Your First Antenna


I was first licensed in 1959 and quickly put up my first antenna. I didn't bother doing any research into the subject like looking at a book or magazine. After all, how hard could it be? I had passed my Novice test and I knew some formulas. I put up a 132 foot dipole for 80 meters at about 10 feet and fed it with what I had laying around, TV twin lead. The antenna didn't work. I wondered why.

We want you to avoid such an experience so we have put up this page. The articles here have been hand picked from the pages of QST with the beginner in mind. There is a little antenna theory, again with the beginner in mind, and some simple to construct antenna projects that work well. Even the Additional Resources list does not contain the big theoretical volumes.--Al Alvareztorres AA1DO (SK)


Some Antenna Projects

  • Wire Antennas for the Beginner
    QST June 1983, pp. 33-38
    Every ham knows how to make and install wire antennas. But if you've never done it, you probably have a few questions. Here are some answers.
  • Ground-plane Antennas for 144, 222, 449 MHz
    ARRL Antenna Book, 18th Edition, pp. 18-16 to 18.17
    (If you can't find aluminum rod or wire or welding rods, try metal coat hangers - they work too.)
  • Build a Portable Groundplane Antenna
    QST July 1991, pp. 33-34
    Need a better antenna for your hand-held radio? Here's the answer.
  • Feeding Your Station
    QST December 1983, pp. 20-23
    Fat coaxial line, skinny cable, open-wire feeders or 300-ohm ribbon line - the correct choice can save the beginner a few dollars while helping to ensure maximum performance.
    Feedback: QST April 1984, p. 51. There is an error in Table 1. The capacitance of RG-11A/U is 20.5 pF/ft, not 0.5 pF/ft as shown.
    Feedback: The first formula in note 1 should read m = ft x 0.3048
  • A 15-Meter Beam "On A Budget"
    QST February 1971, pp. 41-43
    Even the simplest beam can be expensive due to the cost of aluminum tubing. Here's a solution.
  • Dual Band Handy Yagi
    QST May 2008, pp. 42-43
    Boost the range of your 2M/70cm handheld transceiver with this simple dual band Yagi--no soldering or coax connectors required!


An Antenna Primer

  • Choosing An Antenna
    QST January 1962, pp. 25-29, 140, 142
    As the title indicates, this article is written to help the newcomer decide on the kind of antenna to select for his station.
  • The Aerial Performers of the Radio Circuits Part 1
    QST November 1978, pp. 42-46
    Antennas are as different as the hams who use them.
  • The Aerial Performers of the Radio Circuits Part 2
    QST December 1978, pp. 44-48
    Why do some antennas get out better than others? Here are some practical answers plus all you need to know for building a simple coax-fed, half-wave dipole.
  • What Does Your SWR Cost You?
    QST January 1979, pp. 19-20
    Wondering whether to spend a fine day with the YL or with your antenna? This article may help you decide.
  • Antenna Accessories for the Beginner
    QST February 1979, pp. 15-19
    How many antenna gadgets are needed to put out a good signal? Perhaps your station is over-equipped, or maybe you've been shortchanging yourself on accessories.

Web Links

"This Old Dipole" or Dipole 101
An antenna construction workshop conducted at Marshall Emm N1FN's location on Sunday, 8/2/98 (An EXCELLENT step-by-step with color photos on constructing a dipole. – Ed.)