When the late Louis Varney,G5RV, created his simple wire antenna,
I wonder if he realized
what a stir it would cause in the radio community. Some hams swear it is the best antenna
they have ever used, and others hate it. There are a bunch of different designs and I can't
begin to describe them all.
My G5RV is the simple garden variety using materials on hand.
There are no magic tricks,
and I'm not going into a lot of detail as there are plenty of how-to materials available. The
design is very straight forward. Anyone can build one.
First a word about antenna wire A lot of folks use
special no kink no stretch wire advertised
in every radio magazine. Keep in mind that just about anything will radiate. I use fairly inexpensive
12 gauge solid copper wire you can buy at almost any hardware store. It is single conductor plastic
coated electrical wire, and comes on a 500 foot spool. You can buy any length you want. You don't
have to buy the whole spool. Depending on the application, I have been known to use 22 gauge
hookup wire and enamel coated copper wire I robbed from a burned out transformer or electric
washing machine motor. I've tuned up window screens, curtains rods, and gutter pipes. Well
anyway, you get the picture. In my personal opinion, you don't need expensive antenna wire.
The only commercially made wire antenna I ever bought was a 132 foot all bander fed with 100
feet of 450 ohm ladder line. The horizontal elements were made of 7 strand hard drawn copper
antenna wire. It lasted maybe a month before it broke. I replaced the hard drawn copper with 12
gauge hardware store electrical wire. It's been in the air for over 2 years. My advice is to ask
around and formulate your own opinion on what works best for you. That's what I did.
The horizontal section of my G5RV is the standard 102 feet. (51
feet for each leg) I say horizontal,
but in reality only about 66 feet of it was actually horizontal. The 2 ends were turned downward.
The center consisted of approximately 34 feet of 450 ohm ladderline. I had to adjust the length
of the ladderline to obtain a near flat swr at around 14.200mhz. I then soldered a 100 foot piece
of coax (RG8X) directly to the ladderline. (no baluns, ferrite beads, or chokes) The coax ran on
the ground under and in a straight line with the horizontal element, then took a sharp left turn into
my ham shack.
How well did it work? I was very pleased.
On 20m it worked great without a tuner. I worked
of lot of DX and local stations. On 80, 40, and 10 m a low swr was easy to obtain with my faithful
MFJ Versa Tuner 2. On 15 meters it tuned ok, but it was a little deaf, so later I put up a 40m
dipole cut for 15m. I don't know about the WARC bands or 160m. At the time I only operated those
Keep in mind, that any multi-band antenna is a compromise on some
bands. The G5RV is no
exception. I have no doubt it will work all bands, but the performance on some bands will be
better than on others. Also, keep in mind my methods are anything BUT scientific. I just know
what works best for me by the old cut and try method. One last word on performance for what
it is worth, I worked Doug, W4IDW, when he was radio op on the tall ship Eagle using the G5RV
and my little HW 8 at 2 watts on 80m under less then optimum conditions. He was in the Coast
Guard at that time, and his call was KB8IDW. Doug,W4IDW, describes a double size G5RV he uses
at his QTH in the VQS archives earlier this year (Article entitled; ("The Richmond Rocket"). When
I started operating on 30m I scaled down a G5RV to work on that band. As I recall, it had the
same 34 feet of ladderline and coax feed. I think the horizontal section was 52 feet (26 feet to
a leg). It's been a while, but I believe those are the right dimensions. So,experiment a little,
and by all means have fun!
4 August, 2000