Easy Multi Band Vertical Antenna for HF

Over the years I’ve built many multi band vertical HF antennas including multi-element quarter wave verticals like the DXCommander configuration, multiple end fed vertical dipoles all on the same pole and a host of other configurations. As with all multi band antennas there’s always a compromise, on some bands it performs well and on others it doesn’t, it’s the nature of the beast.

For some time now I’ve been using a multi band vertical antenna that has over the last year performed incredibly well on all bands from 80m to 10m. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect however, it has out performed every other multi band HF vertical I’ve tried to date even though it’s by far the simplest antenna design and according to the antenna modelling software I have it shouldn’t be as good as it is.

So what is this magical multi band HF vertical I speak of?
Well it’s nothing more than a piece of wire 13.4m long taped up a 12.4m vertical Spiderpole with 1m of wire tucked down into the top of the Spiderpole.

Obviously this is not going to be resonant on any band without some sort of impedance matching circuit at the bottom of the wire. Originally this antenna was my end fed half wave vertical antenna for the 30m band that was fed via a 49:1 Unun. This antenna worked incredibly well on the 30m band allowing me to work DX globally with ease but, it was a single band antenna and I wanted a multi band solution.

I decided to remove the 49:1 Unun and replace it with a home brew LC circuit made up of a coil made from 5mm copper tubing and a large air spaced variable capacitor I had laying around from an old ATU project I built many moons ago.

This simple LC arrangement at the bottom of the wire worked incredibly well and tuned the wire from 80m to 10m with a perfect SWR on each band using nothing more than a ground rod and 4 x 12m radials. Performance was surprisingly good on all bands 80-10m giving me the ability to get some DX stations that I’ve never been able to hit before. The only drawback to this solution was the fact that I had to go out and manually tune the antenna every time I wanted to change band. Not so much of a problem in the summer but, in the winter in the pouring rain and howling wind it’s no fun at all. (I resolve this issue further down in the article!)

Multi Band Vertical HF Antenna using a 12.4m Heavy duty Spiderpole at the end of the garden

Performance on the HF bands is incredibly impressive with this antenna. Modelling it on EzNEC software it shouldn’t be that great on bands above 20m however, it seems to defy the modelling software as it performs amazingly well on 17m, 15m and 12m, better than any other vertical antenna I’ve made for those bands. How this can be I do not know, normally my antenna builds match closely what the modelling software shows but, in this instance it doesn’t and I’ve really no idea why.

Multi Band Vertical HF Antenna showing loop at top and wire tucked down into pole

Always wanting to put things into perspective here’s some details of the contacts I’ve made on each band showing how well this antenna has performed over the last year or so.

Firstly the 80m band, I’ve not used this band much over the winter months as I’ve got into the higher bands however, the map below shows all the stations worked on 80m using this antenna.

Stations worked on the 80m band from the M0AWS QTH

There are 51 contacts in total, not a big number by any means however, there are some good distances made with contacts into North America, South America and Indonesia. I’m sure I could had done better if I’d spent more time on this band, something to aim for next winter perhaps.

Next is the 60m band, a band I really like and have enjoyed over the winter months. The antenna performs incredibly well on this band even though we have very limited access to 60m here in the UK. With 288 contacts in the log with a good spread of distances I’m really pleased with how this antenna performs on this band.

Stations worked on the 60m band from the M0AWS QTH

Moving up in frequency the 40m band is the next one on the list, this is a great band and one that I’ve loved for many years. I’ve spent countless hours on CW on this band in the past and worked some great DX. The performance of this antenna on the 40m band is excellent, if I can hear the DX normally I can work them regardless of where in the world they are located. With 226 contacts in the log spread globally over the winter here in the northern hemisphere I have no complaints about performance of this antenna on the 40m band.

Stations worked on the 40m band from the M0AWS QTH

Moving up onto the 30m band I have to admit this is probably my favourite band of all. I’ve spent so many hours on CW working some of the best fists I have ever heard on the air I’ve grown to love this band not just for the DX available but, for the quality of operator found on this narrow piece of the RF spectrum. Needless to say since the antenna is a half wave on the 30m band performance is stunning, out performing any other 30m band antenna I have ever made. It’s even better than the 30m Delta Loop antenna that I built and used when I lived in France.

With 467 contacts in the log on the 30m band you can tell this is my goto band and one that offers access to some of the best DX in the world.

Stations worked on the 30m band from the M0AWS QTH

The 20m band is a band that I never really used until I moved back to the UK from France. Living in France I had acres of land and so I was very much into the low bands, 160m to 30m and never ventured above this part of the spectrum. Now living back in the U.K. with a typical U.K. sized garden the low bands are much more difficult to get onto and so my interests have moved up in frequency somewhat.

Getting onto the 20m band I was amazed at how easy it is to work DX stations compared to the low bands, it’s simply a case of if you can hear them you can work them, there’s no real challenge to be honest. Because of this the band is always super busy with people shouting over the top of each other to get the DX. Not to be put off, I’ve made a surprising 412 contacts on 20m covering the globe. This antenna works incredibly well on this band and you really don’t need anything else to work DX on 20m.

Stations worked on the 20m band from the M0AWS QTH

Next is the 17m band, one of the WARC bands that I’ve never really ventured onto until now. I have to admit I really like this band, when it’s open it’s normally open to the world all at the same time. With an almost undetectable background noise level you can hear the faintest of signal on this band. This is one of the bands that according to the EzNEC modelling software this antenna shouldn’t be any good on but, I have to say that it’s performance is beyond anything I ever imagined. I’ve worked my longest distance yet on this band and with this antenna, ZL4AS at 11776 miles, a distance I haven’t achieved yet on any other band. The 17m band really is a great band, I’d actually say it’s better than the 20m band even though there is considerably less spectrum available. With 220 contacts in the log it’s been a fun band to use.

Stations worked on the 17m band from the M0AWS QTH

Continuing the theme of the WARC bands, the 15m band is another one that I’ve only discovered in the last 12 months. It’s only now that I realise what I’ve missed out on due to my addiction to the low bands for so many years.

I’ve only made 76 contacts on the 15m band, not a lot at all really. This is mainly due to the fact that I get easily side tracked by the 17m and 30m bands most of the time and the radio VFO never gets as far as 21Mhz. Performance of the antenna is good on 15m, I would say not as good as on the 17m band but, it’s no slouch by any means.

As you can see on the map below, I may of only made 76 contacts on the 15m band but, they are spread right across the world proving that this antenna’s DX-ability on 21Mhz really is rather good.

Stations worked on the 15m band from the M0AWS QTH

Finally we arrive at the top of the WARC bands, the little 12m band. Once again this band is very much like the 17m band, super low background noise level, when it’s open you can work huge distances with very little power but, often there is quite deep QSB that can make getting that elusive DX a bit more challenging.

With only 66 contacts in the log once again I’ve not spent a huge amount of time on this band but, it hasn’t disappointed. With global coverage from this antenna on 12m once again I am astounded at how well it works. With software modelling saying it should be terrible on 24.9Mhz with nothing but super high angle radiation, it really shouldn’t be a good antenna for DXing on this upper WARC band but, it is and I have no idea as to why!

Stations worked on the 12m band from the M0AWS QTH

Finally we arrive at the 10m band, another band that I have never got into even though many refer to it as the magic band. This is the band that I’ve made the fewest contacts on, not because the antenna doesn’t work at the dizzy heights of 28Mhz but, because I hardly ever get the VFO dial past the lower bands due to the level of DX available. I really should make more effort to get the best out of the 10m band, especially now the summer is coming.

With a measly 19 contacts in the log I should be ashamed of myself for not doing more on this band as it is very often open and busy with traffic. Since I’ve not really used the antenna that much on the 10m band it’s hard to say how well it performs however, I have had contacts into North and South America and so it shows potential.

Stations worked on the 10m band from the M0AWS QTH

As you can see, the performance of this antenna is self evident from the log entries, it works superbly even though the modelling software says it shouldn’t above 14Mhz. This is now my main antenna here in the U.K. and I’ve only made one change to the initial setup and that is to add a CG3000 remote auto ATU to replace the home-brew LC tuning circuit.

CG3000 Remote Auto ATU housed in a plastic box

With the CG3000 auto ATU in place I no longer have to venture out into the cold, wet garden in the winter months to change band, it’s just a case of sending a continuous 10w signal into it and leaving it to tune in less than 2 seconds. The CG3000 is a Pi Network ATU so it handles both high and low impedance loads with ease. A Pi Network ATU is one of the best you can have, I’ve made my own in the past and had excellent results.

So in summary, 13.4m of wire vertically up a 12.4m pole with 4 x 12m radials, a ground rod and a CG3000 Auto ATU will give any HAM station the ability to work DX on all bands from 80m to 10m without ever having to leave the shack to tune it.

Since I got the CG3000 off of Ebay for a bargain £170 and the 12m heavy duty Spiderpole for under £100 the total cost of the antenna is considerably less than many commercial offerings available and yet performs as well if not better.

If you want to get this antenna onto the 160m band then you just need to add a small coil into the mix at the bottom of the wire to increase the inductance in circuit. The CG3000 will then happily tune the entire 160m band. It’s best to remove this coil though for all the other bands otherwise performance is reduced.

Please be aware that the performance of this antenna will not be anywhere near as good if you use the ATU in your radio at the end of a coax run. This is because the coax becomes part of the antenna and the radiation pattern is all but destroyed. You will be extremely disappointed if you use the antenna in this fashion. The ATU must be at the end of the wire and connected directly to ground and the radials to get the performance that I have experienced.

Finally, if you have an Icom IC-705 and AH-705 remote auto ATU you can use the AH-705 ATU in place of the CG3000, you will get the same results as I have with the CG3000.

I have used my AH-705/IC-705 combo quite a few times with this antenna with excellent results although, the big antenna can sometimes result in the receiver of the IC-705 getting overloaded especially on the lower bands. This is easily resolved by reducing the RF Gain on the radio.

More soon …