Choosing The Best Amateur Radio Antenna

choosing the best amateur radio antenna

One of the hardest choices for any amateur radio enthusiast is the antenna. There are lots of discussions surrounding which types of antennas perform the best in specific circumstances.

Always shop for antennas and other types of radio communication equipment at a reputable source. At Moonraker, you can find various types of equipment spanning several categories.

But before you go shopping, you should understand what your options are. Depending on your needs, one type of antenna may work better than another. Here are some of your options:

End Fed Wire Antenna

An end-fed wire, also called a long wire antenna, is one of the easiest to build and set up. It’s made up of a certain length of wire that is connected to a transmitter or receiver.

To install one, you must use an antenna tuning unit. The unit is placed between the receiver or transmitter and the wire.

If you don’t use a tuning unit, the antenna’s impedance won’t match the transmitter or receiver, resulting in much lower efficiency.


  • Affordable.
  • Easy to install.
  • Multiband operation capability.


  • Prone to high levels of interference.
  • Requires a stable earth connection.

End Fed Half Wave Antenna

Another popular type of antenna is the end fed half wave antenna, which is a half wavelength long at the lowest frequency.

Since it’s an amateur radio antenna, the higher frequency bands are related harmonically, meaning the antenna will perform like several half wavelengths on these bands.

This type is fed with a 50Ω coaxial cable. To match this, you must use an RF transformer with set up impedance.

Since it’s a high-impedance antenna, you don’t need an earth connection. Usually, a counterpoise (a network of suspended horizontal cables or wires) is used.


  • Multiband operation capability.
  • Less local interference.


  • Must use counterpoise.
  • Still has more interference than a balanced antenna.

Wire Dipole

Wire dipoles are probably the easiest and most affordable antennas for radio communication. When you mount them very high, they perform exceptionally well.

The length determines its frequency, and these antennas are most commonly used for a single band, but HF (high frequency) multi-band operation is possible.

Sometimes, dipoles are used at VHF (very high frequency), but they are often the driven part of a directive antenna.

These antennas are usually used on their own for amateur radio communication.


  • Low cost.
  • Simple installation.
  • Easy to obtain.


  • Usually only single band operation.
  • Needs two high anchor points.

HF Wire Doublet

The HF wire doublet is a type of dipole that uses an open-wire feeder and a matching/tuning unit. It can be used with a variety of bands.

The downside is that the open wire feeder cannot easily be installed through a home without becoming unstable.

The doublet is typically used for HF bands with the lowest frequency of operation at a half wavelength.


  • Manufactured versions are easy to obtain.
  • Low cost.
  • Simple installation.


  • Needs to be used with an ATU (antenna tuner).
  • Not the best match on all HF bands.

Vertical Antenna

Vertical antennas are great for many situations. Since they’re vertical, the max radiation is parallel to the earth’s surface. It doesn’t need to be oriented to get signals for different directions, which can be useful for HF and VHF/UHF.

This type takes up much less space than a dipole, meaning you can fit it in a very small area. You can run it against the ground, or elevate it with a radial that acts as the ground plane.


  • Low angle of radiation for long distances and improved coverage.
  • Takes up very little space.


  • Needs more mechanical strength than horizontal antennas.
  • Must have solid earth connection or ground plane.


Now that you’ve learned about the different types of antennas for beginners, find the best one for your radio!

About Phil: Phil Hackworth is the founder of AllGadget - a technology blog with coverage of all the gadgets, consumer electronics, software news, tips, tricks & guides.