I decided to investigate antenna design software because I was tired of the traditional "cut-n-try" method.
That was fine during my first quarter of century as a ham radio operator and antenna enthusiast.
But, now in my sixties, I feel I need to make more efficient and effective use of my time. ;-)
Many consider antenna modeling programs to be "overkill" for most if not all ham radio antenna experimenters needs.
Not me (obviously).
The first benefit you get from using a good antenna design program is a much better understanding of all the parameters and compromises that go into the design of an antenna system.
By the way, one learns that there is more to an antenna system than the antenna itself!
Here then are some of the most popular "no-cost" programs that are available today.
To be honest, there is a cost to this type of software. Your time! You will have to invest a bit of time up front to learn...
But the time invested in learning how to design your own antennas will bring very appreciable returns.
In 2014, Roger, WB0DGF, released an improved version of MININEC which he named mNEC v.1.0. The previous version of MININEC dated back to 1999!
Roger's version is certainly worth looking into if the above mentioned software does not meet your requirements and expectations. His version of MININEC will run in Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8!
You can download mNEC v.1.0 on WB0DGF's site.
Note that the "fully functional" demo version is limited to 20 segments. It's so easy to use, compared to other NEC-based software! To "see" what I mean...
The user interface of the 4NEC2 Antenna Modeler and Optimizer ... is not quite as user-friendly as EZNEC's.
On the other hand, 4NEC2 let's you subdivide your antenna into 1500 segments (default)! That means higher accuracy and the possibility of modeling complex antenna systems.
Want to run more than the default (1500!) number of segments? See the FAQ on the site. Note that the 4NEC2 software will run on Windows operating system, versions 95 to Vista. I have not tested it on later versions. Try it anyway! It might work.
Available at: http://www.qsl.net/4nec2/
His excellent software suite is ideal for those of you who are in a real hurry to get quick but useful antenna solutions ... without having to learn too much about what compromises go into the designs and why!
Al's software is as close to "plug & play" antenna design software as you will ever get. Neat and simple.
Some things still come with a price tag in this world! The antenna design software packing those little extras you just can't live without is one of those things! Here are two examples.
MININEC Pro, by Black Cat Systems, will run on both Windows and Mac OS X.
Available at: http://www.blackcatsystems.com/software/mininec.html
This shareware is for for the engineer in you!
Note: RF Workbench will not run in any 64-bit version of Windows w/o an emulator!
Available at: http://www.rfcafe.com/business/software/rf-workbench/rf-workbench.htm
The designing and building of antennas is a very wide subject. It has become a hobby within a hobby for many of us.
Much has been written on the subject.
Some of it cannot be ignored. For example...
I strongly recommend that you read Chapter Four of the ARRL Antenna Handbook. The chapter is dedicated to "Antenna Modeling & System Planning". It will help you understand antenna modeling and evaluate the antenna design software available.
"AntenneX" is a online magazine dedicated exclusively to everything related to antennas.
An absolute must for true antenna enthusiasts, especially those at ease in a more technical environment.
Available at: http://www.antennex.com/
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