Need help deciding on an HF antenna

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by K3TOM, May 23, 2019.

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  1. K3TOM

    K3TOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Looking into getting an ICOM-7610, (already have a 7100 for the car) but I’m going to need a good HF antenna for the house and would rather start with an all band at first, even if I have to sacrifice reception for the increased bandwidth. My goal is to be able to cover more bands at first, then later I can upgrade to better antennas for the individual bands I’m most interested in.

    I’ve been looking at two different types so far. The folded dipole and the vertical. For the vertical, the Cushcraft R8 covers from 7 – 50 MHz and runs about $550 and the GAP Challenger-DX goes from 3.5 – 144 for about the same price. I’ve heard good things about the GAP but not much on the Cushcraft.

    The other option, and somewhat less expensive, is the folded dipole, which would be either the ICOM IC-AH710 for $290, or the Yaesu YA-30 for around $280. I was able to find a couple of YouTube videos with good reviews on the ICOM stating low SWR’s with excellent reception but other reviews on-line with just the opposite.

    The only real advantage to the vertical would be more Omni-directional opposed to the folded dipole which would have to be installed oriented the correct direction. I do have the room for the install though so that’s really a non-issue.

    I’m open for suggestions/ comments from those with experience on what you would have done when you first started your HF set-up if you had the choice.

    Thanks in advance.
    K3TOM
     
  2. W5LZ

    W5LZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not in any kind of order;
    An HF horizontal antenna can certainly be directional but that depends on it height above 'ground'. If it isn't something on the order of a 1/2 wave above ground don't expect it to be very directional. Terrain, what's around the antenna and other factors also play a part in the directional characteristics, but, in general a 'low' antenna is usually omnidirectional.
    As to the choice between horizontal or vertical polarisation, that's up to you, both are equally "bad". For a good vertical expect to need radials (no matter what they say). Not being a fan of putting in radials I'll bet you can guess what I think of verticals in general. Another antenna suggestion would be a dipole for the lowest band of interest fed with parallel feed line through a good tuner. They can be "scootched" (technical word) to almost any band. They have their own 'querks' too, so its not "fool proof".
    Maybe your best bet would be something cheap-n-simple, dipole? Then change to something else when you feel you 'have-to'?
    Have fun.
     
    WA8FOZ and NH7RO like this.
  3. K0UO

    K0UO Subscriber QRZ Page

    Sample, just put up dipole you might spend ten bucks, it'll get you on the air and talking. Then you can add more bands to the same feed line.
    You can feed with coax (cheap RG8X is great to start since you're not running big Power) or if you want, use open balance feeders and a tuner. I guarantee you will make contact with it and you won't be spending near as much money, then go ahead and put up some other antennas also once you get on the air. I bet you over 50% of the time a simple dipole will beat your other choices.
    Get it up as high as you can 20ft or higher and start talking, Then you can add more antennas and try different things.

    Remember: The Best antenna is one that's In the Air and On the Air.
     
    WA8FOZ, WB5THT, KG7QJB and 3 others like this.
  4. W9KEY

    W9KEY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm running my IC-7610 into a slightly modified version of an Alpha Delta DX-CC fan dipole, which will get you on 10, 15, 20, 40, and part of 80 meters using only the internal 3:1 antenna tuner. See their info: https://www.alphadeltaradio.com/pg1.html

    Really nice in that you can feed it with simple 50 ohm coax, doesn't need any radials, nor any guy wires (like a vertical) - just hang it from a few trees. It's about 82 feet long and sells for $180, or you can build your own version of an equivalent simple fan dipole using cheap aluminum electric fence wire, some PVC spacers (to keep the wires separated), and a PVC center support - for very low cost. But the Alpha Delta stuff is good quality using heavy 12 ga wire construction, and is very rugged - assuming you can afford it. I bought an SWL version at a local hamfest, realized I didn't really know what I had, sent an email to Alpha Delta, and received a very helpful reply (on a SUNDAY!) from their owner! Most impressive service - which I really didn't deserve!! Since then I've come to realize Alpha Delta offers first rate products (in addition to customer service).

    Added a Palstar LA-lK 1000 W solid state amplifier (and HF Auto Tuner, although not really necessary for most of the HF bands) and still feeding it with same cheap RG-8X - which is now being pushed pretty hard. Antenna is only at 30', but gets me into many parts of the world - works especially well on 40 meters with it's North - South orientation.

    Anyway, for the price of the verticals you are considering, you could buy TWO Alpha Delta fan dipoles, orient them at 90 degrees, and have money left over. The trick is having cooperative trees in the right places.
     
    K9ASE, WA8FOZ, KG7QJB and 2 others like this.
  5. VK3YE

    VK3YE Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you want a band with sure-fire contacts most of the time, put up a dipole for 40m. That's about 10m either side of your coax feeder. An inverted V format is OK if you only have one high central support.

    Then add another dipole, half the length hanging off the same feedline. That will give you 20m. While it's less active it will still give you the possibility of longer distance and DX contacts.

    Around mostly at night and/or have more room? Add a dipole for 80m (20m a side).

    Then you will have a workable antenna on some of the busiest HF band and will have contacts almost any time you want.
     
    K0UO and KP4SX like this.
  6. WQ6N

    WQ6N XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Currently I have a Cushcraft R8 which serves me well up to 40m. It is pretty sleek in design, no radials, and works well with the elements. I did have to install a missing static drain inductor and weather proof the trap tops with weep holes in the bottom of the traps. The previous antenna was a R7 (not very sleek with all the traps) which I plan to use for camping. In addition to the R8, I added the stainless DX engineering tilt bracket (4ft above ground) to raise and lower the antenna with ease. RF feed is via RG-214, in buried conduit, with an external polyphaser/grounding at the building entrance. I use the internal tuner of a IC-7600. I have also used a 40m OCF (Balun Designs OCF 4:1 balun with built in isolator) with good results with minimal coupling to the R8 as long as I kept both radio's on different bands. I don't get icing in my local so that may be a consideration. I am loosing my ability for the wire antennas due to new residence without trees and xyl conditions so it will be just the R8. Anything fiberglass gets destroyed by the sun and elements so maintenance is continuous. Food for thought.
     
  7. AA7QQ

    AA7QQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    6BTV & A/D DXCC would be my suggestions.

    Ed
     
    K9ASE likes this.
  8. WG7X

    WG7X Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    So... Inexpensive and efficient.

    A wire dipole in a tree or an inverted "V" antenna hanging off a pole. Cheap, reliable, efficient.

    Anecdote: My first antenna was a fan dipole with elements for 1o, 40, & 80 meters. Hung off the back of the house on a 30 foot rat-shack mast. Worked fine for my Novice ham radio beginning. When I upgraded to General, I added another fan dipole for 40 and 80 off the side of the house and put up a Cushcraft triband beam on a crummy surplus tower. Even though the beam was only about 35 feet up, id performed well. Of course, that was because we had good propagation.

    I went back to wire antennas when my employer decided to move us around. Have not yet been back to a commercial antenna. Wire is cheap, and fairly efficient. Having said that, those all band verticals look pretty good. Problem is, with all those bands and the long, long vertical element, they can get a little "whippy" and require guying. If that's good with you, then give one a try. I would probably do one of the Cushcraft verticals, but that's personal preference.
     
    K0UO likes this.
  9. KJ3N

    KJ3N Ham Member QRZ Page

    Cheap and efficient: 80m doublet. You can probably build one for around $50.

    The only caveat is that you'll need a tuner with much greater range than the internal tuner on the 7610.
     
    2E0TWG, WG7X and K0UO like this.
  10. WA7ARK

    WA7ARK Ham Member QRZ Page

    You will not likely notice the slight "directionality" of any horizontal wire antenna, deployed at any practical (<50ft agl) height.

    You may notice that the over-all efficiency of a vertical is about -6db relative to a horizontal wire, assuming the horizontal wire is at least as high as the tip of the vertical. That efficiency ratio gets worse if the vertical has sparse or no radials.
     
    NH7RO and K0UO like this.

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