antenna definitions ;-)


From: Raymond Sommers (
Date: Sat Dec 23 1995 - 12:11:00 EST

With all the talk about antennas here's some definitions I found at
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 Ray Sommers, WB9LKC QRP-L #8-)

                        SOME AMATEUR RADIO DEFINITIONS
   For those new to ham radio, here are some useful definitions,
   pertaining to antennas and DX-ing.
          A term, applied to any part of the antenna system, which means:
          "Savings-to-Watt Ratio". Based on the inverse relationship of
          dollars in the bank and effective radiated power.
   Characteristic Impedance
          The usual reaction of the XYL when told about the proposed
          antenna system.
          Devices installed in antennas to collect rain-water, to keep it
          from running further down the antenna.
   Wind Loading
          The measure of how much more awkward it gets to handle a big
          beam as you ascend the tower.
          (Pronounced: "balloon" by many). An anti-surveillance device,
          installed in coaxial lines at the antenna, to prevent nosy
          neighbors from eavesdropping on you through their TV sets.
          A device mistakenly believed to decrease S.W.R.. The premise is
          that this device allows you to load up into a mis-matched
          antenna. Unfortunately, it the the cost of one that lowers your
   House Bracket
          A device which secures the house and the tower together. It
          lets the tower do double-duty by holding up the house during
          severe windstorms.
   Rotator Control Box
          A device which is designed to let you monitor antenna
          A technique whereby prevailing winds are allowed to rotate the
          antenna, enabling the operator to "scan" the radio horizon.
   Dummy Load
          A measure of the stress exerted on a tower by a ham who climbs
          the tower without a safety belt.
          (Usually mis-pronounced as two syllables). A term applied to
          the maneuvering of a piece of transmission line through the
          attic or walls of a house.
   Db's Gain
          A bunch of yellow-jacketed wasps found a great place to build
          their nest, at the bottom of the rotator housing on my tower.
   Db's Loss
          Fortunately, lightning struck the tower and the wasps were
          totally destroyed.
          A much-maligned antenna, said by some critics to "radiate
          equally poorly in all directions". This is not true, as many
          who have built one know. In fact, the vertical can have
          directional characteristics, and not radiate at all in some
          directions. I hope this clears up that myth once and for all!
          A variation of the vertical, where high winds have affected
          thin-walled aluminum tubing used in the construction.
   Inverted Vee
          A clever, but inferior, reverse adaptation of the true,
          "upright Vee", which allows the use of a single support instead
          of the usual two.
          Another modification of the true "Vee", and used where it is
          not possible to get the center feed point close to the ground.
   Ground Plane
          Usually, an array of 1/4-wavelength arms extending from the
          base of some verticals (or "slopers"). These arms are not
          recommended unless a rotator is also used, to take advantage of
          their directional features.
   Directional Coupler
          A device inserted into the transmission line which monitors the
          environment outside the shack, by utilizing the antenna as a
          remote sensor. For example, when the antenna responds to
          weather conditions such as severe icing or heavy winds, the
          coupler will produce indications of these responses. A special
          directional coupler has even been designed, presumably, to tell
          you when BIRDs are sitting on your antenna!
   Smith Chart
          An alias, to be used when you don't want people to know what
          chart you really used to design your antenna.
   Long Path
          The direction you are told to aim your antenna, to work a rare
          DX station, as suggested by the other fellows in the pileup.
   Element Spacing
          A critical antenna design factor which is optimized to place
          the tunable traps on a beam as far out of reach as possible,
          from the tower.
   Diversity Effect
          A property in which the quad-type antenna far excels over the
          yagi-type antenna. It relates to the number of directions an
          antenna can collapse into, under heavy winds.
   Selective Fading
          A quirk of propagation, whereby a signal arrives at a distant
          point by multipath, and where the different signal components
          arrive with varying phase relationships. This causes the signal
          to be "cancelled out" at some points. This wonderful effect
          helps eliminate some of the QRM from distant DX stations when
          you are trying to copy the pileup.
   "Off the back of the Antenna"
          A technique used by more experienced DX-ers, where the antenna
          is pointed away from the station being contacted. This creates
          a challenge similar to running QRP.
          Restricting final input power to the transmitter to anything
          less than 500 watts, on 20 meters.
   Speech Processor
          A "state of the art" device which permits one to communicate
          with as many others at the same time as possible. However,
          beginner operators need to learn how to use one properly, to
          expand the signal beyond a narrow, 3 Khz bandwidth.
          An expression used in a CW QSO, to say: "you send me your QSL
          card first, turkey, and then I'll send you mine".
          An economic instrument, adminstered by the US Postal Service,
          to control the balance-of-trade deficit.
   Parasitic Element
          A person who takes lists for DX-stations.
          A method of making DX contacts, where some self-appointed
          person takes a list "on the air" (aka: his buddies on 2-meters)
          of people who wish to "work" a person in some DX location. This
          makes it easy for hams who do not have the patience or time to
          learn real DX skills to get a quick, easy contact. In fact, if
          you can't hear the actual report from the foreign station, the
          list-controller will often help ("...OK, there, WB6xxx, did you
          hear Jose give you a '59' signal report?").
   QSL Manager
          The station you worked in Juan De Nova tells you to send a
          "Green Stamp" to a ham in Germany who is called a "QSL
          Manager". It is his duty to send your card to a ham in
          California, who then (after holding it for 8 months) sends you
          a QSL card.
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   These pages are maintained by Brett Coningham AB5P
    Your comments are welcome! Send them to:
   This page last revised: August 23, 1995

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