Monday, February 21, 2011

A Tree Friendly 2 Meter Halo Antenna


Having purchased an all-mode, all-band (160m - 70cm) transceiver, I became curious about what 2-meter weak signal operations have to offer. I have a 5/8th over 5/8th vertical collinear antenna hanging in a tree at some 30 odd feet high, but I never heard anything on it, except on FM. The reason for that, I learned, is most 2-meter weak signal operations take place using horizontal polarization. Cross polarization is good for about 20 dB attenuation, which easily translates into the difference between perfectly good copy and inaudible signals. So I decided I needed a horizontal polarized antenna.

As is usually the case with antennas, there are a bazillion designs to choose from and none of them really fulfills all your requirements. I do not have a mast or tower, and I love to use trees for supports, so I wanted something that I could hang from a tree branch. Since I have no means to rotate the antenna, I required that the new antenna have an omnidirectional radiation pattern. It didn't have to be the best performer, because I just wanted to get my feet wet in this new mode of operation. There are few designs that would fit that bill. I settled on the Halo antenna because of its small footprint. This is important because larger designs would require a longer branch, with sufficient clearance in all directions, to hang from. The Halo I describe here has a diameter of only about 12 inches and can be hung virtually anywhere in a tree.

Halo stands for "HAlf wave LOop". The antenna is in fact nothing else but a half wavelength dipole with the legs bent in the shape of a circle. However, the ends do not meet, (especially near the end of the month) so technically it's not a loop. This loop can be fed with coaxial cable using a gamma match.

The Halo is certainly not a new design. Laurence M. Leeds and Marvel W. Scheldorf obtained a patent for this antenna in 1943. You can find their design at the U.S. Patent Office under Patent Number 2324462. Click on the "Images"-button to view the patent. You'll need a special browser plugin to access the patent. See the U.S. Patent Office website for more information on this.

Most Halo designs you find on the internet have moving parts. Often they require some sort of tuning capacitor and have a capacitor in the gamma match along with a slider construction that connects the gamma arm to the radiator. I prefer a design without moving parts so that the antenna doesn't get detuned easily when a bird decides the antenna makes a good resting place. I found the design that I describe here in a German antenna book "Antennen Buch" by Karl Rothammel, Y21BK.

Basic Design

The design of this antenna is very simple and straightforward. It basically consists of a half wavelength piece of copper tubing bent into a circle. Between the ends of the tube there needs to be a gap of at least 1 3/16". This is to minimize capacitive coupling between the ends. This antenna is fed by a coax feed line through a gamma match. The gamma match is constructed from 6 1/4" #4 or #6 copper wire. This wire is bent into an L shape. The short end of the wire is soldered on the inside of the loop at the point where the long end of the gamma arm aligns with the halfway point of the loop. See below:

Basic 2m Halo Design

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