Antennas and Tuners / Products & Product Reviews

Product Spotlight: Boost Your Top Band Capabilities with the DX Engineering 160 Meter THUNDERBOLT® Vertical Antenna

There are numerous exciting and challenging DXing opportunities on the horizon—and for many avid DXCC chasers, nothing presents a greater challenge than making contact on 160 meters. DX Engineering is pleased to offer proven options for enhancing your 160M prowess. At the top of the top-band list is the DX Engineering 160 Meter THUNDERBOLT® Vertical Antenna.

OnAllBands blogger Dino Papas, who had never had a QSO on 160 meters over five decades of operating, wrote an excellent article on earning his Top Band DXCC award (100 countries) in one year after installing the DX Engineering 160 Meter Thunderbolt Vertical Antenna. Read how he went from “zero to 160M DXCC” here and see his completed installation below.

About the 160M Thunderbolt

With an overall height of only 55 feet, this 160M monoband antenna employs a custom-designed “capacity hat” system to give hams the strongest possible presence at their power level.

The THUNDERBOLT’s capacity hat adds horizontal elements to the top of the antenna, which reduces inductor resistance and counters the effects of the shortened vertical antenna. Extensive testing has shown that the improved efficiency and reduced loss resulting from use of a capacity hat can significantly increase the RF power radiating from your antenna.

On the THUNDERBOLT 160M, the top capacity hat is large enough that the current along the radiator is almost constant. Typical shortened verticals for this band, with smaller top hats, have currents that vary along the length and end up producing much less signal strength. This also works in the receive mode to let you hear weaker signals, although at this frequency range dedicated receiving antennas are almost a must. A specially designed add-on capacity hat kit is also available for the DX Engineering 80/40M THUNDERBOLT vertical and 75/80M Full Size Quarter Wave Monoband Vertical antennas.

Other features of the THUNDERBOLT 160M include:

  • 5 kW SSB and CW rated
  • Tunable with an impressive 40 kHz bandwidth, meaning operation on the CW DX frequencies and DX Phone frequencies are within the range of most internal tuners, without physical changes to the antenna
  • DX Engineering Adjustable Matching Network configures the lowest SWR
  • Lowest possible take-off angle reduces domestic QRM signals
  • Engineered with 6061-T8 and 6063-T832 corrosion-resistant aluminum tubing, stainless steel mounting brackets, and stainless steel hardware
  • Patented stainless steel Pivot Base for ease of raising, lowering, and making tuning adjustments
  • Massive 3-inch O.D. base section
  • Withstands steady winds in excess of 50 MPH—see manual for guy rope installation and many more details, including mounting pipe (not included) instructions, radial system installation, and suggested parts, such as the DX Engineering Manual Winch Add-On Kit (DXE-VRW-1) that makes raising and lowering the antenna even easier.

DX Engineering recommends installing a minimum of 32, 65-foot-long radials.

What do hams think?

Five Stars: “Design—first rate. High-quality components and easy-to-follow instructions. Bottom line so far: This is a substantial and high-quality antenna, well-designed, well-engineered, and relatively easy to assemble and install.”

Also check out these OnAllBands articles:

The above article discusses the use of half-wave dipoles, inverted vees, quarter-wave verticals, inverted L’s, slopers, end-fed half waves, vertical loops, horizontal loops, and extended double-zeps for 80 and 160M operating. You’ll find many of these at DX Engineering, including the DX Engineering Single-Band Dipole Antenna Kit for 160 meters, Kelemen monoband and trap dipoles for 160 meters, and the DX Engineering EZ-BUILD UWA Center-T and End Insulator Kit, which lets you build a variety of wire antennas.

Find many more 160M antenna choices at

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