Quad or Beam??

Last Sunday, the 20m band was in odd shape. I could only hear a few domestic stations, but quite a few DX stations. The problem was that while I could hear them, my signal was just not strong enough to work them.

This is partly due, of course, to my antenna installation. I am currently using a ground plane antenna made from antenna wire, supported at the top by a handy tree branch. The antenna is about 15 feet behind the house, but past that, the ground slopes upward, effectively shielding radiation in that direction. Believe me, if I’d been more active in ham radio when I was looking for a new house, I’d never have bought this place.

At any rate, this frustrating turn of events got me to thinking about how I can upgrade my antenna farm. I suppose I could go whole hog and put up a 50′ tower and a full-size beam, but that’s quite costly and I doubt I’d make many friends with the neighbors.

Another idea is to put up a small tower on the roof and on top of that install a compact beam. Glenn Martin Engineering makes a couple of roof-top towers that are reasonably priced. Their eight-foot model is about $240, and since the house is already 25 feet high or more, the antenna would be 35 feet above ground.

As for the antenna, I did a little Web searching and found several manufacturers of compact beams, including:

  • Mosley Electronics, makers of the TA-33jr,
  • TGM Communications, which makes a whole line of compact beams, and
  • Hex-Beam. The HexBeam is an unusual design. The elements are full size, but folded to require less space., which

The more I think about it, though, I think a quad antenna might be a better choice. They’re usually ligher and smaller. Here are a few that I found on the Net:

I also think I could build my own rather than buying one. That would not only make it cheaper, but it would be fun, too. Hams on eHam have recommended the following as good sources of information for building your own:

  • The book, Cubical Quad Antennas : How to Build and Adjust Quads by William I. Orr, Stuart D. Cowan. Unfortunately, this book is now out of print.
  • The article, Update on the Pfeifer Quad System, appeared in the September 2001 QST.

The ARRL website also has a number of other articles on the topic.

In a way, I’m kind of geeked about doing this. Despite my protestations earlier, that I’m not an antenna genius (and I’m still not, believe me), I have gotten several to work here. It’s also a lot of fun to build them and get them to work.


  1. Hi !
    Im’ looking for the same book than you talk on you’r comment “The book, Cubical Quad Antennas : How to Build and Adjust Quads by William I. Orr, Stuart D”.
    What do you think about it ?
    Did you find this book interesting ?

    any comments are good ;-)
    and finally … quad on yagi on the roof ?

    Best 73
    Guillaume, f8arr

  2. Dan KB6NU says:

    Hi, Guillaume–

    I never did obtain that book, so I really can’t comment on it.

    73, Dan

  3. I have the Cubical Quad Book and others. Its not a bad book but I seem to like the book by
    W6SUN George McCarthy ‘More About Cubical Quads’.
    He takes you through step by step better then other books I have found. It was printed a ways back
    but can still be found on Amazon.
    I did find some info about Quads from a old artical
    Its about Monster Quads which Im going to build. Im going to go with that articles design and use
    Gamma matches on the driven like W6SUN shows in his book. Im going with the 60ft boom 6El
    on 20 and will add more bands as I get it all tuned.

  4. I think your considerations for a quad antenna are justified. They are fun to build, are light weight, provide exceptional gain, use less boom space than a yagi,and convenient to build.
    There are several forms of quads or full-wave/parcial wave antennas. For instance there is the delta loop which is a triangle shaped full wave antenna. There are also parallel antennas you can construct which also will provide GAIN. Such as parallel dipole antennas that mimic a 2 element bean, parallel phased verticals to also provide gain.
    So you have many options! Explore,enjoy,and learn at the same time!

    Best 73’s

  5. I am in the process of building a 6 meter cubical quad antenna. I am using some grey uv pvc conduit and 5 ft driveway markers for the spreaders going into a 5 way pvc connector. The wire will be strung around the cross using some plastic tubing and adjustable hose clamps. I will have to see how it works when I am done. Just wanted to say I liked your article on Quad or beam. It was very helpful. When I get the antenna done I am going to try and put some pics on my site.
    Thank You, 73s Dan KC2YTI

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