Homemade antenna considerationsJan 1, 2003
I found the antenna article by Gordon Wyatt very interesting ("Homemade antenna," Issue No. 90). I would like to make a few comments.
In the article, the actual antenna was made from insulated #14 antenna wire. I have found insulated wire to cause catastrophic damage to the front end of the transceiver under certain conditions. There is the possibility to build large static charges that could damage the receiver. I've witnessed this during blowing snowstorms.
If regular non-insulated antenna wire is used, the lower insulator should be located high enough so a crewmember can't grab the live antenna. This could be a shocking experience.
Also, the backstay will affect the radiation pattern of the antenna, but I think the price more than offsets that.
The other big advantage I see is that the backstay will be intact. Why cut a perfectly good, strong backstay? The backstay insulators are strong, but I've heard horror stories of unseen corrosion causing rigging failures.
Ed Tanzer is an applications engineer for Comsat (the U.S. signatory to the Inmarsat and Intelsat consortiums), sails a Pearson 35, has been a Ham radio operator for 41 years, and lives in Bethesda, Md.
Gordon Wyatt responds: Having been in Naval and Coast Guard aviation for 20-plus years, I had not heard of this problem with insulated antennas. As I recall, all fixed long-wire antennas on aircraft had insulation.
I would be very interested in more comment on this subject. I have spent an evening on the Lake de Izabal in Guatemala in a very large electrical storm without any negative effects. As for blowing snow, the good Lord willing, I'll never see it again.
I very much agree with your assessment of using non-insulated wire. This would require a totally different approach to installation.
As far as the radiation pattern is concerned, this can be very hard to measure accurately. I suspect that the distance between the antenna and the backstay is such a short wavelength distance at these frequencies that it may not matter.