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Threw up a free antenna, don't know what it is or if its right

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arudlang

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North Central MN
Hello, brand new to the forum here and the world of radio (safe to say I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm already knee-deep in trying!)

My brother recently started to dabble a bit with CB radios just for fun, and he kinda got me into it. Most likely we will both end up going down the ham route eventually but for the moment old used CB stuff is so cheap and accessible thats where we are at for now. He has at least one other local buddy who plays around with it, might get my dad on board, etc.

For the most part my interest in CB is for camping, skiing, group hikes, multi-car road trips with family, etc. Situations where my cheap FRS radios have been constantly falling short in terms of range and performance. Having a "base station" for CB at home was not originally a big priority for me, but I am having a lot of fun with it and my brother happened to get a large aluminum antenna in a local lot sale that he graciously let me have.

I have no idea what brand or model this antenna is (pics below), or whether its even intended to be used with CB frequencies (it was sold with a handful of other CB stuff, but that doesn't mean much around here). Despite knowing virtually nothing about it or whether its even in operating condition, I scrambled the other night in the dark to get this thrown up on my roof before the first major snowfall of the year prevents me from getting on my roof again until spring (located in north central Minnesota).

I had a junk 11ish-foot steel pipe that's been laying in the brush since I bought this house years ago, I stood it up over my porch as a makeshift mast and then I used another piece of scrap pipe as a sleeve to install this aluminum antenna on the mast.

Currently nothing is "earth-grounded", mast or antenna, which is something I will obviously correct before spring and the possibility of thunderstorms but pointing that out up front in case it is related at all to antenna performance or SWR.

No markings or labels on this antenna, appears to be all aluminum, there is a main mast made up of 5 segments that seems to be able to go anywhere from 15 to 20+ feet with clamps to lock in the length, then there are three perpendicular counterpoise which have two segments each, again adjustable with clamps. Standard SO239 connector on the bottom.

Again, without hardly knowing anything about it or what I'm doing, I assembled this freebie antenna and adjusted the length to be about 17 feet and 3(ish) inches, measured from the tip to the SO239 connector. Then I adjusted the counterpoise/radials to be 8 feet 8 inches long and set the whole thing up on my mast. I used some duct tape to try to electrically separate the antenna from the mast, whether that actually worked or not I have not gone up there and tested. I tried to brush the ends of the aluminum segments with steel wool before assembling, and I brushed/cleaned up the SO239 connector as well. I put a random bolt into the threaded tip of the antenna, not knowing whether I should or not but figured it shouldn't be open for water and ice to go down into it.

Before putting it up I pulled out my multimeter and noted that the inner portion of the SO239 connector has continuity to the outer threads of the connector, and despite the plastic isolators both the inner and outer portions of the SO239 connector have continuity to the mast mount as well (again, tried to isolate that with tape...), I wasn't sure if that was a bad sign but I pressed on anyways with the installation.

I bought 49.5 feet of cheap RG58 coax for about $15 on amazon and dropped it down my un-used brick chimney into the basement, where I have a little shelf set up to hold my 12v 9ah battery I'm currently using as a clean power supply, my bargain bin Astatic 302-PDC2 meter, and of course my base station radio. I started with a cheap Uniden PRO505XL but that unit is actually slated to go into my car, tomorrow I am getting a Uniden 980SSB that is going to be my actual radio for this makeshift base station.

Currently on the PRO505XL I am showing just a fuzz over a 2:1 SWR pretty evenly across all channels. Whether or not this meter is accurate is of course anyone's guess, like other reviews noted mine came broken right out of the package I had to reassemble some loose bits of the 10w/100w switch that were rattling around inside of it... but its all I have to go on.

Anyways, despite the less ideal SWR I was happy to see that the meter shows a full 4 watt output from the PRO505XL on this antenna, I only get about 2 watts when that same radio is hooked to the cheap tram centerload on my car. Either a good sign or ....?

I was able to take a handheld CB unit and walk a couple hundred yards down the street to test, both the base station and the handheld unit where able to communicate crystal clear at that short range so it seems like... maybe I've got something usable? I hope...

We got 6 inches of snow this weekend so my ability to get up there to adjust or change anything is going to be pretty non-existent until spring... If I absolutely HAD to I might be able to get up there once, it *might* get warm enough later this week to melt my roof off but odds aren't great.

I have not tried to make contact with this setup yet other than the 30 second test between myself and the handheld unit a couple hundred yards away. I am hearing some skip on ch 6 and some occasional chatter from somebody in MN with probably a tremendous amplifier of some sort, I can hear that guy in my car unit too driving around sometimes.

At this point with the nice Bearcat 980SSB arriving tomorrow I am excited to hook it up but also nervous that something might be bad with this antenna and worst-case cause damage to the radio, hence reaching out there for any input or advice. I know the 980SSB has a couple rudimentary built-in antenna checks and I will try those. With the Astatic showing a little over 2:1 SWR not sure if the radio will pass or fail its antenna check...

I'm wondering about the three counterpoise on this antenna, they go straight out 90 degrees from the center mast, fixed angle, but most CB antennas I have seen put the counterpoise at more like a 45 degree angle. Most others seem to have four or more counterpoise vs just three as well.. for all I know this is a HAM antenna not intended at all for use at 27 Mhz. If anybody recognizes it and knows for sure let me know. I could bend those counterpoise poles down and maybe that would help my SWR (?) but once I bend them it will be awfully hard to ever get them straight again. Should I try attaching some angled wires to the base? Should I leave it be? (Is my SWR good enough considering the cheap radio, cheap RG58 coax, and the overall condition of this old antenna that was just laying out in someone's field for years?)

I'm not sure what to think. Posted here since this is mostly antenna-related but please move if it should be in the CB sub-forum. Hoping posting here is the greatest chance that someone will recognize this antenna and let me know if I'm way down the wrong path.

If I can get this working I can make all kinds of local contacts. My brother, parents, grandma, and some friends all live within 6 miles of me, I've made contact to my brother in his truck near my house while standing on my parent's roof with my handheld (trusty TRC-217), its worth it to me to get this at least mostly working (I know I say that but also cheaped out big time on the coax... my wife is keeping me on a tight budget for this stuff!)

Enough with my rambling, here are some pictures (OneDrive Album): CB Stuff

Sorry I couldn't attach them it said the files were too large. Thanks in-advance for anyone's help and advice.
 

prcguy

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I'm pretty sure you have a Hy-Gain CLR2 5/8 wave based on the size, number of ground radials and element clamps used. Those are 19ft 10in tall and came with a 3 wire capacity hat which seems to be missing and will affect tuning. Here is a picture of a similar cap hat on a Radio Shack version of the same antenna. The aluminum wires are around 10ga and measure 9 1/2" long and mount with a machine screw in the threaded plug a the top element.

Wtihout the cap hat the antenna will resonate high in frequency like better SWR on ch40 than 1 but you could probably lengthen it about 4 to 6" and it should tune up ok without them. Do not bend the ground radials down at an angle!

1638833020438.jpeg
 

trentbob

W3BUX- Bucks County, PA
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
5,934
I'm pretty sure you have a Hy-Gain CLR2 5/8 wave based on the size, number of ground radials and element clamps used. Those are 19ft 10in tall and came with a 3 wire capacity hat which seems to be missing and will affect tuning. Here is a picture of a similar cap hat on a Radio Shack version of the same antenna. The aluminum wires are around 10ga and measure 9 1/2" long and mount with a machine screw in the threaded plug a the top element.

Wtihout the cap hat the antenna will resonate high in frequency like better SWR on ch40 than 1 but you could probably lengthen it about 4 to 6" and it should tune up ok without them. Do not bend the ground radials down at an angle!

View attachment 113257
Boy that brings back memories. I'm going to guess I was 13 years old in 1967 my dad and uncle put mine up on the roof. Pretty sure it cost around thirty bucks.

That's what it looked like without the top part.
 

arudlang

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Joined
Dec 6, 2021
Messages
109
Location
North Central MN
Thank you so much, just being able to ID the antenna is a huge help. I can probably recreate the capacity hat but I'll have to do some digging to see roughly what length those segments should be. I wish it was summer so I could just go up and down on the roof to experiment but more likely I'll get maybe one more shot at being able to (safely) get up there before there is too much snow and cold to fight with it.

At least now I understand that the antenna is a 5/8 wave and should have been set a good bit longer than I made it initially. Thank you for the steer in the right direction so I don't waste time fiddling with the ground plane rods (or bending them!) Also glad to know that its OK that my multimeter shows the antenna as a dead short, I read elsewhere once you gave me that model # that its supposed to be that way if its NOT burnt out inside so hopefully the previous owner(s) only used it at normal power levels with little or no amp and its in good shape to be used otherwise. I heard some more chatter on ch 6 and 11 on it tonight so there's gotta be hope for it, but I'm sure armed with this new knowledge I can do better than a 2:1 SWR.

Give me a few days to a week to work out a decent day to get on the roof and adjust it (-4 F right now and blowing 20 MPH winds so... won't be right away!) and I will post back and let you guys know how it turns out. Properly adjusted length + Bearcat 980SSB should be a nice little station to play around with this winter.
 

JayMojave

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Messages
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Location
Mojave Ca
Yeah a Hy-Gain CLR-2 like the other guys said. Be advised the matching coil is located in the base plastic and is a made on a circuit board, and will not take a lot power. Hy-Gain went to the Penetrator 500 design because so many CLR-2 antennas were being burned up. A Hair Pin type matching system can be used in place of the circuit board matching coil. As used on the Penetrator 500 antenna.

Jay in the Great Mojave Desert
 

arudlang

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Messages
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Yep I'd say the CLR-2 is a match for what I've got here. Makes way more sense because I was guessing it was 1/2 wave and it seemed like I had quite a bit more aluminum to work with than I needed to get to 1/2 wave, stretching it out to 5/8 should set it straight and I think I will be able to recreate the anti-static top part as well. Finding the time to do this is another matter... could be a week with the weather and how busy I am currently :(
 

krokus

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... I think I will be able to recreate the anti-static top part as well. Finding the time to do this is another matter...
That appears to be a capacitance hat, not anti-static. The static is not much of an issue on your antenna, due to being DC grounded. (Which you see when you checked the SO-239 resistance.)
 

JayMojave

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Hy-Gain I belive called the capacity hat some sort of static attenuator at one time. I'd say the length is closer to a 1/2 wave length as compared to a real 5/8 wave length antenna at 22 some feet. I didn't know Hy-Gain called the CLR-2 a 5/8 wave length antenna, news to me.

Again a hair pin type matching section can replace the circuit board matching coil. Looking for photos of a converted CLR-2 to a Penetrator 500 matching hair pin matching some were in the computer.....

Jay in the Great Mojave Desert
 

prcguy

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The CLR-2 is a 5/8 and advertised as a legal height being 19ft 2in tall meeting the FCC 20ft rule with 2in left over for the connector to stick out the bottom. The circuit board in the base is both a loading coil to shorten the antenna and a matching circuit.

The OP can either recreate the capacity hat or simply start with an overall length of 19ft 2in then lengthen the vertical element until it matches, centered on ch 20 and it will work fine. I estimate the capacity hat shortened the antenna about 6in and maybe a little more.

Hy-Gain I belive called the capacity hat some sort of static attenuator at one time. I'd say the length is closer to a 1/2 wave length as compared to a real 5/8 wave length antenna at 22 some feet. I didn't know Hy-Gain called the CLR-2 a 5/8 wave length antenna, news to me.

Again a hair pin type matching section can replace the circuit board matching coil. Looking for photos of a converted CLR-2 to a Penetrator 500 matching hair pin matching some were in the computer.....

Jay in the Great Mojave Desert
 

tramd

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Jul 26, 2021
Messages
20
Like others said the Hygain CLR-2 is almost the same as a Radio Shack colinear and others but uses clamps to hold the sections together instead on one screw. Hygains need to have the sections measured to the correct length where with the others you just line up the holes and insert the screw. No measuring needed. Here is the Telex Hygain CLR2 manual.
 

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arudlang

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Having some trouble sourcing thick enough gauge aluminum wire locally to recreate the capacitance hat. The hardware store only had 18 gauge for aluminum, pretty thin, but I bought it anyways just to have. The hardware store DID have 12 gauge galvanized steel fence wire... I wasn't sure if that would help but I grabbed that too.

I could order some aluminum wire but didn't have the foresight to do that and we suddenly have a brief, narrow window of good enough weather to try to do ... something...

So... I have two or three options here. I've read the advice that I can simply lengthen the antenna and do no hat, should be fine. I could take some of this 18 gauge aluminum and make the three 8 inch radials to put on top, or I could also make three radials for the hat with the 12 gauge galvanized steel wire, but I don't know if it would work(?)

Probably overthinking it...
 

prcguy

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The galvanized wire would work until a bird landed on it. Just put the antenna together per the instructions posted above then check the match and find the resonant point. Then lengthen the vertical element until it matches where you want it. No big deal and there should be plenty of extra tubing to extend for that.

Having some trouble sourcing thick enough gauge aluminum wire locally to recreate the capacitance hat. The hardware store only had 18 gauge for aluminum, pretty thin, but I bought it anyways just to have. The hardware store DID have 12 gauge galvanized steel fence wire... I wasn't sure if that would help but I grabbed that too.

I could order some aluminum wire but didn't have the foresight to do that and we suddenly have a brief, narrow window of good enough weather to try to do ... something...

So... I have two or three options here. I've read the advice that I can simply lengthen the antenna and do no hat, should be fine. I could take some of this 18 gauge aluminum and make the three 8 inch radials to put on top, or I could also make three radials for the hat with the 12 gauge galvanized steel wire, but I don't know if it would work(?)

Probably overthinking it...
 

arudlang

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I crawled up there over lunch, it was windy but now its going to rain/sleet in addition to being windy so I had to try something quick.

I made it as long as it could possibly be, used every inch, and I couldn't quite make it long enough without a hat but its still working out well, currently I'm showing about 1.35 SWR on ch 1 and about 1.1 on ch 40, pretty sure that translates to "make antenna longer" but I didn't have a long enough bolt or anything to do that with so I left it at that for the moment and crawled back down.

Going from 2+ on both down to under 1.5 on both seems like a solid win, even if they aren't "matched". I can find a long bolt to put in the tip or eventually get some aluminum to make the hat with but seems like for now I can hopefully just use it like this and be happy. From what I've read I won't hardly be able to measure the performance improvement if I get it any better, but would still be nice to do maybe in the spring.

Of course this is all measured with the el-cheapo Astatic and who knows if it's accurate or not. I will try the SWR meter on my 980SSB soon here but did the above testing with my old 505XL because it was already hooked up. I did notice that my wattage output reading dropped to 2 watts whereas before it was showing almost 4 watts when the SWR was almost double, kind of a weird effect but I'm sure its fine right?

I also got a 3 foot fiberglass mobile antenna for my car in the mail today (cheap thing but better than the mag mount tram hopefully) so pretty soon I will be able to do some actual range tests too. Fun stuff!
 

prcguy

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Your going the right way and it looks like you need a little more mass at the top. You could even poke a hole in an aluminum pie pan for whatever size screw fits the plug in the top, probably an 8-32 or 10-24 and use that. A capacity hat doesn't have to be wires, it can be a solid disc of sheet metal.

I crawled up there over lunch, it was windy but now its going to rain/sleet in addition to being windy so I had to try something quick.

I made it as long as it could possibly be, used every inch, and I couldn't quite make it long enough without a hat but its still working out well, currently I'm showing about 1.35 SWR on ch 1 and about 1.1 on ch 40, pretty sure that translates to "make antenna longer" but I didn't have a long enough bolt or anything to do that with so I left it at that for the moment and crawled back down.
 
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arudlang

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Gusts as high as 50 MPH expected tonight along with freezing rain and heavy snow... going to find out soon whether I left enough of the antenna segments in contact with each other in the quest to make the antenna as long as possible 😅 hope its still standing in the morning!
 
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