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Thread: Non-Resonant Antennas

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    3763 Lyle Avenue, North Pole, AK 99705


    It's really amazing how persistent so many bad "theories" are, no matter HOW many times you keep reminding them. The same misconceptions pop up here on QRZ time after time after time after time after time after time after time......

    Probably the most persistent of these is the proclamation that a resonant antenna is better than a non-resonant one. This fallacy has been propagated since at least as far back as 1956, when Byron Goodman, W1DX was compelled to set the record straight in his classic article "My Feedline Tunes My Antenna" (Attached) And yet, there were two posts on QRZ just today by (unnamed) people who should definitely know better.

    It is the RESISTIVE component of any antenna that determines the radiation. REACTANCE has no effect whatsoever. ALL A.M. broacast towers are non-resonant. Every one of them. Not by choice, but by the fact that nobody cuts a broadcast tower to length.

    You don't need a broadcast tower to prove this. It can be demonstrated with any wire antenna, a field strength meter and a tuner. There should never be any reason for this misinformation to keep coming up. But I'm sure it will...QST has had to republish W1DX's paper countless times.

    Now...if I could just get paid......
    "A minute of measurement trumps a decade of debate."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    New Braunfels, TX


    And, ... your coax HAS to be cut for an exact 1/4 length or it wont work. (10-4?)
    Tom WA4ILH

  3. #3


    Resonance hasn't any magic, but certain resonant antennas will match common transmission lines (coaxial cable) well without the need for other devices, and that is the magic.

    A 1/2-wave center-fed dipole and a 1/2-wave end-fed wire are both resonant and have identical radiation patterns. Or, they would if only you could match the end-fed wire effectively to minimize common mode currents and prevent the feedline from becoming part of the antenna. That's not so easy!

    If you need to convince somebody there's no magic to resonant antennas, discuss the most popular VHF whip antennas, which are all 5/8-wavelengths and non-resonant on their own. They're fed through an inductor that cancels the Xc of the whip and makes them resonant, though.

    Ditto the broadcast towers. They're selected for a particular height based on operating frequency, the ground beneath them and the radiation pattern required to maximize ground wave coverage while minimizing co-channel and adjacent channel interference, usually without regard to sky wave since that's not the primary audience nor protectorate. Then, whatever length that turns out to be, they're tuned to resonance with a matching network. The system becomes resonant; the radiator doesn't need to be.

    But I like current-fed resonant antennas because they make my life easier and allow rapid deployment of effective antennas with predictable radiation patterns.

    That's not a bad thing.

    What if soy milk is just regular milk introducing itself in Spanish?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    9812 Banway Drive, Greenwell Springs, LA.


    Thanks you guys for presenting information on these topics. I've learned a lot from some of you guys and implement your knowledge wherever I can, but most importantly, I try to make real world comparisons and base my final judgements from there.

    I think Steve makes a fantastic point that for certain antennas, especially those designed to be resonant on a particular band and where a predictable radiation pattern is desired, coax is best.

    But I also realize that 75% or more of hams have property limitations as well as budgetary restraints that make the ideal impractical. Steve tells the ideal truth, which is important.

    Eric presents the story for the common ham. The ham who has to live with compromises. For the ham who lives with compromises but desires frequency agility, balanced line fed multiband antennas are "the only" way to go.

    No magic, voodoo, or old ham's wives tales. I've seen the difference in my short time. Coax feeding an antenna and trying to tune it on various bands simply doesn't work.
    73, Heath/KE5FRF
    EchoLink Node#268023
    My favorite mode? Morse, of course.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2002


    My non-resonant 260ft dipole works excellent fed with 450 ohm ladder line. I've compared this antenna to a 1/2 wave 40m dipole I had up, but not quite as high, and the 260ft dipole was always 1 to 3 S units better on xmit, and slightly better on receive on 40 meters....

    73 and good DX
    WZ4I - Mark Harrison

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2001


    Well, I just modified my 20 meter full-wave vertical loop today by attaching a half wave long piece of ladder line to the feedpoint, and moving the 1:1 balun to the other end of that line. As far as I can tell, the performance did not change on 20 meters, if anything it actually is somewhat better since the currents are being balanced a bit better by the ladder line feed ( ? ).

    The big surprise is that the 2nd station that I worked on 40 tonight was located in the United Kingdom ! ! ! The 1st station, which was about 90 miles away from me, was running a kilowatt and I was barefoot. Station #1 and I were still in our QSO when the English station jumped in to the "group". He gave Nick an "S-9 +10 " report, and I got an "S-9". I was fairly blown away by that as I could not even load up the loop on 40 prior to adding that quarter-wave matching link! So, as has been said above, the antenna itself is not resonant, but the system presents a 50 ohm resistive load to the rig, which is what it wants to see!

    I will have more to report about this antenna in days to come, I am sure. But it sure seems to be doing great on its "maiden voyage" !

    73, Jim

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Elizabethtown, PA


    So, if I tune my 6m beam on 160m, it will work just as good as a 260ft wire?

    Wow, thanks!

    [B][I][SIZE=4][COLOR=black][FONT=Comic Sans MS][SIZE=3]73 DE NZ3M[/SIZE][/FONT][/COLOR][/SIZE][/I][/B]

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2001


    No No NO ! There is a little thing called "radiation resistance" that comes into play here. A short whip that is tuned to resonance with lumped components ( coil and capacitor stuff ) will probably only have a radiation resistance of a few ohms, while the entire system still presents a 50 ohm resistive load to the transmitter. In order to push even 100 watts of RF out of a system with only a few ohms of radiation resistance, the system would have to support a current flow of many many amperes! ( P = Isquared*R ) It is no wonder that a few feet of wire will not radiate worth anything on the HF bands, even though many a mobile station has tried to put out a reasonable signal on the lower bands and failed miserably. Low radiation resistance, no RF grounds, etc. etc.

    Read the book ! 73, Jim

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    New Castle County, Delaware


    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] (AG3Y @ May 09 2007,23:51)]It is no wonder that a few feet of wire will not radiate worth anything on the HF bands, even though many a mobile station has tried to put out a reasonable signal on the lower bands and failed miserably.

    Then I guess this little guy working The Netherlands, Germany, and Portugal on 75m is just a figment of my imagination?

    Thanks for clearing that up.
    "If someone tells you he believes in and talks to an invisible bunny named Harvey, you put him on medication and a regimen of therapy. If someone tells you he believes in and talks to God, well, that's perfectly acceptable. Why that's the case is impossible for me to fathom." - WP2XX

    "He's dead, Jim. You take his Tricorder and I'll get his wallet."

    "The problem with America is stupidity. I'm not saying there should be a capital punishment for stupidity, but why don't we just take the safety labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself?"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Ridgefield, Washington


    Doesn't matter if it's a weak transmitter, or a weak antenna, QRP is QRP. It works, it's fun, and its success often depends on the distant-end operator's skill, patience, and antenna.
    Gary, K9ZMD . . . Ridgefield, WA

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