DIY Ham Radio Antenna: How to Build a Ham Radio Antenna

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An antenna is the heart of the ham radio system! Without the right kind of antenna, you will not be able to transmit very far! This makes it critical to add an antenna that is efficient, good quality, and durable.

What if I tell you that building a ham radio antenna is not a difficult task, as most newbies think.

Yeah, you read it right. In this article on the DIY Ham radio antenna, we are going to reveal how easy it is to make an amateur antenna you own.

 While there exists a lot of good ham radio antennae in the market, it is pretty simple to create one from scratch! It is low-cost and fits within the budget.

Which is the Easiest to Make Ham Antenna?

Among the different types of ham radio antennae, the most common DIY antenna projects involve the quarter-wave whip. Approximately, it is one-quarter of a wavelength long. You can use them for higher-frequency HF, VHF, and UHF radio bands.

Most operators construct these for their hand-held radios, cordless phones, walkie-talkies, and FM radios. Most notably, they are pretty easy to build and don’t cost a fortune. Moreover, it works on both VHF and UHF bands, giving you the best of both worlds!

Let’s get started!

So, What are the Materials You Need?

how to build a ham radio antenna

      • The first thing you need to construct your own, quarter-wave dual-band antenna is a copper welding rod. You will need to cut this to two lengths: 3 x 19.5″ and 3 x 6.5″.
      • Next, you will need necessary hardware like 4 SO-239 chassis-mount connectors, soldering iron, six electrical eyelets, four sets of nuts and washers. You will also need 6-inch cable ties, preferably nylon, and some silicone sealant, RG-8 cable, PL-259 plug, and appropriate adapter.
      • You cannot start the construction process without the antenna wire. Most people opt for the regular copper wire. Having said that, keep in mind, it can stretch over time as a result of strain.
      • An alternate in this situation can be the hard drawn copper wire. It is less flexible and, thus, stretches far less!
      • Lastly, you cannot do without an SWR meter to check if your homemade antenna works!

DIY Ham Radio Antenna Steps

Adjust the grip and fit the eyelets to the end of the copper rod. You will need to solder it to enhance the grip. Moving on, sandpaper rod and electrical wire eyelets and use a methyl spirit swab to remove any grease.

Repeat this procedure until you have connected all of the 6 rods with the eyelets. Finish off the process by soldering all the wire eyelets to the copper rods.

The next step entails the clamping of the SO-239 connector to the vice. Do a test-run by fitting one 6.5” and 19.5” rod, making sure it is at the center of the SO-239. Bend it at the eyelets, forming a 60-degree angle, V shape.

Hold the two together temporarily, and solder generously. When it turns shiny-silver, you know that the soldering work is done well.

After completing the previous step, arrange the radial rods in the following order:

      • Place the 19.5″ VHF rod between the two 19.5″ radial rods.
      • Similarly, the 6.5″ UHF rod should be arranged between the two 6″ radial rods.

Once arranged, connect the four of the rods with nuts, adding washers in between. Before securing the bolts, ensure that there is a horizontal, 45-degree angle between four rods.

Place this antenna erection in a 1-inch diameter heavy-duty PVC pipe. Select the length based on your desired setup.

If the SO-239 is not tight enough, you can use a cable tie to thread it. Now, connect the RG8 coax with the PL-259 connector. Complete this step by testing using the SWR meter.

The reading should ideally be between 1 and 1.5. To adjust the reading, you may cut the road length. However, ensure that you do it little by little, or the reading would not be adjustable.

SWR Tuning and Adjustment

To ensure the perfect functionality of the ham radio antenna you have just built, you need to tune it properly.

Set your ham device to the center frequency of the VHF band. Next, attach the connector points of the SWR meter to your ham radio. If the reading goes beyond 1.5, adjust the length of your 19.5-inch VHF antenna. Make sure to cut the rod length by 1/8th inch each time.

For UHF tuning, set your device frequency to the center of the UHF frequency band. Perform the previous procedure of connecting the meter to the transceiver. Next, adjust the 6.5-inch element rod by cutting the length a little at a time until you reach the desired SWR measure.

Installation tips

      • To get the best performance, set your antenna as high as possible. Make sure it is clear from any obstructions to get clear signals.
      • Seal the top-end of the rods soldering points with silicone sealant. It serves the purpose of weatherproofing by preventing moisture buildup and saves you from potential damage.

The quarter-wave whip is a popular choice for newbies and experts alike. Not only is it easier to construct but also works efficiently on the VHF and UHF bands.