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Good HF Antenna?

TailGator911

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Feb 12, 2005
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Fairborn, OH
Need good recommendations for an HF receive antenna. Already have the end-fed PAR 40-ft wire to my Icom R75 and R8600, but when I recently went to a few online SDRs and did some comparing, I found I was seriously lacking good signal reception. I am thinking I need a longer and better wire. I am partial to dipoles, but feel free to steer me to something new if you want, I am open to suggestions. I do mostly utility monitoring, milair, amateur radio, and some international and domestic shortwave broadcast. Taking my General class test here soon, and I already have a pair of trip beams scoped out that I plan to purchase the day I pass my test. I have plans to upgrade from a 746Pro to something bigger and better. But, right now, I am just in the market for a good HF RX antenna. I have about 125 ft of space from my antenna mast to a tree in my backyard. I also have space on my mast. Thanks in advance for all of your suggestions. I truly value the technical information here and the opinions and suggestions from people who know their stuff. So, fire away ;)

JD
kf4anc
 

tuihill

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Joined
Jul 20, 2013
Messages
30
Location
Te Pahu, New Zealand
I use an Alpha Delta DX-SWL Sloper (~60 feet) available from Universal Radio here:
Alpha Delta DX-SWL Sloper Antenna, dxswl
This antenna is connected to my Drake R8B receiver and produces excellent results worldwide at my home on the North Island of New Zealand.
Last year I acquired a magnetic loop antenna kit (receive only) from Larry Plummer at: W6LVP – HAMS: CONNECTING THE WORLD .
Other conflicting projects on the farm have not let me get beyond a temporary installation in a location too close to the house.
However, the summer is over, NZST is back and I intend to do some antenna comparisons over the winter.
So far though the loop is proving to be just as good as the sloper on most bands, better on some but definitely less noise. Larry is a fine fellow who will look after you. You will find more on loops elsewhere in this forum.
Rick
SWL
Te Pahu
 

WA8ZTZ

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Feb 23, 2014
Messages
596
Simple and quick fix... extend the PAR. You have the space. Should work great with your receivers.
Extended mine to 100 ', made for a big improvement.
Mine runs on a bit of a slope and has a dogleg in it but it seems to help with reception from all directions.
 

ka3jjz

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Bowie, Md.
Yep, the PAR (even when you replace the wire) and loops are pretty much the workhorses, but don't be afraid to experiment. As receiving antennas go, the only thing you will damage is your wallet. As noted before you have the space for some pretty decent antennas, assuming you don't have any community restrictions. Our antennas wiki just scratches the surface - there's lots more out there to be had...Mike
 

TailGator911

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I like the simple and quick fix, extending the PAR. I already have the wire to do it, left over from a long wire homebrew I took down and brought with me from the house in Florida.. It's exactly 80ft long, twice the length of the PAR. I'm going to do that this weekend, thanks for that suggestion. But, I still want to experiment with something. Going thru the inventory at DX Engineering and I've got my eye on the DX Engineering RF-PRO-1B® Active Magnetic Loop Antenna. I've never tried a loop antenna and I've heard a lot about them. I see a Saturday afternoon road trip to Akron coming up. Might just take the RV up there and try out my new scanner station set up while I'm at it. Never been to the DX Engineering store up there, so that will be an adventure. They have a great array of antenna splitters, too. Thanks for the great suggestions, guys!

JD
kf4anc
 

prcguy

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Jun 30, 2006
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So Cal - Richardson, TX - Tewksbury, MA
If your getting an amplified loop you might consider the W6LVP. These have been tested and compared to the Wellbook and Pixel loops as having about the same performance and is only $250. I suspect the DX Engineering loop probably doesn't do much more than the W6LVP and its twice the price.
W6LVP Amplified Receive-Only Magnetic Loop Antenna – With Power Inserter – W6LVP

I like the simple and quick fix, extending the PAR. I already have the wire to do it, left over from a long wire homebrew I took down and brought with me from the house in Florida.. It's exactly 80ft long, twice the length of the PAR. I'm going to do that this weekend, thanks for that suggestion. But, I still want to experiment with something. Going thru the inventory at DX Engineering and I've got my eye on the DX Engineering RF-PRO-1B® Active Magnetic Loop Antenna. I've never tried a loop antenna and I've heard a lot about them. I see a Saturday afternoon road trip to Akron coming up. Might just take the RV up there and try out my new scanner station set up while I'm at it. Never been to the DX Engineering store up there, so that will be an adventure. They have a great array of antenna splitters, too. Thanks for the great suggestions, guys!

JD
kf4anc
 

TailGator911

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Fairborn, OH
I've made my decision to give the W6LVP Loop a tryout. Seems to be quite the deal, amplified and more! Portable if need be. The only thing that concerns me is mounting it on my mast pole. With a loop antenna, height is not a factor, right? I've seen lots of pics of them on balconies and on tripods in backyards. I'm wondering about putting it on a tripod just outside my radio room window and just snake the feed coax into my pass-thru box, would be less than 10-ft run to the antenna splitter. I would have to make the tripod a permanent base somehow, but I can make it work. I am going to purchase the portable version, says it's adaptable to a speaker tripod and I just happen to have a pair of really nice heavy duty Jamz speaker tripods that I used in my DJ setup with big JBLs, very strong and sturdy. (I used to do weddings and such) Sounds like a good weekend project. Thanks again, prcguy, you rock dude. And, I save $250! If you lived closer I'd buy you a steak dinner! :)

Great reviews on this antenna, some have said it out-performed a Wellbrook. Impressive. Once again, the information here is absolutely invaluable.

JD
kf4anc
 

n5rv

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Mar 20, 2003
Messages
38
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DM91se15hx
I've no suggestions, but I find that having more than one antenna is better and you can switch between them for the best reception. I run an Alpha Delta DX-Ultra and a 250 foot random wire on my Icom R-75. The random wire is better for BCB and LF, and the DX-Ultra is better for the higher frequencies. They both overlap in the middle and vary in reception based on where the signals are coming from. The random wire is in a U shape around the back half of my lot, anywhere from 6 feet to 12 feet above ground.
 

ka3jjz

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Putting the loop on a tripod with a lite duty rotator will work just fine. With these wideband loops, height is not important - but getting it as far away from the house as you can certainly is. As noted by N5RV, having 2 different kinds of antennas is often an advantage. One antenna might not hear something so well, but the other may. Propagation, like luck, is a fickle thing.
 

prcguy

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So Cal - Richardson, TX - Tewksbury, MA
I have more experience with short active VLF/HF antennas, or E-field types and they should be in the clear and higher than anything around it. I suspect the same holds true for small active loops but since they are really good at rejecting certain types of noise people are using them indoors, etc. I would treat it like any other antenna and get it out in the clear for best reception. A rotor is a good idea but you only need to rotate 180deg at the most since its bi-directional.

I'll be in Fairborn for the Hamvention in May, need any help installing it?

I've made my decision to give the W6LVP Loop a tryout. Seems to be quite the deal, amplified and more! Portable if need be. The only thing that concerns me is mounting it on my mast pole. With a loop antenna, height is not a factor, right? I've seen lots of pics of them on balconies and on tripods in backyards. I'm wondering about putting it on a tripod just outside my radio room window and just snake the feed coax into my pass-thru box, would be less than 10-ft run to the antenna splitter. I would have to make the tripod a permanent base somehow, but I can make it work. I am going to purchase the portable version, says it's adaptable to a speaker tripod and I just happen to have a pair of really nice heavy duty Jamz speaker tripods that I used in my DJ setup with big JBLs, very strong and sturdy. (I used to do weddings and such) Sounds like a good weekend project. Thanks again, prcguy, you rock dude. And, I save $250! If you lived closer I'd buy you a steak dinner! :)

Great reviews on this antenna, some have said it out-performed a Wellbrook. Impressive. Once again, the information here is absolutely invaluable.

JD
kf4anc
 

ka3jjz

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Nope the active loops are fine close to the ground - say 5 or 6 foot off the ground. I'm not up on VLF antennas, but loops are very different propagationally speaking. And a rotor is great if you are DXing MW stations and need to null one in favor of another (LW works that way too); as you get higher in frequency, you lose that advantage, but turning the antenna might also help with nulling a noise source out.
 

TailGator911

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Fairborn, OH
Putting the loop on a tripod with a lite duty rotator will work just fine. With these wideband loops, height is not important - but getting it as far away from the house as you can certainly is. As noted by N5RV, having 2 different kinds of antennas is often an advantage. One antenna might not hear something so well, but the other may. Propagation, like luck, is a fickle thing.
Good info, thanks. I was hoping to keep my coax run within 10-ft (as supplied) but I certainly have the space on my property to put it on the back forty. I have several options here. I can do as I did at my house in Florida and zip-tie the coax to the top pipe of my chain link fence all the way to the house, then I put it underground at the house and bury around the foundation to my feed box. Or, I can go higher with a shorter coax run by strapping to my chimney. I'll figure it out once I get the antenna and fool around with placement and reception. Again, thanks guys!

JD
kf4anc
 

TailGator911

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Fairborn, OH
I'll be in Fairborn for the Hamvention in May, need any help installing it?
Unfortunately I will be in the Bahamas that week. Family reunion thing etc. I will be missing Hamvention this year. But, I've been to the last 6 in a row, so I don't think I'll be missing much. But thanks so much for the offer!

JD
kf4anc
 

W5lz

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Feb 28, 2019
Messages
273
Here are some rough rules of thumb...

Higher is better if it's possible.
Resonant antennas work better than non-resonant ones in most cases.
I am frugal! That means cheap, and if I can make it I will before I buy one.
I don't much care what the thing looks like if it works well.
Ain't nothing -special- when making an antenna. Use whatever you happen to have.
Got an odd idea? Try it, it might just work. (Don't tell nobody unless it does work!)

Got any more of those R.O.T.s (rule of thumb)? Add to the list.
 

ka3jjz

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Bowie, Md.
Well, higher is better up to a point - but that gets into a lot of antenna physics and depends greatly on the kind of antenna. A good old fashioned dipole should be no less than 1/4 wave off the ground for optimum performance, for example.

Here's one or two that hits home and addresses a very large misconception;

There is a world of difference between a long wire and a longwire antenna. Any very long antenna could be termed a 'long wire'; however a 'longwire' is a very specific kind of antenna. The Beveridge is a classic (also known as the Traveling Wave antenna); 1 wavelength or longer at a given band or frequency, and is frequently grounded at the far end. It's often mounted fairly close to the ground in relation to the frequency desired.

A very long antenna begins to show bi-directionality on some frequencies depending on its height above ground and operating frequency

Mike
 

W5lz

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Feb 28, 2019
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273
The given definition of a "longwire" antenna is one who's length is a whole multiple of a full wave length. Typically they run in a single direction (more or less), at less than a 1/2 wave in height (really a lot of variation in height). They are usually a receive only thingy, the transmitting antenna is typically a resonant one of some sort. A long wire antenna was usually "aimed" in a particular direction and usually more than just one (pick the one you had the best reception on).
For HF you are talking about a large "antenna farm". Not many of us have that much room to play with! They usually were governmental or commercial in nature. There used to be such a "farm" owned by Collins/TI (Don't remember) east of highway 75 north of Dallas...very large open space with a number of different types of antennas. The only place I ever saw a log-periodic HF multielement beam!
There'ya go, more than you ever wanted to know...
 

ka3jjz

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Be careful about mixing up a 'long wire' and a 'longwire' - they are 2 different animals. A long wire antenna is just that - an antenna that's very long. A longwire, as you correctly point out, is quite a different animal. To make it unidirectional, if memory serves, you grounded the far end of the wire. I've also seen designs where radials were spread out to increase the ground efficiency.

Many are the times I wished I had the real estate for a few of these; I could've used them when I tried to chase Pacific stations from listening here on the East Coast. Was always very envious of folks that could hear Cook Islands when they were on the air...Mike
 

W5lz

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Feb 28, 2019
Messages
273
I'm an old fart so keep that in mind...
When I learned about different types of antennas definitions were slightly different. A long wire antenna was one that was at -least- one wavelength long and typically multiple wave lengths. The other end-fed wire antennas were called a -random- length antenna typically not resonant. There were (are) two kinds of long wire antennas, terminated and un-terminated. The terminated type had a resistance at the far end and then went to ground. That resistance was something over 500 ohms with only a "fairly" high power rating. Didn't need to handle a lot of power mainly because the thing was resonant.
A random wire antenna was also a fairly long thing but not a multiple of a wave length. It was typically used on multiple bands and had a -nice- ground system (preferably radials). They also, typically, were fed through an impedance matching device/circuit... a tuner. So was that long wire.
Us city boys never had room for a long wire antenna on the lower HF bands, where the devil could we find friendly neighbors that would allow us to use their trees? So, they were usually the prerogative of those country boys. And since they really are sort of directional, that ment using a bunch of them pointed in different directions. That was one of the reasons 'smaller' directional antennas were invented. Pretty good reason, huh? Oh well...
 
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