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Small Lot 160 Meter Rcving Antenna

Discussion in 'Discussions, Opinions & Editorials' started by W0BKR, Dec 23, 2009.

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  1. W0BKR

    W0BKR Guest

    Like many, I suffer from not having an estate and unlimited funds to erect 4 towers, string wires everywhere and run beverages in every direction (hi).

    So, I basically have a very modest station with your generic tower and tri bander atop.

    I always wanted to play on 160 meters and have done so off and on for years but with limited success in working any real "DX" (i.e. Europe, etc). I run a wire sloper off the tower and barefoot, gets me into EU and other areas usually on a consistent basis.

    Hearing the DX is another thing.

    If you remember, a vertically polarized antenna (i.e. shunt fed towers, slopers, verticals, etc.) pick up a lot of noise and the problem is being able to hear the station(s) within the noise. Most signals (from this geographical area) are not that strong. We don't have the advantage of easy copy from the Upper Midwest (i.e. Ohio, Minn, etc.) or the E. Coast. From those areas, it is a much, much easier path.

    So, what to do.

    I have reams of paper, articles, etc., on receive antennas, many of which are either a tangled mess of wires, require too much space, grounding is an issue, etc.

    I came across articles by K6SE (sk), where Earl talks to a Pennant or Flag antenna. The antenna basically that I use is a FLAG which is 29 feet long, 14 feet tall rectangle. Simple enough.

    The FLAG doesn't require miles of ground wire, in fact none. It requires two simple supports that get it 6-7 feet off the ground (vertically). You can get sections of fiberglass mast of Ebay for little to nothing and can erect, take down and store the sections (4-5 feet in length) or take with you.

    On one end, you have the terminated side with a 950 or thereabout, ohm resistor (that is the "reflector" or back end of the antenna. On the other end, you have teh transformer (where you point the antenna) which is fed with coax.

    I use the K1FZ KB5 transformer. I was using one from KD9SV which for some reason, wasn't hearing much at all. I think the ratio (9:1) is way off for the FLAG.

    The KB5 is a match for FLAGs.

    Does it work? Resounding, YES.
    Does it hear the DX spotted, obviously no as that is contingent upon location, propagation, etc.

    You have to have a decent radio and I use my older FT-1000 which I tweak the Shift, Width, Notch, IPO, RF Gain, etc. to suit the receive signal. Really makes a big, big difference.

    I also use the receive signal in DUAL watch which provides a somewhat "diversity" receive signal which too, makes a big big difference in hearing the signals.

    I can't vouch for which antenna will work but for me, the FLAG is working much, much better then the transmit antenna, which I just can't pull the signals out of the noise all the time.

    Key issue: Signal capture and noise reduction. The FLAG has low noise and hears the signal, even if no S-Meter reading.

    I highly recommend anyone wanting to play on 160 and can't hear like myself, to use a FLAG antenna. Small, easy to make, cheap materials, and the only real cost is the transformer from K1FZ, coax to your shack, and mast material.

    I moved my antenna away from my tower due to the resonant transmit antenna which will affect the receive capability of the FLAG.

    Note: The FLAG is ground independent which means, whatever you "hang" it over, doesn't matter. You don't need radials, ground rods, etc. Just erect it and use it and point it where you need it.

    I plan on working on mine to make it "rotatable" and yes, there are plans and examples of that too. For now, I am happy with the way mine is.

    Check out this and many other URLs on the Pennant and FLAG antenna:

  2. NN3W

    NN3W Ham Member QRZ Page

    My impression on the pennant or the K9AY is that a ground really is ideal for optimal performance. We had a K9AY array up at N3HBX with the standard ground stake ground system, and it was no better than the transceive antenna that we were using anyhow.
  3. W0BKR

    W0BKR Guest

    Pennant Antenna / Flag Antenna

    Regarding the Pennant or FLAG (same antenna, slightly different configuration): Read K6SE's (sk) comments:

    The directional pattern of the Pennant is identical to the Ewe
    (cardioid). A major drawback to the Ewe is its extreme sensitivity to
    any change in the local soil conductivity, i.e., large differences in
    antenna size and termination resistance value for an optimum Ewe over
    different types of soil. This shortcoming of the Ewe was the primary
    reason the Pennant was developed.

    The Pennant is very insensitive to the
    soil conditions as well as height above ground.

    Also, WA1ION wrote:
    The Flag Antenna is in the family of terminated loops that can yield a cardioid (heart-shaped, single-direction null) pick-up pattern. Its name comes from its horizontal rectangular shape. Length of the upper and lower horizontal wire members is typically about 2 to 3 times the height of the two vertical sides. Original "relatives" include the Ewe antenna developed by Floyd Koontz, WA2WVL and Gary Breed’s K9AY Loop. These rely to some extent on ground conductivity to perform at their best. A "ground independent " terminated loop concept was subsequently developed by Jose Mata Garriga, EA3VY and Earl Cunningham, K6SE. The Flag, Delta, Kaz, and Pennant antennas are in this category.

    As you can see, the K9AY relies on soil conductivity and grounding, the FLAG and Pennant do not.

    Lots of info out there, just have to filter thru it. But all in all, the FLAG is relatively small foot print and when properly installed, will help in receiving signals on 160 meters with noise present.
  4. NN3W

    NN3W Ham Member QRZ Page

    Fair enough.
  5. W0BKR

    W0BKR Guest

    Good info out there..

    From what I have read, the K9AY is different then the FLAG or Pennant. I am not an antenna expert but I don't see how something that small will receive as well as it does, but it does. I have tried teh coaxial loops with dismal results. They really need to be up in the air.

    As to teh K9AY, I think it is a good antenna also, if you don't mind a tangle of wires and have a good ground situation. Unfortunately, where I live, the soil has so much rock and in my particular location, solid rock less then 18 inches under the soil so grounding, ground rods, etc. are nearly impossible to utilize.

    One would think that a FLAG mounted horizontally, would hear better but the design is for vertically mounted.

    Perhaps someone with EZNEC could run a model of the FLAG twice as long but same height to see what the results might be.

    I used 16 gage wire in mine and perhaps larger gage would be better for the signal capture, but I wanted less noticeable aerials since being in the side yard and it works very well.
  6. NN3W

    NN3W Ham Member QRZ Page

    I may have to consider a pennant at home. Might be a good project before the Stew Perry this weekend. Unfortunately, I don't have pre-amp - and I assume one is required.

    K6SE did a LOT of good research on 160 DXing and contesting. His passing was a loss for low band afficianados.
  7. N2RJ

    N2RJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    What do you guys think of W8JI's small receive 4 square?
  8. K3STX

    K3STX Ham Member QRZ Page

    FWIW, I put up a Pennant last year and compared it to my 120 foot long, terminated "Beverage" (elevated 6 feet). Both oriented to Europe.

    My short Beverage ran rings around the Pennant for Europe EVERY time. The Pennant was taken down.

  9. W0BKR

    W0BKR Guest

    K6SE (sk)

    Yeah, Earl was a gem. I know the community is missing him and his very valued tests and results.

    I have been told to use the FLAG configuration as it for whatever reason, seems to perform much better or at least better, then the pennant. One tie off versus 2, really doesn't make a difference to me, but configuration wise, you have a big more wire and the enclosed area of the rectangle, has a larger signal capture area.

    Either should work but for sure, either should be an improvement over just using the transmit antenna on receive.
  10. W0BKR

    W0BKR Guest


    Didn't use a preamp. Sensitivity of most radios now is sufficient. If you were talking a coaxial loop or BOG (Beverage on Ground) then a preamp would be required for sure. I don't use one and frankly, just brings up more noise to clutter the signal.
  11. W0BKR

    W0BKR Guest

    120 Foot Beverage

    You might put out the link to that antenna. That woudl be helpful. I have heard that 120 or so, foot beverages on the ground work well too, but also contingent on soil conductivity so not sure how it would work here. A friend close to my house, uses a 330 foot on ground echelon beverage with good results. I am not that much of an antenna expert to know much on that subject.

    I think each installation will dictate which set up will work for the end user.

    I have considered the BOG (BEverage On Ground) as I didn't want something strung across public access areas.
  12. K3STX

    K3STX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not much a link needed! RG6 coax goes to a 9:1 Beverage transformer (DX Engineering) that is tacked to the top of my 6 foot wooden fence. The antenna is attached with fishing string every 10 feet or so (at 6 feet elevation), I am lucky it is pointing directly at Europe. After about 120 feet I bring the antenna straight down to a terminating resistor, I think mine was a composition-type resistor about 470 ohms. Can't get much simpler than that. It is OK on 160 and pretty good on 80, much better than my vertical.

  13. W0BKR

    W0BKR Guest


    Sounds like a good approach.

    I would recommend trying the FLAG. If you can run the 120 foot wire, then you should try a FLAG also. Might be even better...GL
  14. W0BKR

    W0BKR Guest

    Flag/Pennant Antenna

    I have found since using my FLAG with the appropriate transformer, that it many times makes the difference between hearing and not hearing the DX at all. On the sloper, vertically polarized, just can't take the noise out.

    I don't hear all DX but a good portion of it...and it does (160 meters that is) depend upon propagation. Much, much different in working EU from here on 160 as compared to the E. Coast or upper Midwest. Much longer haul and more signal path loss. But it can be done.

    Heard JAs this morning, loudly on the sloper. FLAG is oriented NE so not much signal pick up to the NW.
  15. N2RJ

    N2RJ Ham Member QRZ Page


    He seems to think highly of it:

    Anyway my friend W2IRT has a K9AY on his small city sized lot and speaks highly of it. It seems to do well all things considered. He's in a higher noise environment than I am though, so I can't make a direct comparison to my Beverages.
  16. N7WR

    N7WR Subscriber QRZ Page

  17. W0BKR

    W0BKR Guest


    They are all in the same family of EWE type antennas.

    The one disadvantage of the K9AY is the necessity for a good grounding set up (and radials). The soil here isn't good for ground rods due to rock, rock shelfs, etc. One reason the FLAG and Pennant are liked from that K6SE has written is the ability to ignore the ground conductivity.

    The K9AY is a good antenna if you have the space and don't mind the wires and radials.

    FLAGs and Pennants are a good "temporary" set up antenna, easy to erect and take down for a temp set up.

    I think the RDF numbers are all good on this family of antennas.
  18. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm not sure if this is what you have or not but if not it's definitely worth a look.

    Also, if you are an ARRL member look at the December 1974 QST, Minooka Special article. There are several small space antennas for DX work that have proved to be successful. You may not be able to implement any of these but it is some food for thought.
  19. W0BKR

    W0BKR Guest

    Signals at W8JI

    I doubt I will ever hear signals as W8JI does (check out his antenna system).

    Most of the audio files W8JI has are signals like 579 or better...lucky to have an honest 559. Most EU and such signals to this part of the world without beverages are at best just above the noise. The exception has been JAs which are louder. Would love to hear the stuff JI hears over the pole, etc. Long haul to the south.
  20. W0BKR

    W0BKR Guest


    Any users out there with the FLAG/Pennant Antenna? Sure like to hear your experience and success with them.
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