Verticals – The Answer For The Small Garden? June 25th, 2013
The other day a customer asked me about installing a ground mounted vertical antenna in his garden. It was a small garden and he was not sure if using a vertical would work for him. This is not an unusual question, and in reality there are few alternatives. A modest vertical is self supporting and takes up little space.
I have used a number of verticals and always seem to come back to the Hustler 4BTV. It is a classic and has been around for years. It covers 10, 15, 20 and 40m. There is a 5BTV which adds 80m and one that adds 30m. The reason I like it is because it is rugged and easy to install. But there are many others around that also have proved popular over the years.
A vertical needs a ground to work against, it is the missing half of the “dipole.” The better the earth, the better the efficiency and it is the earth that often causes the greatest headache. You can get away with a single stake in the ground. I know it works because I operated like this for a year or so at a previous QTH. But really you need to try and lay out some kind if radial system. One radial is better than none and more are even better. Contrary to common belief, ground radials don’t have to be a precise length. After all, lay a resonant antenna on the ground and see what happens to the tuning! Even quite short radials help, and the best advice I can give is put down what you can.
Theory, and experience, shows that verticals are quite good on 20m and above. On 40m where most contacts are around 200 – 500 miles during the day, the signal strength will be down, but will improve at night. That effect is even more noticeable on 80m. The other thing that is often commented on is the vertical antenna’s tendency to pick up more noise. This is partly true, but at my QTH my dipole picks up more noise than my vertical because of the dipole’ proximity. Strange but true.
So if you have a small garden and want an antenna that is not too noticeable, I would certainly recommend a vertical. It has served me well over the years.