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Best Vertical Antenna? Opinions?

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#1
Hi. I'm sure this issue has been raised before, but couldn't find it on forums. I am getting back into Ham Radio after 40 years passing. I'm looking for brand names vertical antenna recommendations for the shortwave bands. I have an antenna tuner. Would that help? We have power lines around us. Horizontal, of course.. Any advice appreciated.
 
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Joined
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#2
Well, things haven't change in 40 years. There is no such think as the best vertical antenna. There is only the antenna that works best for you and your environment. About the best we might do is tell you what we have and how well it works. Even then it would be very subjective.

A good place to look at antennas would be DX Engineering - Free Shipping on Orders Over $99. I have a 5BVT that I bought at a ham fest. DX Engineering still caries it, and it's variations. I have found that it works great on 40 to 10 Meters, but the bandwidth on 80 meters is very small and makes it difficult to tune up. I have mine mounted on a 18' piece of 2" iron pipe and use elevated radials, 4 per band. It will work without radials but not as good as with radials.

I also have a trap/fan dipole. It's basically two trap dipoles fed with the same feed line. On trap dipole covers 80, 40, and 15 Meters and the other covers 20 and 10 Meters. Similar to the vertical, it works very well on 20 through 10 Meters but is a little too low for good DX on 40 and 80 meters.

Overall, I find that a horizontal antenna (dipole) is less noisy than a vertical. For the price of some wire at the Home Depot you should be able to rig up a dipole that will get you on the air. There are lots of plans available on the internet. Just google "diy hf dipole".
 

W9BU

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#3
I have a Zero Five 27-foot vertical antenna. I've put in a ground radial system (and I need more radials). I'm "tuning" it with an Icom AH-4 mounted at the base of the antenna. It's nowhere as good as a beam antenna and it can be a bit noisier than my dipoles, but it allows me to work DX that I couldn't given the low height of my dipoles.
 

ab3a

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#4
If you follow K7MEM's advice, and you need to keep things at ground level, I will offer this one piece of advice:

RADIALS!

You need lots of them. The more, the better. They do not have to be tuned, they merely have to be reasonably long. Just for reference sake, note that most MW AM broadcast stations use 120 radials away from their broadcast towers. Ideally, you should see an impedance of about 36 to 40 ohms.

You can bury them just below ground level so that you can still have a lawn.

But please do not forget the radials. Without them, your signal will be a great deal weaker than it should be.
 
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#5
I use a Hustler 5BTV with no radials. I know radials are beneficial, but I never got around to installing them.

That said, I can work western Europe on 100w phone, and 5W to 25W PSK31 reaching South America, Italy, and Russia.
 

SCPD

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#6
Take a look at the Comet CHA250B. I know a couple of hams running it. Say they are working the world with it. No radials. Both have it mounted at ground level. One of the clubs here used it as their GOTA antenna, and was pleased. Think it runs $350 or so, not sure.
 
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#7
I attended a seminar years ago on the use of radials for verticals where the speaker and his group had put up a number of four-square arrays for various bands. They did efficiency measurements (ground conductivity) and found the number of radials beyond 40-50 did very little to improve a single verticals efficiency. The same results came from the four-square. More radials are better but you can't do much better than with 40-50 radials.

As for having them all straight out on a small lot, they don't need to be. Say you have a 75 foot wide area for a 80 meter quarter wave vertical placed in the center of the area, lay them out to the edge, then bend them from that point so they contour to the property dimensions. It works okay, not a problem. You don't need to have them all the same dimension, and they can be secured to the ground using lawn staples to avoid them being severed by your lawn tractor.

And I have to give a plug to K7MEM, he has a great website that I go to whenever I am planning out some antenna project. It also covers other subjects relating to the hobby. Thanks for a great resource.

Martin E. Meserve - K7MEM
 

vagrant

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#8
If your mast height is at least 30', I would put up an Off Center Fed antenna in an inverted V configuration. Depending on how much room the legs can go out will dictate how low (frequency) you can go. On top of that a Solarcon Imax 2000 will complement the OCF taking care of 10-17 meters. One mast, two antennas, plenty of coverage.

Rig up a horizontal arm to keep the OCF away from the pole. Perhaps use a pulley system to raise the OCF after the pole is in place. A 1:1 choke balun at the feed point may be handy if you're getting RF back into the shack.

If your mast height isn't that high you could go lower, but your OCF will become directional as it takes on a horizontal configuration. Then again, that may be what you're looking for.
 

AC2OY

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#9
Take a look at the Comet CHA250B. I know a couple of hams running it. Say they are working the world with it. No radials. Both have it mounted at ground level. One of the clubs here used it as their GOTA antenna, and was pleased. Think it runs $350 or so, not sure.
I just set up a HF station a month or two,running a Comet 250-B,using my rigs auto tuner. I have it mounted on a flagpole up about 45-50 feet? I have successfully worked 17,20,40,80 meters so far. Let me see if I can but a picture here for you to see.
 

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#11
I've played with a lot of HF verticals and can say the Comet is the worst performance I have ever experianced in a factory made antenna of that size. Any of the trap verticals that require radials but have none would work better.

I'll echo the comments that radials are very important and with a verticals like the Butternut HV9 series or many of the smaller Hustler, Hy-Gain and other ground dependent verticals they will work much better with an extensive ground system. Size is also a major factor and when comparing similar designs where a 25ft version will usually outperform a 20ft version and so on.

You also give up some performance with ground independant types like the Cushcraft R7000, Gap Titan, etc, compared to a similar size vertical that needs and has an extensive ground system. There is no magic or holy grail in vertical antennas but there is a lot of snake oil in advertising.

I ignore any sales claims that a particular antenna made an XX thousand mile contact with 5w, etc. The real question should be how does that antenna perform next to a model X or Y? There is a good chance you could have made that XX thousand mile contact at 1/2 watt with another antenna, so without a comparison a miles per watt claim is meaningless.

Then there is the recently introduced 43ft vertical that seems to be popular and usually has a 4:1 balun at the feedpoint. These can actually work ok on the 80 through maybe 17m bands if you have an extensive ground radial system and also toss the balun in the trash and replace it with a good auto tuner. I did this and was surprised at how the thing perked up and it gives some of my other antennas a run for the money on DX. With the original balun and no tuner at the base, a low dipole would kick its butt on DX.

Unless you go out and buy the dozen or so popular vertical antennas on the market and try each one, you may never know which is best for your purpose. You can certainly ask everyone for an opinion and you will get a lot of answers, but always ask what can they compare their favorite antenna to that makes it stand out as a good performer. You will find in many if not most cases its that persons first vertical antenna and they have nothing to compare it to. It makes contacts and thier happy but they don't know that most other models actually work better.
prcguy








Take a look at the Comet CHA250B. I know a couple of hams running it. Say they are working the world with it. No radials. Both have it mounted at ground level. One of the clubs here used it as their GOTA antenna, and was pleased. Think it runs $350 or so, not sure.
 

W9BU

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#13
I don't disagree with you about Comet. It's 3.7 rating on eHam.net certainly is nothing to write home about.

However, for the benefit of the new hams who might be reading this, why do you believe it's the last option?
 
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#15
If the question is directed to me I say this because you can get much better performance in a similar size antenna that's equal or cheaper in price. Many people buy the Comet 250B as a new ham and as their first antenna and have nothing to compare to. The really poor performance of the Comet can turn a new ham off on HF leaving them with the opinion that HF is a lost cause.

Any of the no radial verticals like the Cushcraft R7000 series (which I have personal experience with) or the GAP Titan (I had that one too) and others will work head and shoulders better than the Comet 250B for a similar price. If you know a little something about how these antennas rate then you try to make the best purchase with whatever budget you have. I'm hoping some of my posts pointing out how poor the Comet 250B is will help someone choose a better antenna and make the most out of their money.
prcguy



I don't disagree with you about Comet. It's 3.7 rating on eHam.net certainly is nothing to write home about.

However, for the benefit of the new hams who might be reading this, why do you believe it's the last option?
 
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#16
I don't disagree with you about Comet. It's 3.7 rating on eHam.net certainly is nothing to write home about.
I'm surprised it rates that high.

However, for the benefit of the new hams who might be reading this, why do you believe it's the last option?
Because it's got to be the least efficient vertical on the market. Essentially, it's not much more than a glorified dummy load with some aluminium attached to it. The simple fact that the antenna design can't handle more than 250w tells me there's a lot of loss in the antenna to achieve 50 ohms across that much spectrum. A dummy load has that kind of bandwidth, not a real antenna.

Even an old Cushcraft R-7000 does better, and at least it's rated for legal limit. For $180 less, you could ground mount a Hustler 6-BTV with 32 radials and beat the performance of the 250B.

What's really scary to me is that Comet actually thought that the following review was something to be proud of: http://download.qrz.ru/pub/hamradio/antenna/comet/Comet-CHA250B-Review.pdf

I wouldn't be.
 
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#17
Nothing good about the Comet, it's a dummy load on a stick.
For a vertical without radials, the Gap Challenger is hard to beat. It's excellent on 20 and 40 meters. You will find it down a couple S units on 10 and 15 meters. It does offer different capacitors for different parts of the 80 meter band, which is a plus. Be aware that any multi band vertical will not be a great performer on 80 meters.
If 10 and 15 meters must be the best they can be, either put up a dipole for those frequency's or get a mono band Gap 15 meter (they work great) and a 10 meter beam.
The Gap works fine on the higher bands. Being down a couple S units only really matters when signals are weak. Then a second antenna is a help.
There is no magic best vertical. Every one has their good and bad points. Stay away from the ones with the boxes with all the matching electronics, they tend to have problems.
The different Hustler antennas work well with a good radial field also.

John
 
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Stockbridge GA
#18
I'm using a marine SSB antenna with a antenna tuner. You can see a picture of it on QRZ - my call sign is KJ4CAR. Works great on 7 and 14 MHz band. I think the antenna is around 24' long and it's 3piece fiberglass.. Think I paid $145.00 for it several years ago.
 
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#19
I have an EAGLE 1 VERTICAL, works great for me 10-40, and auto tuner tunes it on 80 but never tried it, it cost around $130, and I have a 45 foot counter poise on it, but most of the time forget to stretch it out, anyhow works great for me..
DOCTOR/795<K8LEN>
 

dfw1193

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#20
Get an MFJ1910 33 ft push up pole. 33ft of #14 awg wire, A Balun Design Model 3132 9:1 balun and an MFJ 915 Isolator along with about 50ft of LMR400. Put it all together with the MFJ915 where it comes into your shack to keep RF out since you are using the braided coax as the counterpoise. You need a rig with an antenna tuner and it all works great across mutilple bands and the antenna will handle FULL POWER if you ever get a linear amp.

Total cost $80 for the MFJ1910, $90 for the 3132w balun, $30 for the MFJ915 isolator, about $55 for the LMR400 and about $25 for the 14ga wire and for about $280 you have a vertical that will handle 1500 watts full power and be able to raise and lower it quickly as needed and no worries about HOA's either since you just lower it during the day and raise it at night.

Best solution I found yet even though Im not HOA restricted. If you ever need to replace the wire its only $25 bucks at your local do it yourself hardware store too.

KD5SPX
Wayne in Texas.
 
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