Best Vertical HF Antennas for DXing in 2019

Best Vertical HF Antennas for DXing in 2019

Getting started on DXing? Love to find and communicate with new people from distant locations?

We researched and reviewed some of the best vertical HF antennas that will satisfy your hunger for DXing. 

Things can get pretty much technical when you are looking to buy anything related to radio.

We tried to keep things simple so that even new radio enthusiasts can understand.

Most of these antennas are portable and can be carried to new places. So, you get a bit of flexibility with them.

Let’s get started! And don’t forget to study the buying guide before buying one!

 

Best vertical antenna for HF Review


1. Super Antenna MP1LX Tripod HF Antenna

The Super Antenna MPL1X is a portable HF antenna that you can use on flat surfaces like your garden, balcony, and apartment.

The antenna is fully collapsible. It can be stretched from just 12 inches to 12ft. And the tripod can also be collapsed to 24 inches size. With overall weight being just 3 pounds (antenna+tripod), you can carry it anywhere without issues.

It operates on all HF bands from 7-30 MHZ. The plus pointy here is you can also access VHF bands from 30-54 MHZ. However, to access the lower ends of the HF bands from 3.4-6.9 MHZ, you will need separate coils and adapters.

Tuning is very easy in this antenna, thanks to the aircraft-grade aluminum tubular slide and military-grade slip connections.

Apart from the antenna whip and tripod, you also get a radial set, ground mount, SWR ruler and a portable carrying bag.

 

Pros

  • High Q Polymer coil suitable for QRP
  • HF and VHF communication
  • Totally portable and quick set up
  • Telescopic whip and super whip both are available
  • Perfect for flat surface operation
  • Efficient design for constant tuning

Cons

  • Sometimes need tuning using an SWR meter

Final verdict

The Super Antenna MPL1X is one of the best vertical antennas for HF and perfect for areas where there is a homeowners association restrictions. The portability and the ability to communicate on HF and VHF bands is what makes the antenna worth buying. 


2. Super Antenna MP1DXTR80 Tripod HF Antenna

If you want an entire multiband QRP station in a backpack, the Super Antenna MP1DXTR80 is the one to get.

This is the upgraded version of the MP1 and works on all bands of HF and VHF.

For HF, it operates on 3.5 MHZ to 4.8 MHZ on the lower part of the spectrum. On the higher end, it covers 7 to 30 MHZ. On top of that, it has a VHF of 30-300 MHZ.

Keep in mind, for 6m, you won’t need anything separate. But for 2m, you will have to use an external adapter like the MC2 Superplexer.

The antenna collapses from 7ft to 12 inches. And with an overall weight of 5 pounds, you can carry this kit anywhere you go.

The vertical HF antenna kit contains MR4010 and MR642 radial sets, an SWR ruler and a zip bag to carry everything. 

We really loved the SuperMount clamp which you can use to attach the antenna to virtually anything from fences to plastic pipes.

The best performance of this antenna can be found on 20M and above. The performance is similar to the large vertical HFs that are more expensive.

 

Pros

  • Collapsible antenna up to 12 inches
  • Operates on all HF and VHF bands
  • Manual slip knob eliminates the need for tuner/analyzer.
  • Waterproof and submersible
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Mountable to any surfaces

Cons

  • Requires additional adapter for 2 meter band

Final verdict

If you want better performance than the MP1 we reviewed earlier, you should definitely get this one. However, it might be a bit on the expensive side. So, the price should be a factor here. The ability to perform exceptionally above 20M range is what makes this vertical HF antenna so effective.


3. Comet Vertical Antenna

If you are searching for the best HF vertical antenna with no radials, then the Comet vertical antenna is worth installing.

This is not a portable HF antenna. And once you install it, it’s best not to dismantle it. Because the fitting will become loose on each installation. If you wanted something temporary, this is not the antenna to deal with.

This is a multiband HF antenna for 3.5-57 MHZ. So, no VHF here.

However, the best thing is you don’t need tuning or radials. It will readily provide SWR of 1.5 or even lesser. And the coax lead in the wire helps it to operate without radials. If you decide to add more radials, the performance will significantly improve.

The only issue we found is that the antenna becomes ineffective below 15 ft. So, you need to set it up at least above 16 ft and for best performance above 35 ft from the ground.

The wind resistance of the antenna is good enough to withstand 67 MPH wind. It has aircraft-grade aluminum construction that makes it durable enough.

 

Pros

  • Works great without radials
  • Have a low SWR rating without tuning
  • Moderate wind-resistant
  • Durable aircraft-grade aluminum body

Cons

  • Need to set it up high at 35 ft for best performance
  • No VHF band support

Final verdict

The comet antenna might not be the ultimate HF vertical. But for those who want antennas that work without radials, this is a good fit. This is a good setup for permanent installation and not so good for traveling. 


4. Hustler HF Amateur Ham Radio Base Antenna

The Hustler antenna can become one of the best 80M vertical antennas with proper tuning. It covers 10-80M bands.

This antenna can work without radials, but you won’t get great performance without them. So, it would have been better if the manufacturer provided a radial set with the antenna. So, use long 50-ohm coax cable for better performance.

You can either use it as ground-mounted or roof-mounted. It is mountable to most standard mast pipes as well.

After assembling, the antenna will stand 25ft tall. And as the construction is aluminum, it can hold up quite well in heavy wind. 

 

Pros

  • Runs without radials
  • Supports 10-80M bands
  • Suitable for both ground and roof-mounting
  • Attaches to mast pipes

Cons

  • Needs a little tuning for optimal performance
  • No VHF support

Final verdict

The Hustler vertical antenna is a moderately performing antenna that might work to some extent without radials. However, we recommend getting additional radials for this antenna. Keep in mind this is not a portable antenna. Though you can dismantle and reinstall it, it’s best to install it permanently. 


5. Super Antenna MP1C HF Antenna

The Super Antenna MP1C is one of the best portable multiband hf vertical antennas. It can be contracted to just 12”, and it extends up to 7ft.

We really loved how easily you can carry it with you. However, the downfall is you have to buy radials, tripod (if needed) and mounts separately. That’s a pain.

The antenna operates both on HF and VHF bands. 7-30MHz on HF and 30-300 MHz on VHF.  That’s a plus point.

To access 3.5-6.9 MHZ, you need to buy the MC60 SuperCoil from the manufacturer.

Tuning is fairly easy with the help of the super slider and can be kept below SWR 1.5. You don’t need a tuner for this.

But there’s a catch.

It’s not weatherproof. So, you can’t install it outdoors permanently.

 

Pros

  • Works on all bands including HF and VHF
  • No tuner required
  • Super portable and contracts down to 12”
  • No tools required for installation

Cons

  • No radials, tripod, and mount included
  • Not suitable for permanent outdoor installation

Final verdict

The Super Antenna MP1C is one of the best HF antennas in the market. So, the additional accessories needed are worth buying. You can easily communicate over 8000 Kms with a bit of tuning and additional radials. 


What is a vertical HF antenna?

Vertical HF antennas are the most versatile among different HF antennas. They offer multiband and also monoband performance.

Its uniqueness is that it has an omnidirectional radiation pattern. So, it’s enabled with all-around radiation and requires no orientation for receiving signals from different directions.

For low band performance, it has to be used in a multi-vertical array.

The lower angle of radiation is what makes vertical HF antennas very effective.

Here’s a quick video to get started!


Uses of an HF antenna

HF antenna/vertical HF antenna is used for the following applications:

 

  • Communication in military facilities
  • Aviation communication from aircraft to the ground station
  • Ship to ship communication
  • The higher portion of the HF band is used for Citizens Band Radio services
  • GMDSS communication

 


Choosing the Best vertical HF antenna: Buying guide

1. Types of HF vertical antenna

Choosing an HF vertical can be very confusing. It mostly depends on the area and ground clearance nearby. But there are 3 types of these HF verticals that you can choose:

#Trap verticals

In a trap vertical, some portions of the antenna are isolated by parallel resonant circuits. So, the antenna technically becomes a quarter-wave vertical.

If you buy trap verticals, you will need more radials than usual. So, this might be a deciding factor when buying vertical Hf antennas.

 

#No radial antennas

There are some Hf verticals that are advertised as no radial antennas. We found some users who got excellent results with such antennas.

However, technically, these are vertical dipoles. So, you will find some difficulty in tuning them. Also, you need to keep them above the ground to avoid capacitive coupling.

 

#Non-resonant vertical antennas

These days most amateur users buy non-resonant vertical antennas. And why not? You can use it across a wide range of frequencies. Get an antenna tuner, and it can become an all-band antenna effectively.

But keep in mind, you will need radials for these antennas with a minimum of 0.2 wavelength. 

 

2. Requirements of radial

Let’s face it!

Whatever vertical HF antennas you are going to buy, you will need radials.

Some need less, and others need more.

You can choose an end-fed half-waves, and it will require far fewer radials than others. But the downside is you will need a matching network at the feed point. And the end result is, you have to pay more to buy these.

The simple quarter-wave verticals are less expensive but require more radials. Ideally, 16-24 radials will do a pretty good job.

If the antenna is roof-mounted, the number of redials needed will decrease, and the radials have to be tuned.

Keep in mind, using shorter radials will be more effective than using a few long radials.

 

3. Band coverage

Band coverage is one of the most important criteria in choosing a vertical HF antenna.

If you are buying this for a permanent installation, then it’s better to buy a mono-bander.

However, you can choose between a multi-band and mono-band antenna based on your preference.

Some mono-band antennas will require you to attach few accessories to make it a real multi-bander.

 

4. Portability

Lightweight antennas are the best. If your antenna is too heavy, it will not support wind speed of more than 170 km/hr.

A lighter antenna will remain stable at high wind speeds.

Lightweight means you can easily carry it from one place to another.

Some vertical HF antennas are made with portable features like a tripod and expanding and contracting design. So, people who want to move along with their antenna will find these models very effective.

 

5. Assembling time

If it’s a permanent installation, then the installation time doesn’t really matter.

However, the best Hf antennas are those that can be installed and dismounted very quickly.

Beware of poor quality antennas. These antennas are prone to damage when you try to dismantle them.

If you are a one-man army, then buying a short, lightweight and portable Hf antenna is the best option. 

 

6. Half-wave vertical vs. quarter-wave vertical

A half-wave vertical antenna can be a good choice when buying Hf antennas. It can provide gains from 0 to 2.2 dBi and feed point impedance starting from 35 ohms.

The quarter-wave vertical will provide a bit less gain from 1.9-2 dBi. However, with a better ground system, it can also be used as an effective antenna. 

 

7. Contact manufacturer for smith charts

Manufacturers often advertise misleading gains for selling HF antennas. So, to truly know the gain figure of an antenna, contact the manufacturer to ask for the smith charts of the antenna tests they have conducted. 

 

8. Height requirement

Most vertical Hf antennas will work fine on ground. However, you will need lots of radials.

Some antennas might require no redials at all. And you need to keep them at a fair amount of distance from the ground with a coaxial cable running through to the ground.

 

9. Extra accessories with the antenna kit

With some antenna kit you will be getting radial sets, ground mounts and a backpack to carry everything. So, look for these because you don’t want to spend extra on these.

The mounting tool should be capable enough to fit with most surfaces-flat or round.


Vertical HF antenna FAQ

1. Horizontal vs vertical HF antenna- which is better?

The net gain of a vertical Hf antenna will be lower than the horizontal antennas. And Vertical antennas suffer from ground obstruction and other noise.

However, if you are using the lower end of the HF spectrum, the vertical antenna is the clear winner with a height of  λ/4. It can also cancel out high-angle interference from nearby stations.

 

2. What is HF?

The HF wave is also known as the decameter wave. It is a radio wave that has a frequency of 3-30 MHZ.

Frequencies below HF are known as MF, and the higher ones are known as VHF.

It’s frequently used in shortwave radios.

 

3. What noises interfere with HF communication?

Man-made inferences from electronic devices have the greatest effect on HF bands.

Broadband communication (BPL) has a destructive effect on HF communication. This is because BPL signals have a tendency to leak from power lines.

Also, plasma TVs are also sources of interference for HF communication.

 

4. What is DXing?

DXing is a popular hobby dating back to the 1920s and 1930s when collecting QSL cards was prominent.

Dxing is still popular today among many radio enthusiasts.

Dxing involves receiving distant radio signals and making two-way communication with them. It is often done in the HF and VHF bands. 

Here’s a video on the short history of QSL card-

 

5. Can I use homebrew HF vertical antenna?

Using DIY skills in the Dxing community is not new. Many people have successfully managed to develop their own vertical hf antennas from scratch. Though it might require some advanced skills and lots of tuning and experimentation, you can still develop one with trial and error.

Have a look at this clip for inspiration-

 

6. What is a half-wave wire dipole?

A half-wave wire dipole is commonly used on an HF band. The construction is fairly simple- two pieces of wire with a short insulator in the middle.

It’s very easy to put up and remains stealthy among trees.

 

7. What are the benefits of a quarter-wavelength vertical

Quarter-wavelength verticals are omnidirectional and require very little space for installation. These are perfect for long-distance communication because of the low angle of radiation.

 

8. What is an antenna gain?

Antenna gain is a unit used to describe the performance of an antenna in terms of directivity and electrical efficiency.

To simply understand, the ability of a transmitting antenna to convert input power into radio waves can be expressed in gains.

Gains are mostly expressed in decibel unit (dBi).  

Sources and References

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