As an academic researcher, the term “authoritative source” is reserved for works deemed to be the standard by which other scholarship in an area is judged. As a U.S. ham, I’ve purchased the ARRL Antenna Book (both new and used) since I’ve been licensed. Good reading and reference. It’s been a go-to document not only for me but for many State-side hams. There is a new Sheriff in town.
I’ve read about Rothammel’s Antenna Handbook in other publications—Practical Wireless and RadCom, for instance—but it was in German. Alas…Ich spreche kein deutsch! Since 2019, there is an English translation.
On eHam, there is but a single review. James AD0YO says, “This book is amazing! It should be on the desk of any ham interested in antennas. And, that should be all of us. The first 270 pages cover theory. The rest cover all types of antennas.” OK. James loves it. What about others?
A website I often read, the Reeve Observatory near Anchorage AK, has a review: “The information in Rothammel’s Antenna Book appears to be taken from both amateur and professional literature and patents from around the world. Having this book generally will save readers considerable time when looking for details on a particular antenna type or for ideas on what antenna to build for a certain
application. Each chapter has an extensive list of references, so it may be possible to get to the original source document.”
The popular commercial vendor in the U.S., DX Engineering, carries this volume (although out of stock as I write this). It also has only a single review. Two years ago, Juan (no call) wrote, “This is a 1,600 (page) treatise on Antennas! It is more theoretical than the ARRL Antenna Book, but quite less than John Kraus classical textbook. It has a ton of data and practical information. It is a very good comprehensive reference book on antennas.” Another onesy but rave review. No gotchas yet.
Another source I enjoy, Radio User magazine, had this announcement. “The famous Rothammel’s Antenna Book is now, at last, available in English. At the 2019 Hamvention, DARC announced the availability of the wonderful Rothammel’s Antenna Book into English. This translation is of the 13th edition of Rothammels Antennenbuch.” Now I recall my friend, Scott K0MD, telling me that he picked up a copy of this impressive book at Hamvention. Great international reviews. A close friend who bought it and is impressed. Wow! This is getting close to my wallet.
Rothammel. Who is (was) this guy? Wikipedia advises “was” is unfortunately the correct tense as he is now a Silent Key (1914–1987). After reading a short biography on Rothammel, it strikes me that he would be in league with Lawrence Cebik W4RNL, a professor of philosophy at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, long revered for his antenna work and writing. From the German Wiki, translated to English by Google Translate:
“Rothammel had been a radio amateur since 1932 with his call sign “DE3040/L”. During World War II he served as an Air Force radio operator. Little is currently known about his stay after the war, except that he settled in the Soviet occupation zone – the later GDR.
After the war, he initially worked as a guest and farmer before moving to the postal service of the GDR for ten years. At the post office, he looked after the radio and television transmission systems. After ten years, Rothammel moved to the information and documentation center at the radio equipment factory Stern-Radio in Sonneberg, which later became VEB Stern-Radio Sonneberg . He did this job for 25 years until he retired. Since 1954 Rothammel was active as a radio amateur under the call sign “DM2ABK”, since 1980 under the call sign “Y21BK” or “Y30ABK”.
In addition to his professional activities at the post office and at VEB Stern-Radio, Rothammel was a long-time club station manager in Sonneberg, a member of the examination committee in the Suhl district and an authorized person for the radio performance badge in gold. For five years he wrote articles on VHF topics for the magazine Funkamateur. In addition, he contributed as an author to various publications on the subject of radio, for example the books “Ultra Short Waves”, “Practice of TV Antennas Part 1 and 2” and the “Handbook for Short Wave Amateurs”, etc.”
I ordered a copy of the 1st Edition English translation, copyrighted in 2019, directly from the DARC. Easy order. It took several weeks to arrive via DHL and final delivery by the US Postal Service. I was researching HF loop antennas for an article. I was thrilled at the depth of coverage and the detailed citations and patents included. It greatly helped me organize my thinking on how to improve the design and deployment of an HF horizontal loop antenna. More on that article in the near future as it nears publication in Practical Wireless magazine.
Here’s an illuminating example on a relatively unknown niche type of antenna. Here in the States, due mostly to posts on QRZ.com, the reader would conclude that fractal antennas were wholly invented by Nathan W1YW. As the sportscaster Lee Corso is fond of saying, “not so fast!”. Look at what I read on pp. 948-9:
In the same year (1995), two researchers filed patent applications for something they called, fractal antennas. In May, Dr. Carlos Puente in Spain filed his application which was approved in 1998. Later, in August, Dr. Nathan Cohen filed his patent application in the United States but it was not granted until 2000. As Rothammel states, the priority goes to the first filing. This small point may only matter on legal issues but it’s both enlightening and historically correct for the amateur radio community to know that there were indeed two “inventors” of the fractal antenna line. Lots of good stuff like this in the Rothammel Antenna Book.
So does this book replace the need for the very popular Antenna Handbook by the ARRL? Not at all, as the ARRL book is geared more toward pedagogy and far less on being an authoritative reference. Rothammel’s book, for instance, does not include supplementary software, data files (antenna models, propagation projections, etc.), and such. Editions of the ARRL book do overlap greatly across adjacent editions so that’s caveat emptor for the buying ham. Me? I have quite a number of the ARRL Antenna Handbooks, as well as most things written by Joe Carr and other antenna scholars. Now, the Rothammel’s Antenna Book is on my bookshelf right beside them. I won’t have a problem finding it at 1,600 pages in length!
I can add my own superlative review to those quoted above. It’s not been fully read thus far but the spine and pages are certainly creased quite a bit! I’ve read deeply on loop antennas and through the theory section. It’s now my authoritative resource for amateur radio antennas.