Best VHF SOTA Antenna?

Charlie/NJ7V and Gaston/KT1RUN did a comparison of VHF antennas during a SOTA activation. Specifically, they compared a rubber duck antenna, a J-pole antenna on a tall mast, and a 3-element Yagi antenna. Spoiler Alert: the rubber duck sucks (they all do) but the Yagi and J-pole performed about the same.

Joyce/K0JJW and I use the Arrow 3-element Yagi antenna for most of our SOTA activations, so I am very familiar with that one. We also have a rollup J-pole that we use once in a while.

Charlie used the Yagi the same way we do: handheld at ground level. The J-pole was on a mast, maybe 12 feet (?) in the air. Although they were on a summit, there is some performance improvement getting the antenna higher than the surrounding terrain. The gain of the Arrow 3-element Yagi has been measured at about 6 dBd. The gain of a J-pole, being a halfwave radiator, is 0 dBd. The additional height of the J-pole has to make up this 6 dB of gain difference to be roughly equivalent.

A big difference, though, is that the Yagi antenna has to be held and pointed. The J-pole is always pointing in the right direction so you can just focus on operating and logging. We may have to consider using a omni antenna instead of the Yagi.

Good stuff!

73 Bob K0NR

The post Best VHF SOTA Antenna? appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

2 Responses to “Best VHF SOTA Antenna?”

  • Trevor AG7GX:

    I’ve done SOTA with a “Super-elastic Signal Stick” ( and it’s worked well. It’s much better than a rubber duck, and much more convenient for carrying up the mountain than a larger antenna.

  • Glenn W9IQ:

    The physical size of an antenna is not the sole determinant of gain. A 1/2 wave element can easily achieve a gain of 6 dBd with the right ground reflection conditions. Re-enforcing and interfering ground reflections are why many real world antennas exhibit non-freespace patterns and gain.

    – Glenn W9IQ

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