What vertical are you using?

630m (472 kHz) - 10 m (29 MHz) antennas, propagation, operating, etc

What vertical are you using?

Postby VK4WDM » Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Hello everybody

My last two posts on Butternut and Bushcomm verticals got no answers so I guess nobody is using them, or if they are, don't think much of them, so I will change the question to: What commercial or home brew HF verticals ) ARE you using and what do think of them?

I am going to need a vertical at my new QTH and I need some ideas.

73

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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK4KHZ » Sat Jul 11, 2009 11:25 pm

Hi Wayne
I am unsure exactly what bands you hope to operate but for the past ~15 years I have used a Cushcraft R5 vertical with great success. It has never let me down and functions well as a compromise antenna for limited space which does not require ground radials to be strung around the yard. It works on 10,12,15,17 & 20m and does not require the use of an ATU unless you wish to operate outside of these bands. I did take it to Bruny Island OC233 a few years back and made heaps of QSO's into Europe & USA. I guess it really depends on what you require and what limitations you may have with respect to the erection of antennas at your QTH...for what its worth put up the biggest antenna, for the bands you wish to use that you can get away with!
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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK3ALB » Sun Jul 12, 2009 10:30 am

Hi Wayne,

A wire aerial would be a good start, it won't break the bank and changes are easily made. VK3DJ proposed the use of a squid pole to support the vertical element. You can read about it in AR January 2008.
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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK4WDM » Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:38 am

More information:

Most of my 40 yrs of operating have been in rural or semi-rural areas where large antennas were not a problem. At this QTH I had a 15m tower with a tri-band yagi for 20, 15,10m and dipoles for 160, 80, 40m. I also a 9 el yagi on 6m and 14 over 14 el yagis on 2m and 70cm.

My new QTH is a small suburban block with an antenna height limit of 10m. I don't think the HF yagi is an option, 10m is a bit too low and it might be too scary for the neighbours!

I have a Bushcomm 2 - 30 MHZ wire antenna but not sure how it will perform as an inverted V with a center height of only 10m, hence the exploration of a vertical for 80-10m.

I think most of my VHF operating will have to be "hill top portable."

I am hoping that this thread will also be helpful for others who are forced to "downsize."

73

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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK7HDX » Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:43 am

Emtron TEV-01.
Just a 8.5m vertical with a 4:1 balun at the base. Its a good general HF stick. Its seen to work OK on all bands (with the ATU in-line). I could rave on a say it does this and it does that. I'm not a great HF operator but it does what I want on HF bands

73..Karl
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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK4FP » Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:50 am

Well Wayne,
I am in the suburbs .So no room for large antenna systems .No large trees to string a wire antenna.
Just using a 10m vertical with 9:1 balun (all home brew) ,with no ant tuner..Mounted on top of roof .Works satisfactory on 20m and lower frequencies,above that not as good when compared to the Diamond CP6 I also use ,its performance is better above 20m than the long 10m vertical stick,but much poorer in low end.
Regards ,
Lloyd -VK4FP.
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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK4ABW » Mon Jul 13, 2009 3:11 pm

What's a vertical look like?? :P



You are Australian Wayne?
You are proud to be Australian?

......so put up a 30ft pvc flag pole.

enough said. :roll:
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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK4TS » Tue Jul 14, 2009 8:13 am

Hi Wayne,

I am using a Coman HF vertical..I have it mounted above a garage about 3 Metres off the ground and it has two radials on 40 and 80 as well as bonding to the guttering as recommended by Andy Coman. It is a pig to tune but once tuned it seems fine performance wise and doesnt vary...

I am interested in the Force 12 range of verticals and notice that several in the US are buying the Sigma http://www.force12inc.com/31943/32006.html as an 80M antenna (no ground plane) and making four squares out of them. They seem a very interesting style of antenna and one for exploring - The 80M has a top hat and a "ground" along the lines of Cebiks antennas..refer to http://www.iol.ie/~bravo/low_band_antennae.htm for some ideas of wires that work..

Of course the question should have been WHAT do you want to achieve ? DX ,instra state, point to point - they all vary what antenna is the best..Performance of the MB80 10 would be the equivalent of a quarterwave vertical on 40M quite good on 20 15 and 10 and on 80 CW seems quite a good DX antenna bearing in mind it is VERY short on 80M ..
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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK1DA » Sat Jul 18, 2009 4:54 pm

I have used Hygain 14AVQ and Hustler 4BTV/5BTV verticals at various locations since about 1975.

The best performance obtained from those antennas was when it was operated over a metal roof, which was the ground system. No "radial" ground wires were used in those situations, which included a school (galvanised iron roof extending for wavelengths in several directions but the exact dimensions were unmeasured), a commercial premises (similar size, unmeasured ground plane) and my garage roof (6m wide, about 9m long, antenna mounted in the dead centre and the garage roof was the ground plane).

I have also used them with pairs of radials cut for each band, with the feedpoint elevated at 3 or 4 metres above ground, and have also used them at ground level with radials lying on the ground.

In general the steel roofing provided the best performance, least noise, widest swr bandwidth. The elevated ground plane with wire radials was next best. Worst was the ground mount with radials. I did not ever try using one of these antennas with only real ground as the "ground system", as I regarded that as unlikely to work well.

My preferred mounting method just above roof level, constrained only by the size of the mounting bracket, is not what various manufacturers state as their recommended location. The Andrews Communications website even has advice on it telling users to "earth" the outer ends of their garage roof, but whether this is for noise reduction or car sickness I do not know. I doubt if it would have any effect on antenna performance.

Any instructions for installing vertical antennas several metres above a roof, with radial wires, need to clarify what type of roofing material is present. I would treat a tiled or non-metallic roof with as much suspicion as real ground. Lossy and unpredictable.

There are plenty of people who hate verticals and whenever you ask why, it turns out they had a makeshift or in some way inadequate ground system. The logic is apparently that as you pay for the vertical bit, that's the only bit that matters. This is quite incorrect. The bit you pay for is the fancy bit with precise lengths and tuned traps, but the ground system is what makes verticals either work well or be quite dismal.

A 20 to 25 ft vertical used on 80m requires the missing part of the 66 ft quarter wave somewhere. There will be the equivalent of 40 ft of conductor in a loading coil, a helical winding or in an ATU. Its efficiency and SWR bandwidth always suffers. A shortened vertical always has lower bandwidth (however you measure that) and behaves like a mobile whip. More than +/- 25 kHz on 80m with SWR < 2 is not common.

Performance: generally the verticals I have used provide good dx contacts on all bands, cw and ssb. I found it quite easy to make JA and W contacts on 40m for example, with 100w of CW. It was quite good also for EU contacts, both long path (vk afternoon) and short path (vk morning).

A low dipole is often better than a vertical for local (ie. vk1/2/3/4/7) contacts on 40 and 80m as the high angle of radiation from a lowish dipole is ideal for local contacts. My old 14AVQ got me a DXCC in about a year of operating from V85DA but having an interesting callsign did help, especially with QSLs.

73
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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK3DJ » Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:04 pm

Hi Wayne, I see VK3ALB mentioned my article on squidpole mounted verticals so I won't bother again. However VK3HQ has two dipole designs that work very well at low height and will cover 10M through 40M. One fits along a fence line of less than 24 metres and the other less than 15 metres. I use the longer one with great success at home, out at my bush property and also as a 'throw it in the car in case' antenna. If you are interested, you can email me and I will email back with the antenna designs attached.(vk3dj@tpg.com.au)

Regards
Dallas
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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK4WDM » Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:42 pm

Thanks for the useful info guys. I was very interested to read the comments on roof mounted vs grounded with radials. My new QTH is a low set house with a flat iron roof but the council regs say that the maximum height of an antenna is 10m if mounted on the ground or 3m above roof line if attached to a building so this will stop me from mounting an 8.5m vertical on the roof unfortunately.

73

Wayne
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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK3GDM » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:43 pm

Hi Wayne,

I have used both the Hustler 5BTV and the COM-AN-TENA multi-band verticals mounted at ground level in an inner suburban block and can safely say they are both great performers, especially for DXing.

They are both designed for the 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10m bands. The Com-antena is tuneable to 30m but you sacrifice the 40m band.

I have worked over 100 countries on CW with this combination of antennas in about one year and seem to average around 50 to 60 dx contacts per month. Not bad, considering I only operate a few nights per week after 9pm local. I would probably do a lot better if I operated during the day as well. All this, during a period where we have had one of the longest running sun spot depressions ever recorded.

The next antenna I would like to try is the Butternut HF6V because it includes the 30m band and has a great reputation. It is similar in design to the Com-an-tena, both utilise the reactance tuning method and have no lossy traps.

I wasn’t all that impressed with the build quality of the Com-an-tenna in comparison to the Hustler. I GUESS the Hustler antennas are produced on a sophisticated automated mass production line, where the Coman antennas are individually hand made. Both antenna seem to be made of quality materials and are of solid construction.

The Coman antenna is much lighter than the Hustler, consequently making installation by one person much easier. The traps on the Hustler add quiet a bit of weight.

I found the Coman easier to tune relative to the Hustler. With the Coman, once you have tuned the 10m band the rest can be done at ground level (if mounted at ground level), except the 15m meter stub which didn’t need any adjustment in my case.

The assembly and installation instructions from Hustler are far superior to those I received from Coman. The Coman instructions where awful, but by following the basic measurements given and with the help of an analyser it tuned up pretty easy.

I purchased the Hustler first and I mounted it at ground level with only 12 radials in the middle of the back yard, an area of approximately 5x6 meters. Some time later I replaced it with the Coman in the same position. The area is surrounded by trees, sheds and other structures. I have been quite amazed at the DX performance of these antennas mounted in this location.

I decided to mount the antenna on the ground because it seemed easier and safer to do, rather than up on the roof. It also allows for easy experimentation, which is a fun thing to do with these antennas.

I haven’t done any quantitative comparison tests to safely state which antenna performs better. My ‘feeling’ is that the Coman is better on 80m. It certainly has a much better bandwidth there. I haven’t actually made many contacts on the high bands, 15 and 10m, mainly due to lack of sun spots.

Some texts worth a read:
- The ARRL Antenna book
- “The Short Vertical Antenna and Ground Radial” by Jerry Sevick, W2FMI
- http://www.cebik.com/ by L. B. Cebik, W4RNL (SK)

It is well worth revising your vertical antenna theory, as this will help you understand what to expect when performing the various measurements required. In particular, the expected feed point impedances of various length verticals mounted at ground level. Also note, the length and gauge of radials on the ground is not critical.

I also found the Butternut HF6V installation manual a very informative.

Hope this is some help.

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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK4WDM » Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:51 pm

I will try the cheap option first.

As far as I can make out from photos the Bushcomm and Emtron verticals are just 8.5m of tapered aluminium tube fed open wire line or with coax and a 4:1 balun. I have enough bits of tubing to make a homebrew version already. I will ground mount it with about 6 radials and see how it goes. I might add a loading coil I can switch in and out to give a bit more inductance on the low bands.

If the results with the homebrew are encouraging I will think about getting a more sophisicated model.

This is a bit of adventure for me - in my decades of operating I have never used an HF vertical!

73

Wayne
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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK3GDM » Sat Jul 25, 2009 12:56 pm

- Beween 24 and 60 radials is apparently a good number. According to the texts I mentioned.
- Many short radials is better than a few long ones.
- 6 radials on the ground may not yield very satisfactory results. Depends on the soil conductivity.

It's all good fun trying things out.

73
David
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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby vk6hz » Tue Aug 25, 2009 4:42 pm

I'm using a homebrew 40M quater wave mounted on a tin roof. Made it yesterday so no real reports to speak of, but so far, so good!

Might add a coil for 80M next week......

John
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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK4WDM » Wed Aug 26, 2009 3:07 pm

Hi John

Are you living in a built up area? If so, have you had any TVI? My nearest neighbour's Tv antenna is only about 10m from the planned site of my vertical.

73

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Re: What vertical are you using?

Postby VK5ATN » Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:49 pm

My only only HF antenna is a vertical some 22.5 feet long. Essentially it's most of my original 27 Mhz CB Ringo minus the ring and with added discrete lengths of smaller diameters of telescoping tubing and a 2 foot nickel bronze spike making up the last bit on the top. It's mounted to a 2 inch galvanised fence pole about 6 feet off the ground. The colourbond fence - part of a quite extensive fencing system extending some 30 metres down the side of my house and connected to a back fence which extends a similar distance provides most of the ground plane, and for good measure I have 4 quarter wave radials for 20 metres attached to the earth of the antenna at the feed point.

I use an SGC 238 ATU to feed this combination at the feed point of the antennna with a run of about 18 metres of RG 213 back to the radio desk.

It works a treat on 20 metres - my favoured band. Power line noise is a problem, but that comes with the location and is known to be an issue with vertical antennas anyway. I haven't tried it on other bands other than to check that it tunes up OK. However I hear enough stations on the other HF bands to suggest that it would work quite well in getting a signal out. When I finally get some spare time, I'll check that out in greater detail, but it works well so far, and I'm happy with the results at this point.

It's only some 20 feet from the front end of my own TV antenna, but I've had no problems with TVI in this house and the neighbours haven't complained - so far.

Weather-wise it's survived a local tornado some weeks back which lifted tiles of the roof on nearby houses and bent nearby TV masts, so the engineering seems sound.

All round, I'm encouraged by how it's worked out at this point.

73
Terry
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