Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Quick wrap-up on small verticals

My last two entries on the MP-1 and Buddistick gave a good overview of two different antenna systems that could serve you well in a couple of particular situations. After rereading my posts I thought it would be good to clarify a couple of things and provide a little more rationale (and a little less product review).
Here's some situations where you might find these small vertical antenna designs helpful:

  • Balcony portable -- in this case you have no good or permanent access to a roof or even an area of ground you can deploy an antenna. Perhaps you are in a hotel room in a multi-floor hotel or your ground floor room is adjacent to a heavily traveled foot path and it would be awkward, or even dangerous, to deploy something more permanent outside. In this case, you can use the railing of the deck or balcony as your antenna support and deploy the small vertical from the railing. The radial wires would be spread as far as your limited space allows. I used this strategy in Hawaii and it worked very well. You can see pictures of that effort here.

  • Picnic table portable -- In this situation you've brought a radio (probably a pretty small one like an Elecraft KX1 or an FT-817) and a small battery and solar panel to keep the battery charged. You're just looking for a small antenna, lightweight and unobtrusive, to make a few casual QSOs.

  • High-band rooftop mono band antenna -- I had access to the roof of the building I was using for my shack while on St. John and found the small vertical antenna solution to be an excellent way to deploy a high band (15-6m) full-sized vertical. There were rafters above the roof line that made it easy to attach the Buddistick mount overhead. My site survey prior to the trip alerted me to this possibility.

There are likely other situations that would make one of these antennas the most logical choice, but you should get the idea. The last one listed, the "high-band rooftop mono band antenna" is especially interesting. Most of the antennas I'm going to discuss are single-band antennas. Since full sized verticals for 15m-6m are small (less than 12 foot in height), it is pretty easy to make full sized vertical antennas from these simple parts.
On St. John I deployed four single band antennas on the roof of the guest house. You can see those antennas here. They were (a) a 15m full sized vertical from a Buddistick kit, (b) a 20m dipole from a Buddipole, (c) a 40m vertical from a fishing pole, and (d) an 80m vertical from another fishing pole.
The point, as I do a little review of these two antennas, is not to bring "this or that" antenna, but to bring "this and that" antenna. If you want to operate on multiple bands, the easiest thing to do is to deploy antennas for each band you want to use (weight and size permitting) and then switch between them. (Instead of reconfiguring and retuning a single antenna.)
I hope this quick summary clarified my thinking. Tomorrow I'll discuss an antenna that is a little heavier but much more versatile: the Buddipole.


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