The toughest question for any ham radio operator is what kind of antenna to go for? There are a handful of options available in the market that work best under different circumstances. That expands the possibilities for users, putting them in quite a dilemma.
I hope you know that it’s the antenna that is solely responsible for transmission and reception. If you end up with the wrong antenna, the chances are that you will never get commendable performance with your ham radio.
That’s why it is very much important to get the right ham radio antenna. Our informative summary of each antenna type shall help beginners in choosing the right one.
7 Ham Radio Antenna Types
1. Dual Band VHF/UHF Antenna
This type of antenna is vertically polarized and covers 2-meters and 70-centimeters simplex and repeater operating. A few examples of a dual-band VHF/UHF antenna are Diamond X-50A, Comet GP-3, and Tram 1185, among others.
The vertical whip has a lower angle of radiation when compared to a horizontal dipole. The omnidirectional radiation pattern then enables all-rounded radiation. It undoubtedly works as a benefit at HF, as well as VHF/UHF.
- However, keep in mind, such an antenna won’t work well with weak-signal SSB and CW operating. Horizontal polarization would be a better choice in that case.
To operate on the HF band, you can set up a single-band antenna for each band, but that could result in endless cables. For this reason, it will be understandable to opt for a multi-band antenna to keep the number of wires and antennas in check.
The vertical antennas are the ideal choice for MF broadcasting and mobile communications! However, it does need an excellent ground plane for efficient performance.
The best part is they occupy much lesser space than an antenna like the horizontal dipole. You can install one in your garden plot without much hassle.
If you’re looking for multi-band operation, your best bet would be fan dipole or trap dipole.
2. Parallel Dipole Antenna
The parallel or fan dipole is another type you could choose for your amateur radio. It is another half-wave dipole, but with some extra elements that enable multi-band usage.
Its unique design gives it the name – fan dipole.
There may be some interaction between these additional elements, but a common coax cable connects them. It reduces the hassle and needs for multiple coax cables!
You will be happy to know that a fan dipole is easy to construct and set up at home. The material and equipment involved are available for purchase online and in markets, to support convenient construction.
3. Trap Dipole Antenna
This dipole type uses traps: tuned circuits, to provide multiple band operation. It does the job by isolating sections of the antenna.
This form of antenna is usually commercially made and works as an effective solution to work with two or three different HF bands.
On this dipole, the traps electrically shorten the dipole for higher bands. The lowest frequency band decides the dipole length. By ground mounting the trap dipole, you can limit the space it occupies.
However, this means that obstructions like walls, buildings, and other objects will shield it.
To maximize the benefits, you can also combine the features of trap dipole and fan dipole.
4. End Fed Half Wave (EFHW) Antenna
Another popular choice among amateur radio users is the end fed half wave antenna. It is quite similar to a dipole, but the coaxial cable on it connects to one end of the half-wave wire. It allows for convenient mounting.
One remarkable feature is that multi-band versions of it are available like the LNR Precision range.
This EFHW antenna uses a 50-ohm impedance cable and a step up impedance RF transformer (Unun). You will need a counterpoise for it and not an earth connection.
This type of system is relatively low-cost and enables multi-band operation. However, it can have a higher level of interference than most balanced antennas.
5. Wire Dipole Antenna
Emptying the pocket over a ham radio antenna may not be an economical option for every operator. Thus, it makes sense to look for budget-friendly options like the wire dipole. It is an uncomplicated and cost-effective solution for efficient radio communication.
The antenna performs remarkably well when you mount it as high as possible. That is because the height or length of the dipole contributes to the frequency.
While users most commonly opt for the dipole for a single band, there are versions available for multi-band usage.
You can use such type of antennas for HF communication; however, they may also be used at VHF.
Since this system is pretty simple, you could even try your hand at making one at home. Fortunately, the components involved are easily accessible, aiding the process.
6. HF Wire Doublet Antenna
Here’s a different kind of a dipole. It uses an open-wire feeder and an antenna tuning unit. Ham radio users opt for this model for the HF band.
Nonetheless, it is essential to note that it cannot be run through a house smoothly without it becoming unbalanced.
Apart from providing a multi-band operation, the G5RV fits domestic gardens and some plots. The highlight for us is that the antenna is not excessively large is quite straightforward to install.
7. Yagi/Directional Antenna
Are you looking for additional gain over vertical antennas and dipole? Are you looking to cover the extended distance at VHF/UHF? You have landed at the right place.
The solution for long-distance operation is the directional antenna, also known as Yagi.
Please note that to operate at HF, you will need a tower and, subsequently, a plot to erect it. On the other hand, the Yagi may be more practical for VHF and UHF, as you can install it on fixings attached to the house.
You may have seen them as television antennas, but they may serve useful for other applications, as well. But, it is critical to note that these may be costly and are more prone to the risk of lightning damage.
You can look at the popular options like the M2 2M9SSB antenna or the newer, portable Arrow models.
Before you freak out about putting together your ham radio antenna system, we would like to remind you that it is great to experiment with antennas. It can provide beginners and experts with some useful insight regarding operation.
In general, make sure to set them at an elevated height and away from obstructions to maximize performance!