Antennas for the HF Bands
The most powerful antennas for the HF bands or any band is the directional antenna, often referred to as the beam antenna.
When hams speak of beam antennas, they usually mean the venerable Yagi
and quad designs. These antennas focus your signal in a particular direction (like a flashlight). Not only do they concentrate your transmitted signal, they allow you to focus your receive pattern as well. For example, if your beam is aimed west you won’t hear many signals from the east (off the “back” of the beam).
The problems with beam antenna systems are size and cost. HF beams for the lower bands are big antennas. At about 43 feet in width, the longest element of a 40-meter coil-loaded Yagi is wider than the wingspan of a Piper Cherokee airplane.
In terms of cost, a sizeable beam antenna and 75-foot crank-up tower will set you back at least $2,500. Then add about $500 for the antenna rotator, an electric motor that allows you to turn the antenna by remote control. On top of that, add the cost of cables, contractor fees (to plant the tower in the ground) and so on. In the end, you’ll rack up about $5,000.
If you have that much cash burning a hole in your pocket, by all means throw it at a beam antenna and tower. The rewards will be tremendous and you’ll never regret the investment. Between the signal-concentrating ability of the beam and the height advantage of the tower, you’ll have the world at your fingertips. Even a beam antenna mounted on a roof tripod can make your signal an RF juggernaut.
But do you need a beam and a tower to enjoy Amateur Radio? The issue isn’t whether they’re worthwhile (they are). The question is: Are they absolutely necessary? The answer, thankfully, is no.
Click the links on the upper left portion of this page to see some simple HF antenna designs.