So, you’ve just got yourself a licence or a nice new HF transceiver and are hoping to be active on the lower frequency bands of 80m (3.5MHz) and 40m (7MHz) but are a bit concerned about how much space you will need for an antenna. After all, an 80m dipole is going to be around 40m (132Ft) long and modern postage stamp sized gardens just can’t accommodate this. So I am going to describe a single antenna for both bands that should fit into most gardens.
What will you need? Well, firstly, you will need approximately 40m of insulated copper wire – the sort used for lighting circuits (single core, stranded), usually available from your local DIY or hardware store. Also you will need a reel of 1mm enamel coated wire (ECW)this is available from RS Electronics – part number 357-788 – some choc blox (cable connectors) or powerpole connectors (available from www.sotabeams.co.uk), a fibre glass telescopic fishing pole – 10m would be ideal but anything from 7m up should suffice, a piece of 40mm drainage pipe (this will be either 41mm or 43mm outside diameter), some 4mm * 20mm machine screws and nuts, some 4mm ring crimps, a length of fishing line (fairly strong stuff 20kg strain or more), cable ties and a length of angled aluminium, or brass – also available from you local DIY or hardware store.
Firstly cut two lengths of the insulated wire – one at 10.14m and the other at 2m. Strip a few mm of insulation from each end of the longest piece and from one end of the shorter piece. Fit crimps where you have stripped insulation on one end of the longer wire, leaving the other end bare (you may wish to tin the bare end with solder) and on the stripped end of the short wire and solder them on for a stronger fitting. These are going to make up your radiating element. Put them to one side and we shall come back to them later.
Now saw a 140mm length of the 40mm pipe. This is going to act as a coil former. Measure in 1cm (10mm) from each end and drill a 4mm hole. Now rotate the tube by 90 degrees and drill another hole 10mm in from each end. Scrape the enamel off the end of the 1mm ECW and thread it through the 1st hole on the left hand side of the piece of pipe. Fit a crimp connector to this end and solder it for a stronger (and electrically better) connection. Locate the ring beneath the second hole on the left side and push one 4*20mm screw through both and fix with a nut. This now securely anchors the wire at one end. Now wind 78 turns of wire onto the coil, you may wish to use insulating tape to hold the wire whilst you are winding it and once you have wound the 78 turns on. At the other end, cut the ire long so there is plenty spare and thread it through the 1st hole at the right hand side. On the inside of the pipe measure the wire to the second hole and make a notch/fold here. Pull the wire out straight, cut it and scrape the enamel off. Fit a crimp and again line the ring up with the hole and push a screw through, fixing with a nut. This coil will act as an inductive load for 80m and a trap for 40m. You may wish to wrap the whole coil in insulating tape to protect it from the elements.
Now take the 10.14m length of insulated copper wire and cable tie it along the length of the fishing pole with the bare end at the bottom. Make sure the pole is fibre glass and not carbon fibre or graphite as these will affect the tuning of the antenna. Start about 1Ft (300mm) up from the bottom of the pole. The other end of the wire will be beyond the top of the pole, don’t worry about this, it needs to be. Now at the far end of the wire, fit the crimp over the top of the screw you anchored the first end of the ECW to when you started winding the coil. Fit another nut to secure it (you may fit an extra locking nut if you wish). Now fit the shorter length of wire to the other end of the coil in the same manner. Loop the end of the wire back on itself (about an inch) and secure with cable ties. Thread one end of the fishing line through this and tie off well.
Schematic of wire antenna.
Dig a small hole in the ground (the depth should be half the length of the piece of angled aluminium/brass that you have) and stand the piece of angled aluminium/brass in it. Fill the hole back in and check that it is secure. Raise the fibre glass pole to vertical and secure it at the bottom using cable ties (or whatever) to the portion of aluminium/brass that is protruding from the ground. Using the fishing line that you fitted to the top end of the wire, pull it out to an angle between 30 and 40 degrees and tie the other end off to a fence or something secure. You now have the basis of your antenna and I shall now describe how to feed the antenna with RF and get on the air.
Fit a choc block (or powerpole connectors) to the end of your coax – it will need to be a double connector for both the inner and earth/braid. Then connect the inner side to the wire of the antenna and add one or two 10m counterpoise wires to the other side of the outer. If you have space lay these out at right angles to the vertical antenna, if not, don’t worry, they can be laid in spirals or bent to fit in, it is the electrical length that is important. You could also connect a short wire to a copper ground spike and lay shorter radial wires out from this. Take the other end of your coax back to the shack and fit a PL259 plug. This will attach to your ATU or radio. Check tuning on low power (5W or less) – it should be resonant on 40m and 15m (3rd harmonic) and a small portion of 80m (remember it is loaded for 80m so possibly won’t cover the whole band. You can adjust the length of the end wire to match it where required, or use your ATU. Make sure you insulate the choc block/powerpole connectors to protect from water ingress.
You now have a 40m vertical antenna (as far as the inductor) and an 80m inverted L. This will give you a near omnidirectional (all round) radiation pattern with a low angle take off so will be good for both nearby QSOs (depending on propogation and atmospherics) and low angle DX. Have fun.
73 DE M0CVO