mobile use.
2. All Band Dipole
A dipole is cut to a half wave on the lowest band you want to operate. Feeding it with ladder-line and a tuner makes it possible for you to work all the other higher bands. The only losses in this antenna system are the loss in the tuner and the very small loss in the ladder-line. This system is more than 90% efficient. As mentioned above the balun in the tuner will be used, or if your tuner doesnt have a balun, an external balun can be connected between the tuner and ladder-line with a short run of coax. Four-to-one baluns are the most commonly used ones for this arrangement.
3. The Sloping Dipole
A lower angle of radiation can be achieved by tying one end of a half-wave dipole to a high support and the other end near the ground. It is fed with or without a balun with 50-ohm coax. The sloping dipole will show some directivity and have low angle gain in the direction of the slope. More directivity can be gained if the dipole is strung from a tower, and the tower is acting as a passive reflector. The sloping dipole is mostly a vertically polarized radiator and it works well for DX. Since the sloping dipole is fed in its center, it does not need to be grounded to the earth as a quarter-wave vertical does. Make sure the bottom end of a sloping dipole is at least 10 feet above ground because like all dipoles there is high RF voltage on its ends.
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