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Antennas

Demystified
Scott Honaker
N7WLO
Importance of Antennas
 Antennas are as important as the
radio
 A $5000 TV with rabbit ears will have
a lousy picture
 Antennas are cheaper than amplifiers
 Antennas are reciprocal – they hear
as well as they talk
Choosing Antennas
 Frequency – Dictates size
 Mounting location – Base or mobile
 Omni or directional – Coverage or
gain
 Polarization – Horizontal, vertical,
circular
 Resonant or non-resonant – Tuner
required?
 Power available
 Feedline length and type
dBi vs. dBd
 dBi - Gain vs. Isotropic Resonator
 Isotropic Resonator is infinitely small
antenna with no feedline in free space
radiating equally well in all directions
(spherical pattern)
 dBd - Gain vs. Reference Dipole
 Gain referenced to a “real” dipole
antenna with a donut-like pattern
 dBd = dBi + 2.15 dB
Gain/Loss Calculations
 ERP (Effective Radiated Power) is the
real number to consider
 Gain uses a Log-10 scale
 3dB = 2-fold improvement
 6dB = 4-fold improvement
 10dB = 10-fold improvement
 20dB = 100-fold improvement
• ERP=Power x (Gain - Feedline Loss)
Radiation Patterns
 Visual representation of gain,
beamwidth, F/B ratio and F/S
ratio in one plane
 E-Plane is cross-
section that includes
driven element
 H-Plane is
perpendicular to
driven element
Dipole Patterns
Yagi Patterns
E-Plane H-Plane
Polarization
 SSB/CW is generally horizontal
 FM is generally vertical
 Satellites can be circular - RHCP,
LHCP
 Polarization loss can be significant at
VHF/UHF and microwaves
 Bounced signals can change
polarization
 Verticals are more susceptible to
Antenna Design
Considerations
 Gain, SWR, Bandwidth, Front/Back
ratio are related and optimum values
are not achieved simultaneously for
each
 Does antenna have power going in
desired direction? Gain/Beamwidth
SWR Power Losses
 All power fed into the line, minus the
line attenuation, is absorbed into the
load (antenna) regardless of the
mismatch at the antenna terminals
 Line attenuation (loss) is the key
factor in determining losses due to
mismatched antennas (high SWR)
SWR Loss Examples
 SWR losses are added SWR SWR Losses
to line attenuation for
1.0: 0dB
total loss values
1
 100’ RG-58 @ 20 1.5: 0dB
meters, 50’ RG-8x @ 2 1
2.0: 0.2dB or 5%
meters, 1
50’ Belden 9913 @ 3.0: 0.6dB or
70cm have nearly 1 13%
5.0: 1.5dB or
identical attenuation
1 29%
of 1.5dB 10:1 3.0dB or
50%
Loading
 Inductive loads – base, center, top
 Screwdriver antennas (adjustable
loading)
 Hamstick-style antennas
 Hustler center-loaded
whips
 Rubber HT antennas
 Capacitance “Hats”
 Texas Bugcatcher
 Cushcraft MA5B
Ground Plane Verticals
 ¼ wave is omnidirectional with unity
(0dBd) gain when provided a proper
ground plane
 ½ wave is unity gain with no ground
plane and 3dBd with ground plane
 5/8 wave is 3.5dBd gain with nice omni
pattern and low radiation angle
 Longer antennas have more omni
patterns with asymmetric ground planes
(vehicles) and lower radiation angles
(see below)
¼ ½ 5/8
wave wave wave
Ground Planes
 “Perfect” ground plane from 120
evenly spaced radials at least ½
wave in length
 Wire mesh or wire from #12 to #28,
above or a few inches below the
ground work fine
 Elevated feeds (1/8λ or more above
ground) can use four ¼-wave radials
 Vehicles provide poor ground planes
at HF but elevating the feedpoint
Imperfect Ground Planes
Number of radials 16 24 36 60 90 12
0
Length of radials 0.1 0.12 0 0. 0 0.4
in wavelengths 5 .15 2 .25
Total wire 1.6 3 5.4 12 2 48
installed in 2.5
wavelengths
Power loss 3 2 1.5 1 0.5 n/a
relative to
“perfect”
Feedpointground 52 46 43 40 37 35
plane
impedance in
ohms
Other Verticals
 Discone
 Wide usable frequency
range
 SWR ~2:1 for
fundamental through
second harmonic
 SWR ~3:1 for remainder
of coverage
 Omnidirectional – Unity
gain
 Inverted-L
 2-3 dBd gain with vertical
and horizontal
components
Balanced Feed Designs
 Dipole
 Simple and effective
 Vertical or horizontal polarization

 Loop
 Full wave has 3dBd gain
 Circular, Quad (square) or Delta
(triangular) design
 E and H-plane patterns vary with
height above ground
Dipole Types
 Sloper
 Has 3dB to 6dB of
directivity toward slope
 Inverted-V
 Single high mount,
internal angle should be
>90 degrees
 Bent
 Good attic antenna
 Keep center section
straight
 Remainder of element
can bend or curve to fit
Dipole Types – Cont.
 Folded
 High impedance needs
open wire feed
 Same overall size as ½ wave
dipole but contains 1 wave of wire for nearly 3
dBd gain
 Caged
 Standard dipole with each leg made up of
multiple wires around spacers forming a wire
tube
 Larger effective element diameter increases
bandwidth
Multiband Dipoles
 Multiple
 Multiple dipoles/loops at a single feed
 Trap
 Traps are tuned circuits used to
generate multiple resonances on a
single wire
 Traps cause loss and decrease
bandwidth
 G5RV
 Non-resonant – tuner required
 Radiation patterns vary with frequency
Off-Center Fed Dipoles
 Feedline attached 1/3 the length
from the end
 Same ½ wave overall size
 Resonates at even harmonics, so 1
antenna can be used on 80m, 40m and
20m
 6th harmonic (15m) has too high
impedance
 Asymmetric impedance may cause
current “in the shack”
 Requires 4:1 or 6:1 current-type balun
Other Multibanders
 Random wire
 Can be any length of wire
 Requires tuner

 Works against earth ground

 Windom
 “T” shape single wire feed attached 14%
off center
 Works against earth ground

 “RF in the shack” is a potential problem


Wire Arrays
 Half Square
 Vertical polarization with up to 3.8dBd gain
 Bi-square
 Horizontal polarization with ~3.5dBd gain
 Bobtail Curtain
 Vertical polarization with bidirectional 5.8 dBd
gain
 Sterba Curtain
 Horizontal polarization from multiple phased
loops
 Lazy “H” – Four element broadside array
Yagis
 ½ wave dipole driven element
 Reflectors are 5% larger
 Directors are 5% smaller
 Number of elements and boom
length determine gain
 SWR, bandwidth, gain, boom length
and front/back ratios all have to be
considered
Typical Yagi Gains
 10m yagi Elemen Gain Gain
with SWR ts
3 dBi
7.5 dBd
5.5
<2:1 and
4 8.5 6.5
Front/Back
>20dB 5 10 8
 Numbers are 6 11.5 9.5
rounded to
nearest 0.5 7 12.5 10.5
dB
8 13.5 11.5
Hybrid Yagis
 Quad
 1λ loop driven element, reflector and
directors
 Up to 3dBd gain over standard yagi
 Wider bandwidth than standard yagi

 Quagi
 Loop reflector and driven element
 Simpler to feed and match at UHF

 Looper
 Entirely loop (generally circular)
elements
Log Periodic
 Constant
characteristics over
wide band (2:1)
 Several varieties but
hams generally use
dipole array (LPDA)
 All elements are
driven
 Gain similar to 3
element
yagi – 7dBi, 5dBd
Reflecting Antennas
 Corner reflector
 Practical size at 222 MHz and up
 Simple to construct, broadbanded, gains
10-15dBd
 Pyramidal Horn
 Practical at 902 MHz and up
 Sides of horn are fed for up to 15 dBi,
13dBd gain
 Parabolic dish
 Gain is a function of reflector diameter,
surface accuracy and illumination
Parabolic Dish Gain
MHz 2’ 4’ 6’ 10’ 20’ 30’
420 6.0d 12.0 15.5 20.0 26.0 29.5
902 Bi
12.5 18.5 22.0 26.5 32.5 36.0
1215 15.0 21.0 24.5 29.0 35.0 38.5
2300 20.5 26.5 30.0 34.5 40.5 44.0
3300 24.0 30.0 33.5 37.5 41.5 47.5
5650 28.5 34.5 38.0 42.5 46.0 52.0
10Gh 33.5 39.5 43.0 47.5 51.0 57.0
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