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CORNER REFLECTOR ANTENNA DESIGN

List of Needed Materials:













1 ea
5/8 OD X 19/32 ID Brass tubing (.015 nom wall)
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1/4 OD Brass rod or tubing, ID not critical.
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1/16 to 1/8 brass rod, or 3/32 brass welding rod 15" long
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Type N, Flange mount, type UG58A/U, or BNC Flange Mt UG290A/U
RF connector, preferably silver plated
1 ea
2-3 sq ft material for reflector(.019 perf aluminum recommended)
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4-40 brass hex nut
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4-40 X 1/2 brass screw
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4-40 X 1/4" stainless steel screw
1 ea
.032 Brass or copper plate, 2" X 2"
o or double sided g-10 matl, 2" x 2" X .062
1 ea
1/2" stopless copper pipe coupling, sweat type
1 ea
Wood, 1" X 2" X 12" as required.
8 ea
#6 X 1/2" sheet metal or wood screws
Also Solder, 60/40, both resin core and solid, fine steel wool, hardware as
needed, misc wood blocks for jigging purposes, suitable plastic container for
optional cover.

Note: Tubing is sold in 1 ft lengths. Hobby shops that sell model airplane supplies
and large hardware and craft suppliers may also carry this material. The amount
of materials are shown to build one antenna for 900 MHz. Antennas for lower
frequencies are larger and will require correspondingly more materials. Brass
tubing for inner and outer conductors can also be any other reasonable
dimensions as long as they have approximately a 2.3 to 1 ratio of ID (outer) to
OD (center). See table 2 for other suitable sizes and resultant impedances. (45
to 55 ohms will be OK)
Introduction
Often, a scanner enthusiast, ham, or UHF experimenter needs an antenna
that is more effective than a discone or ground plane, but does want to erect an
antenna that is overly large and difficult to tune. A yagi antenna can give excellent
results over a restricted bandwidth (1% or so) but can be very difficult to tune and
optimize, especially at frequencies in the UHF range. This is in part due to the
difficulty of constructing a good matching network. Physical dimensions of the
matching network must be kept small and a properly balanced feed must be
maintained, as any radiation or pickup by the network will spoil the performance of
the antenna. Also, element dimensions become small and therefore so do
dimensional tolerances. Although there are a number of antenna design software
packages that are not too difficult to use, things such as the element mounting
methods, boom material, and boom diameter must be considered. Much work has
been done and while there are a number of good designs available, the construction
and testing of an antenna of this type is rather involved and requires test
equipment not available to many hobbyists. The finished antenna, if not tested, may

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Many VHF and UHF experimenters have had this disappointing experience. Practically all the power radiated from the dipole toward the plane surface is reflected back toward the dipole and will add to the power radiated by the dipole if phase relations are correct. ect. or as a temporary. The surface can be solid or be made of screening. we have a dish type antenna. the authors included. cheap antenna to use before investing in a larger yagi or other expensive setup. the wavelength. plane surface acts as a reflector for a dipole as a mirror placed behind a light bulb would for the light rays. direction from dipole. There is a class of antennas. A conducting. Parabolic dish antennas are excellent and not as critical but are large. especially if they have a craft or hobby department. It can be used indoors as well. If the surface has a parabolic. for a useful gain to be obtained. proportionately less at higher frequencies. For the hobbyist with an average assortment of tools and some basic mechanical ability. using hand tools and commonly available materials from your local lumber yard. The surfaces are generally about one or more wavelengths in extent. of which the parabolic dish is a member. If the reflector is bent so as to form a corner we have a corner reflector antenna. The dipole is a half wave dipole fed from a balanced RF voltage source. home center. and has reasonable bandwidth of 5% to 20% would be a good compromise. spherical. expensive and not easy to mechanically mount so they can be rotated. and the size of the plane reflector. In fact. Figs 1 & 2 show the details of this kind of antenna. But this is an oversimplification. With a low loss feedline. easy to build reflector type antennas. Short electromagnetic waves used for TV and radio communications (>400 MHz or <75 cm. a number of the giant home centers that are springing up like weeds around the country may very well carry every item you may need. If the surface has a parabolic. If the reflector is bent so as to form a corner we have a corner reflector antenna. taking into account the dipole spacing from the reflector. an antenna that has 8 to 10 db gain. It will not be useful for moonbounce. that consist of a dipole or other radiator and a reflecting surface. They have fairly good patterns and good front to back ratios. Log periodic antennas work well and are wideband but are large and do not have a lot of gain (610 db) for their size. It is somewhat foolproof. Cost should be $20 or less. or elliptical curve. It is easy to build a simple corner reflector antenna. or hobby shop. A surface parabolic in one direction and flat 90 degrees with respect to that direction would be a cylindrical parabola. hardware store. DX contests or other such exotic amateur radio uses but it will be a darn good antenna for much scanner listening and routine ham use. the exact situation being more complex and requiring a long winded mathematical analysis. All these geometrical surfaces are useful for various purposes depending on the desired antenna gain and pattern. an 8 to 10 db antenna will give very good results both in transmission and reception. or elliptical curve. and be well worth the time and trouble to make it. At 440 MHz this is 2 feet or more. the corner reflector antenna is probably the easiest of the aforementioned antennas to construct. is not critical to set up. easy to set up. wavelength) can be transmitted and received with small. spherical. weak signal SSB. have some directivity.be several DB below expectations and may not have the pattern that was sought after. Actually. we have a dish type antenna. The antenna will provide noticeable improvement over a discone or ground plane. or next to nothing if you can scrounge around for some leftover cutoffs and scraps of materials. but it serves to show the principle of operation. and will perform well. The P a g e 2 | 10 . Smaller yagis with 4 to 8 elements are easier but require the same care and testing if results expected in design are to be realized in the finished antenna.

In order to have a true dipole.see figure 4. Doing so causes the outer conductor to act as part of the antenna and a large amount of signal is radiated or received by the outer conductor.author has used two of these antennas for amateur TV transmission at 923 MHz. A dipole is a balanced antenna and cannot be directly fed with coaxial line. K is a constant which depends on the configuration of the dipole or other load. Polarization is depends on the direction of the dipole axis. but can be made 14 to 15 db or more with a large reflector (>5 wavelengths) and a narrow (45 degree or less) angle. or in other words. a picture was seen at 17 miles. The dipole is parallel to the axis of the bend. A 1 Watt transmitter was used at the house. For an unbalanced input voltage V. The corner reflector consists of a balanced half wave dipole placed in front of a conducting surface which has been bent at an angle of 90 degrees or less. this being commonly done in a UHF TV antenna to get wider bandwidth. This is important when you are seeking 20 to 30 db rejection of signal in unwanted directions. For casual reception this may not matter much. but the pattern of the antenna is destroyed and generally is no longer predictable. a big problem in yagi antenna design is getting a good balun so a truly balanced feed is obtained to the driven element and no trace of radiation or reception from the feedline or matching system is evident. this is a disaster. The dipole may also be made adjustable in length (see figures) to vary center frequency. although snowy. balanced feed is a must. In a directional antenna such as a yagi array or reflector type antenna. However this may get mechanically rather impractical below 1000 MHz. This is not bad for a 1 watt TV transmitter and simple antennas. where V is the voltage between the coaxial line center conductor and the outer (grounded) conductor we need the same voltage but isolated and balanced with respect to ground reference. A folded dipole element can also be used with an appropriate balun to feed it. In order to derive a balanced feed for the dipole some sort of a trans former is necessary. being in the same direction. P a g e 3 | 10 . In fact. and the spacing of the dipole from the reflector may also have adjustment provisions for optimizing the feed impedance. An actual transformer can be used or the transmission line can be used. This can be done in several ways. one antenna at the home station about 30 feet above ground. Gain is typically 8 to 10 db (isotropic reference) for a reasonable sized antenna of 1 to 2 wavelengths. the gain tends to increase but the antenna tends to get larger and the dipole feed impedance becomes lower. the other in a vehicle with a portable TV set and a receiving downconverter to allow reception of the 923 MHz amateur TV signals on VHF Ch 3. The dipole may be constructed with thick elements to increase bandwidth and a bowtie shaped dipole can also be used. It will destroy a sought after radiation pattern and really negate careful design efforts. The tests were repeated at 1289 MHz with a pair of corner reflectors designed for this frequency and similar results were obtained. As the angle gets smaller. Excellent pictures were received 8 miles away and. +KV for one dipole element and -KV for the other.

The other segment is connected to the opposite half of the dipole.5 : 1 or better VSWR) by adjusting slot length and trimming dipole length. Another is to use a ferrite bead to accomplish the same thing (See fig 4) These methods are not too practical at UHF but work well at lower frequencies (<200 MHz). We have tried both and were able to achieve a satisfactory match (1. and the fact that the feedline diameter is not negligible with respect to the dipole length probably are the reasons for this observed behavior. Other stray effects such as slot width. and adjusting dipole to reflector spacing. See Fig 3.One way is to coil the coaxial line to form an inductor to isolate the end of the line from ground. Another way is to split the outer conductor lengthwise for a quarter wavelength and connect the inner conductor to the end of one segment. The quarter wave sleeve looks like an open circuit at the corresponding frequency. This type of balun gives a 4:1 impedance transformation and can feed a folded dipole or a simple dipole. The folded dipole was expected to match the split balun better but a simple dipole worked just as well. This is known as slot feeding. element thickness. and effectively isolates the dipole element from ground. and to one dipole element. A quarter wave choke sleeve can be placed over the outer conductor as shown in figure 4. P a g e 4 | 10 . Dipole to reflector spacing affects the dipole impedance.

However. Also. The sleeve balun is a little more difficult to build. A good idea from a performance standpoint is to keep the reflector as large as you can. weight and structural stability. since suitable diameter hardware and insulators to fit the tubing can be hard to find and may have to be made. However you should get equal results in each case. While both methods give good results. P a g e 5 | 10 . the dimensions can be scaled from those given using table 1 as a guide. unless you can find or make suitable hardware yourself. as size increases the extra gain may not be worth the mechanical difficulties and cost. wind loading must be taken into account as this type of antenna presents a large projected area. up to a few wavelengths. This is obviously more difficult at 400 MHz than say 1300 MHz. the slot method is the easier one to use. With a slider ring around the outer conductor. the antenna is larger so some compromises as to reflector size may have to be made in order to keep within practical mechanical size. field tests show that both methods work well and the slot feed method seems a little easier to implement mechanically. the slot can be adjusted in effective length to adjust the match. This is best done on a lathe and is therefore out of the question for many hobbyists having no access to a lathe or a machinist friend. It also has the advantage of DC grounding both sides of the dipole. Installation Instruction The construction of a corner reflector antenna for 900 MHz will now be discussed. However. For other frequencies. At the lower frequencies.

This method will not be discussed further. plus another 1 to 2 inches to allow for the connector and mounting flange as shown. 6. to a length of about a half of a wavelength at the desired operating frequency. Figures 5. which is available at well stocked hobby shops. and these rods are usually 1 wavelength or more long. This reduces wind loading. First.Designs for lower frequencies use rods spaced about 0. cut a piece of 5/8 OD brass tubing with a . FIGURE 5 P a g e 6 | 10 .05 wavelength apart to simulate a reflector surface.015 wall thickness. The antenna shown in fig 1 is fairly simple to construct with just hand tools. and 7 illustrate the mechanical details of construction.

Try to make the dipole as accurately as you can.05 wavelengths long at the desired center frequency. We used 3/32" brass welding rod. Cut a piece of 1/4 inch tubing to a length about 1/8 inch shorter than the 5/8 tube. This can be done later with a strip of brass or copper if preferable. If you have one. solder one end of the 1/4 inch tubing flush to the center pin of a type N connector. If desired. If necessary. build up the diameter of the center pin with some bare copper wire as shown. File the ends of the dipole elements to remove burrs and sharp projections so as not to stick yourself. on opposite sides of tubing. Next. cut a length of 1/16 ot 1/8 inch brass rod about 1. Carefully clean up and deburr cut edges. The slit width is not very critical. concentric as shown. Shape the folded dipole as shown in the figure. A small cutter can be obtained at a hobby shop. Trim center conductor as needed.FIGURE 6 Make sure the ends are squarely cut. In addition. a simple dipole can be made and converted to a folded dipole by adding a jumper made from #12 wire or brass rod as shown in the fig 8. clean connector flange with fine steel wool for later soldering. Place the 5/8 tubing over the 1/4 inch tube. You can also use #10 solid copper house wire with insulation removed if convienient. for a snug fit and to ensure concentricity. Next. drill holes for dipole elements as shown. and check to see that the the end of the center conductor is flush with or is slightly shorter than the outer tube. use a tubing or pipe cutter. The slits should be 1/4 wavelength at the operating frequency. These tubes will form the dipole feed assembly and balun. If needed. add a shorting ring to adjust slot length as shown. Cut two slits lengthwise along one end of the 5/8 tubing. Next. Use a drill the same diameter as the dipole elements for a snug fit. Use a hacksaw or small slitting saw. Slip a 1/2 inch copper pipe coupling (use the kind that has no stop) over the outer conductor. The commonly used 1/2 inch copper water pipe is 5/8 OD so a P a g e 7 | 10 .

This will be affected by reflector spacing. brass. Check to see that predrilled holes for dipoles are aligned. the dimensions of each side of the folded dipole should be equal and symmetrical. Insert the center conductor and connector assembly into the outer conductor placing connector flange flush against outer conductor. You now have a half wave slot fed dipole. as solder will not stick to stainless. but we used a #28 drill to allow extra clearance. etc.0 or better. The dipole elements can be trimmed for lowest VSWR later.smooth slip fit should result. but solid sheet aluminum. insert folded dipole as shown and solder. and if possible use a hot 100 watt iron with a 1/4 inch tip. slip the flange assembly over the 5/8 tubing. Next. Note that the outer and inner conductor are shorted together by one dipole element. Remove the screw after joint cools. copper. Do this outdoors away from flame or sparks. solder a #4 brass nut to the coupling as shown. or other foreign material. and also presence of nearby reflecting objects.ment. Make sure coupling is perpendicular to the plate. 019" perforated aluminum sheet sold in hardware stores for making grilles and covers for radiators. Try orienting vertically and horizontally for best signal reception. Clean all flux residues with alcohol. CAUTION . as signals are generally vertical or horizontally polarized If you have the equipment. Measuring from center of center conductor. Plywood or even heavy cardboard P a g e 8 | 10 . Make sure no shorts are present between outer and inner conductors (temporarily remove dipole elements). A # 33 drill is large enough. Polish with fine steel wool to a bright finish. wire mesh. All you need is a conducting surface. It should be 2. Using rosin core solder. If OK. We used . remove and drill a hole at one end to pass a #4 screw. Next solder a 2 X 2 plate made of copper. or surplus PC board G-10 material to the coupling as shown in figure. Almost any reasonable material can be used to make the reflector.FLAMMABLE. It should work as well as your whip antenna or better. A few wooden blocks drilled with 5/8 dia holes will be found useful for holding parts during assembly and soldering operations. solder drops. Next. solder connector flange to 5/8 tubing all around the outside. Connect to a receiver and check to see if it works as a receiving antenna. If you cannot do this test do not worry. If the antenna appears dead check for shorts from burrs. slot length. This is normal. or screening can be used. etc to check for correct align. the slit end opposite the nut as shown. You can insert the dipole elements and fasten them in place with tape. Make sure they are aligned as shown. Making sure tubing is concentric. Use a stainless steel #4 screw X 1/4 inch long to hold the brass nut in place while soldering. steel wool fragments. It is nice but unnecessary for receive only purposes. Clean both ends with fine steel wool to facilitate soldering in next step. Use as little solder as you can for a neat job. use an RF source and a SWR or power meter to check the VSWR.

Install a 4-40 brass screw in the nut previously soldered to the flange assembly to lock the dipole in place. Next.sions are not critical. but not optimum. mount the antenna in its final location. Make sure to mount the antenna for correct polarization. the antenna could be mounted at 45 degrees to vertical. The exact reflector dimen. After the reflector is formed. fiberglass. If it does not heat up in a microwave oven. Use a clear plastic container that is microwave safe. An antenna made for 900 MHz will easily work well from 800 to 1000 MHz. if weatherproofing is not needed. The wood can also be used for as a surface for mounting a bracket to hold the completed antenna to a mast or other support. Bandwidth can be increased by using triangular shaped dipole elements but we have not tried this as of yet. A block of wood can be used to form the bends.3 wavelengths from the reflector.ional reception is desired. For outdoor use. in the direction the dipole faces. For receive only applications. As a compromise. or a rotator can be used. or other nonconducting material. or for experimental or temporary use. it probably has low RF losses and will not affect the antenna. Polarization is same as dipole (eg. plastic. This necessitates two 45 degree bends but is easier to use from a mechanical standpoint. Conductive materials in front of dipole will cause detuning and pattern distortion. A food container from the local dollar store can be adapted for this. maximum pickup occurring along a line bisecting the reflector angle. UHF TV is generally horizontal or circular. Use wood. it would be a good idea to cover the dipole and slotted feedline assembly with a plastic cover to keep out water and insects. with an RF source and reflected power meter or SWR bridge. You will find that the antenna has pronounced directivity. Referring to Fig 1 the reflector is made by bending a 1 x 2 foot sheet of material as shown. Therefore. Bracing can be added if desired as shown in the photo. larger being better. Clear silicone seal can be used to seal edges and joints P a g e 9 | 10 . Final adjustment can be made later by setting the dipole position for lowest VSWR. no further adjustments are needed. The dipole should be parallel to the bend in the reflector. You should find this antenna easy to make and quite effective and may even wish to build several for different frequency ranges. You could try peaking the adjustments on a weak signal if you are fussy. Hardware cloth is also useful but hard to handle. Simply scale the dipole element length and reflector size as needed. Vertical polarization is generally used for amateur and commercial two way FM. but an antenna as this should work well over a range of 10 percent or so. but you will find that they are very broad and have little noticeable effect. vertical for vertical polarization). The lid can be used to cover the open end of the tubing. If thin sheet metal is used alone for the reflector it is wise to cut the metal 1 inch larger in width and length and use this extra material to form a folded edge around the perimeter to mechanically stiffen the reflector surface. as the material is easily worked by hand. Two or more of these antennas can be used if multidirect. Initially set the dipole about 0. The container can be slit and placed over the dipole and slot (slit facing down). The pattern is clean and well defined. but horizontal is used for SSB amateur work and some amateur TV. Pickup towards the sides or rear is much less. and reception at 450 MHz and 1280 MHz will be adequate. Bandwidth depends on the VSWR desired. cut a hole as shown and fasten the flange on the dipole assembly to the reflector as shown.covered with aluminum foil can also be used. face the antenna in the direction of desired reception. A piece of scrap wood is used to support the reflector and to mount the dipole in the center of the reflector.

The construction of a cover assembly is left to the ingenuity and discretion of the builder. You can test for this. Make sure to leave a small hole in the bottom to allow escape of condensation. P a g e 10 | 10 . If it stays cool it is OK.against leakage. The material will heat up if lossy. Place a material sample in a microwave oven for a few minutes. Clear materials are preferred since pigments such as metal dust or carbon can be lossy for RF.