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Old Timers Antenna Still One Of The Best

Parent Category: Technical Category: Antennas

Well it is true. There is not really a best antenna for Ham Radio.  If it were true we all would be using the same antenna.

There is this sort of "thing" that all Hams go through in their life cycle of being a Ham.  In the beginning they rely, in most part, on what some other Ham tells them what to do, such as which radio to make or purchase; which type of coax to use and how to use the Ham gear.  But, the "biggie" advice is what type of antenna to use.  Sometimes the "newbie" ham makes up his own mind by observing what others are using.  So, he will go for that one.

It seems there is a common quest among most Hams.  It is a burning quest.  It is one that a Ham goes to sleep at early hours in the morning dreaming about.  It plagues his mind all of the time.  That quest is to get the best signal as far as he can, anywhere, anytime he wants.  And, he wants his radio signal to be better than any other Ham on the face of the planet Earth.  It doesn't take the new Ham too long to realize that radios are radios with some having more do-dads, knobs and buttons than others.  But, the one  thing, more than any other, that can make the biggest difference in the Ham's signal is the antenna.

Think that this is not a real issue?  Then take a look at the ARRL Antenna Manual.  It's almost as thick at the regular Amateur Radio Manual that covers everything.

So, the "newbie" Ham does like most of us did.  He starts experimenting with all sorts of antennas.  There are dipole antennas, Long Wire, Random, Verticals, Loops, Beams, and Slopers just to name a few.  In addition to other antenna types beyond those mentioned, there is the subject of which type of transmission line to use; coax cable, open feed line. 

Then there is the subject of SWR and antennas.  There is more myths and misunderstanding about SWR  than one can count. Discussion of that is for another article.

As an old timer Ham Radio operator myself, I can't begin to tell you how many ways I have experimented with antennas over the years.  I have tried a lot of them.  No, not  of the types; just most of the common types.  I have tried dipoles, verticals, long wires, random wires, beams, loops, etc.  Yes, and some strange things that I thought up on my own that became something resembling a dummy load, at best.  After frying a few final transmitter tubes, I am too embarrassed to confess what I did.

Historically, after World War II, there was a lot of surplus antenna transmission line called coaxial cable that became available to Amateur Radio.  It had it's pros and cons.  We'll discuss that in another article another time. 

Most Hams designed  their antennas to use "coax" instead of using the old fashion twin lead or open wire feed line, known as balanced line. Some polls taken as to why, found that the reason was that coax (unbalanced line) was simpler to use and install, even though it was less efficient than the old open twin lead transmission line.  Coax works best when cut for a certain frequency.  It was not broad banded, even though Hams could make it seem that it was broad banded.  It really wasn't, and it gobbled up a lot of power that never got radiated to the air waves.

But, that was the way it was for many years.  In more modern times Hams have gone back to the open wire twin lead line with an  antenna tuner. 

And that is what this old timer did years ago.  It works better and the following is the layout.


A more in depth article about this antenna can be downloaded here.

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