Updated: 12/21/2022 – A work in progress.
End Fed Half Wave wire antennas must be great. Everyone is selling them! Meh.
The antenna engineer’s axiom:
You can have high efficiency (gain), high bandwidth or small size. Pick any TWO.
Real-world EFHW’s have low gain in most frequency-dependent directions, they have low bandwidth within the band being used and they are not small…
Every antenna is a compromise but who doesn’t like experimenting with antennas? Some theory, basic modeling, ongoing experiments and field evaluations are in order.
My Caveats: The multiband “EFHW” can be simple to rig in a portable or field situation. But they are generally my last choice for my primary interest in regional coverage on 80, 60 (where it doesn’t “load”) 40 and sometimes 30 meters (where it also doesn’t “load”.) Especially from remote, marginal locations where I need reliable point-to-point HF Comms. Why?
A “general purpose” end fed half-wave HF antenna can work OK* for randomly working “anyone, anywhere”. For me, it’s only real attribute (the shorter, “40 meter” versions anyway) is that it can be simple to deploy in the field, especially if I only have one support available or I’m in a hurry. Unlike many Hams I’m not much of a “DXer” and there are better antennas for that anyway.
I usually operate on a single band/net frequency while camping or otherwise off-grid so a multiband antenna with it’s inherent compromises is not that useful for my purposes. The simple resonant dipole excels. If I want to work some DX from the field, I orient the dipole broadside to my target area and then just haul it up to a half wave high; its center-feed makes that simple.
As with any resonant length “long” wire antenna, EFHW’s have the handy potential to take power (keeps the modern 50Ω-only transmitter happy) on multiple, harmonically related HF Ham bands. (This often with additional impedance matching depending upon your installation and your transmitter’s capabilities).
They can work on other HF ham bands (as on 60, 30, 17 & 12 meters) “out of resonance” with even more lossy reactive help from an ATU of some sort, a further complication in a field deployment. On those bands, coax losses increase very quickly due to antenna-feedline mismatch.
EFHW performance can be problematic if erected near anything in the near-field, including the ground. Some sellers will make a “nod” to this reality but can offer no viable solution. “Try repositioning the antenna.”
The vertical “J-Pole” EFHW does get your VHF/UHF HT into the mid-range repeaters better than that Rubber Dummy Load antenna however.
Where does the signal go? An ideal half wavelength wire in free space will radiate in the classic 3-D “Donut” pattern regardless of where it’s fed along its length; end, center, off center etc.
But then hanging something “real” off one end, like a transmission line, a transformer, a transmitter etc. disturbs the ideal free-space symmetry. The outer surface of the coax is still in the near-field of the antenna and the radiated energy will couple into it, “choked” to transmission line currents or not. No Donut for you…Pedantically speaking, the imaginary “end fed dipole” as some would call it only exists in free space, not as installed in the real world. Also:
* As a practical matter in a portable/field setting, a half wave end fed wire is often going to be deployed as a “sloper” with additional significant, asymmetrical ground interaction. Even if erected horizontally, parallel to the ground there will be asymmetrical feedline shield interaction off one end. Those are problems that the typical center fed, symmetrical horizontal dipole does not suffer, especially when driven by a balun at the feedpoint. In establishing desired, predictable azimuthal and elevation performance symmetry is good!
Above: A 132′ EFHW slanted at a 45° angle up to a 90′ support and at a 20° “DX” takeoff angle has four nulls in the pattern on 3.55 mc. These include a deep 25 db null to the rear and nearly 9 db nulls off each side. When that antenna is used on the second harmonic there are many smaller pattern nulls at the 20° DX takeoff angle. Not great, just be aware.
For an 80° NVIS takeoff angle, and deployed to that 90′ support while operated at the lowest design frequency (half wave) the resulting EZNEC Model of the azimuthal radiation pattern shows that configuration to be within about 2 db of omni directional; usable.
For a deliberate low-angle fixed DX path, say to the “east coast” or “Europe” you need to try to orient the sloper wire to your 90′ support +/- 45° off that azimuth as seen in the above plot. If not, a lot of your RF goes where it probably doesn’t do you any good. But they will make random contacts on some bands, on some azimuths, at some ranges and at some times of the day.
Below is the same sloper antenna but rigged to a more practical 50 ft support. Azimuthal view, at a 20° “DX” takeoff angle; the support is in the direction of the +Y Axis in both plots.
With the far end 50′ high there is now an 8 db null in the forward direction towards your support. It helps to run the wire away from your target azimuth for a 20° DX takeoff angle. Rigged to an even more practical 20′ height that forward null is closer to 10 db. Also, the lower the end support/wire, the higher the ground losses, any gain drops off quickly.
A compromised compromise EFHW deployment could be an Inverted L configuration as I am currently evaluating. Those waste lots of vertically polarized or horizontally polarized energy depending upon your view point, but a big waste nonetheless. That’s true even if you install the necessary extensive ground radial system that the vertical element requires.
Additionally, those resulting simultaneous ground wave and sky wave signals from an Inverted L will (according to Thomas Young – of Double Slit Experiment fame) constructively/destructively interfere with each other creating hot and (according to Murphy’s Law) big dead coverage areas. Areas that move, creating self-inflicted, even worse QSB fading due to ionosphere dynamics.
I have also evaluated my experimental 132′ EFHW while deployed as a horizontal “L”, 6 meters above ground. With equal length legs, the “vertex” angle is about 73 degrees due to non-ideal supports availability at the home HQ.
On 80 and 40 meters it is omni directional to within 1 db at high “NVIS” angles. The half power points in the elevation plane are +/- 45 and 30 degrees respectively from vertical as expected (EZNEC Pro model). The measured SWR on the targeted CW portions of 80/40 and 20 meters are under 3:1 but much worse in the Phone bands. It’s not great but my military field sets can at least drive it unaided.
As such it has been a useable backup antenna for regional comms out to about 300 km in NVIS freq/time mode with my 10-20 watt field sets, my primary interest. As expected, it is a very poor performer for long-range DX beyond that however.
A feature of “NVIS” operation when used takes advantage of the poor performance of this type of antenna over long ranges. Erected at 6 meters it has very low gain for signals arriving from a long distance at low angles. It rejects on-channel QRM from distant stations that are competing with my local/regional buddies (and vice-versa).
This low, horizontal antenna is also quiet, rejecting QRN from approximately 8,600,000 distant, multi-megawatt thunderstorm lightning strikes occurring every day. That’s about 100 per second and that is a major part of the HF atmospheric noise floor. That noise is especially noticeable with a vertical antenna which favor signals and noise arriving at low angles.
It is handy at the home QTH for “general purpose” receive duties. The laws of transmit/receive antenna Reciprocity apply; the patterns are the same
If you can get power into them they can radiate it (somewhere) well. That’s because the high current portion (the portion in the middle approximately third of the half-wave wire that does most of the radiating) can be up and away from the radio, infrastructure and some local ground absorption losses.
But that portion needs to be horizontal and low for effective regional NVIS, or horizontal and a half wavelength high for long distance comms. Or vertical (with an extensive ground system) for either local ground wave or long range omni directional “spray & pray” efforts. (Verticals radiate equally poorly in every direction and essentially not at all straight up for NVIS.)
Unless* the feedpoint transformer is also mounted high up it’s hard to rig an end fed wire that doesn’t simultaneously do all 3 modes like that. (Resulting in lots of “lost” or wasted RF power that doesn’t get to your target.) Especially when operated as a two or more halfwave antenna on the higher frequency bands; their azimuthal radiation and takeoff angle pattern becomes full of lobes and nulls. * Note: Take a look at W9HH’s good input on elevated feedpoints below in the Comments section.
Feeding it: Using a radio designed for “50 Ω” loads and using coaxial cable, an end-fed halfwave wire will require a matching device. Those are air, or more typically ferrite core transformers which many people incorrectly refer to as “Baluns”. They are actually “Ununs” with unbalanced coax cable driving the unbalanced end of the EFHW. (Ruthroff Ref. 107).
They are needed to transform that very high antenna impedance into something much lower (and that transformation incurs losses and extra complexity in a portable field deployment).
Transformer designs, EFHW antenna examples and success (and aggravation) testimonials abound on the Interwebs. There is a lot of empiricism out there, some of it is well done. But the more I read about the topic the more I am reminded of the old saw:
“The plural of anecdote is NOT data.” Even if you can get past the Apples versus Lug Nuts comparisons. “Yeah but I worked Malta with mine.” Choose wisely.
There are some very good engineering circuit simulations on the Interwebs that explore the transformer design variables and their effects. Some also include tests and measurements of installed systems. Good stuff.
Note that many EFHW antenna users report that the transformer core gets hot at moderate power levels and then the SWR begins to climb with heating towards the ferrite Curie point. Coax losses also climb correspondingly. Not good – unradiated power lost – but maybe those losses contribute to the EFHW’s potential to “take power” on multiple bands. Just as a dummy load is broadband. Refer to the antenna design engineer’s axiom, above.
Hill Billy Heat Test: I wanted to see if this experimental kludge transformer core got hot with 100 watts of short term power on 3550 kc while driving my antenna under test.
Since I could not be in 2 places at once: The Poor Man’s Pyrometer. I put a few shavings from a paraffin candle on the ferrite core as a witness sample; the wax melting temperature is somewhere between 52° and 71° C.
After 60 seconds key down, 100 watts, open to the air, no sign of melting, no SWR changes. The Curie point for Type 43 ferrite is 130° C, so for my purposes, the transformer efficiency with this big FT240-43 core is adequate. “Good to go” for further testing.
If necessary, the efficiency can be increased by adding more turns to the primary (and correspondingly the secondary to maintain the desired ratio.) My 2-turn primary has adequate inductance at 3.5 mc and is working within the winding space available.
An end fed half wave wire can present a feed point impedance of 2500 Ω or more. That’s a 50:1 impedance mismatch for a 50 Ω output radio (SWR of 2500/50=50:1). A typical ferrite core transformer as above with a 7:1 turns ratio (49:1 impedance ratio) or more will be “helpful”.
As an example, on 80 meters, with the radio or feed point on or near the ground, the wire end might be suspended to a support 30 meters high; the slope angle is then 45°. EZNEC computed Z=1525 + J 2064 Ω. 50 Ω SWR = 51:1
Note that “antenna SWR” at the feedpoint does not effect radiation. High SWR on the feedline (if there is one) just causes feedline losses and losses in the transmitter/ATU.
RF Transformer Internet Folklore says that the primary and first 2 turns of the secondary “should” some how be twisted together. This would form a distributed “gimmick” capacitor between the primary and part of the secondary; that capacitance becoming an element of a high-pass filter.
Folklore also recommends shunting the 50 Ω terminal to ground with a discrete ~100 pf capacitor, thus becoming part of a low-pass filter. That capacitor also forms a capacitive voltage divider along with the gimmick capacitance. That supposedly increases the bandwidth to higher frequencies by compensating for any series leakage inductance.
I tried that in my test antenna setup. I found that the 100 pf cap has little measurable effect, at least on the 80/40 meter CW bands that I am mainly interested in. (Note: the HV rating of the doorknob capacitor is not necessary. The primary voltages are fairly low at a 100 watt power level; it’s what I had handy during testing.)
Also, folklore has it that one should “cross” the core for the second half of the secondary winding. This presumably to reduce the stray capacitive coupling between the high impedance output end and the low impedance 50 Ω terminal, which would partially bypass the transformer. It would have some kind of minimal effect in the lower HF. I’ll give it a try.
Below is an experimental QRP version for the portable field antenna kit if used: A 43 Mix toroidal 49:1 (Z) impedance transformer for a high impedance EFHW antenna. Mix 43 is appropriate for the lower HF bands, my primary interest. The transformer helps, if you must.
QRP 49:1 Z Transformer
Above: Mounted in a plastic 35 mm film can (remember those?). The toroid does not get noticeably warm to the touch with my 10 watt military field sets operating on 80 and 40 meters. There is sufficient core cross-section to be adequate with low power sets. The compact packaging is Good to Go for Bush Ops.
Film Can 50 Ω – Hi Z Transformer
One way to fine tune the transformer turns (impedance) ratio is to terminate the output with a non inductive resistor or a 5-10K non inductive pot (rheostat). Add or delete secondary turns from “design” to yield the best match versus the resistance presented by the resistor/pot.
E.g. Using a 49:1 transformer shoot for the best 50 Ω match @ appx 2450 Ω load over your working frequency bands. Moving the pot up and down gives a feel for the SWR versus antenna impedance sensitivity.
Then verify it with your installed antenna and SWR measurements. Tweak the antenna length if necessary and then maybe adjust the turns ratio again. Then –
The antenna may also require a “compensation” inductor(s) and/or a series capacitor somewhere (?) along its length to get it to perform as well as it can on the segments of the bands you are most interested in. Then changing the height/placement will probably nullify those specific tweaks…Drop, tweak, hoist, measure, repeat… (Groan…)
It may also require a “choke” inductance somewhere back along the coax since the coax shield is also a part of (and “completes”) the antenna as it heads to your operating position. The length of the coax itself might then need changing to make the impedance the transmitter “sees” acceptable.
132 foot end fed wire antenna
This 132′ wire end can be plugged into the transformer output with a banana plug or a pigtail, the radio connects to the BNC connector. However, this particular rubber insulated wire is usually used under an 80 meter dipole to enhance ground-bounce for improved vertical gain when using NVIS techniques.
The GRC-109, TRC-77, RS-1 and RS-6 sets that I use in the field will deliver full power to low-to-medium impedance antennas (typically up to around 1200 ohms) unaided. When trying to drive a high Z antenna like the EFHW, their output power indicator lamps (series antenna current) won’t glow, therefore precluding any PA tuning adjustments – which wont have any effect in any event. Not good. These transformers are an engineered attempt to get around one of the EFHW’s systemic problems.
The GRC-9 however can work adequately with higher impedance end-fed wires as part of their issued antenna kits. (Those kits also include a substantial ground radial system.) In the “REEL” antenna selection mode, their output coupling network is designed to efficiently handle higher impedance, end-fed antenna loads relative to the high plate impedance of a vacuum tube PA. No external impedance matching transformer necessary.
This also holds for operating those big WWII Navy transmitters designed to drive end-fed wires in the severely constrained shipboard antenna environment.
On 80 and 40 meters, and as-rigged in the field, these transformers can deliver antenna power depending upon the height/near-field environment. Who knows which directions or takeoff angles the resulting RF goes when you have a specific target (see models) but some of it comes down somewhere. It does make contacts to random places if it’s all that I have, or all I am interested in at the time.
An EFHW antenna also presents a high impedance on n-Even harmonics. Since you already have a 50/HiZ transformer feeding it, the system will also “look like” a low-enough impedance load to the transmitter on those higher harmonic frequencies. Hence the system is “multiband” for that reason – it will take power, possibly with additional ATU assistance if the transmitter needs it to deliver rated power.
Note that the EFHW has little merit when considered as an antenna for today’s military communications. Its “multiband” capability is useless in military service since military frequency assignments are not made on any harmonically-related basis.
For Hams operating ALE (Automatic Link Establishment) nets confined to harmonically related Ham bands the EFHW can find some utility. At least as far as getting power into one. That is a whole other discussion.
Here’s another experimental 49:1 Z version, this one with a larger FT140-43 toroid. This portable one will handle more power than the Film Can version.
FT40-43 50 Ω/High Z Transformer
BNC connector to the radio, antenna Banana jack to transformer secondary, alligator clip for ground radial. Awaiting field packaging but it may be a little too big for my portable field kit.
Below during a recent field Op with the TRC-77 and PRC-174 manpack radios driving the WD-1A/TT EFHW antenna. The transformer was sitting on my tire serving as a high voltage insulator. Improvise, adapt, overcome…Still awaiting field packaging!
Shown below is this more-portable 132′ antenna made with one of 2 pairs of WD-1A/TT infantry field telephone “slash wire”. This pair cut from a quarter mile spool of WF-16/U, two-pair field telephone wire made to also support the newer digital field telephones.
By design, the wire is thin, olive drab or brown, dull and hard to see in the trees. This light weight wire (NSN 6145-01-047-4345) has a breaking strength of over 200 pounds. Each conductor is made of 4 tinned copper wires for low resistance and 3 galvanized steel wires (for strength) in each conductor, “zip cord” style. The 2 conductors are tied together at each end.
The insulation is rated at 1000 volts RMS. It is also “slippery” with its vinyl jacket; it slides over tree branches very well. The 3 steel strength wires make it somewhat “springy” but it’s good stuff for any wire antenna, especially in the field. Also OK for a permanent installation but bigger AWG copper would be somewhat better losses-wise. The receiving guy would not even notice.
I recently deployed it at another campsite in an Inverted L configuration 25′ over ground radials. The SWR (at the BNC connector) with this 49:1 transformer was around 1.3:1 on 3550 and 7050 kc, my design targets.
However the SWR nulls within the 14, 21 and 28 mc bands were all well over 4:1, worse in the CW portions, not good. My experimental EFHW antennas have demonstrated rather narrow tuning between the in-band 2:1 SWR points. This indicates relatively high Q. But measured SWR is a small part of the overall performance picture.
It is usable at camp sites for intended regional NVIS contacts with my buddies or home QTH on 80 meters. I’m still evaluating its AZ/EL/Range coverage compared with long experience with my low dipole which is still my preferred field antenna. Especially since those “camp skeds” are usually to specific locations on that single band. The simple dipole excels but this system will be getting a good field evaluation in various configurations. .
EFHW 80 Meter antenna with transformer
On that camping trip I had this WD-1A/TT antenna rigged as an inverted L over a ground radial wire. It worked OK on 80 meters CW to a buddy 70 km away but I was unable to run any EFHW/dipole comparison testing as I would have liked during this deployment.
While running CW and radio teletype from a field location the PRC-174 transmitter output indicator showed power being delivered to the antenna system on both 80 and 40 meters. That TRC-77 also delivered full power to the system. A pretty hasty campsite setup as my Comm Window was approaching. The experimental transformer is still awaiting “field packaging”:
During transit the banana plug somehow got lost. So a Mk 1 Mod Ø Field Expedient Banana Plug was jury rigged with a cooperative twig jammed into the female connector along with the antenna wire. Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.
That’s overnight snow in the background at 2300 meters AMSL. The soil was pretty wet at this camp site where it had melted. The alligator clip grabs the ground radial.
Below: Now testing with a larger FT240-43 ferrite core and mounted at my “Antenna Test Range” driving an experimental Inverted L antenna. The 49:1 Z transformer is at the base in its weather proof box, the coax and radials are buried:
N6CC EFHW Inverted L Base Transformer Housing
(Below is another version; nominal 600 Ω transformer for a higher power transmitter. This one would be good for a vertical half-rhombic or other medium-Z wire antenna such as a non-resonant end fed wire):
50/600 Ohm Ferrite RF Transformer
Below, bench testing the smaller version with a non-inductive resistor or rheostat (Pot) load, set to 2450 Ω. (The meter Resistive component of R+jX is out of calibration, it shows 40+j0 Ω with a 50 Ω dummy load. The measured SWR and frequency are OK.)
FT140-43 Transformer load test. Just moving your hand near the output terminal causes excursions in the measured SWR while testing. This is indicative of the sensitivity of the transformer to stray/shunt capacitance appearing at the output – as presented by an actual antenna.
The resulting impedance seen at the input is quite sensitive to the antenna’s immediate, near-field environment. That is part of the source for the EFHW’s widespread reputation for being “finicky”, “won’t load”, “position sensitive”, “still needs a tuner”, “RF in the shack”, “so I returned it”, etc..
The following attempts to simplify the complex “end effects” involved with these systems.
The system requires a transformer and the cold end of that transformer secondary must be tied to a reasonably good “ground” for consistent results. Even though the current flow in the antenna wire is relatively low at the feedpoint. It is NOT zero because the antenna impedance is NOT infinite; Ohms law applies. [See displacement currents.]
Why the transformer secondary grounding requirement? Because RF current flow in a conductor in concert with the oscillatory electric field is what causes Electromagnetic radiation (ala Mr. Maxwell) and the transmitter does not “create” current from nothing, even in the secondary (ala Mr. Kirchhoff).
With an unbalanced end-fed antenna like the EFHW the power amplifier/output network essentially “pushes” current into the antenna by “pulling” an equal current from the ground system. This creates a complete circuit for the sinusoidal RF current to flow in the antenna. The resulting E/M field induces current flow back into the ground system. Repeat. This is why ground losses must be minimized – they waste transmitter power because ground losses are in series with the antenna radiation resistance (ala Mr. Ohm).
Some commercial EFHW antenna manufacturers (salesmen) state that a ground/counterpoise is not needed (except for safety/lightning protection; true). They rely on the uncontrolled, random capacitance between the coax feedline shield (or your body/radio) and the lossy soil to complete the circuit. Not real good. Why would you even consider doing that? (Better in a permanent installation with buried coax cable.)
Also, providing a good DC/RF ground at the transformer secondary will also quickly bleed off any precipitation, snow or blowing sand static charge. Bringing that into your shack to find a decent “ground” via the coax shield is not a good idea.
Note that voltage, including “high” voltage, is measured between two points: The EFHW antenna feedpoint and the chassis, ie: ground (and hopefully not via YOU, capacitively or otherwise.)
The end fed half-wave antenna will necessarily have high voltages at its far end and its feedpoint – and the matching transformer must withstand every volt.
Eg: A transmitter delivering 100 watts to the end of a 2500 ohm EFHW antenna will see about 500 volts (700 volts peak) at the output of the matching transformer to chassis ground. Generic 600 volt rated hookup wire is not very suitable. How about that uninsulated antenna wire? Something to worry about when using a “high powered” transmitter (or fingers).
One other problem with an EFHW antenna in a portable, temporary or field setting (and especially in HOA suburbia – but that’s not my focus here) is purely mechanical/practical. My 80 meter CW band half wave wire is 132′ (40 meters) long. When deploying mine in the woods it seems like it is a VERY long 132′.
A continuous 132′ wire will often require an intermediate tree(s) to keep the sag minimized. Sag may cause SWR excursions in the wind; can your transmitter keep up? Throwing an additional weighted messenger line through a mid-span tree can be difficult and frustrating. Often a 2-man job.
In the forest it can be cumbersome to unwind/erect versus say, 2 quarter wave dipole halves. Those can be individually launched and then connected to the center insulator/coax and hoisted up rather easily, even as an inverted Vee if only 1 support is available.
As with all antennas, the EFHW is a compromise. They can be further compromised at installation by available real estate and supports geometry while trying to favor a particular direction on a particular band. As erected they are not particularly efficient at either short or long ranges. But they will produce contacts as any wire antenna of similar length and height will.
So….What’s the best antenna? The one that works!
“These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.” Groucho Marx.
Below are some additional antenna ideas, designs and examples:
For some more ideas on a kit for portable field antennas take a look here: https://www.n6cc.com/field-antenna-kit/
Or here for some examples of field expedient antennas using available resources: https://www.n6cc.com/antenna-system-ideas/
Here are some ideas on low profile antennas for your stealthy installations: https://www.n6cc.com/tactical-antenna-systems/
You have a nice website with some very good information that I’m sure many can benefit from. Thanks for putting this information together and sharing your experience, I enjoyed the read very much!
I always enjoy the different perspectives on antenna construction for portable use and I can see you’re not a big fan of the EFHW. Understandable in a portable application, it can be a finicky setup. However I have one that I built recently for my fixed station and the performance is very close to the FAN dipole that it replaced plus the bandwidth is much wider. I homebrewed a 49:1 transformer with #14 enameled wire and 3 stacked – FT240-52 toroid cores. I also placed a choke made of type 31 beads in the transmission line 6-7 feet below the transformer to keep the common mode down. the length of the antenna wire is 133 ft. The antenna is usable with SWR well below 2:1 on 80-40-20-15-10 and with a tuner on 17-12 meters. No problems running my Acom 1000 with it either. — FWIW
Keep up the good work and thanks for allowing me to comment –
Hi Steve – Thanks for the details on your antenna and its performance. Sounds like it is mainly horizontal with the feedpoint/transformer up at that same height? Maybe that 6-7 feet of coax between the transformer and chokes is serving as some sort of counterpoise – an interesting deployment! I hadn’t considered an installation with the transformer not near ground – I learned something!
You’re not alone – many people report good results with the EFHW, maybe I’m too hard on it..HiHi
It’s an interesting topic – thanks for your input and visit… 73, Tim
As you do, I favor a proven simple dipole antenna for field OPS.
Instead of an EFHW, why not just use a Non-Resonant (end fed) Random Wire (NRRW) antenna? The various Military Vehicle HF antennas (such as the AB-15/MS-116, 120-49, etc.) are these antennas in reality non-resonant to the frequencies used? And don’t the mobile field radios have an internal and effective transmatch circuit to handle the high impedance of non-resonance?
Hi Wayne – Exactly right….Pretty much any military or modern radio with built-in ATU will drive a non resonant whip or wire antenna of a reasonable length at the lowest operating frequency. Then the question becomes vertical or horizontal or sloping – and that begs the question who do you want to connect with, how far away are they, what frequency to use and what time is it? So the answer is “it depends” haha
Thanks for checking in – resonant antennas like dipoles will “take” power directly and efficiently. You nailed it.. Tim
Good Morning Tim,
As we both know and what others have to consider, Military Tactical Field Radios must be designed to be successfully operated by soldiers in combat with zero electrical/electronic/RF training and/or knowledge. Therefore design radios with the capability to operate majority of the time with non-resonant antennas. How many times in WW2 and since a soldier in combat had an antenna destroyed by enemy fire? I bet way more than we realize. So the soldiers end up cutting a random length of field phone COMMO wire (remember those), tied a rock and threw the wire over a low branch or across several creosote bushes to get back onto the net and call DIVARTY for support.
Not so practical for a temporary tactical setup. However, years ago an Elmer told me for a permanent non-resonant random wire antenna setup at one’s own home shack, along with the RF ground radio and antenna tuner, one can add to the distal end (far end) of the antenna a large non-inductive, power dissipation, 600 ohm resistor. Then ground that end of the antenna into the earth (RF ground). This will help reduced the various hi and low voltage and current loops and nodes that will form when operation at various frequencies that will cause reflective power back to the radio. it will also add protection from electrostatic charge build up (i.e. lightning protection). I have yet to try this myself, nor know of anyone who has since most operate dipoles.
So, I wonder if the above method would be beneficial for an EFHW antenna?
Hi Wayne – Yep, military radio systems are hopefully easy to operate, rugged and forgiving as to repaired/improvised antennas. Commo wire is great stuff!
As to end terminations I think that those are used in Long Wire installations (wire longer than several wavelengths). Those antennas tend to be bi-directional, great if you need it, but they can be made more uni-directional by terminating the far end with a resistor to ground as you noted. The resistor absorbing the “back lobe” energy. It works. So a resistor may be useful at the end of an EFHW antenna cut for say 80 meters but used on, say 10 or 6 meters where it would be operating more as a “Long Wire” antenna. But try it!
Thanks for stopping by! Tim
Tim, great advice as always. I learn something new everyday on your site. Certainly helpful with expedient NVIS and SOTA ops even <5W. Power is a premium up at summit peaks.
Hi Nolan – Thanks! I have been experimenting with various EFHW antenna configurations and Z transformers for awhile now. They do produce contacts with my 10-20 watt Mil field sets. The end-fed horizontal “dog leg” that I am currently using works well N-S up and down the west coast for about 500 miles but little off to the east at long ranges…Must have a deep, broad null in that direction..I need to reconcile the EZNEC Az plot with the compass! It’s fairly good for local NVIS which is my primary interest with these Mil sets… Yep – low power (and small batteries) are appreciated by my knees and back! HiHi
Thanks for stopping by!
Great write up. I need to reread and think a bit more to absorb it all, but I really appreciate the time you put into this.
I’ve been playing with an MFJ EFHW that’s 132′ long, and has an UNUN matching unit at the near end. I supported it in the center with a 16 foot mast, and the two ends are near the ground. Sort of a vertical half-rhombic, if you will. Unfortunately, it seems to be deaf and dumb on all nighttime bands. Am I barking up the wrong tree with my current configuration? Thanks for all the great information on your site, and thanks in advance for any input you have.
Hi David. If your equipment is working properly that antenna should produce contacts for you. Higher would be better but it should still be working. Are you sure that night time propagation, high local noise levels or thin activity is not causing the problem you observe? The higher bands will fade off after dusk but 80/75 and 40 should be OK at some level. But activity seems to be somewhat low around here anyway. Maybe check with one of the local Web SDR receivers and see if you can hear what they are hearing. They often have great antennas but they might be a good reference point for your comparison troubleshooting…. Good luck & thanks for visiting!
– I’ll preface my comments by stating: “Great Article” by the Author. Kudos!
– Only to add a personal observation to this ‘Mix’, I’ve used a 66′ 10M-40 EFWH [No-Name Inexpensive] with both a 100W & 200W Transceiver, and [From So. Cal] have been able to QSO/QSL Russia, Austrailia, East Coast USA, Mexico City, Calgary, CN – And so on – with both tranceivers. I was amazed by the performance of the antenna! Why? If was a “No-Name” inexpensive EFHW, and just a temporaty setup.
– I would ‘string’ the wire only 8′ to 10” AGL for 60-65 feet & I would lay the Coax from the 49:1 Transformer [hanging 6′ AGL] on the ground into the House [approximately 15 feet] & connect it to one of the tranceivers. Again, worked Great! Hence, I thought I’d ‘permanently’ install an EFHW antenna. But, I had to disconnect the Coax every day in order to close the door into the house, and I sought a more permanent solution.
– Hence, over a few months, I built a permanent ‘Radio Shack’. In the process, I had a ‘Custom Made’ EFHW built that would accomodate 10M-80M. I then ran the 131 feet of wire approximately 20′ AGL [twice as high as the temporary antenna], and mounted the ‘New’ 49:1 Transformer into the Attic, and also bought/ran the LMR600 Coax down 2 stories into my Radio Shack. I was proud of my workmanship! But: No Bueno! No RX, much less TX.
– Even though the ‘instructions’ stated that “No Counterpoise Or Tuner Was Necessary”, I then connected two (2) Counterpoise wires from the transformer in the Attic, down 3 stroies & outside into the ground. It improved the RX/TX on 40M hugely – but still the RX/TX was about 90% from my ‘temporary’ no-name EFHW. The new ‘permanent’ installation’s performance did not compare to the “No Name” temporary EFHW. To be fair, I could occasionally RX 80M, and did make one QSO on 20M, and 40M became my “Go To” band. That’s it!
– My take-away: The temporary EFHW had it’s Coax simply lying on the ground into the house. Essentially, that was the ‘Counterpoise’ or ground. And, it is why I was able to have such great success with it.
– Yet, even with the Counterpoise wires installed on the new 10M-80 ‘Custom’ Transformer, and with the Transformer ‘professionally’ mounted 3 stories up in the Attic, it performs poorly [except for 40M, where it’s ‘almost’ 100%].
– So, I’m in the process of re-installing & re-locating the 49:1 Transformer [Outside but still 20′ AGL] & rerouting the wire antenna. I am going to ‘try’ retaining the Coax 20′ AGL into the Attic [not buried into the ground] solely to make the installation ‘look’ clean. But, I’m sure I’ll continue to be required to install the Counterpoise wires.
– The multitude of “Blogs’ regarding the use of a Counterpoise on an EFHW antenna are all about 50-50 …… Everyone has an opinion! Even the “Experts”. Some say “No – Not Needed”, while other state that a Counterpoise is required on an EFHW.
– Summary: While you may not need to place the Transformer that close to the ground, the Coax on the ground does make a ‘huge’ difference, and would probably eliminate the need for a Couterpoise wire(s).
– And, I’d welcome any thoughts/recommendations from those that taken the time to participate in this exchange.
This is simply my personal observations on EFHW Antennas. [Gosh, I wish I could install a large, professional, vertical antenna – but the HOA & neighbors all have a contrary thoughts!] Thanks.
Hi Joe – Many thanks for the detailed report on your setup. It sounds like further evidence that the specific installation/near-field environment has a big effect on performance, especially to include “grounding”. But you made it work, at least your initial antenna and it sounds like you will get the bigger one to work for you too. Thanks again for the input! Tim