“Best” Multi-band HF Antenna ?

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by K2POP, Jul 26, 2011.

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  1. K2POP

    K2POP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am looking for good ideas on multi-band HF antennas. I have two constraints: No tower and No tall trees nearby. The antenna can be ground/roof mounted or elevated on a mast of up to 30’ long. It can be directional or omni-directional, wire or ridged. I have a wide-matching-range antenna tuner.

    I would be particularly interested to know of any great antennas that are: vertical/horizontal dipoles, “no-radial” verticals, “cobwebs,” stealth, mobile, portable/transportable, multi-polarized, “magic,” etc. - anything out of the ordinary. However, they must work well. What is/are your favorite HF multi-band antenna(s), in two categories?

    1. Antennas with which you have some actual experience

    2. Antennas you think look great but have not actually used

    Thanks, Richard
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    IMO (and I've been doing this 46 years and have installed hundreds of antennas) there's certainly no "best," and for the most part, there isn't even any "good" if you're restricted to 30' above ground on HF.

    However, with that kind of restriction in mind, one of my favorites is a horizontal full-wave loop, supported by four 30' masts or poles. Loops are cool because they're easy to match on all harmonics, both odd and even; so an 80m loop which is only 285' in circumference or perimeter will work most of the HF bands without a big mismatch. That's pretty slick for a single antenna made of wire and costing almost nothing.

    Of course the same antenna works better when it's 60' above ground. But keeping your restriction in mind, it's not a bad multi-band solution that doesn't take up much space and isn't expensive at all.

    You don't need any towers or trees, just four 30' tall poles.
  3. M0GVZ

    M0GVZ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The Cobwebb is five fullsized dipoles from 20-10m and it works great at 33ft high. I use mine in conjunction with a 75ft inverted L for the lower bands tuned by a SGC 230. Every now and again, there is a station that can be heard better on the L than the Cobwebb though and I would say you need two antennas because there are times where a vertical will work better than a horizontal.

    The ideal is a beam so you can send power wherever you want.
  4. EI4GMB

    EI4GMB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi There,

    My experience is with multi -band wire antennas such as the doublet or G5RV. I would recommend these types for their simplicity and ease of use. They also perform well on their design frequencies. Personally I wouldn't recommend a vertical antenna as it has been said they radiate equally poorly in all directions!
    An antenna which I don't have but think would perform well is a rotatable dipole.... and a beam of course! Best of luck! :)

    Kind Regards

    Fred EI4GMB
  5. WA6UIJ

    WA6UIJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Richard, I live with CCR's and can't have an antenna showing. For the past 7 years, I have been using a long wire that is up under the eaves of the house. It runs around most of the house in somewhat of a U pattern. I have worked DX into Europe, Japan, down south. Also have worked all but 5 states. I am using an Icom radio with the AH4 antenna tuner. It works great.

    The other day, I converted the long wire to a loop, again using the AH4 tuner at the feed point. In other words, the hot post on the tuner is attached to one end of the loop and the ground post to the other end of the loop. Not a perfect setup because the whole antenna is probably not more than 10 feet off the ground. But it is working and I am getting out.

    Good luck,
  6. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page


    It is an "olde wyves taile" that a vertical is an antenna that radiates equally as poor in all directions. A properly installed vertical is an excellent antenna. However, because of the low angle of radiation, it is not a good antenna for distances out to around 1000 miles to 1500 miles. As such, they are very good for working DX but not so good for working more "close in" stations. Since the majority of operators are not primarily interested in working DX (although most will take a DX contact without any problems), they judge a vertical by the fact that working the more local stations is very difficult.

    Especially on the lower bands, phasing verticals even lowers the angle of radiation as well as giving gain. Again, this improves working DX but definitely restricts working the more "close in" stations even more.

    The fact that "close in" stations are much harder to work using a vertical is why that antenna has, for many decades, been called an antenna that radiates equally in all directions.

    The best situation is, if you don't have a tower and directional antennas, to have both vertical and horizontal antennas. That way, you can pick and choose the antenna that works best for the conditions at the time.

    Glen, K9STH
  7. EI4GMB

    EI4GMB Ham Member QRZ Page

    It has been shown time and again on the forum by those who use EZNEC modelling that a horizontal dipole installed properly and cut for the band outperforms a vertical both on DX and NVIS everytime. In fact a vertical shows no marked improvement in low angle radiation. This is not an old wives tale but a proven fact!


    Fred EI4GMB
    KZ4USA likes this.
  8. K9PLG

    K9PLG XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've been using a multi-band (6-80M) no radial vertical mounted on a 5ft mast strapped to a chimney about 30ft above the ground... So far, it seems to be working great as being in the midwest (southern IN), I've made contacts as far south as Belieze & Costa Rica, all over FL, east coast, MN, TX, and AR in just the past couple weeks I"ve had it up... It has a coil at the base and didn't cost too much.. Not as good as a inverted V dipole, but respectable performance IMHO. It's made by jetstream.
    KM4QGZ likes this.
  9. W5INC

    W5INC Ham Member QRZ Page

    K2POP, you didn't say if you have a budget requirement for your project. If your budget allows a hexbeam antenna might just work for you. I have been researching this guy and looks to be a very good preformer for a rather small antenna. I haven't seen the cobweb antenna design as of yet so I don't really know if it is the same as the hexbeam guy. :)

    6 bands are possible on some designs (6M - 20M)decent F/B ratio/forward gain for this antenna. The designer of this antenna (G3TXQ Steve) posts here on the Zed all of the time. From looking at past posts, Steve looks to be very forthwith with answers if you happen to have any questions about the antenna. I would do a search on the hexbeam here in this Forum and see if it might just fit your needs. Gd luck on your project.
  10. K2POP

    K2POP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you, Mike. I have been considering a loop under my eves (at about 20' agl.) I have also looked at a dipole, ocf dipole, or random wire in a "U" shape under the eves. However, I was concerned that they might not work well because they would not be "in the clear." As WB2WIK said in post # 2, I am sure they do work better if up high and in the clear. Apparently, though, they do work in less than ideal conditions. Is you loop any better than your "U"? Our home is a little southwest of you in Oceanside. Can you think of any reason that a U or loop would not work as well for me?

    Glen, post # 6 said that a vertical might be good, too. Does anyone have a favorite vertical antenna? What other favorite antennas do you have - wire, ridged, vertical, horizontal, portable, stealth, etc.?? I appreciate your input.

    73, Richard
  11. EI4GMB

    EI4GMB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I second that! :)

    Fred EI4GMB
  12. K2POP

    K2POP Ham Member QRZ Page

    W5INC, thank you for your input. Have you tried a hexbeam? Conor in England (post # 3) says he likes his Cobwebb. I would like to know if they really work as well as some people say. As for a budget - NO. I am just looking for ideas at this point, peoples' favorite antennas. No specific recommendations needed yet. KC9UIY, (post # 8) Can you tell me any more about your Jet stream vertical?

    73, Richard
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  13. K7CJ

    K7CJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    K2POP, I really love my Zero Five 10-40 GP. Relatively speaking, it's a very light vertical and easy to assemble with built-in radial elements. Performance is great for 10-40m and mates well with the Icom 7600. Worked R1ANC on 100w via 20m from Seattle.
  14. WB3BEL

    WB3BEL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'll add my vote for hexbeam on 30 foot mast. You can load the support mast with tuner and ground system for 40 and 30m. Maybe 80 m if you are not too critical of performance.

    The hexbeam will work on 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10m, you can add 6m if you want. It will work almost as good as two element yagi at the same height. You won't always be first through the pileup, but it should work pretty well.

    The horizontal polarization will give you some ground gain at these frequencies and the directional pattern will help eliminate QRM and local noise.
  15. W5INC

    W5INC Ham Member QRZ Page

    K2POP, I always like to look at end user's reviews of a product before I buy. Here is a link to a web page. Scroll down to the hexbeam section and you will see reviews on 7 companies that provide parts or complete Hexbeams for sale. If you look at the rating for these companies and their products it is very high indeed, with nothing but praises for the antenna design itself. With these many happy end users it tells me the antenna indeed does work. Amateur radio OPs tend to be very tough critics, IMO.


    To save costs I will buy the base plate from Hexkit and the precut spreaders from Max Gain systems. Max Gain sells all of the wire and other related hardware pieces you need to put it all together. K4KIO has great plans on how to build this antenna on his website and sells complete kits to where most of the work is already down in building the antenna. Either way the hexbeam looks mighty tough to beat for it's size, performance and sustainability in harsh weather if made right.
  16. NL7W

    NL7W Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yep... they load easily on EVEN and ODD harmonics -- that one characteristic that wavelength loops provide. :)

    Had a 75M loop sloping from 90 ft to 50 ft in the 90's at Keesler AFB, MS. Won Sweepstakes with it two years in a row (Clean Sweeps) with it. The second year, K5TYP, set a Delta Division record because of that loop. Fun times then...

    Ran my TS-830S to a Henry 2K Classic X with the HD power supply to the loop (transmission line was 186-ohm balanced line (paralleled RG-62), a 4:1 balun, and a short run of RG-213. It didn't need a tuner on most bands -- a perfect match between the antenna and feedline.

    Really fun times for a young man in his twenties...

    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  17. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page


    A "properly installed" dipole is extremely difficult for the vast majority of amateur radio operators to achieve on at least 160-meters, 80/75-meters, and 40-meters because of the height above ground level that is required. On 20-meters and higher frequencies it is MUCH easier to achieve a properly installed dipole. I am only speaking from experience, but my phased verticals on 40-meters run very well with any 40-meter yagi in this area and, in fact, generally outperform any of them where DX is concerned. There is no comparison with those who are running dipoles even at reasonable heights above ground.

    During DX Contests, when activity is high, from the Dallas, Texas, area, I can work Europe and Africa, even into western Asia, from a 20 hour to 24 hour time frame. Eastern Asia and Oceania are workable for at least 14 hours and often considerably more. South America is no problem for the entire 24 hours. Even when running each of the 2 verticals that I phase individually, and thus do not have the gain factor, I can run pretty well with any 3-element yagi and, again, there is no comparison with dipoles even in their favored direction. During the winter months, I have started working JA (Japanese) stations from well before midnight local time and have continued to work JA stations until well after noon local time the next day. There are those who state that this is impossible. However, the QSL cards from those stations disagree. The latest, in terms of local time, QSL that I have for an SSB QSO is right at 11:45 AM Dallas time and the latest QSL for CW is pretty close to 1:30 PM Dallas time.

    I do use yagis for 20, 15, 12, and 10-meters (I haven't ever gotten around to building a yagi for 17 meters). The HyTower is used on 30-meters and 17-meters and does a respectable job. The separate vertical that I phase with the HyTower is a 40-meter / 30-meter vertical. I definitely have the ability to phase the verticals, vary the direction of the phasing, and to use each antenna separately.

    Although NEC does an excellent job of predicting things, it is definitely not perfect. Like any simulation program, you do have to make certain assumptions and that is where most of the misinformation comes from. As a tool for generally predicting things, NEC is excellent. But, it definitely does have limitations.

    My actual physical situation is better than at least 95 percent of the operators in the United States. I live basically at the highest point in the city (1/2 block straight west is the highest point) and it is downhill for about 300 degrees and uphill less than 10 feet in elevation and then downhill for the remaining less than 60 degrees. The ground conductivity in this area is considered to be the best in the entire United States! At one time there were no less than 3 commercial antenna ranges near my location: The old Texas Instruments range was about 2-miles straight west, the old Collins Radio range was about 2 miles east southeast, and the still in use ESI range is about 4 miles straight east.

    The problem with many vertical installations is that they are a compromise, just like most of the dipole installations. I definitely do not consider my vertical installations "perfect". However, I do use elevated radials and those are considerably better than buried radials.

    Basically, I disagree with the statement that "verticals are antennas that radiate equally as poor in all directions". When properly installed, and that is definitely important, a vertical is definitely a very good antenna for working DX. However, for working the more "close in" stations, I definitely agree that a vertical is not as good as a number of different antennas.

    Glen, K9STH
  18. EI4GMB

    EI4GMB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Glen,

    I wouldn't disagree with your experience as that is a very individual thing. I have only used 1/4 wave trapped verticals in the past with very poor results. Anyway, you are entitled to your opinion. Thanks for your reply. Best of luck.

    Kind Regards

    Fred EI4GMB
  19. MI6KAK

    MI6KAK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi, I built Steves version of the Cobweb about a month ago and it works great. Totally ominidirectional, 5 bands and no rotator required. It outperforms my 44ft doublet as far is im concerned. I found nulls in signal a pain with G5RV types.

    A hex with rotator would be next on my list if I had the space, but yes the cobweb works and works well.
  20. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page


    Trapped verticals are a subject all their own! There are some that perform pretty well and there are those that aren't worth putting together! I definitely stay clear of trapped verticals, all of mine are full sized. Unfortunately, the vast majority of trapped verticals are installed with minimal counterpoises and therein lies most of the problems.

    There is a local (to me) operator who lives about 5 blocks from where I lived 40 years ago who has a 40-meter elevated ground plane that is pretty close to 30 feet above ground. He has an excellent signal on 40-meters for DX. Not quite as good as my phased verticals, but pretty darn good! Where he lives it is fairly flat.

    Glen, K9STH
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