Vertical antenna question

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by K2ZBA, Dec 6, 2016.

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  1. K2ZBA

    K2ZBA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Silly question but I'm wondering what the real difference is between a simple home brew wire mono band vertical or even a 43 foot wire vertical and commercial antennas? They seem pretty pricey. I understand the ones with traps or coils could cost some big bucks but are there any advantages in buying a mono bander or 43 foot vertical instead of making it?
  2. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you work 18 hour days and have more money than time it is a good idea to buy an antenna, everyone else should try to make some antennas.
    Wire is cheap, aluminum alloy is not .
    If you have trees to hang antennas in that's another plus.
    I moved where there are lots of big trees.
    I bought lots of bulk wire and coax and a bag of insulators and a spool of rope.
    Now I have a bunch of antennas up and all bands covered, 160-10M, except 12M so far.
    Get some antenna books, the Antenna handbooks from ARRL are pretty good.
    Build, learn and enjoy !
    OK I admit I am not a good metal worker so I bought some aluminum antennas from HyGain ; 2M 6db vertical, 3 element Yagi for 10M and a 4 element for 6M. A pretty good antenna maker and not too expensive. I have had the 10M one for 40 years and it works very well.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
    K0YB, KD6RF and K2ZBA like this.
  3. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    A 48' length of tubing or even wire, properly assembled and installed to be vertical over a good ground radial system, will work the same as a $500 commercial 48' vertical.

    The main difference is the expensive commercial products are very strong and self-supporting when only secured at the base. This makes a world of difference if you want to install a 43' vertical where there's nothing around to support the top end, or any part of it other than the base. The Zero-Five models, for example, are so strong they really don't even need to be guyed so all you need is a clear space in a field and tubing cemented into the ground to support it. There's a lot to be said for such sturdy construction.

    Many hams use lightweight fibreglas tubing with just a length of copper wire inside to electrically simulate the same antenna design...but that sure won't self-support! That will need lightweight rope guy lines, and space to install them, to last more than five minutes.
    KD6RF likes this.
  4. W6OGC

    W6OGC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Assuming equal construction techniques, nothing.

    A multiband antenna needs some sort of matching arrangements. When I built a homebrew clone of the no longer available S9v31, I used a 4:1 unun from Balun Design and the LDG RT100/RC100. It worked very well in an all QRP all CW operation.

    Finding a 43' fiberglass pole might be tricky, and expensive. Spiderbeam sells a 12M pole, probably $150 or so with everything. These can be used for a variety of antennas. For example,

    The ~31' pole used in the S9v31 is more available. Jackite sells them and has them on Amazon, too.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    A 31 footer is all you'd need for 40m and higher frequencies (e.g., 40-10m) using a good Unun and tuner.

    The 43 footer can work on 60m very well and on 80m with help. (On 60m it could be fed with a 1:1 Unun since it will be close to 50 Ohms on that band.)
  6. KH2G

    KH2G Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have found that home brew works as well and is a heck of a lot cheaper. Add to that the satisfaction of doing it yourself. Kinda like the first contact with a rig you built and getting good reports lol
  7. K7TRF

    K7TRF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    As others have said, there's no electrical difference between a commercial 1/4 wave or non-resonant (e.g. 31', 43') vertical. In terms of on the air performance it doesn't really matter if you load up into a commercial piece of aluminum of a certain height (with equivalent matching networks) some homebrew pieces of tubing or even hang a wire of the same length from a high tree branch.

    OTOH, there may be some differences mechanically but that depends on your choice of homebrew materials and how much consideration you give to mechanical strength and stability if you cobble something together. IOW, give good consideration to materials, design and mechanical construction and for the same dimensions, the same network of radials and the same matching network the performance on the air will be the same whether you buy it or build it.

    And again as others have posted there's a whole lot of satisfaction to be had from building your own antennas and then seeing them work on the air. Plus the more you learn about basic antennas the more you'll likely experiment with more sophisticated designs down the road.

    K2ZBA and KD6RF like this.
  8. K2ZBA

    K2ZBA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    This is all really helpful, thank you! I enjoy building antennas. I have a homebrew hexbeam build around the trunk of a tree, and a multiband dipole I made. They both perform great so I'm looking for another project. Part of makes radio "magic" for me is to contact somebody on the other side of the world on an antenna I made myself. I think I may go forward on a vertical just for fun.
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  9. PA1ZP

    PA1ZP Ham Member QRZ Page


    I only bought one antenna, due to its awfull performance I have designed and build all other 200 myself.
    there is no way that a commercial vertical can beat a good well build and placed homebrew vertical.
    you do not want to know how many CP6 wonders or CAH6 junk I have blown away with a simple wire vertical on 40 mtrs and a $2 saved from scrap GP on 20 mtrs.

    I do not know where the 43 feet ferrytail comes from, try this on 10 , 12 and 6 metres and it will be beaten by any simple homebrew monoband GP big time.
    In 160 a 43 foot vertical will be as good as a radiating dummyload
    with huge ground losses, if you do not have perfect ground underneeth it.
    Verticals without traps or phasing may be between 1/6 wavelength and 5/8 wavelength, longer will give a high take of angles, shorter will give high resistive losses.
    2 x 5/8 vertically stacked can be done ofcourse.
    tried it on 10 mtrs, but with 39 feet not a small vertical, certainly with its 15 feet mast it was quite a big portable vertical.

    My 69 foot vertical had perfect SWR on 17 mtrs and was beaten big time by my 20 mtr GP with a bad SWR.
    Why radiation pattern.

    I also have build a 68 cents 2 el beam on 20 mtrs from only scrap aluminium , even a 2el steppIR couldn't beat this 20 mtr monobander.

    Antennas work on mathematical and physical principles, these laws of nature do not make any differences in homebrewed or bought antennas at all.
    If the design is good and solid it works good, if not it won't.

    73 Jos
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