Surprising Antenna Test

Today Hanz, W1JSB, and I hiked on Johnson Road and setup next to each other. We worked Italy, Russia, the Netherlands, and Florida. Before packing up we each called CQ and compared received signals on the Reverse Beacon Net. The results were surprising.


For these experiments we used nearly identical rigs. Hanz had the HB-1A, and I had the HB-1B. Both roughly 4 watts with similar power supplies.

The Antennas

Hanz ran the Par Electronics half-wave end fed wire straight up to a branch. It was perfectly vertical. This is the antenna that I’ve been running for almost 5 years. I thought it was probably the best portable DXer I could use. Perhaps I was wrong.

I ran a 66 foot wire configured as an inverted Vee with a 33 foot counterpoise and an Elecraft T-1 tuner. Here’s a rough diagram of the antenna that I used. It’s supported at the apex by a tree branch. The ends are a few inches above ground level.


I am sitting at the spot marked “X” on the above diagram.

The QSOs

We each worked the same stations on 20 meters. First we worked N4KXG, Pete in Florida. I received a 589 and Hanz received a 579. I expected that my antenna might be better than Hanz’s for relatively near stations. I was correct. We got a hint of something unpredicted with the next QSO.

We worked RA6CA in Russia. Pavel gave both Hanz and me a 589. I would have expected Hanz to be stronger with the vertical. Of course this is subjective. Next we worked IZ2UE in Italy. Andrea gave me a 559 and gave Hanz the same 559. Again… a surprise. The last station was PA3GEG, Gerald in the Netherlands. I received a 579 and Hanz received a 599. That would be expected.The next test shattered all my preconceptions.


Before packing up our gear, Hanz suggested that we both call CQ and check our signals on the Reverse Beacon Net. That was a stunning idea. Here are the results. I was heard by six stations. Hanz was heard by 10 stations. Four stations recorded signals from both of us.

The Results

Stations Hanz Jim
DL1EMY 13 db 17 db
AA4VV 18 db 27 db
W3OA 11 db 16 db
DL1GTB 6 db 10 db

In each case my signal was consistently stronger than Hanz’s. Same rig. Same location. Sent within a minute of each other.

I have to say I’m really surprised. I thought the end fed vertical could not be improved upon for a portable wire antenna. We will definitely do more testing.

Jim Cluett, W1PID, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Hampshire, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

7 Responses to “Surprising Antenna Test”

  • Did Hanz have a counterpoise or just the end feed vertical part?

  • No, Hanz had no counterpoise. and I forgot to say the inverted vee was
    up about 25 feet at the apex. 73 Jim W1PID

  • I’m curious if a counterpoise on his setup would have made a difference. Yea, I know it technically shouldn’t with an EFHW, but an antenna like that seems to have a yin and yang imbalance to me. It’s just one of those gut feeling things, and not based on engineering principles 🙂

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    I have owned both the 1A and 1B and found the TX not to be the same. Close, but the the 1B was much more stable when it came to power output. To really determine. I would like the test repeated using the 1B going into a A/B switch. “A” say being the PAR/LNR and “B” being a T-1 (fine ATU) and the wire arrangement. Just my 2 cents based on observation. I dumped the HB-1A because it was not stable and got a KX1. Did a trade and later go the HB-1B and found it to be as good, if not better then the KX1 for a whole lot less. Now moved into the cool-aid Elecraft crowd and love my KX3. Radio and antenna and QRP is a blast… Thanks for sharing. Enjoyed the adventure.

    Harry K7ZOV

  • Todd KD0TLS:

    “I ran a 66 foot wire configured as an inverted Vee with a 33 foot counterpoise and an Elecraft T-1 tuner.”

    Was this antenna also end-fed or a dipole? Was a balun used? Was there an actual earth ground connected to the radio?
    These things are probably obvious to most, but not to me. I’ve been told to never use a dipole without a balun, and to avoid end-fed antennas because of RF grounding issues. The radio manufacturers stress that you should always use an earth ground, but I never hear of one used in these posts.

    Obviously, what you are doing is working. It’s the details that are fuzzy for me. Maybe you could go into more detail in future posts for people who haven’t done this sort of thing before.

  • Hi Todd- Yes, the 65 foot wire was endfed. No balun. No earth ground. Jim W1PID

  • Ernest Gregoire, AA1IK:

    Interesting! I used a 66 foot longwire in sloper configurations mostly. Its hard to find a good operating spot with a 66 foot high tree right under it here in Fl. I had good results with a 1/4 wave radial on the band of choice. Worked Buenos Ares from FL QRP with it.

    I’m using the LNR (PAR) EFHW single banders now. I make sure I have at least a 1/4 wave of coax from the rig to the antenna. Its also a good thing to get the bottom end of the EFHW (where the coax connects to the magic box) off the ground. I use a fiberglass electric fence post for this purpose. The closer to the ground the little black box is, the more problems with swr I had. Two and a half feet off the ground is fine!

    These EFHW antennas can be made directional (somewhat) by sloping them in various directions. I’m still playing around with that aspect of it.

    So far, I cannot tell much difference between them. Some times I get skunked no matter which I use or even if I use them both, LOL> When the band is hot, its hot, and when its not, well ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ You know!

    de AA1IK

    Ernest Gregoire


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