WØBTU Beverage Receiving Antennas

How to build your own one- or two-wire Beverage antennas that work great.
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What Is a Beverage antenna?

Single wire Beverage antenna  The Beverage antenna is simply a straight wire, usually several hundred feet long and about 8 feet high. It is a VERY effective antenna that will enable you to hear extremely weak DX signals that are buried in noise or covered up by other interference. It was invented and patented many years ago by Dr. Harold H. Beverage, who worked for RCA. Mine are "magic" antennas! On a scale of one to ten, the "wow factor" is an 11.
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Why would you want one?
Because you will hear LOTS of weaker signals that you won't hear on your vertical, inverted-L, dipole, or most other antennas; not to mention a worthwhile reduction of unwanted signals and noise from undesired directions. The S/N (signal-to-noise) ratio of a Beverage is far superior to any vertical, dipole, or loop, as well as most compact receive-only antennas.

If you have the space, you should consider at least one Beverage antenna, even just a simple single-wire Beverage. (If not, there are alternatives to a full-size Beverage.)

Even a short Beverage antenna is better than no Beverage! Although Beverages are typically at least one wavelength long on the lowest band, even a half-wave (or even shorter) Beverage antenna can very often out-hear any vertical, dipole, or loop.


The Ultimate SWL Antenna.
The Beverage antenna is the ultimate SWL (Short Wave Listener) antenna. Period. They are not just for amateur radio operators.
Or do you like crystal radios? You haven't lived until you've connected your crystal radio to a Beverage antenna. (And no, it's NOT cheating to do that! :-)
Beverages are extremely broadband antennas.
 Beverage antennas do not require re-tuning to QSY or switch bands, because they are non-resonant. The design we use covers 100 KHz to 30 MHz without retuning a thing or even having to adjust the signal level.

The 580' bi-directional Beverages we made from electric fence wire work absolutely fantastic for receiving weak DX signals on 160 meters, but they also work extremely well on 80, 60, and 40 meters, and often on 30 and 20 meters (and rarely, even up to 10 meters) as well. On any HF band, we rarely listen on the dipole or vertical antenna that we're transmitting on, except to see how much better we can hear on the Beverages antennas.

We sometimes play with them on the AM broadcast band. Even during the daytime, there are very few frequencies where we cannot listen to at least one radio station. And on some frequencies, we can select up to four different AM stations on the same frequency as we switch among four different directions.

Recently, we've been listening on VLF, down as low as 150 kHz, to
Foreign AM broadcast stations.

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Are They Hard to put up?

  No. It has been said that Beverage antennas "want to work". In other words, their construction is not critical. If they are not exactly in a straight line, or if their height varies a little (such as if you have to cross a ravine, or go up and down a hill — even a steep hill — they will still work great. They can even be run through a thick woods, using trees as supports, without affecting their operation.

And neither do they cost hundreds of dollars.

   
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A Simple, Single-Wire Beverage antenna

 
All you really need for a simple Beverage receiving antenna is a long single wire, 6 to 10 feet high, between one-half and one wavelength long (or more, up to a point) at the lowest desired frequency. The far end should be pointed more or less in the direction you want to receive signals from. (For example, you might try a Beverage pointed NE towards Europe.)

You'll need coax (almost any old coax) feeding the near end, a simple matching transformer, a termination resistor at the far end —pointed in the desired direction— and grounds at both ends, like the diagram above. Much of the information on this page that applies to bi-directional Beverages also applies to a one wire Beverage antenna.

W8JI has a good tutorial on single-wire Beverages.

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The WØBTU Bi-Directional Beverage antennas
WØBTU Beverage antennas
  I have two 2-wire, switchable bi-directional Beverage receiving antennas. Both are 580' long and are supported on 10' high posts 100' apart.

Some photos are here. NOTE: Those photos need updating; the present Beverage antenna transformers at WØBTU use the Amidon BN-73-202 ferrite cores as shown below.
  We (W0BTU and XYL KD0LAJ) built them for 160 meters, but they work well from VLF (well below the low end of the AM broadcast band) to 20 meters or more.

Looking from the air, our Beverages cross like an X, covering:
We can turn a knob (photo below) and instantly select any of those four directions that we want to listen towards.
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There Is More Than One Way to build a 2-wire Beverage antenna.

  There are different ways to make bi-directional Beverage antennas. Here are what I think are the best ways:
W0BTU Beverage antenna direction switch

Neither method requires a separate control cable to switch directions. The 12 volts DC direction switching voltage is sent up the same coax that the received signal comes down. This only requires two .1 uF disc ceramic blocking capacitors and two RF chokes, which are made from approximately 7 turns of #26 magnet wire through an Amidon FB-73-801 ferrite bead. (We use
Belden® heavy-armored Polythermaleze® insulated wire for these chokes to prevent shorted turns, as there is no room for a protective liner inside this bead and these cores are conductive.)






Dual feedline Beverage box We have had a number of requests for schematic diagrams of our reversible Beverage antennas. Here are diagrams for both types.


Bi-directional Beverage antenna schematic - click to zoom

How do two-wire Beverages work? Greg, ZL3IX has written an excellent explanation: (4.7 MB files)

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EZNEC plots @ 1.83 MHz - W0BTU 580' Bi-directional Beverage antennas
W0BTU 580 foot Beverage antenna elevation plot Beverage antenna - 3D plot




How Far Apart should the Beverage antenna wires be?

 
There is no need to use wide spacing between the two wires in any bi-directional Beverage antenna! Some people still use 6" or even 12" wide spacings. Don't. That wide spacing makes no electrical sense at all, and is subject to imbalance from nearby objects. One-inch (approx.) spaced 450 ohm window (ladder) line works most of the time, if you don't want to make your own ladder line like we did.

When deciding how far apart AND how high we are going to make our Beverage, we need to keep the following important point in mind:

For bi-directional Beverage antennas, the line impedance (of the open-wire line) should equal the antenna impedance (between the line and ground, also called the common mode impedance).

 
We used "galvanized" (probably plated with cadmium rather than zinc) steel electric fence wire labeled "17 gauge", and calculated the diameter (.061") vs. spacing (1.10") so that the line impedance was equal to the antenna impedance at 10' high. If you construct your Beverage so that those two impedances are significantly different, then you need to change the impedance ratios of the matching transformers.

For example, if we use 145 ohm line (surplus twisted pair telephone line), which at 6 feet above ground has a common mode (both wires to ground) impedance of about 480 ohms, then we would need to change the 1:1 transformer to about 3.33 to 1 for optimum performance (F/B ratio) of our Beverage. (The required ratio of other transformers would change also.)

However, since we want to use matching transformers with binocular cores (due to their superiority over toroids or beads), using other than 1:1 line-to-antenna Z ratios can present some challenges.

Before we just put up any old pair of wires, then, we need to make sure that we can make a good set of matching transformers without these issues cropping up later.


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Calculating Impedances vs. Dimensions Is Easy
Here's some spreadsheets that you might find useful for calculating these impedances, in Excel or Open Document (Open Office) format. They were invaluable to me in designing the open wire line for my Beverage receiving antennas, so that I could use 1:1 reflection transformers. They also take into account whatever dielectric is between the wires, air or plastic. You can open the .ods file with the free Open Office spreadsheet.

www.w0btu.com/files/antenna/OpenWireZ(2).xls
www.w0btu.com/files/antenna/OpenWireZ.ods
www.w0btu.com/files/antenna/OpenWireZ.xls
www.w0btu.com/files/antenna/OpenWireZ%20telephone%20wire%201.ods


  We fabricated our own open wire line out of plated steel electric fence wire, which is very strong. Using the known values of
(1) The wire diameter (.061") and
(2) The desired height above ground (10'), I then used a spreadsheet above to calculate the spacing at which the antenna impedance equaled the line impedance (1.10"). I then made some plastic spacers with two ~.066" diameter holes 1.10" apart; this spacing made the common mode and differential mode (line) impedances nearly equal (about 410 ohms).

Headless nails driven into a small piece of wood, clamped to a drill press table, makes easy work of drilling many spacers. When drilling the second hole, place the first hole onto a nail nearly the same size as the holes.


new Impedance Equation page
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What Materials to use for the Beverage antenna?

  They can be made from almost any conductor, be it copper, steel*, aluminum, 450 or 300 ohm ladder (window) line, twisted-pair line, and even coax.
*If using magnetic steel, it should be plated with a non-magnetic material of sufficient thickness.

A major consideration is strength, and that's only one of the reasons we use plated steel electric fence wire.
We have animals (deer) and falling tree limbs. The galvanized electric fence wire, 10' high, has never broken even when a very heavy limb fell from the top of a tree onto the end of one of them. Take a look at these photos, and you'll understand:

Photo 1 | Photo 2 | Photo 3 | Photo 4 | More photos
That branch weighed several hundred pounds (and it was coated with thick ice) and fell all the way from near the top of the tree, where the Beverage broke its fall. No 450 ohm line ladder line would have held up like that!

Earl Cunningham, K6SE (SK) swore by galvanized electric fence wire for Beverage antennas.
He said copper was inferior, it did not produce as good a F/B ratio. (I agree, but we never obtained the 60 dB F/B ratio on sky wave signals that Earl claimed.) Reason being, the signal from the feed end has to travel the length of the antenna twice, further attenuating the unwanted signal. Earl once put up copper, but took it down and replaced with with galvanized electric fence wire. Sometimes losses are an advantage.
Lossy wire also makes the termination less critical.

I've recently read where someone complained that their electric fence wire rusted rather quickly. But I (and many other satisfied users) have never experienced that. Not with any brand I ever purchased, made in the USA.

There is NO need to use insulated wires for a Beverage antenna, unless you are using a BOG (where the antenna is actually touching the earth or the wet vegetation just above it).

It is not recommended to make a transmitting antenna out of lossy, high permeability steel wire.


What about Window Line?
  You could use ready-made insulated 450 ohm window ladder line (the kind with the rectangular holes punched between the wires every so often) and save yourself the trouble of making your own open-wire line for your Beverage antennas. Lots of hams do.
   However, some potential problems to consider with window line:
  1. It has a lot more wind load and might flop around and break in the wind, especially if it's too loose. Twisting it might help. Ask someone who uses it for their long Beverages (we don't).
  2. The line impedance changes a lot when it's wet, icy, or even covered with snow. (Covered with enough ice, the line impedance could drop well below 100 ohms!) That can severely affect the pattern and front-to-back ratio of your Beverage.
The so-called "450 ohm" brown insulated window line I have here is actually about 420 ohms dry (which is OK).
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How High should a Beverage antenna be?

  Although they can be lower and still work just fine, they should be high enough to walk under. Mine are 10' high, which is about the maximum height for a Beverage if you want to use it on the higher bands. Unlike transmitting antennas, higher is not better, but rather, worse.


There's a rumor that there is somehow a benefit to sloping the ends down to the earth gradually in, say, the last 60 feet at each end. (The reasoning was that the vertical drop at each end might pick up unwanted signals off the side). Don't do it. That adversely affects the antenna's impedance and could actually hurt performance. And besides, it's a safety hazard.

 "There really isn't a logical reason to slope the ends of a Beverage. After all, six feet of vertical drop is six feet, no matter if the drop is over 50 feet or straight vertical." --W8JI
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How Long should a Beverage antenna be?

  Typically, they are made about one wavelength long. But even a short Beverage is better than no Beverage. Although Beverages are typically at least one wavelength long on the lowest band, even a half-wave (or even shorter) Beverage can very often out-hear any wire, vertical, or dipole you might be using. For example, if you only have room for a 200' - 250' Beverage on 160 meters, it may well surprise you what it can do for you.

I chose 580' because it is about one wavelength on 160 meters, my primary band of interest. That length gives a 3 dB beamwidth of almost 90 degrees. Therefore, the entire 360 degrees of the compass is covered in just four directions. If you are only interested in covering certain areas of the world, you should think about making them longer, as that will narrow the beamwidth.

It has been said that it is a waste of time and counterproductive to make your 160 meter Beverage longer than two wavelengths long (over 1160' on 160 meters). That may very well be true in most locations. But that really depends on the ground conductivity. K5RX reports that with his exceptional ground conductivity, his three-wavelength-long Beverage is the best one he has. And he has plans to extend it another 300' soon to 2100'. (Jim reports that just one ground rod at K5RX measures about 10 to 15 ohms resistance.)

I use them on 80, 60, 40, and 20 meters --where they are very long in terms of wavelengths-- and they work VERY well there, even though our ground conductivity is likely not as good as K5RX's.

Just keep in mind that the longer the Beverage, the narrower the beamwidth!

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Beverage Antenna Transformers

  We cannot just connect our coax directly to a Beverage antenna. A transformer is required for the following reasons:
  1. In either single- or bi-directional Beverages, to match the low impedance of the coax to the high impedance of the Beverage antenna
  2. In bi-directional Beverages, a reflection transformer is required to receive signals off the feed end.
    A second feedpoint transformer is also required to receive the push-pull signal from the opposite end, sent down the antenna from the reflection transformer.
  3. To isolate the feedline from the antenna, in order to avoid common-mode pickup of unwanted signals and noise on the coax shield.
Beverage antenna transformer
The transformers are the most critical component in any Beverage antenna design, especially bi-directional Beverages. You see a lot of different Beverage antenna transformer designs in different books, magazine articles, and all over the Internet, and the main goal of writing this page was to clear the dust and get to the meat of good Beverage transformer design.  They are not difficult at all to make. Here's how.


A Beverage antenna feedpoint transformer MUST have separate windings (as opposed to an autotransformer) to prevent reception of undesired common-mode signals and noise.
We wind them with different colors of #24 or #26 gauge magnet wire, which makes it easier to tell which windings are which after they are wound through the core.


One turn through a binocular coreFor a 6.25:1 impedance ratio Beverage antenna transformer, using the core below:

Primary (Hi-Z Bev.): Five turns brown #26 magnet wire
Secondary (75 ohms): Two turns green #26 magnet wire


If you use 50 ohm coax, then make a 9:1 transformer by using six turns on the primary instead of five.

Note that one turn is through both holes as  shown in the photo.

updatedImpedance Ratios (PDF)




Ferrite core for Beverage antenna transformers, with liner - BN-73-202There are a number of popular Beverage antenna transformer designs floating around, some of which are so lossy that they need a preamp to hear the weakest signals. I used to make them from stacks of Amidon FB-73-801 ferrite beads. However, we now use Fair-Rite
2873000202 (Amidon BN-73-202) ferrite binocular balun cores, which are far superior and much easier to make. They seem so small (only 9/16" long), but do they ever work! This binocular core design provides significantly lower loss, greater bandwidth, and freedom from core saturation than any toroids or beads will. Normally, a preamp is NOT needed.

Shown to the left is a 2873000202 / BN-73-202 binocular core with a special liner that we use, ready for winding and labeling. Among other advantages, the irradiated polyolefin HST liner protects the magnet wire from touching the conductive core, abrading the insulation, and degrading the performance of the Beverage antenna.


Reflection Transformers
If you erect a bi-directional Beverage, just make sure you use a reflection transformer like T5a in the schematic from ON4UN's book. That's exactly the way mine are wired, and they work great.

Forget about the skimpy design that grounds only one wire, but leaves the other wire floating! That inferior arrangement may work sometimes (depending on the length of the wires and the frequency you happen to be listening on), but a reflection transformer is so simple to make. You have to make two anyway (at the feedpoint); why not a third one at the far end? You will see a better front-to-back ratio using a reflection transformer.

On the reflection transformer (and sometimes on another feedpoint transformer), one winding uses two pieces of magnet wire, twisted together as shown. (Note that they're slightly different colors). The twisted bifilar winding helps ensure that the signal levels are not unbalanced (very important on a two-wire Beverage antenna).Two pieces of 26 gauge magnet wire (twisted together) for Beverage transformers


1:1 Beverage transformer after winding. This can be made into either a 1:1 center-tapped feedpoint transformer or a 1:1 reflection transformer.
  • Secondary: 4 turns #26 green
  • Primary: 2 turns #26 twisted bifilar-wound (total 4 turns).
1:1 Beverage antenna transformer
This is a 1:1 reflection transformer that we make and use, per N1EU's design info. 1:1 Beverage reflection transformerOne winding is made from two bifilar turns of #26 twisted pair, and the other winding is four turns of green #26 magnet wire.

The green wire is connected to ground, and the other two wires connect to the Beverage antenna.

Two Beverage antenna transformers
None of these Beverage antenna transformers require Faraday shields.

You can now order these transformers from us


Click photos for larger image
Beverage antenna control box- Click to zoom

The control box to the left —containing the Beverage antenna matching transformers, relay, etc.— is the newest one, and it's currently installed on my SE-NW Beverage antenna. (Click to zoom.) This design turned out to be the best one we ever made. It has better sensitivity and F/B ratio of any single-coax Beverage antenna switch box that I have ever made. (That could be because of a different termination resistor value.)



I have received many inquiries over the years about these enclosures from both amateur radio operators and antenna manufacturers. This one is a Hammond NEMA 4 watertight enclosure, P/N 1554D2GYCL (clear lid), 4.7"L x 2.6"W x 2.4"H. The one below and on the right is Hammond P/N 1554D2GYSL (smoked lid, same dimensions). Both are polycarbonate, completely waterproof, UV resistant, have gasketed lids with 2-piece tongue-and-groove construction, and are designed for outdoor applications. The one with the clear lid can be obtained from Mouser, and the one with the clear smoke lid can be purchased from Newark. (In
units exposed to the sun, the temperature inside the enclosures would likely be lower with the smoked lid. Suit yourself.)


Beverage antenna direction controll - Click to zoom
Since we use non-hermetically-sealed direction switching relays (because we need bifurcated/paralleled heavy-duty contacts and grounded frames for maximum reliability), it's very important to keep out moisture! We once had a relay freeze up in the winter, from condensation in an enclosure that was not sealed like these are.
The secret to keeping moisture out includes properly filling all the connectors with non-hardening, clear silicone dielectric compound. As the weather changes, that compound moves in and out of the connectors like a piston, providing a near-perfect hermetic seal that prevents the humid air outside from mixing with the dry air inside the enclosure.

 
We do NOT use vents, like some people incorrectly insist on. There has been no evidence of moisture ingress (such as condensation on the clear covers) whatsoever.

I also have some smaller Hammond 1554B2GYCL enclosures for the reflection transformers. However, there is nothing about the reflection transformers that would be harmed by moisture ingress, so I usually just use prescription pill bottles or other types of enclosures without a hermetic seal.


Some components inside:


NOTE: The solder lug on the coax F connector is NOT grounded! It was simply used in lieu of a flat washer. Any coax shield ground must be kept separate from the antenna ground for common-mode isolation.


   
Beverage antenna transformer enclosure - Click to zoom
The control box to the right is for my NE-SW Beverage. (Click to zoom.)

Since there are two runs of coax feeding it, it's much simpler than the one above. The switching and termination take place in the control panel next to the radios, rather than remotely. It contains:

Those two extra black tip jacks were for grounding the Beverage antenna in advance of a thunderstorm. Since adding the GDTs, I no longer use them; I just leave the antenna plugged into the control box all the time.

There are also GDTs in the reflection transformers
for lightning protection, as well.


See the following links for other information on the general design of the transformers we use. More info on building good Beverage transformers is here:
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Terminating Resistors

Beverage antenna termination resistor  Although a terminating resistor is optional on a single-wire Beverage, it is highly recommended unless you need to receive off both ends at once. Adding the resistor will greatly reduce noise and QRM from unwanted directions.

A 470 ohm resistor will usually do just fine. For a single-wire Beverage, you can subtract the ground resistance from the required value.

Some people go to great lengths to get the value of this resistor just right (and there's nothing wrong with that). It's even possible to remotely adjust the value of the termination resistor. (Another link here). However, the actual termination resistance value is not really all that critical. (Having said that, the F/B ratio of a Beverage antenna is directly related to the return loss.)

We use Ohmite type OY metal composition resistors, 470 or 75 ohms, 2 watts. They are FAR more rugged than others for withstanding destructive surges caused by lightning strikes (either cloud-to-cloud or ground-to-cloud strokes) in the vicinity. Mouser Electronics # 588-OY-470-E, only $1.20 each. (If you enjoy having to replace blown termination resistors, then use something else. :-)
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What About the Grounds at each end?

NW-SE Beverage ground rod and radials at feed end  Normally, a few short (~50') ground radials and a couple of ground rods at each end of the Beverage have proven to be effective. Works for me and lots of other happy Beverage antenna owners.

Check out W8JI's number of radials and ground rods vs. ground resistance measurements.

Beverage reflection transformer ground and 7 radials at far end
Just keep in mind that if you are using a bi-directional Beverage and it doesn't seem to hear well off the feed end, then you may need to improve the ground at the far end (at the reflection transformer). When I put up my first 2-wire bi-directional Beverage (with different transformers than I use now), I occasionally had to 'help' the ground conductivity at the reflection transformer end. Although there were two copper ground rods and three radials, the only thing that made it work right when receiving signals from the feed end direction was to pour a hot, very concentrated solution of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) around the ground rods. (The ground was frozen at the time.) The Beverage antenna's reflection transformer ground is more critical. For a single-wire Beverage, the ground at the end is not as critical.

That's no longer necessary, as I've added more radials and the ground rod conductivity has improved after a few months. But if you have a problem with very weak reception off the feed end of your two-wire Beverage, it would be cheap and easy for you to try. Epsom salts are available at about any drug store or grocery store.

Note that the signal strength off the feed end of a bi-directional Beverage can be weaker. That's normal, and a non-problem.


One ham had a problem with the rock being very close to the surface, and wondered whether cut-off ground rods driven in at an angle would help. If that is your situation, consider a ground screen at the ends (or more radials) as opposed to relying on shortened ground rods.


We do NOT ground the coax shields at the Beverage reflection transformer box, nor do we switch them. The only thing you want to ground at the feed end of your Beverages is the transformer winding connected to the Beverage.

Ground rods: I use 5/8" x 8' copper-clad steel ground rods. However, if the soil here in this part of SW Missouri weren't so full of rocks, I would use 1" copper water pipe instead because it's a lower resistance ground.

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Which Coax to feed your Beverage antenna with?

 
I use 75 ohm, flooded Commscope® quad-shield RG-6 coaxial cable. (The shield is four layers of aluminum: braid-foil-braid-foil; the inner foil bonded to the dielectric). It was designed for CATV use, and because the CATV industry uses so much of it, 1000' spools of it can be obtained very inexpensively!

Beside the low cost, it also has other advantages. "Flooded" means that there is a sticky substance permeating the shield. That sticky stuff is there for the purpose of keeping out water if the coax should get cut, nicked or nibbled on by little animals. It only takes one little invisible cut to let water soak the shield for some distance on either side of the cut. Corrosion of the braid will follow in short order. If water gets inside non-flooded coax, this will not only increase loss, but worse, can cause noise! The noise can sound like static, and can keep your Beverage antenna from working like it should.


The RG-6 coax feeding my Beverage antennas runs along a fence in the grass for almost 600'. I don't require ferrite chokes to prevent unwanted signal pickup. The coax shield is grounded ONLY at the station end, NOT at the antenna.

Crimp-type "F" coax connectors with o-ring seals are fine. You don't need BNC, N, or UHF (which are not waterproof) connectors. To keep water out, fill them with clear silicone dielectric compound before assembly. Home Depot and DX Engineering sell the good snap-on F connectors.
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If there's no room for a Beverage antenna

  For receiving, a Beverage is simple and easy and very good. If you do not have the room for even a very short Beverage, there are a number of alternative receiving antennas. Look at the Slinky Beverage, BOG, K6SE's Terminated Delta Loop (KAZ), Waller Flag, K9AY, Flag,  EWE , or Loop antennas. The Waller Flag has the pattern of a one-wavelength-long Beverage and can be even mounted on a tower and rotated. It requires cascaded, antenna-mounted preamps and careful attention to minimizing unwanted common mode signals.
  I have very little experience with any of these; Google is your friend.


Even better than those is an array of loops or phased short verticals. An array of short verticals arranged in a circle is maybe even better than Beverages, but they are much more complex.

Having said that...
More than one person has e-mailed me privately and stated in no uncertain terms that their Beverage antennas were definitely superior to their circular array of short verticals. Others on public pages we've seen say just the opposite. In any case, either one is usually superior to a vertical or dipole.



Some people have had good success with loaded or Slinky Beverages. I have no experience with them, but I'd sure like to try a short Slinky.


http://www.w8ji.com/slinky_and_loaded_beverages.htm

"No room for a traditional Beverage? Then try a Slinky. I had 5 of the large ones in series over 150' for almost 20 years and it was a solid performer; very quiet likely due to the steel wire loss and a preamp was used. At that time it was my only option for due East/SE where a lot of good DX comes from and I worked a lot that locals couldn't hear, rear rejection was excellent. A K9AY wasn't even close." --KM1H

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The BOG: Beverage On the Ground

  The very first Beverage antenna made by Dr. Harold H. Beverage himself was in fact a BOG. The Beverage On the Ground is described in ON4UN's Low Band Dxing 4th edition. I'm convinced that they can work very well on some bands, based on a number of experiences that we've read on the Topband reflector and feedback from our customers.

Recent tests by other hams using even short (approx. 140' long) BOGs show they can often significantly improve the S/N ratio on 40, 80, 160, and the AM broadcast band —as compared to an inverted-L with a good ground radial system— by greatly reducing local RFI from power line noise, etc.

The impedance, velocity factor, and signal levels are a lower than a Beverage antenna several feet in the air, depending on ground conductivity. A very short BOG may possibly need a preamp.
KM1H's experience

The lower velocity factor has several effects, one of which is that a BOG can be considerably shorter than an elevated Beverage.

Either a wire laying on the ground or made from coax (so-called 'snake antenna', not a BOG), there's a right way and a wrong way to build one. They can be made either single- or bi-directional.


I once knew a ham who, during a local thunderstorm one Field Day night, used a BOG (or was it a piece of coax?) antenna to receive for 75 phone. He could hear little through the QRN on the dipole he was using, but the receiving antenna on the ground really worked, according to him and others who were present.

BOG matching transformers and terminating resistors
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Is it practical to use a Beverage as a transmitting antenna?

  Sometimes it is! I had a lot of fun trying that, and could work many places --even DX-- on the NE Beverage that I couldn't work on a 35' high multiband dipole.

Check out this thread:

http://forums.qrz.com/showthread.php?288071-receive-antennas-only&p=2195483#post2195483
Carl, KM1H kind of lit a fire under me when he said he successfully used his Beverages to transmit. My own experiences on the different bands are outlined there. (To summarize: with 100 watts on SSB, it worked awful on 160, a little better on 80, still better on 40, and not bad at all on 20.)
3-core Beverage transformer for TX/RX
This is the little transformer I used for both receive and transmit on my unterminated NE/SW Beverage antenna. It handles 800 watts (on SSB) from 80-10 meters. I even used it for a rather long AM QSO with 200 watts carrier. It's amazing how low-loss this tiny little transformer is! Check out these power vs. temperature tests I performed on that transformer with 800w carrier, more than enough time to tune up. The temperature didn't rise to anywhere near the Curie temperature of the core material (310 degrees F.)

I added a half-dozen radials between 25' and 50' long on the ground at the feed end, and started getting unsolicited reports about how much louder my signal was.

The signal from the Beverage is best to the NE USA and Europe, due to its low angle. Closer in, signals are somewhat weaker. It's more of a DX antenna.
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What bands are Beverage antennas good for?

 Basically, the non-resonant Beverage covers the entire radio spectrum, from VLF to the upper end of the HF (short wave) region. It is an extremely broadband antenna.

They were first used on VLF and MW and first popularized for amateur radio use on the 160 meter band. Still, they continue to be thought of as an antenna that is really not of much use above 80 meters.

Not so. A recent poster on the Topband reflector stated, "If you think they work good on 160, you should try them on 40!"

This lit a fire under me to try them on 40 meters. He was certainly right!

Here are the patterns of my Beverage antennas @ 7.15 MHz:
580' Beverage on 40 meters - azimuth plot 580' Beverage antenna on 40 meters - elevation plot
580' Beverage antenna 40 meter 3D plot
The EZNEC+ file can be downloaded here. Other EZNEC files

With the narrow beamwidth of the main lobe and only four directions to choose from, I expected to miss many stations outside the main lobe. However, I was very pleasantly surprised, because in practice, I can almost always hear better on the Beverages than I can on my multiband dipole or 40 meter monoband ground plane. (I do wish I had one pointed due west, though; I think I would hear the USA west coast better on 80 meters and above.)

I did find a "problem" with using Beverages on most bands: when working stations with similar antennas and power, I can hear the other guy very well; but since the station at the other end of the QSO doesn't have a Beverage (or other low-noise RX antenna), he experiences the same QSB, etc. as I do when I listen to him on my transmitting antenna. (Hearing that well is a good problem to have. ;-)

But what really is the practical frequency range of Beverage antennas? I recently got a private e-mail that i
n one rare instance, his Beverage antenna outperformed his array of stacked Yagis on 10 meters! Don't expect that, but they have been reported to work very well on 20 meters on a number of occasions. They are almost always better than my dipole on 20.


Here it is on 80 meters:


580' Beverage antenna on 80 meters
  BACK TO TOP



What about erecting Beverages near other objects, or near other Beverage antennas?

 
Beverages should not be erected over metal fences. Why? A Beverage requires a poorly conductive ground (poor compared to the wire itself) under it to work right.
http://lists.contesting.com/archives//html/Topband/1997-04/msg00080.html
http://lists.contesting.com/archives/html/Topband/2010-11/msg00006.html

Having said that, ZL3IX successfully built one above an apparently ungrounded metal fence. He explains how he did it near the end of http://www.g3xrj.com/RxArray_files/2wire_bev/2wire_bev.htm.


If it can be avoided, don't run them parallel with other conductors (metal fences, power lines) for long distances. Try and run them at an angle to avoid coupling to them.

Beverages, being non-resonant, usually do not readily interact with each other. This is why we can have cross-fire or end-fire Beverage antenna arrays, because the antennas do not couple to each other to any significant degree. (Mine cross at about 90 degrees to each other, are only about 7 inches apart where they cross, and do NOT affect each other.)

Multiple Beverages Using a Common Ground
Feeding more than one Beverage antenna from the same point using a common ground is a bad idea. The reason is that signals from all of the Beverages --not just the one you have selected to listen on-- pass through that ground simultaneously. And since that ground has resistance, there is a very real potential of sharing signals between Beverages. If this happens, you might hear undesired signals (and noise) from unwanted directions picked up by the other Beverage(s). The front-to-back and/or the front-to-side ratio will seem degraded. The higher the resistance of the ground, the more noticeable this effect will be. Note the following references:

Different Beverage Antennas from One Hub
   Never run different Beverage antennas from a single spot, using a single ground rod (or ground system). In such a case you will, via the common ground rod resistance, cross-couple part of the signals from one Beverage into another Beverage.
   If you want to run different Beverages from one point, run the master feed line to a switching box (head end of the master feed line), and fan out to various feed points, each of which is fed via a separate feed line, in such a way that the ground rods of these feed points are separated at least 5 meters from one another.
From the the ARRL's Low Band DXing by John Devoldere, ON4UN (5th edition) p. 7-76

Never bring multiple antennas to one feedpoint, especially when they share one common ground.  I've noticed a definite deterioration in pattern with multiple feedpoints arranged with only ten feet of spacing, even when they had separate ground  systems. One set of Beverages installed with 5-10 foot of feedpoint separation has noticeably poorer patterns than other identical length antennas with wide separation at the feedpoint.


Conclusion: Never share grounds between antennas. If you really need to feed more than one Beverage from a single location or hub, then you should make provisions to remotely disconnect and properly terminate the unused antennas.

BACK TO TOP



Misc. Beverage antenna notes and information


What Direction to point our Beverage antennas?

If you are located in the USA, DON'T orient your Beverages either due North, South, West, or East unless you have a very good reason to!  They should point either Northeast, Northwest, Southwest, or Southeast. Here's why.

If you look at an azimuthal map (or use software like DX Atlas) from most locations in the USA, you'll see that —generally speaking— Beverage antennas pointing due East, West, North, or South are NOT pointing in the optimum direction!
For working stations in the USA, orienting your Beverage antennas NE-SW and SE-NW has the following advantages for reducing QRM:
If you DO need to point N, E, S, or W, perhaps the best thing to do is erect a separate Beverage —perhaps a single-wire one— in addition to your NE-SW and SE-NW Beverages. An azimuthal projection map centered on your QTH will tell you where you need to point your Beverage antennas.



How to tension the two wires equally:
Beverage antenna end tensioning pulleys




Q: What are the negatives of the 2 wire vs individual single ones?


A: The negatives? I think the positives outweigh any perceived "negatives"! The "negative" is all about the single wire design, because you're restricting yourself. With two wires instead of just one, you could switch between both directions, using the same supports! For 2-wire Beverages, only half the required amount of supports and real estate are required to cover both directions.  Complexity (that could be argued against) and perhaps cost. And some types of open-wire line might not last as long as a single wire, depending on what you use. That's about it. The two-wire Beverage does not have a degraded pattern or F/B ratio.
 
A two-wire Beverage, like this one allows operation in either direction.

On mine, there's a relay, one or two termination resistors, an RF choke, and a capacitor at the feed end, besides the two transformers. Putting +12VDC on the coax switches one Beverage from SE to NW. Two Beverages cover 4 directions.

Don't you think that's simpler? No extra control cable needed. You can use the coax as a control cable if needed. That's what I do on one Beverage here to switch directions. Signal and DC on the coax, easily isolated with a couple of simple RF chokes and capacitors. You can see them in the photos of my Beverages. (Schematics above).



Originally Posted by KA0GKT
> A Beverage works best over poor ground, so I would think that running a return under the antenna may reduce the effectiveness of the antenna by at least a little.
Answer: You bet it will. There is a popular book about Beverages that suggests doing that, but just because something is in a book doesn't mean that it is technically sound.



From: Milt, N5IA <n5ia@zia-connection.com>
Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 9:59 PM

   "In the most simple explanation of the theory of operation of the  Beverage antenna you must understand that the single wire above (or on) the ground is 1/2 of an unbalanced transmission line.  The earth conductivity is the other "wire" in the transmission line.
   When the earth 1/2 of the "transmission line" becomes very conductive, the whole array approaches being an actual 2-wire transmission line (perfectly balanced).  When that happens there is near ZERO signal received.
   The more unbalanced the line is, the more signal level is impressed on the  wire which can be detected by proper impedance matching to a coaxial feedline going to your receiver.  That is why the Beverage works well over poor earth."



> I recently built a two-wire switchable-direction Beverage based on the
> description in ON4UN's Low-Band DXing (4th edition).
>  Currently, I am using two coax runs to the shack but will eventually use a single coax that is
> switched between the low impedance sides of the two transformers.
>
> I followed the schematic in ON4UN's book except for two grounds which I omitted:
>
> 1)  Figure 7-98A on page 7-70 shows two grounds on the far end of the
> Beverage.  One is the ground on winding n2 of the transformer, which I
> included in my Beverage.  However, the schematic shows a second ground (to
> the left of T5n1), which is connected to one of the two beverage conductors.
> What is the purpose of this ground?
Bi-directional Beverage from 4th edition of ON4UN's Low Band DXing
This is a typo, and that ground should not be there.
The only ground at the right (far) end of the Beverage should be on the secondary of the reflection transformer (T5a, n2).


It appears that this drawing was originally Fig. 7-23 on p. 7-22 of the 3rd edition of the same book. When it was modified for the 4th edition, there was a ground that should have been removed. I'm looking at both drawings, and it it's easy to see how such a graphics editing error crept into the new edition. Nobody's perfect.

> 2)  Figure 7-98A also shows a grounded connection between coax J2 and coax
> J1.  What is the purpose of this ground?  Since I am using separate windings
> on my transformer, I don't think it makes sense to connect these coax
> grounds to the ground rod for T1n1.

I agree. On my Beverages, the coax shields are only grounded at the station end; and neither do I connect the shields at the antenna as shown.
 The ground connection shown connecting the shields of J2 and J1 in Fig. 7-98 — if used at all— should NOT be connected to the same ground as the secondary of T1n1, in order to ensure common-mode isolation
.

I have found, like others have, that it is often unnecessary to terminate the unused cable in the above design. But I do anyway.

Figure 7-98 above is from the CD-ROM that came with the 4th edition.
Copyright (c) 2004 ARRL

 This is not to imply that ON4UN's book is not worth having. It is! It contains some GREAT information about Beverage and other receiving antennas.
 Having said that, it should be pointed out that the Beverage transformer winding instructions using the 73 material binocular core in the 5th edition appear to be a departure from earlier editions (and proven designs by many others). Some of us take issue with the need for so many more turns of fine PTFE insulated wire for use with Beverage antennas.



I'm using a relay at the feed end of the Beverage that selects the transformer (either T1 or T4) and switches the terminating resistors across the secondaries of the transformers, rather than the primaries as is usually done. Don't think it matters.



Who can verify that used motor oil will keep my Beverage antennas from accumulating ice? I know I read it somewhere. I was ready to coat them using a paint roller, but the ice storm never came.



Read this important info about external receiving antenna overload at
http://forums.qrz.com/showthread.php?t=266646&highlight=beverage



If you do a Google search for "beverage antenna", you will find a lot of information on them. (Some good, and some not so good.)



I also have an as-yet unsorted collection of Beverage antenna information at http://www.w0btu.com/files/beverage/




You would appreciate the 4th and 5th editions (they are both good to own) of Low Band DXing by ON4UN, John Devoldere, even if you're not interested in working DX.



This page was created because there was no single source for all the information necessary to build a good two-wire bi-directional Beverage receiving antenna, either in print or on the web.

It was initially compiled from different posts I have made on QRZ.com, eHam.net, the Topband mailing list, and direct email. We have since added much more; and we are still adding information, photos, and detailed schematics, with the goal of enhancing this practical, comprehensive how-to web page about Beverage receiving antennas. Thanks for visiting.

Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. Contact us


LINKING: You are welcome (and encouraged) to add a link to this page from your site. However, kindly link to
http://www.w0btu.com/Beverage_antennas.html, and not to the individual files referenced here. Thank you.


A special thanks to George D. Brown, W8YET (SK) and Tom Rauch, W8JI for instilling in me the enthusiasm for the Beverage antenna. Many years ago, Tom kindly explained to me what I needed to build my first Beverage. And I believe that using 73 material as well as the binocular core for Beverage antenna transformers was Tom's invention (among other things).

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http://www.w0btu.com/Beverage_antennas.html - Last Edited May 10, 2014