Cheap HF Antenna – Just Use A Simple Wire
A cheap HF antenna can be made using a simple piece of wire. You can’t get much cheaper than that. Yes, a giant yagi antenna on a tower would be ideal, but you said you wanted cheap.
The key is the wire can only be one of a few lengths if you want it to work on just about all the high-frequency (HF) amateur radio bands here in the USA and the rest of the world.
Stay Away From 1/4 and Half-Wave Lengths
For a single length of wire to work, you need two things:
- a tuner
- the wire length that’s not too close to a quarter or half-wave of the frequencies you want to ply
It’s important to realize that an antenna that is a half or quarter-wavelength of the band you’re working on will create a very high impedance and your tuner will not be able to give you a nice low SWR.
The second point can be quite a challenge. Fortunately, Jack, VE3EED got out his trusty calculator and did all the work for you.
What are Ideal Lengths for a Cheap HF Antenna?
Here are the lengths, in feet, your cheap HF antenna should be to work on multiple bands:
Jack’s a silent key and I know I’m thankful for the work he did to come up with the lengths you can find in this column.
Do You Need A Counterpoise Wire?
I find a counterpoise about 17 feet long works well if I want to get on 40 meters. You can experiment with different lengths. Steve Galchutt, WG0AT, uses a 58-foot wire length with a 25-foot counterpoise.
Do You Need a Balun or Unun?
I connect my 29-foot cheap HF antenna to a 9:1 unun to lower the impedance. This makes less work for the tuner and I can almost always count on a very low SWR using the internal tuner in my Elecraft KX3 or KX2.