5/11/12

Small antennas and radiation resistance

Radiation Resistance

Related pages on Antennas , radiation and fields , mobile and short verticals My 2004 Dayton Hamvention Power Point presentation on Small Verticals can be downloaded here... DAYTON 2004. When dealing with small antennas, the main points to remember are:

There is no magic bullet or magic cure to make a small antenna act like a large one. It all comes down to current distribution over linear spatial distance. Small antennas require extraordinary care to obtain high efficiency.
How do we make a small antenna as efficient as possible? We make current as uniform as possible over the length of the antenna by using as much capacitance as possible at the antenna ends. We use low-loss loading such as optimum form factor (size, length, and diameter) loading coils. We make the antenna as large and as straight in a line as possible. We don't fold, bend, zigzag, or curve the antenna...... especially in the high current areas! We keep the high voltage points (the open ends) away from lossy things (such as lossy earth or wet foliage). We keep the high current areas away from other large lossy conductors. The steps outlined above maximize radiation resistance and minimize loss. Let's look at the interaction between radiation resistance and loss resistance.

Radiation Resistance
Radiation resistance is both the most useful and the least useful antenna-related term. Radiation resistance can easily be misused and rendered useless because radiation resistance has multiple meanings. When a term has several nebulous meanings or uses, it is only natural that misuse or mixing of terms appear. The lack of a firm single well-accepted definition allows the term to slip from one definition into another, often resulting in a wellintentioned but totally erroneous conclusion from a logical progression that seems to quite accurate!

Common Uses
There are two commonly used "correct" meanings of radiation resistance and one totally incorrect use. The "correct" uses are: 1. The resistive part of an antenna's feedpoint impedance that is created solely by radiation from the antenna
www.w8ji.com/radiation_resistance.htm 1/9

htm 2/9 . we have the third commonly used (but totally useless) definition. the first definition is the most commonly abused through mistake. increases radiation resistance. Let's look at a few examples where radiation resistance is misused to give wrong answers. Let's assume ground loss. I3 is ALWAYS the vector sum or in-phase combination of currents I1 and I2. Let's assume we short or close the open gap and feed it as a normal 1/4 wave Marconi vertical with a feedpoint at the point where I3 is shown. Losses must be normalized to the same point where radiation resistance is taken. The justification is multiple drop wires. Quite often. Applying 500 watts makes I3 a current of 3. The misused or nearly useless definition is: 3. and use it to understand how the poor definition of radiation resistance causes the misunderstanding. in discussions of vertical antenna ground system loss. otherwise the efficiency formula above does not work! Many folded monopole articles either ignore the fact that loss resistances must be normalized to the feedpoint. not radiation resistance! Of the above good or useful definitions. With continuity through each leg.16 amperes. The total power radiated in all directions divided by the square of net current causing the radiation Neither of the above definitions include loss resistances of any type! The moment loss resistance is included. or a folded monopole element. Examples of Misuse In order to understand what is right. we sometimes have to learn what is wrong. Let's assume it is 1/4 wavelength tall.5/11/12 Small antennas and radiation resistance 2. is14 ohms. Power loss in ground resistance www. With 1/4-wl height and with a reasonable element diameter. which includes losses. Let's look at what actually happens in a folded element. This definition. This happens regardless of where the feedpoint is located in the lower portions of the antenna. Consider the unipole to the left.w8ji. could be considered "incorrect" because it includes resistances that have nothing to do with radiation.com/radiation_resistance. normalized to the point where we measure I3. The real (or resistive) part of an antenna's feedpoint impedance that includes loss-related resistances. The second definition is an IRE definition (albeit a good one that never caught on). The correct name for the number three "radiation resistance" is actually the antenna feedpoint resistance. I1 and I2 equally share all of the ground current. the second good definition provides the most direct and useful answer. or the authors are unaware of that rule. Folded Monopoles Folded monopoles provide the clearest common example of radiation resistance misuse. This concept is justified and/or rationalized through use of the common formula eff % = 100 * Rrad/(Rrad + Rloss) . the radiation resistance (fed as a traditional monopole) would be about 36-ohms. In every case. The increased radiation resistance reduces ground currents and ground losses. claims are made that multiple drop wires increase radiation resistance and lower earth or ground system losses.

28% loss times 500 watts is 140 watts in ground losses. Radiation Resistance. or 72% efficiency!!! Now everything checks out fine.16^2 times 14. Isquared-R losses are 3.9346 or 93.16^2 times 50 ohms or 500 watts. Let's use the formula eff %= 100*Rrad/(Rrad+Rloss). It all works out great so far! Now let's misuse the same efficiency formula. or 1:4. Let's transform the ground loss value that was normalized at 14-ohms where I3 is measured to the feedpoint by the same impedance multiplication as the feed resistance. or 28% loss.58 amperes would flow in each upper leg at I1 and I2. or 1. Unfortunately they fail to normalize ground losses to the same point where the radiation resistance is taken! We can not use a formula that is based on everything being normalized to one point and not www. We'd now have a normalized ground loss resistance of 4*14 = 56 ohms. We have 36/36+14 = . Feedpoint power.htm 3/9 . The feedpoint resistance now becomes 200 ohms. would be 3. the portion of the terminal resistance of the feedpoint responsible for radiation.16 amperes flowing as I3. 56 ohms of the 200-ohm feedpoint resistance is loss. Feedpoint resistance would be 50 ohms. this current would divide and 1.58 amperes at the feedpoint and power remains the same.com/radiation_resistance. Current is halved to 1. like Orr did in his Radio Handbook and others do in various articles. Trying that same efficiency formula.46 % efficiency. This matches the other method just above. about 140 watts. Opening the gap and feeding as a folded unipole.5/11/12 Small antennas and radiation resistance would be I^2R. With equal diameter legs. as a check.16^2 * 14 = 140 watts! We have exactly the same power loss in the ground. we get: 144/144+56 = .58^2 *200=500 watts. and we know ground resistance is still 14 ohms (normalized to the point where I3 is measured).72. It seems by using the folded monopole element we have increased efficiency from 72% to 93.5%! We know we still have 3.w8ji. We have 200/200+14 = . half of the radiator current is in I1 while the other half is in I2. We can confirm this with I squared R. most common mistake Many people use the first definition of radiation resistance. or 3.72 so the result is 72% efficiency.

com/radiation_resistance. Authors sometimes assume. we find nothing changes. Using the less useful feedpoint resistance method. A folded dipole or monopole has the same radiation resistance as a regular dipole or monopole the same size. radiation resistance changes in a favorable proportion to loss resistance as feed impedance increases. Quad's and other Loops We find the same efficiency misconceptions in articles about small loops and large quads. losses usually increase with more turns! This is why most commercial transmitting loops only have a single turn.htm 4/9 . and the feedline only connects to one of them. and a small loop has the same radiation resistance regardless of turns. Using The Second Definition If we use the second IRE definition of radiation resistance.w8ji. You can read about this in textbooks. and in other sections uses correct definitions and descriptions. With a small "magnetic" loop antenna. Using the IRE definition of radiation resistance. incorrectly. What we really are doing is placing the feedpoint in series with a smaller portion of NET current causing radiation. As with the monopole. www. where the effective current causing radiation is compared to power radiated. depending on which definition is used.5/11/12 Small antennas and radiation resistance normalize to that point for every term in the formula! There is no change in efficiency when the NET radiator current remains the same and when net ground current remains the same. freespace radiation resistance of a thin folded dipole is approximately 73 ohms. 19-3. are another example of a system where radiation resistance can have two significantly different values. but efficiency remains basically the same. Folded Dipoles Folded dipoles. With a large full-size quad element the pattern under some conditions will slightly change. like folded monopoles. The sum of I1 and I2 is identical to a simple traditional dipole. radiation resistance would be approximately 292 ohms. The quad antenna has two current maximums. the folded dipole only has half of the normal dipole current in each conductor. The magic vanishes along with the incorrect definitions and perceptions. The "Antenna Engineering Handbook" by Jasik in 3-13.

www. Few. or on a vertical. it should be a red flag. The usual arm-waving claim is the antenna isn't really resistor loaded. can be defined by the following formula: which would translate to: Where He is the effective height center of accelerating charges that cause radiation. A large terminated rhombic is well-known to have poor efficiency.5/11/12 Small antennas and radiation resistance Terminated Folded Elements Another abuse of radiation resistance is found in terminated antennas. We can have CFA's. but if it sprayed the radiation around in a non-focused pattern. Rhombic gain is actually low compared to other antennas having the same sin/sin x antenna pattern. The actual gain may be reasonably high compared to a dipole. of the distributed common-mode current in the structure. E-H antennas. and that efficiency is very good because radiation resistance is high. and efficiency suffers.htm 5/9 . Throw a resistor on that dipole to smooth SWR variations. By removing the termination resistor and base-loading the same vertical. A Rhombic focuses energy (that is not transformed into heat) into a narrow beam that has considerable gain. if any. a regular dipole would win hands down. He is the effective height. and the root of the problem is not normalizing losses to the feedpoint. small magnetic loops.w8ji. at least under the useful IRE definition. The typical manufacturing buzz-word is that terminated monopole and dipole antennas are "traveling wave antennas" and by some magic (that even large terminated Rhombic antennas can't achieve) have broad bandwidth and very high efficiency. expressed in fractions of a wavelength. of the claims are ever correct. we can invent all kinds of magical antennas. The European he was working reported a similar change. and dropped to S6 with the vertical. I listened to a station on 75 meters 600 miles away testing a Sommer T-25 vertical. At least half of the power is consumed in termination and ground losses below the antenna. He was 30 over nine using a dipole. and the other leg fed. Any time we see a claim that efficiency changes a large amount because of feed method change. terminated dipoles. because Rhombic efficiency is generally less than 50%. but not to other efficient antennas with the same half-power beam width. and verticals with all sorts of magical claims. Increasing Radiation Resistance Radiation resistance. Once again the claim is incorrect. a local Ham gained almost 25dB on 80 meters! When we abuse or misuse radiation resistance. fractal loops. Some manufacturers and authors claim a resistance can be inserted in series with one leg of a folded monopole or folded dipole. In other words.com/radiation_resistance.

a uniform current single conductor antenna has an actual physical height of 15.0278 * 360 = 10 degrees We have a radiation resistance of: We can express this graphically in a chart. the effective height is: 15.19 feet on 1. The height in electrical degrees is .0278 wl Since charges are distributed evenly throughout the structure the full height is used.67 feet. or the effective in-phase current at any point.5/11/12 Small antennas and radiation resistance (Common-mode current is the vector sum of all currents.19/546. or the current we would measure if we placed a giant clamp-on current probe around ALL of the conductors at that any given height. where one wavelength is 546.w8ji.027 wl. such as one found in the Antenna Engineering Handbook by Jasik: www.) He and must both be in the same units. The effective height is .8 MHz.com/radiation_resistance.htm 6/9 .67= 0. As an example. the same as the physical height. either given as degrees or decimal fractions of a wavelength.

w8ji.27 ohm radiation resistance is in agreement.htm 7/9 .com/radiation_resistance. and following that line until we reach the crossing for unity current ratio. Notice that the number of vertical conductors does NOT enter into the equation! This is the absolute maximum possible radiation resistance we can obtain for a given radiator height. we see the ~1.5/11/12 Small antennas and radiation resistance Finding 10-degree height on the graph above. Non-uniform Current www.

Current will become zero at the very top with no hat. with large hats. Current distribution would mean everything to efficiency.htm 8/9 . A six-foot antenna with a large hat would be electrically equal to a 12-foot antenna without a hat. since a large portion of the hat www.w8ji. Moving the coil would have little or no effect on efficiency. either good or poor. equal or beat very large high-Q coils in similar height antennas that do not have large hats.27/4 or .3175 ohms would be the radiation resistance of a 5-degree monopole with uniform current. current in the whip is actually reduced! At the same time. The result is exactly like a 50% reduction in effective element height. but without a hat current above the coil is a triangular taper that reaches zero at the element tip. a notoriously poor efficiency antenna for 75-meters. This would be the case for a short 160 or 80 meter mobile antenna. we find that . normalized to the current maximum.3175 ohms. Efficiency would increase by a factor of approximately four times by installing a capacitance hat with several times the distributed capacitance of antenna conductors below the hat. with no change in height. 1. Moving the coil up on the antenna has the effect of making current below the coil uniform.com/radiation_resistance. becomes 1. If we stay on the uniform current line. The effect of adding a large hat below the whip is to reduce the effective height of the antenna. In such a system radiation resistance would dominate any change that would affect efficiency. This is why very poor inductors used on antennas in mobile shootouts. even if the hat allows us to use a smaller coil! Adding a large hat at either end of a coil also reduces coil Q.32 ohms.27 ohms. we change nothing below the coil. In this case. Let's look at the poor ground extreme and assume we have system losses. radiation resistance will be approximately 1/4th the value of the uniform current example. The effective height of the area above the coil is 50% of actual height. soundly trounced Bugcatcher antennas when a large hat was added to the Hamstick. One case in mind was a Hamstick lash-up in a mobile. and is limited by height (spatial length)! Current throughout the antenna will not remain uniform if we reduce the size of the flat-top or hat.5/11/12 Small antennas and radiation resistance Radiation resistance is purely a function of the effective current distribution and height of the radiator. so we can get a feel for the effect of changes. If we follow the 10-degree line to the intersection point with 0 top current. we find radiation resistance to be around . and a thin mobile whip above the coil. Assume we have a base loading coil. and 100% base loading. when considered as a percentage of physical height. The Hamstick. the radiation resistance for uniform current. Radiation resistance and efficiency is generally reduced by adding a hat just above a coil. If we add a large hat at the bottom of the whip. that are many times the radiation resistance. Efficiency It often helps to look at the extremes.

and so on) claiming to increase radiation resistance beyond the limits outline above is based on misunderstandings or untrue distortions of basic antenna principles. This page has been visited ©2000-2004 W8JI times since June 12. is limited by spatial area (or height in the case of a vertical) any antenna occupies.htm 9/9 . The longer the linear spatial distance we move charges in. Folded Monopoles.com/radiation_resistance. Fractal shapes. Surrounding objects generally reduce radiation resistance and efficiency. E-H. nothing else. Conclusion We can reach the following conclusions: Radiation resistance. 2004 www. Radiation comes from charge acceleration. Radiation resistance is maximized by making current as large as possible over the entire spatial area of the antenna. the fewer charges we need to move at any point for the same amount of EM radiation. CFA. This is just another way of saying radiation resistance is higher in physically longer structures. Helical Loading. because they reduce effective height! This includes dielectrics that increase capacitance of the antenna to ground. even when they are NOT resonant. Any antenna (including Linear Loading. or at least the useful definition of radiation resistance.5/11/12 Small antennas and radiation resistance capacitance directly shunts the inductor.w8ji. since any increase in capacitance appearing well below the top of an antenna reduces effective height. especially when they carry uniform current.