1. “What’s the best antenna?”
This is probably the ONE antenna question that has no “depends” associated with it!!A RESONATED ANTENNA!!!
A resonated antenna is a metal object having a GEOMETRY such that it CREATES a PURE 50 ohm RESISTIVE load at the end of the transmission line.
The best example is a wire dipole antenna having the wire LENGTH appropriate for the wavelength of the incoming RF energy…just as given by the equation in the handbook!
When there are restrictions – generally due to space limitations – inductors and / or capacitors are installed to ELECTRICALLY LENTHTEN it for the less-than-appropriate geometry in order to get that 50 ohm load due to its smaller size.
The “cost” for doing this is a significant RF power loss because of the ( mainly inductive ) components which reduces the antenna radiated power…and…it’s not unusual to hear about those inductor coils “frying” and burning up from the heat!
2. “Does the transmission line radiate?”
Whenever any balanced antenna ( e.g. dipole ) is fed with coax transmission line ( unbalanced ), there will always be "common mode” current ( RF on the outer surface of the coax shield ) traveling back from the antenna.
Yes, depending upon the severity, the situation may require the insertion of a balun or RF choke at the antenna end of the coax.
Yes again, it will radiate, but that has not been too much of a problem for us hams as we have been feeding dipole antennas with coax ‘since forever’.
First: we recommend that TAK-tenna be resonated for maximum performance …which provides maximum satisfaction.
TAK-tenna is resonated ONLY ONCE on the PRIMARY band…and operated multiband with an antenna tuner…exactly like a s-t-r-e-t-c-h wire dipole.
Secondly, a resonated antenna provides more “user friendly” impedance values to the antenna tuner when it is operated on the other bands…which reduces power loss in the line.
3. “How is TAK-tenna resonated?”
TAK-tenna is resonated ONLY ONCE - on your frequency of choice. There are two wires at the antenna coax feed point; the wire from the coax CENTER conductor goes to one spiral making it the ‘hot’ radiating element; the wire from the coax SHIELD goes to the other spiral making it the ‘cold’ radiating element.
A small amount of RF is applied – either from the rig on low power with its SWR meter or using an antenna analyzer.
The RF frequency is applied across the band to locate the SWR minimum frequency; the two wires ends - having alligator clips - are moved 2 inches at a time on each spiral to bring that SWR minimum to the frequency of your choice.
When your achive resonance, the clips are removed and the ends are soldered to each sprial at those tap positions.
Resonating is that simple!
IMPORTANT NOTE: analyzers put a heavy load on the batteries! And…when the batteries START getting weak…it doesn’t take much time… erroneous readings will occur.
So!…use the AC/DC adapter with the analyzer.
ALSO…ALWAYS confirm the analyzer / test equipment readings with your RIG!….had one customer with an analyzer that was 200Kc off!!
NOTE: You can check your analyzer...
put a 3 foot coax to it...drape in ONTO your radio case...
go to CW...tune your rcvr to the analyzer frequency...
you should hear the analyzer's output RIGH ON the rcvr frequency!
Then...put a 100 ohm CARBON resistor across the analyzer output...
sweep its frequenies...you should read SWR = 2...on ALL its frequenies...
the analyzer SWR = resistor ohms / 50...for a 200 ohm resistor...
read 200 / 50 = SWR 4...etc...
4. “Do I need an antenna tuner?”
ANYTIME an antenna is operated OFF-RESONANCE, an impedance matching device is required to work with the 50 ohm impedance of the transmitter.
The “so called” antenna “tuner” does NOT tune anything!
In the early days is was named “transmatch”.
Its single, solitary job is to cancel out the incoming line impedance and output that 50 ohms directly TO the transmitter.
The ONLY match is from the “tuner” output to that transmitter…IN THE SHACK it's just those few feet of cable…it has NO affect on the line going to the antenna.
Now...since the OUTPUT of the "tuner" is 50 ohms...the BEST place to put it is AT THE ANTENNA...which just about eliminates any RF loss in that long transmission line going to the shack / transmitter!!!!
How well a “tuner” “tunes” depends on its impedance matching RANGE.
Generally, given the same power rating for the unit, the more it cost; the bigger the box; heavier it is...the more inductors, capacitors ( and relays if automatic ) it has…the more COMPONENTS it can employ in its CIRCUITRY of create the necessary CONJUGATE impedance to do the canceling.
Note: vintage rigs with "tune" and "load" controls have a built-in "tuner" as these capacitors and inductor do the SAME job as an "antenna tuner"...as the "antenna tuner" circuitry use these SAME components.
Speaking about this...you can save a LOT of money...AND...make a Superior...and HIGH POWER manual antenna "tuner" by purchasing two variables and one inductor at the hamfest...along with a couple SO-239's.
Reference the Handbook for the few wires needed to make the Pi circuit...put it all on a piece of pine board...WALLAH!...been there, done that.
5. “How high should TAK-tenna be installed?”
The vast majority of our customers use a mast with TAK-tenna around 10 to 20 feet high.
ANY antenna’s performance depends upon the environment at that SPECIFIC installation.
The primary factors are: height above ground…AND… the QUALITY of the GROUND CONDUCTIVITY there.
Then, our happy satisfied HOA customers put TAK-tenna ‘wherever’ they can... Out the window; On the deck; On the balcony….one gent put it under a fiberglass “make believe” rock!
6. “How long should the coax be and what coax should I use?”
The major issue with coax transmission line is the power loss in the cable.
The longer the cable…the less power getting to the antenna.
The “best” coax is that having the lowest dB INSERTION LOSS…and made with HIGH QUALITY materials.
7. “Can is use ladder line?”
8. “How hard is it to assemble?”
A LOT of time went into the design to make everything simple and easy!!
Depending on what challenges you have, it generally takes from 30 to 90 minutes…which includes a few solder connections.
We refer to it being like Tinker Toy.
Some far, we’ve had two BLIND gents;
one senior gent with only ONE hand ( see his TAK-tenna Product Review posting on eHam.net by KT7F page 3 );
and a 12-year old ham assemble, resonate, install and operate TAK-tenna.
Note: We ASSUME that the customer READS the instructions...had one gent, cut the spiral wires to "heck" trying to resonate!
Alas, some customers with "issues" don't even contact us...and we take the "hit" with an unfavorable eHam.net posting!
9. "What is the 'More Portable' TAK-tenna?"
Our More Portable style employs a coupler at the boom ends to allow the sprial radiating elements to be quickly / easily put on and taken off...and permits a small package to stow when traveling.
Not available on our TAK-tenna 80 Multiband antenna.
10. “Should I install Vertical or Horizontal?”
We can’t answer that question…only you can.
In some installations vertical works better…in other installations horizontal.
The best way to find out is to operate one way for about 30 QSO’s over a week of varying band conditions…then switch orientation…do the same…and check the QSO reports.
Folks working nets generally mount vertical = cold spiral closest to Mother Earth…no radials needed!
11. “Do I need to use a ground with TAK-tenna?”
12. "Does TAK-tenna cover MARS frequencies?"
Yes...and there's a MARS report on our About page.