KB6NU finally builds an end-fed, half-wave antenna

I’ve posted about end-fed, half-wave antennas before, but until this weekend, I’d never built one. One of the reasons for this is that most designs are for QRP antennas and not made to handle more than 5 – 10 W of power.

A couple of months ago, I ran across a design rated at 100 W. The design seemed relatively simple to build, requiring only a single toroid and a capacitor made with a short length of RG-174 coax. Well, it just so happens that I bought 100-ft. of RG-174 at Dayton this year, and I found the toroid cores online from the  “Toroid King” for a very reasonable price, so I decided to make my own.

All told, the parts cost about $10, the biggest part of that the plastic junction box I got from Lowe’s for $6.41. Compare that with the $60 that LNR wants for their end-fed antenna.

Sunday was a beautiful day here with temperatures in the 60s, so I decided to put up the antenna. I’d love to report that everything worked perfectly, but this antenna is going to need a little more work. The SWR is 2.6:1 at 14.000 MHz, dropping to about 1.5:1 at 14.900 MHz.

Since the internal tuner on my IC-746PRO is supposed to be good to 3:1, I did use it and made a couple of contacts. The guy in MA even gave me a 599 signal report. I’d be a little more comfortable about using it, however, if I could get the SWR down a bit.

I e-mailed the guy who published the design and asked why he thought the resonant frequency was so high, and he said that all I had to do was add a couple feet of wire to the antenna. He also suggested that adding a turn or two to the coil would bring the SWR down. I did some more reading about end-feds and I’m thinking that perhaps adding a short counterpoise might be something to try, too.

So, while the results so far have been mixed, I’m hopeful that with a little tweaking, I’ll have another antenna to add to my arsenal. It’s been a good learning experience, and I’ve certainly saved a bunch of money over the commercial versions.

UPDATE 11/18/12:
I added 24-in. to the antenna  and it did indeed bring down the SWR of the antenna to below 2:1 in the CW portion of 20m.  I’m happier with this. I still do plan to try a counterpoise. Not so much to improve the SWR, but to see if it makes the antenna a little more efficient.

The box I used for this project is the Carlon E989NNJ, a 4-in. x 4-in. x 2-in. plastic junction box.  This is a very nice box. Not only is it completely enclosed. The screw down cover is gasketed, making it waterproof.

I liked the box so much, I went back to Lowe’s to get a couple more. Not only were they out of stock, when I searched their website for that part number, it came up with no results. It kind of looks to me as though they’re not planning to stack this box anymore.

I Googled the part number and found several places online that had them, but they wanted more money, plus I would have to pay shipping. Fortunately, I was able to find some at a local Home Depot. They wanted $6.88, compared to $6.41 at Lowe’s, but at least I was able to purchase a couple more of them.