Surprising Antenna Test
April 2013

Today Hanz, W1JSB, and I hiked on Johnson Road and setup next to each
other.  We worked Italy, Russia, the Netherlands, and Florida. Before packing
up we each called CQ and compared received signals on the Reverse Beacon Net.
The results were surprising.

Hanz working 20M CW with an HB-1A with a Par End Fed half wave

For these experiments we used nearly identical rigs. Hanz had the HB-1A,
and I had the HB-1B. Both roughly 4 watts with similar power supplies.

The Antennas

Hanz ran the Par Electronics half-wave end fed wire straight up to a branch. It was
perfectly vertical. This is the antenna that I've been running for almost 5 years.
I thought it was probably the best portable DXer I could use. Perhaps I was wrong.

I ran a 66 foot wire configured as an inverted Vee with a 33 foot counterpoise and
an Elecraft T-1 tuner.  Here's a rough diagram of the antenna that I used. It's supported
at the apex by a tree branch. The ends are a few inches above ground level.

I am sitting at the spot marked "X" on the above diagram.

The QSOs
We each worked the same stations on 20 meters. First we worked N4KXG, Pete in Florida. I received
a 589 and Hanz received a 579. I expected that my antenna might be better than Hanz's for relatively
near stations. I was correct. We got a hint of something unpredicted with the next QSO.

We worked RA6CA in Russia. Pavel gave both Hanz and me a 589. I would have expected Hanz to be
stronger with the vertical. Of course this is subjective.  Next we worked IZ2UE in Italy. Andrea gave
me a 559 and gave Hanz the same 559. Again... a surprise. The last station was PA3GEG, Gerald in
the Netherlands. I received a 579 and Hanz received a 599. That would be expected.The next test
shattered all my preconceptions.

Jim working RA6CA with 4 watts and an inverted Vee antenna

Before packing up our gear, Hanz suggested that we both call CQ and check our signals on
the Reverse Beacon Net. That was a stunning idea. Here are the results. I was heard by six
stations. Hanz was heard by 10 stations. Four stations recorded signals from both of us.

The Results

Station             Hanz            Jim
DL1EMY        13 db             17 db
AA4VV           18 db             27 db
W3OA             11 db             16 db
DL1GTB          6  db             10 db

In each case my signal was consistently stronger than Hanz's. Same rig. Same location.
Sent within a minute of each other.

I have to say I'm really surprised. I thought the end fed vertical could not be improved
upon for a portable wire antenna. We will definitely do more testing.