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[TowerTalk] Radials - What is the big deal?

Subject: [TowerTalk] Radials - What is the big deal?
From: "Rob Atkinson, K5UJ" <>
Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2007 19:24:43 +0000
List-post: <>
Lee, Jim, Mike et al.:

If you dislike the fact that some of us are transacting radial information 
and enjoying it you have my permission to delete the posts without reading 
them.  No one is holding a gun to your heads and forcing you to endure the 
tedium of yet another radial post.  If you find the topic trivial, inane and 
tiresome, you may be excused from the dinner table to go away and play 
radio.  Of course, if you have some profound, deep, erudite antenna topic 
you wish to consume us with, you may have the floor.

The fact is that radials are not as simple a subject as you would like to 
make them out to be.  While this is a mature technology, many papers have 
been published in the literature, for example, the IEEE Transactions on 
Broadcasting, over the years, and it is an entirely legitimate topic about 
which even experienced professionals continue to learn.  Such aspects as 
type of metal used is not as unimportant as you might wish to believe, at 
least for those of us who would like a reliable system that will last a long 

There is a lot of incorrect information out there on this topic that can 
mislead hams, especially new ones.  Only a month ago, QST no less, published 
an article on an inverted L antenna for 160 m. in which the author wrote 
that any number of radials, even a few is okay.  This is frankly not true.  
I was amazed that the editors of QST would publish such a statement but they 
did.   Here is a direct quote from the article on p. 55 of the Feb. 2007 

"For verticlal radiators (including slopers), lay out radials if you can -- 
one or more of any length and configuration.  Don't be discouraged if you 
hear that anything less than (take your pick: 25, 50, 120 and such) will be 
useless.  Baloney,!  Try whatever you can --- even none!"

Perpetuating this sort of "anything works" attitude only leads to more hams 
operating with poor signals that the rest of us must either work to copy or 
give up on.  I for one would like for as many hams as possible to know how 
to put up good antennas so they have good signals and are a pleasure to 
work.   Basic topics such as radials are therefore worth revisiting so these 
myths are put to rest if possible.  If you find your patience being taxed by 
these messages then I ask you to please tolerate those hams such as myself, 
who started the whole thread, while we try to learn something, instead of 
attempting to squelch this discussion with a splenetic, cantankerous summary 
of the topic as you see it.  It will probably run its course soon anyway, if 
it has not already.


rob / k5uj

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