Tuning A DIPOLE THE EASIER WAY!
This short bit of information hopefully will save you much time when "tuning" a dipole whether you have built it yourself or purchased commercially. Yes, most commercially purchased dipoles need tuning.
These methods can be used by hams that want to make a dipole, (any frequency), so they usually begin by using the standard formulas below :
234 / design frequency = each dipole side length in feet,
OR - 468 / design frequency = total length in feet. Most builders cut long and trim the total length for lowest swr on their design frequency.
The only problem with this, when you put it in the air, it isn't even close to that magic 1:1 SWR that most of us seek.
In fact, after your first swr check, the antenna may be lowest in swr way low in frequency or just the opposite, too high.
So......up and down, up and down, up and down.... you start chopping off or adding pieces of wire until the antenna comes up to your design frequency with the lowest swr.
This can take many, many trips to the rig, back to the antenna, back to the rig, etc, etc and can be very time consuming to get the dipole tuned where you want it.
The solution to fewer trips up and down guessing at tuning the antenna:
By using a bit of simple math should help do the trick! Method #1
Method # 2
Tuning a Dipole Antenna for Resonance!
Find a Ham Radio Dipole Resonant Length
Most dipoles will require a little "trimming or
adding" to resonate at the desired frequency. Here is a good
recommendation in 7 steps.
2. Make a note of the length obtained in step 1.
3. Raise the dipole to its operating height.
4. Measure the SWR at several frequencies within the intended frequency band. (Use only a few watts and pick a quiet time on the band to make your tests).
5. Note the frequency (F = min) at which minimum SWR is obtained.
6. Multiply (F min from step 5) by the antenna length recorded in step 2.
7. Divide the result of the above multiplication by the desired frequency of operation, to obtain the final length.
Trim both ends of the dipole down to the final length obtained in step 7. ( So by using these 7 steps, you have only raised the dipole twice!
~Dipole Tuning for Lowest swr~
~Dipole Tuning for Lowest swr~
So in the planning stage of putting up your dipole you have decided to
put it up designed for one of your favorite hf bands, but your
not looking forward to all of that frustration of designing it by using
the "formula", and finding out that the antenna is either too
long or too short! We all have "been there, done that".
This old standby dipole formula has been around since way before time started, and has been arrived at by much experimentation by thousands of hams. But in most cases, it will only get you somewhere near the proper dipole length. No, it is not exact science due to all of the variables within the antenna construction and it's environment. And when you do use it, the tedious antenna tuning process comes into play which we all hate and get frustrated with sometimes.
In our fast paced lifestyle, we would love to cut out as many of the tuning steps as possible.
Here is an easy method of tuning your dipole for lowest swr without all that up, down, trim, back up, check swr again, back down, trim, check swr again and repeat this process over and over, until you get that lowest swr you want on your dipole.
Save yourself lots of time and trouble by reading further:
Of course you must first decide on what frequency you want your dipole centered on...this is the first decision you have to make.
So for the first try at the design, you use the old standard dipole formula in hopes of getting it close to the proper length. You decide, as an example, that you want to operate on the 20 meter band with your dipole, so you plug in the formula into your calculator and get started.
468 / freq in Mhz = total length in feet for a half wave dipole.
You want to center your dipole on, as an example, of 14.300Mhz.
So, using the formula 468/14.3...we get 32.72 feet...or about 32 feet 8 inches for the total antenna length in feet.
Now putting standard "practice" into place, we guess to add some
extra length to that length for tuning purposes, giving us about
34 feet or so as a guess. (It is easier to take away from the
length as it is to add length later.)
We now get all of our wire, feed line, insulators, supports, etc, together and put this new dipole up in the air at it's final operating height so we can check the swr in hopes that we will be close to 14.300Mhz as our lowest swr frequency.
To our dismay, we find that the swr is lowest on 14.050Mhz....RATS! That's not even close to where we wanted it! This makes the total length way tooooo long for operation at our design frequency of 14.3Mhz.
Now.....here is where the "Easy Way" of tuning the dipole comes into play.
You have already found the frequency of lowest swr to be 14.050Mhz.
1. RECORD that frequency in your notes where you put the
length (34 feet) of the antenna.
You have now recorded the length (remember, you wrote it down earlier) AND the
frequency of lowest swr. These are 2 important
parts of our new calculations. Without them, you are back to square one.
2. Now take the actual length of the antenna that you wrote down (which was 34 feet in the example) and multiply it by the frequency (in MHz) of the lowest SWR. The resulting number will be your new constant, to replace the old standard formula constant of 468 in the standard dipole formula. Do it like this:
34 X 14.050 = 477.7....this is the new constant to be used in the formula.
Now using the new constant in the modified dipole formula, divide the new constant, 477.7, by the frequency you want to have in the middle of your preferred range. Remember that was 14.3Mhz.
477.7/ 14.3 = 33.40 feet. This is 33 point 4 feet, not 33 feet 4 inches!
Now convert .4 feet to inches.....this is almost 1/2 of a foot...so
about 5 inches.
(You could do the decimal conversion to be exact, but at hf, this is not needed.)
Your new length should now be 33 feet 5 inches.
This is the length the antenna should be to have lowest swr on 14.300Mhz in our example.
Now you need to adjust the one you have in the air to this length.
After doing the above calculations and changing the length of the dipole, put the antenna back up into it's final position at the exact same height as your first try without changing any other part of the antenna, just like you did the first time, when you used the old 468 number constant.
Your "new" tuned antenna should now give you, at or very near, the lowest SWR at the desired frequency of your original design, when you used the new constant number in the formula.
If for some reason you later want to trim an HF wire antenna, (say, you
decide to move to a different portion of a wide band), don't waste
your time by trimming or adding a little at a time until
you get the lowest swr. You can make a very close estimate of
how much to cut or add based on the band and how far you have to change it
by repeating the process
When you built that 75 meter dipole and tuned it for lowest swr, your final tuned length was, let's say....112 feet for lowest swr on 3.9Mhz. Remember, this is just an example....forget that old formula for now.
You want to change your present center frequency, 3.9Mhz, to the lower part of the 80 meter band, say around 3.6Mhz. From experience, you know you will have to lengthen the antenna....but how much?
All you have to do is take an swr reading for the lowest swr on your present antenna. This should be at or very near to 3.9Mhz unless something has changed with your existing antenna system.
You need to find that magic "constant" number that was arrived at by your final tuning result of your 75 meter antenna when you first finished it. Remember, you did have to tune it after using the original standard formula so after the length was changed, this changed the original constant used in the formula.
Now just multiply 112 feet (your present antenna
length) by your old frequency.
436.8 is your new constant for use in the formula so,
436.8 / 3.6Mhz (your wanted center
frequency) = 121.33 feet for total length.
1. First write down the total length of your new antenna
after using the old formula. (468/freqMhz = total length in feet)
Hopefully you kept notes!
(modify it's center design frequency)
1. Find lowest swr frequency (Old center Freq) of the existing antenna.
2. Find length (L) of existing antenna. You did write it down I hope!
3. Multiply length (L) times OLD dipole FREQUENCY (where the swr was lowest) (Old F) to get it's resulting constant number.
Existing L x Old F = new constant
Use the new constant, (not 468), in the formula again using your new design frequency.
New constant / new frequency = total length in feet
is assumed that your dipole is used without an antenna tuner and you want
the lowest swr possible on your design frequency. It must be noted that
you can only use this "find the formula constant" method AFTER you have
used the old formula first OR have the correct length of your
existing antenna for getting close to the antenna center frequency.
This is due to any number of variables in the original antenna
installation due to surroundings, height above ground, bare or insulated
wire, angle of antenna relative to it's center, (horizontal, inverted V,
etc), diameter of conductor, insulation thickness,
Math does not lie, but sometimes
your antenna, it's composition and the environment plugs in a variable or
2 into to the "standard" formula.
73 ~ N4UJW