Apologies for being slightly off topic (and, unusually for me, serious), but my wife has given me permission to bring my radio into the house (after 20 years of negotiations)! This opens up some exciting possibilities for upgrades!
My query is what antenna would be best? There are unfortunately some parameters:
60’ mast is out
Large beam is out
Must be fairly discrete
Capable of handling 400W
At the moment I’m tending towards a skyloop, but would welcome your views. I did consider a vertical, but was put off by the thought of all those radials.
To give advice we would need to know how much garden you have Andy, what you can fix to and at what height and distance apart, need to know if you are hemmed in closely by property etc (ground mounted verticals won’t work so well then).
Why not a small compact beam called Hexbeam?
This would give you 10, 12, 15, 17, 20m
You don’t need a very tall tower, just a mast should be enough.
It doesn’t require a big powerful rotator.
A trapped dipole for 30, 40, 60, 80m.
I’d forget about a vertical, as they pick up too much QRM in a urban environment.
Have a look at a Cobwebb , many commercial versions out there but there;s a UK based guy on ebay.co.uk that makes a very nice version. Give you all bands 6m to 20m for about 200 quid. Stands up very well to high winds, small footprint, omni directional so no rotor required, sit easily on a pole on a chimney. Gets out very well.
You also need to let us know which bands you want to cover. You say HF - from that do I read 80m-10m?
I’m also a fan of the full wavelength horizontal loop antenna (aka Sky-loop). It’s cheap to build and resilient and on all bands that are miltiples of it’s primary resonant frequency, it does have some directional gain in the direction away from the feed-point.
The one down-side of the Skyloop is the space needed for it.
Another point is which bands above it’s resonant frequency do you want it to cover (and radiate on - I know you can match anything with an ATU but you want an antenna not a dummy load).
I found, surprisingly, that my 80m Skyloop, which you couldn’t really call a loop, the way I had squashed it into my small garden, worked well on 60 metres, but it wasn’t good on the WARC bands. The 40m version was OK on all bands apart from 30m. So you wont get one skyloop that will cover all of the HF bands I think. You can “make it work” on the missing bands using an ATU, but it wont work well.
Well thank you for all the replies. Space is not too much of a problem. I live in a detached 2-storey house with about 20m garden in front and about 40m long at the rear. Probably about 25m wide.
My main issue is keeping my wife happy. She is likely to protest (ie ban) at anything obtrusive. Hence my interest in the horizontally mounted wire loop (skyloop), which could possibly be mounted around the eves of the house (I need to measure it). If more space is required I have a tree in the middle of the garden on the front boundary and a couple of trees near the back that I could use as supports. I would rather avoid conflict (which I will lose) by seeking to erect artificial supports.
I will drop the vertical idea thanks. I think that leaves skyloop, end fed wire, dipole wire or possibly a mag loop (though that might be too obtrusive).
Ed would you be able to send me a link to your pod cast please
As to desired bands, the more the merrier! Certainly from 80m (ideally 160m) to 20m ( though higher frequencies 15,12,10m) would be nice
When I started on HF I put up a G5RV as a stopgap, it was quick and easy and gave a reasonable match on a few bands without a tuner. I then read Varney’s paper about his antenna and found that his preferred way of setting it up was as a doublet, so I got some more 300 ohm window ribbon and extended the original ribbon to a homebrew tuner in the shack. This immediately gave me all bands, 80m to 10m, and later I found that it would tune up and give me contacts on Top Band and 6m. My recommendation, then, is a doublet 102 feet (32 metres) long and a decent tuner - not a built-in 3:1 job but something really flexible, and you really can’t go wrong with an MFJ-949E Versatuner, which has two coax sockets as well as a balanced feeder/random wire sockets (Oh, and a dummy load, too!).
Its worth pointing out that on the higher bands this antenna has multiple lobes in its polar diagram: on 20m it has four lobes like a four-leafed clover, on higher bands more lobes, each lobe has gain but each lobe has a null. Pick your orientation on the basis of where the nulls will be least harmfull on the bands that you will be most active on.
For general purpose chasing you do not need a lot of height, on the lower bands, 80, 60 and 40m, 7 or 8 metres of height will give a good NVIS performance ideal for chasing rather than DX, mine ended up at 6 metres one end on the house eaves and 9 metres up a tree at the other end.
The results speak for themselves, my chaser score is well over 20,000 points, though I’ve lost interest in counting!
The vertical antennas made by GAP are center-fed vertical dipoles, so they do not need radials. The antennas do have smaller radial-like elements at the bottom, but I believe those are a capacity hat for the lower element.
I haven’t used a GAP antenna, but they get good reviews.
A skyloop around the eaves would be noisy and an EMC disaster Andy, especially as you mentioned you wanted to use 400 watts. One thng make sure you have a good earth/ground as near to your station as you can get. You’ll find that 400 watts of power is not necessary for SOTA - you’ll need to hear the activator first and 100 watts is plenty 90% of the time, or wait until the callers are tailing off then less power than that is enough.
Putting a skyloop in the clear would possibly need 4 supports and could be deemed an eyesore by some sado’s or even the XYL. Most neighbours in England don’t like antennas, especially the retired ones with nothing to do but look out of the window. I have 16 neighbours who live with a 400m radius of who banded together a few years ago after I moved in, in an attempt to prevent me putting up aerials. It meant I needed to submit a planning application for a 12m monopole mast and eventually a succesful appeal found in my favour. I’ve challenged neighbours several times over the years, as I have built stations in 8 different homes. I think its worthwhile in the long run if you are serious about the hobby to fight for your rights to erect efficient aerials. It can be stressful taking them on but once they are up and working they tend to leave you alone, providing any EMC issues are dealt with and they are cooperative as well in that.
The only real way to recommend specific aerials to anyone is to know their constraints, see where the house sits on the real estate available, where any supports such as trees or large shrubs are, what access you have to the roof and gable end etc for your mounting brackets. With that information you can then erect what ever you want to fit your interests. If SOTA at this point in the sunspot cycle is your main interest as a Chaser and you don’t benefit from the 20 dB gain you get from using CW then 20m and 40m are your main HF bands for SOTA. So if stealth is important and that is what would please the XYL, a cheap solution as a starting point would be to erect two dipoles fed seperatly for 20m and 40m as high and in the clear and apart from one another as you can get them. A Hexbeam (and probably a Cobweb) with rotator would probably be deemed obtrusive.
See how simple dipoles work for you then either as inverted vees or horizontals. If only one feedpoint is possible I would look at an off centre fed dipole with an ATU as a possiblility. That is what I have found to be a good compromise 80m down to 30m including 60m. It works pretty well on higherbands also but a Hexbeam is much better as it can be turned.
You wouldn’t need the ATU on every band used with an OCFD and if you can get an 80m sized one up then you can get them to match without a tuner very nicely on 40 metres. A full length scaffold pole on your gable end if the layout of the garden is right to support wire antennas of different types could be your (fairly) unobtrusive answer. If you are passing my way (You know where I live) let me know - you are very welcome to call in and you can see what I have done here using trees, shrubs, the house and fences to support various aerials.
PS Yes, a G5RV will work but I think the design has had its day. An OCF Dipole seems to me to outperform the 5RV on most bands and will at least match its performance on 20m I would say.
I can understand the ‘discussions’ with your wife very well.
I’m planing to move into the house of my loved and we already had the subject of antennas …
A loop is out of reach. And unfortunately I can not use a parallel wire feed line. I have to use coax cable.
So for me it will probably be a sort of w3edp as an inverted v …which I have to pull from the carport behind a tree… flat over the roof … into a hedge. I will feed it with a smartuner from 80 to 10m.
But regardless of this, the rule applies: as much wire, as high as possible
And in my experience, the shape of a lieing loop is not soooo important: there are quads, oblongs, deltas and a lot of between…
I’m operating from inside the house instead of the outside shack this time of year. With your size of garden, my very-discrete, low-vis solution may work for you: a random long wire using thin grey wire [you wouldn’t notice it unless it’s pointed out to you] configured as an inverted L running down to a 9:1 UnUn by the house (with short ground wire going to a dog-lead screw-in metal stake in the flower bed) and coax feeder from the UnUn via a little window to a good ATU.
Andy, this is the other Andy, Andy’s idea is good for you Andy. But where Andy has the unun and ATU at he house, this Andy would do it with an auto ATU at the base of the inv-L have that end supported by the tree and run the horizontal section back to the house. Feed it with a run of coax to the ATU along with 12V. However, Andy, it’s up to you to it Andy’s way or Andy’s way.
I’m hoping some of the VK Andy’s will get involved and then we may reach critical mass of Andys