New to Shortwave (HF)? Daunted By Antenna Choices?

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by NW7US, Nov 9, 2020.

ad: L-HROutlet
ad: l-rl
ad: Left-3
ad: Left-2
ad: MessiPaoloni-1
ad: L-MFJ
ad: L-Geochron
ad: abrind-2
ad: HRDLLC-2
  1. NW7US

    NW7US Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Is a Perfect Antenna Necessary for the New-To-HF Ham Operator?


    Are you new to operating on the shortwave frequencies (or, high-frequencies--HF; 3 MHz to 30 MHz; 80m, 75m, 60m, 40m, 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m)? Is the prospect of figuring out a good HF antenna a bit daunting?

    Here’s a question that might be relevant: Does an amateur radio operator need to design a perfect antenna, in order to get on HF?

    Consider: It might not take as much antenna as you may think necessary to make two-way contacts on shortwave radio.

    Often, makeshift antennae are effective enough to be viable. This is proven by those who go to parks, mountain tops, or go mobile with HF. They use compromise antenna designs. Simple dipoles, end-feed wires, and sometimes loops or a vertical antenna. Those are far from the perfect antenna. Is there even such a thing as a perfect antenna? No.

    My advice? Start with SOMETHING just to get on the air.

    Start with what you can, and then start to enhance, improve, and learn the secrets of HF communications (hint: most of your success will come by improving your antenna system, including a good ground system).


    The bottom line: just get something up in the air and start communicating. Improve things over time. You'll have much fun that way. (Check out: Fiddle Factor - Get on the air!)

    Case in point: here's a look at my makeshift antenna that I put up just to get on the air from my new residence in Ohio:

    With this antenna, I've made successful two-way voice and Morse code contacts (QSOs) with stations in Europe and across North America. I am able to tune it on the 80-, 75-, 60-, 40-, 30-, 20-, 15-, 17-, 12-, and 10-Meter bands. Reverse beacon detection pick up my Morse-code CW signals, especially on 40 meters (the band on which it is tuned physically). Watch:

    Don't mind the first part of the video, in which I show you my new QTH (residence). I just moved here from Nebraska. There's plenty of room for antennas, and there are some tall trees!

    I'm excited, and I plan on improving this antenna and getting it up higher--somewhere around 40 or 50 feet up in the air--in time for the November CQ WW contest at the end of the month.

    Of course, I want to make a proper dipole out of this example antenna. But, while I wait for the rest of the parts I need to complete this antenna project (pulleys and a ladder, and maybe a rope launcher), I've put this makeshift antenna on the air. It is just high enough so that I can enjoy some time on the shortwave bands.

    73 de NW7US


    Attached Files:

    AH7I, KE0HTG, KB0NMQ and 8 others like this.
  2. WB3BMS

    WB3BMS XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    And, let me chime in with: Don't be afraid to put something in your attic.
    A few years ago, I put an MFJ-2010 off center feed quad-band (40/20/10/6m) dipole in my attic. My attic is nowhere near 67' long, though, so I ran the feed and the main part of the dipole along the ridge and ran the legs down the hips and then snaked what remained of the conductors around as best I could. I used this out-of-the-box configuration for a while and then adjusted the length a bit to improve the performance in the low portion of the bands where I work digital modes. I really wanted 15m and 30m, so earlier this year I added a parasitic resonator below the main antenna. Although I had usable SWRs on all bands, they weren't as low as I wanted, so I finally added a remote LDG tuner. With the tuner, I've got <1.5:1 SWR on 80,40,30,20,15,10 and 6. In the last few months I've worked 49 states on FT8 w/this antenna and my 5w Flex-1500.

    M1WML, N8MGQ and KI7Z like this.
  3. PU2OZT

    PU2OZT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Loved your «...sometimes loop or vertical...» as third, ersatz, worst ever choices!!
    What if the ONLY SOLUTION left to you to get on HF is a HB/MLA?
    (Un)truly yours, 88
    M1WML likes this.
  4. KI5AAI

    KI5AAI Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Heck, today I thought I was on my 40-meter full wave delta loop for a QSO, I realized after the QSO that I did not change the switch to that. I was on my G5RV LOL.....QSO was great. And that was with the tuner bypassed. :)

    As long as it does not blow up your transceiver and you do not interfere with anything or anyone else......use the antenna ya got!
    M1WML and KC1DR like this.
  5. VE3BXG

    VE3BXG XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Agree with you -- just do it!! Be perfect later.
    M1WML and (deleted member) like this.
  6. W1SPS

    W1SPS Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've only had my license for just over a year. I started out with a commercial End Fed that covers 6-80m with an LDG 100PROII Tuner. That antenna starts at 25' and goes up to about 55' over it's length. I'm 7 countries shy of DXCC with 100w on that antenna. I built a 160m end fed based on the first one I bought. I also built a 30m Delta Loop on a Saturday afternoon cause I was bored. NA4RR Hex Beam should be arriving today 6-40m. This is one of the things I love about this hobby is experimenting with and trying out new antennas.
    M1WML, WA8FOZ and WA2LXB like this.
  7. N1IPU

    N1IPU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Have as many arrows in your quiver as you can muster. That's how I think of what to put up wherever I am at the time. I keep a folder just for HF antenna ideas and builds so I can tackle any situation that rises. Near as thick as the handbook now.
    AA7ZZ, M1WML, AK5B and 1 other person like this.
  8. WN1MB

    WN1MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    KE0HTG, W7GST, M1WML and 2 others like this.
  9. W1SPS

    W1SPS Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    You ever see that thing where they use a lightbulb as an antenna?
    M1WML and K3SX like this.
  10. K4TO

    K4TO Ham Member QRZ Page

    If that coil in the photo is in your final, no wonder it doesn't make any difference what antenna you put up! :)

    73 de Dave, K4TO
    VE4DLA, WQ4G, NW7US and 5 others like this.

Share This Page