The Best Antenna For Ham Radio – An Evening With Dr. Bob Heil

Dr. Bob Heil, an expert in the field of ham radio antennas, is often asked which one is the best. Although a complex answer, he recently provided insight on this during an hour-long Zoom discussion. For those who don't have time to watch it in its entirety, sections describing Dr. Heil's favorite antenna have been highlighted and transcribed—see below for the video and transcript.

Best Antenna - Evening With Bob Heil

From the video here is a summary transcript of what Bob says.

For a great simple antenna, nothing beats a resonant dipole. With some modifications such as traps, it can be utilized for bands like 40 and 75 meters too. MIT's design of a coaxial dipole is a popular choice to cover the entire 75 meter phone band without tuning. Many radio amateurs avoid using tuners and lean towards resonant antennas instead.

In 1938, at the invitation of our government, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created the Coaxial Dipole. It was designed to be perfect for radar and cover a wide range of frequencies without any tuning adjustments. If you're interested in building your own Coaxial Dipole, you can find all the information on my website.

Tip: Never ever ever use a pulley on antennas. It can load up with ice and snow and you're locked up. You use carabiners locking stainless steel six-inch carabiners it will never lock up that's what I do for my coaxial dipole.

Recommendation: The Seven Strand Steel Copper wire from MFJ is my top choice for wiring projects. It's strong, reliable, and produces great transmission performance. Unfortunately, I don't have enough room in my studio for this type of wire, but my neighbor across the street let me borrow her 70- foot tree for a project with excellent results. My other neighbor also lent me his 70-foot tree and it played like a charm!


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Jump to 57:12 Here's a rough transcript of the entire video.

My Take on Dipole Antennas

Bob's recommendation of a resonant dipole antenna is spot-on, and I'm inclined to agree. From experience, I can say that it always proves to be an excellent choice. Having tried various antennas while traveling, at my home QTH I have implemented a few permanent antennas; the most preferred being a dipole mounted at about 45'. For traveling purposes, I usually opt for the dipole option and mount it as an inverted vee with the assistance of either the Best Dog Gone Antenna Launcher or arborist throw line. The height isn't exactly specific due to certain limitations, but they're typically installed between 30' and 50'.

Ham Nation Video Bob Describes the Coaxial Dipole

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Jump to 32:50

Thank you

What's your take on dipoles? Please comment below.

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I'm an Amateur Radio enthusiast. I love the hobby and experimenting with radios, antennas and software. On my YouTube channel I upload videos on the Icom 7300 and Icom 7610 along with Ham radio software programs. I hope to inspire people to try new things in Amateur Radio.

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Will Gray
1 year ago

I use an old design, worked on in the Navy in the 1940s The Tilted Terminated Folded Dipole (TTFD). Longer is better My yard limits me to a lenght of 160yds.and if necessary works ok hodrizontally as well. I use 18g copperweld steel wire (nearyly invisible) with fiberglass spreaders made from electric fence rods with the resistor and balun from Palomar Engiineering. I work an ICOM-7300 into a Palstar 1KW linear and Palstar tuner. Being in MARS and SHARES makes it essential that I can operate across the whole HF spectrum: works fine, even with 75 feet of coax from the tuner to the balun. An auto tuner near the antenna and 450ohm ladder line from the tuner to the antenna might be a bit better but PERFECT is the enemy of GOOD ENOUGH. Join MARS and build one!

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