Accessed on 03 January 2017, 20:55 hrs, UTC.
Author: Larry Makoski (W2LJ).
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The recently concluded National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) contest has spawned several fascinating articles about the National Park Service and Amateur Radio. Among these articles were interesting observations about emergency “go-kits”, portable rigs and power, and emergency antennas. Radio amateurs involved in emergency volunteer groups such as ARES, RACES, SATERN (Salvation Army) and MARS will find Larry Makoski’s (W2LJ) review of portable antennas particularly appropriate to communications support during disasters and emergencies.
In this “laid back” and easily digestible essay, Larry discusses some of the antennas he’s used in various portable operations, including the recent NPOTA program. Larry briefly reviews homemade dipoles, verticals, mag loops, end-fed/W3EDP wires, and various Buddistik configurations. Larry says there is no magic antenna for all occasions, since “all portable antennas will work well, some better than others…it all depends on the situation and the circumstances of that particular day or event.”
Of all the portable antennas tested by Larry, he seems to favor the magnetic loop or the end-fed wire fed through a 9:1 balun.
Larry encourages all of us, especially those in emergency communications services, to come up with a multiband antenna that addresses the widest range of challenges found in portable or emergency situations:
“The bottom line is that, if you’re going to do a lot of portable operating, you really should have at least three or four options at your disposal. There is no situation where one antenna where work in all cases, either due to lack of set up time, real estate, available antenna hanging resources, etc. Once you’ve gotten some experience under your belt you will be able to size up the situation and will be able to determine what option will work the best for that given day.
Always keep in the back of your mind the equation, “MOE = A + R + T” . That is, Maximum Operating Enjoyment becomes an art. It is a mixture of Antenna Efficiency Resources and Set Up Time. The desired outcome for an enjoyable outing is always using the most efficient antenna you can, using the resources you have at hand, with the minimal amount of set up and tear down time. After all, the idea is to be on the air making contacts, not silently cursing antenna wires or trees under your breath while simultaneously elevating your blood pressure.
A word of warning, though ….. this will become a lifetime endeavor and you will be constantly perusing the Internet and Ham publications looking for that “all purpose, all in one antenna”. I doubt that you or I will ever find it, but as they say, “The fun is in the journey, not the destination.”
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