The Wire Beam
High above the neighborhood, it's wings glistening in the sunlight the Yagi beam floats
like a bird of prey. To the radio enthusiast it's an object of veneration and beauty. To
everyone else in the neighborhood, it's an eyesore. Did you know you can get good DX
results without sticking the neighbors in the eye with a tower and a Yagi?
letting them know there's something big happening at your place? How? The most important
factor in working DX is not again, but low angle radiation. Once you have low angle
radiation, gain (achieved by concentrating radiation in the desired direction) can be of
help. The Yagi's gain raises signal strength only about an Sunit in the direction it's
pointed. It's the tower that lets it work DX.
To get DX angle radiation and gain without the tower and the Yagi, use
a HalfSquare. What's a HalfSquare? A HalfSquare is a simple, light, unobtrusive and
inexpensive DX gain antenna that you can hang almost anywhere you can put a dipole.
How is it made? Start with a wavelength of wire supported from its
ends, and feed it at a point one quarter wavelength from an end. In this form the antenna
is called a long wire. It has a decibel or so of gain off its ends and its radiation angle
is a little lower than a dipole or Yagi at the same height, but it's no killer DX antenna
Move the support insulators in a quarter wave from each end and let the
tails hang down. Bingo! What you have now is a HalfSquare-two quarter wave verticals
separated by a half wave horizontal phasing section. By this simple trick you have pushed
the takeoff angle down into the serious DX range and you suddenly have nearly an Sunit of
broadside gain to boot. As a bonus the feed-point impedance drops to 50 +.
There is no hocus-pocus or hype here-The design is simple, based on
well known and well tested principles. It has been proven by the test of time. And-as you
yourself will be able to attest-it delivers the DX. So why is it called a HalfSquare?
Because when you look at it from the side, if you can see anything at all, you see half a
square floating in the air in front of you.
Someone might ask, if you're talking about low angle radiation from a
vertical, wouldn't a base fed vertical be just as good? Far from it. With the vertical you
have energy loss at the feed-point and in the traps. Even an elaborate radial system can
only partially reduce them. Also, with the vertical, the high current that produces
radiation is at ground level rather than up at the top where the HalfSquare puts it. So
the vertical's takeoff angle is higher than the HalfSquares, and obstructions block more
of its radiated signal. Besides there's no gain.
The vertical exceeds the HalfSquare only in expense and hassle. If you
have the space to hang a dipole you can hang a HalfSquare and be in business with an
antenna that quadruples your DX radiation and loses none of its power in ground and trap
Don't get me wrong, anyone using a base fed vertical or trap sloppier
is still 599 somewhere once in a while. But if you want consistent DX performance, your
HalfSquare will do a lot more for you. You see,
1. Your QRV DX HalfSquare is not a half an antenna, it is a whole
wavelength of antenna, judiciously folded to direct your power where you want it.
2. It's a high efficiency antenna that actually radiates 99% of
the power you put into it. That means it radiates from 3 to 6 times as much power as
you'll get out of the typical base fed vertical.
3. On top of that, its twin tails firing in phase concentrate the
radiation into a broadside beam more than 4 dB stronger than you'd get with a single
vertical radiator of the same efficiency.
4. Because the radiating portion of your Half-Square is at the top, not
at the base, your signal clears obstructions and gets to its destination.
HalfSquare cuts QRM everyone knows that ordinary vertical antennas pick
up man made electrical noise. The HalfSquare, however, is quiet because that kind of noise
is cancelled out by the design. When you try it, you will see for your-self that this is
an amazingly quiet antenna.
You'll also see the results of its radiation pattern without even
having to transmit. You'll hear the HalfSquare rejecting signals arriving at angles higher
than 45 degrees (that means signals coming from nearby out to 500 miles). You'll hear it
attenuate signals in decreasing but noticeable magnitude out to a distance of about 1200
miles, after which it progressively reinforces them. When I switch to my HalfSquare out
here in Utah, it sounds as if Japan, Hawaii and the east coast all just moved in next
door, Texas and Ohio are still a ways away, and the California kilowatts have just been
swallowed up by the ocean.
That's why I've got to warn you that this is not a cruel antenna. This
is a DX grabbing antenna. Don't expect to have a great field day if you set one of these
up in Ohio. From that location you'll work ten times as many stations with a low dipole.
But if you want to work the All Asia contest from Georgia without being bothered by
kilowatt QRM from New York, Florida and the northwest, your HalfSquare will deliver the
To be honest, there's another warning I've got to give you. The
HalfSquare has two equal broadside lobes, one on each side. That means that if you are
sitting in Minnesota and trying to work India over the north pole, you might get some QRM
from Brazil, Argentina, and Antarctica coming in from the back side. Now if that's going
to be a problem, It's only fair for me to warn you. Also, because of the way it is built,
it is so easy to install that some users claim to have put it up in as little as 10
I have tested my HalfSquare in all sorts of terrain under all sorts of
conditions. I strung them up in a high rise apartment, from a balcony of a second story
apartment, from a 3rd story office in a commercial building with acres of fluorescent
lights. I strung it across a parking lot in the middle of the night. I have hung it from
rock outcroppings on a treeless desert island, in a northwest rain forest, in a swamp in
the Rhine river lowlands, in back yards, and hidden under the eaves in picky neighborhoods
and snoopy motels. I kept improving it's construction till I was confident that I had the
DX antenna that is easiest to use and delivers the most DX
Put Your Hands on a HalfSquare If you were holding an Antennas West
HalfSquare in your hands right now, you could see that it is no ordinary assembly of wire
and insulators. It's made of expensive carefully chosen materials that will last. It is
precision measured and hand assembled. Each connection is first secured mechanically, then
it's bonded electrically, finally it's potted with a special light weight material that
adds more strength and seals out weather permanently. The UVproof housing at the
includes a drip shield to keep water out of the coax connector. Connections won't work
loose or corrode
. Run your fingers along the slippery tough QuietFlex insulation. Acid rain and the
invisible pollution that corrodes the surface of ordinary antenna wire cannot penetrate
that tough cover that protects your HalfSquare investment. Think of what it means in terms
of safety and low noise too. Your HalfSquare starts out a quiet antenna and stays a quiet
antenna over the years. What this boils down to is that your QRV DX HalfSquare is a
completely thought out DX grabbing antenna that you can install in minutes. It is
constructed so that it will be durable, yet it's made in such a way that you can put it
into action easily without any help. Why Save & Sweat? Work DX Now Your HalfSquare
satisfies the desire to work DX now rather than next year when you have the budget for a
tower and a tri-bander. You can hang your HalfSquare by yourself today. No need to wait
till next month when your buddies can find time to come over to help you dig the pit, bend
the reinforcing bars, pour the concrete base, bolt the tower together, assemble and tune
the yagi, and swing from their safety harnesses while they stick it up in the sky. No need
to sweat as you bury the guy anchors to keep it all from crashing down in a storm.
Don't get me wrong-there's nothing wrong with a tribander. In fact it will beat the
HalfSquare hands down if your goals are to rotate it at the touch of a finger or use the
same antenna as a beam on more than one band. But if you want to work DX in the direction
broadside to your HalfSquare, that tri-bander. may well end up taking the back seat. Love
at First Try.
I'll never forget my first test on 15 meters from a portable location
in Germany. I stretched the HalfSquare out along the outside wall of the apartment,
supported from a fishing rod out the bathroom window on one end and from a bamboo pole
tied to the balcony on the other end. It was only 5 feet out from the reinforced concrete
wall of the building, and its ends were just high enough that the neighbors on the ground
floor couldn't grab them to pull it down. I connected a 15 foot piece of coax to the
feed-point, brought it in through the window, and screwed it straight onto my transceiver.
The band was so quiet I thought something was wrong. I called CQ on 21.025 and back came a
JA saying I was the first European signal he had heard that day. I was 599 barefoot in
Tokyo and his kilowatt and 3 elements were 569 in Frankfurt. "What was that antenna,
you say, old man? -a HalfWhat?" he repeated. When he said goodbye, a string of JA's
began calling me, each tailending the next. An hour later their KW signals were the same
strength as mine. Soon I heard them beginning to work Europeans 600 miles further east.
Finally I heard them working the DL's who were using quads and tri-banders. Interestingly I
could hardly hear any of the Europeans until I switched to a dipole.Why was I the first
signal heard when the band opened? Why was my signal so much stronger than theirs at that
moment? And why could I hardly hear the nearby Europeans that were so strong on the
dipole? Because the HalfSquare concentrates its radiation and listening- power at low DX
angles between 10 and 25 degrees, angles so low that for a tri-bander to give similar
performance, it would have to be more than a full wavelength high
When you think about the engineering, expense, and visual impact of a
20 meter monster array up sixty to ninety feet, you're pleased as punch to compete head to
head using a HalfSquare at roof level. And you really smirk when you know you can beat the
tri-banders to the prize by simply raising your HalfSquare a little higher.
If you have a tri-bander, don't feel bad. You have a great antenna that
serves you well not only for DX but for close in contacts too. But if there is a part of
the world you want to work but can't, if you want to be first one through to Mongolia
every day when the band opens, if you want to run traffic to Antarctica on schedule every
day, or if you're already succeeding at doing all this and want to do any of it from a
portable location, you could use a HalfSquare to great advantage. And your HalfSquare will
deliver the DX for less than it costs for the coax to your yagi.
Maybe a HalfSquare isn't the solution to working piles of DX from your location, but the
odds are in its favor. See what a HalfSquare can do for you.