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Using 14 Gauge Antenna Wire As A Counterpoise

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by KB0OXD, Jul 31, 2011.

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  1. KB0OXD

    KB0OXD Guest

    I'm looking at this as a viable option instead of using the unexposed stock wire (Which I need help in exposing an end of to use) that came with my MFJ 1622 antenna. My question is IS IT POSSIBLE to use 14 Gauge antenna wire as a counterpoise? If so, how reliable is it as a counterpoise as opposed to an antenna? I'm thinking it is but I wanna make sure before committing to using the stuff :)

    Has anyone tried this?

    I can get 14 Gauge antenna wire real cheap from the local candy store so that's no problem (I'd much prefer that over the RS stuff)

    Cheers & 73 :)
  2. KA9VQF

    KA9VQF Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have successfully used 32 gauge wire as an inverted V antenna.

    It held up all summer for me a few years back.

    The diameter of your wire is really pretty irrelevant naturally thicker wire will last longer and be less likely to break.

    Thicker wire also has a bit more bandwidth than thin wire but it has to be really large diameter to notice much difference.
  3. KB0OXD

    KB0OXD Guest

    Well my antenna is inside my apartment & the counterpoise is a thin wire that came with the antenna

    Does that help?

    Cheers & 73 :)
  4. WA4BRL

    WA4BRL Ham Member QRZ Page

    To answer your questions from post #1:
    1. Yes
    2. Yes

    To answer your question from post #3:
  5. KB0OXD

    KB0OXD Guest

    Well given this info., I think I'll take a trip down to the local candy store & pick up a spool of 14 gauge wire since I believe that would be better than the thin wire I have now & will enable me to ACTUALLY RECEIVE HF signals (As it is now, my radio is DEAF on the HF bands no matter how I extend the antenna or adjust the loading coil)

    When I say deaf, I mean you can't even hear any CW !!

    Thanks for the info Zedders :)

    Cheers & 73 :)
  6. KB4QAA

    KB4QAA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm building a portable vertical antenna with 8 radials and will be making it all of 22AWG hookup wire from Radioshack.

    Buy whatever is convenient but there is no reason to believe that using 14AWG versus smaller gauge will make any improvement in reception.

    p.s. 1/4 wavelength counterpoise for each band would be ideal, but do what you can. If you are doing one counterpoise, cut it for the lowest band and just lay it around the baseboard of the room. :)
  7. KA9UCN

    KA9UCN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Totally Deaf? If you cannot hear anything? It sounds like you have other problems. A coat hanger will receive something.
  8. W4HAY

    W4HAY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Heck, I've used electric fence wire for both the antenna and counterpoise, and in college even used wire from a surplus wire recorder spool for a stealth antenna. It worked pretty good until pigeons would fly into it. But it was cheap cheap cheap, so who cared?

    But if you're not hearing anything with your present setup, you have other problems.
  9. NA0AA

    NA0AA Ham Member QRZ Page

    You said it was for indoor use...well, a counterpoise is RF hot, so best you use insulated wire to prevent accidents.

    Wire diameter at HF is not a significant factor.
  10. WA4BRL

    WA4BRL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sorry about my terse response above. I'll claim "it was late" as an excuse, but excuse is all it is. I didn't even catch the second of three questions in your original post.

    A counterpoise is required of virtually all antennas that are not balanced doublets or resonant half-wave monopoles. (And it usually helps to have a good counterpoise on the latter.) Many manufacturers claim their products that should have a counterpoise will work well without one. This is mostly promotional (read sales) stance, but there is some truth in it. A number of those antennas will be installed a significant distance from the transceiver, thus a long feedline will be used. If no choke balun is installed at the feedpoint, RF current will flow on the outside of the coax shield an it becomes the counterpoise. It may not be a "good" counterpoise, but if the length approximated a quarter-wavelength at the frequency in use, it will approximate the job of a counterpoise to some level.

    For a close-in antenna with a short coax, this just won't happen. To achieve some usable level of efficiency, you need a separate quarter-wavelength counterpoise for each band you operate. The MFJ 1622 already compromises much efficiency for the sake of compact size. It is going to be a rather "deaf" antenna at best (compared to full-size antennas.) So do everything you can to get the most out of it.

    1. Mount it outdoors, high, and in the clear
    2. Use a quarter-wavelength counterpoise mounted to the antenna and stretched out to full length
    3. Tune the antenna carefully to achieve resonance at the frequency in use (an antenna analyzer will help greatly)
    4. Use quality low-loss feedline between the antenna and your radio
    5. Use a quality antenna tuner, as the feedpoint impedance is sure to be 15 Ohms or less at resonance in the lower HF bands. A standard transceiver can't handle this.

    From the 1950's through the 1970's Gotham antennas sold the V-40 and V-80 antennas to thousands upon thousands of new hams. Installed per Gotham's instructions, these were horrid antennas. With some knowledge, test equipment and added groundplane/counterpoise, one could make them work somewhat. But these antennas were still a considerable challenge, more handicap than facilitator as an RF transducer. I consider this MFJ antenna to be in the same category.

    You should seek out an experienced local ham who is willing to help you get this straightened out. He may help get that thing working enough to please you. He may help you get into something much more efficient that costs next to nothing (not much of a challenge, really.) But this antenna is a tough challenge to face starting out.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2011
  11. KB4QAA

    KB4QAA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Here is the antenna in question. Don't expect too much from it.
  12. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Because, it uses a...
  13. WA4BRL

    WA4BRL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yeah. Read the last two paragraphs in post #10.
  14. W4HAY

    W4HAY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Something to consider: Tens of thousands of hams regularly work HF mobile, both phone and CW. A mobile installation is a loaded vertical worked against a far from ideal hunk of metal for a counterpoise. Not optimum, but workable. I've worked many CW mobiles on 80, 40, 20, & 15 over considerable distances with strong signals, and listened to many others on the 'phone segments of these bands (I haven't operated a significant amount of 'phone in several decades.)

    The recorder wire antenna I mentioned earlier was worked against the steam heat piping of a dormitory. I was running a 6L6 at about 10 Watts output and it worked beautifully. Some time back I used a Heath HW-8 (about 4 Watts output) and a 20/15 Meter dipole inside a second story apartment with very gratifying results. The antenna was zig-zagged around the ceiling. My EE roomie was amazed that I was able to talk across the country with a box the size of a couple of books powered by two lantern batteries.

    Don't get discouraged. Use some imagination and persistence and you'll be surprised what'll turn up on the bands.
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