Tag Archives: antenna

I Would Like to Get an HF Antenna for my Home – Part 1

We have heard this numerous times from our Amateur Radio customers. Whether you are just starting out, or an oldtimer who has been hamming for years – and everyone in between – this is a fairly complicated and in depth subject.

What does an antenna do ?
This is what radiates your signal out to the world. This is the most critical part of any amateur radio station. If you are going to cut corners or save some of the budget, this is NOT the part to do it on.

So how do you select the correct antenna, when there are so many to choose from ?

Let’s look at the types of antennas available.

A Vertical antenna for HF

Verticals – Basic, can be single or multi band. Relatively inexpensive as well. Should be ground mounted with ground radials installed, which is what turns most people away from this type of antenna. An absolute minimum of 4 radials are required, but don’t expect huge results. Typically 32 or more should be installed, on the ground (they will settle in and disappear over time) or you bury them yourself.
Ground mounted verticals are good for DX because of their low angle of radiation.

The same vertical can also be installed on a roof or tower, but they require some form of counterpoise system. This is typically accomplished by hanging the  radials from the base of the antenna. A good example would be installing the antenna on a roof, and laying the radials across the roof.

Radials always connect to the base of the antenna , and are run outward in equal divisions, much like the spokes of a wheel.

Here is a typical vertical antenna: https://radioworld.ca/but-hf6v
You can add some options or homebrew your own.
This radial kit by DX Engineering includes radial wire, fasteners, and “staples” to staple the radials to the ground. The staples will decompose naturally on their own.
DX Engineering also manufactures a base plate for mounting the vertical to a post, and then securing the radials to the plate.

Radioworld sells verticals by Butternut, Comet, Cushcraft, DX Engineering, Hustler, Hy-Gain, and MFJ.
Some are single band, two band, or multiband up to 9 bands. In general, the more bands that the antenna covers, or the smaller an antenna is, the more of a compromise the antenna is. Where most multiband antennas employ coils and/or traps to allow extra bands, antennas like this 43 foot vertical from DX Engineering use no coils or traps, but utilises a remote tuner (sold separately)  at the base of the antenna. And you still need those radials.

Then, there are vertical antennas that employ a matching network on the antenna, with a few very short radials at the base of the antenna. These are much better for tower or roof mounting, as you don’t have wire radials hanging and drooping down, and looking messy. This is again a compromise antenna, but they do work reasonably well. Typically they cost 1.5 – 2 times more than a ground mounted vertical.
Here is an example of a multiband vertical with a matching network.

Vertical antennas are very popular due to their reasonable cost, multiband coverage and ease of installation. They are ideal for small lot sizes. They offer a uniform radiation pattern, but tend to be noisier than horizontally polarised antennas. Yes, you can work DX, but you’ll be blending in with everyone else when you’re calling that rare one.
And be sure to keep an open mind – this CB antenna covers 10, 11, 12 and 15 metres, and requires no radials.

Wire AntennasWire Antennas – The easiest and least expensive of HF antennas. You can purchase commercially made and pre-tuned single, or multiband wire antennas, or build your own. Typically wire antennas are configured as dipole or inverted V styles, but can also be slopers, inverted L’s, long wire or various other styles.

Some popular wire antennas, like the G5RV, require a matching network (tuner) to work properly. This would also apply to non-resonant antennas like longwires, inverted L’s and slopers.

Because of their low cost, low profile, low maintenance and decent performance, many hams build their own wire antennas. You can build everything yourself, or use some commercially made parts like this inexpensive centre and end insulator kit. Add your own wire, special dacron rope to tie off the insulators, and feedline (cable), and you’re all set !

Beams, or directional antennas, are a step up from the others. These antennas direct the signal in one direction, and reject signals from other directions. They are basically a dipole antenna with reflective and directive elements added on to a common boom. They can be for single bands or for multiple bands, but because of their size do not (usually) cover lower frequencies.

A single element antenna is a dipole. The signal radiates from the sides, but not the ends. Adding a director(s)  and a reflector(s) alters the radiation pattern into one direction. The more “elements” (director/reflector elements) the more gain an antenna will have, in one direction. The antenna is aimed at the station you wish to contact. This is done with a rotator on the tower, accessed from a control box at the operators station.

Here is a three element beam for 10, 15 and 20 metres th3-mk4

In this picture, the signal is aimed to the left. The centre element, called the driven element, radiates the signal. The element on the right (the reflector), reflects the signal to the left. The leftmost element (the director) directs the signal to the left. Directors are physically shorter than the driven element, whilst the reflector is physically longer than the driven element. And there is plenty of math to calculate all those dimensions.

Beams can be quite large, and usually need to be supported by a tower. Some smaller beams can be mounted on smaller structures, like tripods or stand alone masts.

Here is an example of an extremely large antenna system20mbeam

Like any antenna, the higher up it is mounted, the better it will perform.

To the left is a 5 element beam for 20 metres, on a 78 foot tower. Quite expensive, it requires some serious work to put up, but will give a really big signal.

 

 

 

So when customers come in saying they want an antenna for HF and what do we recommend, it really isn’t an easy answer. We have to ask many questions to find what works for you.

Come on in and let’s talk.

Tim VA3FU
WAC, WAS, DXCC

Humminbird 360 First Hand Experience

radioworld shirtI was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to get a day on the water with our Humminbird rep John Noel this past week to learn about their 360 Imaging sonar.  My initial impression of the 360 (before I got on the water with one) was it is pricey and too large for most people to even consider.  A $2000+ transducer that is almost the size of a 6’ Talon was just too much for me to get over.  My opinion completely changed after seeing it in use and how practical a tool it truly is and it WILL help you catch more fish.

Humminbird and Minn Kota have done an awesome job at designing their new Talon/360 brackets.  John’s boat had a dual 8’ Talon setup and on the starboard side the 360 adapter bracket was mounted there.  With all this mounted to the transom there is no question it is busy looking.  However, with all the benefits of this technology that outweighs the downside in my mind.

S00004John had the Lakemaster Chart loaded in his 998c SI unit and we navigated to our first fishing spot a mile or so offshore.  Once we arrived we deployed the 360 through the menu in the 998 and began to see exactly how the rock piles on the shoal laid out.  The boat was equipped with a Minn Kota Terrova with iPilot Link which makes navigating while fishing extremely easy.  Through the remote control we had full access to the list of waypoints in the 1198c SI mounted on the bow.  At a low trolling speed we used the iPilot Link to take us from waypoint to waypoint (which were rock piles on the shoal).

I caught a couple of small fish dragging a tube behind the boat and one that I marked on the sonar.  John was fishing for bigger bites with a jigging spoon but didn’t have any luck.  My eyes were opened to the effectiveness of the 360 when I noticed something off to the side of the boat as we were slowly moving to our next waypoint.  I picked up a drop shot with a Jackall Cross Tail tied on and cast in the direction of a rock pile we didn’t have a waypoint on.  After my weight hit the bottom I felt rocks and after dragging it a few feet I got a solid hit.  The fish ended up being a 3 1/2 pounder that I never would have caught without the 360 revealing that structure in perfect detail to me.  I was able to repeat that a few more times throughout the day.

S00003

On the 360 there are range rings that show you the distance away from the center (the boats location) so it’s easy to gauge how far you need to cast to reach a target.  When you purchase the 360, Humminbird includes a GPS antenna that has a built in compass heading sensor.  This is what lines up your 360 imaging with the direction of your boat.  When something shows up on the screen to your left it’s actually to the left of the boat so you know right where to cast.

One other thing I noticed about the 360 is that when the boat was stationary the image was much more defined.  This is because the transducer rotates which creates the movement you need for high detail images.  Just like with side imaging your boat needs movement for the best detail.

If you ever get a chance to see a 360 in action it won’t take long before you too are convinced of the value of having this on your boat.  All it took for me was one fish.

-Lawren

FREE Offer From Lowrance on HDS Touch

lowrance offer

NEW OFFER!  
Receive Three FREE products with Lowrance HDS Gen2 Touch purchase!

Lowrance just announced a “3-for-1 FREE Product Giveaway” with the purchase of any HDS Gen2 Touch fishfinder/chartplotter.

When you buy HDS Gen2 Touch from now until July 21, 2013, you will receive through mail-in redemption one each of the following:

  • FREE Point-1 External GPS Antenna ($225 retail value)
  • FREE Insight GenesisTM Premium 1-Year Subscription ($299 retail value)
  • FREE Insight PlannerTM Mapping Software ($29.95 retail value)

That’s more than $550 in FREE product when you purchase any HDS Gen2 Touch from May 28 through July 21, 2013.

To learn more about this limited-time offer, including viewing or printing the mail-in offer form, simply go to HDS Gen2 Touch 3FREE Mail Offer

To learn more about HDS Gen2 Touch visit our website: HDS Touch at Radioworld

-Lawren