Is a Perfect Antenna Necessary for the New-To-HF Ham Operator?


Are you new to operating on the shortwave frequencies (or, high-frequencies–HF; 3 MHz to 30 MHz; 80m, 75m, 60m, 40m, 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m)? Is the prospect of figuring out a good HF antenna a bit daunting?

Here’s a question that might be relevant: Does an amateur radio operator need to design a perfect antenna, in order to get on HF?

Consider: It might not take as much antenna as you may think necessary to make two-way contacts on shortwave radio.

Often, makeshift antennae are effective enough to be viable. This is proven by those who go to parks, mountain tops, or go mobile with HF. They use compromise antenna designs. Simple dipoles, end-feed wires, and sometimes loops or a vertical antenna. Those are far from the perfect antenna. Is there even such a thing as a perfect antenna? No.

My advice? Start with SOMETHING just to get on the air.

Start with what you can, and then start to enhance, improve, and learn the secrets of HF communications (hint: most of your success will come by improving your antenna system, including a good ground system).


The bottom line: just get something up in the air and start communicating. Improve things over time. You’ll have much fun that way. (Check out: Fiddle Factor – Get on the air!)

Case in point: here’s a look at my makeshift antenna that I put up just to get on the air from my new residence in Ohio:

With this antenna, I’ve made successful two-way voice and Morse code contacts (QSOs) with stations in Europe and across North America. I am able to tune it on the 80-, 75-, 60-, 40-, 30-, 20-, 15-, 17-, 12-, and 10-Meter bands. Reverse beacon detection pick up my Morse-code CW signals, especially on 40 meters (the band on which it is tuned physically). Watch:

Don’t mind the first part of the video, in which I show you my new QTH (residence). I just moved here from Nebraska. There’s plenty of room for antennas, and there are some tall trees!

I’m excited, and I plan on improving this antenna and getting it up higher–somewhere around 40 or 50 feet up in the air–in time for the November CQ WW contest at the end of the month.

Of course, I want to make a proper dipole out of this example antenna. But, while I wait for the rest of the parts I need to complete this antenna project (pulleys and a ladder, and maybe a rope launcher), I’ve put this makeshift antenna on the air. It is just high enough so that I can enjoy some time on the shortwave bands.

73 de NW7US


41750cookie-checkIs a Perfect Antenna Necessary for the New-To-HF Ham Operator?