Tagged: antenna

New Product in Store: RTL-SDR Blog Magnetic Whip Antenna Set (Great for KerberosSDR Direction Finding)

We've recently released a new Magnetic Whip Antenna Set in our store. The set consists of a heavy duty magnetic mount antenna base with 2M RG59, a 9.5cm fixed whip antenna (usable from 400 MHz to 2 GHz+), and a 17cm to 1m telescopic whip (usable from 100 MHz - 400 MHz).

Click Here to Visit our Store

The antenna set costs US$14.95 each with free shipping. And if you buy four sets you will receive a 15% discount. Currently available to ship worldwide right now from our warehouse in China, and they will be on Amazon in 2-3 weeks.

One application of our KerberosSDR 4-Tuner Coherent RTL-SDR is radio direction finding. This requires four quality omni-directional antennas. We were disappointed to find that there were no high quality magnetic whip antennas available on the market for a low price that we could use with KerberosSDR so we made our own.

The magnetic base is designed carefully with conductive metal that is properly connected to the shield of the coax cable. Most cheap antenna bases just leave the shield connection floating and this causes insufficient coupling to the underlying ground plane resulting in poor performance and poor results when it comes to direction finding and reception.

We've tested this set with KerberosSDR and it is known to work well. The antenna can also of course be used for any other receiving purpose if you prefer to use a whip antenna over our multipurpose dipole antenna set.

In the first two images in the image slider below you can see a comparison between a black base that is not properly bonded to the coax shield, vs the RTL-SDR Blog silver base which is correctly bonded to the coax shield. Both tests used the 9.5cm whip antenna. You can see that the RTL-SDR Blog silver base provides a much lower noise floor and higher signal SNR due to the better ground plane. Also we note that when placing the antenna bases on a metallic surface to create a larger ground plane, the black base showed no further improvement, whereas the RTL-SDR Blog silver base did.

The final three images in the slider show the SWR plots of the two whips on the base. We can see that the 9.5cm whip provides an SWR of less than six below 412 MHz. The telescopic whip can be adjusted to provide better SWR for lower frequencies.

RTL-SDR Blog Antenna Base (Coax shield properly connected to base)

RTL-SDR Blog Antenna Base (Coax shield properly connected to base)

Generic Black Antenna Base (Coax shield not connected to base)

Generic Black Antenna Base (Coax shield not connected to base)

9.5cm Whip SWR Plot

9.5cm Whip SWR Plot

Telescopic Whip Collapsed SWR Plot

Telescopic Whip Collapsed SWR Plot

Telescopic Whip Fully Expanded SWR Plot

Telescopic Whip Fully Expanded SWR Plot

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New Product in Store: RTL-SDR Blog Magnetic Whip Antenna Set (Great for KerberosSDR Direction Finding)

We've recently released a new Magnetic Whip Antenna Set in our store. The set consists of a heavy duty magnetic mount antenna base with 2M RG59, a 9.5cm fixed whip antenna (usable from 400 MHz to 2 GHz+), and a 17cm to 1m telescopic whip (usable from 100 MHz - 400 MHz).

Click Here to Visit our Store

The antenna set costs US$14.95 each with free shipping. And if you buy four sets you will receive a 15% discount. Currently available to ship worldwide right now from our warehouse in China, and they will be on Amazon in 2-3 weeks.

One application of our KerberosSDR 4-Tuner Coherent RTL-SDR is radio direction finding. This requires four quality omni-directional antennas. We were disappointed to find that there were no high quality magnetic whip antennas available on the market for a low price that we could use with KerberosSDR so we made our own.

The magnetic base is designed carefully with conductive metal that is properly connected to the shield of the coax cable. Most cheap antenna bases just leave the shield connection floating and this causes insufficient coupling to the underlying ground plane resulting in poor performance and poor results when it comes to direction finding and reception.

We've tested this set with KerberosSDR and it is known to work well. The antenna can also of course be used for any other receiving purpose if you prefer to use a whip antenna over our multipurpose dipole antenna set.

In the first two images in the image slider below you can see a comparison between a black base that is not properly bonded to the coax shield, vs the RTL-SDR Blog silver base which is correctly bonded to the coax shield. Both tests used the 9.5cm whip antenna. You can see that the RTL-SDR Blog silver base provides a much lower noise floor and higher signal SNR due to the better ground plane. Also we note that when placing the antenna bases on a metallic surface to create a larger ground plane, the black base showed no further improvement, whereas the RTL-SDR Blog silver base did.

The final three images in the slider show the SWR plots of the two whips on the base. We can see that the 9.5cm whip provides an SWR of less than six below 412 MHz. The telescopic whip can be adjusted to provide better SWR for lower frequencies.

RTL-SDR Blog Antenna Base (Coax shield properly connected to base)

RTL-SDR Blog Antenna Base (Coax shield properly connected to base)

Generic Black Antenna Base (Coax shield not connected to base)

Generic Black Antenna Base (Coax shield not connected to base)

9.5cm Whip SWR Plot

9.5cm Whip SWR Plot

Telescopic Whip Collapsed SWR Plot

Telescopic Whip Collapsed SWR Plot

Telescopic Whip Fully Expanded SWR Plot

Telescopic Whip Fully Expanded SWR Plot

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Building a DIY 2.4 GHz Helical Feed for the QO-100/Es’Hail-2 Satellite

Over on his YouTube channel Adam 9A4QV has uploaded a short video that demonstrates his 2.4 GHz homemade helical feed designed to be used with a reflector (prime feed satellite dish) for QO-100/Es'Hail-2 satellite reception. The antenna is made from an old can, 2-turns of copper wire, and a plastic insulator to hold the turns in place. The two turns are wound in left hand circular polarization (LHCP), because when used with a satellite dish reflector it will result in right hand circular polarization (RHCP), which is the polarization QO-100 uses.

One of the most important parts of the video is when Adam shows how he matches the antenna to 50 Ohms. He notes that without matching the antenna won't work properly, and the return loss will be about 8 dB or even less, resulting in poor performance. With matching he obtains 30 dB return loss.

Helical feed for the 2.4 GHz QO-100 satellite

Building a Carbon Fibre Dual Band Yagi Antenna for Amateur Radio Satellites with 3D Printed Parts for 20€

Back in early 2017 we posted about Manuel's (aka DO5TY / Tysonpower) design for a single band 140 MHz 3D printed carbon fibre Yagi antenna. Today he's submitted a new video about creating a dual band 3D printed carbon fibre cross Yagi antenna for only 20€. Note that the video is narrated in German, but there are English subtitles. He's also uploaded an English text tutorial to his blog, which includes links to the 3D printer STL files.

The antenna is designed to be a low cost replacement for the commonly used Arrow dual band 2m/70cm antenna which is designed for receiving and transmitting to amateur radio satellites. Many amateur radio satellites have an uplink frequency set at around 145 MHz, and a downlink frequency around 435 MHz (and some satellites have the frequencies reversed). So a dual band Yagi is ideal for these satellites. Manuel writes that with his 5W Baofeng handheld he's already made several successful contacts with his new antenna.

Manuel's antenna consists of several 3D printed joints, with a carbon fibre rod used as the main boom. Aluminum rods make up the receiving and transmitting elements. The video also discusses impedance matching and how he uses a diplexor so that there is only one connection required to the radio. The advantage of his antenna over the Arrow is that it is significantly cheaper, and also much lighter in weight.

[EN subs]Carbon Arrow Yagi Antenne - leichte Dual Band Yagi für 20€ bauen

Designing and Testing a PCB Wideband Spiral Antenna

Back in January we posted about a Vivaldi antenna project by "hexandflex". In that project he showed how he designed and manufactured the Vivaldi. A Vivaldi antenna is wideband and directional and the design works well for frequencies above 800 MHz, but becomes too physically large to handle for lower frequencies like 400 MHz. In his latest project, hexandflex has designed a PCB based spiral antenna to cover these lower frequencies.

Hexandflex's post is split into three parts. The first post introduces us to his motivation and talks about what spiral antennas are. The second post discusses the modelling and simulation of the antenna with OpenEMS. OpenEMS is a free front end for MATLAB or Octave which allows you to simulate antenna parameters such as impedance and radiation pattern. Finally in the third post the real world parameters of the antenna are determined in an anechoic chamber owned by Antenna Test Lab, a professional antenna testing agency.

Hexandflex is currently selling his spiral antennas over on Tindie. There are two versions, one smaller one costing $32 designed for 800 MHz+ and a larger one costing $42 designed for 300 MHz+. Both come with suction cups that allow for easy window mounting.

The 800 MHz+ and 300 MHz+ spiral antennas by Hexandflex
The 800 MHz+ and 300 MHz+ spiral antennas by Hexandflex

Constructing a 3D Printed Wideband 900 MHz to 11 GHz Antenna

Thanks to Professor John Jackson of JR Magnetics for writing in and sharing his design for a 3D printed wideband antenna designed for 50 Ohm 900 MHz to 11 GHz operation.

John required a wideband antenna that could cover the cellphone bands, WiFi, Bluetooth up to 6 GHz and the new USB band from 5 GHz to 10 GHz all in a single antenna installation. He also needed the impedance to be as flat as possible to reduce signal pulse distortion. First he looked into classic discone and sphere antenna designs, but found that while a sphere had the required bandwidth, it did not have the desired impedance characteristics, and a discone had the desired impedance characteristics, but not the ultra wide bandwidth required.

To get around this John combines the sphere and discone designs together to create a sort of icecream with cone looking shape. This results in the ultra wide bandwidth required, and a relatively flat SWR that stays below 2.

The design is easily reproducible by anyone with a metal 3D printer. The antenna's top hemisphere and cone are printed in brass, whilst the radome and supporting structure are printed in plastic.

We have uploaded John's original document here (pdf warning), and display some of the images below. The full build instructions can be found on his website, and John is also selling the 3D printed parts via Shapeways.

jran900-top
jran900-bottom
jran900-radome
JRAN900-mount
jran900-swr
sphere-cone-ant-geo
jran-proto-bw-175
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New Store Products: SDRplay RSP1A Metal Case Upgrade + Portable Antenna Set

Over on our store we've just released two new products for sale. The first is a metal case upgrade kit for the SDRplay RSP1A. It is similar to the previous enclosure that we sold for the RSP1, but no longer comes with an included BCFM filter since the RSP1A has this filter built in as a software switchable option.

Instead we've included a portable 7 meter (23 feet) long wire antenna spool (Tecsun AN-03L) with SMA adapter, and an 11 cm to 48 cm adjustable SMA telescopic antenna. The 7 meter antenna is great for HF SWLing, and neatly rolls up into the spool for travelling. The telescopic antenna is a portable VHF/UHF antenna that can plug directly into the SMA port of the RSP1A. Both antennas fit neatly into the supplied semi-hardshell carry case. The set costs US$29.95 including shipping and is available on our store, and will be on US Amazon in a couple of weeks.

The second product is the portable antenna set just by itself. The set includes the 7m Tecsun AN-03L antenna spool, the mono plug to SMA adapter and the 11 cm to 48 cm telescopic antenna. It can be used on any SDR with SMA ports. The set costs US$11.95 and is also available on our store. It will also be on Amazon in a couple of weeks. 

RSP1A_Case_Front_1500x1500
RSP1A_Case_Back_1500x1500
RSP1A_Case_All_1500x1500
RSP1A_Case_Inside_1500x1500
RSP1A_Case_LongWire_1500x1500
RSP1A_Case_Telescopic_1500x1500
Portable_Antenna_Set_Only_1500x1500
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A Discone Antenna made from 3D Printed Parts and Aluminum Rods

Over on his blog author ByTechLab has posted about his 'mostly 3D printed' discone antenna. A discone is a type of wideband antenna, so it is commonly used with SDRs like the RTL-SDR that have huge frequency ranges. Building a discone can be difficult, but ByTechLab shows that with a 3D printer it is possible to print the aluminum rod mounts, which significantly reduces construction complexity. His post shows the exact directions, and the stl files are available over on Thingiverse.

Note that back in March we saw another 3D printed discone by mkarliner that used a full cone design with the cone being made out of aluminum tape. Discones based on aluminum rods should however be more weather resistant, and more able to withstand wind loads, so ByTechLab's design is more suitable for permanent outdoor mounting.

ByTechLabs' Mostly 3D Printed Discone Antenna
ByTechLabs' Mostly 3D Printed Discone Antenna

Using a Slinky as a Cheap Antenna for the 80m Band

A slinky is a fun little toy that is essentially a long and loose spring. You can perform tricks with them, but the most iconic use is making them walk down stairs all by themselves. Over on Hackaday we've seen a tutorial that shows how to use a slinky as a good antenna for the 80m (3.5 MHz) band. Using a slinky as an antenna is nothing new to hams, but the original post on imgur shows some pretty clear photos and instructions on how to construct one.

The text written by the original poster on imgur notes that he uses this antenna very successfully with his RTL-SDR in direct sampling mode and this even outperforms his regular shortwave radio. He notes that slinkies aren't weather proof, so some sort of weather proofing spray coating or oil might be useful for a permanent set up.

If you are interested apart from the discussion on Hackaday there is also a comments thread on Reddit where the original poster discusses what he purchased.

Slink Antenna for 80m
Slinky Antenna for 80m