SuperRod 9 Metre Whip Antenna for HF

We use the VKS737 HF radio network to keep in contact with the world while we are camped in remote locations. We normally used a fairly short (2m) tapped whip antenna, which is quite convenient and works reasonably in most places, but we recently installed an alternative 9m fibreglass whip antenna. It take a little longer to erect but at a 1/4 wavelength, it's the optimum length for using Channel 2 on 8022 KHz and provides the best possible communications on this frequency. Using this antenna we invariable receive a 5 by 5 report (the highest) from VKS bases when requesting a radio check. I've also determined that it can be used as quite an acceptable shortwave antenna for receiving ABC and BBC broadcasts (amongst many others) over a broad range of frequencies from 6 to 10 MHz, although with some loss of efficiency either side of 8 MHz.

The 9m SuperRod in operation on our Oka, somewhere in outback NSW The antenna is based on a 9m, 9 section, telescopic fibreglass fishing pole, but with a wire inserted up the middle. They are called SuperRod Antennas and I got mine from The Electric Bug in Adelaide without any mounting hardware, but a cheaper alternative could be to make one using a fishing pole from angling shops. (See here where you can buy 9m bare poles for around $40 plus freight, and fit the wire yourself, see here for some assembly ideas. For use on 8022 KHz, none of the loading coils are necessary). If you are really keen you can import a much tougher pole from Spiderbeam in Germany. They are not that expensive at Euro 66 (AUD 100) plus freight for a 12m pole.

The sections must be extended tightly and "screwed" into each other as the antenna is being erected. it will work just as well if the wire is wrapped around the pole. The PVC pipe has a cap on the bottom to hold the antenna but with a hole in it for the wire to slide through. A kinked wire won't run up or down the antenna smoothly. It should not be used on a moving vehicle while raised. to an aluminium frame which then slides into a holder.The wire doesn't have to run up inside the antenna. mounted on the bullbar using 50mm U-bolts. . trapping the wire and loosing their telescopic sequence. since the top would be beyond my reach. It just looks neater inside. The pole doesn't even have to be 9m long either. I could have mounted it higher where it might work better but I couldn't then raise it. Whilst the antenna works well. there are a few of challenges to its installation and operation: • Mounting: It needs a sturdy mounting point on the bull bar or similar because. Note this sobering story from the ABC). 1) Mounting the Antenna To mount the antenna. with the wire wound up on an attached reel. I fitted a length of 50mm PVC pipe (which holds the lower section of the antenna). • Connecting: The antenna needs connections made to the radio lead. I have experienced all of the above problems and modified the antenna and mounting arrangements to minimise them. • Lowering: The wire must be pulled gently and continuously out of the bottom of the antenna as each section is separated. • Power Lines and Lightning: It's so tall it's a power-line and/or lightning risk. • Antenna Wire: When collapsed. • Erecting: (Important: first read the Power Line warning at point 7 below. although it's not heavy. or they can slide down inside each other. The mounting using aluminium rope track on the bullbar. The whole assembly can be removed. • Frequencies: It primarily intended for Channel 2 (8022 KHz) and needs some mods to work on Channel 1 (5455 KHz) or RFDS frequencies. only the wire has to be that long. made from aluminium rope track. It doesn't just plug on. the 9m of wire needs to be coiled or wound up to keep it straight and tidy. for storage inside the Oka. as it moves around in the breeze it places a considerable strain on its mount. or it will get trapped and kinked in the bottom section which is frustrating to unravel and the wire can break. or if it is just attached to the tip and the pole used as means of getting it vertically into the air. either during operation as the wind blows or as you are lowering the antenna.

. The SuperRod mounted on the bullbar. which is a lot easier with 2 people. with a hand fishing reel for winding up the wire.The SuperRod stored safely in the Oka. you are left with a 9m tangle of wire on the ground (actually only 8m since 1m is always inside the antenna). A notch/slot in the reel holds the connector in place as the wire is wound up. To tidy this up I fitted a cheap hand fishing reel to an aluminium plate with a simple handle to wind up the wire as it is being pulled out. 2) Keeping the Wire Tidy After lowering the antenna and extracting the wire.

3) Telescoping Sections The smaller sections can drop down inside the larger ones and get jammed. Then. You could also wind it around any other kind of former. A bead to hold the nylon string in place. such as those designed to tidy up extension cables. 4) Preventing the Wire from Breaking or Pulling Out . and you can pull them out using the nylon string. A simple solution is to fit a nylon string to the tip of the smallest section and to tie a ping-pong ball or similar sized plastic object (I use the top off a deodorant can) about 50cm from the tip. also trapping the wire inside.The SuperRod lowered and the wire neatly wound up on the hand reel. but it is essential that the wire is not bent too sharply or kinked in the process. none of the smaller sections can disappear very far inside the larger ones. or erection and lowering of the antenna will be made more difficult. This will require a complete disassembly of the antenna to disentangle.

5) Connection the Antenna to the Radio A PL259 socket (or whatever connector you need to match the one on your antenna lead) needs to be mounted near the bottom of the antenna for connecting the coax cable from the radio. A terminal soldered to a thicker copper centre wire after drilling a 1mm hole in the tip. just deeper than the crimping band. with the antenna erected and connected. You can tell how effective the grounding is buy turning on the radio. and securely soldered a 50cm piece of thicker copper wire to the red insulated wire. I found disassembly of the antenna and replacing the wire to be a very useful exercise because I now know how to replace the wire if it ever breaks again while travelling. but not very securely. You might need to extend the radio antenna lead if it no longer reaches the new bullbar mount. I soldered a round terminal to the wire sticking out of the end. The bull bar frame might be OK as long as that itself is well grounded to the vehicle chassis. 9m of antenna is a bit of a handful to hold and I must have pulled too hard on the wire. and you certainly don't want this to happen in a remote location. and listening to the level of background noise received. A bigger object was then attached to the string as mentioned above. to prevent it ever slipping inside the rod again. so some experimenting is necessary. Maximum noise volume (ie best match with the radio) indicates the improved grounding. This doesn't take the place of proper antenna tuning and matching tests but unlike tapped whip antenna bases. the SuperRod has no matching components. Fit a ground cable from the socket to the vehicle chassis just in case. to prevent any of the sections from sliding too far in. This is what failed so I discarded the thin copper wire. Then I inserted it through the top section until it protruded from the tip. The red insulated wire as supplied is joined to a fairly thin solid copper wire part way up the thinnest section. The ground (outer) section of the connector needs to be connected to the chassis of the vehicle using a ground cable which is as short as possible. since the red wire is too thick to go through the centre hole in the fibreglass. A small bead was used to secure the string to the terminal so it all still nests together neatly. . In retrospect. The centre connection of the socket can be fitted with a short wire with a male bullet connector crimped on. It will change in volume as the grounding is improved or made worse. to connect to female bullet connector on the antenna wire. Bending a 6mm loop in the wire would work as well and either method will also provide a means of attaching a nylon string to the top section. The solid wire is pushed through the tip of the section and presumably glued or crimped in place. To improve this aspect I drilled a 1mm hole down the tip of the section.The wire jammed and broke (actually it pulled out of the top section) while I was experimenting with erecting the antenna. only a centre wire. So I disassembled all 9 sections to get at the top section.

75m antenna.8m would required. Note that similar bent antennae. It will now be the correct length and nice and high. your radio won't work very well in the proximity (~100m) of power lines due to the noise induced from the power transmission. using a piece of nylon string attached to the end and fixed to a tree/bush etc. For Frq=5. rather than horizontally. 5360. It's too easy to just raise the antenna. but they cost around $40-50 commercially. I has a 10 amp current carrying capacity and nice thick insulation since it's intended for outdoor applications. It's usually twin conductor but is easily split into single conductors. The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) uses frequencies in the 5 MHz range (5145. with some loss of performance since it's not matched to the transmission frequency. Before raising a SuperRod. see this recent sobering story. but keep people away from the wire when transmitting to avoid radiation burns. or when more time was available before a sked finished to erect it. section by section from bullbar level. Transmitting . 7) Power-Line and Lightning Warning Be very aware of overhead power lines. 5410 KHz depending on location of their bases) which are similar enough to the VKS737 Channel 1 frequency of 5455 KHz that the SuperRod with the additional 4. A better but more tricky alternative is to connect the extra wire to the top of the antenna.3 MHz (5300 KHz). which reflects off the ionosphere to closer destinations.With a tapped whip antenna mounted as well as the SuperRod. This system optimises the skywave signal path for short range communications (inside the normal skip distance) by directing some of the transmitted energy upwards at an angle. for example. This is not as good as a tuned loading coil but is adequate as a fallback.75m long to be a 1/4 wavelength at that frequency.] 6) Using the SuperRod on Channel 1 (5455 KHz) The 9m SuperRod can also be used directly on VKS737 Channel 1 on 5455 KHz. it also received background noise better as well. using the solder terminal fitted at the tip. The wire I use is the type sold in hardware stores for use with low voltage garden lighting systems. although the antenna will bend a fair bit and its radiation pattern won't be optimum. 5110. I was able to switch the radio lead from one to the other and confirmed that the SuperRod certainly had better reception (higher signal strength) on 8022 KHz than the tapped whip. It really should be 13. I didn't use the SuperRod antenna every day becasue it takes time to erect or it was too windy.5m of wire should be capable of using them effectively. See the RFDS frequency usage chart here. It was used when signal conditions were otherwise poor. roadside rest areas or boat ramps. first look upwards to ensure there are no power-lines within range (which maybe only 6 m above ground level and well within the reach of a 9 m antenna). You could get a very nasty (and fatal) surprise. so it's ideal for laying on the ground or throwing up trees. the base operator commented on the excellent signal strength. without first checking upwards. I found that a simpler solution was to attach about 4. when using the SuperRod. Barrett etc. and to extend that wire out sideways and/or upwards as far as possible. Channel 1 performance can be improved by fitting a loading coil so it looks to the radio as if it were a 13. but one could be wound much more economically. It will work better there than just lying on the ground. Some tuning of the exact length could be done as required using the formula (300/Frq MHz)/4. national park camping areas.5m of additional wire between the radio antenna lead centre wire and the SuperRod wire connection and to droop this loosely over a nearby bush/tree branch. [Note: This improvement in performance over the tapped whip antenna was confirmed during a recent 3 month trek up to the tip of Cape York. an additional wire length of 4. 5300. As to be expected. called Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) systems. as in the sketch on page 2 of the Codan brochure here. are available from Codan. and in any case. Invariably. especially in populated areas such as caravan parks.

in a thunderstorm you don't want to be the tallest thing around. . so be very careful about using it when there are thunderstorms about. References: The WANSARC radio club has a useful review of the SuperRod on page 5 of this issue. In particular. Remember. don't rely on lightning protection devices and don't leave it up at night if there is the slightest chance of strong winds or thunderstorms springing up unannounced. A tall antenna such as the 9m SuperRod will also be very attractive to lightning.probably won't be affected but reception certainly will.