Technical Articles

How to Choose Your First HF Antenna

DX Engineering receives many questions from new (or new to HF) amateurs, and one of the most common is: “What kind of antenna should I use as my first HF antenna?”

Many people recommend a G5RV (which is very popular around the world), a horizontal loop, or some other multi-band “magic” antenna, along with tiny portable antennas to be installed on a photo tripod…the list goes on.

Let’s consider the G5RV for a moment. The G5RV is very well known, many new hams use it, and, sadly, it often ends in frustration because of poor performance, bad SWR, or RF in the shack problems. There are many, many resources on the Internet about the G5RV, so we won’t go into great detail here, but as W0BTU says in this article:  “There are some bands where the SWR on the coax is out of sight and the feedline losses are astronomical.” He also has some other well-informed comments that you can read at the link provided.

The RF in the shack problem can be solved, but that costs money. DX Engineeringoffers products that will help, including an excellent Line Isolator in our Comtek line. Installing one close to the antenna, or two (one at each end of your coaxial feed line) can eliminate that problem for you.

So, what’s better than a G5RV? What’s the best solution?

Quite often, the simplest things are best. In this case, we recommend that you consider a simple, resonant dipole antenna, as shown below.

The best part about the basic dipole is you can get the parts and make your own very easily, and without spending a fortune. While the antenna in the diagram above will function well, it would be much better if you used a 1:1 balun in place of the center insulator, like the COMTEK Jerry Sevick W2FMI Series Current Balun COM-BAL-11150T.

Another option is to get a Bushcomm BA Series Monoband Dipole Antenna BA-40B(shown below). The Bushcomm BA-40B is a 40m dipole kit that has everything you need, including a balun, but without the coaxial feedline.

Bushcomm BA Series Monoband Dipole Antennas BA-40B

Bushcomm BA Series Monoband Dipole Antenna BA-40B

If you want more information on simple dipoles, the ARRL published a nice article that you can read here.

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