Ham Radio Wire Antenna Tips
The ham radio wire antenna is the most common form of antenna used by ham radio operators.
Here is what aspiring and novice ham radio operators should know about what makes them reliable.
The main reasons for its popularity are that it is affordable and relatively easy to install.
In many cases, a wire antenna may be the best solution (compromise) for your specific location ... especially if you build it yourself!
The amateur radio wire antenna is especially economical when it is homemade! There are a few reasons for this.
Before selecting a given wire type for your ham radio wire antenna, you should take the following recommendations into consideration...
When old army surplus ceramic insulators were abundantly available, many of us would use clothesline. It is quite strong and usually fairly UV resistant. Unfortunately, it is too "fat" to fit in the new center and end insulators recommended above! :-(
But big (heavy) ceramic insulators have become harder to find ... as well as (non-conducting) clothesline rope!
Dacron® type rope has come to our rescue. It is extremely strong as well as UV and abrasion resistant.
Use the 3/8" size for the center insulator and pulley and the 3/16" to tie the end insulators to end supports.
Take down and carefully inspect all parts of your ham radio wire antenna at least one a year for damage.
The Commercially Built Solution
Commercially assembled wire antennas do have the advantage that they are...
For example, I have been using a Carolina Windom for 80-10 meters for years. It is the best commercially made multi-band (no traps) single wire antenna that I have ever used.
I do get much better results than any commercially built wire antenna for 160 meters with my homemade wire antenna. But I must admit that I have not tried the Carolina Windom 160 yet!
The Performance Aspect
Will the homemade wire antenna perform as well or better than a commercially built wire antenna of the same type?
Often it will ... when you design it to fit your specific surroundings and ground conductivity.
Lets face it. Most hams buying a commercially made ham radio wire antenna will be reluctant to modify it to better fit theirs surroundings and ground conductivity!
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