This short article is about making a simple, affordable, and high-quality antenna. I am posting it more for the new hams out there than the Elmer’s as anybody with a new ham license need a simple, affordable, and quality antenna to cut your teeth on in the beginning of your communication journey.
I make antennas, that is what I do. My goal is to make simple, affordable antennas that are high-quality and will last. It is relatively easy to acquire your Technical and General FCC ticket these days however to graduate to the Extra Class level, making antennas will really help in that goal. The antenna I am about to talk about is affordable, works great on all bands BUT 15, 30, and 60-meters, and a breeze to complete.
The number one frustration that many new hams have is the cost of antennas after they have dropped some serious coin on their transceiver. Yes, you can buy professionally made antennas however many times they are not cheap. As an example, my first G5RV antenna cost me just over $200.00. After adding in the blocks and tackle to get it up, the total cost was more like $300.00. Now there are some less expensive professionally made dipole antenna’s out there. However, it has been my experience once they are up, they work great at first, but they do not take the weather as the pricier ones do. At least in Northeast Pennsylvania.
My search for a new G5RV home brew antenna started when my original antenna mentioned above took a dump. I could not tune squat on it and that included using a PalStar manual tuner – One of the best tuners out on the market today. Later, I was to discover that it failed to tune not because of the antenna but one of the first coax connections I made failed. It’s all about learning from your successes and failures.
During my search I ended up reading a great article by Cecil Moore, W5DXP. I wrote about this article on my site Unchainedpreppers.com and republished on NCScouts site, at Brushbeater.com1 titled, A True Multi-Band Antenna – (80 to 10-meters)2. This article speaks more to building an antenna that does not need a tuner. It also speaks to getting 15, 30, and 60-meters using door Knob capacitors located in the Ladder Line of the antenna at different locations before the balun. With that written, my goal again was to focus on affordability, quality, and simplicity. At this time, I can live without those three bands but may play with them in the future using Mr. Moore’s recipe. At this time, I can also live with non-tuned bands as I was planning on using my tuner.
Okay, enough of setting the stage. Here is the mise en place for the antenna components and how to put them together.
- 1, 1 .5” PVC ‘T’, ($1.29),
- 92-feet of insulated 14-gauge stranded wire, (92¢),
- 2, Dog Bone Insulators, ($4.00),
- 40-feet of 450-ohm ladder line, ($40.00),
- 1, 1:1 Balun which I got from Balun Designs3 in TX, ($67.00), and
- 1, 50-ohm 3-foot jumper coax with PL-259 male connectors on
the ends. ($2.00).
Add to the list above 300-feet, 3/16-inch, 3 strand nylon rope and two Harken bullet blocks used to hoist and then anchor this antenna about 40-feet above terra firma. I didn’t need this because I had taken down the existing G5RV antenna that was not working mentioned before.
Total cost for my antenna was $115.21. Again, this cost does not reflect the anchoring lines which were in place from before nor some self amalgamating tape and shrink tubing I had on hand. I only used top quality products so I am sure this antenna will last for years. I will probably make another one of these antennas to use at this years Field Day exercises.
The antenna is simple. It is a 92-feet (Two 46-foot lengths plus some extra for dog bones and PVC ‘T’) , flat-top middle fed dipole antenna with a 40-foot length of ladder line to the balun in the shack. My balun ended up about two feet from the tuner which is why I used the 3-foot jumper coax to my PalStar manual tuner.
Once I hoisted the antenna, I ran the ladder line to the balun, and then the jumper cord to the tuner. Once hooked up I fired up my Kenwood TS-590s transceiver and VIOLA, I was on the air making QSO’s! The first band I tried out was 40-meters. The SWR was about 2:1 and it took only seconds to lower the SWR to 1.0 with the Resistance= 52 and XReactance=0. It took a minute to spin the dial and within 5minutes I made two contacts. The next hour found me working up a dope table with 10, 12, 17, 20, and 80-meters. I did not make contacts on 10, 12, or 17-meters however, I made contacts on 20 and 80meters. The signal reports I received ranged from 5/7 to 5/9. Not bad for a $115.00 dipole antenna. As a side note, while most of the bands only needed slight adjustments to the tuner, 80-meters was a bit squirrely. It required different settings on the tuner to maintain a 1:0 – 1:1 SWR throughout the phone end of the band. I will play a bit with maybe adding a 500pF door knob capacitor to the center line of the coax patch. This should in theory make he band a bit less squirrely.
Over the subsequent weeks since the antenna was hoisted, I have made contacts using phone—East, (Belgium, Slovenia, Germany, and Italy), South, (St. Luísa Island and Cuba), west, (Texas, Arizona, Colorado, and Idaho) and north, (Saskatchewan and Ontario). All with signal reports that ranged from 5/5 to 5/9. This past weekend while using a friends ancient ICOM-735 we made contacts again in Europe and all around the USA. There was quite a few State QSO Parties and Parks on the air to make contacts with.
In closing, if you want a simple antenna that uses a tuner then follow my directions – You will be very happy. If you want an antenna that does all bands from 10 through 80-meters with no tuner needed, follow the link I put up earlier in this article titled, A True Multi-Band Antenna – (80 to 10-meters).
Freedom Through Self–Reliance©
3-Balun Designs https://www.balundesigns.com/model-1115-1-1-balun-1-5-54-mhz-3-5kw/