Products & Product Reviews

Choosing the Right Radial Plate for Your Radial Wire System

Throw down a challenge to an Amateur Radio experimenter and you can practically hear the gears of inspiration grinding. At DX Engineering, it’s a familiar sound.

In the longstanding tradition of Hams building better mousetraps (or improved “trap” antennas), the team at DX Engineering has rolled up its sleeves over the years to find new ways to enhance the performance of quarter-wave vertical antennas, such as the Hustler BTV series (4BTV through 6BTV).

Our work has paid off in a number of innovations, including DX Engineering’s patented Radial Plate (DXE-RADP-3) for easily connecting your coaxial cable and an array of radial wires—an essential element to ensure lowest takeoff angle and the strongest signals.

Those who forego use of a radial system may get their antennas to work but at much lower transmit and receive efficiency. If you’re adamant about going the “no radial route,” don’t take our word for it that you’re missing out on drastically improved performance. Talk to the countless Hams who are enjoying enhanced transmit efficiency and the ability to receive weaker signals they once thought impossible.

Each DX Engineering Radial Plate lets you install up to 60 radial wires. For convenient connection of wires onto the plate, four DX Engineering Radial Wire Kits are available. They come with black PVC-insulated 14-gauge stranded copper wire that is easy to handle with a relaxed black PVC insulation. Kits also include ring terminals and radial wire staples.

A common objection: This sounds excessive to me. Why is such an extensive array of radial wires necessary for my ground-mounted antenna?

The answer is simple: It’s the best way to increase your signal.

The entire radial system must collect and carry currents equal to those flowing in the vertical section of the antenna. With a ground-mounted vertical, an array of wires (the more symmetrically placed radials, the better) prevents RF power from being absorbed by the ground. Some tips:

  • Choose a length of wire convenient for your property.
  • Run the radials in as many directions as possible in a spoke pattern, straight away from the antenna base.
  • Avoid zig-zagging, bunching or crossing over other radial wires.

Now let’s look at some of the unique advantages of the DX Engineering Radial Plate:

  • Its square shape has more lineal distance around it than competing round plates, allowing for installation of up to 60 radial wires using its pre-drilled holes.
  • Attaches easily and rigidly to a 4 x 4 or 6 x 6 inch wooden post; a steel or aluminum pipe (up to 3 inch O.D.) using a DX Engineering  Saddle Clamp; a fence post; or whatever you have supporting your vertical.
  • Includes a place to attach a coaxial cable. The plate assembly has been drilled for optional SO-239 Chassis Mount and Bulkhead Fittings—a must for proper handling of RF ground current.
  • Laser cut from durable 304 stainless steel, the plate has smooth edges that won’t corrode—an improvement over commonly used aluminum plates that can dissolve in the soil. (For instructions on installing DX Engineering Radial Plates without burying them, see the Hustler BTV Series user manual).
  • Uses larger bolts for more clamping power, yet it is designed so wires will not crowd together.
  • Works with most commercially available or home-brew vertical antennas.

What do Hams think?

“Heavy-duty, well-built quality product. Should last forever. An absolute necessity for those that want to maximize their antenna’s performance.”

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