[AMRadio] Vertical antennas

Donald Chester k4kyv at charter.net
Fri Oct 30 18:00:13 EDT 2015

Bob, N0DGN, wrote: 

> I'm about as cheap as they come when it comes to spending money on 
> antennas.  I'm still using the wire that my uncle left in our basement
when he moved from KY to CA in 1942 for the > 268' flat top in my all-band,
center fed "Zepp."

That 73 y.o. wire should be just as good as any brand new shiny copper from

I'm probably as "cheap" as they come, but the antenna  isn't the place to be

Back in 1980 I bought brand new tower sections and associated hardware to
build my present antenna system.  I had already acquired the copper wire for
the radial system a few years earlier and had it stored away in a shed
before we moved back  here. I inherited a used base insulator from a
broadcast station when they replaced a damaged tower; paid $100 for it.
Those were the pre-copper thievery days, and I wasn't too concerned about
leaving several hundred pounds of copper unsecured in an unlocked unattended
shed out in the country. No-one had touched the wire when we moved here and
I decided to start building the antenna, although the wooden spools  hadn't
fared so well in the dampness.

The whole thing cost me a total of about $1600 back then, about the same as
what I would have paid for a top-of-the-line transceiver of the day.  

At that time, my antenna was a crappy OWL-fed dipole about 25' high strung
between a couple of maple trees, and had to be re-erected after nearly ever

I could have chosen the transceiver, knowing I would have had bragging
rights of one of the finest plastic radios money could buy, but the signal
would have still been mediocre with that antenna, and those were back in the
days when amateur radio phone signals were SUPPOSED to sound scratchy and
tinny like space shuttle audio and most ham manufacturers were happy to
comply.  But what would I have to show for it to-day?  A bad-sounding  35
y.o. transceiver that, even  if it still worked, would be worth a couple of
hundred bucks at most, and that same mediocre antenna and crappy signal;
undoubtedly some replacement parts for the radio would be unobtanium if
something crapped out.  Instead, I chose the antenna, which put out a
strapping signal all over N. America and the world, despite the fact that my
transmitter even back then was "vintage", "antique" or as some would say,
"outdated".  The antenna straps as well to this day as it did the day I put
it up. The tower has needed some maintenance, like the guy wires I  replaced
last year and a few more that still need replacing, but barring a direct hit
with a tornado or a major earthquake, it will still be here for years to
come, and will probably out-last me.

I'm still using the same transmitter I was using when I put up the tower and
antenna system;  the tower is the ONLY major ham  radio  item I have EVER
bought and paid a lot of money for brand new.  Everything else in my shack
was scrounged from hamfests,  flea markets, classified ads, junk piles and
occasionally picked off kerbside on garbage pick-up day, in other words,
salvaged from what somebody else didn't want. Nevertheless,  nearly every
component in my transmitter was top-of-the-line quality when it was new, and
no  ham would have ever been able to afford to build that rig from scratch,
purchasing all components brand new when they were in their heyday, but
which were mostly considered trash by the time I acquired them.  It's still
a work in progress; even now when I occasionally run across a part, major or
small, that I think might be better than what's already in the rig, I grab
it, try it out, and if it works as well or better, keep it in the rig and
save the old piece for a spare. 

I think I made the better choice. The antenna was by far the better deal.

Don k4kyv

This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.

More information about the AMRadio mailing list

This page last updated 22 Jan 2018.