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Re: [TowerTalk] Force12

To: "Richard (Rick) Karlquist" <>
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Force12
From: Jim Lux <>
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2007 14:50:41 -0700
List-post: <>
Richard (Rick) Karlquist wrote:
> I was talking about a MANUAL for the antenna, not a set of
> BLUEPRINTS describing everything needed to clone it.
> Rick N6RK
> Dan Hearn wrote:
>> One of the few things a ham can clone easily is an antenna. Most of us have
>> a pile of aluminum tubing and could easily build a copy of a $2000 antenna
>> design. There is a great deal of engineering expense in modeling multiband
>> interlaced antennas and testing them. It is unreasonable to expect a company
>> to make public the complete details of their designs. I am amazed that some
>> hams have the gall to ask other hams to copy the info on their antennas and
>> send it to them.

This all brings up some interesting points, moral, ethical, and legal.

1) Indeed a company may invest significant time, effort, and funds in 
developing a good design, both mechanical and electrical.  If they wish 
to protect that design from copiers, then there is a mechanism to do so: 
a patent. (which is what Mike Mertel has done with the SteppIR, patent 
6,677,914) Otherwise, you could find someone who has the antenna, do all 
the measurements you need (or, maybe measure it at a trade show where 
it's on display, etc.), and duplicate it yourself, perfectly legally. 
 From a moral standpoint, someone doing the duplication should credit 
the original designer.

2) A company may publish a manual with complete design information. Such 
a manual would be copyrighted (unusual to have someone release it into 
the public domain), and they are perfectly reasonable to not allow 
others to make copies. Others should honor that (both morally and 
legally).  OTOH, a lot of companies are perfectly OK with people 
duplicating their manuals, if asked first(!).

3) the real value from a commercial antenna company is in the 
fabrication of the antenna, particularly in terms of any specialized 
bracketry or manufacturing technology needed.  They're stocking the 
materials, drilling the holes, etc.  For a sort of related example, 
there's nothing particularly secret about how polypropylene film 
capacitors work and their general construction, but there's a lot of 
"art" in the actual manufacturing process. Even having a bunch of the 
caps in front of you and electron microscopes, microtomes, etc, won't 
help you to make a duplicate.  Similarly, knowing that a souffle 
contains eggs, sugar, chocolate, and butter doesn't really help you to 
make one.

4) An antenna design composed only of aluminum rods/tubes/wires, from an 
electrical standpoint, is probably not particularly valuable (in a 
dollars and cents sense), since given a general description of the 
antenna and its performance, you could use any of a number of modeling 
codes and readily available engineering knowledge to figure out the 
details of a new design which has essentially the same performance. It's 
the practical details of turning that design into a "product" that can 
be manufactured and sold at a profit that is worth something.

If the mfr thinks that the mfr details are valuable enough, and, can't 
be kept secret inside the factory, then they can invest the $10K+ in the 
patent.  Otherwise, they're going to have to rely on the fact that they 
can make it better and cheaper than a would-be competitor. Or, they can 
offer some form of value added services (customer service springs to 


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