Ham Radio Antenna Buyers Guide: Things to consider before purchasing

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cover - guide to ham radiosDo you need a ham radio antenna? If so, then this guide will show you how to choose the right one.

You’ll learn about different types of antennas and what is required for each type of installation.

We’ll also discuss installation considerations such as mounting height, ground plane requirements, and more!

Read on to find out which ham radio antenna is best for your needs.

So before you make that all-important purchase, first you will need to consider a few things:

What is your budget?

Ham radio antennas can range from a few dollars to several thousand, so it’s important to figure out how much you can afford. If you’re on a tight budget then you should look at getting a decent antenna that is around the 100-300 dollar range.

Low / Medium Budget

The cheapest ham radio antenna is normally a 1/4 wave ground plane antenna. It is easy to build and can be made for as little as $10. These antennas are omnidirectional and have a low take-off angle, making this type of antenna perfect for beginners.

The second cheapest option, and probably the most popular purchase among hams is a simple rubber duck antenna that sticks out from your radio like an aerial. This is usually built into all handheld radios these days but can also bought separately as a replacement antenna.

The third cheapest option is a small magnetic base mobile antenna which you can stick to the roof of your car or van and run a lead into your radio to transmit/receive.

However, if you are serious about your Ham antenna and want to take it to the next level, you will need to spend a little bit more.

Large Budget

For a larger budget, you can look at getting an antenna that is mounted on a pole and fixed to the ground, such as an outdoor Yagi antenna. These are directional antennas which mean you need to point them in the direction of what you want to communicate with (normally this would be another ham who has one).

If that’s still not enough for you then perhaps it is time for an upgrade to your vehicle. The next level would be to build a magnet base antenna for your car which you can place on the roof of your car and communicate with hams whilst traveling at speed.

If none of these are enough, then it’s time to look into getting an amateur radio license! You will need this before purchasing antennas that are more than one meter in length.

How much space do you have for your Antenna?

The amount of space that you have available in or around your home will determine what ham radio antenna you should buy. ham radio antennas can be bulky and take up a lot of space, so you will have to consider the space that is available in your home or “ham shack”.

The location of where you want to mount or install the Antenna will also help you determine what ham radio antenna to buy.

If you want an antenna that will be able to perform best in a flat, open area then you will want to buy either a dipole or ground plane.

If you have a larger amount of space then you may want to consider buying one that’s either a wire beam or vertical. These ham radio antennas do require more space, but they will allow you to have a little more flexibility in your ham radio communications.

If you don’t have much space at all, then a handheld antenna might be your best option. These antennas are small and easy to store away when they aren’t in use.

It all comes down to how much space you’re willing to dedicate to your antenna setup and what you want to get out of it.

Are you installing the Antenna yourself or hiring someone else to do it?

If you’re installing the Antenna yourself, you should consider how difficult building and installing the Antenna type will be. Some ham radio antennas will require you to drill holes into your roof, which can be very difficult if you’re not used to it.

While other ham radio antennas, such as a wire beam or vertical, can be installed easily on a side of your home with a little bit of coax.

If you’re hiring someone else to install the Antenna for you, then this is not an issue. You will be able to ask them what type of installation they recommend and get a price from them on how much it would cost.

It’s important that if you have hired someone then make sure that they are licensed or experienced with installing ham radio antennas.

If you are not licensed then hiring someone that is can be a good idea as they will know what to do and how to install it safely for you.

Conclusion

The most important thing is that you do your research and find out what best suits your needs before making a purchase (a good next step is to learn about the different types of Antennas). If you have considered the subjects in this guide then you will be well on your way to finding the right Antenna to get the most from your Ham radio station.