What is the best Ham Radio Antenna Type for you?
You’ve just purchased a premium quality amateur radio. And, you believed that the best quality radio would work out well for you by creating a powerful signal and receiving quite well.
However, to your disappointment, the radio doesn’t reach a repeater that’s a couple of miles away. Hearing is a challenge.
Where could the issue be? Well, you’re hardly alone in this. Most amateur radios have had a situation like this.
As far as broadcast and reception difficulties are concerned, the problem is that you don’t have the best ham radio antenna. The truth is, irrespective of how good the amateur radio is, if you don’t have a good antenna, you’ll still experience signal issues.
We know that finding a suitable device can be confusing because there are numerous designs in the market. That’s why we want to help you select.
Below is an exhaustive review of the top amateur radio antennas. Let’s jump right in!
Ham Radio Antenna Reviews
1. End Fed Antennas
End fed antennas are among the easiest antennas to assemble and erect. They’ve been used for numerous years and offer an adaptable antenna shape, particularly for newbies in radio communication.
What is frequently referred to as a long wire antenna comprises a long wire that’s joined to the receiver or transmitter, preferably through an antenna tuner.
Just talking of a long wire antenna is enough. However, the term is often used to portray a random wire length used to broadcast and receive signals on the HF or shortwave bands.
End fed antennascomprise a wire that’s tall and relatively long. The cable is then joined to the broadcasting and receiving radio communication station. Then, the antenna wire is taken out of the radio room to a horizontal section that passes over obstacles.
As soon as the cable leaves the antenna tuner or transmitter, it starts acting as an antenna, receiving signals and emitting them.
For optimum reception and to make sure that if you use it with a transmitter, the right impedance is seen, always use an antenna tuner or ATU (antenna tuning unit). The antenna tuner is located between the receiver or transmitter and the antenna cable.
- End fed wire antennas are inexpensive.
- They’re easy to connect and erect.
- They offer a multiband operation.
- They’re ideal for long-distance communications.
- You can polarize the antenna vertically.
- They can get high interference from the locality.
- It doesn’t have a good earth connection.
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2. Wire Dipole Antennas
The dipole aerial or antenna is among the crucial forms of RF antenna. You can use it on its own, or it can be part of a more intricate antenna.
The dipole aerial is commonly used for various radio communication types, on its own, or included in numerous other RF antenna models where it creates the radiating or driven element for the entire aerial.
When it comes to essential implementation and numerous calculations, the dipole is quite simple. You can easily design a basic dipole aerial that’ll operate on the UHF, HF, and VHF sections of the radio channel spectrum easily.
The name “dipole” implies that the dipole aerial comprises two poles (conductive elements).
Current flows through these two poles, then the current and the associated voltage leads to an electromagnetic wave. The signal of the radio is radiated outwards from the aerial.
This amateur radio antenna comprises a radiating element that’s divided into two separate conductors. They’re usually on the same axis. The dipole aerial is usually divided in the middle.
Usually, the transmitter or receiver is joined to the dipole aerial through an immediate feeder that conveys the power from one point to the next. The radiating elements’ length determines the dipole antenna’s numerous properties comprising its center operating channel and feed impedance.
Therefore, the length of the dipole is a crucial aspect of the dipole aerial parameters.
- Components for wire dipole antennas are readily available.
- They’re somewhat inexpensive.
- It’s easy to mount and erect this antenna type.
- If used at their resonant frequency, wire dipole antennas are effective.
- Numerous wire dipole antennas can be resonated using a loading coil.
- These antennas only have one band operation.
- Wire dipoles require two high support points frequently.
3. HF Antennas
The hobbyists and expert radio fanatics always choose HF (High Frequency) antennas. The HF multiband antenna makes radio communication easy. These antennas are perfect for ham radio stations. It’s necessary to use the correct antenna type for radio communication.
You cannot communicate effectively over the radio without an HF antenna. The HF multiband vertical antennas are useful for a couple of uses. Starting from radio communication, uplink and downlink to the radio satellite, and another transmission, you can do everything with this antenna.
It’s a form of the dipole that has an open wire feeder and aerial tuning/matching unit. You can use it on various bands. The doublet’s open-wire feeder cannot pass through a house without being unbalanced.
Usually, this doublet antenna is used by the HF bands, in which the lowest operation channel is where the aerial forms a half wavelength. The G5RV antenna is a development of the hf radio antenna for amateur radio communication applications.
It matches with most of the HF amateur radio bands. Since it’s a simple wire aerial, it’s attractive to numerous amateur radio stations. There are two HF antenna types: one of them is mounted on the ground level, and the other one is attached to the topmast.
- They can operate on numerous frequencies.
- They require fast and easy assembly.
- They can support both medium and long-distance communication.
- HF antennas can get even the weakest signals that other aerials cannot.
- They have less interference.
- HF antennas are somewhat costly.
- They usually take a large space.
4. Inverted V Dipole Antennas
These types of ham radio antennas resemble a horizontal dipole. However, the two sides are bent downwards, typically forming a 120 or 90-degrees angle between the dipole legs. It’s commonly used in areas with restricted space as it can notably lessen the antenna’s ground footprint without significantly impacting the performance.
If you view it from the inside, it appears like the English letter “V” when inverted and, therefore, the name. Ham radio stations usually use inverted V dipole antennas. They’re horizontally polarized and have the same pattern as compared to a conventional horizontal dipole.
Commonly, the inverted V aerial only needs one tall support at the middle and the ends may be insulated and fastened to anchors close to the ground level or near the roof if it’s attached to the house.
There are several benefits of this simplified arrangement, comprising a shorter floor distance between the ends. For instance, a dipole aerial for the 80-meter band needs a ground length of around 43 meters (140 feet) from one end to the other.
A 40-foot (12 m) inverted V dipole antenna apex elevation needs only 35 meters (115 feet). If you have a ham radio and you live in a small parcel of land, such savings can allow the use of the lower frequency ham bands.
- They’re inexpensive.
- You only need one high mounting point.
- You can get inverted V dipole antenna components easily.
- They’re easy to connect and erect.
- They offer an omnidirectional polar pattern in the horizontal plane.
- You have to be cautious when attaching the two low ends because they may have high voltage if used for broadcasting.
- The length of the wire is somewhat different as compared to those of the horizontal dipole.
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5. G5RV Antennas
The G5RV wire antenna offers an easy and inexpensive multiband aerial solution for amateur radio communication, and due to this, it’s well-known for numerous years. It depends on the concept of a double antenna.
The G5RV antenna works on all ham radio bands starting from 80 to 10 meters. However, the VSWR is higher on some bands than others. You can build a G5RV antenna from readily available components or buy one from the numerous versions available commercially.
An added benefit is that it doesn’t take up much space like a full-size 80-meter dipole. It’s beneficial to those with smaller space for the antennas. If you have limited room, there’s a half-size G5RV antenna, often referred to as G5RV junior, which takes up half the space.
The G5RV aerial is a ham radio center-fed doublet that has a symmetrical resonant feeder line that serves as an impedance matcher for a 50 Ohm coax wire to the transceiver. This antenna has two implementations. The first uses 10.36 meters (34 feet) of open-wire feeder, while the second one can use a wire feeder of any length that’s joined directly to an aerial that matches the tuning unit.
The most popular G5RV antenna is the one that transitions straight to 75 Ohm twin wire. However, it’s good to include a balun in the circuit when using this option.
Additionally, the transmitter must have an appropriate tuning capacity or an outer tuning unit by the transmitter to make sure that it corresponds with the antenna. Though it should provide an agreeable load, on most channels, the actual load falls outside the range that contemporary ham radio communications transmitters can bear without the PA protection circuitry lessening the power levels.
- With this antenna, you can operate multiple bands.
- You can also get ready-made G5RV antennas that are inexpensive.
- There are no highly-priced items and, therefore, you can construct one at a low cost.
- Putting up and installing this antenna type is easy.
- It requires only a small space to mount it.
- You have to use an antenna tuning unit with this antenna.
- They don’t offer a great match on all HF bands.
7. Yagi Antennas
A Yagi aerial or a Yagi-Uda antenna is a directional aerial that sends signals in one major direction. It comprises a lengthy broadcast line with one driven element that has two rods joined on the two sides of the transmission line.
On one side of the broadcast line, it has one reflector also and a couple of elements that serve as directors. The Yagi’s driven element corresponds to a centrally-fed half-wave dipole aerial. There are straight wires or rods known as directors or reflectors parallel to the driven element.
The reflector is located at the back of the driven element and is somewhat longer. The director is at front of the propelled element and is relatively shorter. An ordinary Yagi aerial comprises a single reflector and at least one director.
The Yagi aerial disseminates electromagnetic field energy in the direction of the propelled element towards the director. It’s sensitive to electromagnetic energy coming from the same direction.
If a Yagi antenna has more directors, then it implies that the forward gain is greater and the aerial becomes elongated. This antenna type has become well-known for television reception. However, it’s also used in a couple of other commercial and domestic applications where an RF aerial with high gain and directivity is required.
- Directivity offers a gain in the needed direction.
- Directivity lessens interference from signals from diverse directions.
- They can receive signals with lower strength as they concentrate all their input towards one direction.
- Their high gain offers Yagi antennas a somewhat good range.
- They’re easy to attach on vertical towers.
- They’re costly.
- There’s an increased danger of lightning damage.
Conclusion on Ham Radio Antenna Types
You can now make an informed choice on the one that’ll work best for you because you understand the various amateur radio antenna types. They have their benefits and drawbacks.
Therefore, before you buy, ensure that you have figured out the details of what you need. Selecting the best aerial for any ham radio can be fascinating and can take many hours to experiment. Experimenting with aerials can provide insights into how diverse types work.
However, in some cases, the differences between them can be minor. It’s generally better to increase the height and keep your ham radio antenna from interference and objects that’ll cover and detune them.