Author Topic: Portable Antenna semi-Rant.  (Read 1294 times)

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Tevin

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Portable Antenna semi-Rant.
« on: November 17, 2016, 07:26:25 AM »
I looked into the various commercially available portable antennas. I have often been very critical of these antennas (which I've blabbed about here on PH). After reading up on them, I've changed my stance, a little.

They actually work fairly well for what they are. My rant is that they are quite expensive for what they give you. The prices they are charging for some of these antennas will take your breath away!

I really liked the DX Engineering TW, but it would cost over $850 to get what I need for 40-10 meter coverage. Jeeze dudes, that's more than I paid for my FT-817 radio and the LDG antenna tuner to go with it!

The Chameleon "tactical dipole" is very well thought out, but I refuse to pay close to $500 for a dipole, even if it is a really cool one. The CHA-Micro costs a comparatively reasonable $211. The problem: For two-hundred-and-then-some all you get is sixty feet of wire and a coil, which I assume is a UNUN. And you still need an antenna tuner.

Who the hell actually buys this stuff? And do they know they are being royally screwed? Of course they don't. They're all "zero-to-Extras". Maybe they are disgustingly rich and don't mind dropping five-large on a dipole?

If I knew 20 years ago there were people out there willing to lay out that kind of dough for a basic wire antenna, by now I'd be the Bill Gates of ham radio.

So I dug around on line and in my numerous antenna books looking for a simple, cheap, effective DIY solution. I decided on the time-tested random long wire.

I came up with three configurations: One with a counterpoise, one without, and one that uses a UNUN. My total cost was about $50. Even if I add in the cost of the antenna tuner,  the whole package is still well under anything else out there.

Initial tests were very positive. I made many domestic DX contacts on 40 and 20 meters running only 5 watts. I still need to do more testing before I can sign off on the project and call it a success, but so far I'm very encouraged. After an unusually mild fall it's starting to get cold for real here, so additional field testing will require some determination and a lot of bundling up.

The entire antenna rolls up nicely, weighs very little, and fits in the back pack with all my other stuff. I still use clunky “portable” tripods and masts to string it up on, but in a true survival situation I could leave that stuff behind and string the wire from a tree or whatever is around.

I think I've found a portable antenna I can live with and doesn't cost more than the radio its plugged into.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2016, 07:00:35 PM by Tevin »

DragoSapien

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Re: Portable Antenna semi-Rant.
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2016, 07:54:50 AM »
LOL!!!!!  I could be looking around at antennas my self and realized I cant afford any of them. I say we all on here get together and design a portable antenna.

Tevin

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Re: Portable Antenna semi-Rant.
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2016, 06:59:27 PM »
LOL!!!!!  I could be looking around at antennas my self and realized I cant afford any of them. I say we all on here get together and design a portable antenna.

As I mentioned, the cost of most portable antennas is insane! And some of them (like the TW) are in a duffel bag type carry case. That's portable enough I guess, but you can't walk all day with it.

My portable random wire antenna has not been thoroughly tested yet, but as soon as I have it all figured out I will write a detailed article and post it on my blog. So far I am very encouraged by how well it is working. And yea, you can stuff it in a backpack and walk all day with it.

I recently installed an Alpha-Delta DX-EE. I know it may seem strange after trash talking commercially made wire antennas. In this case, I got a real good deal on it and was willing to bend my principles a bit to save time and hassles. It's the first non-homebrew HF antenna I've owned in over 20 years. I have a review of it up on my blog right now.

Any other antenna ideas would be helpful....

Flight-ER-Doc

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Re: Portable Antenna semi-Rant.
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2016, 05:51:38 PM »

Tevin

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Re: Portable Antenna semi-Rant.
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2016, 07:12:59 PM »
Build or buy one of these:

http://www.earchi.org/proj_homebrew.html

LOL what I came up with is real close to the antenna in your link!

Tempstar

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Re: Portable Antenna semi-Rant.
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2016, 08:07:18 AM »
Guilty. Back when I made stupid money I spent a lot on different HF antennas looking for the magic bullet. Most I have since given away, but still kept my Chameleon for vertical use when traveling. It is the best vertical I have used but it's still a compromise antenna. My best antenna ever is my home built 20-40-80 fan dipole made with 1/16" stainless cable. Any antenna that does not need a tuner and the losses associated with it is your best bet. I also made an end fed with a 4:1 balun and 160' of stainless cable. It works well enough and is only 2.2:1 on the middle of 80, approaches 3:1 on parts of 40, and less than 2:1 on most other bands. It winds up on a plastic cord reel with the 50' of 8X and travels easily. My conclusion from the small fortune that I spent? Nothing will out-perform a tuned dipole. Period.
"Preparedness is a lot more than just buying stuff"

Lamewolf

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Re: Portable Antenna semi-Rant.
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2016, 07:29:07 AM »
I have always said, if you already own a tuner, a simple hunk of wire to connect to it comes mighty cheap and works just as well, maybe better than the ones that cost a weeks pay and has a "special matchbox" hooked to it ! YMMV


Flight-ER-Doc

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Re: Portable Antenna semi-Rant.
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2016, 11:54:15 AM »
The interesting thing about HF to me is that you can use almost anything as an antenna.  I've loaded up a GI double-deck bedframe, a barbed-wire fence, and a water tower to communicate on, and they all worked.

It's easy to get into the weeds looking for 'the best'.  Almost any antenna is 'good enough'. 

Lamewolf

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Re: Portable Antenna semi-Rant.
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2017, 07:18:33 AM »
I can solve the problem of cost in one word - "WIRE", it is cheap and works great for portable multiband antennas !

Flight-ER-Doc

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Re: Portable Antenna semi-Rant.
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2017, 11:39:58 AM »
I can solve the problem of cost in one word - "WIRE", it is cheap and works great for portable multiband antennas !

Aside from the expedient antennas I've mentioned, all my HF antennas have been wire...I've never had a beam or a vertical...except on a vehicle, and then I usually stop and throw out a wire anyway:  It works better for me.

Lamewolf

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Re: Portable Antenna semi-Rant.
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2017, 02:51:43 PM »
I can solve the problem of cost in one word - "WIRE", it is cheap and works great for portable multiband antennas !

In an 11000 acre wildlife area not too far from where I live is a quarter mile stretch of unused power line still hanging on 3 poles with one end loose and hanging at eyeball level.  I have driven along side it to make sure its not connected to anything on the other end and then connected to it on the vertical end hanging down and loaded it up with a tuner.  It makes a dandy inverted L antenna !  The cable is about 3/8 inch thick !

spacecase0

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Re: Portable Antenna semi-Rant.
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2017, 10:27:04 AM »
In an 11000 acre wildlife area not too far from where I live is a quarter mile stretch of unused power line still hanging on 3 poles with one end loose and hanging at eyeball level.  I have driven along side it to make sure its not connected to anything on the other end and then connected to it on the vertical end hanging down and loaded it up with a tuner.  It makes a dandy inverted L antenna !  The cable is about 3/8 inch thick !
that sounds fantastic
that reminds me that there is an old telephone pole here with nothing attached,
I should go see how far away from my house it is