End Fed Antenna Review

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

Okay, let’s review. By the title you can tell that this is going to be a review of an end fed antenna. Now, the review part. A wise man once said, write what you know about, and me being an advocate of advanced humor, I’m going to try to combine a little bit of knowledge with a little bit of humor. 

A disclaimer. Anywhere on this site, whether it is radio or chickens or pigs, we make no profit off of anything. There has been no gratuity awarded for any product endorsement. For those that do profit off of what they write, great! It is just not our forte.  

It’s been 3 years since I posted any type of article. A lot happens in three years. I have tried some antennas, some radios, I decided to try out heart surgery. I’ve now got one of those zippers from stem to stern. Not literally of course. And not being a person of nautical persuasion, I do not know the difference between stem and stern. But for those of you that are interested, I will share information about the bypass at a later date.

At a radio meeting one night, I heard a guy talking about his new antenna, and he was raving about it. Now all this guy does is CW, or morse code, he doesn’t even have a microphone attached to his radio. Let me back up here a little. This article is not being written at an entry level knowledge base. I’m sorry. So, if we’re speaking of CW and end fed, then you know I’m talking about HF radio. And yes, I know there is some CW on VHF, but that is not what we’re talking about here.

So, continuing. I listened to this guy, and he is a senior operator. So I listened for a while, and this guy learned CW from the United States military. And this guy talks CW all over the world. I’ll get back to this part of the story later.

Okay. The antenna I’m going to review today is made by MyAntennas.com  Yes, that is the name of the company. I will start off by saying I am highly impressed with this product. Are they pricey? Yes. Could you build your own? Probably. And if you would like to do that they will sell you the parts to do so. I bought the EFHW-8010

It is 130 feet long, resonant on 80/40/30/20/17/15/12/10M. It is rated at 1kW maximum. These are the specifications. If you’re not familiar with an end fed, which at the time, I was not, it is basically half of a full wave dipole, in this case, for 80 meters. Because if you remember, the number 468, that is your magic number that you use to figure the length of a half wave dipole. A small example, 468 divided by 3.5 equals 134. 3.5 is the lower end of 80M. So, 468 divided by 3.5 is 134 feet. If you were building an 80 meter dipole, it’s full length would be 134 feet, which would be 67 feet on each leg of the dipole.


Now follow me here. Through the miracle of using a balun, using the end fed half wave length antenna, then you can tune all of the afore mentioned frequencies. Or that’s how it works in theory anyway. Now I’m going to tell you how it works for me in reality.

Equipment used. My power supply is solar. The radio is an IC-718. I have approximately 100 feet of RG-8X from the radio to the end fed antenna. The feed end of the antenna is at 30 feet in the air, it runs approximately 50 feet to an apex of 40 feet and then continues whats left to a 30 foot height. This works okay for me. Your mileage may vary. I have a power transformer from the electric company about 50 feet away, and the apex of the antenna passes over a metal roof that is about 16 feet from ground level. These are the parameters that I have.


Now. This antenna will not transmit on 160M, but it will receive. I did not check for SWR on 30, 15,  or 12 meters because I don’t use those. It did work great on 40M, so 15M should also be good. Here’s what I got. 
All the following readings are SWR. 
80M – lower end 1:1.1
80M/75M – right at the higher end 1:2.5
40M – entire band 1:1.1
20M – entire band 1:1.1
10M – lower end 1:1.8
10M – middle and upper part 1:1.4
60M – the 5 channels 1:2.5
11M/CB – 1:2

As you can see, these are all easily tunable without a tuner. But with a tuner, your radio is happier. So, example. If you have a radio with a built in tuner, it would easily tune these numbers. If you have an external tuner like I do, then for most bands I don’t even use a tuner, and if I do, it just makes my radio a little bit happier.

Because this is a review of an antenna, I’m not going to discuss the theory of SWR. It’s one thing if you’re running 100 watts power, and another if you’re running a 1000 watts. But if you’re looking at this antenna, then you already know the difference.

This company, MyAntenna.com, also provides higher power antennas, just look around. They also sell baluns, RF isolators and other assorted goodies and toys.

Here is a link to eHam.net. I think you will find the reviews impressive.

If you have the space, or the desire, I would highly recommend this antenna. For me, it works. You can also configure it like you would any other dipole. Yes, it is a little pricey and it takes up 130 feet. What do I use it for? I do not contest, nor do I use CW, therefore there is no review of 30 meter. I have made contacts on 80/40/20M, and mostly on 40M. I seldom DX. And I seldom talk, but the reports I receive back are all 5/9, or easily intelligible. 

Again, I have no other end fed experience, I have never used a directional antenna, yes I know these are directional, but you know what I mean. For 10 & 11 meters I primarily use a vertical A99. 


 

I would appreciate your feedback, how your antennas are configured and what type of results you get. We’re all in this ballgame together, and if we can help out a fellow man, let’s please do so. If you have found mistakes in my writings or calculations, please let me know. This is just my experience. I look forward to hearing from you.

My XYL just reminded me that I need to let you know why I do this. First off, I listen. I want to know what’s coming down the road. As mentioned earlier, I operate from solar, not my whole house, but all of my radios, and that’s what it’s for. The system I use is simple. For me simple works better. The man I mentioned earlier that I learned about this antenna from operates all over the world when conditions permit.

In a future article I will tell you about my IC-7300 experience and why I went back to an IC-718. Thanks for being there.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

Radio – Wanna Be a General, Part 7

Hello, Frank here.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to finish preparing for the general exam today. I’m going to have lower back surgery here in a few days, and I am going to be out of service for a while. This is the same reason the radio posts have been sporadic and far between. I have an old back injury that I decided to reactivate in full force. So, if I spell the word excruciating correctly, it’s the word I use to describe my stabbing pains, which will soon be over. Hopefully. So much for my whining routine.

Okay. I’m on page 47 of Romanchik, and this manual ends on page 66, and that’s where we will be at the end of this post. As I’ve stated more than once, if you have your Technician, then you know how to get in touch with the ARRL. You know how to find a mentor, or Elmer. And you know a little bit about safety. 

Speaking of safety, know the safety rules, follow them. If you want to cut corners on an antenna, wonderful. If you want to open your radio up and start whacking diodes and resistors, wonderful. But, never compromise on safety. Yesterday I was doing a little soldering. My tip was a little shaky, and without thinking, I reached down with an unprotected index finger, and stupidly, stabilized the tip of my soldering iron. After I got finished with my diatribe of expletives, I promptly stuck my burnt finger in my mouth. Next, I pulled out my trusty commercial handheld radio, called my wife on GMRS 20, and asked her to bring me the burn cream. Those were not the exact words, but for family publication, it will do. And if you think you’ll never do something stupid……

Okay, let’s go. Operating procedures. If you’re using Romanchik, then you know that all of the bold print words are the answers, and he surrounds it with the question. It gives you the number and letters where the question comes from. Example: G2A05. It talks about sideband, upper and lower, which is the outside part of the carrier. This is stuff you should already know. Now, I’m not an old salt at this stuff, but I do not remember everything I’ve learned in the past. By the way, this is not on the test, but if you use 11 meter, or CB, channels 30 through 40, folks use the lower sideband, even though the ham bands 10 and 12, are upper side band. Also do a google search, CB Free Band. With your HF radio you can listen to all of these frequencies. And if you have a modified HF radio, you can also broadcast on these frequencies. As you know, that is illegal.

You need to know what “CQ, CQ, CQ” means. And you also need to know what CQ DX means. Read pages 48 and  49. These are things you will need to know for the test. But most of them are just common courtesy. Page 50 starts CW, which is morse code. Whether you ever do CW, or you ever plan on doing CW or not, these questions are still going to be on the test. And they will be on the test, therefore, you will need to know the information about CW. Pages 51 and 52 are some very general rules. Remember, if you see a question about ‘all these choices are correct’, that is not the answer every time, but more than not, it is. Know what QRP means, and always use QRP.

I’m on page 53. Most of these terms are not going to be familiar to you. Most of you will never use these. But if you choose to, know what they are. RTTY, for example, means radioteletype. It has been around a long, long time. But, as usual, this information will be on your test, and if you never plan on using this information that is fine. Learn it long enough to pass the test. I know there are guys in ham radio that hate this type of teaching technique. Some of them believe that you should study and know everything, even if you’re never going to use it again in your life. There are those types everywhere. We’re not talking about studying for a medical exam here. So. If you’re in a crowd of old guys, talking about how you did, and you talk about the techniques learned here, it might be one of those good days to be quiet and listen.

Okay, I’m on page 55. Electrical and RF safety. You know that microwave oven you have in your kitchen? Microwave is just a band of RF. If you don’t know what you’re doing, DON’T DO IT. And you will not see this in any safety manual anywhere. But, if you are going to do something that you know you are not supposed to do, then do it at low power. Those brain tissues that you fry are not going to come back. We all do things that are stupid, trust me, I know. And we all do things we’re not supposed to do. But if you’re going to to it anyway, do it at low power. That does not mean it’s okay to go out and stand in a puddle of water, and work on an electrical outlet. That is categorized as ultra stupid. Okay. Read about safety and RF safety. Again, if you see, “all of these choices are correct”, in more cases than not, that is the answer, but not every time. 

This is a good time to know how to ground your equipment. And if by chance you are one of these guys, that took a sharp hit to your head when you were a child and find some pleasure in climbing towers, follow the safety rules. I can never understand how anybody would want to climb a tower. To get me up a tower past, oh, six feet, there’s going to have to be a raging water buffalo at the base of that tower. 

Okay, on page 57 it talks about AWG12. This is probably the size of wire that carries most of your electrical outlet current. So, now you know about what size #12 is. Okay, remember, the bigger the number, the smaller the cable size. #22 is a whole lot smaller than #12, and #6 is a whole lot bigger than #12. Ground your equipment. When you’re working on a piece of equipment, turn off the power. And, even if the power is disconnected and unplugged, you can still fry your piece of equipment if you touch the wrong capacitor. Know what you’re doing. And you say, “If I don’t know what I’m doing, how am I going to learn?” Find a mentor through your local ARRL. Find one you get along with. If you’re going to be the type of person that follows the rules 100% of the time, then find somebody that has that same belief. If you’re the type that’s going to experiment a little bit, then find someone that has that same type of belief. I would guesstimate the numbers are about 50/50, so just ask around. Don’t be afraid to ask. Tell the mentor what you want to do, and if he says you can’t do that, then ask him to direct you to someone who will teach you what you want to know. It’s no big deal.

Page 59. Rules. There’s a lot of stuff here that doesn’t seem to be particularly important, but it is on the test. Get out one of those ICOM band charts, a pencil and start playing with the edges of the bands, and this stuff will come to you pretty quick. There is a lot of it on the test, so therefore, you will need to know it to pass. 

And you might say, “Well, I can’t transmit on the 60 meter band.” So, what do you do? It’s legal to transmit there, but your radio won’t do it. You open up your radio. Is that legal? Yes. Will it then be legal to transmit on 60 meters? Yes. Will your radio then transmit on the CB frequencies? Yes. Is it legal? No. So, is it legal to open up your radio? Yes. Okay. To open up your radio means, to allow it to transmit on frequencies that it was not initially designed to transmit on. Can you go inside your radio and smash a diode and now transmit on 60 meters? Yes, you can. Is it legal? Yes, it is. One more time. After you open up your radio, you will also be able to transmit on many frequencies that are illegal. Remember, you can listen to any frequency in the HF spectrum legally. Also remember, your HF radio is a first class shortwave receiver. Okee-dokee?

If you notice on the bottom of page 60 it says, “None of the amateur bands are shared with the citizens radio service.” That’s in this country. CB radio in other countries has different frequencies, but that’s not on the test. But again, do a google and check out CB Free Band.

Proceeding right along to page 61, a few more rules and regulations. Talking about antennas. An antenna is probably the most important piece of equipment you will own. It does no good to have a $10,000 radio and a poor antenna. Now, I did not say cheap antenna. An inexpensive long wire antenna, or dipole, will do an excellent job if it is erected properly. Don’t forget that either. You’ll not impress your friends with a high dollar radio if you cannot produce an intelligible signal. Read the last paragraph on page 61, this is our government at it’s best. One other free piece of advice. If you see FCC in the answer, the majority of the time, that is the correct answer, but not all of the time.

Alrighty. Page 63. More stuff you will see on the test, and it’s going to be there. Go ahead and learn it. And the last part deals with volunteer examiner coordinators. There is a little bit more information about ITU. That will be the answer on at least one of the questions. 

Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen. That’s it. Call your local ARRL, find out when they do testing. This is ham fest season, and many of them offer testing. If you have been taking the practice tests and you’re scoring 85 or above, then it’s time to go take the test. If you don’t think you’re going to pass the first time, then take a handful of $15.00 bills. A little humor there.

I talked on the radio to a gentleman in northern Ohio last night at 28.302. That’s the first time I’ve talked on the radio in about a month. The last guy I talked to was in Argentina. He was also on the 10 meter band. As stated before, I don’t contest, I have nothing to prove about how much my equipment costs. I listen to shortwave every chance I can, which is not very often. I am not intimidated by a man that has a $10,000 radio. I am happy for him, if that’s what he truly wants. I’m also happy for the man that likes to contest. I’ve told you before, ham radio has lots of opportunities. Connected to my HF radio, is a dipole antenna and an A99 antenna, which is considered to be a CB antenna. I use it for 10, 11, 12 and 15 meters. It works great. I also have a couple of antenna switches that I use the A99 and the dipole on my legal CB radio. I like CB, but my antennas work for both. If you want to take an HF radio and open it up, that is not illegal. It just depends on where you use it. If you don’t do something stupid, no one will notice you. 

Please go back and read some of the other posts. The information is put in a simple manner, and I hope you enjoy it. Here in a week or two or three, depending on how my back surgery goes, I’m going to put out a post about survival radio. If you believe there are hard times coming, then you might want to be able to talk to your buddy down the road, who might have an old CB radio in his truck. If he hunts, he probably has a couple of GMRS handheld radios, and you can talk to him, too. If you have an HF radio, you can listen to, and talk to folks, all around the planet. With a commercial VHF/UHF radio, you can talk on the ham frequencies, GMRS and MURS. Some of the above mentioned frequencies are not legal. But in a collapse situation, I’m not sure that will be an issue. Just don’t get stupid. Wish me well on my surgery. I wish you well on your test.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

Radio – Wanna Be a General, Part 5

Hello, Frank here.

Hi everybody. Last time we talked about SWR in relation to antennas. As mentioned last time, most people will agree the most important piece of equipment should be your antenna. It’s kind of like buying a giant screen television with a computer type speaker for sound. There are as many types of antennas as you can count on all eleven of your toes. I’m going to cover the most popular ones, but there are still a gazillion other types out there.

First, your beam antenna. Your beam will focus your power and signal in a specific direction. Most beam antennas have a motor to change the direction of the antenna. Picture one of the old TV type of antennas, you know, the ones you had up on the pole? Even some of them had a motor so you could point in a different direction to locate a different broadcasting tower. Same type concept, except the beam antenna will transmit and receive. Now, these antennas are directional. But if you want to contest, and you want to transmit and receive to a specific area, this is a great way to go.

Next is your vertical antenna. Some guys use them and they get good results. But, what you see above the ground is only part of the antenna. In many cases there are wires buried just below the surface of the ground. A lot of guys use these as expedition type use. I have never actually seen one.

Probably the most common is your dipole antenna. There are multiple configurations for dipole type antennas. The most common is half the wire on one side and the other half on the other side. If you’re going to focus on one band, then a single wire will work great. Now, there are dipoles that are made for multiple bands. I would guess that the dipole is probably the most common general purpose antenna that there is. If your dipole is put up correctly and the height is right, then you can transmit and receive around the globe.

Most of these antennas are 50 ohm, but a few of them are not. As I mentioned earlier, there are multiple types of antennas. The only ones you need to be concerned with at this stage are the ones that are on the test. There is something on page 32 of the Romanchik manual that I want to bring to your attention. The term NVIS means near vertical incident skywave. Yes, this could and probably would be on your test, but it’s also real handy for talking to people in your own neighborhood, especially on 40 and 80 meter. Most standard dipoles work well in this configuration.

Okay, I’m going to continue on page 33 with radio wave propagation. If you plan on doing HF transmission, then you need to have a basic grasp of this subject. Solar activity affects the levels of the ionosphere and that determines how well some of the bands function. Remember, this manual just teaches the questions and answers that are on the test. If you choose to understand this information, there is no in depth discussion here, but one of the paid online teaching courses provides much more information, as do the ARRL test manuals. 

Okay, continuing on, page 35. You need to understand MUF and LUF. This is what I’m talking about with the levels of the ionosphere. You will see a lot of this information on the test, MUF especially, the different layers of the ionosphere and when signals are absorbed or reflected. Go ahead and study up through page 37. Remember, all of this information will be on the test. Pay attention to NVIS, 40 and 80 meters use it a lot.

Safety. If your piece of equipment is too hot, or if the case shocks you, then you have an internal problem in your radio. This is generally caused by RF. Properly grounding your radio will often solve this problem. You’ve heard this before and you will hear it again, if you don’t know what you’re doing, DON’T DO IT! And if you are going to do it, turn your power down low. Pay attention to SWR. Get in touch with your local ARRL chapter. Get a good mentor from your local ARRL chapter.

Okay. Next time I’m going to cover up through page 46 which is going to deal with amateur radio practices. 

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

The Shack Part 2 – What Antenna Do I Use?

Hello, Frank here.

In the last post I showed you some of the radios I use. Well radios also use connectors, cables or coax, antennas, and need mounts for the antennas. Today I will talk about the antennas that I use. So instead of going outside

and taking a picture of something that looks like a stick in the sky, I’m going to send you to websites where I bought the antennas, in most cases. The sites will have pictures, specifications about the antennas and what they are used for. But first let me tell you – there is not one antenna that will do everything. Some will advertise that they can, but it just doesn’t work in the world of radio communications and physics. Remember, always be safe. If you don’t know what you are doing, don’t do it. Even if your crazy brother-in-law says that you can. 

Here’s what I use for my radios. My HF radio antenna, is an Alpha Delta DX-LB Plus. This is a dipole antenna that picks up multiple bands, supposedly from 10 meter to 160 meter. Remember that

there is no perfect antennas? Well this is one of those cases. It works fine on the majority of the bands, but through some gizmo whizo physics, they claim to operate on 160 and 80 meters. I guess they do in a kind-of-way. Overall, I like the antenna. It is simple and it works, kinda.

For my VHF/UHF radio I use a Comet CA-2x4SR. This is a 40 inch antenna that works fine on the VHF/UHF ham bands and also

works fine on GMRS and MURS frequencies. I have tried ham band antennas that advertise tremendous gain and they work great on the ham frequencies, but my SWR is off the charts for GMRS and MURS. I don’t know how this antenna works exactly, but I have included the eHam review page for this antenna, read it and see what you think. This antenna is normally used as a mobile antenna. I use it as a base, therefore, it needs a ground plane radial connector, which I have included. The antenna mounts to the ground plane that mounts to a pole. Therefore you have your antenna, your radial kit and the pole. 

Now let me advise you of something here. Antennas come with different base mounts. NWO and UHF are the two common mounts for mobile antennas. Everything I use has the UHF mount. UHF, SO239 and PL259 are all the same connector. One might be male or female, but they use the same threads. Some companies will call them UHF and some will call them 259, but they are the same. NWO has a larger diameter and different type of connector. So when buying an antenna, or the mount for an antenna, make sure you get the correct base. The links I have included go to sites using the UHF type base. But they also sell the NWO base. Make sure you know what you are looking for.

My CB antenna is an A-99. It is a standard in the industry. Many ham radio operators use this antenna for 10/12 meter. It has been around a long time and is a proven performer.

Okay. That covers my HF antenna, VHF/UHF antenna, CB or 11 meter antenna. Now there is one more that is not normally used as a transmit antenna, but can be. It is a discone type antenna and the link I have provided is for the economy model. Most people use it for a receive antenna only. It covers a wide spectrum from 25 MHz to 3000 MHz. But most guys and gals use it for UHF/VHF reception which includes your scanners, marine band radio, public service – which is police and fire, and the NWS (National Weather Service) or weather radio. 

I talked about scanners in the last post, but I forgot weather radios. 
I live in tornado alley. I know folks that live in hurricane areas and I know people that live in avalanche areas. Weather radios can advise you of hurricanes, avalanches and tornadoes and have a huge selection of other types of advisories and warnings. Tornadoes pop up quickly and the NWS sends out via radio frequency, special alerts and advisories that will trigger 

an immediate signal on special radios. These warnings can be narrowed down to the county level or multiple county level. This technology is referred to as S.A.M.E. (Specific Area Message Encoding). I use a Midland WR300 weather receiver. I find this radio a little bit difficult to program, but it works. Here in southeastern Oklahoma, we take weather very seriously. By no means am I slighting folks that live in hurricane areas, but with today’s technology we know days in advance when a hurricane is coming. In tornado country, sometimes we might have five minutes warning. This is one more example of being prepared. Have a good weather radio, learn how to use it, keep a good battery in it for back up. I have this radio connected to my discone antenna along with my two scanners. 

I know this seems like a lot of different types of information – different radios, different frequencies, different antennas. And it is a lot of information. But that’s okay. We haven’t even covered coax cable, connectors or grounding rods which we will discuss later. Remember, there is no perfect radio or perfect antenna or perfect car or perfect gun for all situations. So, make your choices, choose wisely and be happy with what you have. If you are of this type of persuasion, which I am, then you might want to ask the Almighty Father for advice on which purchases are appropriate for you. 

We still have a lot to cover about radio communications. I hope you’ll hang in there. If you have no interest at all in transmitting on a radio and you are only interested in listening or receiving, then in the next post I will make some recommendations for shortwave radios (SW) portable and base, scanners portable and base, and antennas that will work with both. I will have some good shortwave websites with a plethora of information. 

I had some questions about the 102/108 antenna. I’ve addressed these at the following websites: Firestik and Right Channel Radios. The 108 is the standard that all others judge their antenna upon. It is not for everyone, but if you can work a 108 into your mobile needs, you will have a first class quality antenna. And it looks cool!

By the way, my weather radio just informed me with a loud, rude, obnoxious sound that there is a thunderstorm warning in my county. Isn’t technology great?

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank