ON6MU's "Vipormutant" Antenna

Versatile Inexpensive Portable Multi-band Tunable Antenna

de ON6MU
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What you need to build the "Vipormutant"

About the "Vipormutant" antenna:

Well yes, one must have a name HI...It is nothing more then a base coil loaded antenna, but with a selector direct on the base to tune the antenna.
Most of us don't have the luxury of building a 1/4, 1/2 or even a 5/8 wavelength vertical antenna for HF. We have to settle for something a little shorter. (A lot shorter, in the case of people following the FCC's Part 15 rules, which limit them to 3 meters in size.) Shorter vertical antennas can give acceptable (but not spectacular) performance.
I needed a highly (HF) portable antenna to use with my FT-817 which should have the highest possible frequency range (also VHF) and still compact enough to take along almost anywhere! The antenna should be versatile enough to allow further experimenting, to allow being mounted on a balcony, caravan, outdoors etc... So I came up with a compact vertical (dismounted no higher then 1 meter) with a "tuner" directly connected to the antenna radiating element (the best possible place a tuner can be).
The "Vipormutant" tuning principle gets energy into the antenna on a wide range of frequencies, but the design of an antenna is what controls what happens to the RF energy from there. For some antennas, the antenna is simply not complete without a radial system, or at least a counterpoise. Other types of antennas need no RF ground system at all. Most reference books on antennas provide solid guidance on radials and counterpoises, but only for antennas cut to a specific frequency. When using the "Vipormutant" it will also act like tuner and at the best place a tuner should be: directly beneeth the antenna! So the rules have to change somewhat because the "Vipormutant" almost operates across the full range of HF frequencies unto UHF. It doesn't need a counterpoise to work, but the efficiency will increase when you do use it.


The coil/tuner

Wind 0,8mm enamelled copper wire around the isolator (+- 16mm diamter) and make a tap every xx turns (see fig. 2 and 3)

Fig.2 antenna loading coils The coil dimensions isn't too critical.

Relatively short antennas behave like lossy capacitors and present a high impedance load to the transmitter due to the large amount of capacitive reactance that is present. The loading coil helps to tune out that reactance. Tuning out the reactance is important because a tuned antenna will accept and radiate much more power than a mismatched antenna.

When the loading coil is installed at the bottom of the vertical radiator, we call it a "base loaded" antenna. Base loading requires the smallest amount of inductance to achieve resonance.

The shoke

Is made out of miniature 50 Ohm coax (rg174) that goes a few turns through the carbon/ferrite bead or toroid. You can also use a Snap-Together Ferrite Choke Core.
If a ferrite is put over a cable which includes both signal and return lines, it will have no effect on the signal (differential-mode) current but it will increase the impedance to common-mode currents. This is because the differential currents, by definition, sum to zero in each wire pair and therefore there is no net magnetic field. If there is no field, the ferrite is invisible. But the common mode currents do produce a net magnetic flux and this flux is concentrated in the bulk of the ferrite, leading to an increased impedance for these currents only. The choke should prevent any mantle currents flowing and should decrease RFI.

The effectiveness can be increased by looping the cable several times through the core, but the benefit is limited at higher frequencies by the stray capacitance between the turns of the cable.

Fig 3.
4 turns


The base insulator


The vertical radiator "driver" element and tuning box
I used a plastic box of 130x70x40mm. On top and bottom I drilled a hole to fit the driver element (radiator of +/- 40cm length)and boom (also +/- 40cm length).
On the side I drilled a hole for the rotary switch and the SO239 connector, whilest on the opposite side I drilled a hole to fit a "ground" bolt where I can easily connect the counterpoise and/or ground to if needed.

Fig 4

Fig 5

This is how things are connected inside the box:

Fig. 6

The rotary switch is used for tuning the antenna on each band. The first position allows UHF/VHF ranges. Tuning is done by sliding in/out of the elements.
The "lower" the switch (higher inductance) the lower the resonance frequency of the antenna.

Remember, and this is important too, to seal everything up so no moisture can penetrate the antenna!
Because the radiating vertical antenna elements are made out of separate pieces that fits inside each other and are tightened by hose clamps, the construction isn't waterproof.
If you use a hollow isolating piece you need to to prevent moisture from getting inside the box (via the places where the elements are hold together). I've used a rubber "stopper" that fits snugly on the bottom of the driver element and glued tight.

Black paint finishes the job:

fig. 7
using a round box
In my first design I used a plastic box of 50mm diameter and 9 cm heigh. On top I drilled two holes: one for the driver element (radiator of 40cm) and a hole for the rotary switch (as was used in the first prototype).

fig.8: The main driver element and tuning unit finished
Vipormutant antenna finished

This allows it to be used on almost any boom or can be extended to use with or without vertical elements!
Ideal for experimenting!

Featuring Today

The antenna construction specs

All elements are made out of aluminum.
Fig. 9

This makes the antenna effective radiating elements a total length of 3 meters. The boom elements can be chosen freely and on your needs. A short one (one element of a meter), a medium sized one of several 1 meter tubes or none at all! The bottom piece where the boom is "connected" too is 40 cm and can/could be put directly in the ground (if made pointed for sure). Or you could fix it in a umbrella stand. Use your imagination HI.


Examples of "Vipormutant's" utilization

Used it on a balcony:
This could cover even the lowest HF-bands!


Use it outdoors without grounding:



Use it outdoors as a shortened "dipole" balanced antenna
(rotary switch set approx. in the middle):

Frequencies below 7 MHz could easily be match 1:1 SWR if total length of the "dipole" > 4 meters
Further tuning can be done with selecting a different impedance using the rotary switch.
Different lengths of wire can be used (an example: one part 3 meter, the other 5 meter or more)


Use it outdoors with ground or counterpoise:

Radials and Counterpoises basic purposes:

1. To improve the RF ground conductivity for the ground current return path. Unless you live in a salt-water swamp, your ground conductivity makes a very poor path for the return of ground currents. This increases the ground losses and reduces the efficiency of an antenna that needs a good RF ground.

2. To provide a counterbalance for the feed point of the antenna to reduce RF radiation back to the radio room. The "Vipormutant" changes the rules because there is no single frequency that you will be operating on, so all of the thumb rules for 1/4 and 1/2 wavelength radials don’t apply. It is possible to be either a purist or a pragmatist in deciding what radials to put in place.

3. Number of radials: More is better, up to a point. In carefully controlled experiments, it has been proved that increasing the number of radials from 2 to 15, or from 4 to 16, produces significant increases in signal strength. Further increasing the number of radials to 60 only produces 1 to 2 dB of increase in field strength. Follow this link to see some of the empirical data.

4. Where to put the radials: For a semi-permanent installation, it is customary to bury the radials a few inches down in the soil. This makes it much easier to mow and walk in the area around the antenna. However, some experimenters have gotten an improvement in performance by raising the radials and the antenna base a few inches above the soil. Raising the antenna and ground system several meters above the earth, for example by installing the base of the antenna on a roof-top, can improve the antenna's performance by reducing capacitive earth losses.

While the "Vipormutant" will provide a good match with a poor RF ground system which will will able you to transmit, your antenna efficiency will be low. Nevertheless, by using a tuning circuit directly at the antenna radiating element losses are kept to a miminum. Getting the greatest efficiency out of your antenna system needs a proper RF ground unless you’re using a balanced antenna system

The efficiency of the antenna increases by using a counterpoise. However, the antenna can be tuned perfectly without!

A comment from George, SV2FNN

Hello Guy....I would like to convey my congratulations and my thanks ... for your nice designs ... and especially for the VIPERMUTANT ANTENNA.. ... Excellent contacts,,,,with all over the planet..((the last 5 years))..with my 100w...and fed with 23m 75ohm tv coaxial !!!....I make 2 of them....one 20-6m....and another for 40m band...3,6 vertical...+ 5,5m wire horizontal 5m above ground....!!!!!!!!!!!!!....excellent QSO for local....and DX...(( YB,,,JH,,))..!!

..................TNX........................73! George Zacharias SV2FNN


Don't forget to check these out:
.ON6MU Homebrew projects
.Radioamateur related projects

.ON6MU Ham mods
.Modifications of transceivers


Have fun and my best 73"

Guy, ON6MU

Comments, pictures or experiences with my antenna are always welcome!