A poor antenna has infinite gain over no antenna – with thanks to K2TK

Yesterday, Chris KQ2RP tweeted K2TK’s line ‘A poor antenna has infinite gain over no antenna’ and it made me smile. It encapsulates so much about my whole approach to radio (and actually more than that).

Some people like everything to be perfect before they embark on a project. Every little last thing needs to be just right. That’s not me. In radio terms, I’d far rather try and lash something together to get it going and try it out than wait for something to be perfect (in my case, it would never happen!).

As a VHF enthusiast, I very often hear, I don’t have an antenna for 50MHz, or whatever. If you’re a 160m enthusiast, you probably hear the same thing! There’s usually some sort of antenna that you can bodge into service, even if it’s a grotty wire dipole twisted together. It’s rare that you can’t get it to radiate SOME sort of signal, and I’m sure I’ve made hundreds of QSOs on antennas where bits of wire were just twisted together.

I often hear people say of the data modes, such as PSK31 – ‘I don’t have a data modes interface’. To get started – just hold the microphone over the speaker of the computer as it transmits the PSK31 tones – and use the microphone on the computer to decode the tones from the radio. It works fine – even if there’s a little juggling to do. You can even use apps on your mobile phone to decode the PSK31!

Having proven that you can make something work simply, you may be enthused to get a more elegant solution going. Or you may not – sometimes, just the simple matter of having made something work is enough and you don’t need to come back to it.

Give it a go (what ever it is!) I bet it will be fun…

Tim Kirby, G4VXE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Oxfordshire, England. Contact him at [email protected].

6 Responses to “A poor antenna has infinite gain over no antenna – with thanks to K2TK”

  • PC4T:

    Hi Tim, I agree with you. I use my 3 band end fed (40-20-10m) for 160 m as well as for other HF bands. I made qso’s with my indoor curtain rail on 160 m, it was good tunable. Never used an interface. Just 2 separate cheap USB audio, mic + VOX. It works fine for me. Never had any problem whatsoever. I am just a low profile ham operator, and yes, its fun. 73 Paul

  • Jonathan, KA8KPN:

    I once found a Web site somewhere that had some rules for antennas for beginners. It went something like “Any antenna is better than no antenna. An outside antenna is better than an inside antenna. A resonant antenna is better than an nonresonant antenna.” and so on. I lost track of where it was, unfortunately.

  • Craig, N7LB:


    Check out the link provided, I think you’ll find the antenna rules you mentioned earlier.


  • Stephen G0PQB:

    I use an old phone with a loudspeaker to get the DTMF tones I need for IRLP work. Just by holding the fist mic over the telephone speaker do I generate the tones needed to get into distant nodes. A suitable DTMF mic for the FT897 or FT817

  • Stephen G0PQB:

    would cost over £70 sterling and an old phone seems to do the job.

  • Tim G4VXE:

    It’s all about ingenuity and making it work! You can always build on the cheap and cheerful approach. Loving your work, guys!

    Jonathan – I like the sound of that website 🙂

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