Several months ago I was having trouble making contacts on my center-fed Zepp. Most of the trouble that I was having was weak and noisy signal reports neat the coasts. I knew something had to be wrong since two of my first contacts on the antenna were Hollywood, VA and Riverside, CA on the same afternoon about 20 minutes apart. I do not remember what band I was on when I made the contacts and since I didn’t have a logbook back then, I would be hard pressed to look the contacts up.
Because of the issues I was having, and because someone that I wanted to contact was going to be in Hawaii, I decided to look into building a dedicated 80M antenna. Since I am partial to building my own antenna’s, I went straight to Google and read dozens of web pages. I also went to the local library and checked out a couple ARRL antenna books. After considering various designs I decided that a vertical would probably suit my situation the best.
Why a vertical on 80M? Two basic reasons. I don’t have the means to get an 80M directional or dipole antenna elevated high enough to be effective. Secondly, I wanted to have something that I could take down fairly easily and put up in a different location. (Think Field Day.) I also didn’t want another NVIS setup.
Given my issues with being able to put up an elevated antenna, it is obvious that I could not put up a full size vertical 80M antenna. I found a number of multi-band vertical designs that claimed the would work on 80M. Then I came across this web page. http://www.iw5edi.com/ham-radio/?80m-vertical-antenna-with-capacitance-hat,132
It had everything that I needed in a design for a vertical 80M. Plus I could make it with wire that I already had. A fellow Ham “indefinitely loaned” me an aluminium plate with 12″ – 18″ grounding spikes attached to it. It also has provisions to attach multiple ground radials. I attached 4 and may experiment with more. (Here are a couple of documents about radials and grounding. Why Radials? and Radial Systems for Vertical Antennas)
The vertical size of the 80M antenna with capacitance hat is perfect for me since the tree that I need to use to elevate it is about 40′ tall. The angle and distance between the anchor points turn out to be great too. When I first built and setup the antenna, I had the capacitance legs anchored to the east and west of the vertical portion of the antenna. With it in this configuration, I was able to make my Hawaii contact. I was very excited about that.
I am not going to say that the this antenna is the perfect 80M for everyone. I will say this, as inexpensive and easy as it is build, I think anyone interested in an 80M vertical should build it and give it a try.