Tale of 2 tuned antennas…. Part 1

Portable ops is fun, so much fun as putting up an antenna and taking it back down again.

What a pain in the ass… so I bought a super antenna. 🤣

I didn’t know it at that time, but I already had some criteria I had for a portable setup that met my needs.  It wasn’t until this past weekend that I actually figured out what I had done.  Here is my scratch paper criteria.

  • Efficient antenna system, not necessary perfect. No antenna is perfect except in free space.
  • 2 lengths of coax
  • Connectors and connections (DC and RF)
  • Radio
  • Batteries
  • Solar panel
  • SWR Meter.
  • CW Key
  • Phone (not my iPhone)
  • Tuner??

That was at least the bare necessities at a high level, what was needed to operate CW or SSB in a field situation.  the super antenna fit that bill quite well and remained resonant (although compromised) on a selected band. I only knew at that time that breeding this project would turn into a monster.

A few days later

I dabbled with the super antenna and came up with a list of grievances and made some minor changes in accordance with other’s experiences which panned out nicely (and wasted power-pole connectors).

It was then I came a cross an American made, by hams, tuned coil antenna. Wolf River Coils (WRC).

I did my research and whipped out my card.  I purchases a WRC TIA Platinum (Take it along) and a 213″ whip for a spare.  When USPS decided to deliver 1/2 of my packages, I discovered it was the antenna.  Joy!

I also came to realize that both companies shared the same fastener diameter thread and pitch 😁. (3/8-24)

Guess what! …..

IMG_2354.JPG

Super antenna parts and Wolf River Coil Parts are interchangeable (not necessarily work together)!

Enough about my dreams of making these 2 antennas work together for now.

What I really need to do is a review of them both. No noted review has been done of these 2 antennas head to head.

Note to prospective hams who are content creators:  If you can get an idea from this reading and do a video review of this. Great, please mention this reading and my website. 

Both of these antennas are pretty cool in nature and share lots of common traits. Where they will differ is most likely tuning and 80M capability. Forget 160m and 6m for now.

Excluding the facts already known and tested by others (i think). I am focusing my review on purely RF concepts with these 2 antennas.

Before we get started, there are a number criteria that need to be defined.

What is the playing field for testing?  – My backyard.  Since our weather has been touch and go with rain and drought recently, soil conductivity has been all over the map from a barren brown grass wasteland to a soaking wet tick infested swamp. I believe it is of importance to test these antennas under conditions in exactly same conditions as well as in various conditions.

Configurations? – It depends on what we are testing.  Am I going to test the Coil’s themselves?  How about each of them in their respective kits as they are purchased? the configuration of the platform and radiator on these antennas is key. For this test, and my desire to see how efficient they really are, I believe that comparing these antenna systems starting out based on their coils alone.  This means mixing and matching the super antenna parts and WRC parts together to find the best possible components.

Vertical antenna uses radials? – Yes, these antennas use radials for their ground plane. and with that both antenna systems have different ideas about how to implement their retail setup.  Super antenna comes with tuned radials and WRC comes with 33′ Radials. A decision needs to be made in how radials between these antennas can be used for testing and how it can affect tuning.

What type of tuning conditions am I trying to achieve? – Should I be aiming for a 1:1 SWR all of the time or will a < 2:1 be sufficient? How much power will I be running? Both antennas are capable of 100W easily on SSB. CW and digital they begin to separate in specifications. For CW and Digital, lets stay around 20W.

Coax Lengths? – Since I will be operating from my home shack most likely, I will be using RG8X at 100′ since that is what I have.  I may need to add another 50′ or so to get the antenna to it’s proper testing location.

That is it for now.  I will provide updates later as my mind works thoughts surface.

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